Friday, February 13, 2009

'Green' school at Vijayanagar

Right across the road from the public park in Vijayanagar colony where our Ugadi plants are coming up is Ananthageetha Vidhyalaya. The school stands out for its greenary.The teachers here take as much care of trees as they do their students. The trees, on their part, provide a welcoming shade; and LKG teachers prefer to hold classes out in the open.
Friends of roadside trees(Fort-Mysore) found this school eminentally suited for trying out their pet scheme to initiate school children into backyard tree-planting. Some of us in Fort have been plugging it, with little success. This may be because we have been talking to wrong people.
Ananthageetha seemed a promising school from where we could make a start. They have planted even on public space in front of their school. "These trees are four years old," said the school founder K N Anantharamaiah, referring to their pavement plantation.

Within the school campus there are rows of teak, where students spend their lunch time. The management has throughtfully provided granite-slab benches where they have lunch.
The rows of teak gave us a context to talk about our scheme for student tree-planting. The idea is to persuade parents seeking school admission to plant a sapling to celebrate the occasion when their young ones start schooling .The sapling and their child would grow together. And children would relate to saplings planted to celebrate their schooling.
Prof.Anantharamaiah didn't need any persuasion to see the benefit in the child-sapling idea. Snag, he said, was that they had no more space in school for trees. We suggested that the children could plant them at their own backyard or on pavement close to their house. Referring space shortage the school founder noted that Ananthageetha had a strength of 320; and senior boys and girls used the public park across road for recreation, as there is not enough play-area within the school premises.

Prof.Ramaiah said they had already started admission process for the next academic year; and that our suggestion could be tried out with parents who bring children for fresh admission. He wasn't sure, though, about parental acceptance - 'we can't ensure implementation of our suggestion'. Mr E R Ramachandran of Fort-Mysore noted that the number wasn't important. Even if 10 percent of parents and students are persuaded to plant rees at their backyard, it would be worth a try. The children who do take up tree-planting could be motivated by the school. The best boys and girls from the nursery, primary and middle standards should be honoured on the school annual day. ERR came up with the idea of Friends of Roadside Trees instituting prizes for outstanding student tree-planters.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Ugadi plants - a status report

This isn't just any public park in yet another residential locality. The plants you see in the picture has each a story to tell. But their collective story began on Ugadi day last year. When two green entreprenuers in Mysore - Anil Kumar and Ashwin Upadhyaya - chose to launch their company - Sapgreen - at this public park at Vijayanagara-II. The enterprising duo chose the venue, brought the saplings and requested the invitees to plant them. It was a unique way to inaugurate their company.
This was how the park looked on the inagural day (April 7, 2008) The invitees included several neighbourhood school boys who use the park to play cricket. The ground was green, because of seasonal showers during those days. When we - ERR and I - re-visited the place this morning the park looked drab and dry.
We were however pleased to see a touch of green on the tufts of the 10-month old plants, coming up in an orderly row. The tall one in the foreground, a neem , was planted to celebrate the day my grandson Sidharth started going to play-school. Sidharth goes to school at San Ramon, California; and the neem we planted to celebrate the occcasion is nicely coming up at a public park in Mysore.
Here, his grandma planting the sapling in Sidharth's name on Ugadi day. Maybe we made a big deal of his pre-schooling. But then any event in the family is a cause for celebration for us. Besides, it gives us a pretext to plant a sapling. If every other person in a neighbourhood were to mark every family event - be it your children's birthday, your wedding anniversary, your daughter's graduation day, your son's first job placement, or his first trip abroad, India visit of your children based abroad - by planting a sapling in their backyard or on pavement in front of your place, we could turn the neighbourhood green.
I persuaded tree-lover ERR to pose with his sapling, a mahagony. Among other notable Mysoreans who planted saplings on Ugadi last April were veteran journalist Krishna Vattam and Snake Shyam.