The Adivasi – an umbrella term for the tribal groups considered to be the aboriginal population of India – are facing powerful social and economic pressures that lead many to abandon their own language in favor of Hindi, Gujarati, or English. Adivasi Academy, based in Tejgadh, Gujarat, is working to save the many endangered languages of the linguistically diverse Indian subcontinent by seeking to show its students that their native languages and cultures are worth preserving. To learn more, read this piece about Adivasi Academy on the Vikalp Sangam website. Photo by Sonal Baxi, Bhasha Research and Publication Centre
The 210 members of the Ar Arvidjin Delgerekh cooperative in Mongolia are yak herders. The yak wool they produce is spun into yarn and knit into clothing, and sold under the Baby Yak label. The cooperative members also run traditional homestays and cultural tourism activities. Working together helps the herders to better protect their local ecosystem against overgrazing, improve animal health and welfare, and maintain a traditional nomadic lifestyle on the land…
The Babahan Subak Association in the Tabanan province of Bali is a water-sharing farmer cooperative that upholds traditional organic farming methods and maintains an educational gathering space to share the practice, history, and spiritual and cultural significance of rice farming with locals and visitors. The association grows heritage varieties of rice according to the Balinese calendar, creates its own organic fertilizer from cow manure, and – among other traditional practices – builds owl boxes to encourage these natural predators to control rodent populations. Learn more about the association’s organic rice growing activities by visiting theUma Wali website(in Indonesian), and learn more about current educational programs by emailing Kadek at[email protected](bilingual).
Biodiverseni (“the art of biodiversity”), is a project created by the Pejeng Village Government andBali Lite Instituteto translate the village’s ecological, historical and cultural assets into a map, art exhibit, and phone app. In the face of intense pressure to develop tourist infrastructure, these tools are helping local leaders, residents and visitors join together to preserve Pejeng’s culture – and now the local government is using the project’s data as a baseline for its development planning and budgeting. See the maphereand visit thePejeng Village Government(Indonesian language) andBali Lite (English) websites for more information on the project.
BALE engages in a number of grassroots community localization initiatives from their home base in the White River watershed of Vermont. The overarching goal of these efforts is “to build appropriately scaled solutions from the ground up, taking back, as much as possible, our economy, our culture, and our democratic instruments by re-injecting humanity and authentic relationships into all that we do.” Projects include The Commons @ BALE (a community space open to all and used most evenings of the year), a community solar initiative, a local investment club, a documentary film series, and a Locally Grown Guide to local businesses. Learn about these projects and more at https://balevt.org.
The Honey Bee Network is a collective of organizations that share information about appropriate technology, grassroots innovation, folklore, and medicinal plants, sourced from villages throughout India. Honey Bee travels to rural areas to seek out local people who have developed innovative human-scale solutions to everyday problems. The network publishes this collective wisdom in an online database, and publishes a quarterly newsletter in English and seven Indian languages so that contributors who do not speak English or use the internet can benefit from it. Over the past twenty years, Honey Bee has documented more than 100,000 ideas and traditional practices. Beyond disseminating knowledge, the network’s activities cultivate pride in indigenous wisdom and community self-reliance. Learn more about the network, read the newsletter, and browse the innovations and medicinal plant databases on the Honey Bee website.
Inspired by Gunter Pauli’s concept of the Blue Economy, Indonesia Biru (“Blue Indonesia”) is a video series documenting traditional local practices throughout the archipelago which put Blue Economy principles into action. Two journalists traveled by motorbike around the country for one year, creating 32 short videos that highlight examples of indigenous wisdom and locally-adapted innovation, covering alternative energy, farming practices, natural resource management, conservation and social justice issues, traditional village organization, governance practices, and more. Watch the video series and visit the Indonesia Biru website (links in Indonesian). Photo: Paul Hessels/Flickr
This diversified organic farm hosts the first community supported agriculture (CSA) initiative in China. Located in a village just northwest of Beijing, Little Donkey Farm’s CSA has hundreds of members, while several hundred more families rent small plots of land from the farm – giving them a place to take a break from the city and plant their own gardens. To learn more, listen to the NPR story How Community Supported Agriculture Sprouted In China. Photo byEdward Sanderson,(CC BY 2.0)
The Living Traditions Museum in Kathmandu explores how the intimate connection between people, land, and tradition is revealed through everyday and ceremonial objects. In traditional Nepalese cultures, all possessions – born from the earth, shaped by human hands, and passed down through generations – hold a revered place in the household; their stories invite visitors to contemplate their own relationship with the items they rely on every day, and to develop an appreciation for the sacred nature of even the most mundane objects. For more information about the museum and its guiding philosophy, visit the Living Traditions Museum website.
MASS Design Group (MASS stands for Model of Architecture Serving Society) is a nonprofit architecture firm whose mission is to advance social justice through participatory design, recognizing that physical infrastructure plays a fundamental role in creating systemic changes in culture and economy. Designers work closely with communities to create buildings that uphold environmental stewardship, social justice, and community-defined values in a local context. MASS has designed and built health care centers, schools, and public spaces all over the world. One recent initiative is the Hudson Valley Design Lab in Poughkeepsie, New York, a community design and innovation hub that is bringing residents together to envision new opportunities for the area, including the creation of a food hall to link Hudson Valley farmers with the city. Visit the MASS Design Group website for more information on their philosophy and projects, and read more about MASS Design Group’s work in food systems in this Medium article.