Released under the GIC Framework
In the summer of 2010, M•CAM team members Ken Dabkowski and Dr. David Martin ventured to Mongolia to initiate the Heritable Innovation Trust program. The Heritable Innovation Trust Program (H.I.T.) is the first non-property based means to document, protect, and steward indigenous and customary knowledge. Enkhtuya Tsend of the Mongolian National Business Incubator Federation introduced them to the members of two felting co-ops; one in Dalanzadgad (the Gobi Desert) and other in IkhTamir Soum, Arkhangai.
The heritable knowledge and practices at the felting co-ops ranged from the detailed cleaning process of the raw fibers to the lengthy by-hand sewing process to produce items including, but not limited to, ger covers (felted shelters), hats, and jewelry. The trip to the felting co-ops left a lasting impact on the pair which would soon circle back into their lives once they returned home to the United States.
It was last Marchwhen Ken Dabkowski attended the annual Highland County Maple Festival and was fortunate enough to meet Lisa Jacenich, a texturist and multi-media artist from Monterey, Virginia. Lisa operates a retail store, Artful Gifts, LLC (www.artfulgifts.biz), where she sellsher exceedingly impressive fiber collection and this very quickly caught Ken’s attention. Ken and Lisa began talking about his recent experience in Mongolia at the felting co-op. Lisa was elated to hear of Ken's experiences and expressed her life-long dream to one day visit the country of Mongolia. The duo set a date for Ken to visit Lisa's felting studio to observe the felting methodology put into practice. While watching Lisa's machines create beautiful, high-quality felted fabric, Ken was reminded of the manual felting process he observed at the Mongolian felting co-op. During the visit to Lisa's studio, Ken’s friend Nick Rogers made a videoof the mechanical felting process (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8sXhjvVQp3g) which was sent to Enkhtuya and other Mongolian partners.
The video of Lisa's felting operation impressed Enkhtuya so much she immediately began inquiring about how to acquire the technology. Enkhtuya realized that technologies such as this create efficiencies. These efficiencies coupled with the heritable felting knowledge of the Mongolian people, have the capacity to benefit the Mongolian people and stimulate innovation in new directions.
Lisa, Ken, and Enkhtuya have discussed the many ways bringing high-tech felting machines into Mongolia could boost the local and national economy including mass producing higher quality materials such as ger coverings, silk fiber integration for clothing, carbon nano-tubes, organic airfilters, clothing, jewelry as well as providing added employment opportunities to the unemployed; the opportunities are quite boundless.
It is their hope to ship several felting machines to Business Incubator centers throughout Mongolia and to establish several co-op locations where various felted products can be produced, sold and distributed. Lisa recently communicated her philosophy for the project:
“I believe it is very important to maximize the use of the traditional practices of the Mongolian people (knowledge of the fibers, cleaning methods, natural dyes, felting methods) while we innovate with technologies that will be an overall benefit to the desired goal of employment creation and economic development. This project will boost economic development in the United States, as well. The small businesses that created the mechanization to be deployed will benefit also.”
Additional technology combined with centralized distribution at the co-ops could increase access to markets and enhance the economy. Equipping the felters who live in rural areas with felting machines can bring new options, new technology, new knowledge and once rolling, additional income. The benefits of this project are irrefutable. Currently, the trio is diligently working to manifest outcomes and to conclude more details as the project continues to move forward.