The road ahead:
pointReturn is so far on the planned trajectory. It has a reality check coming up in 2020 when funding will run out. If by that time labor, planning and time have been well invested, it can reach a sustainable steady state. But with time flying by, drift can also occur, resulting in an unrealised dream.
The dream consists of the following:
:: About 8 to 10 volunteers will reside in the pointReturn eco-commune maintaining its assets and sharing work and rewards
:: pointReturn will meet local needs of bio-fuel
:: Visitors and learners would be welcomed to gain experience and contribute their efforts
:: The land will play host to one or more kindred activities like an animal shelter, ayurvedha hospital, herbal farm, bird study centre, tree nursery or their like [more suggestions are welcome]
To provide a structure for this dream to incubate and emerge, pointReturn was incorporated into a registered private trust in 2012. It is a charter developed after year long discussions between myself and the three residents along with consultations with lawyers. Construction of each sentence was debated till agreement emerged. It is a trust that is irrevocable unless the dream fails. It sets out the non-negotiable tenets, general rules of operations, guidelines for inducting residents, sharing revenue and inviting kindred groups. It also provides for flexibility with new situations as they emerge. The charter is based on the credo that ownership does not rest with the holder of title to the land but with those for whom failure of the goals of the charter is not an option.
..and where we are now:
pointReturn has been in the throes of a dry spell for the last 15 months. Trees have suffered, water table dropped and all activities flagged. Nearly an year has been lost. Such a time is a wrong one in which to attempt an assessment of where the project is, where it is headed and what issues hang over it. For, one may sound more despondent than is called for.
Nevertheless, it is time to ask the questions: Despite all sincere intentions, have we succeeded in creating an eco-commune? Or, feel confident about being on the road to creating one? The answer has to be a muffled ’no’.
2010 saw three people come on board, subscribing to the idea detailed at this website since 2006. We began to ready shelter, a solar oven to cook for many, upscaling the solar power plant, a second toilet and a set of tools to keep a team of ten busy, all in anticipation of the numbers swelling. We hoped the increased numbers would ratchet up all round activity. We dug a well. We began to record trees, birds, food produced, images and work done. We blogged. We developed an activity schedule believing it would enable newcomers to instantly step into a routine. We had weekly meetings talking about policies and plans.
Then, about two years ago, energy levels at pointReturn began to ebb and routines began to fray. Why? It is hard to reply with any certainty. The answer may lie between the lines that follow. Although many people came to visit, none went on to become a resident. Our numbers stagnated. Why? The premise of pointReturn is that no one will ever have the right to title of the property but only to the rewards of their collective work. Is this a serious flaw? Have we been sufficiently active in welcoming, communicating, sharing the excitement about the pointReturn adventure? Are people loathe to work and live on land they do not own? Are educated people -who were our target group- unwilling to bend their backs? Do early enthusiasms peter out, the comfort zone one left, yielding to a newer one? The net result is, at the end of 7 years pointReturn is vulnerable and at a cross-roads.
If it does not become a self-sustaining, eco-commune by 2020, what will become of it? What can be done to prevent it falling in the hands of people who have no respect for the environment- a housing developer or a chemical farmer, say?
The options tried so far have not fructified: a hostel for orphans, an SOS children’s village, an approach to Auroville.
What would work ideally is a goshala as a main anchor around which a biogas digester,a vermi-compost plant, a bird study centre, a nursery, an apiary and a meeting place for arts and ideas, can emerge.
There is space enough for these but where are the leads, energies and in quick time? Please write with your specific suggestions, ideas and leads to goodnewsindia[at]gmail[dot]com
Thus stands pointReturn, brought up so well so far, but now in need of more people to take it in hand and lead it to a stable future. No doubt every place -like every man- has a destiny of its own, but has not every man received care?
Related stories: Read the section “Readying for the road ahead”
The pR Team in 2011
Annamalai :: Siddarth :: Sriram :: Chellamma :: Karpagam :: DV