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Community Organizing 2:
Chiangmai Learning Journey

20-24 January 2023


Chiangmai, Northern Thailand


Marginalized Communities are groups of people physically living at the edge of the mainstream society, especially forest dwellers of different ethnicities. Like most rural communities they have not only been exploited and oppressed but also facing the problems of cultural integrity. As cultural minorities, they are at risk of losing their languages as well as other cultural values and practices, on top of being blamed for forest destruction and therefore pressured to leave their homeland, which has been closely linked to the forest for hundreds of years. 


There are a number of communities that have been standing up to these pressures, demonstrating a sustainable way of living with and within the forest, keeping their cultural integrity intact. During the learning journey will visit these communities and examples of good practice firsthand as well as meet and discuss different aspects of these issues with experts who are acquainted with these cases. At the end of the journey, participants will learn about topics such as indigenous cultural renewal, community forests, saving groups and many more, acquiring both critical understanding of practical methods of organizing community as well as inspiration. 


Prayong Doklumyai has spent the past 20 years working in grassroots community development in northern Thailand on a range of issues faced by rural farmers. He has worked with ethnic minorities, threatened by the lack of citizenship and forced relocation and campaigned with rural communities impacted by adverse government projects, including dams, mines, and power plants. Prior to his work on the community land title, Prayong co-founded the Northern Farmers Association to represent the interests of small-scale farmers and ethnic minorities in land use conflicts. He assembled the first nationwide coalition of farmers with land tenure insecurity. Formerly divided by ethnic or economic factors, these farmers are together proving to policymakers that land redistribution is not only necessary, but also viable, in the form of communal land ownership or “community land title.” As a highly regarded grassroots policy advocate, Prayong was elected as Secretary General of the Northern NGO Coordinating Committee for Development in 2004.


Chatchawan Thongdeelert is a well-known social activist in Thailand, Chatchawan Thongdeelerd is uniting professionals from various sectors to design and implement solutions to pressing social problems. He has worked in the civic movement for the past twenty-five years and has founded prominent civil society organizations, including the Northern Social Development Workers' Network and NGO-COD, a national coordinating body of regional civil society networks. He has gained widespread recognition for his work, including an Ashoka Citizen Base Initiative award for enlisting support from artists and writers for the Community Loves the Forest group. Chatchawan is a prolific writer and speaker in Chiang Mai, where he lives, and across the country.


To experience, learn about/ from and be inspired by diverse stories and examples of successful organization of marginalized communities in the Chiangmai area


Participants will:

  1. join a learning journey to different villages - case studies of marginalized communities – in the Chiangmai area and have a chance to talk to experts working in this field 

  2. become acquainted with issues and problems facing marginalized communities in Northern Thailand and beyond

  3. critically comprehend and analyze underlying structural causes of the issues facing marginalized communities

  4. become exposed to skills and different practices involved in organizing marginalized communities

Recommended Reading

  • Fuller, T. (2013, November 27). Protesters Take Drive to Oust Government Beyond Bangkok. The New York Times.

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  • Boon-Long, Y. (2012, July 12). Prayong Doklumyai went up to a high podium in the Town Hall. Yanyong Boon-Long.

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