This project began under a tree, in a dream. The dream was that one day a Nepali girl, maybe the daughter of a farmer, someone who was inculcated never to dream, could walk from the banks of the mighty Koshi to the white ridges of Kanchenjunga. On this journey, she would experience the tonics and perfumes of thousands of wild plants, sleep amidst the distant call of jackals that were thought to be extinct, and see grass birds and sand pipers, ground pheasants and vultures. She would see that the world is never truly dark as the sun and moon paint the mountains with the same light that reflects from stars. At last she would place her small hand on a blue-white glacier, the first she had ever seen, wishing it was not the last.
It was this dream of her journey that inspired the idea of islands of biodiversity floating in mountains, worlds unto themselves, each a beautiful fable with characters and plots, heroes and villains. If the islands could connect with slender trails that dipped and curled from cool springs and waterfalls to deep, silent, still forests, to loud river gorges, we could create a powerful scaffolding for a new kind of education without inculcation. It was all five of her senses that guided the trail, and marked it with hundreds of tiny experiences that sparked new curiosity, fueling new dreams.
What if she herself designed those islands, thinking not just of human beings but of all the jackals and ground pheasants and vultures, as ‘Learning Grounds’ from her own imagination, sparked by dreams of her own while slumbering under a tree herself.
This girl, who we have dubbed Gaia, needs our help to sow the canopy of that dream: