Gudrun’s journal – planting a forest
My INSTAGRAM is also my journal (@gudrunsjodendesigner). This is where I post pictures and write about everything going on in my life, whether the events are minor or major. When I turned 80 the year before last, I wanted to plant a forest with 80,000 trees. I didn’t find an opportunity to do that, so I donated to a more general environmental cause.
When I was in India recently, I was struck by how green New Delhi has become. What’s happened? I wondered. Well, there’s a campaign throughout India to make this huge country much more adapted to a world facing major challenges when it comes to the climate and air quality. Environmental issues are far more in focus than they once were.
Air quality in Delhi had always been bad due to burning straw, cooking over open fires and exhaust from old-fashioned cars. But this has all changed, which is wonderful. The cars are modern. The auto rickshaws all run on natural gas now. It’s not allowed to cut down trees without a permit. And a lot of companies don’t allow the use of plastic bags. Delhi planted 85,000 trees in 2022 – and this has transformed it into a green city!
This is the beginning of my journal, “Planting a forest”:
November 5, 2022 – memories from an old picture
I found an old picture of me and a woman in orange walking along the road between Jaipur and Delhi. What a wonderful picture of us in an orange sari and orange artist’s blouse! I’ve also heard that both companies and individual citizens have access to land in Delhi where you can plant trees to help make the city greener. I’ve heard that several of our suppliers are doing this. That’s fascinating – and I want to be a part of it!
November 5 – a meeting with Mandeep Singh from Marcos...
...in the lobby of the Imperial, an old British colonial hotel. Mandeep and Ritu also really want to join up with me to plant a Gudrun forest in Delhi. Mandeep suggests that we visit the water treatment plant near his factory and look at the area where we will plant trees. There are several ideas: around the water treatment plant itself, in a sunken area where there could even be a little lake, on flat land where kids play on the gravel. We decide to apply to plant – Mandeep handles the discussion with people and I raise money to plant trees. We decide that the orange blouse I wore in a lot of pictures on my trip is a suitable focal point for raising money. We determine that $2 for each blouse sold will pay for the trees we want to plant in Delhi.
November 17 – I’m painting patterns on the terrace at Royal Heritage Haveli
Of course, the pattern will have fruit, just like I saw when we were strolling around the water treatment plant. A lot of medium-sized trees grow under the very tall neem trees. Mango, papaya, lemon, bananas – most of the trees have a relatively short lifespan. A banana tree only lives two years, and then a new tree has to be planted. I get 320 likes on an Instagram picture with a brush in my mouth, painting a new watercolor pattern.
November 22 – meet Lynette Petty from Australia
Lynette is traveling alone, just like me. I comment on her beautiful dress and learn that she’s a Gudrun customer from Australia. The dress is from a little Indian brand called Madame Hall. These gorgeous patterned garments are inspired by Rajasthan. They have embroidery, mirrors, and different patterns in marvelous combinations. I borrow some of Lynette’s pictures, which I publish on my page. The pictures are wonderfully colorful.
November 25 – a visit to Narania water treatment plant
We’re looking at possible sites for the Gudrun forest. There are a lot of options. We meet a few other entrepreneurs who are also involved with the water treatment plant and the planting project. We also see solar panels on rooves in the area. It feels smart and good.
December – the project is underway
The orange blouse is being produced in several colors and several colorways in the MANGO pattern. It’s identical to my original blouse. We give it a lovely label with a picture and the story of the blouse.
February 15, 2023 – we’re back in India
We want to check up on the production of the blouse, and we want to plant the very first tree in the Gudrun forest. I have my photography team with me to shoot the latest summer collection and an upcoming fall collection.
February 18 – time to plant the very first tree
It’s a festive occasion as lots of employees from Marcos gather at the water treatment plant to get the very first tree in the ground. It’s a BANYAN tree, which is also the national tree of India. It will be big, and it will live 500 years. Suddenly, I’m seeing banyan trees all over the place. These enormous trees have tangled aerial roots.
30 ficus trees will be planted along the wall of the water treatment plant. They’ll look beautiful once they’ve grown a little bigger. Marcos employees tackle the project with shovels and watering cans.
I go back to the Marcos factory and look at all the blouses that are being made and packed. So colorful! We also make a video from the water treatment plant and the factory, so that you can all see how everything works – from an orange blouse on a road between Jaipur and Delhi to an entire growing forest.
/ Gudrun March 5, 2023
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