Ecotouring Tibetan Villages in Sichuan Province

 In Culture, Sustainable Design

About three years ago, upon meeting with Tamdin, who came to Colorado as a Tibetan refugee, I was introduced to the high-stamina work that Tibetan Village Project (TVP) (www.tibetanvillageproject.org) has been doing for the last 10 years: building pedestrian bridges, green-houses, schools, scholarships for college students, businesses micro-credit. Operating out of Westminster, Colorado, this non-profit organization has had tremendous success in raising awareness and support for sustainable development and the cultural heritages of Tibet.

Last year was the third time we participated in their fundraising events: a great mixture of camaraderie, hearty Tibetan food, auctions (that are anything but quiet) for the various projects, Tibetan flute music, a vibrant craft-market, and more.

The only time I have seen TVP get distracted from their goals for the region of Kham and Amdo is when the earthquake tragically hit in Yushu in the spring of 2010: Tibetan Village Project did not hesitate to get involved. They managed to raise the money necessary to buy 300 insulated tents large enough for a family at $300 a piece before the following winter came and also insured the delivery to the families most in need.

“A drop in the bucket,” like Tamdin told me, but what a huge drop for the receivers!

At the beginning of last year, Tamdin mentioned to us that communities of Kham and Amdo have been coming together with thoughts about further developing their community-based ecotourism. To that purpose, the community of Penbushi is planning on building a “base camp” / community center on the high banks of the Minyak River. Knowing that we have been foraying in the worldwide ecotourism industry, he asked us if our studio would be interested in getting involved.

That is how in June of 2011 Alejandra embarked on a scouting trip from Chengdu to Kangding, Tagong and Penbushi. She traveled with the high-spirited assistance of Conscious Journeys (www.consciousjourneys.org), a unique volun-tourism offspring program from TVP tours. The young guides at Conscious Journeys deliver a balanced blend of mindful tourism and volunteer excursions to Tibet. Hence, Alejandra visited and surveyed the project building site by the Minyak River in Penbushi. She visited with the families and leaders who initiated the project and came back with the radiance of someone who has been immersed in a meaningful enterprise.

Working for TVP from Tibet for more than six months of the year, Tamdin is now evaluating the possible risk of the building site being inundated due to another damming project.

We are eager to continue our fruitful collaboration with Tibetan Village Project and their mindful team.

* Click here to watch a video of Alejandra explaining a bit about Gettliffe Architecture’s work with Tamdin at TVP *

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