Pipal Tree / Fireflies Intercultural Centre
Pipal Tree / Fireflies Intercultural Centre engages in projects of community empowerment for tribal peoples, dryland farmers, and Adivasi children. It works with programs like the Children’s College, Food Sovereignty, and Livelihood Sustainability, seeking to create personal, social and ecological symbiosis that can lead to sustainable development practices. In the past, development was focused on approaches that underscored social justice, but, today, we have the added the challenge of climate change along with other important issues. The survival of the human species demands that we immediately adopt a nurturing and respectful attitude to our planet. This calls for a new vision of sustainable development.
Pipal Tree was established in 1984 by a group of alternative development practitioners and socially engaged thinkers. Its coordination centre is located in an ecologically inspired setting, 30-kilometers south of Bengaluru. It has residential apartments, a dining hall, an auditorium and other facilities where up to 100 people can conduct workshops and interactive sessions. The 10-acre campus is filled with plants, trees, birds and sculptures on themes of eco-spirituality, which narrate the stories of a diverse yet holistic ecosystem. This organizational setup and infrastructure is maintained by 40 staff members, including its field office in Kabini, Karnataka.
Pipal Tree / Fireflies engages in many projects, such as:
- Setting up workshops to foster team bonding, interactive workplace dynamics, channelling passion into work, etc.
- Community outreach through:
- The Global Rural Adaptation Initiative is a network that look at problems arising in rural communities as a result of the onset of climate change. It seeks to create awareness of climate change and simultaneously promote remedial measures so that food and livelihood security in rural areas is promoted and protected. Pipal Tree is presently the convener of GRAIN.
- Climate South Asia provides a forum for critical discussions on different aspects of climate change. It seeks to encourage dialogues on the way climate change is likely to affect our region.
- The Children's College is a learning community at the Nagarhole forest area near Mysore (four hours from Bengaluru). It provides a sanctuary for Adivasi children whose parents’ lives were disrupted by the construction of the large Kabini water reservoir and by forest conservation laws that claim human beings who live in the forest are a threat to flora and fauna.
- Meeting Rivers is a global peace forum for inter-religious and secular initiatives.The Livelihood Sustainability Project helps to set up means for livelihood through existing skills among Tribal communities and amplify incomes for the farmer community.
- Ecological regeneration, sustaining an ecological balance in the neighbourhood.
- Expressive arts and work on partnership publications by sharing knowledge through international dialogues held every February, the Fireflies Dialogues, as well as our fieldwork.
- Pipal Tree / Fireflies works with students on social and environmental issues through educational programmes that are regularly convened. These programmes are organized around themes of development, social and environmental empowerment, and Indian culture and social life.
Their director, Siddhartha, also is a co-coordinator of the India Association for Big History and a founding member of the initiative to engage with the Multiverse Story and Our Common Humanity.
Photographs from Barry Rodrigue, spring and summer 2018.