Category Archives: Photojournalism

Life at Zaytuna – PDC Students Given Design Brief


Yasaman surveys with the laser level
Photos © Craig Mackintosh

We’re halfway through our latest Permaculture Design Certificate (PDC) course, and the students appear to be learning a lot as well as having a lot of fun along the way.

Today their knowledge store was tested and stretched, by way of having their minds applied to making their own site design in a real-life consultation situation! For the rest of the course, along with continuing classes, the students will spend some of their time working together in groups on a design that will be presented to the landowner at the end of the week.

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Also posted in Design, Permaculture

Letters from Vietnam: The Hmong People – Reclaiming Lost Skills


The Future of the Hmong People
Photos: Craig Mackintosh

It took a few moments for my eyes to adapt to the light. There was a single, clear incandescent bulb hanging just millimetres above my head – hanging from somewhere high in the blackness of the ceiling, from a cable so weathered it looked more like a vine than an electrical cord. But it wasn’t turned on. After all, it was daytime. Below my muddied boots was the hard, earth floor; cool to the touch, with just a hint of dampness. The lady of the house swept dirt outside, which, while necessary, almost seemed nonsensical, since the floor was dirt. The walls were thick, and windowless – also made with packed earth. And unlike most other minority tribes in Vietnam, who normally build their houses on poles, this one was built directly onto the ground.

This home was about as ‘earthy’ as they get.

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Also posted in Consumerism, Education, Geopolitics & Economics, Society

Letters from Vietnam – Hanoi, or Venice?


Downtown Hanoi – on a Bad Day
Photos: Craig Mackintosh

I wasn’t supposed to be writing about this. Actually, I’m not even supposed to be here.

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Also posted in Global Warming, Pollution, Water

Letters from Vietnam – Ke Village

The trip to meet the Ma Lieng people at Ke Village, Vietnam, was a bit like a chapter out of a Brothers Grimm fairy tale. For starters, to reach the village I had to get ferried across a chocolate river in something resembling a dugout canoe. And, when I got there, I was met with a tribe of villagers who were almost supernaturally tiny.

The river’s chocolate hue was due to heavy rains flushing the nation’s soil to the sea – also making the river abnormally swollen and swift. Carrying expensive camera equipment in a very suspect-looking vessel, with a freeboard of only a few inches, was disconcerting to say the least – every person’s slightest movement rang alarm bells, and I had to work hard not to overcompensate in our bid to keep the canoe upright.

We made it to the other side, though, our gear dry, albeit with our nerves a little jangled.


Entryway to the Ke Village, home to the Ma Lieng people

So, whew, welcome to the Ke Village. This visit was in stark contrast to our trip to see the Black Thai, at Na Sai, only a few days earlier, as you shall see.

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Letters from Vietnam – The Road to Na Sai

We catch a rare glimpse of an ancient and beautiful culture – the Black Thai people – and applaud the work of a modern day NGO who is working to help improve the lives of these noble people whilst retaining their unique identity – just as a new road threatens their natural, low-carbon existence.


Black Thai Villager in Rice Fields, Na Sai Village, Vietnam
Photos: Craig Mackintosh

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Also posted in Diversity, Education, Geopolitics & Economics, Society

Letters from Vietnam – Arriving to HEPA


Hanoi, Vietnam
Photos: Craig Mackintosh

Greetings from Vietnam. I landed here five days ago – aiming to continue to help develop the work of SPERI (Social Policy Ecology Research Institute), a Vietnamese NGO and sister organisation to PRI.

I am staying at HEPA (Human Ecology Preservation Area) – a fantastic SPERI/PRI project that brings people from all over Vietnam (particularly indigenous ethnic minority farmers) to train them in permaculture systems, so they can go back to demonstrate and share the knowledge with their communities, thus making their traditional efforts to sustain themselves even more efficient and productive.

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Also posted in Education, Permaculture