Archives from 2004 to 2009
The question ‘how aware are Aurovilians of environmental issues' features as one of the main articles of Auroville Today's December issue. We spoke to four Aurovilians who are working to increase environmental consciousness within the community.
The issue further contains the recent UNESCO resolution on Auroville passed by its Executive Board, wherein it invites its Member States to actively participate in Auroville's development by contributing a permanent or temporary exhibition in the International Zone. A view on how the International Zone should be seen is shared by Jan Lohman from Auroville International The Netherlands
In the section ‘services' we introduce ACT: Auroville Community Transport, which has introduced a regular and reliable bus service for Aurovilians.
The section ‘research' carries three articles. In ‘The Play of Painting' we write about a research project which uses painting as a means of self-discovery, highlighted in the book Looking at Children's Paintings in a New Light by Claire Le Touzé, published by the Sri Aurobindo Institute for Educational Research (SAIIER).
The research work in wastewater treatment has been in the forefront of research done by Auroville's Centre for Scientific Research, CSR. After having successfully introduced the sustainable DEWATS system (DEcentralized WAstewater Treatment System), CSR is now experimenting with another promising device, the Schauberger vortices.
The third article describes the work of Auroville ecologist Rauf Ali in the Nicobars islands. He has developed a press that will produce coconut milk in large quantities, which will substantially increase the income of the local population.
In the section profiles we introduce the outgoing chairman of Auroville International France, Satyakam, (Salim Karim) who speaks about his life, the role of the Auroville International Centres and his forthcoming move to Auroville. And former Ashramite now Aurovilian Ashesh Joshi speaks about his life in the Sri Aurobindo Ashram and Auroville, where he works for the Matrimandir Access Group and offers workshops on Integral Yoga.
In the section book review we present Alchemies of the Night, a collection of poems by Roger Harris. We also publish the 2009 population statistics.
In conclusion we write about the Ultimate sports experience; and give a view of a Newcomer on life in Auroville called Psychic gibbons
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The main topic of the August 2009 issue of Auroville Today deals with how to introduce Sri Aurobindo to those with no background in the yoga or spirituality. Some people suggest that the attempt should not be made, arguing that if an individual is ready he or she will discover Sri Aurobindo for themselves. Others believe it is valid to create some kind of bridge to Sri Aurobindo's work for those who might otherwise not come upon it or not want to read it. Four people offered their reflections: Georges van Vrekhem; Sachidananda Mohanty; David Hutchinson; and Manoj Das. They all have a deep knowledge of Sri Aurobindo's works and have been involved, at some time or another, in writing books or editing magazines which introduce him to a wider world.
The section ‘organisation' carries an article about how the new Working Committee and Auroville Council have been elected – posing the challenging question if we cannot evolve a better system next time. In the section ‘cycle-friendly Auroville' we report about a four-week workshop designed to make Auroville a more cycle-friendly place, which was joined by young people from all over India - “a great experience,” according to one of the participants. “It must be the year of the cycle paths,” said Gillian, the coordinator of cycle paths maintenance and development in Auroville.
In the section ‘commerce' we publish an interview with the promoters of Auroville.com where Auroville products – including subscriptions to Auroville Today! – can be ordered on-line. In the section City Services we publish an article about the Eco-Service, Auroville's trash-picking, garbage-sorting, and land-filling service that attempts to help the township deal responsibly with its waste. The issue further carries a profile of Kalyani, a French woman who joined Auroville in 1978.
Lastly, the issue carries an article about the first wind mill for Auroville, which will feed carbon-emission free energy into the net.
The June-July 2009 issue of Auroville Today deals with Auroville's writers, an almost forgotten and often ignored group of people. In six pages, we publish prose and poetry from Dennis Bailey (Namas), Navoditte, Meenakshi, Roger Harris, Monique Patenaude, Lloyd Hofman, Ruud Lohman, Alan, Akash Kapoor and Anu.
The issue further carries articles about Windarra Farm; about how Newcomers get organized; about Security – an issue of concern; the Auroville Archives; the Water therapies at Quiet Healing Centre; the Auroville International Meeting in The Netherlands; reflections from the outgoing Working Committee; and Sven's summer pictures.
The May 2009 issue of Auroville Today deals with Auroville's housing crisis, which is slowly easing. This year, the construction of five collective housing projects in the Residential Zone and two in the City Centre has started. A few other projects are awaiting building approval. The housing shortage, which worried the Entry Service so much that it once considered stopping new applications for joining Auroville, is slowly being resolved. Auroville Today gives details of six housing projects: Luminosity, Maitreye, Arati III, Citadines, Joy and Realization. The problems of noise are discussed separately.
The issue further carries a personal experience of meditating in the Matrimandir Petal Chambers and highlights Auroville's outreach in Afghanistan . The issue ends with a call to make Auroville more wheelchair-friendly, issued by a new working group ‘New Abilities Link'.
Last there is the issue carries an interview with the organizers of Earth Day 2009.
The April 2009 issue of Auroville Today deals with the Matrimandir gardens. Described by The Mother as being “as important as the Matrimandir itself,” work on the gardens is now finally taking shape.
In the section ‘International Zone' we report on the attempts to realize the Slovenian Pavilion while Sergei Tretiakov and Ruslan Yeskendirov write about the deeper meaning and raison d'être of the Zone.
The April issue further reports on planning issues: An important international workshop on regional planning was held in Auroville in the last week of February while in Pondicherry , PondyCAN! (Pondicherry Citizens' Action Network) has come together to preserve and enhance the natural and cultural fabric of Pondicherry and to promote sustainable development in the larger region. In interview, Auroville architect Ajit talks about the preservation of India 's heritage through INTACH and its achievements in Pondicherry and former Danish enclave of Tambaram.
More and more Auroville units are working not only inside Auroville but also outside in the larger India . In this way they export something of the quality and ethics of the community while making an important contribution to Auroville's prosperity.
But what does it mean to work in India ? What are the particular challenges and satisfactions? And how do they see their role? We also present the views of some of those working on this larger canvas.
In the section education we report on the philosophy and work of the Auroville Schools Science Educational Training (ASSET) centre to make science accessible to all children. Lastly there is an article about the work of Korean artist Sarasija who talks about ‘Seeking emptiness'.
The main issue of the March 2009 issue of Auroville Today deals with the Auroville economy. There is with an interview with three members of the recently started Budget Coordination Committee; and we publish the views on the distribution of maintenances of the Board of Services Support Team, a non-official group of five people who work in various City Services. The income aspects of Auroville are highlighted by the executives of the commercial units Maroma and Mantra Pottery.
We start this issue with the new Inuksuk in the International Zone.
In the article “To interfere or not, that is the question,” Aurovilian Krishnan Meyer explains why it is necessary to give full administrative autonomy to the residents of Auroville.
In the section ‘People' we introduce Jivatma and Jeremy, Dhanalakshmi and Rajaveni who worked some time in Germany .
The section Culture is represented by an article on the puppet theatre Koekla and on the art presentation of four Last School students in the Pyramids.
January 20th, 2009 was a special day. The United States of America witnessed the inauguration of its 44th President, Mr. Barack Obama. On the other side of the planet, in Auroville, His Holiness the Dalai Lama inaugurated the Pavilion of Tibetan Culture. He also addressed residents of Auroville and others on the theme of ‘Human Unity and Universal Responsibility' at a public function behind the Pavilion. The visit of His Holiness formed the core of the February 2009 issue of Auroville Today with the speech of the Dalai Lama, the exclusive interview with Auroville Today and an interview with Claude Arpi who, more than anybody else has held the vision and been responsible for the manifestation of the Pavilion of Tibetan Culture.
The February issue further carries an interview with newly appointed member of the International Advisory Council Julian Lines; with former Aurovilians Alain and Patricia who revisited Auroville for a brief while; and with Doris , who spoke about the remarkable vibrations of Auroville.
In the section Auroville surroundings there is an article on the Irumbai temple, its restoration and how the connected legend of the Kaluveli Sidhar was translated into prose and dance. Finally we report on the crisis at the Auroville library and on the fatal attraction of Auroville
Here follow a few of the articles. We wish you happy reading. Please subscribe if you want to read more, or ask for a free copy. Details are elsewhere on this web page. Subscriptions can now also be ordered and paid on line through www.auroville.com/auroville-today .
The main article of the January 2009 issue of Auroville Today is about the social and environmental business programmes of one of Auroville's commercial units, Upasana.
We further report on Auroville's work towards child protection in the Auroville area and about the activities at Auroville's Youth Centre. In the section environment we report on the canyons of Auroville, in the section farming, on the success of Annapurna farm. We further present the memories of Jan Allan, a forecomer at Fertile; a review of the play ‘The King's Stag'; and a portrait of Tewa, Jivan and their children. Guest editor B writes about ‘A hyperlink to Human Unity'; and Allen reflects on the forest as a living being.
Here follow a few of the articles. We wish you happy reading. Please subscribe if you want to read more, or ask for a free copy. Details are elsewhere on this web page. Subscriptions can now also be ordered and paid on line through www.auroville.com/auroville-today .
Auroville publications often mention its outreach activities in the neighbouring villages and the surrounding region. However, they rarely assess the effectiveness of our programmes for village development, women's empowerment and ecosystem regeneration. How sustainable are such programmes? Do they remain fully dependent upon Auroville for their continued existence or have they acquired their own impetus?
And what are the changes wrought by these programmes? Are they skin-deep or more permanent? In the December 2008 issue of Auroville Today, we try to find out.
Read about the achievements and challenges of the work in the village of Nandakuppam; about the relevance of the work of Palmyra in Auroville's bioregion; about the success of the work of Village Action to bring change into the neighbouring villages; and about the work that has been done by Auroville's Coastal-area Development Centre (ACDC), which has now ceased its activities.
The issue further gives an insight on what it means to pioneer Aranya – a forest sanctuary. It further highlights the work of the Nepali watchmen in Auroville and reports on a havoc created by Cyclone Nisha and the ‘Being Well' workshop. In the section ‘profiles' you'll find a interview with Chen Xubo, a visitor from China, and what Tamil Aurovilians are doing in the city of Portsmouth, England. The issue concludes giving an insight in the Weltwärts programme, under which German volunteers come to Auroville.
The November 2008 issue is about two birthday celebrations. In October, UNESCO, whose General Assembly has passed four resolutions over the years in support of Auroville, marked Auroville's fortieth year by holding a major event at its headquarters in Paris . And Auroville Today itself is twenty years old: our first issue was published in the midst of the monsoon rains in November, 1988. We've always been averse to blowing our own trumpet, so we let someone else do it for us! In other words, we asked several long-term subscribers to choose their favourite or most memorable articles out of the three thousand or so we have published over the years.
The issue further carries a review of the book Turning Points. In the section spiritual search we carry articles on Auroville and Ramana Maharishi, the Arul Ashram - Shanti Bhavan down the East Coast Road , about a Vision quest in a cave, and on searching the Goddess. For didn't The Mother once say that a crucial first step was to make contact with the Divine…it didn't matter so much which path was taken as long as it assisted the individual in reaching this goal? Here some Aurovilians speak about other paths which they feel complement the Integral Yoga and which help them in their spiritual search
The main topic of the October 2008 issue deals with our neighbours.
It's a phenomenon seen all over the world. When a place acquires a certain level of complexity and dynamism, it attracts not only new residents but also people who wish to live close by. Are they coming for economic gain or is there a deeper connection?
The issue further carries an article on the Matrimandir Crane, on the and on the Svaram workshop. The section new books carries a review of the latest book of former International Advisory Council member Marc Luyckx Ghisi, titled The Knowledge Society, reports on a salsa workshop and the latest interaction of the cat Pelagius…
Cashing-in on Auroville? Signs on the ‘ Auroville Main Road ' from the East Coast Road to Kuilapalayam village.
It's a phenomenon seen all over the world. When a place acquires a certain level of complexity and dynamism, it attracts not only new residents but also people who wish to live close by.
Auroville is no exception. Over recent years the explosion of buildings coming up on the fringes of Auroville – houses, guest-houses and shops – confirms that, whether we like it or not, a ‘greater Auroville' is already here.
Some Aurovilians fear the worst; that these people are coming here only to feed off Auroville, not to give anything back. Certainly, in the case of many of the shops and businesses mushrooming up around us, the commercial motive is predominant. Then there are those who just want to benefit from all that Auroville has achieved so far. These live close by because of the greenery, peace and cleanliness, or because of the cosmopolitan nature of the community that manifests in stimulating conversations, cross-cultural performances, exotic food and workshops.
Yet when Auroville Today went out to interview our neighbours, we discovered that a surprising number of those living around Auroville are attracted by something deeper, by Auroville's ideals and by the writings and example of Mother and Sri Aurobindo (some have been studying them for many years). Many of these people have an Ashram background or have been visiting Auroville for many years; many have long-time friendships with Aurovilians. While they eat at Auroville restaurants or attend our cultural events, these people are not interested in just benefitting. Some of them make regular financial contributions. Many of them would like a more active exchange, to offer their skills and energy in helping Auroville grow.
However, some Aurovilians believe that there is an essential asymmetry: that it's impossible not to take more than you give if you live in proximity to Auroville but don't commit yourself fully to the experience. So why don't these people become Aurovilians? Some tried but, for one reason or another, (the difficulty of finding accommodation is often cited) it didn't work out. Many have family responsibilities, work circumstances or physical problems that prevent them living here full-time. Some feel unwilling to make the large financial commitment necessitated by building in Auroville if they have no way of recuperating their costs should the experience not work out. Others want to retain a certain freedom – for example, in how they run their businesses – which they don't think possible if they join Auroville.
In other words, for quite a number of our well-meaning neighbours Auroville remains a step too far.
This raises an interesting question – what does it mean to be called an Aurovilian? Is it limited to those physically living on this plot of land or can we conceive of something larger? Then again, if ‘Aurovilian' is too precious a term to be shared freely, could there be other relations? Some of our neighbours would like some kind of status that recognises their commitment to our ideals and their wish to help us. Could we revive the Friends of Auroville, albeit in a new form, for people like these?
Or, as one of them put it, would we prefer living in an exclusive club?
“Do not close the door to us”
“I do not belong to anything”
Dayakara – a dog’s paradise
An upbeat bike repair shop
The Matrimandir crane
“We became a dance family”
Before we start the overview of the issues of the September 2008 issue, we wish to share with you a photo of the early morning Auroville bonfire on August 15, 2008, taken from the roof of the Matrimandir.
Photo credit: Photo Giorgio
The main topic of the September 2008 issue is dedicated to research where we present some of the latest Aurovilian inventions.
The issue also carries an essay of former Governing Board member Ameeta Mehra on ‘what Savitri means to me'. Former Economy group member Lyle expressed his concerns on Auroville's economy. An article on pregnant newcomers – are they unwelcome in Auroville? – discusses the difficulties faced by the Entry Service.
In the section culture we highlight the Festival of Kabir and the performance of Auroville's band ‘Emergence' Glastonbury , England .
Aurovilians are an inventive lot: you have to be just to deal with the vagaries and unpredictability of daily life here. But when Mother insisted that Auroville will be a place for "experiments, research, studies" she seemed to have something else in mind. She wanted the Aurovilians to break new ground, untrammelled by the pressures of money and prestige and politics that dictate so much research elsewhere in the world.
Over the years Auroville has had its share of mad-cap inventors and inventions - who can forget those early ideas about making the Matrimandir crystal hover in mid-air? - but generally Aurovilians' inventiveness has been a response to real and pressing needs. In the early years, this resulted in things like a cheap, portable, environmentally- sensitive house (the 'capsule') or a less energy-intensive way of pumping water (the Cretan windmill) or homemade algae cultivation. Today, it's more likely to mean innovative computer programmes or cheap alternatives to air-conditioning or new forms of electric transport.
In this issue we present some of the latest Aurovilian inventions and our not-so-mad inventors.
The main topic of the August 2008 issue is dedicated to Sri Aurobindo. The main article is about an important new biography The Lives of Sri Aurobindo which has just been published in the U.S.A. Written by Peter Heehs of the Ashram Archives, it is the product of many years of painstaking research. Auroville Today spoke to him about the challenges involved in writing about Sri Aurobindo and presents a review of the book.
The issue also carries interviews with Dr. Karan Singh, Chairman of the Governing Board of the Auroville Foundation, and with members of the Auroville International Advisory Council. The Governing Board and International Advisory Council had meetings in Auroville at the end of July. These were their last meetings as their term of office will expire in September and October 2008.
The third main issue is Auroville's handling of its ageing population. In four articles we look at the many aspects of ageing in Auroville: how to age gracefully; the material problems of ageing; and we profile how two elderly gentlemen cope with getting older.
The issue further carries the last interview of Serge Brelin, given a few months before his untimely death; and reports on Women's Day 2008, and how nice it is to return from the West and be home again!
The June-July 2008 double issue of Auroville Today deals with two main topics.
The first topic is Auroville's ecological outreach programmes: the restoration of Chennai's Adyar Creek and the progress made in the coastal eco restoration after the 2004 tsunami. The issue also has a portrait of the work of the Shakti nursery
The second main issue is Auroville's refutation of a recent BBC broadcast, in which it was alleged that Auroville condones sexual exploitation of children by Aurovilians.
Other articles in this issue deal with the development of social software systems as tools for community collaboration and consensus; the development of old utopias through human history; and a photo special of Giorgio.
In the section new books there are the announcements of three new books on Sri Aurobindo and The Mother:
Sri Aurobindo: The Poet of Nature & other writings on Savitri by Asoka K. Ganguli;
Sri Aurobindo and the Future Psychology by A.S. Dalal with contributions of Brant Cortright, Michael Miovic & Alok Pandey;
and ‘Auroville patri Sri Annai kooriyavai', the Tamil translation of The Mother on Auroville – References in Mother's Agenda, translated by S. Mahalingam.
Lastly there is A summer's harvest…
Here follow a few of the articles. We wish you happy reading.
By following the links you are welcome to read a few of the articles. We wish you happy reading.
The main topic of the May 2008 issue of Auroville Today deals with Auroville's Outreach schools – schools created for the benefit of the children from the surrounding villages.
“How can we prepare the children, children taken from anywhere, who have no way of learning at home, whose parents are ignorant, who have no possibility of having any means to learn, nothing, nothing, nothing but the raw material, like that – how can we teach them to live? That will be an interesting problem,” said The Mother in November, 1967.
In this issue we report on the successes and difficulties of three of Auroville's seven Outreach Schools. They are the Udavi Gentilesse School in the village of Edaiyanchavadi ; Auroville's one-year old New Era Secondary School in Aspiration known earlier as After School; and the New Creation Bilingual School nearby the village of Kuyilapalayam .
Other topics in this issue of Auroville Today are the two-day visit of Dr. Karan Singh; How to complete Bharat Nivas, the Pavilion of India; and the work of OutreachMedia in dealing with increasing numbers of media-persons visiting Auroville.
In the sections Culture and New Bbooks we review the performance of Sri Aurobindo's play Eric as well as the new compilation Sri Aurobindo: A Contemporary Reader by editor, Sachidananda Mohanty, and the anthology of poems Between Seasons by Lloyd Hofman .
Last there is an impression of the work done at Sadhana Forest . The issue is concluded with a small description of Auroville's Farewell project.
The April 2008 issue of Auroville Today deals with Auroville's guests and visitors . The past guest season has been the busiest by far. The tensions it has generated in Aurovilians and visitors alike is raising searching questions like, what are our expectations of visitors and guests? What can they bring? Can we do more for them? And how can we prevent Auroville becoming, as one Aurovilian put it, “a second Goa ”? Closely related to this issue are the newly developed Matrimandir access policies.
In this issue we also portray two units: AVITRA , Auroville International Translators; and Tree Care – a unit involved in arboriculture (the art and science of tree care). The article Showing promise deals with the community of Promesse, located on the Tindivanam – Pondicherry highway.
The article Russians in Auroville deals with another community: that of the Russians in Auroville – 48 of them, apart from the over two dozen other Aurovilians who were born in the former Soviet Union, but are now passport-holders of fiercely independent nations.
The issue further contains reviews of the exhibition Blue Invasion , showing the work of artists Monique Patenaude; a review of Kalidasa's play Shakuntala, or the Ring of Remembrance ; a review of the performance of the Auroville Renaissance Cappella with songs on the theme of Death and beyond; and a review of the Bharata Natyam performance on the Kaluvelli Siddhar legend, the ancient legend of how Auroville was predicted thousands of years ago by Lord Shiva himself .
In the section ‘animal care' we show the work of Auroville's Pony farm. The issue is concluded with a small reverie on Beauty in Auroville
The March 2008 issue of Auroville Today is dedicated to Auroville's 40th anniversary celebrations. We present photos of the bonfire celebration and the Unity Kolam ceremony; snapshots of a birthday seminar; an impression of the dance performance "Savitri: Flame of the Future"; the arrival of Sri Aurobindo's statue at Savitri Bhavan; an exhibition on The Mother and Auroville; the 3-day psychology conference at SAWCHU; and give an insight in The Auroville Look
Two articles deal with aspects of the governance of Auroville. One answers the question whether the Auroville Foundation is an autonomous body or a department of the Government of India; the second presents the views of the members of the International Advisory Council who met in Auroville on February 26th-27th.
In the section profiles we portray Manohar, who talks about his life in Auroville, and Anamika who crafts smoke-fired pots.
Lastly there is the sports page with an interview with the organizers of the national mountain bike race and the Auroville marathon.
This month, Auroville is forty years old. This birthday coincides with the completion of the Matrimandir, which has been under construction for almost as long.
To celebrate this double event, Auroville Today – which will itself mark twenty years of publication this year – is publishing for the first time an issue in colour so that we can show both the soaring lines and the beauty in detail of the Matrimandir. It is our tribute to the thousands who, through the years, have either worked on or supported from afar this unique project for humanity.
“The Matrimandir,” wrote The Mother, “will be the soul of Auroville. The sooner the soul is there, the better it will be for everybody and especially for the Aurovilians.”
This issue also pays tribute to Roger Anger, whom The Mother had appointed as the Chief Architect of Auroville. He passed away on 15th January at the age of 84.
Other articles in this issue deal with the question if Auroville is an emerging spiritual township; Consecration as a way of life – a report of a ten day workshop at Vérité on how to consecrate our daily lives to ‘remembering and offering'; Talking with the body – an interview with Goupi who has been offering massages in Auroville for thirty years; and about the nascent University of Human Unity. The issue concludes with an article on the almost lost Japanese ‘Art of Kirikane', by master craftswoman, Sayoko Eri.
If you want to read more and keep this special tribute to the completion of the Matrimandir's, please order the special February 2008 issue.
As we approach the 40th anniversary of Auroville's inauguration, Aurovilians differ over how to mark it. Some welcome the planned influx of VVIPs, others feel it would be more appropriate to use the day to quietly celebrate Mother's great gift to the world and to acknowledge those who have devoted so much of their lives to this project.
Whatever the response, it's clear that this is an opportunity for us to take stock: to look at where we have come from, to see what we have achieved and where we have stumbled, and to identify the main opportunities and challenges confronting us.
We set the ball rolling by asking long-term Aurovilians to range over the history of the past forty years and to talk about what inspires them – and concerns them – today. We also provide a brief ‘shopping list' of some of Auroville's major achievements on the material and social level, not forgetting, of course, that the crucial changes we are asked to make are inner rather than outer.
Other articles are about the Deepanam school, Film culture in Auroville, volunteering, rising population,...
The main articles of the December issue of Auroville Today deal with education. Teachers from Future School explain the role and function of Future School ; Tamil parents speak about why they feel the need to send their children out of Auroville to study at schools in Pondicherry ; and there is a personal perspective of what it means to be a teacher at Last School . The other main article deals with Auroville's housing crisis. It's time to act!
The December issue also carries a sampling of the work of two artists: Charudatta's caricatures Chantal Gowa's portraits.
This issue also carries articles about the urgent need to protect the Pondicherry and Tamil Nadu coast from beach erosion; the new spirit at Aspiration Pour Tous; the Mitra Youth hostel, and how it was to join a workshop with Sraddhalu in Nainital
More than a decade ago a children's opera on texts and music written by an Aurovilian was performed in Auroville. Though it was a great success, the effort was not repeated till October this year when the musical ‘Olivier!' hit the stage. The performance played to a full house on both nights. “This is real community theatre and I feel so proud of what we've produced,” said one of the adult participants.
In the November 2007 issue of Auroville Today we also continue Aurovilian's reflections. Claude and Abha speak about the need for more fraternity; Liliana and Marco about the inner conviction required to live in Auroville; Nelly and Rene recollect their difficulties of joining Auroville in the beginning; and Dharmesh and Rakhee talk about the imperative for Auroville to manifest as a collective and the need for more openness in our dealings together.
The issue also contains the reflections of former Economy Group member Lyle on Auroville's economy and the view of Auroville International about the land, as expressed in their yearly AVI meeting in Montréal , Canada . The section ‘community' features and article on Aspiration community – the need for new houses and about its early history. Then there is an article about the Russian community of Ethnomir and its connection to Auroville.
Two articles portray two young Tamil Aurovilians: Suresh, who now works at the video library, Selvam, who works at Annapurna farm.
In the section obituaries we remember Mireille Albrecht and Dr. L.M. Singhvi.
Auroville Today has been relatively successful over the years in covering the big issues in the community as well as many of the most interesting projects and initiatives. But what about the texture of everyday life, that invisible sea in which we all swim, woven from the preoccupations, the frustrations and joys of individual Aurovilians?
In the October 2007 issue we speak to Aurovilians from very different backgrounds in an attempt to ‘take the pulse' of the community today. We have no illusions that we will arrive at anything definitive but certain themes keep recurring. These include concerns about increasing bureaucratization; the struggle to marry ideals with the increasing difficulty of sustaining oneself in today's Auroville; the feeling that the spirit of community is weakening; and the need for a more practical, less conceptual approach to issues like town-planning and education. Alongside this, however, is the sense that Auroville is still very much ‘on the way', symbolized for many by the newly-completed Matrimandir.
The issue also carries a report on the meetings of the Governing Board and International Advisory Council, and introduces new Board member Ameeta Mehra and new Council member Vishakha Desai.
The issue further carries a critical note on the Auroville housing conundrum; gives information on the launching of a Community Radio network; reports on a new music room for the singing children of New Creation; and carries an extensive review of four new books on psychology and integral yoga. Finally we publish excerpts of a talk by Sonia Dyne on Sri Aurobindo on the nature of freedom.
The front page article of the September 2007 issue of Auroville Today deals with a video Reliving the magic of constructing Matrimandir . What was it then? What was the experience of those Aurovilians of the early days who worked bare-handed, with few resources, but with such a dedication and commitment? As film maker Doris put it, “You Aurovilians who met Mother or who worked for many years on the Matrimandir experienced something which we latecomers don't have. Something of this vibration has to be kept alive, it has to be fed, nurtured.”
A major development in August has been that the organisation and method of decision making of the Residents' Assembly has finally been laid down. A proposal of the Working Committee was accepted that ach Aurovilian of over 18 years has the right and privilege to participate in decision-making, but there is no compulsion. Those who want to participate should be able to do so in the way most convenient to them: by email; through the ballot box; or in a meeting of the RA. As Auroville still lacks elaborate identification systems, the voting would be ‘open': those counting the votes will know how everybody has voted. A quorum of 10% of the total number of Auroville residents is accepted; and decisions are taken by simple majority vote.
In the section environment, Auroville Today reports about the expected intrusion of salt water into the aquifers of the bioregion. This may well be the biggest environmental threat Auroville – and all the villages in the area – will ever have to face. Another article deals with the completion of an environmental education centre at the Auroville Botanical Gardens, which was inaugurated on August 10th by the Lieutenant-Governor of Puducherry, Shri Mukut Mithi.
How the farms bring their produce to the Aurovilians is topic of another article. Over the years, Foodlink has been responsible for marketing dry goods, such as rice and other local grains from Auroville farms. But now Foodlink has taken on the role of being the central collection and distribution service for all of Auroville's farm produce.
Two articles feature in the section education . One is about the new Lilamayi crèche near Transformation. The other about the decision of one of Auroville's outreach high schools to embrace a new National curriculum that emphasises activity-based learning.
Two articles highlight aspects of Auroville and the bioregion. One is how women are empowered through the WELL (Women's Empowerment through Local Livelihood) project; the other article is about the Edaiyanchavadi village walkabout organized by Tamarai, its new cultural and educational centre.
The section culture carries an article on the 'Unity in Diversity' exhibition featuring the works of Auroville's newest five-artist collective at the Cymroza gallery in Mumbai. In the section family issues we report about what it means for Aurovilians to leave their parents behind.
In November, 2002, Auroville Today wrote about the dilemma of the disappearing beaches. Coastal management expert Aurofilio Schiavina warned of the imminent loss of Auroville's beaches due to “unsustainable development practices in Puducherry.”
He was referring to the construction of two long breakwaters to the south of Puducherry town in the late 1980s as part of a new port development. These breakwaters had blocked the sea's natural transport of sand up and down the coast (known as ‘littoral drift'), causing a massive build-up of sand to the south of these structures and fierce erosion of the beaches to the north.
If the writing was on the wall in 2002, the situation is worse now. In little more than five years villages to the immediate north have lost their beaches. The Auroville beaches too, Filio warned, “face the prospect either of being washed away or needing protection by massive seawalls to prevent an erosion disaster.” The main article of the August issue of Auroville Today deals with this looming threat.
On the 40th birth anniversary of Auroville in February 2008, the Governing Board of the Auroville Foundation intends to unveil a statue of Sri Aurobindo in Auroville. Auroville Today researched files of the Ashram Archives to find what Sri Aurobindo and The Mother had to say about statues – and about relics. The pickings were thin, but the few we found were amazingly rich. This issue carries two conversations of The Mother with Satprem; one on the inner force and presence of statues, the other on placing statues in the open air.
The other articles of the August issue cover with a great variety of issues. The section healthcare carries an article on the Auroville Health Centre, which has installed a telemedicine service for patients with mental disorders. The sections on Auroville organisation carry articles on the Auroville Unity Fund and on the Visa Policy. On the International Zone we report on the USA Pavilion; in the section research we cover the electric vehicle project which has restarted under the newly formed LADS – the Laboratory of Auroville Designers. The issue has also articles on Kuilapalayam school, the Maasi magam celebrations, on the new book The three gunas; on the difference between art, craft and kala; on Manikandan who cycles to promote environmental awareness; and last but not least on providing animal welfare around Auroville and what it means to carry out 115 sterilisations in 25 days.
June - July 2007
The main articles of the June-July issue of Auroville today deal with issues of concern. Land acquisition is a major one. How can we secure the remaining land in the city and greenbelt areas? What actions are feasible in view of limited purchasing budgets? The members of the Land Consolidation Committee, considering that “We have to act now,” have made some far-reaching proposals.
Another major concern is to exactly what extent the Governing Board of the Auroville Foundation should intervene in the affairs of Auroville. Already in March 2007, fears were expressed for such an increased intervention. The fears seem to be warranted.
A third concern these months has been the constitution of l'Avenir d'Auroville, the successor to both the Auroville Planning and Development Council and Auroville's Future. It hasn't been exactly ‘smooth sailing'.
Lastly, there is the concern of how conflicts in Auroville get solved. Meditation, a technique which has recently been introduced by the High Court in Chennai, seems to be a promising option and to be in harmony with Auroville's ideals.
In the section ‘profiles' we portray former Auroville Today editor Bill, who returned to Auroville for a short visit; and four dedicated Tamil Aurovilians: Ram Kumar who works at Savitri Bhavan; Raju, who runs the Auroville Vehicle Service; Kumar, who works at Pitanga; and Selvaraj who teaches at New Creation.
In the section ‘environment' we report on a success story and an uphill battle. The success story occurs in Pune and in West Bengal , where Aurovilian Margarita has successfully introduced Efficient Micro-organisms (EM) for cleaning contaminated soil and for the eradication of malaria. Margarita has received an award for this work from the Efficient Micro-organisms (EM) International Partners Conference in Kansas City , USA .
The uphill battle is fought by Auroville's bio-pesticide campaigners. Notwithstanding years of effort at education and awareness-building, too little progress is being made. Chemical pesticides continue to be sprayed.
Other topics highlighted in this issue of Auroville Today are about the creative way in which the Creativity community got the money to pay for its cattle grids – by selling art; about the Auroville International meeting in Kazakhstan; and about the ‘Auroville Design Studio', a two week workshop for young Indian architects. Lastly architects Eugen and David stress the need to develop urban design parameters to create formulas for a new urban design for Auroville.
With each passing year, the Earth Day-related festivities in Auroville seem to get more celebratory, participatory, and practical than the ones before. This year, the organizers, a bunch of motivated high-energy Aurovilians, plus what seemed like an army of volunteers, banded together and put their energies into creating a thought-provoking, informative, optimistic, and fun-filled schedule from April 16th to the 21st, the week leading up to Earth Day on April 22nd. There were two film festivals every day, late afternoon talks by Aurovilian experts on various environmental topics, a week-long eco-exhibition showcasing diverse themes from food consumption patterns to dealing with plastic waste, and mini-workshops on natural dyeing. Auroville Today, in its May issue, extensively reports on all that went on during the Earth Day celebrations in Auroville.
Other topics highlighted in this issue of Auroville Today are about the way in which the new Working Committee and Auroville Council were selected. Artist Marije Romme, at the occasion of her exhibition Creations from Nature at Pitanga reflects on how to reconnect with the artist within. Visitor Soleil speaks about her workshops to Aurovilians in the Hladina Method, which is a means of maximising the body's capacity to open to healing and the Psychic Being. Another ‘reflective' article recounts the experience of a week-long retreat in a Zen mountain monastery in South India with discipline, silence and deep rest. The issue carries obituaries of Satprem, Klara Siritzki and Aurovilian Dietra. In a lighter vein there is an article "Auroville in the blogosphere", with a diverse selection drawn from weblogs (or blogs) posted on the internet over the past two months by visitors.
Auroville is sometimes described as a multicultural society. If ‘multicultural' refers merely to a diversity of nationalities this is true, if not necessarily notable: almost any inner city school in London or New York contains more nationalities than Auroville. But if ‘multicultural' implies not simply the coexistence of different cultures, but a society which celebrates and is enriched by the diversity of its cultures, we move on to more problematic terrain.
Because while Auroville is generally a success story in terms of the ability of its various cultures to live and work together, there are times when national or cultural fault lines suddenly seem to open up.
Why is this? The truth seems to be that many if not most Aurovilians continue to be influenced, to some extent at least, by the attitudes and perspectives of the culture in which they grew up. This is hard for us to accept – particularly as many of the people who are drawn to Auroville are attempting to reach beyond the limitations of nationality or caste – but unless we acknowledge this and start working creatively with it, both personally and as a community, it is likely that further difficulties will lie ahead and we will fail to utilise the true richness of our cultural diversity.
In the April issue of Auroville Today we try to throw some light on this sensitive issue. Doudou Diène speaks about his experience, as UN Special Rapporteur, of racism and discrimination in different countries of the world; two South Africans – one black, one white – who recently ran cultural sensitization programmes in Auroville talk about how they managed to transcend profound personal differences, and Aurovilians explore different cultural perspectives
on issues which are central to the development of Auroville as a true community.
Other topics highlighted in this issue of Auroville Today are how the community is providing for the basic needs of the residents;
a report on an exhibition on Mother's Balcony and Terrace Darshans; how to ensure the water supply of the bioregion;
a memory of Erica, an elderly Aurovilian who returned to Germany; encountering Michael Murphy, the recently appointed member of the International Advisory Council; and we portray snapshots of photographer Sebastian Cortès. The issue ends with a report on Adventura: Auroville's adventurers.
In mid January, the Matrimandir was temporarily closed to speed up the completion of the final work on the structure. This meant completing the ramps, the inner skin and the outer doors, in addition to a few minor details. The intention was to ‘unveil' the finished building on the 21st February, the 36th anniversary of the beginning of the Matrimandir excavation. However, despite the heroic efforts of the workers, not all the tasks were completed by the deadline.
Nevertheless, Auroville Today decided this would be a good opportunity to speak to Aurovilians and workers who have long been connected with the construction to find out what the Matrimandir means to them and what the imminent completion of the structure may signify. Read about the views of Roger Anger, Piero, Narad, Alain Grandcolas, Loganathan, Shanmugam, Lakshminarayan, Manavalan, Kumar, Andy, Michael Bonke and Ruud Lohman.
The March issue further reports on the meeting of the Auroville International Advisory Council and its proposal that Auroville has an executive leadership; and on the reconstitution of the Funds and Assets Management Committee by the Governing Board of the Auroville Foundation. It also carries extracts from a talk by Ervin Laszlo, former member of the Auroville International Advisory Council; and reports on the Jean Monnet exhibition in New Delhi and the workshop on Awakening creative entrepreneurship workshop. Last but not least there are the views of Israeli sabras in Auroville; an article how the Koreans celebrate their culture; and the views of the 6-year olds from the Nandaman Kindergarten on “Kids' city Auroville”
January and February is the high season in Auroville for visitors and guests. 5000 visitors a day pass through the Visitors Centre and all the guest houses and spaces are full. How does Auroville cope with this influx, particularly in respect to the main attraction, the Matrimandir? What are the kinds of things visitors want to know? How well does Auroville receive them? Can we, should we, do more? The February issue of Auroville Today gives perspectives on this issue, which is becoming all the more relevant now that The Matrimandir is on the verge of being finished.
One of the main problems of Auroville is the provision of water for the city. Can this be done in isolation from the surrounding villages? This issue carries a report from Dutch specialist Eri Salomé who pleads for setting up an integrated water management authorityfor the entire area.
The January issue further carries articles about the evolutionary destiny of America, based on a talk by Robert McDermott; a review of an exhibition on Zen and the soul of Japanese painting; and the views of Ulrich Mohrhoff, a teacher of maths, physics and quantum philosophy in the Sri Aurobindo Ashram school, who gave a talk on The Physics of Sachchindananda.
Finally there is an article on the building of Auroville's own nature camp near Kavunji, a village about 9 kilometres from Berijam in the Western Ghatts ; an article on La Compagnie des Films de L'Inde portraying the work of Basile and Claudine; and how it is to build an Kazakhstan Yurt in Auroville.
Land purchase for the city of Auroville , stopped during the tenure of the previous Secretary of the Auroville Foundation, has been renewed with vigour. Since the new Secretary, Mr. M. Ramasamy I.A.S, took office at the beginning of November, 5.88 acres in the City area and 2.63 acres in the Greenbelt have been purchased. A number of other land deals are in the pipeline. But it is still a drop in the ocean. In the City area, 220 acres still have to be secured. In the Greenbelt , the first priority is to secure about 500 acres to consolidate existing forest and farming areas. ‘Landpurchase', says Mr. Ramasawmy, “is my most important task.” One and a half months later Auroville Today requested him for an update.
The January issue also gives the views of Richard Register, is a well-known advocate of redesigning cities for the benefit of people and nature rather than automobiles, who, during a brief visit to Auroville with his associate, Kirstin Miller, he made a presentation on ‘ecocities' and expressed the hope that Auroville would be one. We also present a new book on AV Architecture, published by Prisma, which underscores what interesting architecture we have in Auroville.
This issue also reports on the Consequences of Compassion. Relations with one of the neighbouring villages became strained when a young boy, who had been caught stealing in Auroville, was returned to his village as he was very young. However, the boy, perhaps hurt by the consequences of his action and the dishonour brought on himself and his family, committed suicide by hanging the next day.
Then there is a view of what to be done to increase Auroville's population which, in the period August 2004 – November 2006, grew by a mere 2%.
In the section Health care, this issue carries an article about new ways in homeopathy. Homeopath Peter Holl, who is participating in developing new pathways in homeopathy, talks about his work. In the section food, we report a new product from Auroville's cheese unit La Ferme: delicious goat cheese, and in the section agriculture about the progress of Auroville's farms, five of which are now certified ‘organic.'
It is not often that Auroville gets a donation of art. But recently, a bronze statue of, called ‘L'Offrande', 'The Offering,' was donated by Canadian sculptor Robert Lorrain and installed in the pond near Café Morgan at the Town Hall. ‘The Offering', says Lorrain, ‘is the result of various inspirations and attempts to express the meaning of ‘offering' as described by Sri Aurobindo in his ‘The Synthesis of Yoga':
What are the experiences of a newcomer to Auroville? Amy, a Californian Newcomer, shares her experience of two years living in Auroville. What were her first impressions of Auroville? “Not so good,” she says. “I couldn't reconcile what I had seen on the Web about the spirituality of the place and what I saw with my own eyes.”
Also read about the life experience of Krishna, who runs the Auroville Transport Service. Phone for a taxi, and the chances are great that you get him on the line. But who is he, and how did this service develop?
The issue also carries Dianna's experiences of learning Tamil and teaching English; obituaries of Suresh Joshi and Seyril Schochen, impressions of celebrating Deepam, and a review of the play ‘The Rainmaker'
Over the 18 years of its existence, Auroville Today has covered many aspects of village life and Auroville's relationship with the villagers. But we have never focussed upon those who provide a much-valued service in many Aurovilians' homes – the household ‘ammas'. In the December issue of Auroville Today, we report on their lives, their aspirations, and how they view both their work and Auroville in general.
The issue further carries a report of an interaction of the new Secretary, Mr. M. Ramaswamy with Aurovilians. In the section Matrimandir there is an article describing the petal shields in the twelve meditation rooms around the Matrimandir. You'll also find a viewpoint on an appropriate Auroville economic model by Jean-Yves.
In an earlier issue of Auroville Today, October 2006, an article mentioned the inauguration of the statues of Sri Aurobindo and Swami Vivekananda in the Indian House of Parliament. “Was there any connection between these two spiritual giants?” asked a reader? “Yes there was,” answers Gilles Guigan, who describes Sri Aurobindo's experience of hearing Swami Vivekananda's voice in Alipore Jail in Kolkata. Suzie writes about her visit to Alipore Jail, and her experience meditating in the cell where Sri Aurobindo was imprisoned.
Is Auroville growing? Recent population statistics released by the Residents' Service indeed show that the population has increased to 1865 people – slow, but steady.
That Auroville's unit Deepam works with disabled village children is well-known. Lesser known it is that disabled children also are helped by Persian Sky, Auroville's healing horse. Read about how this in a catching article by Priya.
This issue also features inventor Mario, who has created so-called ‘Ambience harmonizers', a new home appliance that, by emitting charged sound-light, improves the atmosphere in one's living room. Further there is a report on the Auroville International meeting in Italy and the Formia experience; and a photo essay of Joanna, a woman from Poland who visited Auroville for a few months and whose articles and photographs featured in many of our last issues.
In the section ‘profiles' you will meet with Courage Residents who speak about the experience of building community. Then there is a reports on the play “Ophelia and O,” presented by the Auroville Theatre Group at the New Creation Dance Studio; and lastly, there is a report on the inauguration of Thamarai, on November12th, in a beautiful old Tamil house in Edaiyanchavadi village.
The November 2006 issue of Auroville Today starts with a report on “A very special Bridge”: the new building in the Savitri Bhavan complex that was inaugurated by Dr. Karan Singh, the Chairman of the Auroville Foundation, on September 29th. The bridge, of course, refers to the building's importance as a focal point for the connection between the Sri Aurobindo Ashram and Auroville.
Dr. Karan Singh had come to Auroville to chair the half-yearly meeting of the Governing Board of the Auroville Foundation. The Board has decided that the completion of the Matrimandir on February 21, 2007, The Mother's birthday, will be celebrated quietly with introspection and meditation. However, on the occasion of the 40th anniversary of Auroville, on February 28, 2008, the Board wishes to organize a grand event and reach out to those outside of Auroville. As Dr. Karan Singh half-seriously quipped, “Auroville has become well-known throughout the world and has become too important to be left only to the Aurovilians.” The Board also decided to restart land acquisition which had been stopped under the previous Secretary and would soon, it said, address its concern of the slow population growth. “We have to apply our minds to how we can encourage young people from India and abroad to join Auroville,” said Dr. Karan Singh.
This issue also features Dr. Karan Singh in a different capacity. As the son of the last Maharaja of Kashmir, building temples is part of his family responsibility. On September 30 th he and his wife Smt. Yasho Rajya Lakshmi inaugurated the new pyramidal Sri Karneshwar Nataraja temple on the beach at Kizh Puthupet in Pudhukuppam, 10 kilometres north of Auroville. It was designed and built by the Auroville Earth Institute.
The International Advisory Council also met in Auroville at the time of the meeting of the Governing Board. The issue carries a report on their interaction with members of the community on how to find a proper organizational model for Auroville and the meaning of democracy.
In the section ‘profiles' you will meet Kalsang, the caretaker of the Pavilion of Tibetan Culture; the community of Solitude that experiments with ‘natural farming' and providing organic home-grown lunches; and the youngsters of Roy's Boarding in New Creation. And there is an interview with long-term Aurovilian Croquette, who now lives in France . We also report on how security in Auroville is improving. Last but not least there is a contribution on ‘Honouring the Goddess' featuring the celebrations of Navaratri, and what it means to go for health check-ups to the Institute of Naturopathy and Yogic Sciences in Bangalore .
Foremost in the October 2006 issue of Auroville Today is a report on the Matrimandir: the main structures are expected to be ready on February 21st, 2007. The issue further contains articles on the inauguration of the statues of Sri Aurobindo and Swami Vivekananda in the Parliament House of India; and how Auroville celebrated Eleven Days of Global Unity.
The success of building the Integrated Child Development Centres by Suhasini and her team is highlighted in another article. It shows that Auroville's tradition of 'Quietly building the best', is being continued.
An important issue is the struggle against the use of chemical pesticides. A report on the Pesticides Survey 2006 shows the successes.
Another article profiles Johnny from Fertile, a playwright, actor, carpenter, singer, architect, builder, teacher, tree-planter, farmer and odd-job man. Since coming to Auroville in the early 1970s he seems to have done it all. In Auroville Today he shared his thoughts on a wide range of topics.
Architects Nadia and David came about a year ago with their son Tristan to try-out Auroville. They left again for Arcosanti, a community in the United States , after having been involved in the development of the U.S. pavilion.
On the lighter side, Dianna reports about Auroville fashion as 'A Hotbed of Diversity' and on 'Celebrating One Thousand Moons', honouring Aurovilians and Ashramites who had seen one thousand moons. Priya Sundaravalli writes about doing a craft workshop, playing with colour and form, and Manoj about how ants can be in Bliss. Auroville Radio is a newly born but quickly growing exciting reality in our communication network.
Lastly the issue carries a book review on Awareness through the Body and on how the Six degrees of separation , the hypothesis that anyone on Earth can be connected to any other person on the planet through a chain of acquaintances with no more than five intermediaries, is applicable to Auroville..
The September issue of Auroville Today is different. It came out late as, for the first time in our history most of the team members were out during the summer months for a long period. When we had our full complement of editors again, it was too late to hit our usual deadline for the August issue, which is why the August issue did not appear.
There is another difference: the quality of printing has vastly improved, as we have opted to go for a digital printing process. This implies taking the issue to Chennai, as such printing is not available in Pondicherry . The results, however, justify the effort.
Here we offer some extracts of the September issue:
The UNESCO connection,
The world's longest love letter,
Effective micro-organisms for sanitation,
Hitler and his God.
June - July 2006
The first article of the June-July double issue of Auroville today carries a reflection on the two seasons of Auroville. For it's hot. Our photographers Coriolan and Shiraz have taken the opportunity to bring two pages of 'hot' photos.
The main topic of the issue is about planning the city. The Planning Group reports on its work 'Interpreting the Galaxy'; Auroville's Future discusses 'Accelerating Auroville's development'; and we feature the new International Zone concept plan and the criticism on the way it was manifested. Lastly there is an interview with Jeen Kootstra on the work to manifest a water management master plan for Auroville and its bioregion.
The issue further carries the parting perspectives on Auroville of Michel Séguy, the Consul General of France in Pondicherry and Chennai; profiles of Japanese Aurovilian Kenji and of Indra, the caretaker of the Youth Centre. We feature a few articles on crafts, making bamboo basketry and the tale of terracotta.
The difficulties of dealing with one's ingrained cultural patterns are highlighted in an article 'The First thing needed.' Another article deals with the shift in energies perceived when dealing with one another. 'Ultimately, they might lead to a fundamental shifting of the community's tectonic plates,' argues the author.
On a more relaxed level we report on Nadaka and the Basavaraj brothers; the Auroville Children's Nature camp held in the wilderness of Kodaikanal; and the changes in celebrating Maargazhi maasam, the favourite month of Lord Krishna. Lastly there is a spy on the bus from Pondy who visited Auroville.
The main theme of the May 2006 issue of Auroville Today deals with 'Celebrating Earth day'. The issue also reports on the meeting of the Governing Board of the Auroville Foundation and replies to the request of Dr. Karan Singh what yoga people are doing in Auroville.
There is a report on the meeting of the Auroville International Centres in South Africa ; and we feature the latest projects from AuroRE: the experimental application of a small biomass gasifier in Auroville and an ambitious scheme to introduce solar lanterns in the Indian hinterland. The issue also reports on the health of Auroville Today editor Roger Harris who met with a serious accident last year, and profiles work done by Regina , Njal, Franz, Robi and the beautiful plastic flowers made by long-term guest Romi Netis-Pardesi. Lastly, of course, there are the culture reviews: of exhibitions of Pierre Legrand's 'The Colour Piano and Some Side-Effects'; Olaf van Cleef's watercolours; and Helgard Zurmuehl's exhibition 'Movements and Impressions in Auroville'. Also reviewed are the play Tartuffe/Texas and a Chinese folk music concert.
The April 2006 issue of Auroville Today deals with a great number of topics. It contains a report on the Auroville business seminar; a report on the interaction of members of the International Advisory Council and Governing Board of the Auroville Foundation; a report of the Security group; and how a proposal from Roger Anger to the Governing Board, intending to accelerate the building of the city, was received.
The Dreamcatchers are featured, a group of people that dream about the future city. Uli and Dr. Basu talk about Shambala, a future mental health clinic.
And there are brief articles on how to make nature fun, the celebration of Van Ustav at Sadhana Forest, the difference between living in 'This end' of the city or 'that end'.
For those interested in the special economy of Auroville, the activities of the Free Store are highlighted. And of course there are the cultural reviews: the performance of the Renaissance Capella, the Chalumeau concert and the exhibition of The Mother's photographs. Lastly the issue carries articles on Dancing as a ritual and Discovering oneself.
The main theme of the March 2006 issue of Auroville Today deals with 'Returning to Auroville.'
Auroville has never been a static community: people have always flowed in and out. In recent years, however, an increasing number of Aurovilians who left and worked for a considerable time outside the community have been returning to live here again. Why did they leave? How was it to live and work outside? Why have they returned? Have they changed? Is the community they've returned to very different from the one they left? What would they like to change now, and how? These are a just a few of the questions we put to some returnees. The answers are fascinating. And challenging. Gérard and Fabienne speak about their 'unfinished contract' with The Mother; Satyen and Kumbha about how best to develop business in Auroville; Anandan about trying to find himself; and Sacha about his interest in the Auroville Archives.
The issue also carries reflections from Friends of Auroville: Roger Toll, Larry, Savitra and Martin Littlewood. There is a profile of Elumalai of the Auroville bakery. There is a report on the meaning of Tsunamika and the Indus Valley Café for developing a gift economy; and there are reviews of Molière's play 'The Hypochondriac', of a celebration at the Youth Centre and about celluloid dreaming in the auditorium of the Multi-Media Centre. Dianna reports on Kuilapalayam High Street developments and we give some insight in Peter Heeh's new book: Nationalism, Religion and Beyond.
The February 2006 issue is dedicated to "The Unknown Aurovilians," the many Aurovilians who prefer to remain low-key, choosing to concentrate quietly upon their work rather than to inhabit a larger stage. In fact, these Aurovilians may well be the backbone of Auroville. For they are the ones who hold the focus and anchor a particular energy, year in, year out, while others are whirled about in a maelstrom of ideas and enthusiasms.
Auroville Today has not done full justice to this 'other' Auroville.
We've interviewed many individuals over the years but, appearing as they do in isolation, these profiles hardly give a sense of the extent and depth of this quieter Auroville. On the contrary, we've tended to return again and again to the same familiar faces. Partly, of course, this is because many of the 'unknown' Aurovilians prefer to remain exactly that, unknown, unquoted. Yet we have also been seduced, perhaps, by the belief that 'news' is only the 'important' issues-our organizational and economic crises, our challenging relationship with the villages etc.-rather than the equally-important, but less dramatic, struggle to lay down the physical and psychological building-blocks of our society.
In this issue we make a start at remedying this. We interviewed architect Gloria; Transition school teachers Françoise and Mary; Rajaveni, a dance teacher who lives in the Vérité community; Somasundaram, a former teacher who now works in Buddha's garden; Aurogreen farmer Charlie; cook Jean-Marc who took charge of the new Town Hall cafeteria Le Morgan ; young Aurovilians Aron, Jonah and Shona known as The Infinite 3 who created installations for three exhibitions; and tell the story of Shakti from the Ukraine who shares her perspectives on what it means to belong to the Auroville community.
The February issue also deals with the Matrimandir, which, according to its executives will be ready by the end of this year. There is a report on a workshop "Tools for the future," given by internationally-recognized management consultant Michel Saloff-Coste. The issue clarifies the deal offered by Auroville's Green Group how to offset your carbon emissions by planting a few trees for every air-trip. There is an review of "A story tellers' night", the work of Swedish theatre group "Teater Sagohuset" who played "Edda from Creation to Ragnarök" in the midst of our subtropical South Indian winter. Lastly there are articles on Ange, who became an apprentice in Japanese pottery; on the "Children's View" project of the Swiss association Devimage; and it carries a book review of The Antithesis of Yoga by Jocelyn.
Whenever Aurovilians speak of 'the services' they generally refer to those activities that are directly involved with Auroville's infrastructure, such as education, road repair or the various organisational working groups.
In the early days Aurovilians received basic services free according to the ideals articulated in The Mother's Dream. In recent years, however, community funds have been insufficient to cover the full needs of Auroville's services. Consequently, they were asked to become fully or partly self-supporting, resulting in many of them having to charge. Some have managed the transition but there have also been casualties, and these may give us pause when we consider the wisdom of commercializing Auroville's service sector.
In the January 2006 issue we highlight some of these cases in interviews with Gilles Guigan, Nicole, Albert and Peter from the Health Centre and Hari from the Transport Service, and we consider how Auroville can move towards a society in which, as Mother made clear, 'service' is both an offering and a flowering of the Self.
We also highlight the launching of Auroville vision 2012, and give a portrait of Claudine, a woman who calls herself "A coolie of the Mother" and of Coriolan, a young man who built a fibre optic network in the Auromodèle area. Manoj writes about "The sense of the sacred". The issue also carries an interview with Bernd Dreesmann, who in the early days of Auroville created the Tamil Fund; a talk with Andrea on the beginning of AurovilleRadio, and an article on how Tsunami fishermen help flooded farmers. Lastly the issue carries an obituary of former President of Singapore C.V. Devan Nair, and some lighter articles.
The main topic of the December issue of Auroville Today is community living. "From the ego standpoint, community life is very challenging," says Israeli Aurovilian Aran. Indian Aurovilian Jothi gives his experience of life in Auroville's oldest community, Aspiration, while Bhavana, Dhyana and Aurelio give some insights into the ups and downs of community life at Vérité and the healers of Quiet speak about the specific nature of community life in the Quiet healing centre. Life in New Creation is featured in Dianna's experience. Ambre, an Aurovilian from the early days, speaks out on the decline of community spirit and the urgent need for community rebuilding in Auroville.
The December issue also highlights areas of concern. The ongoing erosion of the beach at Quiet, caused by a breakwater built for the harbour of Pondicherry ; the decrease in Auroville's population; and the problems of AVnet, Auroville's electronic internal communication network. We also carry an interview with Christine Devin on her work and culture and book reviews.
The November issue of Auroville Today deals with a topic we have never before reported on: the relationship between the Sri Aurobindo Ashram and Auroville. "There is no fundamental difference," concludes Alan in his introduction to this topic. Aster Patel gives some of her perspectives - aptly called Perspectives on Unity - while Kittu Reddy, Shyam Sunder and Indrani highlight views from the Ashram. Frederick, Hufreesh and other Aurovilians look at the relationship from the Auroville perspective.
The November issue also carries an interview with Governing Board member Shri Ajoy Bagchi, who wonders how far the Community has progressed on the path set by The Mother. A difficult question indeed.
Then there are the lighter topics: A report on the release of books on the Pondicherry history by Dr. Karan Singh and a review of a booklet on early Auroville education; an interview with "snakeman" Rom Whitaker on wildlife protection; a review of Sri Aurobindo's play Perseus the Deliverer and of the MAA exhibition in Kala Kendra; and a visit to the children's Blue Berry Library
In the main theme of the October issue, Auroville Today looks at the far-reaching changes that are proposed to be made in Auroville's economy due to the delay of a government grant and a visit of the Chief Commissioner of Income Tax. It also highlights the changes proposed by the new Pour Tous team. The October issue also gives an update on the tsunami relief project, and Bhavana discusses the major issue how the local needy people who were not directly affected, can also benefit from the wave of compassion which flowed in the wake of the tsunami. A third main issue is the report on the seminar on 'New Business and Global Consciousness' which brought together Aurovilians and some Indian and international businesspeople in what the organizers described as a 'reflection' on changing trends in global business. Another topic is a report on how in the youth community Kailash youth learn the ropes of community living The issue also carries reflections of those who left Auroville for further studies: Ancolie and Perumal who studied journalism in Bangalore and Bindu who went to California to study for an academic degree. Lastly, the issue carries a review of the Africa evening; a portrait of Tlaloc; an article on the demise of the Royal Express, Auroville's first ecological public transport; and an impression of the full moon walk.
Above links bring you to a few of the articles. We wish you happy reading.
The September issue is Auroville Today's 200 th issue. Alan looks back at which topics have been covered in that period in "200 NOT OUT."
In this issue Auroville Today also looks at the youth of Auroville. "It is not easy to be a teenager here," says Jean François and this opinion is underlined by 18-year old Virya who wonders why the Youth Centre always draws flak from the community.
The September issue also reports on the views of Enzo Fazzino on "Universal citizens of Auroville"; on the work of Palmyra in the bioregion and the women's groups' involvement; on the Matrimandir progress; and it carries obituaries of V. Rajamani, Jehuda Szlezynger-Nam and Margaret Fletcher. Last there is a letter from the Colonel at the occasion of Auroville Today's 200 th issue.
Here follow a few of the articles. We wish you happy reading. Please subscribe if you want to read more, or ask for a free copy. Details are elsewhere on this web page.
The new impetus to develop the Matrimandir gardens is the main topic of the August issue of Auroville Today. "The Matrimandir gardens are as important as the Matrimandir itself," wrote the Mother many years ago, but nevertheless the last years had witnessed a slump.
The August issue also reports on the land acquisition controversy. It further carries the views of Chandresh Patel from Auroville International USA on a new approach to promoting businesses in Auroville and of Jan Lohman from Auroville International The Netherlands on the International Zone.
Auroville Today pays tribute to Australian Ann, also known as 'Animal Care' Ann, who passed away in June after a severe illness. And there is news about recent exhibitions, a new book of Sri Aurobindo's letters and the confessions of a TVS addict. Here follow a few of the articles. We wish you happy reading. Please subscribe if you want to read more, or ask for a free copy. Details are elsewhere on this web page.
June - July 2005
Four major parks are planned to separate the four zones of Auroville. They have been named after the four aspects of The Mother as described by Sri Aurobindo: Maheshwari, Mahakali, Mahalakhsmi and Mahasaraswati. Revelation is to become the Mahakali Park. The June-July issue carries an interview with Patrick, the steward of Revelation for the last 22 years, who describes the challenges and pitfalls of turning a wasteland into a lush green forest.
The June-July issue further reports on the Samskara boarding school project at New Creation; the new multi-purpose Hall at Vérité; the importance of the Kalivelli wetlands in the bio-region around Auroville; how Uma and Manoj got a new house in Bliss after a fire destroyed their keet hut; the making of the USA pavilion; the advantages of Village Health mapping; how to provide clean drinking water in the surrounding villages; and a profile of Julietta and Olivier. Finally the issue shows some photos of summer time in Auroville – for it’s hot.
Here follow a few of the articles. We wish you happy reading. Please subscribe if you want to read more, or ask for a free copy. Details are elsewhere on this web page.
"We're in uncharted waters," "It's a fast-changing situation where we can't give hard and fast answers" - two observations that sum up the present situation regarding Auroville's tsunami rehabilitation efforts. Decision-making is much more complex now than in the immediate relief phase because the effects will be long-reaching. The May issue of Auroville Today focus on the work done and to be done for relief and rehabilitation of tsunami affected villages and Auroville beach communities.
The May issue also reports on the challenges making the new community of Creativity. While the project won a prestigious Indian architecture award, the design also has problems.
This issue further contains a report on the work of Auroville's Mirra's Women Group; a number of cultural reviews, including the performance of the Auroville Cappella choir for La Settimana Santa, and a report on the celebration of Earth Day.
By clicking on the links you can read a few of the articles. We wish you happy reading. Please subscribe if you want to read more, or ask for a free copy. Details are elsewhere on this web page.
It's probably fair to say that the members of the Governing Board and the International Advisory Council of the Auroville Foundation do not impinge much on the consciousness of many Aurovilians. After all, they only come to the community once or twice a year, and then only for a few days, and even when they're here their agenda is so organized that they often meet no more than a few residents. No wonder that many Aurovilians, when asked to explain the function of the Governing Board or International Advisory Council, throw up their hands and look blank.
This may be about to change, however, primarily because of the quality and commitment of those who have now agreed to serve on these bodies. Last month, many of them visited Auroville to attend meetings, and this gave us a chance to reacquaint ourselves with old friends and to welcome new ones. For the March issue, we interviewed Dr. Karan Singh, who is returning as Chairman of the Governing Board. In this issue we welcome back a former member of the International Advisory Council (IAC), Dr. Ariyaratne of the Sarvodaya movement. We also interview three new members of the International Advisory Council - the writer and journalist, Sir Mark Tully (the new Chairman of the IAC), Dr. Doudou Diene, special rapporteur for the U.N. on racism and racial discrimination, and Dr. Marc Luyckx Ghisi, who has been adviser to two Presidents of the European Commission - and two new members of the Governing Board: Mallika Sarabhai, dancer, social activist and writer, and the senior journalist and part-owner of The Hindu newspaper, Malini Parthasarathy. We are fortunate to have such visionary and committed friends at a time when Auroville, like the world, is entering a new and challenging phase in its evolution..
The April issue of Auroville Today also reports on The International Youth for Human Unity Conference; the work of Auroville photographer Ireno Guerci; and reviews the performance of Japanese dancer Masako Ono.
The new Governing Board and the International Advisory Council of the Auroville Foundation held their first meetings on the 20th and 22nd February respectively, when also the Youth Conference on Human Unity for the SAARC region started. The March issue of Auroville RToday opens with an interview with Dr. Karan Singh, the new chairman of the Governing Board.
As could be expected, the March issue also provides an update on the tsunami relief work that continues in the surrounding villages, and on the trauma therapy. The issue further carries reflections on the The Global Earth Summit For Youth in Mexico , where eight Auroville students participated. Former Aurovilian and author Savitra reflects on Auroville and the evolutionary challenge and wonders how Auroville will collaborate with the new knowledge emerging around the world.
At the cultural level there is a review of the Akademic Genius Brothers show and the theatre performance of Shakespeare's The Tempest. Finally there is an article on providing environmental education in a village far north of Auroville.
The main articles of the February issue of Auroville Today deal with the follow up of the tsunami relief work. The other main topic is about the Auroville International 2005 meeting held in Auroville. As many exhibitions take place in this month, we also feature a review of the exhibitions 'Form and formless', the pottery work of Michel; Windmills and mindscapes, the pottery work of Adil; and Kado: The Way of the Flower , the work of Valeria who teaches Ikebana through silence. Dr. Priyali reports on the improvement of children's health in the villages. Gala, a yoga teacher from Siberia , talks about how to tackle health problems with yoga therapy; and finally we report on the Auroville Winter Integral Studies Program WISP, which expresses something of the many ways in which Aurovilians approach the question of what it means to practice Integral Yoga.
The main articles of the January issue of Auroville Today deal, of course, with the tsunami and the effects on the local villages and Auroville coastal settlements. As the Auroville website carries much information on this particular issue, here follows only one of the articles.
The other main topic of the January issue deals with the Tamil culture. "The Tamil culture which is one of the oldest in the world, has a unique role to play in the city of Auroville ," reads a statement by The Mother on 19th September 1970 . The Tamil Heritage Centre in Auroville will be a place to honour this ancient and living culture.
Other topics are an obituary of P.V. Narasimha Rao, former Prime Minister of India and his role in the development of Auroville; the spate of Regulations that have suddenly hit Auroville; the outreach education offered by the University of Tomorrow and by the Auroville Industrial School; views on how to further develop and strengthen Auroville's business; the role of the International Zone as becoming a place for the expression of culture; and an insight into the life of the gecko, one of Auroville's co-inhabitants.
Six months ago we featured 'Women of a changing world'-Tamil Aurovilian women who were coping with, and often surmounting, the very special challenges confronting them. This month we profile five Tamil Aurovilian men: Dhanapal , Thillai , Bhoomi , Panneer and Kumar . None of them seek the limelight, yet most have been in Auroville from almost the very beginning and all of them are quietly performing key tasks and upholding important values within the community.
Like the women, the men are poised between an ancient and an emerging culture and subject to pressures from both. Like the women, each has his unique story to tell, each is responding in his own way to the challenges and opportunities of life in Auroville. "Don't colour me in," says one of them, "don't stereotype me". It's a lesson we can all learn.
Other topics covered in the December issue are on The Future of Auroville Farming . One of Auroville's long-term objectives is that the community should become or tend to become self-sufficient in food. At present we are far from that. Why? A year-long study of the Auroville farms, which has just been concluded, set out to discover some of the answers. The final component of the study was a workshop at which the farmers considered the findings and set future objectives. They identified a common vision for the future of farming in Auroville, namely "a healthy and conscious farming system integrated with and providing food for the community", and they identified various goals for Auroville's agriculture in order to achieve efficiently-managed and financially viable farms funded by the community and outside interested parties.
In this issue we present the main findings of the assessment report, we speak to one of the farmers who wrote it, and we profile an experiment in providing free food for the community.
Aurora speaks about her Open school project; Lata and Prashant talk about GIS as a powerful new planning tool , whose potential is not yet fully utilized. Friederike from Auroville International Germany highlights why increasingly German volunteers wish to come to Auroville for a short period. And Colombian guest Hector Aristizabal talks about his 'revolutionary' theatre, the Theatre of the Oppressed.
The December issue features reviews, and an update on the monsoon rains.
The November issue of Auroville Today carries a special insert
on the visit of the President
of India to Auroville on November
1, 2004 , in the wake of his visit to Pondicherry . The President
had asked to be informed about
integrated water management, a
topic on which, in September, a three-day seminar had been held
in Auroville and for which he had given an inspiring message.
The seminar had also been endorsed by UNESCO. The November issue
therefore also carries a report on this seminar, where government
representatives, stakeholders, scientists, technical and legal
experts from India, France, Germany, The Netherlands and Israel
came together to share experiences and proposals about how to
remedy, develop and sustain water management practices with a
common vision and approach. The work of two people has been specifically
highlighted: Mr. Anupam Mishra, secretary of the Gandhi Peace
Foundation, gave a presentation on traditional water conversation
methods in Rajasthan and Magasaysay award winner Rajendra Singh
passionately reported on his work of reviving the Arvari river
in the state of Gujarat .
Other topics covered in the November
issue are on a new report which documents how well Auroville
is doing in its efforts to become a sustainable community;
about the work and progress of the Savitri
Bhavan; how Matrimandir
helped out renovating the roofs of the Isaiambalam school;
the impossible situation of the Auroville roads; the progress
of dentistry in the villages around Auroville; the
work of Deepam, a haven for disabled children; a report on an exhibition
of children's photos; and how it is to Dance
Down the Catwalk - the
experience of 4 Auroville young adults in a fashion show.
Short news issues are reports on a
workshop on building in bamboo; and a review of Satprem's 'Notebooks
of an Apocalypse.'
Auroville's village outreach work is rather well documented.
But this year a major crisis occurred in Auroville's
Village Action Group, leading to a review of the organisation and a dismissal
of many of its development workers. It prompted Auroville Today
to look into this issue and find out what caused the problems
and what those involved in Village Action have learned from it.
At the same time we highlight two other developments of Auroville's
village related work that did not suffer from this crisis: Auroville
Village Action Arts, and the Life Education Centre, together
with a portrait of one of its students, Indrani.
Other topics covered in the October
issue deal with the problems
of housing. Wolfgang Schmidt-Reinecke,
the executive director of Auroville International Association
reports on the Auroville presentation at a five-day meeting
organized by the main protestant churches in Germany and Switzerland
and their hidden agendas. Julietta reflects on the contacts
with Campinas in Brazil which has the potential to become a
sister city for Auroville. There is a profile
of Tina, an Auroville
woman who has started to lead seminars and gives courses focused
on opening up the voice. Ange
from Forest Pottery Studio in
Samriddhi talks about her inspiring idea to dedicate three
months to work for an awareness building exhibition 'Creations
for our kids our future' in order to raise Rupees 50 lakhs
(US$ 110,000 ) for a corpus fund that would act as an education
basket for Auroville schools. And there is a report how Medhananda's
Eternity Game gets a second lease of life.
Short news issues are reports on the visit of the new chairman
of the Auroville Foundation Dr. Karan Singh, on the Auroville
security problems, on the Matrimandir banyan tree, and on an
experiment to give Aurovilians free energy.
There is no main theme in the September
issue of Auroville Today. Instead there is a variety of issues,
ranging from the Progress
at the Matrimandir to The Dilemma
of Auroville International. Alan
discourses on the unbearable heaviness of Auroville's meetings. Fashion designer Prema reports
on her participation in the Pan African Youth Leadership Summit
in Senegal . Rosana Agudo talks about the developments in the
Basque Country. Suhasini reflects about the need to commercialize
Auroville's education. Auroville kids write about their experience
at the Glastonbury Festival. Scholar David Johnston examines
Sri Aurobindo's epic poem Savitri from a Jungian perspective.
Estelle talks about her ideas to promote business and art in her unit 'L'etoile du Sud''. Priya
investigates the work of the Mandala
pottery guild. Hufreesh'
paintings on the theme of "Visions of the Inner Eye" are reviewed
and so is the publication "The Architectural Heritage of Pondicherry" Finally
there are obituaries on Silvano
Nalesso and Madanlal Himatsingka.
Traditionally, the August issue of Auroville Today has one or more topics specifically dedicated to Sri Aurobindo, whose birthday on August 15th coincided with India 's Independence Day. In this issue, we publish articles of contemporary interest in the light of Sri Aurobindo and Mother's vision and thought. These are on the topics of nationalism, religions, spiritual universalisme and democracy. Other main issues covered are the Ashden
Award for sustainable energy, won by the Auroville unit Aurore; the work of the French 'Compagnons due Devoir' in Auroville; and the development of surfing and rugby.
The June-July issue of Auroville Today has is a double issue with as central theme: Women of a Changing World, with focus on nine Tamil Aurovilian women: Banu, Grace, Usha and Vijaya. Other issues covered are the Matrimandir Lake ; a portrait of Father Matthew, who inspired Auroville's green work; Paul's report on the 2nd World Botanical Gardens Congress in Barcelona ; the results of the Auroville Food Survey; and a portrait of Auroville's dynamic neighbour Adishakti. Three young Auroville writers contribute with views and poetry; two Aurovilians give their opinions on Auroville's economy and its International Zone; Priya Mahtani reports on the review of the Auroville Youth Education and Training project sponsored by the European Commission. And of course there are the usual reviews of books, films and cultural happenings.
Aurovilian women come from all over the world. They are from varying backgrounds, embodying different belief systems and experiences. They have differing tastes, enjoy different past-times, have varied skin tones, live in different family structures and talk different languages. But, they all have one thing very much in common: they are women of Auroville whose aspirations have led them to this adventurous experiment. They are here to do something different for themselves, for their community and for their children's future.
This month Auroville Today looks at the life experiences of nine Tamil Aurovilian women. Some of them were born and grew up here. Others came into Auroville through marriage. Some came to work in Auroville and later joined the community. Regardless of how they came to be part of Auroville, their relationship with their own deeply-rooted culture and Auroville carries certain challenges. For they have to bridge their ancient culture and the newly-developing one. Many of the women who came to Auroville after their youth were raised in structured Tamil households, believing that their future held the same path as their female elders: to cook, clean, marry, obey the husband, take care of his family, and give birth to healthy children. Those who grew up within Auroville have perhaps seen more opportunities available for their future, but with their ancestral homes neighbouring their own they too face the challenge to balance two worlds.
Taking a look into the lives of these women was not always easy. Some are very reticent about sharing their opinions and feel the pressures of a society where 'outspoken women' are criticized. Others speak openly for all to hear. Regardless, they each carry with them a deep understanding of what it means to be a woman of Tamil origin who raises her children in a spiritual community which has ideals of human unity and the reality of a cultural masala.
Recently the Auroville Women's Group, was restarted. It is a hope that this group will grow to be a supportive structure for a deeper communication, understanding, and sisterhood between the women of Auroville.
The may issue of Auroville Today has no central theme, but has instead a potpourri of article. Here follow a few of the articles: Preaparing the cradle of bliss, an environmental gadfly, Sangamam 2004 and "You hit it! You quit it". If you want to read more, please get yourself a hardcopy of Auroville Today and subscribe. Subscription details are elsewhere on this web page.
The main topic of the April issue of Auroville Today deals with small commercial units, like Aurorachana, Mereville and others, presenting the views and experiences of unit-holders of seven small businesses.
"The development of Auroville's commercial sector is a cause for concern. It cannot sustain Auroville's current economic structure." These words of foreboding were written in May 2002 in the White Paper on the Auroville Economy, drafted by Professor Henk Thomas and chartered accountant Manuel Thomas (see AVToday, June-July 2002). They strongly suggested that Auroville chart out a new economic course, as "there is not a single commercial unit in Auroville, except Maroma, where one can speak of a strong economic and commercial position". Objecting to the prevailing negative attitude towards business in Auroville, they insisted that "businesses have to be recognized as providers of employment and economic value to the community", and that "Auroville must actively support and stimulate people to start business". The Paper made a number of recommendations on how to improve the situation.
Since then little has changed. Only about 40 commercial units out of a total of 120 make regular contributions from their profits to the community. The other 80 are either loss-making or only self-sustaining. Because of the limited income from the commercial units, the community has difficulty in providing sufficient maintenance to those who work in community services.
There are many reasons why units remain small. One is that the Auroville Foundation does not offer the ideal structure for doing business and that, as a consequence, many units have difficulty in getting loans. Another is that businesses which grow beyond a certain size have to deal with greatly increased bureaucracy. Some unit managers also prefer to remain small in order to preserve a sense of personal creativity and to avoid the pressures of large-scale production.
In this issue we present the views and experiences of unit-holders in seven small businesses. At the time of going to press we learned that two initiatives to promote business are in the air. One is that the Auroville Board of Commerce, which expired a few years ago, will be revived. The other is a promise of a large donation to create a Business Development Fund. Hopefully, these initiatives will contribute to a change of perspective and help Auroville businesses move to another level.
Other topics are the experience of Sangamam, the model village that was set-up nearby Utility with funds from the town of Navarra; how to improve Auroville's security after the murder on Sydo on January 31st ; the progress of Arka, the home for the elderly; an update on the Matrimandir management; the importance of the The Kosmos festival; a report on the seminar on The Mother and the Yoga of Evolution; and what it means to have one's mamma's and papas in the house.
The main topics of March issue of Auroville Today are about the murder of an Aurovilian, its background and the progress at the Matrimandir including an interview with Narad about the Banyan tree and the outer gardens. Other issues deal with the issue of how to meet the basic needs of the Aurovilians and how to create a home in Auroville. There is a portrait of a young Tamil Aurovilian, Iyanar, who became the steward of a 30 acre farm in Brihaspathi. There is an interview with Mireille Albrecht and there are reports on the cultural events. Last but not least there is an article on the Dutch town plan of Pondicherry - how French historian Jean Deloche proves that contrary to established opinion, the modern gridiron town plan of Pondicherry is a creation not of the French but of the Dutch.
February 29 is known as The Golden Day. In the February issue of Auroville Today, we publish some excerpts from the book The Mother, The Story of Her Life by Georges Van Vrekhem, and of a talk by The Mother to the children at the playground on July 10, 1957.
The February issue further deals with the lack of room in our schools and the need to develop an Auroville curriculum for high school students. There are two articles on heritage, one dealing with the future of India's rich past, while the other questions if Auroville could become a World Heritage site? Young starters are also highlighted: the activities of the Cynergy team, and the expanding world of Medicis, Auroville's home grown rock band.
At the artistic level there are reports of the glass-fusion work of artists Hans Isler; on the tea-pot exhibitions; and reviews of the books An Evolutionary Agenda for the Third Millennium by Alan Sasha Lithman (Savitra) and The Thousand-Petalled Daisy by Norman Thomas (Navoditte). Last but not least we portray how a gaggle of Auroville's cyclists embarks on biking adventures every Thursday afternoon.
It's been remarked that if you want to see unity in action in Auroville you should go to the sports field. Not everyone would agree - during the football season half of Auroville appears to be suffering from some form of collateral damage - but there's more than a grain of truth in the perception that playing games together is a powerful way of dissolving barriers and putting things in perspective. Think only of that Pour Tous meeting where two Aurovilians were apparently locked in mortal combat, only for them to be sighted, later in the day, cheerfully batting tennis balls across a net in Certitude.
Physical exercise in some form or other is very much part of the weft of this community. For some it's a form of yoga, of conscious self-exceeding, for others a relief from the treadmill of meetings, for many it provides the camaraderie which is missed in so many other aspects of today's Auroville. Whatever the motivation, the choice of physical activities for such a small community is huge. In the January 2004 issue we touch upon a few of them as well as upon Dehashakti, the organized sports programme whose aim is the integral education of the body.
Another main topic covered in this issue deals with village education. The goat-herding children and the Aurovilians swooshing by on motorbikes are neighbours. However, invisible walls of cultural and social differences separate their worlds and the question is how to deconstruct those walls of separation. Then there is an interview with Andy Martens, one of the new executives of the Matrimandir; a portrait of visiting Canadian artist Robert Lorrain; the views of Jack Alexander, member of AVI USA, on business; and how 26-year old self-taught designer Prema Isaac runs her workshop Rangoli design studio.