Thursday, February 26, 2009

The Sunanda Gandhi Memorial School: a model

Arun Gandhi talks about the Sunanda Gandhi Memorial School, a school in rural India that is envisioned to be a model for village-based community uplift and self sufficiency. As India grows in prosperity, many poor Indians who live in rural villages find themselves left out of that prosperity. With increasing economic pressures in rural village settings, there is massive migration of people to cities, looking for work ---- and children and families are vulnerable to the child traffickers who come to villages to recruit young girls for prostitution, and young boys for child labor. Families are torn apart, and many live in poverty while few become prosperous.

The Sunanda Gandhi Memorial School promises to be a model for how rural, community-based schools can be the hub around which villages develop economic self sufficiency, thus enabling a bottoms-up approach to building an India that includes a good life for all.

This is what Gandhi would want us to do.

“Earth provides enough to satisfy every man's need, but not every man's greed” (Mahatma Gandhi)

An interview with Arun Gandhi

In this video, Arun talks about growing up with his grandfather, and makes some comments about his views of the situation in the Middle East.

Arun Gandhi talks about lessons his grandfather taught him

I've had the privilege of having briefly met and traveled in India with Arun and Sunanda Gandhi, in 1997. This was during a time when I was intent on learning all I could about Gandhi, and how he managed to pull off such great social movement without firing guns.

Since then, I have studied the underlying approach to nonviolent solutions, and more importantly, have been experimenting with these approaches in my organizational work, working with a wide spectrum of organizations in turnaround, or navigating through change.

It works! I have been consistently amazed at how the simple act of "walking the high road" brings out the best in everyone, and the amazing results that can come with this approach.

My support of candidate Obama was primarily driven by my instinct about his ability to walk this high road. This is what will make all the bi-partisan rhetoric real, in a practical way that serves all.

This is a video of an inspriring talk that Arun made in 2008, while addressing a conference of educators here in San Francisco. Through telling stories of his life in India with his Grandfather (he was sent as a 12 year old with an "anger problem" to go live with his Grandfather for a year), he shines light on the essential under-pinnings of his grandfather's philosopy..... namely, the importance of self-transformation, selflessness, and how to channel the power of anger into constructive responses to difficult situations.

Nonviolence is not the path of the weak. It takes great personal courage and fortitude to Walk the Talk. Here, Arun shows us how.

"Be the change you want to see in the world" (Mahatma Gandhi)