Above everything else, I am a manifester!
I believe that when you ask for something in your highest good, then it will come to you.
If you recognise your desire as it comes to you, welcome it with open arms,
then you will reap the benefits.
So one day whilst living my days in Chiang Mai I put the intention out
to go and sit in my favourite cafe,
(The Tea Tree on Moonmuang Soi 6), and there I would meet someone who would put an opportunity in my path.
And that is exactly what happened.
A wonderful lady called Hester sat near me,
and the conversation we began struck a cord in my heart.
Hester told me about an intriguing new project that is at the beginning stages in Pai, a town about 3 hours drive away from Chiang Mai. The Cross-Cultural Co-Creation Association was masterminded by Christina Jordan, an incredibly inspiring lady, and its mission is ''to host cross-cultural co-creative experiences for changemakers, conscious tourists and the communities they visit, designed to nurture new levels of human alignment around the world."
When I met Hester she didn't put it quite as succinctly as that, but the idea of it thrilled me. At the time I was looking for work in social development, but my background is in tourism, and I have an enthusiasm for anthropology. Here is a project, landed on my lap, that spans all three of my interests and has the potential for literally anything to happen!
I quickly signed up to be part of the team. The project is at its beginning stages, so this is the time for thinking, talking and listening. Dialogues have begun that connect current team members, Pai-based entrepreneurs and indigenous communities in the area. The idea is to open communication between these groups in order to work together co-creatively to achieve a common vision.
A retreat will be created in Pai for changemakers and conscious tourists from around the world to nurture their bodies, minds and souls. This nurturing will come in the form of cross-cultural conversations, events and activities, including visits to local indigenous communities (to inspire change in outdated tourism narratives) and yoga retreats (so our visitors return home relaxed and rejuvenated). The aim is to plant seeds in the minds of these forward-thinking people to take back to their home countries and create a global dialogue. An online platform will help connect these people and keep the conversations flowing.
Indigenous 'hill-tribe' villages will be part of an interconnected network of communities, showing each one that they are not isolated from the outside world. Each village will decide its own involvement in the project. Some are already highly established in the tourism industry, but would like to improve on tourist interactions. They currently feel like 'human zoos' and other than quick chats, photo-taking and buying their products, there is nothing for the tourist to get involved in. A mutually dis-empowering state of affairs. By allowing tourists to truly experience the villagers way of life, the similarities between the them can be embraced. Everyone involved can be empowered with a sense of voice and their own value in the world.
The town of Pai is already home to many people with visions of a sustainable future. There are natural products, organic and vegetarian restaurants, and eco lodging galore! By connecting these people with each other, with change-makers and conscious tourists, and with local people around Pai, the opportunities for economic and sustainable growth are endless. We could create outlets for: an alternative currency in Pai and surrounding area; organic produce grown in the villages and sold in Pai; language and culture exchanges... and so on...
One conversation between myself, Christina and two other team members got our creative juices flowing and showed us just how transformative this project could be. Here are some of the gems of passion that came out of this thrilling discussion:
- ''We are creating a working model of interaction that breaks through cultural barriers.''
- ''The best we can hope for is that one day everyone around the world will travel and connect with everyone around them without looking at them as 'different' or 'wrong', but everyone can learn and share everything together. Imagine what we could achieve if everyone had that mentality.''
- ''Revolution in tourism and weaving of humankind. The more closeness we feel as humans, the less war will be an option. The world is run by travellers!''
- ''WE can manifest a big feeling of interconnectedness on a global scale, while still being intimate and personal. (''Globalism'' sounds cold and careless, not personal.)''
- ''Our products can help people achieve a new level of international understanding.''
All incredibly moving words for me!
My own drive to be involved stems from my tourism career background, as well as being a traveller. It's the idea of conscious tourism. The common theme among many tourists I have come across is that they WANT to be more involved with LOCAL PEOPLE. Believe it or not, this is more important to conscious tourists than seeing the main tourist attractions. Most tourists spend more time at the main tourist attractions because IT IS EASY! The infrastructure is there to support them. Even if it's more expensive than doing other things in their chosen destination, tourists will pay because THAT'S THE THING TO DO.
So how about we change this narrative, so that THE THING TO DO is to be involved with LOCAL PEOPLE. Build an infrastructure to MAKE IT EASY, and to ADD VALUE to travel, because the tourist gains quality experiences and knowledge of the destination. Taking home stories of people met, friendships formed and minds opened is much more valuable than taking home some photos of a famous Buddhist statue.
And at the same time, the conscious tourist is thrilled that they have EMPOWERED local communities, added to LOCAL sustainable economies, and begun a conversation that can be taken ALL OVER THE WORLD. Wow, there is so much more I could say about all this, but I will leave that for another article!
The Cross-Cultural Co-Creation Association will grow organically as more people get involved and more ideas come to the foreground.
The model can be taken elsewhere in the world and used to instil the same co-creative values in other countries.
There are limitless possibilities!
And this is only the beginning...