As early as January, little shocking-pink cards with hieroglyph-like images kept popping up on display boards across Auroville. Each ended with a mysterious staccato three-liner:
Finally, a few days before Earth Day, the secret was revealed and the QT (pronounced ‘Cutie') made its Auroville debut.
QT, an acronym for Quiet Transport, is a project of Auroville Community Transport whose aim is to promote ecological transport in the city. Its first project is the renting out an assortment of electric bicycles. Project leader Chandresh hopes that the perfect electric bicycle best adapted to meet the local road conditions and the Auroville climate will soon be identified.
What was even more special was the launching of several unique Auroville creations. Auroville has always had a natural predilection towards Earth-loving acts. Foresters and farmers have shown the way, but now a new breed of Auroville entrepreneurs seem to have come forward to take the lead. Auroville's natural dyeing company, The Colours of Nature launched its line of naturally dyed jeans, Go Indi-go! made with organic cotton and natural indigo dye. A specially choreographed fashion show had ‘in-house' Auroville models showcasing the jeans.
Upasana, one of Auroville's garment unit which pursues the model of business with social responsibility, launched its latest campaign, Small Steps for better living, against throw-away plastic bags, offering a compact cloth shopping bag. Through this ‘eco-friendly, trendy, handy, affordable, portable and convenient' bag made by local women, the project promises to guarantee the livelihood of ‘333 women for 3 years'.
Two days before Earth Day, a new website named ACCESS – Auroville's Conscious Community Exchange System for Sustainability – was launched. With this, Auroville joins a community-based exchange network where skills can be exchanged and traded using virtual credits. The Community Exchange Systems (CES) or Local Exchange Trading Systems (LETS) are presently running in several countries around the world. In Auroville, ACCESS promises to provide yet another tool to enable both Auroville and the bioregion to move towards a more equitable, currency-free parallel economy.
On Earth Day itself, the intensity of activities increased. There was a day-long conference on the theme ‘Kinship with All Life', where experts from PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals), Green Peace activists, veterinarians, and Auroville's own Integrated Animal Care team interacted with the community.
Spontaneously, almost all of Auroville's eateries extended their support to Earth Day by offering either vegetarian or vegan menus. Some also made the extra effort to offer organic food, and/or local grains and produce.
Meanwhile the U.S. Pavilion hosted hourly tours to share its own eco-friendly architecture and sustainable living practices while showcasing products that are environmentally-friendly; there was natural-dyeing, music and a lecture at Kala Kendra; and an eco-race from Bharat Nivas to the Youth Centre where, as the programme put it, Auroville's ‘indigenous eco-friendly subculture' was celebrating Earth Day in its own way, including putting on an ‘organic doomsday musical' and a human powered eco-disco.
“The intention of this year's celebration was not just to open our eyes on one day, but to remind ourselves to act in caring ways towards the Earth throughout the entire year,” said one of the organizers. Hopefully, Earth Day 2007 will turn into Earth Year 2007.
Or as Jos, a former Earth Day organizer, put it when he emailed from far-away Myanmar ( Burma ), “Remember, every day is Earth Day!”
See also: Earth Day 2007 photo gallery, for more photos