To dream and to realize a community in Thailand
Gaarawé is a project of ecological community in a discreet area of Thailand. We have already presented it here. Today we share an interview to the founder: Emanuele Cerri.
Enjoy your reading!
First things first… what is Gaarawé?
An open community, in a place rich in resources, which can become an inspiration for humanity ”
The accomplishment of the eco-village is based on an economy of self-funding and self-sufficiency, projected to distribute community welfare and individual economic independence.
We need your help. If not now, then when?
In fact, Gaarawé is the name of a very special Thai flower who grows on a climbing tree. You need to pick up the flower in the evening, only then you can enjoy the entire and deep scent that it has. The legend says that it can send people to ecstasy! I think that flower is like the eco-village we are building here: it needs patience, time and perseverance to appreciate it and then, it brings you to a paradise dream way of living!
I like to call Gaarawé Village “a self-sustainable community project based on permaculture”, as we are trying to live a life in total symbiosis with Mother Nature. The land in Khao Sok area has all the resources needed to make that permaculture life possible. My craziest dream here would be to inspire others to respect and protect nature, especially the children, which are the future.
The children who grow here will be the judges of our future.
And what’s your role in this project? Is it your eco-village?
I’d rather say I’m the one who dreamed it all and keeps the common thread among all the volunteers.
But you’re Italian, how do you end up establish this project in Thailand?
I worked in the best places in the world as a tourism operator, observing the degradation of the entire system I tried to make myself a new beggining, starting with organic food. After seven years of a fool and consumer life, I had a revelation and decide to sell everything: I had to go back to wild life. Isolated and unplugged, I lived in temples, in ancient villages, and met many Masters along the way. It was during that 3 years trip that the idea of organizing a self-sustainable community started to take shape, at the same time that I learnt more and more about permaculture. This trip took me to Khao Sok in 2013, and here’s where it all started, the place I found to create what I wanted. With the help of friends, investors and volunteers it became possible.
What did you want to create?
My greatest desire was to build a place where the meaning of life is based on empathy and on the symbiosis between man and nature, completely independent from the system: a village based on the economy of sufficiency in terms of food, energy, and water. Pushing further the dream, I wanted to be part of a network of villages, all in synergy and harmony. It seemed crazy, but actually some local owners are interested and enthusiastic about it. I’ve received proposals to create links. For the moment, I’m really focusing myself on Gaarawé itself, to do something really functional and which can continue without me, in order to be able to focus on the next project.
So how close are you now from this ideal?
If I told we are close, I’d be lying. But we started with a land who was not cultivated for years. We have prepared the road, electrical lines and water supply. We have 8 huts, a common area with a kitchen and several gardens and fruit trees. We eat every day what comes out from the garden and it’s so satisfying! We are also welcoming guests from all kind of renting websites. The reality is, to obtain 100% self sufficiency is a very ambitious aim which can only be reached with a real community network who works together. And I’m therefore very happy in nearly obtaining it with the food from the garden. We have some troubles for managing new constructions because of a still fragile economy. We depend a lot on volunteers contributions because we can’t sell anything yet, but I keep faith and actually, I’m building this village especially for the future generation and I’m conscious that creating a new ecosystem takes time.
So what projects or goals do you have for Gaarawé in the next few months, in a year and in the long term to get closer to your goal?
We just finished the construction of a new kitchen, suitable for catering management in addition to organizing events and congresses, hosting schools, and other things we plan. In the old kitchen’s area, we want to build houses in natural clay (Addobe house or Ban Din). Currently, it’s used as a dormitory to accommodate many travelers. Near the new kitchen a reception/coffee shop will be built which represents the nevralgic center of the village. When that is functional, we’ll be able to offer more services: permaculture courses, meditation & yoga classes, Thai massage. We want to sell essentials oils, beauty care products, natural sponges, vegetables and seeds, marmalades, the production of these is based on years of researches and tests. But what now is most needed are people to participate with their time, dedication , knowledge, love and money to complete this project.
Also, I don’t forget about my initial dream to do a network with local farmers and landowners. In the long term, that is what is coming next. On a long-term, this is what will come next. We already have opportunities to create projects in a federation organization: a magical island waiting for a manager with ideas, a meditation center in the forest, a resort for congresses and events and more. Those who want to independently manage one of the new projects can contact directly ..
And what do you need to achieve all that?
We need people who believe in Gaarawé as a new lifestyle, even if within temporary commitments only. Permaculturists, builders, carpenters, plumbers, electricians, craftsmen, artists… We welcome friends, partners, volunteers that are interested in participating actively and long term in the village. Anybody who trust and want to give hands to the construction of the village is welcome to join, for a big or a short stay.
You’ve mentioned “permaculture” as a key concept for your community project. Can you explain to me, in a few words, what is permaculture?
For me, it represents a cultural revolution. A change that is necessary and implies a new way of looking at the future. If I had to choose one concept to identify it, I’d pick “sustainable” or “self-sufficient economy”. But I’d also have to add ethical principles, participation, a common purpose…so it ends up implying a kind of small state organization. Where traditional politics have failed to manage states, permaculture brings innovation to start governing the planet better the bottom to the top.
Can you give us a few examples of permaculture practices you have implemented at Gaarawé?
The best exemple is about bamboo: we grow three specimens of endangered bamboo at Gaarawé. With them, we can eat, build tutors for creepers, build huts and still use the leftovers to light small fires to weed mosquitos away or feeding our compost and even sell the bulbs. Bamboo is the ideal permaculture example, because it includes organic farming, sustainable building, producing our own food, generating an income and/or trading with a local network and taking advantage of all the parts of the plant. But I could also talk about the herbs we grow in gardens, or the coconuts who are used for fertilizer, for the fire, to protect the plants… this piece of paradise and its soil offers the best life conditions to put permaculture in application.
As a volunteer what will I gain from working with Gaarawé?
Any volunteer interested in participating actively in our village is welcome to stay in this natural oasis as long as he or she wants, while enjoying organic and delicious food and learning about permaculture practices. Volunteering is, in a way, a first experience, and then anyone can decide to stay as a resident.
And as an investor, what will I gain from investing in Gaarawé?
The land and its strategic location have great potential. Tourism is growing fast in the area, and we already have some basic infrastructure. So we’re very close to be able to offer accommodation, eco-tourism and educational services, and to systematize the production of certain products and sell them to local customers. I have a well-studied business plan. But I’m not looking for foreigners interested in making easy-money. I want partners to be part of the community being a member, to build their own houses, to bring ideas, to share our daily life, and also to make profit and live an economy that offers individual independence and dignity, through common projects.