TTT #48: "From Grassroots Movements to Global Change" with Madhav Datt

The Tomato Timer Mar 20, 2021

Madhav Datt's Green the Gene harnesses the power of local communities to address situations of environmental crisis. Today, the organization works with seven thousand volunteers for safe water access, food security and emergency shelters.

Madhav grew in a water-scarce region of India. During an environmental science class in grade 3, he learnt of his city's 2 feet annual drop in groundwater level. Connecting the dots abstractly, he convinced three of his friends to plant six trees outside his school, and more and more people got involved. Later on, after finding appropriate technology and meeting the right people, he worked to recycle his school's swimming pool water which would otherwise be wasted. Madhav's gradual localized approach connected to a broader vision of sustainability with grassroots movements leading the change.

Madhav recognizes the value of systemic shift and policy changes for long-term sustainability. But the implementation of these take up decades, and those who find themselves instantly threatened cannot wait. Madhav's organization believes in taking action now. Collaborating with local communities, Green the Gene equips affected people to build solutions tailored to their needs.

Currently, Madhav is working on a new project, Nostos Homes, involving fully collapsible modular homes suitable for forcibly displaced people. Due to having violence, catastrophes and the like taking away everything from them, most displaced people are compelled to live in transient housing. Ultimately, they lose access to sanitation, education, livelihood and other basic necessities.  Via Nostos Homes, Madhav hopes to break the cycle, providing people with the closest thing to what they can call home. Looking ahead, he wants to continue tackling social issues, exploring the intersection of technology and climate.

From an environmental club started at the age of eight to an international organization having changed over 80,000 lives, Madhav's story epitomizes the influence passion and dedication can together have. Of course, he always didn't know how to formalize and structure his goals, or that even if he would carry his plans ahead. But, he cared about something, and that's all that Madhav believes it takes to start.


Ritika Singhal

Along with Zubair Junjunia

Senior year student passionate about social justice and inclusive reform | she/her