Dharmalaya’s Aspirations for Future Projects & Programmes
This page is provided for the benefit of those who are interested to know something about how we envision the long-term development of Dharmalaya Insitute and its programmes. It contains ideas and possibilities that are speculative in nature and may or may not materialise as presented here, depending on our own evolving sense of priorities as well as many external conditions (not least of which are funding, teambuilding, and partnerships). If you are interested in exploring the possibility of working with us toward any part of this vision, we warmly welcome you to contact us.
The Short-to-Medium Term:
A Win-Win Vision for Integrating Sustainable Rural Development & Educational Ecotourism
Recognising that complex social, economic, and ecological challenges require holistic solutions, Dharmalaya aspires to develop programmes facilitating the integrated pursuit of learning, economic self-sufficiency, environmental stewardship, community service, health and personal development.
Programmes already underway on a modest scale and still being developed and refined include:
- Sustainable and compassionate living: High-yield organic agriculture, creative earthen building, permaculture design and natural landscaping, best practices for waste management, graywater filtration and rainwater harvesting, renewable energy, healthy and compassionate cooking, and more.
- Green jobs: Education, training and opportunities for work that benefit both self and community.
- Ecotourism and cultural exchange: Immersive volunteer opportunities, family homestays, language education, etc.
- Traditional wisdom: Philosophy, meditation, yoga, holistic health and personal development.
- Seva/Karma yoga: Volunteer service in green village development and other public service activities.
- Community building: Collaboration and win-win exchanges with kindred spirits locally and globally.
- Sustainable economic development: Green infrastructure, fair-trade cottage industries, etc.
When the Dharmalaya Institute is fully funded and construction is completed, it will offer expanded programming in several interrelated areas. Specific examples of projects and programmes currently in the early stages of development or on the roadmap (pending sufficent resources) include:
- Village Women’s Cooperative to produce organic products (chutneys, jams, tofu, etc.) for local sale, providing local and eco-friendly sources of income for low-income women of Bir and surrounding villages
- Green Builders’ Guild to facilitate training and uphold high quality standards for eco-builders in the greater Bir area and beyond
- Educational Day Care to provide ecological and creative activities for children from local villages, starting with the children of Dharmalaya’s own employees and labourers, and branching out from there
- Organic Farmers’ Collective and CSA Programme to disseminate knowledge on high-yield organic farming techniques and enable local consumers to purchase high-quality organic food from confirmed organic local growers via a community-supported agriculture programme or similar models
- Himalayan Wisdom Programmes to provide education and experiences in meditation, yoga, philosophy, and other aspects of Himalayan culture
- Ecological and Health Education to promote awareness in the local community and surrounding villages about various environmental and healt-related issues
- Documentary Films on a variety of subjects related to sustainable living, green building, Himalayan culture, and the work of the Dharmalaya Institute and its collaborators
- Bir Heritage Project to preserve the oral history of Bir and its people, through video, audio, and textual interviews with elders, collections of photographs, etc.
- Expanded Online Resources to share knowledge and solutions for sustainable and compassionate living with a national and global audience via the Dharmalaya website
- Seed Saving Programme to preserve, cultivate, and disseminate organic and heirloom seeds to local growers, preserving biodiversity and improving nutrition
Further Down the Road: Dharmalaya’s Long-Term Aspirations
Our long-term vision comprises a slowly-growing network of small-scale local centres for learning, service, and compassionate living and, eventually, larger centres on the order of an ecovillage-cum-university.
Following is a brief description of three proposed future projects, illuminating our longer-term objectives.
Dharmalaya Ecovillage (proposed for development sometime around 2020)
A larger service-learning community offering residential programs, a day school, green cottage industries, and a small eco-resort. This self-sustaining, mission-driven ecovillage would serve as a showcase for sustainable village development, immsersive ecotourism, and holistic programming, and the model would be replicable. An ideal site has been identified and we are currently cultivating strategic partnerships to promote collaboration, exchange, and other synergies. Estimated budget: INR 2,30,00,000 (~US$480,000).
Dharmalaya Institute, New Delhi (proposed for future development)
An urban adaptation of Dharmalaya’s Ecovillage model, designed to bring the benefits of our programmes to the nation’s capital city and to serve as an urban point of presence for the rural projects. After New Delhi, Dharmalaya Institutes could be established in other cities. Estimated budget: INR 5,00,00,000 (~US$925,000)
Dharmalaya Eco-Resort (proposed for future development)
A propsoal for the flagship ecotourism destination of the ‘New India’ that would draw on the very best of the ‘Old India’ and transport it into a sustainable and prosperous future. To be located in a suitable location with unspoiled natural beauty. Would be operated on a not-for-profit basis, with any net proceeds being used to benefit charitable programmes, but the model could be adapted by others for commercial use. Estimated budget: INR 5,00,00,000 (~US$925,000)
Ravangla Retreat Village (proposed for future development)
A small, mission-driven ecovillage to be developed above the quiet Himalayan town of Ravangla in the Indian state of Sikkim, to offer a range of courses, retreats, and service-learning opportunities serving the local community and international students, volunteers, and ecotourists. Use of an ideal parcel of hilltop land owned by a local monastery has been offered to Dharmalaya by the monastery in concert with the state government official responsible for development of the land. Estimated budget: INR 86,00,000 (~US$180,000).
Help Us Make the Vision Manifest
After establishing the Dharmalaya Institute in Bir, Dharmalaya aspires to take the next step. All who are interested in the larger vision are invited to contact us to explore what we might do together in service of a more compassionate world.