The Bioregion Action Group and YouthLink are both outcomes of the Auroville Retreat that has been working to create shifts in our community since early 2015. Together and with co-ordination help from the Village Action Group, we are in process of implementing a project called ‘Paalam’ meaning ‘Bridge.’ This is a bioregional and Auroville youth leadership program.
The objective of this project is to establish links with youth from villages in the immediate vicinity of Auroville. This is a Bioregion Action group written project, which is now being implemented with the help and input from YouthLink members as there is a common interest to encourage sustainable development, from the youth perspective, with the active participation of youth themselves.
This project aims to provide training in sustainable village development through a program that would include exposure to Auroville and its ideals and to model village development through out Tamil Nadu. The idea is that, by coming together, the youth themselves will be able to identify and mould their own ‘Paalam’ initiative(s) that could be implemented over the coming years and be part of a sub regional development plan for Auroville and the bi-region. Currently the project has been funded by Stichting De Zaaier through Auroville’s Project Coordination Group and will cover about five sessions spread over about half a year.
The program will include the option of also attending the Stewardship for New Emergence Leadership and Capacity Training also funded by Stichting De Zaaier.
These sessions have been designed openly, as to provide the youth with space to team build, explore the current development landscape, share ideas and formulate their own dreams for the future. The next sessions are being planned according to the interests expressed in the previous session, with the help of YouthLink’s core group.
Youth from about 18 villages, who are already working actively in their villages, have been identified and invited to join with the help from Village Action Group as they have many years of experience working in the field. In total there were about 40 youth who attended the first session, with an additional 10 from YouthLink.
The first session took place on Sunday 29th November 2015. The youth gathered at the Unity Pavilion for a brief introduction to the program, and sharing of one another’s backgrounds, hopes and expectations of the project. The youth were also provided a basic introduction to aspects of Auroville’s organization. The team had their lunch at the Solar Kitchen, and a beautiful moment at the Matrimandir gardens where a deep sharing took place regarding each individuals’ hopes for the project. The highlight of the day was to hear, again and again, how inspired and grateful many of the participants felt, for being able to come together for joint collaboration.
The day ended as we stood in a group, watching the rain clouds rushing towards us. Taking refuge from the heavy monsoon downpour, the group gathered under the Matrimandir for a moment of silence, holding hands together in common aspiration before heading home.