Profiles in Regeneration: Makers on the Move, Netherlands and India
Young people all around the world are working to build a regenerative future. Midushi Kochhar, Merel Visser, and Vera Schepers are some of those people. As the co-founders of Makers on the Move, they are collecting residual materials from local manufacturing companies for hands-on, story-based activities with children.
Regenerative Futures: How are you feeling right now?
Makers on the Move: After feeling unsettled and a bit lost during the outbreak of the pandemic, we are now motivated and inspired to get things off the ground for Makers on the Move.
RF: What’s a secret your search history can tell us about you?
MotM: We are a bit too passionate about learning new crafts that we will never actually attempt… We also love to keep ourselves updated on new contributors in sustainable development (and are secretly curious about knowing our competition better).
RF: What are you reading/learning about at the moment?
MotM: Let My People Go Surfing by Yvon Chouinard —the legendary climber, businessman, environmentalist, and founder of Patagonia is an ongoing inspiration for us. [The book] shares the persistence and courage that have gone into being the head of one of the most respected and environmentally responsible companies on Earth.
RF: Who is your favorite human and why?
MotM: Our favorite human would be Chuck Feeney, who recently donated all his wealth ($9 billion) while still alive. His contributions to integrated education, especially in Northern Ireland, have benefited thousands; his foundation, Atlantic Philanthropies, worked tirelessly to distribute wealth in health and human rights. We look up to his humility, ideology, and contributions and feel responsible to give back to the world in all positive ways possible.
RF: Which key moment inspired you to start your project?
MotM: The three of us came together during a design research residency, and we were motivated to solve our case of disposable material flows by tapping into our individual areas of expertise (material research studies, social design, and art education). During our pitch on the final day, we got great recognition and were asked a lot of intriguing questions. Our case holder wanted to take the project forward and in that moment, we knew that this could be bigger than a mere design research project.
RF: In two years’ time, what would success with your project look like?
MotM: In two years’ time, we see Makers on the Move’s “home base”—an interactive material library that will invite children to understand and engage with the elements of their environment—an action. We’ll have a residual waste collection system working seamlessly, and a plethora of safe and interesting materials curated neatly. The full purpose of the home base will be accomplished when children can participate in hands-on challenges to enhance their participatory learning and expose them to material mapping.
RF: If you could focus a large percentage of government funding on one industry or project for the next five to ten years, which would you choose and why?
MotM: As makers on the move, we would focus a large percentage of government funding on education and direct it toward new forms of learning—systems that enhance curiosity and [make students] competent in the job market. Environmental education, moral values, and inclusivity are missing from our current educational schemes, and we would love to see schools giving equal importance to such life skills.
RF: What is the best and worst thing about the education system in your country?
MotM: We are a team of Dutch and Indian designers and therefore have unique perspectives on the education systems of our countries. Dutch teachers have a very low status compared to other countries, and fewer people are choosing teaching jobs since they get paid way better at other jobs. Bigger schools and mismanaged systems are making our education less personal, less flexible, and less involved in students’ well-being. This is also visible in our universities, but nonetheless we have many of the top 100 universities in the world. The Indian education system as we know it right now was created by our last colonizers: the British. The purpose then was to put enough people into their workforce who would complete tasks diligently and never ask questions. Sadly, the current state of our education is just the same. With utmost importance given to scoring high marks, zero importance is given to curiosity—leaving no space for creativity. With high populations, a minimum of 40 children are stuffed in one class and although a large number of astronauts, engineers, and doctors worldwide are Indians, we rarely hear of Indian pioneers solving issues for the greater good. What we instead hear about is how many students commit suicide due to pressure and how many young girls drop out, succumbing to gender norms.
RF: Do you have a message for anyone your age living in the year 2060?
MotM: We don’t know what 2060 will look like, but we feel like this message is timeless: celebrate self-sufficiency and work together as a community. We hope you feel empowered to create and work toward causes we know are worth fighting for.
RF: What inspires or frightens you most about the future?
MotM: Well… it never goes according to the plan.
To learn more about Regenerative List finalist Makers on the Move, click here.