Saturday, November 01, 2008

What does it mean to be called an Aurovilian?

Home > Journals & Media > Journals > Auroville Today > Current issue > October 2008
The main topic of the October 2008 issue deals with our neighbours.
It's a phenomenon seen all over the world. When a place acquires a certain level of complexity and dynamism, it attracts not only new residents but also people who wish to live close by. Are they coming for economic gain or is there a deeper connection?
The issue further carries an article on the Matrimandir Crane, on the and on the Svaram workshop. The section new books carries a review of the latest book of former International Advisory Council member Marc Luyckx Ghisi, titled The Knowledge Society, reports on a salsa workshop and the latest interaction of the cat Pelagius…
Here follow a few of the articles. We wish you happy reading. Please subscribe if you want to read more, or ask for a free copy. Details are elsewhere on this web page.

Our neighbours
Cashing-in on Auroville? Signs on the ‘ Auroville Main Road ' from the East Coast Road to Kuilapalayam village.
It's a phenomenon seen all over the world. When a place acquires a certain level of complexity and dynamism, it attracts not only new residents but also people who wish to live close by.
Auroville is no exception. Over recent years the explosion of buildings coming up on the fringes of Auroville – houses, guest-houses and shops – confirms that, whether we like it or not, a ‘greater Auroville' is already here.
Some Aurovilians fear the worst; that these people are coming here only to feed off Auroville, not to give anything back. Certainly, in the case of many of the shops and businesses mushrooming up around us, the commercial motive is predominant. Then there are those who just want to benefit from all that Auroville has achieved so far. These live close by because of the greenery, peace and cleanliness, or because of the cosmopolitan nature of the community that manifests in stimulating conversations, cross-cultural performances, exotic food and workshops.
Yet when Auroville Today went out to interview our neighbours, we discovered that a surprising number of those living around Auroville are attracted by something deeper, by Auroville's ideals and by the writings and example of Mother and Sri Aurobindo (some have been studying them for many years). Many of these people have an Ashram background or have been visiting Auroville for many years; many have long-time friendships with Aurovilians. While they eat at Auroville restaurants or attend our cultural events, these people are not interested in just benefitting. Some of them make regular financial contributions. Many of them would like a more active exchange, to offer their skills and energy in helping Auroville grow.
However, some Aurovilians believe that there is an essential asymmetry: that it's impossible not to take more than you give if you live in proximity to Auroville but don't commit yourself fully to the experience. So why don't these people become Aurovilians? Some tried but, for one reason or another, (the difficulty of finding accommodation is often cited) it didn't work out. Many have family responsibilities, work circumstances or physical problems that prevent them living here full-time. Some feel unwilling to make the large financial commitment necessitated by building in Auroville if they have no way of recuperating their costs should the experience not work out. Others want to retain a certain freedom – for example, in how they run their businesses – which they don't think possible if they join Auroville.
In other words, for quite a number of our well-meaning neighbours Auroville remains a step too far.
This raises an interesting question – what does it mean to be called an Aurovilian? Is it limited to those physically living on this plot of land or can we conceive of something larger? Then again, if ‘Aurovilian' is too precious a term to be shared freely, could there be other relations? Some of our neighbours would like some kind of status that recognises their commitment to our ideals and their wish to help us. Could we revive the Friends of Auroville, albeit in a new form, for people like these?
Or, as one of them put it, would we prefer living in an exclusive club?
Do not close the door to us”
“I do not belong to anything”
Dayakara – a dog’s paradise
An upbeat bike repair shop
The ‘Road’
The Matrimandir crane
“We became a dance family”

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