Ms Rika Koreeda has just sent me the photos of the sun bear tote bag sale event at Sunshine NOHO, New York on November 18.
This event was a truly inspiring story of how can you help sun bear and help BSBCC by doing what you do best. Ms. Rika and her company, Spoon + Folk, a New York based boutique, designed the sun bear tote bag to help us fund raising and raise awareness for sun bear. These photos were from the one day’s “Save the sun bear” tote bag sale in her office.
Thank you Rika and your team to make this event possible. It is no doubt a wonderful event that I for sure feel very touched with the efforts and the time spent by everyone who made this event possible. Although Rika thought that the number of tote bags sold on that day was not great, I still think this was a great event regardless of the sale.
Let the photos speak for themselves. I think the event was so nicely done and will marked history for BSBCC and for sun bear conservation. What do you think?
A huge THANK YOU Rika and your team to make this event possible.
Domo arigado gozaimashita!
Text and Photos by Billy Dunn
When Ian asked me to write a piece for the blog about my first experiences living and working in Sabah, Borneo, I initially thought of the obvious cultural differences; food, drink, climate, wildlife etc. These of course are all very interesting and important…
…but in order to give my own unique view so far on Sabah that would provide something a bit light-hearted to think about, I have decided to write about a topic I experience everyday…builders.
It is interesting to make you aware that this is in fact my first experience of working on a building site. During my working year out from studying Architecture back in the UK I never left the office so my first encounter with working alongside builders has occurred here in Sepilok! Whether this is a good or bad introduction to the daily life of a construction site remains to be seen!
To paint the picture I’m going to compare the general rules and stereotypical habits of builders in the UK to the builders here, who in fact originate from the Philippines.
Imagine this process in Britain; The builders are arranging the reinforcement bars and formwork for the concrete roof tie beams. They would have big, sturdy, steel toe caps boots on, wearing helmets and high visibility vests and standing on a carefully erected scaffolding platform, probably attached to a harness. They would be wearing gloves and would overall be secure in the job they were participating in.
Now imagine this in Sabah; The builder’s protection on their feet (if any) is flip flops. I haven’t actually seen a helmet since I have been here. The only thing they wear on their heads are large sombreros. The scaffolding platform they are clambering up and balancing on top of is swaying with every swing of the hammer they take. The closest thing to a safety harness they have seems to be a cigarette in their mouth as no-one would dare be up there without one. It also seems to help them balance. So imagine a builder two storeys up; he is swinging away at the nails whilst puffing away on his fag and carefully balancing in his flip flops which are almost falling off his feet, all whilst on top of the jelly scaffolding!
So this was my first impression of construction. I initially watched every move with horror waiting for something to go wrong but I have now become fascinated with the way they work.
On a typical British building site there are heavy rules about no children allowed on site. Here, there are not only children on site, but they are actually the builder’s daughters! One of the girls, who can’t be any older than 5, quite freely walks around the nails and bits of stray material, barefoot, beneath the scaffolding. If she gets a little bored she’ll pick up a hammer and start nailing something, all in the proud eye of her father!
In Britain, the use of heavy machinery is a serious responsibility. In Sepilok, on a Sunday afternoon with the family watching and in between using the bucket for distributing concrete to be poured for the tie beams, the excavator becomes a serious piece of fun. The two guys, rather than climb back down the wobbly scaffolding, calmly jump into the bucket and hold on tightly to be dropped and raised spectacularly like a rollercoaster. The driver has his headphones in listening to music by the way, but the smiles on their faces was worth all the safety issues of course.
Welding should be approached using a protective mask as exposure to the glare can damage the eyes. Here, I’m still scratching my eyes in amazement (no pun…) wondering if any welders here can see. One particular welder must enjoy the overall itchy, irritable blind sensation as he sits wearing sun glasses with his face a foot away from the new bear cages being welded.
At home, if we get a spell of bright weather, the typical builder loses his top to expose his pasty white belly and “builders crack.” The radio from the van is blaring out and the Sun Newspaper is being thrown around. All of this is in fact the opposite here. With the constant hot conditions, a majority of the builders like to cover up completely from the sun. This involves long tight sleeves, long skinny jeans and usually a t shirt wrapped around his head with a pair of sunglasses, all in 35 degrees of heat. There are no radios required as the Philippine guys enjoy singing their hearts out whilst on site; we’ve had everything from Janet Jackson to the Beatles.
From all these comparisons there are two characteristics British and Malaysian builders have in common.
The first involves females. It is in fact in the small print of builders’ rights that at any stage should a member of the opposite sex come into sight, then all work can pause. During the construction of the Biogas Digester on site, we had eight female volunteers from Camps International. Before the girls could pick up a brick I realised that the eyes of three sets of builders were directed at them; the guys working directly next to us, a group near the gate working on the new orang-utan nursery and another at the top of the hill. All tools were laid down, wheelbarrows dumped and engines switched off to admire the girls! Unlike the British way of approaching girls, there were no wolf-whistling or sexist comments but simply a calm stare!
The second is to enjoy riding in vans. Any opportunity to hop in the van to go somewhere is gladly received. Here you have the added bonus that more can fit on the back of the truck with one hand holding onto the roof and the other waving goodbye to the girls. The dashboard of your van must also be filled with old newspapers, used drinks cartons and any invoices that were supposed to be given.
Above all I would like to stress that working with the local builders is a pleasure. They always have a smile on their face, will always greet you and say goodbye and will share any English they know with you. Through all the tricky conditions they face, they get on with their work to a high level and all for a very minimal wage. They also gladly get involved with helping the sun bear volunteers when they can see we’re struggling and are happy to share their knowledge and tools.
I will write a sequel to this blog one day once I have experienced all this through the British builder’s perspective!
* Billy Dunn is the assistant of our architect Ian Hall from UK
Great News! You can order the Sun bear Tote bag by email!
he creator of Save the Sun Bear Tote bag, Ms Rika Koreeda, agrees to take purchase order of the sun bear tote bag. Each tote bag is $15 + sale tax and shipping fee.
If you would like to purchase one, please email Rika at firstname.lastname@example.org with your order information and the shipping address. She will contact you with the total amount due once she shipped out the bag. You then send her a check with the correct amount.
Rika is doing this voluntarily to help save sun bear and help us fund raising. All proceed of the bag will be donate to Bornean Sun Bear Conservation Centre in Sabah to help sun bear. Please remember to thank her for doing so when you email her!
During the fund raising event in New York last summer, Caroline in the audience asked me how could anyone do to help sun bear. “Anyone can help sun bear with whatever they do best.” I replied. “if you are rich, you can donate fund to us; if you are a writer, please write about sun bear and our work; if you are a film maker, please make a film about sun bear and tell the world about their story and their plights; if you are a student or biologist, please study sun bear; if you have spare time, you can be a volunteer to help us; if you are an artist, you can create artwork on sun bear…” and the list go on.
Rika Koreeda was among in the audience who intrigued by this statement. Her company, Spoon+Fork, a New York City based boutique creative agency, is dedicated to feeding those hungry for fresh insight alongside a healthy portion of delicious growth-driven design. Spoon+Fork offers the arts, advertising, consumer brand and non-profit worlds a complete range of creative services, among others. Rika, like many other people who has help us promote sun bear conservation awareness and raise fund, started to take actions. Rika make bags! Rika and her team have collaborated with textile designer Wakane Koike of MEW New York and have designed an exclusivethe and the FRIST bag in the world to help save sun bear-The Save the Sun Bear Tote bag with the Save Sun Bears message. All proceeds of the sale of this cute tote bag will go directly to the Bornean Sun Bear Conservation Centre.
If you have happen to be a New Yorker, please stop by Factoriem Boutique,Destination, or TuTu to pick up a bag of your own.
179 orchard street(bet houston st & stanton st), New York, NY10002Destination, NY
32-36 Little West 12th Street, 1st Floor New York, NY 10014
tel: 212. 727.2031 / fax: 212. 727.7030
email: email@example.com www.destinationny.net
TuTu 55 Spring Street, New York, NY 10012
(between Lafayette & Mulbery street)
Tel :212-219-9548 Fax : 212-219-1474
In addition, Spoon + Fork is going to have Tote bag sale at their office building on Nov 18th. (50 small business tenant is in the building.) at Spoon+Fork, Inc. 419 LAFAYETTE STREET, 2ND FLOOR, NEW YORK, NEW YORK 10003 USA.
Thank you Rika, Wakane and everyone who make this sale and the tote bag project possible. I see hope to save this little know bear every time I look at this bag!