30 June, 2009

My dear friend just doesn’t get it…

Recently, a good friend of mine wrote that she is “amazed by all the stuff you do outside work”. This reaction, to be honest, sort of miffed me, since I consider all that I do, except for writing blogs and creating collages, work. Then I thought about her comment for a while and came up with this:

all the stuff I do outside work – monetary compensation – filling out lots and lots of forms – dealing with the Difficult Colleague – having to attend numerous weekly meetings that are often just a whole waste a lot of time – the really fruitful discussions I have with my Favourite Colleagues – the wonderful technology to be found in my office = Work

So, if you consider that “all the stuff I do outside work” is shared with some amazing people at different corners of the world and the work can be done just as well without the wonderful technology that is found in my office, it is not only Work, but work with perks because those negative aspects of my job fall by the wayside. Except for the fact that I am not being paid to do the work, it is a cushy job.

28 June, 2009

Eyes - Postcards II



Walking through your farm, thirsty, you duck behind the shadows of a grapefruit tree. With studied precision, you lob your arm upwards and then gently tap a grapefruit at its navel with the blade of your machete. The fruit plops down into your awaiting hand. Gracefully, you untwine the rind into one yellow ribbon. Slicing through the fruit, its juices trip between your fingers.

We share the sweet sunshine taste, and wonder why grapefruits are so sour elsewhere, away from the farm, from Grenada, and from the sourcing silence of this hot afternoon. Finished, we wipe our hands on our trousers and continue on our way.

27 June, 2009

Eyes - Postcards I


the tender spring leaves
of my garden hedge
cradle the skeleton of a
lone bird dying in winter

26 June, 2009

Stay Tuned

Oh, good, just got an idea for another collage series called "Eyes". It will, if all goes well, be a series of postcards with individual poems or memories. Somewhat like the "Postcards to Past Lives" series I did a while back.

Here is an example of what the results were. Here is a slideshow of the results.

25 June, 2009

Two Sides of a Mirror

While making a summer collage this morning, I came up with two versions of the same motif that I equally liked.



What about you?

24 June, 2009

Small Blessing

These last weeks have been weeks of end of school year madness. Everyone writing exams, creating presentations, as have been my husband and I been doing for various projects at work. It is crazy, Germany goes summer mad and nothing, absolutely nothing, happens between the beginning of July and the beginning of September. Everyone tries to make all the important appointments in June. I've never quite understood how this economy works with such an extended vacation, but it does.

Isn't it a civilized world where employees offers their workers six weeks of paid vacation a year, universal medical insurance, free or minimal tuition (200-400 USD per semester) university education, and full unemployment insurance after working one full year? Looking at many of my friends' precarious situations in this present economic crisis (USA, New Zealand, Canada, England), and knowing that my current work contract runs out at the end of this year, I am glad to be living here. That is not to say that I do not worry, but I know I will have time to avoid any demise.

19 June, 2009


Worth a definite look!

17 June, 2009

The Wonders Of The Internet (3/3)

The last of this series concerns a skype conversation I have with Millicent in Nairobi. During our talk, Millicent tells me about reading a newspaper article about how Carbon Manna Unlimited is compensating Kenyans for reforesting their land by planting trees.

After some investigation, I still am not able to find any information about receiving monetary compensation for replanting trees, though this is probably true, but just hasn’t come up in my search. There is though a series of articles pointing out their program that allows people in Kenya,

“to claim by mobile phone on a bi-weekly basis the carbon offsets they produce by converting to more efficient cooking methods such as a modern charcoal stove or solar cooker, instead of an inefficient 3-stone fire burning biomass. As a result, each family becomes a micro-profit center and is able to monetize directly its own contribution to mitigating global climate change, while also slowing regional deforestation and desertification”

I am not so sure how successful the mass introduction of solar cookers and the modern charcoal stoves will be, since they are still quite expensive items to purchase. Which brings me back to smoke-free briquettes created out of bio-waste…. Don’t you think that Carbon Manna Unlimited might have an interest supporting (funding) the manufacturing of corn cob crushers and the use of smoke-free briquettes?

So, my goals for this year:

* Create two instruction manuals for building a corn cob crusher and how-to-make briquettes
* Create two small scale briquette making businesses in Kimilili
* Get in contact with Carbon Manna Unlimited and start communications about the possibility of them helping to set up a corn cob crusher manufacturing carpentry shop
* Get in contact with the Kimilili community elders and start talks about setting up the above-mentioned shop

Of course, my goals are not going to be achieved all by myself. It means involving all sorts of people from all sorts of different countries. To date that would be, Kenya, Zambia, Canada, USA, Switzerland, and who knows how many more before this project is up and running in Kimilili.

The wonders of the Internet, don’t you love it?

14 June, 2009

The Wonders Of The Internet (2/3)

Continued from yesterday's post...

A few weeks ago, Millicent and Ericah (Kenya), go from Nairobi to Kimilili to hold a business-training workshop. Initially, the workshop is intended for the eight women in the CBSM women’s co-op who are starting up two Village Phone Salon businesses. When Ericah and Millicent arrive at the CBSM school at 7 am on the day of the workshop, over 20 persons show up and cannot be persuaded to leave. They all want to learn about business practices.

Amongst the group that came of their own volition, are various youths desperate to learn as well.

After some reflection, I wonder whether it wouldn’t be more practical to set up a Corn Cob Crushers manufacturing business as well as of creating clean fuel briquette-making businesses. If we could set up a youth vocational training program and show the young entrepreneurs how to make the a Corn Cob Crushers, they could manufacture them on mass and sell them to local residence either for private use or to set up a briquette making business.

13 June, 2009

The Wonders Of The Internet

A few days ago, I mention I am on an oxygen-high. After months of research and communication with various people, I’ve figured out a wonderful green business idea for the rural communities I work with in various countries in Africa. It is not only the idea that is so fantastic, but how the idea evolved that is so remarkable. The serendipity and beauty of being able to form new business ideas with people all over the world through the Internet, makes me want to jump up and down with delight.

I’d like to write a few posts and take you on a journey about how the new green business idea formed. I won’t say at this point what the idea is because that would spoil the fun, so, if you only want to know that, you can skip the next two blog posts.

The journey starts off in California listening to Amy Smith’s talk on “Life Saving Design”. In this talk, she informs the illustrious TED audience: how fumes from indoor cooking fires kill more than 2 million children a year, how millions of women and children spend upwards of 2-4 hours daily searching for wood fuel, and how many countries are rapidly being deforested because of this practice.

Ms. Smith goes on to explain how she and a group of designers constructed a prototype Corn Cob Crusher that produces smokeless cooking briquettes from bio waste materials (principally sugar cane or corn cob waste).

So, I contact Sumit (India) of the above-mentioned design group and ask where I could get more information about the crusher. We have some people interested in opening up such clean fuel briquette-making businesses in Kimilili, Kenya. We are hoping to find someone in Kenya that can teach these business entrepreneurs how to build crushers.

Sumit introduces me to Joshua (Zambia), who is also in the crusher group. Since
Zambia isn’t Kenya, and Joshua obviously can’t just hop over to Kimiilili, I talk to a Nabuur friend (Toronto) and she suggests approaching another Nabuur friend, Misheck, in Zambia to see if he can help.

Simultaneously, I meet up with a graphic designer and book publisher friend of mine for a cup of tea (Germany) and she asks me all sorts of questions about the Corn Cob Crusher project. It becomes obvious during our talk that we what we need are instruction manuals explaining “How to make a Corn Cob Crusher” and “How to make cooking Briquettes with a Corn Cob Crusher”. She offers her assistance in the project.

Upon inquiry, Joshua and Misheck both prove willing to work with us in making these manuals. It will probably take a few months for us to get the script written and the monies together so they can buy the materials needed, but it is all looking rosy in that department.

These manuals will be published and made available in various formats (e.g. pdf, html, ppt, and mp4), so that any one wishing to build a crusher can do so.

The next post talks about how my original idea evolved from one of creating clean fuel briquette-making business start-ups to an idea including youth vocational business training and crusher manufacturing start-ups as well.

To be continued...

11 June, 2009

Stay Tuned

Just worked out a brilliant concept for a new green micro-financed business possibility for the community I work with in Kenya. It is so fantastic an idea; I almost feel as if my head will pop. Let me come down from my creative oxygen high and make some sense of all that I am thinking of. Stay tuned...

10 June, 2009

City of Graffitti and Angels

Here is an animated slide show of some photos my son took last weekend when we were in Berlin.

08 June, 2009

Short Short Stories


This is a call out to readers of this blog, asking you whether you would like to join my daughter's and my new project, Short Short Stories blog as co-authors or loyal readers. It is the perfect opportunity for all over-stressed, over-worked, too-busy-to-tie-my-shoes type of persons. It is a mini-micro storytelling site. Do go over and have a look and tell me what you think.

Each story a leaf of grass in the field of daily occupation.. (sic)

07 June, 2009

Making chaos beautiful


Quiet weekend. Friends dropping by. Good food. Find conversations.

Managed to do some cleaning up of the mountains of paperwork that plagues my conscious. Actually, a friend and I decided on Friday that we are now formally giving up hope of becoming good housewives. Instead, we are going to make our chaos more beautiful. As of tonight, the large piles of papers that crowded the bookshelves in my work area, are now all nested inside of decorative boxes.