Eco-Warriors Help Revitalize Historic School into New Ford Resource and Engagement Center Bangkok
- Ford Fund announces new Ford Resource and Engagement Center in Bangkok, bringing together nongovernmental organization partners, community leaders and local residents to preview plans for new facility and community outreach
- Lead partner Scholars of Sustenance, a local food rescue nongovernmental organization, will use new center as its headquarters for rescuing up to two tons of excess food a day
- New Ford Resource and Engagement Center will house Nature Inc., Bangkok’s first green nongovernmental organization co-working space, a collaboration between city’s oldest environmental nongovernmental organization – Bird Conservation Society of Thailand – and Love Wildlife Foundation
- Urban Studies Labs, a new community-focused think tank based at the center, will support it in designing programs that help residents in Bangkok’s historic Nang Loeng neighborhood – particularly youth and the elderly – to meet modern-day challenges
BANGKOK, Thailand, Jan. 30, 2019 – Ford Motor Company Fund, the philanthropic arm of Ford Motor Company, today announces plans for its new Ford Resource and Engagement Center Bangkok, which will serve as the new home for some of this city’s most innovative, environmentally conscious nongovernmental organizations.
The Bangkok center is a partnership between Ford Fund and several nongovernmental organization groups, aimed at investing in and bringing new resources to Bangkok’s historic Nang Loeng neighborhood. Ford Fund hosted a kickoff event that brought partners and local residents together to preview the facility and learn more about plans for the new center.
“Our mission at Ford Fund is to strengthen communities and help make people’s lives better, and that’s exactly what our Ford Resource and Engagement Centers are designed to do,” said Mike Schmidt, director, education and global community development, Ford Motor Company Fund. “Around the world, each center provides access to resources and services that reflect the needs and culture of the community. We have excellent partners here in Bangkok, and we look forward to working together to bring new programs and opportunities to the residents in this community.”
Ford Resource and Engagement Centers are an innovation from Ford Motor Company Fund that bring nonprofit partners together in a collaborative environment to support the surrounding community and help make people’s lives better. The newest center complements two that already exist in the United States, both in Detroit, plus one in South Africa that opened in 2017 and one in Craiova, Romania that opened in 2018.
The new Bangkok center is modeled after the original that opened in 2013 in Detroit, which has become an anchor in the vibrant community – assisting more than 125,000 people with food distribution, tax return preparation, education and job initiatives, as well as legal assistance.
“Ford strives to build strong relationships and support communities where we operate, and our newest center will take our outreach in Thailand to a new level,” said Wichit Wongwatthanakan,
managing director, Ford Thailand. “Ford Resource and Engagement Center Bangkok will foster meaningful relationships between Ford and residents of the community, delivering tangible
benefits that will be mutual for everyone involved.”
Actively learning in one of Bangkok’s most historic neighborhoods
Ford Resource and Engagement Center Bangkok is based at Satri Julanak School in the city’s historic Pomprapsattruphai district, one of the oldest neighborhoods in the capital and renowned for its Nang Loeng food market. As development moved to other parts of the city over the last few decades, the neighborhood has experienced significant economic, demographic and social changes. With a new subway station set to open linking it to the rest of Bangkok, more change is on the horizon.
“Ford Resource and Engagement Center Bangkok aspires to be a shared public space and resource for this neighborhood,” said Dr. Pongpisit Huyakorn, a lecturer at Thammasat University who has worked with Ford Fund over the last six months to engage and learn more about the community. “For the project to succeed, we will need to continue to watch, listen, empathize and learn.
“In coming months and years, if we continue to actively listen to the needs of residents, there will be a real opportunity to immerse this Ford Resource and Engagement Center in the community, complementing existing efforts and spearheading new ones,” said Dr. Pongpisit. “I believe Ford Resource and Engagement Center Bangkok and its partners can bring related stakeholders together, equally partner with the locals and co-creatively strengthen Nang Loeng for the future.”
To help ensure the center’s programs are community-driven, a team of both established and young researchers from Thailand’s top universities will set up the Urban Studies Labs there. This interdisciplinary team will work with local partners to research and co-create programs that meet community needs. Urban Studies Labs will run urban classrooms for university students, free lectures and workshops for the public, and project-based research aimed to create positive social impact. The labs will provide knowledge management and academic support for programs through an open-data research center.
Bangkok’s new headquarters for food rescue
Lead partner Scholars of Sustenance will use Ford Resource and Engagement Center Bangkok as headquarters for its food rescue operations and its fleet of five trucks that collect up to two tons of excess food daily from city restaurants, grocery stores and hotels. After inspecting the food for safety, Scholars of Sustenance distributes it to more than 30 orphanages and shelters across Bangkok.
“Scholars of Sustenance has led planning efforts for Ford Resource and Engagement Center Bangkok with Ford Fund for more than a year, so we are pleased to help open the space today,” said Bo Holmgreen, founder and CEO of the group. “In addition to office space, the center will provide us with a new commercial kitchen and washing facilities to help us safely process food donations. The building itself also gives us a chance to showcase other environmentally friendly technologies, like aeroponic urban farming, which we will set up shortly after moving in.”
Ford Fund donated Scholars of Sustenance’s newest truck, a Ford Ranger equipped with a cooling unit to manage food temperatures. This Ranger will join the group’s existing fleet of cooler trucks, which together make approximately 45 stops and travel 500 kilometers a day around greater Bangkok. Scholars of Sustenance manages its fleet manually, with donors and drivers calling in orders and locations. To make food collection smarter and safer – through a grant from Thailand’s National Innovation Agency, as well as support from Ford – Scholars of Sustenance is developing an app to track and manage its fleet more effectively. The app will launch later this year.
Bangkok’s first co-working space for environmental nongovernmental organizations
Bangkok’s oldest environmental nongovernmental organization – Bird Conservation Society of Thailand – and conservation group Love Wildlife Foundation will team up at the new Ford Resource and Engagement Center to create the city’s first nongovernmental organization co- working green space, Nature Inc. Through it, environmentally conscious nongovernmental
organizations can share office space, meeting rooms and IT facilities, freeing up administrative resources to focus on programming.
“Several of the smaller environmental nongovernmental organizations I work with spend most of their time in the field, and although they need an office in the city, they don’t need one full-time,” said Nancy Gibson, executive director, Bird Conservation Society of Thailand and founder, Love Wildlife Foundation. “Nature Inc. not only gives us all a professional office space, it brings us together to address challenges, share advice and brainstorm new ideas.”
Bird Conservation Society of Thailand and Love Wildlife Foundation will be the first two nongovernmental organizations to work out of Nature Inc. Several more partners will come on board over the year, including ThaiWhales, Conservation Diver, Big Trees, and Nature Play and Learn Club. In exchange for using shared office facilities, partners at Nature Inc. will provide workshops and services for the community. In the first year of operation, Nature Inc. partners will work with Scholars of Sustenance to run projects on urban farming and gardening.
Bangkok 1899 arts and cultural programs to complement Ford Resource and Engagement Center
Next door to the center is the new Bangkok 1899, a cultural and civic hub that will open next month, representing an intersection of art, design, urbanism and social innovation. The project, made possible with support from Ford Fund and The Rockefeller Foundation in partnership with Royal Society for the Encouragement of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce, will complement programs at Ford Resource and Engagement Center Bangkok.
Designed by Italian architect Mario Tamagno under King Rama VI, this historic location, originally built in 1899, is the former home of Chao Phraya Thammasakmontri – considered Thailand’s father of modern education. Thammasakamontri was the owner of the school and property now occupied by Ford Resource and Engagement Center Bangkok.
“Bangkok 1899 and the Ford Resource and Engagement Center are unified in the belief that the cultivation of individual and collective creativity is crucial to develop a civil society capable of meeting today’s local and global challenges,” said Susannah Tantemsapya, founder and executive director of Creative Migration, a nonprofit arts organization that runs Bangkok 1899. “With the two spaces now open, our goal is to be one of Bangkok’s most vital destinations. We will bring together citizens, artists, innovators, entrepreneurs and thinkers to co-create an authentically Thai response to the challenges of the 21st century.”
Bangkok 1899 programming features an international artist residency, a public events series, open spaces including a public garden and an aero-waste, social-impact cafe, models for sustainability that incorporate different types of environmental technologies along with a small urban farm, RSA fellowship development, and a flagship event – an annual gathering on social innovation, art and design.
Bangkok 1899’s first artist-in-residence is Shayne P. Carter, a musician hailing from Dunedin, New Zealand, who is collaborating with sound artist Arnont Nongyao and Morlam musician Piyanart “Pump” Jotikasthira. Bangkok 1899 will open in early February with a night of musical performances from Carter and fellow artists.
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About Ford Motor Company Fund
Ford Motor Company Fund is the philanthropic arm of Ford Motor Company. Ford Fund invests in transformational programs that advance innovation, empower people, promote social mobility and improve community prosperity. Ford Fund works with local and global partners to create opportunities in education, encourage safe driving, enlist employee volunteers and enrich community life. For more information, visit http://community.ford.com , or join us on Facebook @FordFund and Twitter @FordFund.
About Ford Motor Company
Ford Motor Company is a global company based in Dearborn, Michigan. The company designs, manufactures, markets and services a full line of Ford cars, trucks, SUVs, electrified vehicles and Lincoln luxury vehicles, provides financial services through Ford Motor Credit Company and is pursuing leadership positions in electrification, autonomous vehicles and mobility solutions. Ford employs approximately 199,000 people worldwide. For more information regarding Ford, its products and Ford Motor Credit Company, please visit www.corporate.ford.com.
Ford Thailand manages the production, distribution, sales and servicing of Ford brand vehicles through its local market headquarters in Bangkok, and a nationwide network of 155 authorized Ford dealerships. Ford employs more than 10,000 people in Thailand between its corporate offices and two manufacturing facilities – its wholly-owned Ford Thailand Manufacturing and Auto-Alliance Thailand joint-venture. Supported by the Ford Fund, the Company has trained more than 12,000 licensed drivers in Thailand through its flagship Driving Skills for Life campaign, which equips new drivers with hands-on training to drive more safely. Ford employees volunteer for a number of initiatives each year to deliver tangible benefits to local communities in Thailand, including building new homes with Habitat for Humanity for underprivileged families, and renovating schools near its manufacturing facility in Rayong. For more information, visit www.ford.co.th .