Newsletter Shangri-La 2007
As rainbow season, otherwise known as the rainy season in Shangri-la ends and fall colors turn the mountainsides glorious shades of red and gold, I take time to look back on the year. I am proud to thank so many of you for the kind support you have shown Yunnan Mountain Heritage Foundation. One of the greatest tributes to the work we have achieved together was the award I received in September during the 50th Anniversary of the Diqing Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture: Honorary citizenship to the prefecture!
Here are some of the YMHF 2007 Projects in brief:
January 2007~ Renovation work begun last July on the HKFWPH Handicraft Center is finally completed. Now we have a lovely sun room next to the Handicraft Sales Center complete with skylight to warm a work/study space during the cool Shangri-La days. We added a cement floor to the “cow stable” which we can now use as much needed storage space. Thanks to Veronique and Maria for your good suggestions.
May 2007~Friends of Shangri-La II This Shangri-La Friends Biennale was a wonderful get together of old friends and new. YMHF was very proud to co sponsor The first Old Town Artisans Sunday Market in the town square. Party Secretary Qi Zhala opened the morning with a warm welcome to all, followed by a program of lively dances from the Old Town Tibetan Dance Committee. Tables were prepared by local artisans and merchants who sold traditional handicrafts and homegrown products (such as the famous Matsutaki mushrooms) through out the day. YMHF took this opportunity to launch the “Buy Local” campaign. This initiative was designed to help focus much deserved attention on local handicrafts and promote the diverse arts of Diqing’s ethnic groups.
Opening of the Handicraft Shop Among other projects undertaken this year was the opening of the Handicraft Shop in Women’s Center. Along with products designed by Hazel Pu and myself, Tracie Blummer and Matt Walker added some of their own original ideas. A great Nixi pottery pendant is now featured in our jewelry section. Hand woven Tibetan boot bands have been adapted and made into belts and bracelets.
Spring Musical Fundraising Event in Shanghai A truly inspiring afternoon of music played by world class musicians on Stradivarius violins and other instruments was enjoyed by all at the Shanghai Yongfoo Elite (Shanghai Bankers Club). Funds were raised by auction including works of art and Shokay Shawls. Thanks to the organizers or the event, the musicians and contributors: Mr. Danny Chan (Founder of Hong Kong Orfeo Strings), Mr. David Morris (Director of J&A Beare), Mr. Han Xiaopeng (Olympic Champion – Skier), Ms. Li Na (Olympic Champion – Diver), Mr. Sam Su (Representative of Hong Kong Orfeo Strings), Mr. CHEN Xiang (Violinist), Mr. Sandor Javorkai(Violinist), Mr. Adam Javorkai (Cellist), Mr. Zhang Yuquan (Auctioner), Mr. Julien Gaudfroy (MC), Ms. HAO Li (Painter), Mr. GU Han (Painter), Mr. TANG Yu (Painter), Mr. QUAN Bao (Painter), Mr. HAN Zhongren (Painter), Mr. Dick Su (Store Manager of Ton Lee Music Shanghai)
The earnings from the concert are being put to good use in our village partnership and eco-tourism projects. Thanks to the friends who contributed to the success of this auction!
June 2007 Tracie and Matt, YMHF Volunteers, spent their time researching ideas to help nomadic herders reduce the smoke from indoor open fire pits in their log cabins. They built several prototypes in the Napa Hai region. A venture into methane digesting toilets, led them to find the high altitude poses particular problems which they hope to research further back in the US. Appalachia is their next designated project site.
Yangzom Drolma joined YMHF in June as the program manager in Shangri-La. She is a native of Shangri-La and brings with her, enthusiasm, language skills including Khampa and Lhasa Tibetan, English, Mandarin and Japanese. You will meet her when you visit the YMHF center.
Another interesting project and contribution to tourism development was work Dorje put into editing the map of Shangri-la and neighboring prefectures. The map is full of historical and other helpful information and will be an excellent tool for informing visitors of facts and figures about the region. Again thanks to Dorje for his enormous effort to design and produce the large sun umbrellas for the Old Town Artisan Bazaar. They should to be ready any day now. Just in time for the next artisan handicraft market.
Tent designs for the appliqué work came to us through a generous donation of Tom Glenn (of San Diego CA, otherwise known as Tent Tom. See www.surfart.com for Tom’s latest work.) Tom is an old hand at making Tibetan tents and was commissioned to make the tent for the royal wedding in 1980 Nepal another example of how so many talented individuals have given their talents to help us realize our projects.
Umbrella Sun Shades for vendors tables in the old town center square have been completed. This was a project undertaken and completed by Dorje Glassman. Under advice from Tom in San Diego, using his own imaginative problem solving skills, learning how to wield a mean needle and thread to touch up the finished sewing project, shepherding the Tibetan sewing team, Dorje produce 40 beautiful umbrellas. They will be given to the craft vendors in the Old Town Square as part of the effort to beautify and give a more authentic look to the town.
Village Summer School- Volunteers teach English He Lin, YMHF assistant working in our Beijing office, wrote a charming primer “Let’s Learn English!” for the YMHF English project. It provides a guideline for volunteers who are teaching in the summer program. He Lin, Linda Green, and Yang Liu, spent several weeks commuting to Hamagu Village to meet their young student friends. Here is He Lin’s charming note from her first day with the students:
“I was so excited about teaching English in Hamagu Village. I think it is an experience that I will never forget. When we arrived there, several students came out to welcome us. There were not many students on the first day because they hadn’t heard the news of our arrival. But more children came to our class the second day. You can’t imagine how moved I was when I got there because the children were waiting for us in the early, rainy morning. I asked them if they had waited long and they nodded. Although we teachers were not late, I felt sorry that they had been waiting for us. I want to do my best to help them learn English. Obviously, we got along very well with each other and had a good time.”
Natalie Kwan returned to Shangri-La as YMHF a volunteer in August supported by a scholarship from the Hong Kong/Oxford Scholarship fund. She spent summer 2006 volunteering with YMHF so she was well equipped to jump back into our projects and update the write-ups on the artisans for the handicraft shop. Thanks, Natalie, for your very generous contribution to YMHF!
Autumn Shangri-La Handicraft Marketing Project is led by Johanna Kuhn-Osius. Johanna, from New York, is the latest volunteer to bring her expertise in marketing. She comes to YMHF with lots of energy and many wonderful ideas. She is braving the cold, the visiting mice, and living in the residence at our charming Center ( a local Tibetan house.) She is working with Jo McEwan (an old YMHF friend based in Beijing) to create a “spa set” from our craft collection among other projects. She is investigating setting up internet sales and many more good ideas for getting our favorite crafts to a wider market.
Friends in Toronto We have received encouragement and support from many sides this year. In particular, I would like to introduce Carla Kearns, the director of The Mandarin School, to you. Carla recently organized the Canada China Environmental Forum (Toronto, 3, 4 Nov 2007 www.canadachinagreen.com/m_22.asp ) The Forum brought more than 100 business representatives and other interested parties together to brainstorm the “greening” of business ventures between these two giant trading partners. Carla dedicated the event to Yunnan Mountain Heritage Foundation and gave us much welcomed publicity. Congratulations on this successful event, Carla! YMHF is proud to be part of your environmentally conscious business to business program.
Herders have brought the yaks and sheep down from the high mountains, the barley crop has been harvested; winter is coming to Diqing. This is the time when the artisans work on their weaving, carving, make tools and repair their homes and fences. At YMHF, we are putting in our orders in with them to replenish our craft stock for the shop and getting to projects that could not be finished during the busy summer season.
I am pleased to share all of this with you and welcome your comments, ideas and support!
Contributions from our generous friends give YMHF the much need resources to undertake and complete the projects outlined in this letter. A special thanks to you!
Wishing you all the best,
P.S. Become a member, contribute to our project fund, volunteer your talents, or just drop by when you are in town and join us for a cup of wonderful Yunnan grown coffee! We look forward to welcoming you in Shangri-La.