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Bangkok canal community turns to art for survival

Exhibits along Bangmod waterways drive environmental repair, cultural renaissance

A mural of painted tiles created with community help (Photo by John Krich)

BANGKOK -- It is not a museum or gallery, but the banks of Bangmod Canal may have become Thailand's premier experimental showcase for the impact of art on real life.

"At the start, we wanted to save the canal from pollution and development, and create bicycle paths," said Kanjanee Budthimedee, a chair of the Graduate Program in Design and Planning at King Mongut's University of Technology Thonburi. She helped begin the 3C Project -- cycling, canal and community -- in Bangmod, a surprisingly bucolic and mostly Muslim area on the city's southwestern fringe. "But in thinking of beautification, it turned out that art could be a tool -- not so much in changing people but in getting them to value and have confidence in themselves and their own neighborhood."

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