Well, we’re back from our first day. The reason I came for this internship, originally, was to support and document entrepreneurial conservation. From meeting Diwia when I first arrived a couple months back, to meetings with various levels with the Forest Department’s hierarchy and front line, to today was one of those small arcs of history. The Forest Department’s approach to conservation, leveraging the abundant mix of creativity, entrepreneurship, and energy in the local community, was a testament to the possibility of good governance. One of my first posts when I arrived in Kerala, noting the news accounts about public sector corruption in this country, is balanced today by a more inspiring portrait of what that sector can and does do more than they get credit for.
To describe the workshop as a success, I think, would be an understatement. The enthusiasm and enjoyment that infused the work, which no one seemed to tire of, was infectious, and I think everyone is looking forward to tomorrow morning. The fact that only three women said they couldn’t come back for tomorrow (which, I’ll remind you, is Sunday) morning’s session is particularly telling, and I hope the photos posted here are equally so. There were a lot colorful accents to the main event, notably the children who ran around helping their mothers (or made their own bags), the men on the side learning in their own way, and Diwia’s scolding the interns (myself included) and George for making too much noise. It was described as a party and a picnic, but in the end a whole lot of learning went on, and close to 300 bags were made.
Check out this video that Sung and I made this morning (set to the music of a South Korean pop star’s hit song, to honor Sung):
Check back again tomorrow at 11:30 EST for more live updates, and in the meantime read over the day’s happenings!