Gandhi, Non-Violence & the Rainforest Movement

From the Rainforest Information Centre Archives: http://rainforestinfo.org.au/projects/gandhi.htm

Letter to John Seed 7.9.99

Dear Friend,

Would it be possible to write 50 – 100 words on the influence of M K Gandhi on the environmental movement in the rainbow region? We have been invited to participate in an expo on Gandhi (details in the Media Release below) and we thought we would invite people from the alternative/environmental movement here to make a contribution on the topic of Gandhi and his influence, from a local, Australian perspective.

Many thanks for your cooperation.

Harsh Prabhu

John Seed’s Reply 9.9.99

Harsh, M K Gandhi had a huge influence on the environment movement in the rainbow region and throughout Australia. The first forest action at Terania Creek in 1979 was characterised by constant dialog and conscientisation as those who wanted a “quick fix” (thru disabling machinary for example and tree spiking) were met by Ghandiist non-violent folks. The latter prevailed. I remember one incident when the loggers, in desparation, left a bulldozer unguarded in the forest while they went away for the weekend in the hope that the protestors would damage the machine (which was insured of course) and our reputations. when they got to work on monday, sure enough, someone had cut all the electrical wires on the dozer – and someone else had expertly repaired them again!

In 1985, we had organised a retreat in Nimbin for the Indian meditation teacher, Vimala Thakar. Earlier in her life she had been part of the “land gift” movement which had been started by one of Gandhi’s famous followers (Vinoble?) and was therefore well-connected to the whole Gandhi movement. We showed her the film that Paul and Jeni made about Terania “Give Trees a Chance”. Vimala exclaimed “Why, this is pure Gandhi. Please take this film to India as so much of the Gandhi movement is moribund and just tending his memory rather than following the way of life that he demonstrated.”

So, she set up this 60 day roadshow in 1987 which she got the Gandhi Peace Foundation to organise and I took my 10-year-old son Bodhi and friend patrick Anderson by train the length and breadth of India showing this film more than 50 times to everything from the legislature of Karnataka to schools and groups organised by Gandhi organisations to the tri-ennial meeting of War Resistors International which was being held in Gujarat that year.

I have a video of GTAC that i can send you if this is of any interest, send me an address.

for the Earth – john