Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Ecofolks Story ( Part 2 ) : 100 letterheads & Visiting cards..Capital Investment in Ecofolks.

Four friends decide to meet over beer to take this idea forward.There was a unanimity about doing something, but  HOW, WHERE, WHEN, WHY were yet to be answered.

We had to built a common identity to which people can relate to. We had to give name to this newborn idea.
Couple of days passed by in this name searching process, till one day one of our friends Mr. Mahendra Vichare suggested, Why can't we name it ECOFOLKS.....Folks, a group of people working for  conservation of ECO-logy.
A google search followed to identify the uniquness of the name... & there was nothing close, on the world wide web.
Immidately we named ourselves ECOFOLKS.

We had no idea what to do next, till one day when we had been to Kanheri we encountered a young man leading a group of school boys.....on a NATURE TRAIL.

Nature Information Centre (NIC) is a Education outreach agency of the Forest Department, was being managed by BNHS back then in 2007. Mr. Amit , the resourceful centre incharge was at the helm of affairs at NIC.
NIC was in charge of organising all activities in SGNP including Nature Trails, Film Shows etc.
We decided to take help from Amit.
Our request of attending one of the Nature Trail was gracefully granted by Amit, because till then we had never attended a trail in our lifetime.
The trail was led by an able Education officer Miss Gauri, at the end of which we all felt that we had found our first anchor for Ecofolks.
We could start off by conducting ' Curriculum Based Nature trails' added one off us.
'that sounds good' added another,Learning in the lap of mother Nature. We could teach Geography, EVS, Science & even History in SGNP as we had Kanheri Caves inside .
So now we had a name as well as a objective...'Curriculam based Nature Trail'

But we did not have the most important link in this chain..........CUSTOMER.

We decided to approach schools with our unique idea of 'Curriculum based Nature Trail', We studied the portion of various standards & came out with a unique product..NATLAB, a short for NATure LABoratory.
NATLAB, the Curriculum based Nature Trail was our first educational product for schools.
Till this time our total investment in Ecofolks was  only our TIME & IDEAS.
Before bringing in some hard cash we felt that we should be testing waters. So it was decided to contact 5 schools in our locality with our new product NATLABS to understand the financial feasibility .
The list was drawn,& our initial investment was 100 letterheads & same number of visiting cards.

Till date those 100 cards &  letterheads is what is our earliest seed investment in ECOFOLKS....

.....To be continued....

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Ecofolks Story ( Part 1) : How it all started.

The Story of Ecofolks...

We had heard of population census that happens once in a decade to compute how many of our species we have added.

'Animal census' was something back of the beyond of our imagination.
Its when one of our friend invited us to be part of this unique exercise.....Counting animals in the jungle.
How do they do it ?? was a obvious question.
Just get yourself registered at Sanjay Gandhi National Park, she quipped and even volunteered to do it on our behalf.

The Year was 2007 and the month was sweltering May.
Willy nilly we nodded our heads.Finally the date was set, Full Moon Day of Buddha Poornima.
 ' Census always happens on Buddha poornima as the visibility is high in the night' added our knowledgeable wildlifer friend.

We had to spend 24 hrs on a makeshift elevated structure called as Machan, which was build near a waterhole. The logic told to us was simple, In the summer month when the heat is at its peak, any animal would want to drink water once in the span of 24 hrs, and there we were atop the Machan counting all those thirsty souls.
In summer the water is scarce and all waterholes that are left, natural or manmade, are identified and Machanned. That is how the animals are counted...

 Finally a 10 day conundrum was solved.

Our wild lifer friend also promised us that she would use her 'connections' so that we are allocated the machan of our choice, the location which has the highest propensity for sighting a Leopard.

Leopard was the last thing on our mind.The fact that one will be spending a whole night in the heart of the forest on a full moon day was good enough reason to put us on the moon.

We were allocated the machan bang on the bank of Tulsi lake, with the famed LOG Huts just behind us.
The plan was all set....

Our Wildlifer friend had packed some delicious prawn biryani and chicken lollipops, The forest Dept. bus dropped us at our designated site and we were surprised to see some more souls like us already at the place before us.
The Machan was a 5 x 5 ft. metallic structure raised around 15 ft above ground, had a wooden flooring of horizontally laid bamboo sticks, connected to the ground by a creaky old ladder.

Can  10 of us be accommodated in such a small place was a obvious question on every ones mind.
'Never mind' added our wildlifer friend, noticing the confusion on my face,' we can always go to the Log huts if there is problem' she added.

As the twilight made its way for the night, the forest became live with the symphony of the nocturnal kind.
The Moon made its appearance on the horizon adding the silver lining to the deep dark forest, and the lake reflecting it in all its glory.
Its so cold here and I have started getting goose bumps, added our friend.

We were in the peak of summer, hot and humid, and here we were in the heart of SGNP looking for cover from the cold. Fortunately we were carrying few chaddars to save ourselves from mosquitoes, ended up in saving us from the cold.

Its when, sitting on the banks of tulsi on a moonlit night we felt that such a wonderful place exists in the heart of our city and we never knew that it existed.

Something had to be done, the seed was sown........

To be Continued......