Inviting you to an unconference to bring together people who want to transition to a sustainable lifestyle, living closer to nature. It is a great opportunity to connect with people who are already on this path or dreaming about it: ask questions, share experiences and knowledge with each other, or, if you like, to just observe! And explore themes related to natural / organic farming, renewable energy, water conservation, natural building, education, holistic living, going back to the roots, etc.
This is the third BTTL unconference happening in Chennai. The first two in 2013 and 2014 had around 130 participants from many parts of the country. Many new connections and collaborations were born. The gatherings were true celebrations of our collective yearning to dream and live differently from the way we have been told or are expected to! In 2014 a parallel unconference was held in Pune.
This year’s unConference will be in a village/ farm environment with facilities to host everyone’s stay and food for the weekend. More details on the venue for the 2015 unConference.
What’s an UnConference?
Also called Open Space, the sessions at an unConference aren’t pre-planned, and there are no pre-determined “expert” speakers who’ll lecture everyone. We believe that every participant has a gift to offer. She can share skills, questions or answers. She can offer deep listening to those who want to share. She can even offer her vulnerability! Sessions are spontaneously organised by the people attending. Multiple sessions happen at a time and are completely optional.
Four Rules and a Law govern most unConferences:
- Whoever come are the right people.
- Whatever happens is the only thing that could have.
- Whenever it starts is the right time.
- When it’s over, it’s over.
Law of two feet:
“If, during the course of the gathering, any person finds themselves in a situation where they are neither learning nor contributing, they must use their feet and go to some more productive place.”
In short, an unconference is where we all move from being the old-world consumers to new-world co-creators. An unconference is where we strive to put into practice the new world we envision –- with equality, real democracy, openness, celebration of life as it unfolds, meaningful connections, authentic conversations, gift culture, inter-generational and inclusive living (where people from a diversity of ages, abilities and orientations are lovingly embraced). We won’t have any public speaking system (mics and speakers) so that loud ideas, not loud voices, wield power. We will have more conversations and fewer speeches. Instead of a fee, the conference expenses are covered by voluntary contributions that the participants willingly make.
Who can come?
People who are in different stages of thinking about and actually pursuing, a life close to the land. Weekend farmers, home gardeners, community gardeners, tree-planters, food-growers, farm volunteers, people working in NGOs in environment related sectors, homeschoolers, and anyone interested to know about these.
What about kids?
Of course, please bring them along. We need inspiration from them! We’d love for children to host sessions too – share skills they have, from story-telling to origami. For the little ones, there will be ample safe space, lovely trees to climb on and pump-sets to play in.
Is there a structure to the unconference?
The sessions will be co-created in each morning gathering by the participants present, based on their interests. We’re expecting to have sessions on topics like permaculture/organic farming, composting, water conservation, renewable energy, understanding rural reality, decentralized governance, sustainable lifestyles, holistic education… it can really go wherever you as a participant wants to take it. What are you passionate about? Come and host a session on that! Scroll down to the end of the page for a long list of suggested topics.
There will be a 5-6 session times in the day, and 5-6 parallel locations for the sessions. They will be put up on a common board like the one in the picture.
You’re also encouraged to bunk sessions and spend the day interacting with newfound friends! Everything is optional.
Can I bring pets along?
Though we’d love to say ‘Yes’ to this, out of consideration for our hosts, we’d have to say ‘No’.
Some possible topics: only suggestive and not exhaustive.
- natural farming
- organic farming
- green building techniques
- why farming?
- global warming.
- globalization and its impacts on food security in India
- creating an intentional community
- regional flora
- access to nurseries
- What to grow — trees, crops?
- Growing a food forest
- Working with volunteers
- Farm animals and their management
- Off the grid — power generation options
- children on the farm
- livelihood options
- children’s schooling
- waste management — toilets, plastics
- access to medical facilities
- challenges of connecting with the local people: language, culture, caste, other?
- Dealing with labour issues.
- dealing with local politics
- making the farm a fun place
- water harvesting — open wells, borewells, earthworks etc.
- “I have land an hour from Chennai. I can’t spend much time on it. How can it be used meaningfully?”
- seed bank
- Spiritual and sustainable communities on the land
- financial sustainability of natural farms
- In which areas are farming lands relatively cheap? (Sub Rs.3 lakhs/acre)
- What are the Do’s and Dont’s while buying a farm land?
- How to market the farm produce effectively? (or how to ensure there’s good profit)
- How to build a living fence?
- Organic pesticides and how to make them.
- Showcasing the best small farms and how they made it successful.
- Difficulties faced by city folks when they enter farming.
- Selling organic produce.