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The Open Mic and Saplings Exchange

Background and how this Huddle idea came about

A lot of suggestions for a Huddle, from the Panaji community, were doing the rounds in the community conversations. One was about a Saplings exchange, which was long overdue. However having a huddle only for Sapling Exchange was not giving a kick. We had completed 5 years as a community recently 8th September. And also we wanted to follow-up on the Food Waste Huddle that was organized on 29th September at the FDA.

So as we were discussing the idea of how to design the Huddle, we thought, having a Open Mic with limited time slots, would be a good framework. It also helps speakers refine thoughts and share with all, a summary of their initiative and ideas.

We approached a few speakers to check availability and willingness, checked the venue availability, the Flyer was designed, and the idea took off.

How it all panned out

It was around 3:30 pm yesterday afternoon, as I reached Carasid and saw Chris decking up a wonderfully decorated space with vertical garden on all sides and a cute aquarium to prepare for the Huddle. Soon Subbu, dropped in and as we approached 4 pm, there were almost 10-15 of us in the courtyard. We exchanged pleasantries and arranged saplings that were brought for the exchange.

As there was a long list of speakers in the Open-Mic, we started on time as the courtyard was slowly hitting capacity.

1. Abhinav gave a little background about the International Day for Awareness for Food Loss and Waste celebrated worldwide, how it all started with two very small countries (Andorra and San Marino) proposing the idea at the UN. There were some case studies explained about differential pricing for items with different shelf-life, Imperfect Foods etc. He also explained about the Huddle that was organized with the FDA ( Food and Drugs Administration) on 29th September where Scraps to Scrumptious Snacks competition was also organized.

Appeal : While there are some initiatives already in Goa, there is a lot that we as a community need to do. Those who want to join the effort, please reach out so that we can explore different ideas.

2. Chris explained how she uses different containers (repurposed) to ensure she does not fall short of any composting space, while also ensuring there is no smell issue. She got a sample of the final composting output for everyone to see and smell. Its a bliss to experience something like that, when anyone harvests compost for the first time. She explained about how she started her journey in 2020, and was also gracious to give away the compost tea ( which looked like Jamun Squash or Kokum Concentrate ;).

3. Gayle had composed wonderful poem which she recited which was quite insightful. Poetry makes us think in different ways.

4. Ferdin of One Earth foundation explained about the kind of work they do in waste management. Focusing on circular economy, he gave various examples of how they are putting in practice various sustainability concepts. The wallet made from discarded rubber tubes was an eye-opener into the possibilities on how such material can be made into utility products.

5. Allwyn shared some beautiful insights on how he goes about repairing and restoring stuff, by adding a lease of life into things that are usually thrown away. A glue gun to re-purpose coconut shells into planters, the legendary slippers which he has been using for about a decade, a shredder which can be fitted on any household mixer, were some of the techniques he demonstrated. Goes without saying , it was done with loads of humour.

6. Yash is an IT professional and an advocate of environmentally sustainable habits. He has helped govt in digitization of public transport in Goa. He cycles, walks or takes a bus as much as possible and claims it saves him a lot of time and mental agony compared to using a motor vehicle. " Just like loosening of belt is not a cure for obesity, similarly, widening of roads is not a solution for traffic congestion". This was by far the quote for the day and summed up the entire idea of what Yash wanted to share.

Appeal : Anyone wanting to volunteer for digitization of public transport, can reach out to Yash. There is a lot of work to be done in this

7. Aditiya shared his experience and thoughts about sustainability by convincing everyone that there is only one earth and possibilities on Venus, Mars, or any other multiverse are remote and not feasible. Aditiya runs a recycling center near Dona Paula and has been organizing various initiatives like plastic pirates etc.

8. Pragati shared her experience on her new year resolution she took in 2021, about not buying anything in the year except for essential toiletries and food items. She got the idea from the various discussions in the group about the topic, and she has been able to continue the habit, of not buying unnecessary stuff. Taking forward the example Yash gave about obesity, she explained how she has been not buying new clothes, but has been focusing on her physical fitness to fit into the same clothes for years. On another note, Pragati has been leading the Santo Antonio spring cleanup efforts. Can we as a community do one more cleanup there while enjoying the beautiful fountain and waterfall.

9. Subbu who was introducing every speaker and ensuring we don't fall short of time, explained about the FDA initiative of Used Oil Recovery which we got to know about at the Food Waste Huddle on 29th September 2023. Subbu has been also leading the People for Panjim Parks initiative and the Millets group and can be reached for initiatives in these

10. Nalini Cardozo, explained the RUCO scheme in detail and how we should all ensure, our used oil does not find its way to a road side eatery which could use it as a cheaper option, while posing a risk to us citizens who consume food made from such oil.

Muenzer Bharat, which is a designated agency by FDA helps in installing of drums where used cooking oil can be collected and is then taken away for converting it into Biodiesel.

Appeal: Let us as a purpose driven community, see how we can enable more and more such used cooking oil is repurposed. Subbu is in touch with a few housing societies and maybe Pragati is also exploring. There is no housing society that has partnered so far, for this RUCO( Repurposing Used Cooking Oil) initiative in Goa. Let's see who does it first.

11. Sama Ganthe a 9th Std, Student recited a poem, which she composed herself. Sama is the daughter of Yash who spoke earlier, and also is among the rare few, who does not waste food on her plate.

The link to her poem is below

12. Jasprit a graphic designer shared insights about a book from which we can all take cues while on our journey towards sustainability.

"The Ringing Cedars of Russia," authored by Vladimir Megre, delves into the profound connection with Nature Spirit Anastasia. Anastasia shares insights about her bond with the Dachniks—individuals attuned to Nature's energies. She imparts intuitive messages to enhance their gardens and reveals secrets, including a method to grow a tree linked to your DNA by incorporating your saliva during the seed planting process. A must read for those who want to dive deeper into the spiritual side of nature.

13. Smt Nirmala Sawant, a former legislator, invited everyone for a meeting to be held on 21st October, 4:30 pm at Sahitya Sevak Mandal, Ground floor, Institute Menezes Braganza Hall, Panaji for suggestions for improving the agricultural scenario in Goa. These suggestions will be then formally submitted to the Agriculture Department of Goa.

Thanks to all those who got saplings for distribution. Appeal : To all those who have taken the saplings, kindly post photographs once you plant and also once they start flowering/fruiting. Its a beautiful feeling, to see a part of one's garden, flourishing in another garden.

Thanks to Subbu, who took the lead in organizing this Huddle, Thanks to Chris and Sunil for hosting us at the Carasid Cafe Courtyard, Thanks to all Speakers who shared the amazing insights at the Open Mic, Thanks to Allwyn, Subbu, Sunil, Desiree for all the humour and laughter that you all enabled. Last, but not the least, thanks to all those who attended.

Feedback Please

We tried the Open Mic for the first time yesterday. We will be happy to conduct such Huddles at different locations with different topics and formats. Please share your feedback on this Huddle at the below link.

Let us explore, how we can take these initiatives forward. Reducing food waste, improving public transport, zero waste lifestyle, repurposing of waste, let's see what our next huddle has in store.

Team ComePostVille

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1 Comment

Gulab Borkar
Gulab Borkar
Oct 09, 2023

So much information I could gather from the Food waste huddle and also this open mic huddle.Missed it though due to prior commitments.

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