Through his work Michael is tackling SDG’s 3, 11, 12 and 13. If you want to learn more about the SDG’s click on the pictures. Which SDG would you like to solve? Feel free to ask the Vanguards for advice!!
I have been blessed to be able to see much, to communicate with many, and to witness humankind’s potential to thrive in relationship with nature. Now I have the good fortune to be able to practice this vision and to help others see and move forward on this path, learning from each other.
Humans are part of nature and we have a critical role in working with our fellow beings- plants, animals, and other life, in helping to return this planet to its rightful abundance
Our goal is to support Michael’s mission by linking people interested in experience Thailand through the lens of an eco-entrepreneur and self-reliance expert. We’re combining our expertise of offbeat travel with the content of Michael’s expertise to create new, sustainable and innovative ways to enjoy fun and educational travel experiences.
I had been privileged as a flight attendant prior to 9/11 but at some point I needed to do something different and giving something back to the planet. I have been most interested in the ecological side. If we have a healthy environment, healthy soils and healthy food, that’s good for people because we are not separated from nature, we are all part of the world rather than other specific social issues like crime. I’d rather be working in helping the planet be healthier. I worked in documentary production in Thailand. I deemed that beneficial as well, having people understand what’s out there, the plants, the species, then there’s reason to keep them. If you don’t know what’s there in the Amazon and if the Amazon disappears, do we care? But if we understand that the Amazon has all these wonderful things then maybe there’s a value in helping to keep the Amazon alive. However that market changed dramatically toward reality TV and most documentaries have become sensationalist so kind of shock value. That’s when I found Green Net and I thought that’s a great model because they use an enterprise model to make it sustainable. I don’t say you should not take external donations but once you get something operating and it does it well it doesn’t require it and I think any kind of external donation is temporary. Green Net has always been about we can do something differently and it works. Farmers in Green Net are better off. They are making more money, they have better ecologies, they have better soils and so forth and it’s totally sustainable. As such I have been with Green Net for 14 years. I coordinate international programs and develop competency of farmer groups and NGOs to develop organic supply chains for small scale farmers. During my time in Thailand I met my wife and we practice what we call Wana Kaset. It’s a kind of forest farming system that teaches you how to use different plants for food, medicine and natural products. My wife has a now a successful natural product business based on that and I got involved in the permaculture movement. The Thai community didn’t use the word permaculture which is a very interesting community but use the term self-reliance movement and I have been involved with that for a long time helping to bridge between these communities.
Overall the principles of what people in permaculture are doing and what people are doing in the self-reliance movement are pretty much the same. We want to be ecological, use ecological resources, use local knowledge, to live in balance with nature and to do good things for society. It’s a kind of alternative system or way of living and we have a lot of people in our network that are really skilled in different things such as Thai medicine, earth building and making bio fertilizer and identifying plants in a forest and so forth. I can help people who want to learn about these things. My passion is to facilitate learning. I can teach things but I think it’s much more interesting to help people learn by themselves, learning by doing. Learning visits have been well received by groups of farmers but now I’m opening it up so if people are interested in visiting some very different groups off the beaten path we can facilitate that. It can still be beautiful and fun so you can travel along the Mekhong river, see waterfalls but you will also see Cashew growers and learn about their experience and how they grow their organic products. It’s particularly for people who really want to understand where farmers and small producers are coming from, their experiences and really see how organic farming works, how rice is grown, what are the different species and things they might be able to buy. You can also learn about fair trade and how alternative food systems are being developed. I think it’s important that we make people aware. In many cases people don’t know anymore what real food taste like, food in supermarkets marked as safe have been found to contain chemical residue way above safety standards, obesity rates and sugar intake as well as farmer debts are at an all time high and almost no one knows the concept of fair trade. We could complain about the flaws of the system however there’s also so much good stuff that is out there. There is so much that we are doing, there’s examples, there’re things that worked and that are really great it’s not like we have to reinvent the wheel and do rocket science. I love to be able to help people become aware of the possibilities and giving them some exposure so maybe they can become social entrepreneurs themselves or at least in their own lives take an active role and be the change.
SUAN YOU SABAI