Sustainability Initiatives in Honesdale

On May 6, 2011 staff and residents at the Himalayan Institute headquarters in Honesdale, PA participated in a day-long workshop focused on improving sustainability on campus. Since then a lot has been accomplished at the Honesdale campus. Here’s a rundown on all that has been achieved in the last six months:

  • The solar-thermal hot water system now provides 70-80% of the hot water needs for the main building.
  • Real-time monitoring of our energy usage in the main building helps staff and residents be more conscious of energy consumption.
  • Water usage data is also being collected so that we can track our water conservation efforts over time.
  • A new “Inside” webpage was built for staff and residents to improve internal communication and help keep people informed about how to reduce energy and water usage.
  • All of the toilets in the main building (22 in total) have been replaced with low-flow toilets, which save us 3.72 gallons per flush–over 100,000 gallons per year!
  • Eco-friendly flooring was installed in the new HI Café.
  • The IT department made changes to all of the computers on campus, so that they power down automatically when not in use and are set to print double-sided by default.
  • A follow-up sustainability workshop took place on October 21. During the workshop, plans were made for a second phase of improvements.

In addition, the Himalayan Institute now has a new Sustainability Statement:

The Himalayan Institute is committed to sustainability as an expression of Yoga in Action. Sustainability is an understanding that we are profoundly interconnected with the natural world, both materially and spiritually. By embracing this understanding, we can live in harmony with our environment and help to heal the planet.

This commitment begins with stewardship of the ecological balance and spiritual vibrancy of our flagship campus in Honesdale, PA and extends to our humanitarian projects abroad in Cameroon, Mexico, and India. We endeavor to integrate our mission, operations, and programs to encourage creative, meaningful, and lasting sustainability. This is expressed in measurable and ongoing attention to the conservation of energy, water, materials, and biodiversity. We encourage our entire community to join the effort, so that we can learn from each other while bringing spirituality into action.

If you have ideas for ways we can improve our conservation efforts, please share!

Battle of the Bands to Support Trees for Tibet

In March of this year, three high school students from Dallas, Texas—JJ Echaniz, Kevin Chan, and David Chi—first learned about the Trees for Tibet project. Inspired by the simple yet powerful mission of planting trees in the Tibetan refugee settlements, the three put their heads together to try to figure out how they could support the cause. As a group of friends with lots of musical talent, they decided to form an organization that would utilize their musical skills and inspire more involvement from other people in their age group.

JJ and Kevin posing with the tickets that they designed and printed for the show.

“We founded SoundsOfSupport, a non-profit organization that strives to channel the talents of young local musicians into avenues that can truly benefit charitable causes, both on a local and international scale… Our first project is the Trees for Tibet Battle of the Bands on August 27 in Carrollton, Texas,” writes JJ.

The big event is this Saturday from 7-11:30pm at the Rock (2435 E Hebron Pkwy Carrollton, Texas 75010). Six bands will be preforming and the event is almost sold out! Whether you’re in Dallas or elsewhere, let’s show our support for these incredibly inspiring young men:

Khajuraho Development Update

Work on the new Himalayan Institute campus in Khajuraho, India began in mid-April and already a great deal of progress has been made. The pictures and captions below show some of the latest developments:

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Join us in Khajuraho and Allahabad for the Kumbha Mela! Celebrated every 12 years, the Kumbha Mela is the largest spiritual gathering on the planet and has attracted hundreds of thousands of people to the banks of the Ganges River for over 5,000 years. Experience the pilgrimage of a lifetime while enjoying the comfort and security of the HI campus. Register now for discounted rates.

Clean Water for Takui, Cameroon

As part of its ongoing work to support the health of the region, the Himalayan Institute Cameroon in partnership with the Honesdale Rotary has started construction on a water catchment system in the village of Takui in Northwest Cameroon. The installation will harvest water that flows from a local spring and channel it into an easily accessible and clean well.

The old Takui water tap (above) was dirty and poorly managed. Without a catchment container, the water flowed constantly during the rainy season and was often dry during the dry season.

The project is being carried out in collaboration with the traditional village council and the majority of the labor has been done by local residents. “It was important for us to get the full support of the local community,” said HIC staff member Ntani Divine. “You can dig a well with only a few people, but it takes the whole community to keep a well clean and functional.”

Community members help carry small stones...

..and big stones, too!

On the first day of construction there was a huge outpouring of community support. “Even the village elders were carrying stones and concrete. Today we really saw true community spirit! The people are happy for what HI is doing to provide water for them as they have been suffering from water problems for a very long time,” said Ntani. “For those who couldn’t work, like elderly women, you will see them watching babies and babysitting the children of those people who could work. Even elderly men who could not work came out in great numbers to give courage and support to all of the workers.”

Here is a sketch of what the water catchment system will look like when it is complete.

One of the grandmothers of the village named Beri Vi Mbang, speaking in the local dialect, said, “I did not think that I would drink such beautiful, clean water in my lifetime.”

Living in the United Stated it is difficult to wrap our minds around her sentiment, to fully appreciate the value of clean water which is so often taken for granted in our part of the world. Next time you go to turn on your faucet, do a mental experiment: imagine what it would be like to have to walk over a mile every time you wanted to fill up your glass. For the people of Takui, clean water is now a little bit closer to home, and that will make a world of difference.

Plant a tree for Arbor Day

More than a tree

Plant a pongamia tree and help regenerate depleted soil, slow climate change and provide a renewable source of income for Tibetan refugees.

It is an American tradition each spring for schoolchildren to come home with a small pine or maple sapling to be planted in the yard in honor of Arbor Day.  If you were like me, you were lucky if your tree lasted for more than a year. That’s because growing trees is tough–it takes long-term care and commitment to nurture a tree from its tiny beginning.

To make a strong impact through reforestation, the Himalayan Institute has partnered with the Tibetan Government-in-exile in India to plant 100,000 trees in Tibetan refugee settlements. The Institute provides thorough education and support so that Tibetan farmers can bring the trees successfully from nursery to maturity.

This year, plant a tree that will make a lasting difference.

Meet Doje and learn more about the Trees For Tibet Campaign:

Our goal is to plant 100,000 trees by the end of 2012, one tree for each Tibetan refugee living in India. Help us reach our goal!