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Over the years, we have been able to successfully mobilize the community. The artisans are given training on a regular basis. Currently we are actively into the marketing & employment generation phase. We are at its onset, introducing our green products in the market, taking measures to generate awareness about our products and the initiative overall as we work towards generating revenue to sustain the project.
Initially, conceived as a project under the UCMA(now Project Beeja) design studio, Beeja is now a registered trust. This project is a self supported and self funded integrated community development exercise. An experiment which began as an initiative led by designers and community environmental enthusiasts gradually over a period of time turned into a local revolution to establish a culture of bringing together art, livelihood and sustainable living.
Beeja has ventured a long way to support and work on the areas that we believe are appropriate for development of self-sustained communities that co-exist with their respective environment. Combination of craft techniques with sustainable technology that comprises integration with updated and green technologies for the product development is the recent field Beeja is working on. Thus while acting as the mediator between various groups i.e. craft technique, consumer, sustainable technology, the professional designers associated with Beeja, provide appropriate solutions.
Beeja is a movement that advocates sustainable livelihoods and involves an entire community of traditional craftsperson and the groomed/trained craftsperson of the region. Our team strength is of about 250 craftsmen, including both skilled and unskilled. Within this team, we have been conducting trainings and many of the craftsmen have been able to achieve expertise in the said crafts.
The project is being led and managed by the Principal Designer/Director along with two more co-ordinators. The principal employees and the core team members are listed as follows:
Meghna Ajit - Principal designer, Director/ proprietor
Meeta Goel - Marketing Coordinator
Arshad Kafeel - Production Coordinator (National Awardee block carving)
True to its meaning, Beeja brings design process back to its roots, reviving the traditional and forgotten crafts and techniques of production by giving it a simple approach. It is an effort to bring design interventions in everyday life using basic materials and skills. Here, we work on making things more convenient in day-to-day life by innovating with everyday use materials, intervened with the natural charm of Bamboo. The products designed at Beeja use nature-friendly materials and sustainable technology, thus providing effective design solutions which simplify the lifestyle.
Beeja is an effort to support environment and people. We address the ecological issues by promoting traditional crafts and practices. Nine basic skills and two existing crafts were identified and taken under the wing to groom into a self sufficient livelihood option for the people of this belt. Today these are flourishing practices with the efforts of the studio and are known for its unique presence. The crafts and techniques taken up are - Bamboo craft, Block printing, Block making, Rope making, Papier-mache, Needle work, Natural dye, Handloom and Cone craft.
Except for block printing and carving the other techniques were not identified as ‘crafts’ initially. These are the induced crafts. We like to identify all these practices as eco-friendly practices.
Other activities under Beeja includes educating young children and local population about the various environmental concerns and role of Bamboo and natural fiber through interactive workshops. The farmers are also being motivated about the same to encourage them to grow Bamboo and fiber for local raw material supplies and at the same time provide earth with the much needed top cover to retain water.
Workshops conducted during last 6 years
1. Skill up-gradation in Bamboo at Sikheda
2. Skill up-gradation in Bamboo at Pilakhua
3. Product development excercises and workshops in induced Bamboo craft & techniques
4. Product development excercises and workshops in block carving techniques
5. Workshops for technical inputs in block carving technique
6. Introduction of natural dyes on wood along with block carving
7. Revival and refinement of Papier-mache techniques with the
8. Product development excercises in Papier-mache craft
9. Skill upgradation tranings and production enhancement based workshops
10. Introduction of agave fiber to the rope workers of the area to
develop basic ropes as an alternative to widely available nylon ropes
in domestic use.
11. Product development excercises in agave/rambansfiber
12. Introduction of natural dyes to the group
13. Appropriate block development for natural dye and block printing group
14. Product development excercises in block printed cloth
15. Skill upgradation with needle craft/applique group
16. Appropriate product development workshops for needle
17. Workshops on production techniques and methods for applique group
18. Explorations and product development with tailors and women
with stitching skill.
19. Explorations and product development with the dye and dye group
20. Skill upgradation trainings with the henna group
21. Appropriate product development excercises with henna group
The past years have seen larger awareness on environment, conservation and eco-friendly practices. The environmental achievement of the project in this short span of time ranges widely from educating the rural communities to plantations of Bamboo and Agave and popularizing the concepts of sustainable development and environmental conservation through a range of alternative consumer goods for the mass market.
Under project Beeja the identification of the routine activities of a village household, local skills and simple practices was the first step. These were studied to understand the very need of their existence and the reasons why these practices are not common anymore. To revive these practices as a sustainable and environmental friendly practice, intensive training with the community groups were conducted over years. These groups and techniques have been groomed so that as they practice their expertise they are also empowered to sustain themselves with a healthy means of livelihood.
Workshops on environment related issues like responsible consumerism and ‘green economy’ with schools, children, adults, corporations, urban communities and also rural communities are conducted given the urgent need to be able to communicate with local and other communities about the very purpose of Beeja.
These programs are developed for-
Generation of self-sustained livelihoods
Greater community control over its economy, social structure and
Recognition as an environmentally friendly group and community
Encouragement to others
Ideas of replication of the project in other areas as well
Creation of a robust, scalable model that combines sustainable
Culture of responsible consumerism
Community owned and managed enterprises as a solution to the