Published: 10th June 2019
Earth CoLab is calling all earthlings to join hands for the environment
Tasneem Khan, one of the founders of Earth CoLab speaks about creating long-lasting changes in the environment through collaboration and education
When Earth CoLab was set up in 2016, the idea was to collaborate for the sake of nature. The organisation was born when a group of people realised the need to form a collective enterprise which builds on each individual's talents and vision, a platform for collaboration on equal terms where nobody is subsumed by the identity of a larger institution.
Cofounder Tasneem Khan says, “Each of us come from very different academic backgrounds and professional experiences but felt the need to build a creative common ground to work on our common interests in education, pedagogical research, art-science and visual media.” This larger vision was brought into life under three units: World As A Classroom (education), Infectious Knowledge (science communication), Practice of Perspective (art-science investigations).
WORK TOGETHER: Earth CoLab supports ecological and conservationist causes
The first push came from a project called Swamp Storytelling which was an art-science investigation in the tropical mangroves and temperate marshes of India and Sweden respectively. Tasneem explains, “Our objective then was to make this idea infectious in the way people engage with places, whether it is their own backyard or under the sea.”
Earth CoLab is a platform where life is breathed into ecological and conservationist ideas. “Our goal would be better described as a path than an end,” says Tasneem. “All 5 of us are based in 5 different locations and are constantly travelling often to remote places without any phone networks. This is one of the most challenging aspects of what we do but it is also the best part of our endeavour. As a result over the last 3 years our fieldsites have grown to encompass Goa, Pondichery, Andamans, Coorg, Thailand and Sweden.”
We believe that our work is not learning ‘about the environment’ but learning ‘within and as part of the environment’. The widest and most effective impact begins when individuals stop seeing themselves as separate from the environment
K Ramnath Chandrasekhar
All our programs are rooted in this ideology. It is about learning any subject and pursuing any interest in the constant context of being immersed in a ‘real place’ – contending with all the components of that ecosystem – understanding the links, the lives, the structure, the cycles and everything that will then change the way you make decisions. This sort of learning creates a deep sense of observation, non-linear thinking, belonging and biophilia.”
Tasneem quotes Edward Abbey saying, 'Growth for growth sake is the ideally of a cancer cell'. At CoLab the focus is on organic growth. Just take a look at their ongoing and upcoming projects that are and will be set within the ‘environment’. These include: The Indian Ocean Library, The Vessel for Inquiry and Too Cool For School.
ROLL OUT: Tasneem hopes that the organisation can find solutions to ecological problems
She continues, "Overcoming the greed that has begun to rot the industry is a marathon project and Earth Colab hopes to make a small contribution towards this by creating learning environments that implore a shift in thinking towards a culture of asking questions. Our learning expeditions with schools aim not only to push the boundaries of education, neither is it simply excursions in nature."
"What were the socio-political and environmental factors globally and locally that led to the floods in Coorg and Kerala?” she asks. And these are the kind of questions that she hopes the youth will ask once CoLab gets their work rolling. The first challenge they had to overcome was to create a paradigm shift among the youth - in redefining ‘value’. This will begin through a fundamental shift in how we learn.