The Loyola Centre for Ecology & Justice (LCEJ) is located in the city of Trincomalee. Trincomalee is the capital of the Eastern Province and the main city of the Trincomalee District. Furthermore, after the restructuring of the Sri Diocese, since 2012, a smaller Diocese of Trincomalee was established following the decision to create the new Diocese of Batticaloa. The Trincomalee Diocese has 15 parishes and three missions. 

 

LCEJ decided to develop pilot projects in the Diocese of Trincomalee. Those pilot projects are five-year projects. The first two years correspond to an experimental period. If the project is successful, the Centre will follow the project for three more years and will develop similar projects in different parts of Sri Lanka. If the project is a failure, the project is abandoned and, based on the reasons for failure, a new more sustainable project will be experimented.

 

All the LCEJ projects emerge from a study of the local situation based on scientific research and direct encounter with the local population. LCEJ guiding principles are three-fold: affect emotional intelligence, err on the side of the local population and use improvisation to promote thinking-in-action.

 

When initiating a project, LCEJ members meditate on the following questions:

For whom are we initiating and maintaining a project?

Where are we initiating and maintaining a project?

What are the local constraints when initiating and maintaining a project?

Every other month, LCEJ members revisit those questions to evaluate the effectiveness of the project. LCEJ does not aim at efficiency but effectiveness. Is emotional intelligence affected so that the best comes out of the participants? Are LCEJ members really erring with the local population or did they fall into the trap of leadership and authoritarianism? Are they promoting thinking-in-action?  

 

Any effort to affect emotional intelligence in a way that promotes a more sustainable relationship to the environment is accompanied by a period of disorientation. This is when LCEJ members need to be vigilant and manifest their coaching skills.

 

LCEJ activities affect the way of life of the participants in deepening their understanding of the importance of recycling, reusing and reducing.

For example, recycling plastic tends to encourage the consumption of plastic and legitimize its production and it is not favoured by LCEJ members. On the contrary, recycling and reusing cotton or jute items reduces the consumption of plastic and makes the production of plastic items obsolete. Here again, LCEJ favours effectiveness against efficiency.

 

Increasing home gardens is one of the many ways to reduce the consumption of plastic. Families will buy less vegetable wrapped in plastic. However, the quick and efficient development of home garden was done by giving to families plastic planting bags. Therefore, home gardens became a nuisance rather than a solution. LCEJ opted to a slower model, distributing handmade eco-planting bags made out of recycled cotton and jute to enhance the effectiveness of developing home gardens.

 

Using the resources of Spiritual Ecology and relying on the insights gained through meditating on the reasons why most of the efforts to protect the environment in Sri Lanka have not been effective, LCEJ members humbly develop their projects. Those projects may be mere drops of hope in the ocean of environmental problems, but if those homeopathic doses are effective, a long-term change could be on its way. 

 

 In July 2020, LCEJ decided to initiate an umbrella project called “Trincomalee Diocese Eco-Project (TDEP).” The basic idea is simple: if the Catholic parishioners of the 15 parishes of the Trincomalee Diocese engage in projects aiming at reducing the consumption of plastic and manage to create zero plastic zones in less than five years, this could affect the other religious communities and change the way of life of the inhabitants of the Trincomalee District. Those families, in the thousands, would be credible when protesting against the destruction of the environment and the pollution of the sea. Politicians and industrialists would have to listen to their complaints and promote the protection of the environment. 

 

Already a network of projects has started promoting the reduction of plastic consumption. A little at a time...


Let me conclude with a quote from Anais Nin’s diaries:


We don’t see things as they are; we see them as we are.

 

©2020 by Loyola Centre for Ecology & Justice.