The Importance of Nature and Giving Back

Ravi Pathak is someone who seems to always have a smile on his face. With his presence alone, he offers a generosity of spirit to anyone who says hello. This graduate of the Green Foothills Leadership Program sat down to chat with me in July 2022 about his leadership journey.

Ravi grew up in and attended the Indian Institute of Technology of Madras (now Chennai) in the state of Tamil Nadu, where his parents worked. He was quite active in the arts community on campus. From an early age, he spent time organizing cultural and humanitarian gatherings to raise support for the arts and youth. He and other classmates founded a student group to create opportunities for parents to come together and see their children’s artistic skills.

When he and his family moved to the Bay Area, Ravi sought out opportunities to volunteer. “My parents also encouraged me to give back.” He deepened his involvement with the Art of Living Foundation, founding a program called Care for the Children, which sponsors education for children in India. With the Foundation, Ravi put his talent for organizing gatherings into practice by organizing an art competition for children. “I wanted to give an opportunity for children to be off their computers and connect with one another and their inner creativity.”

As Ravi advanced in his career to a director-level role at Oracle, he stayed committed to community involvement. “I wanted to share my good fortune and do something that could make the most impact,” he says. When he first learned about the Green Foothills Leadership Program in 2017, Ravi thought it simply offered a pathway to a role in city programs. For him, it became a lot more. “I never thought anything about how development affected the environment. I thought it was okay for animals to have to move deeper into the woods.” Meeting fellow community leaders and learning about the wide range of issues they worked on–from the preservation of wildlife to achieving protection from concerning government policies– had a deep impact on Ravi. “Being in the Leadership Program shapes advocates to be there for the community.”

As part of his Leadership Program project, Ravi created Maa Durga Pariwar. This initiative is an offshoot of the then-new Evergreen Cultural Association, a place for members of the Indian community in the Evergreen neighborhood of San Jose to gather regularly around family and cultural celebrations. Maa Durga Pariwar came about when Ravi noticed that elders attending Evergreen Cultural Association events tended to congregate amongst themselves. “I saw that there was a need for elderly members of the community to connect.” Although gatherings stopped during the pandemic, Maa Durga Pariwar resumed their meetings in July 2022.

“We are so occupied in our lives that we forget about others,” says Ravi, “balance is important. If you don’t see an issue, you don’t feel the importance.” Going through the Leadership Program expanded Ravi’s mindset. Recently he included the wellbeing of nature and open space as part of the wellbeing of people. Trained as a Master Composter in 2008, he even teaches composting classes in his free time. “Nature is so important for our future. We take it for granted, but soil is so important to our daily lives, so I promote the creation of soil. This is how I give back to nature.”

Thank you, Ravi, for all that you do for our community. We are so lucky to have you in our community and are so excited to see where your leadership journey continues to take you!

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