Yayasan Sekar Kawung was founded in 2015 – prior to this, it was a multi-year personal effort initiated by Chandra Kirana to explore the possibilities of creating economic prosperity without imposing external negative social and environmental costs. Here’s how it began…
In January 2014, the Indonesian Embassy to Norway invited Chandra Kirana to present her ideas about nature tourism and culture in the Indonesia Booth at the Reiselivsmessen, an international tourism exhibition held annually in Oslo. She raised funds from the Samdhana Institute, and invited INFIS (The Indonesian Nature Film Society) to work on this exhibition, together they named this booth ‘GreenIndonesia.’ The main theme was national parks and non-timber forest products.
In January 2015, Chandra again led the preparation for the Indonesian Embassy booth in the Reiselivsmessen together with INFIS. This time the theme was community based tourism. She raised funds from the RRI (Rights and Resources Initiative) to promote communities who were looking for responsible travel and eco-tourism as a means of building prosperity and protecting their land rights. For 8 months the GreenIndonesia team who was hosted in INFIS worked closely to build the capacity of these communities to deliver eco-culture tours in their own villages, and video stories were created to help them tell their stories. Sawai in Seram Islands, Guguk Village in Jambi Sumatra, Jatiluwih Village the Guardians of Subak, The Woven Road of South Central Timor and East Sumba, and Sungai Utik village in the rainforests of West Kalimantan.
Following the exhibition, throughout 2015 the GreenIndonesia team embarked on creating a social enterprise. Trialing the promotion of green products such as specialty coffee from small-scale farmers and forest honey from various places in Indonesia. At the same time continuing to work very closely with the community in Sungai Utik, and with a group of tenun ikat artisans in Lambanapu East Sumba, named Paluanda Lama Hamu; helping them to develop their community-based tourism and promoting the sale of their woven
Within this year, Chandra founded Sekar Kawung Foundation to embody all the GreenIndonesia activities in. Sekar Kawung's
board consists of Annisa Yuniar, Yanti Dewi Purwanti, Mardi Minangsari, Godeliva Sari, Erlinda Panisales, Bramantyo Prijosusilo and Andre Wijaya. The name, Sekar Kawung, is taken from a traditional pattern of batik, symbolizing the infinite cycle of life, in many other cultures throughout the world this pattern is recognized as the flower of life. Thus Sekar Kawung symbolizes for us a sustainable cycle of life.
Now, Sekar Kawung focuses on creating economic prosperity with communities, by enriching local cultures, while restoring nature, and building economic wealth. We continue to deeply partner with the tenun ikat artisans from Paluanda Lama Hamu, but are also building relationships with a wider circle of weavers throughout East Sumba as well.
We try to convince them that their art and culture can sustain their life if they continue to strive to create traditional textile art pieces of the highest quality and shying away from having to lower the quality of it. For a year and a half, Sekar Kawung set up a field office to work alongside the local communities of Lambanapu, Mauliru and Kadumbul villages in East Sumba, then beginning in 2018 Sekar Kawung started to work remotely from Jakarta. Our consideration is to give some space to the local communities to grow independently.
By working holistically with the local communities, Sekar Kawung aims to contribute to keep sustaining Indonesia’s cultural heritage in Indonesia while also sustaining our resources. We believe once the unity of a strong culture and nature is achieved, it will create an unmeasurable strength.