Every once in a while things fall in place. The volunteers turn up, the media opens its ears, the funding starts flowing in and the world sits up and take notice. Every once in a while, strangers who have no obligation or responsibility step up and make that tiny dent in the universe.
This Oct 24th, Bangalore was witness to one such event. Indian Youth Climate Network (IYCN) in association with a 17* government and non-government organisations pulled off a successful international day of climate action. The activities carried out on the day were part of a global movement called 350.
350 ppm is the permissible limit of CO2 in the atmosphere. The movement is a wake up call to the world to reduce its carbon emissions and is being touted as the last ditch attempt to save the planet.
The day started with one set of volunteers including Ravi Agnihotri and Arun Patre planting saplings at the Jain Global campus near Kanakapura. The students and volunteers also formed the number five, which along with other spots in India formed the 350. The same team also carried out tree planting and a CFL drive at Sommanahalli (at Tharalu, Thotkuppa).
The second team including Brinda Gaurav, Hita, Varshita and Ram started its activities at 2 PM at the Rajendranagar slum near National Games Village, Koramangala. After an interactive session with the children and an amusing mime performance by a team of artistes calling themselves ‘United games’ with a climate change theme, the volunteers accompanied them to their respective homes, where they distributed a potted medicinal plant sapling, a CFL bulb and cloth bag to 250 houses. The lady of the house was briefed about the importance of avoiding plastics and was also introduced to the cloth bag use incentive scheme. The families which use the cloth bags most frequently, (as tracked by the shopkeepers), will get rewards at the end of the year).
Another team of volunteers of Diya, led by Gunajit Brahma and Sharat planted saplings at Chinmay Vidya Mandir at HSR Layout and stood together in a human formation of 350. The team also distributed green report cards which carry a questionnaire of the energy consumption and plastic usage of a household at the Adugodi Government School and hence launched the first phase of the project which aims to cover 350 schools across Bangalore in the next year.
On the other side of town at Bangalore Press Club, Cubbon park, the bikers of the city got together to ride for 350. With bibs made out of recycled paper depicting the 350 logo, the cyclists veered around Vidhana Soudha interacting with curious bystanders inquiring the significance of 350. They later met up with IYCN volunteers and joined a rally of Reva cars. The entire mass got together for the 350 formation on the Palace Road.
At yet another venue, (Centre for Education and Documentation in Domlur) the movie ‘Meat the truth’ was screened. The movie showcased the hazards of a non vegetarian diet and how meat consumption was a major contributor to global warming.
In the true spirit of youth some 20 volunteers still found the strength to do a first of its kind flash mob run from MG road to Bangalore Central. There they were greeted by the 6X3 movable wall art work created by the team, Bangalore Wonderwall made from recycled material. The crowds gathered at Central were briefed about 350 after which the bands of the evening took over to sing songs of climate change.
The agenda behind the programs of the day was also to generate awareness and empower and unite young people among all section of society from slums to malls to take a stand against climate change. Many follow up events are in the offing. IYCN will continue to monitor the saplings and cloth bags at Rajendranagar. Cyclists will meet every last Saturday of the month as usual, and the saplings planted on the day will be monitored every weekend.
Thus, despite odds, despite apathy and complete ignorance of the issue we managed to kindle a flicker of interest about the issue of climate change. The idea is to try and create as many ‘every once in a while’s as possible. I know Bangalore is with us in this ‘conspiracy’.
*The organisations which worked with IYCN included Centre for Social Market, Rotary International, Christ University, United Games, Jain group of Institutions, The Golden Husk, Radio Active, Bangalore Central, Ride A Cycle Foundation, Critical mass, Green commandos, Youth for Seva, FIAYPO, CEDT, Government High School, Adugodi, Youth for Seva, Greenpeace, BESCOM, Jyoti Nivas College, TI cycles, Saahas, Wipro, Bangalore wonderwall and DIYA