Friday, June 29, 2007

what andrew says

many friends and supporters have warmed up to the idea of planet why and sent many valuable comments and suggestions. I have decided to post these here so that others can react to and help us get closer to our dream.
all these will be simply labelled: what friends say


I've been wanting to write to you, but was waiting until things settled down (do things ever settle down for you?). I'm very excited about Planet Why and hope that I can be helpful in some way. I'm full of ideas about what makes a good guesthouse (and what to avoid) and I'm gathering people here to volunteer time and ideas (architects, engineers, sustainability enthusiasts). I've also been looking around for some funding ideas and found that the Lonely Planet (travel guide publishers) now gives 5% of their profits to support sustainable tourism. Since they must make a fortune from the India Guidebook alone, it seems a good place to start.

Since I haven't heard more abount the wire transfer, I'm assuming the money arrived in your account. Let me know if it didn't and I'll resend it. I'd also like to give some seed money for Planet Why (maybe as a matching fund to help encourage other donors) and may be able to gather up some money to help with the rent on the apartment. Let me talk to my friends and see what we can do.

As things move forward on Planet Why I'd love to come and visit to help in person, if that would be alright. At this point, however, I think I can be of more use here making money and talking to people about the project. It's probably too early to ask, but do you have a timeline for Planet Why? Do you have a design of any sort? When you get to that point I know of some good on-line resources for sustainable architecture and design. A good friend of mine is in a Design/build program with an architect who has worked in India before and we're hoping to enlist some of his knowledge as well (and perhaps some funding, if possible).

When it comes to individual donations, I think it may be useful to split the costs up into very specific portions to make donating more exciting to people with different interests. I know people, for instance, who would donate to plant trees because they are concerned for the environment, but others would rather donate for art classes for the kids, or to build the kitchen, or for a library, etc. When you have a better idea of costs I will start talking to people and trying to raise money.

Thanks so much for the frequent updates on Nicola. I'm so glad to hear she's well (and honoured to be in her prayers). Please tell her that nothing has brought me more joy recently than the chance you both have given me to help.

I like the idea of a shop selling crafts,etc. at Planet Why. We could also sell travel essentials (mosquito nets, water purifiers, first aid kits, torches, etc) using the BOGO (Buy One, Give One) model: instead of making much profit off of each item, the items would be sold at just over twice the price we pay and for each item purchased in the shop another item would be used either at Planet Why or by someone in need in the Community. A great example of this on a larger scale is Bogolight (

Another idea is to set up a community emergency grant fund (perhaps even with the loose change guests donate before heading to the airport to go home, though I'm not sure how much that could accumulate). I think it would be another great way for the larger community to benefit from the presence of the guesthouse, and for guests to feel connected to the community.

For me what makes a real difference in travel in India is that I have a way to get beyond being a "tourist" by being able to stay with my friends Eileen and Sanjay. Their home was a refuge and wherever I was in India I knew I had people who would help me were I to need them. That was a good feeling. Not everybody, however, can have that. If Planet Why can provide that same feeling for just a small number of visitors to India it would do a great service, not only to Project Why, but to the guests as well.

Please if there is any task I can perform from this distance, no matter how small, I would love to help. In the meantime I'll be sending you warm regards and good wishes.

Thank you,


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