News & Notes 832:Calling the Future survey analysis - Part 1

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832 icon.jpg   News & Notes 832
22 August 2020

Calling the Future survey analysis - Part 1: how people experienced the lockdown

281 people participated in the ‘Calling the Future’ survey (245 in the first phase, 36 in the second). The survey team has now embarked on the next steps, talking to those who expressed an interest in taking the findings forward. We are planning an initial discussion on the topic, “How does change happen?”, to be followed by focus groups to materialize new initiatives in areas like the economy, food, energy, housing, governance, education and health. Meanwhile, here is more detailed information on people’s responses to the lockdown. In subsequent postings we will focus upon participants’ suggestions about what needs to change and how those changes can take place.

On the personal level, an astonishing 85% said they had positively changed habits due to the lockdown. 21% became more aware about the food they were eating and where it comes from, and how they could make choices that would support local food production. As their lives became radically simplified, people devoted more time to working on themselves – reading Sri Aurobindo and The Mother, meditating, exercising, caring for the environment, living in the present etc. – and to relationships. They also realized that what they had viewed before as a ‘necessity’ (office work, frequent meetings etc.) was no such thing and now they had time to explore more interesting pursuits. They also appreciated the quiet that descended upon an Auroville without tourists and traffic.

Asked to summarize their experience in a few words, respondents mentioned “learning to live with what I have”, “gluing more together”, “going from ‘mine’ to ‘ours’ and ‘Hers’”, and “reconnecting with the spirit of Auroville”. A quarter of the respondents didn’t experience any negative changes personally, but those who did spoke of feeling isolated, separated from others, and of experiencing or witnessing panic/fear.

In answer to the question, “What do you think of Auroville’s response to the crisis?” the vast majority (87%) felt there was much to be celebrated. Many praised the mature, disciplined response to the crisis, and the spirit of service displayed in the volunteering, in the way that the essential services kept running, and in the dedicated work of groups like the COVID Task Force, the Working Committee and the Auroville Safety and Security Team. There was a feeling of fraternity and cooperation, reflected in the way that food delivery services were provided for those who needed assistance, as well as in the financial assistance offered by individuals and the Village Action group to the neighbouring villages.

However, 62% felt that certain things could have been improved. It was noted that there had been instances of irresponsible behavior, like people hoarding basic supplies, and rebelliousness as in those refusing to observe social distancing. It was pointed out that some essential working groups, like Entry and Housing, failed to provide a minimum service during this time, and that communication of essential information, particularly regarding health matters, was both inadequate and too functional, conformist, and lacking in the Auroville spirit.

30% noted that the crisis has highlighted many of our existing collective weaknesses. These include inequalities regarding maintenances and income; insufficient support for our farmers; the over-dependency of our economy on tourism; insufficient support for our productive units; and poor internal communication. Asked what surprised them positively during the lockdown, respondents mentioned the resilience and the solidarity of the community as people took responsibility for caring for each other, the adaptability of Aurovilians, and the realization of how much of the essential work can be done by the residents.

19% reported negative surprises. These included the level of fear and paranoia in the community, and the realization of how much we are dependent upon outside funding, labor and tourism to sustain our present lifestyle and development. There was a growing realization that we need to become much more self-reliant, particularly in terms of food production.

to be continued…

Calling the Future survey team
(Dan, Amy, Fred, Laurence, Dom, Alan)

See also