Last week I was privileged to meet again with Tasmanian Joss Brooks, who with his partner Anita Truchanas (yes….she is the daughter of Olegas and Melva), has lived in India for four decades and contributed to monumental changes and improvements in the environment around Auroville and in Tamil Nadu. More recently he led a project to transform a huge rubbish dump in the city of Chennai (10 million people) into an eco park.
Son of Quakers Kenneth (founder of modern Adult Education in Tasmania) and Helen Brooks, Joss was born in Tasmania and spent his early years here. His brother Philip was a documentary film producer and his other brother Professor Peter Brooks is a leading Australian rheumatologist.
These unsung heroes Joss and Anita are rarely mentioned in the Tasmanian or Australian media, yet they have helped transform the landscape in parts of India that were seemingly ruined deserts or sewage dumps.
Joss Brooks established Pitchandikulam in 1973 to restore the green cover over the Auroville Green Belt.
“Using wooden ploughs and bullock carts they planted trees, grew bio-fences, dug wells, erected a windmill and built earthen bunds to stop erosion by rainwater. They brought back the grass cover and grew food crops, while living off the land frugally. Through all the hard work of greening Auroville and the arid Pitchandikulam where he lives, he was guided by Pondicherry’s Mother, he says. “She told us that the spirit of the forest and wilderness were there to help if we could connect with it. Mother encouraged us to imagine the possibility of what could be.”
“Pichandikulam, his baby, is now a tropical, dry, evergreen forest with 400 medicinal plants. Nattuvaidyars teach herbal medicine in his Bio-resource Centre, school children and others paint and sculpt images of local flora and fauna. The Nadukuppamschool his team adopted several years ago has an environment centre, water supply, toilets and solar-powered water treatment systems. The kids have planted a vegetable garden in the grounds, women grow spirulina and prepare herbal medicines for cattle camps, and men increasingly do organic farming.” Read more HERE:
“Brooks is involved in restoration projects in Tamil Nadu, including the city of Chennai. A 12-acre garbage dump at Otteri in North Chennai has been transformed into a green lung of indigenous vegetation. In 2005, the Pitchandikulam team began work on a master plan for a 350-acre wetland site at the Adyar estuary. Over the following years, the typical urban wasteland environment of debris, garbage and sewage has changed into an example of species regeneration, practical environmental education and citizen/ government collaboration. The AdyarPoonga wetland restoration project is still underway, evolving into a crucial initiative to cleanse and transform the other polluted waterways of Chennai. “Read more HERE:
This short video shows the transformation.HERE: