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Touching the Earth, France : 2009 Activities Report

For the group Toucher la Terre, France, the year 2009 was marked by the actual launch of its activities, as the group initiated projects and provided technical assistance for their implementation.

[Version française ici]

The group members are:
Catherine Eveillard-Elsky, architect
Thierry Richarme, master landscape gardener
Dominique Rousselle, project engineer
Andréas Manthey, gardener
Guillaume Dufossé, environmental activities leader
Paul Gabaix, agricultural engineer
Sylvie Deraime, journalist
Franck Le Naourèse, trainer in landscape gardening

The purpose of the group, formed two years ago, is to promote ecology and the preservation of a healthy environment within our community, as the very existence of life on earth is under threat.

Through his message dated April 2009, the Sakyong invited us to take serious responsibility on matters of environmental protection. In response to his appeal, here are some of the actions undertaken in France:

Since two years, the Paris Shambhala Centre offers organic food buffets at the end of meditation sessions.

But our bigger vision involves Dechen Chöling, the European land centre located in the French Limousin region, so that it would become an inspiring educational example according to ecological standards. At an average middle term, we aspire to turn it into an ecosite which will further enchant all visitors.

In 2009, we undertook several projects in Dechen Chöling, such as:
1- In order to reduce water consumption by half, all toilets are now equipped with dual-flush and all bathrooms with faucet mixers. A water-saving device is fixed on each faucet.

2- During our visit to Karma Ling, France, we met with Jean-Patrick who has organized a network of organic food supplies and meals there. He now lives in Dechen Chöling where he is progressively organizing a similar supply system. This summer we presented this project to the Sakyong who has approved it. Jean-Patrick’s job here will also include finding a market gardener (truck farmer, as it is called in the USA) who could start growing delicious vegetables in our two magnificent 15-hectar fields adjacent to Dechen Chöling.

3- Within a year from now, Thierry Richarme, who built his own wooden house near DCL, will finish planting 100 fruit trees in one of these two 15-hectar fields.


4- This fall, during the recent French sangha retreat, the French sangha both financed and planted 500 young trees of various essences in the somewhat bare groves near the future stupa site. It took one full morning and 30 people to do the job. The new trees will help fix a small amount of carbon dioxide over the next few years and provide a cool shade in summer to future generations. Another 1000 young trees will be planted in 2010 and 2011.

5- In 2010, we will also change the DCL drainage and water purification system which is 14 years old. It will be replaced by a lagoon system made of three ponds of purifying plants.

6- In 2010, we will undertake a special information campaign about the sorting out and recycling of waste, using wooden notice boards in three languages that will be set up near the dining areas. A small leaflet will be handed out to participants on their arrival, inviting them to have a mindful behavior in order to respect and preserve this sacred land.

7- Dechen Chöling, along with three sangha members living in the neighborhood, has purchased a weeding device that functions with gas.

8- Lastly, we are working on setting up an inspiring program about ecology and spirituality scheduled in October 2010.

If you feel concerned by all these subjects, you may contact Guillaume Dufossé, in charge of the group Toucher la Terre, France : [email protected]

By Franck Le Naourèse co-director Paris Shambhala center

(Translation : Rohini Schiff-Bhagwat)


1] Canadians have taken an interesting initiative. For example, a 40-year old maple tree absorbs 90 kg of CO2 per year as it grows. An adult French citizen produces about 6000 kg of green-house effect gas through his/her electric consumption, heating and use of car. At the rate of one mature tree absorbing 90 kg of gas, it takes 61 trees to absorb the 6000 kg of gas produced by one person per year. So, in order to slow down the effects of climate change, given that we have a lifespan of approximately 72 years, we need to plant one tree per year, starting as early as age 11.

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