When Surabhi and I set out with the vision of The CoCo Weekend, the first question that bogged us was, how are we going to pull this off?
The second question was where are we going to get the money to pull this off??
Looking back in retrospect after we have pulled it off, I can’t help but feel a huge sense of pride. Not in us, but the community that backed us up.
A school is the heart of any community. The Bishop’s School, Camp proved that not only were they the heart but also the soul. Between the teachers, support staff and students, the school became an extension of us and now an intrinsic part of CoCo. We could not have had a better partnership than this for our pilot run.
Our entire CoCo team backed us up. Farmers, Eco warriors, Small Scale Vendors, from all kinds of backgrounds joined without any hesitation. No one asked us twice, no one questioned what we were doing. Just steadfast support.
Organisations came together. Organisations that work in the same field, parallel fields, all came together as one, even helping each other on panels and workshops. They made us believe that going ahead, cooperative efforts will be the ones that will be most sustainable. We will forever be indebted to Anil (Inora), Amita (Aarohana Ecosocial Development), Suchasmita (Swacch), Dr. Joshi and Mr Patil (BAIF), Satyajit and Ajinkya (TBOF), Hector, Amrita (IISER), Rohan (Ground Up), for so easily putting their faith in our vision.
Anything we say about Dr. Vandana Shiva and her team from Navdanya will never be enough. How surprised we were that they agreed to come, how in awe we were as she addressed OUR audience, how much her team: Anu, Drona and Urvee helped us… as if this was their own event. The event was a whirlwind, but they left behind a sense of family, which we know will last a lifetime.
The humility with which Mr.Bodhankar came in was as strong as his will to clean up our oceans and save all aquatic life. For someone who is doing such amazing work with school children through his organisation SagarMitra to be so unassuming, he did not even bat an eyelid and just agreed to speak at the event over one phone call.
One day before the event, we attended a press conference. A member of the press asked me, what is the highlight for you, besides all the stalwarts you have managed to rope in. I paused, I smiled and said:
“The highlight for me is that we have been able to create and execute this event with zero sponsors or corporatisation. The event is free for all to attend, nobody has to pay a single rupee to attend a workshop or listen to a keynote speaker or observe a panel. When we had to think of a symbol for the event we had thought of hands, because when we join hands together as a community, anything is possible. This for me has been the biggest highlight of the entire event.”
For us The CoCo Weekend will always be a piece of our hearts, not only because it was the first of such magnitude but also because these two days proved what Surabhi and I believe in deeply. Change starts from one person, grows circularly around and together we are better.
Co-operation, circular economies, conscious communities will see corporatisation and globalisation fall… This past weekend, was our little glimpse into how we can start.