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The Sawangboran Project – Grassroots Knowledge
The world now discovering the importance of eco-friendliness and environments quite systematically forgets that most of the world’s population has for most of its history been nurturing nature, inventing and using ecologically sustainable processes.
Rural people of the global South are still rooted, at least in part, in those attitudes, involving complex knowledge and know-how. It is unfair and ultimately counter-productive to consider, as in most ‘development’ work and ideology, that these people are backward, in need of one-way assistance, education and upliftment.
Sawang Boran takes the local traditional knowledge of weavers and dyers as its very foundation. Their ‘appropriate technology’ and cognitive abilities are valuable in their own right, and need judicious injections of modern thinking and skills that feed into rather than crowd out their own humbler power. Skilled weavers hold unacknowledged PhDs, and they weave their thesis over and over again… like Nature herself. The cultivation of knowledge and excellence is not a one-off job.
We do not romanticise the ways of a past that was neither easy nor innocent. But we consider that there is a real need worldwide for such knowledge systems to thrive again. Craftspeople’s knowledge and work are a model of natural-and-cultural connectedness. When allowed to operate in this spirit, they nurture beauty and happiness – these essential foods for humans (and Nature), paradoxically the most neglected of ‘human rights’ (on this subject see video: http://www.sawangboran.com/store/uncategorized/the-right-to-beauty-at-tedx-krungtep/.
The survival and revitalization of such traditional knowledge systems are now utterly dependent on new knowledge and know-how systems, i.e. the economic and technological power of marketing and information technologies. The internet and e-commerce that enable us to connect to you and your sense of beauty and ethics, are today the best friends of age-old skills.