“The scientific phenomenon when presented by adding art into it became an easy way to learn for the common public, and it also added an aesthetic value… as if any aesthetic thing becomes more acceptable and approachable to everyone. Working with artistic fraternity also offers a chance to overlook technical hurdles and have the freedom to depict different modes and perspectives (other than pure science). Also, the various approaches [that involved keeping diaries, mapping, and input by experts on birds and migration] resulted in easy understanding of the complexity of different components of the ecosystem and how a local water-body has linkages that are global” says Dr Jitendra Gavali, whose input for the project has been essential. We hope to conduct the next workshop on November 7th and 8th, 2012.
Monsoon has begun and I plan a visit to Wadhwana next month (July 2011). Last year this time we started to introduce and conduct the workshops, and the last interactions on site by the lake took place in December 2011.
The project NR1 Wadhwana brought together individuals and groups in a 3-way collaboration between art + community + science.
Set up were workshops in seven schools in villages located in the immediate vicinity of Wadhwana Lake, in which children and teachers from the villages of Wadhwana, Kukkad, Shamshedpur, Akotadar, Shimoliya, Gopalpura and Manjrol were involved. Introducing key points about the ecology of the area and raising awareness of the importance of caring for this wetland, the children were encouraged to keep a diary and record what was of significant in their environment. An important part of the project was mapping that which the children use as markers to navigate their locality. The activities also introduced interactions/play and discussions about the visiting migratory birds and the importance of maintaining the indigenous trees and plants already growing in the villages and lake area, with saplings of more indigenous trees being planted in school grounds and by the lake.
The marks left on site are the trees and shrubs that support the land, the people, and the insect and bird life, we planted together, with more planting planned in future to introduce indigenous and rare trees/grasses and by placing logs and branches that form a different kind of bower – each with its own blueprint and identity in terms of diversity.
Underlining the concept of serving nature, to some extent the outcome of this on-going project is not set as one end result but left open-ended to allow the possibility to encounter the unexpected arising from inputs by the many who are involved in the process.
Artist and initiator of the project, Negotiating Routes: Ecologies of the Byways.
Input in the project, workshops and planting by:
200 children from Wadhwana, Kukkad, Shamshedpur, Akotadar, Shimoliya, Gopalpura and Manjrol village
schools, and their teachers ~ Varsha Nair. Artist and initiator ~ Dr Jitendra Gavali. Botanist, Director of Community Science Center Vadodara and Co author of the book, ‘Trees of Gujarat’ ~ Mr Deepak Tipre. Conservator of Forest and In-charge of Wadhwana Wetland and Jambughoda Forest ~ Ms Harshangi Yagnik. Scientist, Community Science Center Vadodara. Project assistant ~ Dr Shishir Raval and Ms Asmita Raval, Architects and Environmentalists. Advisors ~ Mr Hemant Suthar (Gujarat State Forestry Department) ~ Dr Sonal Deshkar (Avian Biology Department of Zoology, The M. S. University of Baroda, Gujarat).
Some images that provide a glimpse into the different activities that took place:
Introducing the activities at schools. Ms Harshangi Yagnik of Community Science Center, Vadodara (top left) played a key role in helping establish contact with the schools and presenting the project.
Introducing mapping of their village and areas around the lake.
Diaries were given out and the students were asked to record their thoughts, what they find in their locality, traditional songs, tales and medicinal value of local plants and herbs.
The sessions included planting in the schools and finally by the lake. Saplings of indigenous trees and shrubs were given by the forestry department. The children and teachers were also asked to collect saplings of trees which they saw necessary to plant, and ask the forestry dept to supply them (bottom left). This has resulted in a connection that was previously lacking, forming between the local community and the forestry department officials.
Planting bowers by the lake. Dr Jitendra Gavali designed a low-cost tree guard which was manufactured in Vadodara. Kishen bhai (bottom left) of CSC stitched the green agri-net.
On December 22nd, 2010, an outdoor exhibition held at the Forestry Dept’s centre by the lake presented some of the diary inputs produced as banners.
Mr Hemant Suthar (bottom left) from Gujarat State Forestry Department and an expert on birds of Gujarat, led a session that included a walk by the lake, recognising the migratory birds, observing their movements and feeding habits and collecting feathers. The session culminated in an interaction/play session where the students were ask to become birds and act out movements and bird sounds.
The day ended with Dr Jitendra Gavali (Botanist) and Dr Sonal Deshkar (an expert on migratory birds of Wadhwana) (bottom left) leading a session explaining migratory routes and other wetlands in the state that are important nesting grounds.
This is to share your very valuable thoughts about the project…. THANK YOU.
From Shishir R. Raval:
Thanks for sharing these images of NR1 project / movement. There are many many positives about this. However, here I just want to recognize the “vadhawana gaam no naksho” (map of vadhawana village) by a student / child from your workshop / event on 22dec10. IT IS JUST FANTASTIC. Cognitive mapping, especially by kids provide us with insights to interpret a child’s mind / perceptions. It is a big stepping stone to further develop dreams and aspirations for the future. Thank for initiating this project-work and THANKS to all your team members –many who are my friends and colleagues. Best..
From Nandita Amin:
From Manhar N Patel:
Outstanding work and achievement at Wadhwana indeed !.. A cause really worth while ! Preservation of Environment while understanding the Ecology is where it begins !
Under the leadership and co ordination work by Varsha Nair and others, such projects can move well beyond the feasibility into tangible reality.
Incremental progress such as the one Wadhwana project demonstrates is the very foundation upon which meaningful beginnings such as these translate into bigger movements that “make the difference”.
I commend Varsha Nair and her team for inspiring such leadership “to make that difference”and request those who provide resources and guidance to such leaders to further undertake these initiatives and sustain efforts to fund and advance such causes way beyond Wadhwana… An outstanding start indeed!!……….Having participated in similar projects in the USA, targeted towards Ecology and environmental preservation for many years, I have a keen interest and understanding of challenges we face if we do not take examples of Wadhwana to promote that effort Universally…. Thank you folks for advancing this initiative and sharing this with me….very encouraging indeed !!!……. Regards… Manhar N Patel (North Carolina, USA)
Distributing pocket guide books on Birds of Gujarat, Mr Hemant Suthar led the students for a walk by the lake asking them to collect feathers, identify birds, their movements and sounds. In an ensuing interactive play session, the students were then divided in small groups and asked to come up with names of birds, and imitate their sounds and movements.
Dr Sonal Deshkar, an expert on migratory and resident birds of Wadhwana, talked about migration routes. Using a world map, the routes were then drawn out.
Ms Prarthi Shah, a 10th class student from Vadodara who is appointed as Young Ambassador for Mangroves Campaign in Gujarat by Gujarat Ecological Commission, talks about the importance of taking up responsibility for the care of our environment.
Selected works from diaries by students of Wadhwana, Kukkad, Shimoliya and Manjrol Schools were reproduced as banners, and the students along with their teachers were invited to take part in interactions conducted by Mr Hemant Suthar and Dr Sonal Deshkar.
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