Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Healthy Organic Market for Urban Kids - "Connecting Communities"

Weekly Organic farmer's market
by ISAC Women Farmer's Group
which is held at Puttisopon Primary School a local government school which is located opposite Wat Chedi Luang one the city's most famed and most striking Buddhist Temples.

The weekly market is promoted by HEUSP (Holistic Environment Urban School Program)  a community grassroots pilot project to bring a healthier quality of life to students and teachers within the old city of Chiang Mai along with Kru Nongluck, the schools' dedicated social studies teacher giving urban children, parents and teachers access to affordable highly nutritious local varieties of rice such as "Khao Nin" a black 'nutty' flavoured rice that is delicious which my children love to eat mixed with other steamed varieties of jasmine rice. Vegetables for example "Ch-om" a tasty veggie that kids love eaten in an omelette that has 8 times the amount of vitamin A of an imported carrot! and snacks like "Khao-Lum" which is delicious, fresh sweet coconut milk mixed with sticky rice and red beans all B.B.Q'd inside sections of a fresh bamboo.

The 'Aunties' are up well before dawn every Friday morning, rain (we are talking serious monsoon country) or shine soaking and griding soya beans to make soya milk, out gathering fresh bundles of young leafed vegetables from their kitchen gardens, netting fish from their fish pond cum water reservoir, collecting bamboo and other seasonal forest products such as honey from the community forest, Harvesting seasonal age old medicinal Thai herbs, dried and sold as herbal teas plus making sweet sticky rice cakes, fried and steamed, plucking fresh free range chicken, cooking up local curries and chilli pastes. All packaged and presented in banana leaves, tied with bamboo string and picks which they will bring into town. Their journey takes about an hour, all sharing a truck, sharing costs and reducing vehicle emmisions something us urban folk should take note of!

PhotoCredit: Caroline Marsh

Auntie Jamlong who is the head organiser of this farmer's group from Mae Taeng district produces her own brand of organic fermented sauces and flavouring and has promoted her products collectively with other farmer's groups at large national 'green living' trade fairs in Bangkok. After returning from one such very tiring trip we sat and chatted the very next day at the school market. Auntie had sold all her stock of sauces where demand had out stripped her supply and I asked if she had taken alot more orders whilst she was there...but her answer was that she had plenty enough and didn't wish to make more money as it would change the balance of all the other chores and activities she needed to do on her self sufficiency farm!

The women's group are from one of the more than 400 local rural farmer's in more than 12 Chiang Mai districts of farming communities that ISAC (Institute of Sustainable Agriculture) and NOSA (northern organic standard association) have patiently worked with for over a decade with their hard work now coming to fruition. Promoting sustainable farming practises of permiculture and self sufficiency giving back the farmer's their pride, healthy land and a healthy sustainable future, not dependent on large regional and international agro industry corporations that corrupt governments, manipulate people and poison the land for future generations. See this trailer for Food Inc. an eye opening film on global multi corporations http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QqQVll-MP3I you can pick up a DVD at local rentals inThai/English.

"Connecting Communities" Farmer's Market
Every Friday 3-5pm during term time
Healthy fresh vegetables, local varieties of organic rice, northern food, snacks and soya milk for sale. Come early!
Bring your cloth bag, reuse your old plastic bags and say no to foam!

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Authentic Chiang Mai Doi Luang - Chiang Dao

Photo by www.trekkingcollective.com All Rights Reserved 2011

Having first seen Doi Luang Mountain 20 or so years ago it was and still is a magical place making the hair on the nape of your neck prickle as it comes it to view never failling to conjure up Buddhist legends and the spiritual world referenced in chronicles and fairy tales of the Lanna kingdom which still occupies the eight northern provinces of Thailand to this day
The 'spiritual home' of the people of the north and a personal totem Doi Luang Doi Chiang Dao is Thailand's third highest peak. Located in the heart of the north in the province of Chiang Mai. A limestone massif standing some 2,225 metres high. With its striking silhouette erupting from the fertile rice growing valley floor up into sub - alpine conditions.

A place of remote beauty, explore challenging nature trails to stunning panoramic mountains views. Discover a rich variety of Montane Bird Life and for orchid enthusiasts endemic orchids and flora with the excitement of chance encounters on a nocturnal animal watching trip during the dark phase of the moon for an optimum Its status as a protected Animal Sanctuary with limited access allows Doi Luang to preserve its unique place in our world.

Typical tour agencies, not knowing the area well only promote the caves which are easily accessable by road, though definately worth visiting particularily the deeper caverns that are normally missed out on standard group tours.

Travel with an expert independent tour operator and the mountain gives up its secrets from a one day "Remote Trails City Escape" and overnight "Stunning Mountain Nature Trail Experiences". Balancing nature with the Indigenous tribal groups of mainly Hmong, Karen and Lisu People, already settled for generations and living on its verdent slopes, tribal cultural experiences can be combined with a theraphutic soak at a local hot spring or relaxing at a refreshing seasonal waterfalls in a forest grotto.

Extended programs combining elephant Mahout training programs passing on the in depth knowledge and skills of the traditional local Indigenous Karen elephant keeper's followed by traditional travel by bamboo Raft along scenic river ways or take a cool ride by white water rafting along one of the best stretches of the Mae Nam Taeng River with some extreme class 5 rapids or opt for the fun for all class 3 rapids joining one of the many qualified outfits operating on the river, but choose wisely.

Recommendations: Book well ahead as trips run on a limited departure basis each month. Travel with knowledgable qualified guides respectful of the environment and communities. Visits to the Animal Sanctuary are seasonal. If travelling alone contact travel site forums such as http://www.tripadvisor.com/ to put together a small group ahead of your arrival to Chiang Mai.

Written by Caroline Marsh.

Caroline Marsh is co-founder of Chiang Mai based independent ethical tour operator http://www.trekkingcollective.com .."Expertise, Ethical travel and Authentic Experiences contribute to making a difference to local communities and the environment." passionate about new experiences and travel; preaches and teaches community environmental well being; Caroline writes for travel sites, regional travel magazines and her own blog Authentic Chiang Mai promoting her adopted city of more than 20years!; coordinates local 'grassroots' community peoples actions through Holistic Environment Urban Schools Program (HEUSP)and a member of the umbrella network group Lanna Community Life Network (LCLN) formerly NCCN. Visit channel www.youtube.com/holisticearth1

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

A Big Thank-you! Low Carbon Children's Day 2011

photo credit: Kirk Hollis

A Big Thank-you for the 2nd year! to all those who joined us at the Chiang Mai Low Carbon Children's Day Event on Saturday 08th January 2011.

Held this year at a New City Venue - Urban Development Centre (Earthern House and a preserved historical wooden building in the old city) on Ratchawithi Road.

We would like to say a Big Thank-you to...............

Thank-you to all the staff at UDIF especially Acharn Duongcharn Charoenmuang who has tirelessly spread the word of change and sustainability for a better caring Chiang Mai community and inviting us to join the event

Thank-you to all the staff especially the Ladies at Huay Kaew Nursery of the National parks and plants Dept. at the base of Doi Suthep for donating the local tree saplings.

Thank-you to everyone at the Tessabahn Chiang Mai plant Nursery out at Mae Hia for plants and bags of soil.

Thank-you to Khun Paradee and staff of Bohdi Serene Boutique Hotel for supporting the event for the 2nd year and coming to join us and help out with planting

Thank-you to Judith and all the staff and Managment of Riverside Restaurant for supporting the event for the 2nd year and donating all the icecream for everyone at the event.

Thank-you to teachers and students of Puttisopon Primary School to dance at the event.

Thank-you to Ricky of OurChiang Mai.com who helped with his time and transporting 500 local indigenous tree saplings and sharing his knowledge and support on local trees for a local community

Thank-you to Pung for giving up his own Children's Day to help other children plant and learn about how much fun it is for parents and children alike to feel soil in your hands, sign a plant pledge and nurture a plant to take home and care for!

Thank-you to Thamanoon and Lila for supporting and helping their Mum!

Thank-you to members of Lanna Community Life Network (LCLN) formerly NCCN especially to Kirk, Tomoko, Punika (Ja), Alex, Grace and Dave to giving up their precious spare time from hectic work schedules to help out at this event.

Along with other members of Lanna Community life Network (LCLN) they have been involved in many actions promoting awareness of our community's health, the environment and our natural resources. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W0sHe6YsQVQ

Including local actions such as a 'Community Peoples Pledge' to lower carbon use
with many local influential people signing up including the Mayor, the Governor, Chao Duong Duen Na Chiang Mai, many regional directors of central government ministeries and most recently British Honorary Consul, Ben Svasti Thomson - UK Consulate.

More than 10,000 pledges so far with students, their teachers A. Sawat from Yupparaj High School, Kru Nongluck from Puttisopon School and Kru Maem Anubahn Panee (all schools part of Holistic Environment Urban Schools Program HEUSP) Rural Women's Organic Farmer's groups and most importantly families leading the way.

If you would like to find out more and would like to join an action or for regular meetings with LCLN see contact details below English / Thai / Japanese

Finally a very big Thank-you to all the children, parents, neighbours, friends old and new and fellow Chiang Mai Community who without your support we could not and cannot make Chiang Mai a better sustainable place to live for everyone urban and rural!

For more info: English 0831-523 621 ไทย 0892634422 Japanese 0812-884-216 LCLN initiative Sept2010

Caroline (Kare)

Project Coordinator
'Pilot Project' Holistic Environment Urban Schools Program, Chiang Mai, (HEUSP)

Parents for a Brighter future for our Children
mobile +66 083 1523621,

member of Lanna Community Life Network (LCLN) Climate Justice Now! formerly (NCCN)

......" Good Actions Require Everyone's Cooperation......" Jing Si

These projects have zero official funding and rely solely on the positive energy generated within our Chiang Mai Community

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Lanna Community Life Network Begin Dialogue with Local Consulates

photo credit: Tomoko Kashiwazaki

On the issues regarding the highly critical situation of the global climate crisis. An issue that undeniably requires urgent action globally, as well as locally, here in Chiang Mai.
Lanna Community Life Network (LCLN) People’s Action December 2010
 group of Chiang Mai citizens under the banner of Lanna Community Life Network (LCLN) visited US, UK and Japanese Consulates to begin a dialogue with high-level consulate personnel

Firstly the group expressed its concerns about the slow process of negotiations between states- as well as the insufficient commitment made by all states in addressing the causes and consequences of climate change. It has been recognized that major industrialized countries, such as the US, Japan and the UK are responsible for the majority of global natural resource depletion and subsequently are the biggest emitters of GHGs.  However, these same states have not demonstrated their recognition of, nor made sufficient and rapid enough commitments to, the necessary steps that are required to tackle this crisis situation. This can only be achieved when these wealthy and powerful states seriously commit to the act of significantly reducing their own consumption of natural resources, as well as drastically cutting their emissions of GHGs.

As a way to respond to this situation, the group introduced and proposed the “People’s Pledge” and the “Chiang Mai Consulate Pledge” to the consulates.

The “People’s Pledge” is a commitment which individuals, families, businesses or organizations make in order to reduce GHG emissions and protect the environment by taking various actions. This is based on the concept of the campaign- 10:10, which inspires and supports people and organizations to cut their carbon emissions by 10% per year. 10:10 was initially launched as a UK campaign on September 1st 2009. Since then, the campaign has expanded and currently 113,031 have signed up in 186 countries. LCLN adapted a set of actions to reduce GHG emissions, which are specifically relevant to Chiang Mai. And these actions include a ‘Zero Burning’ campaign (forest, agricultural and residential) and the restoration of the ancient community ‘kud’ laws introduced 715 years ago during the reign of King Mengrai, whom established Chiang Mai and the eight provinces making up the Lanna kingdom. These laws governed wisely the city’s natural resources. The “People’s Pledge” has been signed by organisations and individuals in Chiang Mai including the Governor, Chao Duong Duen Na Chiang Mai, Ministry of Energy, Chiang Mai’s Mayor, Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources, Ministry of Health, a number of schools including faculties, students and parents  are leading the way with nearly 10,000 signatures pledged to date.

The group also proposed adding more actions to the “People’s Pledge” to be adopted by the consulate as the “Chiang Mai Consulate Pledge” complying with a given consulate’s greater capacity and responsibility to the community where it is located, and as a pro-active representative of its respective government.

The “Chiang Mai Consulate Pledge” includes:

  • Publicizing the consulate’s official mandate with regard to the state policy and measures to address climate change through its website, links to other websites and any other occasions;
§  Ensuring all consulate sponsored programs, projects and activities will be ecologically responsible;
§  Conducting carbon audits of all consulate activities and publish the results regularly;
§  Proposing and promoting the low-carbon development model at all consulate-sponsored events;
§  Providing any available financial support, as well as any other potential forms of support, to the civil society in Chiang Mai in order to increase awareness on environmentally sound and sustainable development.

The group was welcomed with Japanese green tea by the Consul of Japan, Masahide Sato. Asked about the policy and measures of the consulate office to tackle climate change, he shared their initiative- “cool-biz” as part of their attempt to save energy, a working-style implemented in his office, which includes wearing no neck-tie for men and setting the temperature of the air conditioning at a maximum of 25 degrees C. He also shared with us that more than 3,000 Japanese people reside in Chiang Mai and are registered at the consulate, of which 1,500 are retired. And that many of whom routinely go home during the worst of the air pollution season in Chiang Mai – from late January to April. Mr. Sato further stated that due to the limited human and financial capacity of the consulate, he could not at this time agree to prioritise the environmental issues raised by LCLN among the other important issues the consulate must undertake. And he therefore could not commit the Japanese Consulate to the signing of the “Pledge”.  However he promised that he would share the concept of the “Pledge” and its list of actions, with his colleagues. He added that the visits to his office by civil society groups are always welcome.

Honorary Consul of UK Ben Svasti Thomson welcomed the group and entered into a discussion on environmental issues in Chiang Mai and the initiatives taken by the UK government. He informed LCLN of new legislation to regulate corporations in the UK, which is part of the effort to tackle the effect of business activities on the environment and lessen the impacts of global warming. UK embassies and consulates are also implementing measures to cut 10% of their emissions annually as part of the UK Government policy.  “Climate Control” was an issue that Mr. Thomson took great interest in and was well aware of the need for action at both a local and global level. 

On signing the “Chiang Mai Consulate Pledge” he commits the UK Consulate to setting air conditioners to 25c., supporting local farmers and buying local organic produce, support zero burning, supporting green and ethical businesses; initiatives to protect the Mae Kha Canal and the Ping River and methods to save water, reusing glass bottles, recycling and composting organic waste; walk instead of using the car. A proposed carbon audit by the group was welcomed and it is in the process of being submitted to the consulate.

LCLN members made an appointment with the U.S. Consulate and were met by Consular / Economic Officer Thomas Schmidt. Our engagement was brief and held while standing in the public waiting area of the consulate facility. We expressed our concerns and objectives and presented our People’s Pledge. We were informed that U.S. Consulate official policy prevented Mr. Schmidt from making any comment or commitment. We were assured that the purpose of our visit would be noted for consideration, but that no official response may be given.
U.S. Consulate policy prevents visitors from taking of any photographs within the consulate facility.

Written by
Tomoko Kashiwazaki
With additional content by Kirk Hollis, Alex Putnam, Caroline Marsh
Lanna Community Life Network (LCLN) People’s Action December 2010