Last weekend, feeling a little virtuous after helping plant trees at an event organised by the Himmapan Foundation three of us had the good fortune to meet an extraordinary visitor to Chiang Mai town.
Charlie from Normandy on the English Channel (Normandie au bord de La Manche) told us he had been in the Chiang Mai province for two weeks but had only just arrived in town after spending them working as a volunteer at the Pun Pun Sustainable Living Center at Mae Daeng.
Moreover we did not just run into Charlie at any bar or cafe or temple grounds. Charlie was in the Chiang Mai environment movement’s Holy of Holies – The Climate Change room at the Creative Urban Solutions Center at the SE corner of Ratwithi & Ratchapakhinai intersection.
Looking around the exhibition one learns that traveling by aeroplane is too wasteful of energy to continue. So how did this exemplary environmentalist come to be at so far from home? He came not by plane but traveled by bus from France across Europe to Latvia on the Baltic, thence by rail to Moscow and on the trans-Siberian railway over five days to China. More train journeys took him to the end of the line at Ho Chi Minh City. In VietNam Charlie bought a motorcycle and came via Cambodia across to the north of Thailand.
But with so few of us following Charlie’s example, the climate situation appears more grim each day as the World’s temperature edges ever upwards, the arctic ice melts, and floods and droughts proliferate. Alas, also the end of the line may well be in sight for the Creative Urban Solutions Center.
The center was set up by retired academics some three years ago and is well used by many schools near and far to further students education under an agreement between the former director of education for Chiang Mai province. The derelict rambling old house and garden, built in the 1930’s as a residence for the director when posted to Chiang Mai were renovated, and a mud and recycled materials building was added with the help of volunteers.
Now all this is in jeopardy as the present director of education has lodged a lawsuit to evict the displays to allow him to reside there with his menagerie of seven dogs, according to volunteers from the center.
Please visit the center soon, an ideal venue for a rainy day wander, and if able please write in support with copies to : Treasury Department, the Minister of Education, the Governor of Chiang Mai, and the Secretary of the Basic Education Commission. Address details are available from the center.