who we are: a collaboration of the Keystone Foundation and the Dhaatri Resource Centre
We work with a passion for reviving and strengthening the traditional wisdom of indigenous communities as they have centuries of cultural knowledge learnt from the ecology around them. We feel that destroying these rich sciences would be a threat not only to these communities but also to the global situation of climate change and environmental concerns.
In order to protect their natural resources and help build sustainable living, we are keen on promoting and bringing a deep respect to their traditional ecological housing. We need to start on this urgently as the new generation is soon losing its knowledge over these construction processes. We are having intensive discussions at the community level with the youth to dialogue on their perspectives of housing and sustainable living. We have taken them for exposure visits to other projects where sustainable housing has been taken up successfully without causing a burden to the families and with using resources from the forest.
Adivasi Housing and Ecological Knowledge:
Adivasis are indigenous communities who live in remote hill and forest areas in India. They have their unique cultures and ways of life that distinguishes them from the mainstream population of India. One of the most serious threats to their traditional knowledge is the manner in which modernisation of their life is being forced on them: Modern form of housing, as promoted by the government is imposing a new way of life that completely disengages them from the forest and nature. Traditionally they build houses that provide them shelter from the rain and keep them warm through the long winters on the hills. The modern houses do not have the local needs in mind when they design houses and hence they do not provide for storage of food, kitchen gardens, livestock pens, and other homestead needs of an Adivasi life.
We wish to take up a pilot demonstration project in Poolabanda village which is the centre of our community work. Tucked away in a beautiful valley, it is the nerve centre for surrounding hills where people come to have meetings and from where the road begins to the outside world. The indigenous communities here are Nookadoras, Kondadoras, Bagatas, Khonds, Valmikis, Kammaras and Gadabas. We work closely with them to help retain children in local government schools, work with youth and adolescent girls on health and nutrition, train women to take leadership in land and agriculture, and through this work towards livelihood entrepreneurship for young women based on their organic farming and wild food. We are keen that building a community centre should serve the purpose of demonstrating to the community and to the government the richness of their ecological knowledge in house construction. We want to use this opportunity to connect the indigenous elders with the youth to transfer their knowledge of house building and to show how sustainable and safe these structures are.