Building A Weaving Center: Amplifying Threads of Change

Hello from Khon Kaen! We are two passionate Development and Globalization CIEE study abroad students who have been inspired by the weaving collective in Na Nong Bong. Meeting them, along with many dedicated human rights activists throughout our semester, emboldened us to take action and tap into our networks at home. We decided to kick start a social fundraiser to materialize their vision of a community weaving center. The center will house the looms for radical weavers from Na Nong Bong and other surrounding villages.

During one of our many visits to the community, we spent an afternoon munching on honey drizzled rice crackers that Yai Wat fed us.  As we snacked, we watched Yai Wat carefully weave a royal blue scarf.  Her 78 year-old hands were worn from loom-work, but her inner strength radiated as she talked about how she weaved for hours every day to help her family. She swelled with pride while explaining that this was her signature pattern. As we spent time with other weavers we learned about their style preferences as well. The joy and creativity of these weavers are ever-growing, and the construction of this weaving center will only increase their pride and activism.

Mae Rote, our host mom and badass changemaker, created a comprehensive budget and building plan to get this off the ground. Na Nong Bong villagers have devoted countless hours and resources to fighting the mine; they need additional financial assistance to support their families while continuing to resist the industry. This weaving center will help the grandmas sustain their livelihoods and activism. The grandmas aspire to have a physical space to share their story with others and to weave threads of social change as a collective.

Building this structure is projected to cost $7,000. The goals of the weaving center are to:

  1. Improve weaving productivity, which will help the grandmas generate a steady source of income so they can spend more time using their talents for community activism. One scarf takes 6 hours to make, but its earnings cover 2 days of living expenses for a Na Nong Bong weaver. That frees up a lot of time for organizing!

  2. Provide a space where the grandmas can weave together and maintain equipment. Weaving is more fun when you can talk with your friends! Currently each grandma stores her loom at her house, and consequently each grandma must weave alone. Having a communal place where the grandmas can weave as a collective will strengthen the social capital within the village.

  3. Create a space dedicated to the women, where they can meet and organize together. The success of Na Nong Bong’s social movement thus far can be attributed to the close-knit networks in the community. The best organizing and brainstorming is done over shared sticky rice on a friend’s porch, with friends and family continuously stopping by to join in on the conversation. Communal spaces are key, and this space will enable the grandmas to weave together, chat together, and increase the engagement in the struggle against the mine.

We are thrilled by this opportunity to engage people from our home communities in rural social movements in Northeast Thailand. From $10.00 donations from college students to the incredible generosity from extended family members all over the world, we have seen a range in contributors for the Rad Gram weaving center! Even those who can’t donate are spreading the story of the radical grandmas passionately.

Thank you to all our supporters so far - we have been blown away! In only 9 days we have reached $4,920 with 94 contributors. Share, donate, and be a part of this international social fundraiser!



Molly studies International Development and Social Change at Clark University and Praveena studies Public Health at Tulane University. Both are finishing their semester abroad on the CIEE Khon Kaen Development and Globalization program.