The words Raks Mae Ping mean to love the Ping River, which is exactly what the environment cleanup project intends to achieve in Chiang Mai. Sakda Darawan, the president of the Raks Mae Ping Project, is trying to bring awareness to the public, with hopes of having the locals take initiative in protecting and preserving their environment, and in turn, the city’s identity.
This public relations project addresses the complaints of the local residents of Chiang Mai on the lack of cleanliness of the Ping River. Sakda describes the project as being unique, stating that, “This is an awareness program, so we introduce the project as a brand. Unlike the other projects done by the local people here, they don’t know about branding, and the power of branding. By this logo, we will stimulate; we will encourage people”.
Through the use of social media, such as their Facebook page, the Raks Mae Ping Project is creating awareness and increasing support for their cause. Sakda discussed an incident that truly demonstrates the power of the media for the project. A large group of motor bikers planned to ride up to an environmentally unstable area in the countryside, and within six hours Sakda was able to notify the Raks Mae Ping Project’s Facebook followers, spreading the information and eventually stopping the activity that would have been dangerous to the environment. By creating awareness, the Raks Mae Ping Project was able to stop the potential disturbance to the villages and nature.
Sakda hopes that the project’s alliances with Gracia Water and Double A Paper will result in an increase in public awareness of the project. Sakda described his future plans to work with the provincial authorities of the Chiang Mai province on the project. “After this we will get cooperation more and more from the people, because we are preparing a plan so that the public and government can join in together,” he says. “The government needs us. Normally, when the government and authorities do something it looks very official, so there is a gap between the authorities and the people. So, we are in between, we will be the intermediary, to help the people understand what the government thinks of the policies, and at the same time, to bridge the gap between the authorities and the public”.
Although Sakda has noticed that when things are serious, people in the social media tend to shy away, he wants people to understand that now is the time to be proactive and preserve the environment for our future, and the future of our children. By creating projects, such as a song and music video in association with Maejo University, the organization is creating awareness across many generations, specifically targeting the secondary school students, who will be most affected by future environmental damages.
Sakda is confident that the project will succeed with the help of the Chiang Mai community, but first he must make the people aware of the situation involving pollution, littering, construction, and mistreatment of the river and surrounding environment. As Sakda says, “People know how to dress up themselves, but they don’t know how to dress up their city”, so it is his mission to assist them through the Raks Mae Ping Project.
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