POST C: Terasmitra & Lawe Working to Preserve Traditional Weaving Techniques

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Teras Mitra was one of the stalls selling hand made goods at the Mata Air Festival 2016, whilst there I spoke with Pitria about what Teras Mirta stands for. Teras Mitra acts a platform to launch many different local entrepreneur’s businesses, ranging from handicraft, design, food and Knowledge Management. Teras Mitra is very selective about who they aid, all the brands working with them must have a cause behind them. For example Lawe, a weaving business started by 5 women, Adinidyah, Westiani Agustin, Ita Natalia, Paramita Iswari and Rina Anita in Yogakarta in 2004. Lawe was founded as way to keep traditional weaving techniques alive, and today there are 50 weavers working in Yogakarta. The founders of Lawe wanted to keep this traditional handmade product relevant so they have many different designs, originally the woven fabric was used for clothing or in a traditional ceremony, now it is being used to make bags, wallets, home décor, accerories and stationary. The traditional colours used in this style of weaving are black and browns, however Laew has updated this style by using a variety of colours which appeal to a younger audience, which will keep the next generation interested in this traditional handicraft. Terasmitra supports Lawe because Lawe is about conserving tradition, empowering women and using environmentaly friendly resources, they are currently working with ecological natural dyes.

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Some of Lawe’s products available at the Mata Air festival 2016

However many great organisations such as Lawe often struggle to make ends meet, especially when their Global Environment Facility (GEF) funding runs out which is usually after 2 years, this is where Terasmitra steps in and is able to help these organisations sustain themselves through design, production and marketing. Terasmitra sells products from many other organisations like Lawe, they help communities market their products, and when people buy them they are helping uphold that values of each organisation, indirectly, consumers who purchase the product in Terasmitra can help partners build a better environment.


Sources used in title image clockwise; photo by author, http://www.houseoflawe.comhttp://garudamagazine.comhttp://www.houseoflawe.com and

POST D: The Dayak People & the Forbidden Forests of Borneo

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I have been fascinated by Borneo since watching the Borneo episode of Eliza Thornberry as a kid, and have wanted to visit since I found out that large tracts of the forest are disappearing forever. It is an island of dense tropical rainforests where orangutans, clouded leopards, pygmy elephants, sun bears and rhinos roam wild. A treasure trove of exotic species and biodiversity, Borneo is divided by three countries, Indonesia, Malaysia and Brunei. These three countries share the responsibility to conserve and manage Borneo’s rainforests (sometimes called the Heart of Borneo) and protect the many endangered animals, which live there. Just as Borneo’s flora and fauna it’s indigenous people are similarly varied. The indigenous peoples who live in the heart of Borneo’s rainforest are commonly known as Dayak. There are over 50 ethnic Dayak groups speaking more then 170 different languages.

In the past many of these ethnic groups rely on the rainforest’s abundance to survive, however with changing agricultural practices logging of the rainforest has been on the rise, with big tracks of the Heart of Borneo being destroyed. Many tribes in the area have felt the economic pressure and incentives to allow companies to log on their land. And if trees are not being felled for timber big sects of the rainforest is being cleared to allow rice farming as many of the local peoples income relies on rice farming.


However one tribe of the Dayak Kenyah has been noted for how they are managing to combat deforestation. The Oma’lung tribe in Setulang village have been fighting to preserving their rainforest for decades. Their Rainforest is aptly named Tana Olen, which means forbidden forest as the traditional laws of Setulang prohibits the cutting down and damaging of trees in Tana Olen. The village of 900 people has a written policy signed decades ago decreeing that anyone who logs or damages trees in Tana Olen will be punished. Kole Adjang the Head of the Setulang Forest Management Agency, it is his job to preserve and look after Tana Olen. Kole Adjang talks about an agreement made by the villagers 2 two generations ago to preserve the forest, and he is proud that it is succeeding and bringing eco tourism as a result which is more money for the villagers.

However like many of the surrounding villages Setulang also relies on rice farming for income, so to avoid the fate of many neighboring tribes (whose forests have been torn down to make room for rice paddies), Setulang has arranged a system where each family gets 10 lots of land, which each gets used once in a ten year cycle. This has been highly successful as there is enough farming land without encroaching on the rainforest.

For more information you can watch a video here


Title images sources clockwise; http://news.nationalgeographic.com

POST B: Sustainable Fashion Being Made a Reality in Spain


The fashion industry is big money especially in today’s fast fashion culture, were the consumer can buy new outfits every seasons so cheap that they can afford to throw them away by the next season. This is having a big impact on the environment and our natural resources. Fashion is the second most polluting industry in the world after the oil industry, especially when you take into consideration all the steps each garment goes through to arrive on the hanger.

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There are several fashion labels now available which claim to be sustainable, however the most impressive of these is Ecoalf, a Spanish label dedicated to creating garments from 100% environmental products. Ecolaf was founded in 2009 by Javier Goyeneche who was troubled by the way the worlds natural resources were being used and wanted to create a sustainable fashion brand through upcycling. The label creates womenswear menswear childrenswear and accessories from 100% recycled products. Their manifesto is simple yet ambitious, Ecoalf aims to “stop the continuing pollution of the environment. But ECOALF isn’t willing to settle for just that, it wants to invert the process. New technologies allow us to do that, revolutionizing the idea of raw material.” Their manifesto is labeled TRASH(H)UMANITY which they claim is not a negative term they say “that trash is an inherent feature of our species” and that Ecoalf aims to “create objects that make your life more enjoyable without damaging our relationship with nature, and (does) it by erasing part of the ecological footprint that is fouling the world. ECOALF wants to share with you its passion for beautiful, useful products that clean up the planet. Help us take the concept of trash into the future.”

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Ecoalf works with 6 main materials; discarded fishing nets, PET plastic bottles, used tyres, post consumer coffee, post industrial cotton and post industrial wool. By working closely with factories in 11 different countries Ecoalf is able to assess the process and work on new methods to manufacture materials. “Through integrating breakthrough technology we wanted to create clothing and accessories made entirely from recycled materials…without actually looking like it.” (Goyeneche)

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It is refreshing to see a label which is fully committed to it’s ethical goals, you could say that Ecoalf is not only in the fashion industry but also in the environmental, ecological and recycling sectors.

Below is a video of the process in which Ecoalf upcycles plastic bottles.



Cotton field photo from all other imagery from





POST A: The Role Context Plays on Indonesian Graffiti

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People have been witting graffiti on walls and in public spaces since the era of the colosseum, and today contemporary graffiti and street art can be found throughout the world, and has played a pivotal role in many social and political revolutions. When trying to understand graffiti or street art context is key, not only in place but also in time. This is relevant when looking at Indonesian graffiti, and its evolution over the past six decades.

Many people associate graffiti as we know it today as part of the New York hip hop scene of the 1970’s however this is only a tiny aspect of graffiti’s history. The act of drawing on walls has been around since prehistoric times. This is evident in Indonesia in Petta Kere cave in the Leang-leang Prehistoric Park in the Sout Sulawesi Province, which is printed with hand prints and an illustration of a boar, that are thought to be from around 5000 BCE.

image from; Panoramio

Modern graffiti has no one source, however it is often linked to the rise of muralismo in Latin America with artist such as Diego Rivera creating political murals in public spaces during the Mexican Revolution. Similarly contemporary Indonesia graffiti has its roots in political activism. Graffiti became an important aspect of Indonesia’s political scene in the 1940’s when Indonesia was still under colonial rule and fighting for independence, when phrases like like “Bung Ajoe Bung” (Come On Man), “Freedom is the glory of any nation. Indonesia for Indonesians” and “Hands off Indonesia!” began appearing in public spaces. Now days graffiti still has political roots. The murals that can be seen around Yogakarta often hold a political message such as the image below, which deals with the complexities of water ownership in Central Java.

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The context of the graffiti changes the meaning of each political piece, for example the piece of social commentary in Chile below would take on a very different meaning in Yogakarta and in Australia, as abortion is still a illegal in both Chile and Indonesia, therefore the best way to spread awareness and information about this taboo issue is through underground means.

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This is in stark contrast to near by city nation state Singapore where graffiti is not only illegal, but includes caning as corporal punishment under the Vandalism Act of 1966. Therefore to see a piece of graffiti one must understand the local context of the piece for its true meaning and value to be understood.


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