Auroville outreach projects are initiated by inspired individuals who have seen a need and acted. Some of these projects concentrate on a specific activity while others attempt to work out models for integral development. Some concentrate their efforts within Auroville as an example, others take their solutions into rural India and the world. What is common to all is the spirit of experimentation to discover the tools, the patterns, the conditions that result in emergence of revitalized living conditions.
Humanscapes is an applied research and demonstration project in sustainable habitat; using a mix of low embodied energy building materials and recycled waste from industries and construction as building materials combined with solar passive design for the built forms to respond to the housing needs of "the millions in the developing world while addressing the climate change issue too." By Suhasini Ayer, Auroville Design Consultants
Auroville Earth Institute
Since 1989, the Auroville Earth Institute has become one of the world’s top centres for excellence in earthen architecture, working in 36 countries to promote and disseminate knowledge in the construction of sustainable habitats. As the Representative and Resource Centre for Asia of the UNESCO Chair “Earthen Architecture, Constructive Cultures and Sustainable Development”, AVEI aims to empower local stakeholders through an international network of experts, reviving traditional skills and linking vernacular traditions of raw earth construction with modern technologies of stabilised earth.
Pitchandikulam rural center Nadukuppam
Pitchandikulam developed a village demo project with a high school environmental education centre, a demonstration farm, forest and water retention landscape in a rural village 30km from Auroville. From here outreach to 25 villages in the bioregion giving training to students and community in eco-restoration practices and sustainable technologies: organic farming, afforestation as well as a demosite for innovative sewage water treatment, solar, wind energy systems. Additionally a women training center has opened in 2017, giving training in herbal medicine, spirulina production and sustainable livelihood.
MGEcoduties of Auroville
MGEcoduties of Auroville works in cooperative R&D with certified labs in India and the US to deliver training programs for transfer of Probiotics Consortia Technology. The organization has developed a range of al natural cleaning and body care products as well as food supplements for humans, animals and plants made with PCT and all natural ingredients that are sourced mainly local to ensure economic, ecological and social sustainability. In partnership with Rallis India - A TATA Enterprise - MGEcoduties is producing probiotics for 400,000 hectares of shrimp farms within India, and providing training in "Sustainable Shrimp System". They also supply probiotics to produce 100,000 tons of natural compost from agricultural waste for agriculture, at a low price for Indian farmers
WasteLess of Auroville
WasteLess of Auroville is an educational research organization dedicated to changing the harmful habits that affect the way we make, dispose of and think about waste. Targeting the future generation with fun and engaging educational activities, WasteLess aims to bring about behavioral change and instill positive habits early on in a child’s life. The organization has created many innovation educational programs that have reached over 50,000 children across the world. Recently the contacts with the Indian and the Tamil Nadu Education Secretaries are promising and there might be the possibility to integrate Wasteless ”Garbology” chapter into Social Studies textbooks, which will reach millions of children across India.
Combining national and international professional expertise for all key questions concerning sustainably integrated human habitats, we engage in workshops and trainings in the areas of building & architecture, farming & food, sustainability and arts & crafts. Since 2010, over 3000 people have participated in our courses. Many others have interned or volunteered with our experts, leaving enriched with new perspectives on how the world could be made a better, greener, place. We collaborate with academic, private and public sector partners both in India and Internationally, helping to develop sustainable urban and industrial development policies, ecologically friendly technologies – and the minds of future leaders. The latter we do with inspirational thought leadership and courses in aspects of sustainability. The outcome shall be seen in future generations of leaders with the capacity to work on projects that foster socially inclusive, and ecologically regenerative, development.
Prakti is an Auroville related social enterprise dedicated to combating poverty, gender inequality and dangerous respiratory diseases in the developing world. It manufactures modern, high-performance and charcoal and biomass single and double-burner cook stoves that reduce indoor air pollution by up to 90% and are 80% more cost effective than traditional stoves. Today, over 3 billion people cook their food over smoky open fires or ine¬fficient cook stoves. Inhaling this smoke is the equivalent of smoking 2 packs of cigarettes a day. This contributes 25-50% of carbon dioxide globally and deforestation in the world’s most vulnerable communities, causing millions of deaths and wastes biomass. Prakti’s 8 products have reached 17,000 end-users on five continents and 25 countries including India, Bangladesh, Nepal, Haiti, Congo and Sudan.
Upcycling Studio Auroville
Upcycling Studio Auroville focuses on innovation, invention, creation and education from waste to product. Its goal is to creatively reduce the waste in the community. The studio researches materials and products for interior design, art installations, fashion etc. The studio participates in "Start Upcycling", co- sponsored by Erasmus programme, a European Union (EU) student exchange. Students from India come for workshops and in September 2017, the organization hosted a 3-week workshop with participants from 8 countries; Germany, Italy, Greece, Brazil, South Africa Poland, Romania and Czech Republic.
Programs include educational research; arts & culture; environmental regeneration; organic farming; rural development; integrative health & healing; earth-based architecture; innovative building technologies; integrated urban planning; renewable energy and utility systems; and handicrafts & small-scale industries.
Currently there are 153 commercial units and 75 service units operating in Auroville. Products manufactured include such modern equipment as computer software, electronic and engineering products, equipment used in alternate and appropriate technologies such as windmills, solar lanterns and heaters, and bio-gas systems. The service sector includes construction and architectural services, research and training in various sectors related to efficient resource management and sustainable development, such as renewable energy and appropriate building materials.
While Auroville activities cover a broad range of interests including health, energy and water technology, architecture and building materials, local crafts and fabrics, among others, local projects tend to fall into the general categories of ecology and education.
Auroville has gained national and international acclaim for its wasteland reclamation and reforestation work. More than 2,500 acres of near barren and visibly dying land have been transformed into a lush green habitat and vibrant biodiversity area. Comprehensive contour bunding and the building of small check dams for soil and water conservation have significantly enhanced the life-support potential of the whole area. Over 3 million forest trees on 1,250 acres and 1,200 medicinal have been planted on Auroville land. Auroville has planted more than 4,942 acres of land in and around Auroville based in extensive research of the original tropical dry evergreen forest for recreation with the same fauna and flora.
Auroville is training future ecosystem thinkers with programs that outreach across the world. There are preschools, kindergartens, primary schools, 2 high schools, 4 day schools, and over 15 part-time evening schools for the children of the nearby villages. Schools use original theater, music and dance to explore body expression and induce concentration and imagination. All are free progress schools with research oriented learning, fostering individual talents and capacities. Schools encourage training in foreign languages, including English, French and Tamil. There are 36 different largely free after school activities including language, art, theater, hobby and crafts, as well as sports, dance, and other active activities.
Auroville is deeply concerned with the questions and challenges faced by rural India and in a larger sense how land use practices cause environmental destruction. During the past few years, India’s Planning Commission and the Ministry of Rural Development have invited Auroville to partner in new approaches to revitalize rural India. It’s a huge challenge as younger generations of Indians see little future in agriculture and are leaving the land for the cities. Auroville is putting to the test regenerative ideas and experiments that have been yielding results over 50 years of applied research – research into models that increase prosperity, health of people and the environment, where technology is applied appropriately and where complex living systems can synergistically co-exist for the enhancement of all life and the detriment of none.
There are 6 villages within the Master Plan boundary, 3 just outside the boundary, 13 more in the immediate area of Auroville and 40 villages in the local bioregional area. Auroville employs around 6,000 people from the villages and about a third of Aurovillians are local Tamilians, most connected to the villages.
Most village outreach is executed through the Auroville Village Action trust. These programs are focused on education, health care, sustainable livelihoods, energy, housing, environment, sustainable agriculture, disabilities, women empowerment, and integral rural development.
Program examples include:
- Micro-finance program with both women and men, working in about 60 villages, covering a population of about 100,000
- Vocational training program for village young women, with a strong individual development program for each girl
- Social entrepreneurship incubator
- Technical training institute, preparing village youth for employment in the computer and administrative sectors through certificate courses
- Education and crafts programs to revitalize village culture
- Program aimed at researching health challenges in the villages, devising and applying innovative solutions
- Day school for handicapped village children, providing a full spectrum of remedial treatment and support
- Community center for women and children, with various programs for children and women, collaborating with the local youth, and hosting a local energy healing center
- Program that cultivates local medicinal herbs, that also cultivates the well-being of orphans, local healers and artisans; and a project for financing higher education of youth from the villages around Auroville
Notable among the state programs is the Sustainable Livelihood Institute (SLI), a unique initiative by the Government of Tamil Nadu evolved jointly by Tamil Nadu Rural Livelihood Mission (TNSRLM) and the Integral Rural Development (IRD) Unit of Auroville. SLI is the only Institute of its kind in all of South Asia offering sustainable livelihood capacity building solutions. The institute conceptualizes, designs, organizes and delivers programs for skill, knowledge and perspective building on sustainable livelihoods to the officials of the Rural Development Department as well as leaders of the Rural Communities. It has been developed to deliver successful, equitable and environment friendly livelihood solutions for Tamil Nadu.
Federal / International
Auroville Earth Institute – Over the last 28 years, AVEI has become one of the world’s top centers for excellence in earthen architecture, working in 36 countries to promote and disseminate knowledge in the construction of sustainable habitats. As the Representative and Resource Centre for Asia of the UNESCO Chair “Earthen Architecture, Constructive Cultures and Sustainable Development”, AVEI aims to empower local stakeholders through an international network of experts.
Auroville Consulting – сollaborates with academic, private and public sector partners both in India and Internationally, helping to develop sustainable urban and industrial development policies, and ecologically friendly technologies.
Angiras – Bringing expertise in sustainable habitats, energy efficiency, renewable energy, entrepreneurship, rural industrialization, climate change mitigation policies, CDM project development, and sustainable agriculture & rural development, Angrias works in India and Nepal to bring sustainable energy solutions to rural communities.