Newsletter Winter 2006
I would like to begin the New Year with greetings to the friends of Yunnan Mountain Heritage Foundation (YMHF.) I have greatly appreciated the support and encouragement all of you have sent this way. We have been busy over the past few months: YMHF and Diqing authorities co-hosted “The Gathering of Friends of Diqing in Shangri-La” in October 2005 and in Jan 2006, a workshop on eco-tourism and strategy for a Shangri-La national park. This spring we are proud to join hands with Dr. Annie Wu to launch the Women’s Center in Shangri-La as well.
YMHF has been blessed with so many good friends. Many of you have given your thought, time and talent to making our first activities come to life. We are grateful for your enthusiasm and encouragement. We hope you will enjoy reading more about our activities below.
Yunnan Mountain Heritage Foundation
October 2006 Gathering of Friends of Diqing in Shangri-La
We were very pleased to spend four busy days together with so many of you in late October 2005 in Shangri-La, Yunnan, the headquarters of YMHF. The “Gathering of Friends” was co-hosted with the government of Diqing Prefecture and the fledgling Yunnan Mountain Heritage Foundation. We were very busy during our visit, learning, thinking and listening to experts from Shangri-La and abroad. It turns out that there was so much to think about and work on that free time became a precious commodity. Our apologies, but there is indeed a lot to be done if we hope to make a difference in the old town and Diqing Prefecture.
Street Fair at Hazels
The first event of the “Gathering” was hosted by Hazel Pu who led us on a walking tour on the backstreets of the old town. We visited one of the oldest Tibetan wooden homes (more than three hundred years old), a wine maker’s home to taste some of the famous local barley wine and eventually ended up at Hazel Bar. Hazel organized a community craft bazaar on the street in front of her Guesthouse and invited artisans from town and nearby villages to demonstrate their weaving, knife making skills and handicrafts in the first Handicraft Street Fair in the Dukezhong. Many thanks to Hazel and MaGe for organizing this great event.
Architectural Tour of the Dukezhong
Afang and Ann Warr took over in the afternoon with an Architectural Tour of four old Tibetan homes in the Dukezhong. We learned how the unbaked brick walls and timber framing make up the house structure. The buildings are made without a single nail and are able to withstand time, rain, snow and earthquakes. We learned about the function of the Water Alter, the Spirit Pillar, why there are stones on shingle rooftops and much more.
Afang is organizing an “adoption project” for some of these buildings. She hopes to find renters to take on and gently renovate a few of the many historical buildings. For more about her project, contact AFang at email@example.com
Mastiffs, Movies and More
Other highlights of the visit included an evening at ZhengYi’s, complete with delicious food, wine and viewing of his new film “Pilgrims at Sacred Kawagabo Mountain” by this talented photographer and documentary film maker. A high altitude hike took us along the Tea-Horse caravan route overlooking Napa Hai, the wintering place of the famed and endangered black-neck cranes. A stop at How Man Wong’s Scientific Research Station on the way home brought us face to face with his collection of fierce Tibetan mastiffs and his collection of artifacts and memorabilia including first edition copies of James Hilton’s legendary Lost Horizon.
The “Gathering of Friends of Diqing in Shangri-La” brought us together to talk, listen, and share our thoughts about how we might join hands with the people of Shangri-La to make a difference in the Old Town, the valley of Shangri-la and the Diqing Prefecture. We were happy to introduce so many of you to this lovely place and to introduce you to our friends there. And good news! Governor Qi Zhala has invited us back next fall. So mark October on your calendar and join us for the second “Gathering of Friends.”
January 16-18, 2006
The Shangri-La Tourism and National Park Workshop
One of the outcomes of our Town Hall Meeting during the “Gathering of Friends” in October was a workshop sponsored by the Diqing Prefecture and Yunnan Mountain Heritage Foundation. The workshop was planned and organized by Vice Governor Shi Zhong Kai of Diqing Prefecture and Gerard Burgermeister, representing YMHF. Resident of Xishuangbanna, Gerard is an expert on environment and sustainable development. This ground breaking workshop was held in Shangri-La, 16 to 18 January 2006, and brought together a small group of experts and officials from Diqing, Kunming and Beijing, and foreign advisors in sustainable tourism and park planning and management. Included were local representatives of China People’s Political Consultative Conference, Diqing Economic Planning Commission, Diqing Tourism Bureau, Diqing Forestry Department, as well as Professors and Directors from South Western Forestry University in Kunming and Tsinghua University in Beijing, and representatives from The Nature Conservancy, WWF and foreign eco-tourism investors. The objective of the workshop was to identify and discuss issues and challenges to sustainable, sensible expansion of tourism as the lead industry and bring long-lasting prosperity to Tibetan people and other minorities, and shielding some of the most pristine wilderness areas from developers. YMHF was pleased to help facilitate the workshop. Much credit goes to Vice Governor Shi, Gerard, Afang and Lynn Yen-Burgermeister for their hard work and success in bringing this relevant workshop to fruition.
LOOKING AT THE FUTURE
One of the focal activities of the YMHF is the preservation of cultural heritage and handicrafts. We see promoting traditional handicrafts in Shangri-La a wonderful opportunity to generate income for rural households. Artisans and apprentices can develop traditional skills while using of local materials. It is envisioned that a Handicraft Center in the old town will provide workshop space for artisans such as traditional Tibetan weavers, wood-workers, felt makers, potters, Thanka painters or mask makers. Talented craftsmen will be selected from the region as ‘master craftsmen’ to train and apprentice students. The center will provide training in technology development, design, business management, marketing and product development.
Shangri-La Handicraft Store
Developing a market is critical to the sustainability of craft development. The Shangri-La Handicraft Store will showcase local and regional crafts from different ethnic groups as well as provide collection facilities from rural areas, establishment of market price, quality assurance, marketing and setting of standards. The Handicraft Store will complement the craft development centers with sales/services orientation.
Student Intern-Study Program
An exciting program to bring students from Hong Kong to Shangri-la is being developed. The students will live in the old town at this heart of the Tibetan community during their summer break. They will work on data base studies, community development projects, and share their own interests, hobbies and expertise with students from Shangri-La. This is a wonderful opportunity for Hong Kong students to volunteer and be part of a community service project. We look forward to working with them.
On the way
-We regularly update our website. We will let you know when and where to find us. -We – -We will be in Hong Kong in February for our formal launch of the Yunnan Mountain Heritage Foundation.