Our Work in Phrao #2

 Over the past couple months I (Joelle) have been working on marketing the scarves that are made through the Warm Heart partnerships to the city of Chiang Mai.  Right now, one of the best outlets for sales is to get the textiles into the hands of the masses of people that come through the second largest city in Thailand.  So far, after doing some research and good old fashioned door to door canvassing of local businesses I have added three more shops to the two venues already established.

   A work day to Chiang Mai starts with a bus ride for two hours in a hand me down Chinese bus from the 1960’s.  I definitely wasn’t in Hong Kong in the 1960’s but I haven’t taken a photo here yet.  I’m pretty sure the bus ran a lot better as pictured and I’m also guessing the doors probably closed when they were new too, but who needs a.c. when the lack of doors provides nice air flow?

Image   Once I’m in Chiang Mai I work through sections of the city and neighborhoods with the help of Aom who translates and connects with the locals. Thais are so polite and sometimes they may appear to understand a little more English than in actuality!  Right now we are working to distribute the cotton scarves which are made by weavers at a temple in Phrao.  The goal is to add many more businesses that want to partner with Warm Heart not just to sell pretty scarves but to help write a different story for the futures of the families of the weavers!

Image  I am looking forward to adding the beautiful Eri Silk scarves back into rotation but you need silk to make silk scarves and production is at a stand still for a few reasons including that the last batch of worms died mysteriously.  We are still moving forward with some test batches of silk and will do some dying with natural materials in the next weeks.

Image  I’ll post more pictures as the work with the textiles moves forward!

I would like an Americano with… an elephant?

As a coffee fanatic I have to say I miss the amazing brews of Portland Oregon.  But when I was sitting there with an Americano in hand with Aaron in the sunshine and this face peeks around the corner it’s about the best thing that can happen at a coffee shop!


It definitely doesn’t happen every day where you see a baby elephant jogging (they don’t really saunter like adults… they’ve got places to be!) down the street and we fortunately had our camera so we snapped a couple photos.

So we pet it.


And we fed it.


And appreciated how adorable, happy, and well behaved it was.  I wouldn’t mind starting off every morning like this!


Our Work in Phrao #1


It has been two and a half months since we arrived here in Phrao and began working with Warm Heart and I have come to realize that things have been so busy that we have not stopped long enough to explain in depth the projects and day to day work that goes on here in the organization.

This post is the first in a series that will try to fix that.


One of the first projects I have been working on and managing has been the build out of our new offices here on the Warm Heart campus.  A part of that is managing the construction project plans to keep things on schedule so we can make the most of the dry season since there is a lot of infrastructure to build here.  The three new buildings are built up with bamboo and mud brick made here on site.Image

The other part has been to spec out and build a new office network as all Warm Heart operations will now be in one place. The biggest challenge of that was coming up with a solution to run data cables from the point of entry in Michael and Evelind’s home 250+ feet to the new site.  After much deliberation I decided that running them over head in a protective tube with a steel wire for support was more fixable in the future if something breaks and less work in the present than digging a four foot deep 200 foot long trench to the new site.


As of the end of this week we have a functioning network built and ready to support eight office staff on desktops and up to 20 users on the new wireless network.  I feel very happy about this as it will enhance the operations of our organization and make collaboration easier on other development projects for the mountain tribes and the people of Phrao Valley.  My temporary desk is below.