My explorative journey began in Almora on the southern ridge of Kumaon Hills of the Himalayan Range. As the cultural capital of the region, the town is popular for its cultural heritage and unique handicrafts. What was once home to hundreds of deodar trees is today, in the name of development, overrun by malls, theatres, hotels and the like. Like the rest of the planet, this region is facing first hand the repercussions of climate change. Frequent forest fires, erratic weather patterns, increasing temperatures and depleting natural resources have adversely affected not only the biodiversity but also the very survival of the natives. Not being able to pursue their original livelihood, Almora and the villages around it have seen their population migrating to bigger cities in search of work - leaving behind a string of ghost villages.
Peoli's founders, Abhinav Dhoundiyal and Vasanthi Veluri, embarked on the design studio's journey with the thought of preserving the indigenous craft of Uttrakhand while keeping their impact on the environment to a minimum and giving the people of Almora and neighbouring villages an alternate livelihood - and ultimately, a reason to stay. They grew ‘Peoli’ as a social enterprise in a town that is a far cry from modern cities with ‘modern conveniences’.