MINNEAPOLIS (Nov. 10, 2013) — The year 2014 will be the sixtieth anniversary since Laos became independent and 2015 will be the 40th anniversary since the beginning of the Lao Diaspora. Little Laos on the Prairie Editor Chanida Phaengdara Potter wants to document the changes that have taken place in communities not just in Minnesota but across the US, and in select communities around the world.
Phaengdara Potter is turning to crowdfunding and the community to help that effort. She and her colleagues estimate it would take $3,000 to do the initial work to do the travel and prepare the photographs properly. She hopes to develop the project into a traveling exhibit.
Rather than go through Kickstarter or sites like indiegogo, she opted for gofundme.com which has previously been successful for Lao Minnesotans like former Miss Minnesota USA Nitaya Panemalaythong. The campaign is an all-or-nothing campaign, which means that she and her team must raise all $3,000 or they will receive none of the funds pledged so far.
Phaengdara Potter asked “Who are the Lao? Where are the Lao? Lao Americans have been in the US for over 40 years, yet many are still unaware of who we are. Have the Lao fulfilled our American Dream? How about those in Laos today? Post-war, who are the Lao in a fast developing country?”
For three years, she has been organizing fellow Lao Minnesotans to explore the complicated nature of that story. The war for Laos is typically considered to have taken place between 1954 to 1975. It involved many cultures including ethnic Lao, Khmu, Hmong, Tai Dam, and Mien, with over 400,000 living across the United States today. But only a handful of those stories have made it into the archives at institutions such as the Minnesota Historical Society, or mainstream cinema or books.
“The contributions will help us with travel expenses, printing costs, and coordinating a traveling exhibit,” Phaengdara Potter said. “I’ll be starting in Laos in November while local photographers will start in Minnesota and other states to collect the stories of the big and small Lao communities that grace the US.”
The Stories of the Lao Diaspora campaign can be found at http://www.gofundme.com/4sw8jw.