We had the good fortune of connecting with Sonali Dahotre and we’ve shared our conversation below.

Hi Sonali, can you talk to us a bit about the social impact of your business?
As a Landscape architect I look at the relationship between the built and the un-built. When we build, we often forget that we are sharing this Earth with other organisms and that we are probably building over their homes and habitats. Looking at the landscape, from the ecological perspective, helps conserve habitats for bees, birds and butterflies. Through my work I am trying to improve this awareness. 

Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
In my practice I think about what is good for the Earth as a big picture, more than what will look good. If a plant is not aesthetically very popular but has other ecological functions like being a native plant, a butterfly host plant, source of food or shelter, I prefer to plant it. My design uses civil work only where absolutely necessary. I avoid using energy intensive materials and up-cycle as much as possible. Doing this means that my final product does not look very beautiful, but it is functional and ecology friendly. But I believe in what I do, and that keeps me on my path. Nature is the best teacher, and it dishes out new lessons everyday if one is keen to learn.

If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
I live in Pune, the foothills of the Western ghats, a world bio-diversity hotspot! In monsoons the hills are full with seasonal herbs and fruits, like mangoes, syzygium black berries, jackfruit, carandas plums. Plucking them fresh from the plants and eating on the go is a different experience. The lush green forests in the Western ghats offer breathtaking views, with fog and rains and are alive with the calls of birds and frogs. The fresh water from the streams is sweet, pure and refreshing. Dotted with numerous forts, there is no dearth of places to visit!

Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
After completing architecture and working for a year, I had a disillusioned idea about the profession. In this state of mind while pursuing the Masters course in Landscape architecture I had the good fortune of meeting Late Professor Prabhakar Bhagwat who mentored me and gave me an anchor. His son Aniket Bhagwat through the depth and breadth of his work instilled confidence in me about the ability of my own thoughts; Prakash Gole Sir and The Ecological Society helped shape my own philosophy and Varsha Gavandi ma’am gave me the wings to soar!  The One Straw Revolution by Masanobu Fukuoka, Rachael Carson have been great inspirations for me.

Website: www.sparrowlandscapeinitiative.com

Instagram: sonali dahotre

Image Credits
Lalit Deshmukh, Saee Bhurke

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