Newsletter Spring 2007
Message from Shangri-La
Springtime in Shangri-La…azaleas are blooming. The double lipped fish of Bitta Hai, survivors of the retreat of the last ice age, are once again drunk with the intoxicating nectar of the rhododendron flowers which fall and float on the cold lake water. Yaks are gathering in the meadows of Napahai waiting to begin the migration to mountain pastures to graze on new grass and wild flowers. Gyalthang’s Khampa horsemen prepare for the annual festival at the race track. The fastest horses carry the bravest riders and prizes are given to the most skilled and daring among them. Horses walk along Beimen Street through the center of Gyalthang dressed in brightly decorated harnesses and rainbow colored saddle blankets with tall Khampa horsemen leading the way. These are the annual rites of spring in the mountains of provincial Shangri-La.
But that is ahead of the story. At Yunnan Mountain Heritage Foundation, we have been working through the winter on new initiatives. Dorje Glassman, Oberlin graduate, joined me from Nyack, New York in Beijing in November and has been helping me develop our 2007 projects. He has been researching background material for project proposals. With his good command of Chinese language, he translated materials that I collected over the past year from meetings, documents and magazines. We were joined for a few weeks by Douglas Lees, graduate in environmental studies from Plymouth University, UK who did some research into yak fibers for our handicraft design project. And in April, Tracie Blummer and Matt Walker graduates from Temple University in Pennsylvania joined us. Matt and Tracie’s interest in hands-on projects, have led them to work in near by villages with artisans designing handicrafts and to making earthenware fireplaces for nomadic families near Shangri-La.
These energetic and imaginative volunteers have really helped immensely in planning and implementing our initiatives. In May, “Friends of Shangri-La 2007” took place introducing Shangri-la to some of our friends. About 20 friends came together to learn more about YMHF’s projects. During this week, we launched of our new initiative “The Shangri-La Institute”, a research body that will focus on how to bring economic opportunity to rural communities keeping in mind the importance of balancing the preservation of local culture, delicate balance in the eco-system. Let me take a moment to thank Alex Probilivic who put together our lovely memory book now on display at the center and her team, Matt, Beverly, and Lauren, who volunteered at “Friends 2007”. Our “Buy Local” initiative, a handicrafts campaign to support local artisans, designed and implemented by Dorje Glassman, was launched during the Friends 2007. This initiative highlights the work of local artisans and encourages them to develop their products for the tourist market.
We continue to develop ideas and implement the projects many of you have supported. Summer is on the way, and we are preparing for our volunteers who will come stay in our YMHF residence. They will work in our handicraft shop, participate on our village outreach projects and teach in nearby villages.
It has been a busy and fulfilling season. In closing, I wish you all the best,
Wishing you all the best,