To establish a successful design our team must consider Tibetan lifestyle to keep in mind to design a system that can be easily integrated by the Tibetans.
Jobs/Sources of Income
There are three main occupations in the villages: farming, construction, or small businesses. All villagers typically get up around 6 am.
Farming families get up to take care of the animals. They must milk the cows and let the cows out to the pasture. In the evening they put back the livestock and milk the animals once more. During the day, they tend to their crops, which commonly include barley, wheat, potatoes, and beansprouts. Fertilizer can be used on the crops so runoff into the water is an issue our team must consider.
Both construction and small business work requires travel. Only villagers with cars have these occupations since these opportunities are only available in nearby cities in the township. Working in construction here is equivalent to working in residential / commercial construction in the U.S. Villagers who commute to construction jobs generally work on building new buildings or houses.
Small businesses owned by villagers include various trades: bike shops, convenience stores, fabric stores, and selling fungus (yartsa gunbu) are a few among others. However, most villagers are depending on selling the fungus yartsa gunbu that has struck Tibet as a mini gold rush. It’s phenomenon can be read here, but basically this fungus can only be found in the fertile, high-alpine meadows of the Tibetan Plateau and the Himalaya, and its medicinal effects along with its scarcity value the fungus at twice its weight in gold. Below is a picture of the fungus.
Materials and supplies are obtained from the nearest city, Chengdu, which is an 8 hour drive from Sihurong. The villagers’ main export is agricultural subsistence.
Demographics & Gender Roles
Age and gender are diverse. There are about the same amount of men as there are women. Having said that, certain jobs are differentiated between male and female. Men usually trade and travel. They would be the small business owner or construction worker if the family were to have such occupations. Women usually make butter and dairy products. As for everything else, though, gender roles do not apply. For example, both men and women collect water for the family.
The number of people within one household tend to be pretty big. Families have an average of 3-4 kids, and three generations of a family typically live under one roof.
Typical homes are made up of clay and brick and consist of two stories. The bottom floor is for livestock and animals while the second floor is for family use.
The second floor consists of a kitchen and a few bedrooms, depending on the size of the house. The kitchen doubles as a family room because the stove brings people together. Since most homes don’t have electricity (if they do, it’s very unreliable) homes can reach below freezing temperatures during the winter, which is why the stove is central to families. However, ventilation is really poor and the kitchen is often filled with smoke from cooking. There is also little storage next to the furnace, a fact that our team must consider if our storage system needs to be near heat to prevent freezing.