Broadcasting from the banks of the Mekong,
This is the podcast that crisscrosses the globe, taking roads less travelled.
We meet pioneers in the world of folk art,
changemakers in travel & tourism and innovators in remote communities.
Join hosts Joanna Smith and Rachna Sachasinh
as they delve into the minds of custodians of culture.
All aboard? Let’s go!
Founder of eco-fashion house Kilomet 109, Thao Vu is a pioneering designer who has helped transform Hanoi into a creative hub. Thao describes what it means to be an ‘eco-entrepreneur’ and how her collaborations with Nung An, Tai and Khmer communities inspire and fuel her “seed to fiber” collections.
Artisan advocate and fashion designer Kavita Parmar wants you to know that “heritage is the new luxury.” In collaboration with Marcella Echavarria, she’s curating a folk art market called XTANT in Mallorca. Presented as part market, part hands-on workshops, part art installation and celebration, Kavitat tells us how XTANT will bridge heritage and luxury.
Meet Ramzia Khorami and Maryam Omar, two vanguards bringing Afghan jewellery and Silk Road-era crafts to the contemporary global marketplace. Ramzia handcrafts Afghan jewellery using traditional techniques. Maryam manages Turquoise Mountain’s Design Center (listen to the previous episode featuring the organization). This is a rare opportunity to hear about the country’s burgeoning crafts and design sector directly from Afghan women.
According to Shoshana Stewart, CEO of Turquoise Mountain, the cornerstones of sustainable craft business are energy, beauty and pride—terms not often emphasised in development work. In this episode we go to Afghanistan, Myanmar, Saudi Arabia and Jordan, taking ‘roads less travelled’ to see how Turquoise Mountain harnesses master artisan skills and launches a new generation of craft business.
In Ritoma, a small village in the breathtaking grasslands of the Tibetan Plateau, we meet Kim and Dechen Yeshi. The mother-daughter duo began an ambitious project that brings together a rare fiber called yak khullu, an uncompromising aesthetic and a commitment to uphold the ancestral nomadic traditions of the Tibetan Plateau. You’ll hear how Kim and Dechen started Norlha, a social enterprise and weaving atelier where local nomads weave textiles using yak khullu, or yak wool that is on par with cashmere.
How do you introduce ‘start-up’, entrepreneurial thinking to a 400-year old artisan community? In Bagru, the hub of Rajasthani block printing, Jeremy Fritzhand tells us that a start-up mindset is critical to growing the industry and “putting creative power back in the hands of the artisans.” In this episode of Radio Ock Pop Tok, Jeremy discusses he and a group of forward-thinking women, along with the help of the Cultural Intellectual Property Rights Initiative (CIPRI) joined forces to start Mahila Print, a new way of protecting and licensing indigenous designs.
The road to Machu Picchu takes you through Chinchero, a village in the Peruvian Andes where you’ll find Nilda Callañaupa Alvarez, a dynamic Quechua weaver. Founder of the Centre for Traditional Textiles of Cusco, Nilda helped revive Quechua textiles traditions and restore indigenous pride. In spite of being a catalyst to move her community forward, she believes the key to a sustainable future lies in respecting and in employing ancestral know-how. This type of counterintuitive thinking is precisely what makes Nilda a creative and powerful innovator within her community.
Join us for an intriguing conversation about Quechua textiles and culture, as Nilda recalls her childhood spent herding sheep and shares her thoughts on what lies ahead for the indiegnous peoples in the Peruvian Andes.
Meet ecotourism pioneer and sustainable entrepreneur Inthy Deuansavanh. How did a man born in Vieng Xay cave while Laos’ revolutionary forces were fighting for independence end up unlocking Laos’ impressive potential for sustainable adventure travel? In a country with limited resources, Inthy’s creative adventure travel experiences are nothing short of epic. Let’s head into the Lao wilderness and delve into the mind of a pioneering and fearless adventure traveller.
Read more on our blog
About Inthy and eco-tourism in Laos: greendiscoverylaos.com
Cultural intellectual property rights are a complex issue. Cultural intellectual property and fashion attorney and founder of the Cultural Intellectual Property Rights Initiative (CIPRI), Monica Moisin joins the broadcast to explain the colonial roots of fashion and the importance of protecting the traditional knowledge, designs and traditional manufacturing methods.
Read more on our blog
Learn more about CIPRI
Luang Prabang is full of stories. Textiles, temples, ceremonies, rituals and conversations convey stories of Lao culture. As Lao culture evolves, film is emerging as a contemporary medium for storytelling, and the Luang Prabang Film Festival is at the forefront of nurturing modern storytellers and cinema in Laos and across Southeast Asia.
Jo Smith, Ock Pop Tok co-founder, regales us with the story of a spontaneous journey to Houaphan Province in northeastern Laos. This journey jumpstarted the Village Weavers Project, a dynamic model for village-based collaborations. Since the trip, the Village Weavers Project has evolved and grown, helping Lao women weavers and artisans access markets and preserve their cultural traditions.
What is “ethical jewelry”? What is fairly mined, or fairmined, gold? In this episode, renowned jewelry designer Pippa Small takes us inside artisan studios in Kabul, Yangon and Amman, shares her insights on the meaning of ethical jewelry and discusses the importance and value of collaborating with artisans in their home communities.
Susan Hull Walker and IBU Movement are at the forefront of galvanising the global artisan community. Susan’s work empowers and connects people—in particular women—at all levels, from a village-based artisan to a woman in corporate or suburban America. She describes IBU Movement as a world wide web of self-authorised women on the move to self-empowerment and self-sufficiency. Through her work with IBU Movement, and more recently IBU Foundation, Susan is finding common ground for women from far away places and disparate experiences to come together meaningfully.
Why is Myanmar difficult terrain for artisans? Plastic upcycling genius Peter Pau Son, founder of Shin Thant Plastics, and Ulla Kroeber, co-founder and lead designer at Hla Day, a crafts and design organisation in Yangon, helps us understand the challenges of doing business in Myanmar.
Palestinian embroidery is a traditional craft dating back centuries. Traditionally used on garments and pillows for the home, this embroidery is rich with motifs and stories of Palestinian culture, nature and village life. Kissweh, a craft enterprise focusing on these embroidery techniques, provides income opportunities for women living in Palestinian refugee camps inside Lebanon.
Artisan textiles and crafts are often talked about in terms of technique, beauty and functionality. But what about the artisan mindset? In this episode, Kitzia Barrera, co-founder of Innovando la Tradicion and Colectivo 1050º, discusses her work with the pottery masters of Mexico. Oaxaca’s iindigenous potters practice a craft and an approach to living that is profoundly wise and sophisticated, and very applicable to challenges we face today. Kitzia shares her experience and encourages us to listen, pay attention and learn from these preeminent artisans and designers of a sustainable lifestyle.
Travel with us to Dzongsar, Tibet and meet the intriguing Dawa Drolma. A filmmaker and storyteller, Dawa Drolma helps her father and brother run the Khyenle Arts Center. “Khyenle” refers to a specific alloy and technique used to make lama bronze statues.
The Moroccan carpet is iconic. It’s flooded the marketplace, but the makers of these textiles have not necessarily benefited. Correcting the transactions, perceptions and values that drive this imbalance is at the core of Artisan Project, a craft and design studio founded and run by Nina Mohammad Galbert. In this episode, Nina discusses her work with weavers in Fes and the Middle Atlas, explains how to buy ethically and illuminates why carpets are seen as “baraka” or blessing among the Amazigh, or Berber, communities in the Atlas Mountains.
Bookhou Studio co-founder Arounna Khounnaraj is credited with making crafting cool, fun and accessible, and she’s got legions of fans around the world! An enthusiastic advocate of all things handmade, Arounna Khounnaraj is happiest when she is making, teaching workshops and composing beautifully written and photographed books on crafting and mending.
Weaver, designer, textile innovator Ploenchanh “Mook” Vinyaratn uses traditional handlooms and needlework to create modern, multi-dimensional textiles for handbags under her label MookV. She shares her process, the challenges in the marketplace and her relentless passion and optimism for artisan textiles.
When the borders closed a year ago, we felt isolated. A podcast became a natural way to connect with the global artisan community. We wanted to hear how creatives are coping and what new ideas and innovations are taking shape.
Ock Pop Tok means “East Meets West”. Our philosophy has always been to encourage collaboration, conversation and exchanging ideas. Drawing inspiration from old and new, from places far and near is the way we work. Radio Ock Pop Tok is an extension of this philosophy.
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