Ted Circles April 2021 — Appreciating Earth

A much-needed discussion to foster gratitude for the planet that sustains us in every way possible.

Ted circles is a theme based monthly activity which focuses on impactful, meaningful conversations among people in all walks of life. For this circle, four people gathered to discuss the topic to ensure they are not mere spectators but parts of the conversation.

The event was held on 16th April 2021 at 3:00PM (IST). The agenda on the docket was ‘ Appreciating Earth.’ All the contributors were committed to discussing nature and earth honestly. The host of the event, Preeti Chaudhary invited Cpt. Satyendra Vaidya and Venky Datla to the stage with Binati Sheth acting as the scribe for the event.

Before the event began, Preeti suggested a few videos for reference. The videos were:

  • Nature is everywhere — we just need to learn to see it, by Emma Marris
  • An illustrated kingdom of real, fantastical plants, by Nirupa Rao

Based on these videos and their personal experiences, the four members in the panel address a few questions namely:

  1. Basic introductions.
  2. How did the talks resonate with you?
  3. Your personal experiences with the topic.
  4. How do you talk to children about integrating appreciation for earth in their life?
  5. Has this talk challenged you to see your surroundings differently? If so, how? If not, why not?
  6. Your Call to action.
  7. Closing remarks

The overall common theme was one of realisation and a need to take action. All the panellists acknowledged how they had a preconceived notion of what nature is and in doing so, they were maybe ignoring all the nature around them. Also, based on reminiscing personal experiences and stories, all the panellists felt a nostalgic for the days of abundance from their past which made them state their individual calls-to-action.

Venky mentions how the talk by Emma helped him amend his original definition of nature. In his words, “The nature of our nature is different.” He then went on to highlight how we should see and appreciate the world around us, concrete or otherwise. He suggests how people, especially children should touch nature to develop a deep connection with it. According to him, humankind’s dissociation with nature is a modern problem. He thought-out-loud about the visible effects of this dissociation during the pandemic. A growing body of research, including research conducted by Conservation International’s scientists, points to a direct link between the destruction of nature and disease outbreaks. In the wake of future pandemics, the role of protecting, appreciating and restoring nature would definitely play a major role in prevention and control. He then expressed some emotion regarding children. Seeing as how he grew up in Visakhapatnam surrounded by nature, he felt bad for children who don’t have that option. This is where he wanted some change to happen in his own life. He made two insightful comments, “Nature and appreciation for the earth shouldn’t be a weekend or vacation thing,” and “Don’t make nature and man a binary issue.” Moving forward, he wants to actively integrate nature in the lives of the children in his locality.

Satyendra Vaidya reminisced about growing up among nature in the 1970s. There was abundance all around. Being an avid birder, he is used to patiently observing nature, even during the rigmarole of daily life. He recommends not going out of our way to experience nature. “Instead just observe your surroundings. The exotic isn’t important; observation is,” he commented. He made an interesting observation about the dissociation between man and nature. “Overtime, somehow, man isn’t considered to be nature. That’s not right. We need to start appreciating nature in an inclusive way.” He lamented about mass extinction events from the past and how mankind is contributing to the acceleration of that process. He actively wants to stop that and he does his part by working with an NGO named Fida. He is also actively working on waste management projects while contemplating an interesting question pertaining to waste disposal, “What is circulatory?” To quote him, “I want to return things to nature in a proper form.” He fondly cites his daughter’s experiences with going to the beach by mentioning how everyone has their own idea of what going to the beach means. Just like Venky, he wants children to stay in touch with the elements and for the rest of us to start appreciating whatever we’re seeing. He wisely notes how our perception of activism needs to change. Moving forward, he wants to contribute his time to take children out on nature hikes.

Preeti Chaudhary is a sympathetic ear for the speakers as they share their thoughts. She supplements the discussion by sharing her own personal experiences with being surrounded by nature growing up. She highlights her appreciation for the planet and the people by sharing how she tends to travel by assimilation. She does it so well, she’s picked up six languages over the years just by exploring the places she visits to the fullest extent with the help of the locals. In her words, “Humans should chuck their arrogance about being at the top of the food chain. We are a part of nature and we should live accordingly.” Moving forwards, she wants to develop an eco-consciousness for herself, her audience, and her clients.

Binati Sheth takes her notes while vigorously nodding her head. According to her, “Appreciating earth is about looking around and finding the beauty in the world.” Being heavily influenced by Japanese culture, which, like Indian culture, has an appreciation for nature woven into the social fabric, she notes how we should all take a note from Japanese education curriculums which include nature appreciation. She laments about how we tend to lose our innocence growing up. What was fun once gives way to practicality. Given her work with tribal communities and how they practice traditional techniques of conservation and preservation, she wants to reuse traditional knowledge and integrate it with modern life. Another thing she wants moving forward is to help curb the virtue signalling that happens around conversations regarding the appreciation and conservation of earth and humanity respectively.

It was a fruitful conversation where the contributors enjoyed listening to each other and learning fragments about each other’s life. Moving forward, they hope such frank conversations carry into the future.

Signing off for the month of April 2021.

Event name: Ted Circles Appreciating Earth

Host: Preeti Chaudhary

See you soon in May 2021 to discuss ‘Risks-Taking’.

To sign up for the event in May, check the link below and RSVP ‘Yes’ to attend:

https://events.tedcircles.com/invitation.html?id=recSo96jFEY16OKxt

A TL;DR version of this talk is attached below. Enjoy!

Published By

Binati Sheth

Originally published at https://www.linkedin.com.

A writer, a reader and a thinker who writes on her website https://binatisheth.com/

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