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Spring official ICT Sponsor for Malaysia's Bario Food Festival

The Southwold-based advertising agency Spring, which focuses strongly on eco-production through its Spring Greens service, has become sole ICT Sponsor for the 2008 Bario Food Festival in Malaysia's Kelabit Highlands, whose UK organiser is Suffolk's well known farmer and artist, Jason Gathorne-Hardy.

Spring's membership of the Spinnaker alliance has opened up the agency's own internet capabilities and many of their clients - particularly those with emerging or rural businesses - find the web to be a lifeline for their product sales or services.

This understanding, combined with Spring's dedication to the preservation and encouragement of sustainable community, means that the agency's sponsorship was a natural fit.

The funding Spring has provided will pay for staff from the Malaysian Highlands' own solar-powered ICT centre, eBario, to keep the festival's website updated, create a small marketing programme for the 2008 activities and organise and administrate the festival itself. Spring intends to bring more than financial help, and has already contributed consultancy about creating an on line resource for its numerous fans and supporters across the globe.

The Bario Food Festival was founded three years ago to help ensure that the Kelabit tribe which inhabits the region can sustain a viable community within this fertile area of forest, 3280 feet above sea level; as well as to communicate Bario's natural advantages to the world.

As people across the world become increasingly aware of the importance of safeguarding the environment by cutting back on reckless consumerism, communities like that of the Kelabit and traditional Suffolk are coming back into thir own. Businesses that embrace this, both in their work and their behaviour, are likely to find the process of change rewarding rather than inhibiting.

Due to migration, it is now thought that only 1,200 of the original Kelabit population of 5,000 still live in the highlands in their traditional longhouses. Despite this the area - which is cut off from the world by a geographical barrier - has embraced modernity, with community facilities such as shops and schools, an airport and of course the eBario centre itself.

Despite Spring's distance of 7,000 miles from Bario, Managing Director Erika Clegg saw the sense in the agency's sponsorship the minute it was proposed to her by Jason Gathorne-Hardy.

"Spring's five point ethical code, which guides our actions, has as its second point: 'Spring believes in supporting sustainable community within our home town of Southwold and other communities we encounter.' It was quite clear that the Food Festival sets out to do exactly that.

"Our own work with food and farming in the UK has shown us the importance of food production and marketing within the community - as can been seen through Jason's work in his own Alde Valley, Suffolk.

"We are proud to support this activity, strategically as well as financially, and are excited about its growth in 2008."

Further details about the Festival can be found on www.foodadventures.co.uk and due to significant interest from the US and UK press, there is expected to be an ongoing hum of information from early 2008.

Article by Spring

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