Janet’s tree-sponsorship idea may be another idea waiting to evolve into a widespead civic movement, in the Exnora fashion…
Mrs. Janet Yegneswaran of the Trees-for-free trust doesn’t share my enthusiasm for a green corridor to the Bangalore international airport. “Sorry, it’s not possible,” she wrote back, saying planting saplings along airport highway needs resources for proper maintenance; would require lots of tree-guards (which, incidentally, cost more than saplings). And who would take responsibility for watering the saplings?
Such was her response when I wrote to Janet after reading about her initiative to persuade people to plant saplings to mark special events in life – birthday, wedding anniversary, graduation, getting a job. A California-based NRI sponsored planting of 21 saplings in a city park to mark her three-week vacation in Bangalore. This triggered an idea – if everyone who goes abroad for the first time – students, IT professionals, parents of NRIs – were to sponsor a roadside sapling each to mark the occasion, we could have a green corridor along the road to Devanahalli airport before long.
Janet wouldn’t buy this; her current concerns are about saving the saplings that her organisation has planted on public space; about watering them regularly. The municipal corporation staff is required to water roadside plants at least once a week. Without providing for manpower and resources for proper after-care of planted saplings, there is little point in thinking big, reckons Janet.
The point is, Janet may not be aware that her tree-sponsorship idea has sparks of morphing into a major civic movement. I recall my own skepticism about
Mr. Nirmal and his small band of like-minded residents, all of them with experience of living abroad, started their civic initiative in the T Nagar area, under an NGO forum called EXNORA (which stood for excellent+novel+radical). He sought media support and that was how we got in touch. I appreciated Mr. Nirmal’s efforts, but dismissed it as a story for a city paper. I thought it was too ‘local’ for The Times of India (of which I was then the Chennai correspondent). I had failed to see the spark in the Exnora idea, which has now grown into a country-wide residents-driven civic movement. A group of NRIs, influenced by Mr. Nirmal, is planning to open a EXNORA chapter in the US that would not only act as a funding agency, but would also ‘brain-storm solutions to civic problems’.
Much older, and wisened by experience, my sense is that Janet’s tree-sponsorship idea may be another idea waiting to evolve into a widespead civic movement, in the Exnora fashion. Speaking of tree-planting, I once read that at Surathkal they have a tradition of asking every NIE student to plant a sapling on the campus before graduation. Surathkal campus is now green with trees planted by seniors years ago.
The charitable trust founded by Janet has planted over 1,500 saplings in the last two years. Bangaloreans who wish to see a touch of green in their neighborhood can call Janet to have their wish fulfilled. The trust gets calls from residents all over the city, wanting trees planted on their street. Her resources are stretched out to the full. Janet says her trust does not collect money from people for planting saplings in their neighborhood. Her resources come from individual donations and corporate sponsors.
As a hands-on person Janet wants to spend all her time and energy in planting saplings. She leaves strategy and promotional work to volunteers; not being in on the Internet and networking, Janet relies on volunteers to answer e-mail and maintain their website which could do with updates on a regular basis. Those of us who wish to take Janet’s tree-sponsorship idea to a higher, wider and more institutionalized level would first need to convince Janet that thinking big could, at times, lead to big things; that an airport green corridor under Janet’s tree-sponsorship programme isn’t such a woolly idea; and, that it has potential to become a working model for citizen-corporate-government partnership in our common endeavor to see a greener environment everywhere.
Networking of like-minded folks with a Bangalore connection would help mobilize resources to build on Janet’s tree-sponsorship idea. Those belonging to SiliconIndia and LinkedIn could network to spread the word about saplings sponsorship and help Janet devise appropriate software for registering sponsors online; to access data on available space for tree-plantation; the area that has already has tree cover; to maintain an inventory of saplings available for planting, their variety; brief notes on sponsors and the status of saplings they planted. Over a period the trees-for-free trust could build a database for a tree census in the city. Those who wish to contact Janet could email email@example.com.
Read Comments (2)