30 December, 2011

Sending Heartfelt Wishes Your Way

To all my family and friends, I send you warm heartfelt wishes your way. May the New Year be a year where some of your dreams come true and instill your heart with young optimism and lead you to discover new dreams to follow.

Being Alone

I left home to boarding school at 14, went alone to live in France at 16, and proceeded to choreograph a life of my own, on my own until I was 32 and my son entered my life. Nearly 20 years were spent figuring out the different hues of solitude, alone, and lonely.

Once you are on your own, no matter if you are alone or sharing a space with others temporarily, you are both the choreographer and dancer of your days.

There were times of sharing apartments with friends and strangers alike. Some friends stayed friends. Some strangers became friends. Some of both just disappeared into the dusty archive of "chalk it up to experience".

Most of all though, over those 20 years, I woke up alone and wandered out into the day.

I stumbled across Tanya Davis and Andrea Dorfman video poem a while ago and then again today. It speaks volumes of wisdom from someone who possesses equal portions of lion-heart and frightening vulnerability.

The poem is wonderful reminder of all those moments and years of finding the right rhythm within myself.

22 December, 2011

Divine Storytelling

The powerful words, the tonality of your deep voice, your inward journey escaping silent restraints... dupiously blessed by experiences that eventually find their way into divine storytelling.

If you wish for more...

21 December, 2011

Almost Like Santa's Workshop

Did you ever wonder what a bird's eye view of Santa's workshop would look like? Here is something not quite as magical,

but, still rather enchanting, don't you think?

Such Richness of Sound

"This September 2011, Hassan Wargui (Imanaren) from south Morocco met the group Nettle from New York City in Tangiers. A week of collaborative songwriting and recording led up to a concert outside the Cinematheque de Tanger in the medina. This is "L'Avion", one of the songs they wrote during this time."

18 December, 2011

A Tea Party

Yesterday, I met with some people I have got to know over this last year. It is fun making new friends. We chatted about our work, but also about philosophical ideas... just a really enjoyable experience.

15 December, 2011

Making sense of a difficult issue

"Seth Godin speaking at Acumen Fund’s 2011 Investor Gathering on the difficulties social enterprises face in selling their products to low-income markets."

It is such a delight when someone manages to explain a complex problem with common sense. Seth Godin, one of those people with equal part heart and brain, often manages to do just that. His explanation about why do people not buy something that is really good for them is spot on.

In the work I've been doing with NGOs there has been a reoccurring problem with adoption of new practices. In part, the problem lies with the risks of failure. If, for example, a woman planting her household garden uses new types of seeds (often more expensive) or new types of plants, there is a higher risk that the crops might fail... then she can not feed her family.

The solution we came up with was to set up a co-op garden initiative for the women to participate in. If they succeeded in growing better crops with less susceptibility to disease, we thought it would make it easier for the participants to take the step and buy the seeds the next time around. Yet, this hasn't necessarily proven true. The costs/risk factor continues to make the choice difficult.

Maybe we have to take into account what Seth Godin is saying about purchasing something new and the need for community efforts to influence individuals.

And maybe Kilimo Salama is not only a way of reducing the existential struggles of failed crops. It could also be a way of building up a community that helps small-scale farmers feel confident to adopt new ideas, get access to vital information, and more crucially, support their efforts for improved lifestyle.

13 December, 2011

Canada, shame on you

I am Canadian. I haven't lived in Canada for nearly 30 years, so I admit it may be inappropriate for me to speak as a "true Canadian".

Still, this news make me sad as a Canadian living overseas. I have lived in a European country that believed and worked towards compliance towards a betterment of ecological and economical consciousness. The Kyoto Agreement was the first demonstrative effort to build collective momentum on the issue of climate change. Not perfect. Not even monumental in its goals. Yet, it was a very good first step.

Is this just one more step Canada has taken in admitting their unwillingness to stand up to the larger forces that be (the USA)? Or, is it just a sign of a ineffectual government that is incapable of showing any backbone in the global political market?

What a shame...

11 December, 2011

Maybe the things we value can not me captured

Watch it on Academic Earth

You have got to love the internet... for all of you who want to learn and explore within the walls of (an elite) educational system... go wild.

10 December, 2011

Northern Light

sunset church
There is no sky light as magical as those countries up north. Ladyfi, who lives in Sweden, photographs one image after another that shows just that. The collage above is inspired from one of such images.

09 December, 2011

Being an Adventurer

Alastair Humphreys is an adventurer. He is asking school teachers around the world to use his book "The Boy who Biked the World" in school curriculum. 

The book is a children's book (but probably grade 8-9 level of English if English is your second language) and tells the story of his travels of bicycling the world. He would like to instill a curiosity for adventure in young people. This week he wrote this post:

"I am really pleased with The Boy Who Biked The World, my first book for children. My aim was to wrap education, the inspiration to think big and a curiosity about travel and the world into a fun, adventurous story. (You can read a sample couple of chapters here to judge whether I succeeded).
I’m now looking for primary school teachers anywhere in the world who might be interested in using the Boy Who Biked The World series as a class reading book. In addition to being an enjoyable book it is an ideal entry into many other classroom topics. I can provide bulk copies of the book at a discount price. And as well as personally signing each book I will also be happy to chat to classes worldwide via Skype, or answer questions through email.
If you are a teacher, or know any teachers please would you take a quick look at these sample chapters and then get in touch to discuss ideas. Thank you!"
Though this book obviously would be of interest to both boys and girls, I think it would be os special interest to boys. If you are a parent or teacher of teenage boys and want to concentrate positively on letting boys be boys... What better way could there be than getting their classmates to read the book and talk personally to Alistar over skype?

The other brilliant idea Alistar had this year was to spend his year in England going on mirco-adventures. This is a notion that everyone, but particularly young people should consider participating in. It can give an electrifying jumpstart to our inner lethargy or complacency and sets us off on a journey of discovery right outside our back doors. 

He and Ben Saunders are going to attempt an new adventure this year: 

SOUTH is the first return journey to the South Pole on foot, and the longest unsupported (human-powered) polar journey in history. The 1800 mile journey will take 4 months to complete, hauling 200kg sleds.

They will be sending photos and blog post daily. Following their progress would be a good geography/history project, don't you think?


I have followed Alistar's adventures and blogs for years now and know him to be a very enthusiastic, articulate, educated leader. Any contact with him would undoubtedly impress, if not inspire your children or students.

05 December, 2011

Things I didn't know

Who knew there was an international competitive sport of bodysurfering? Maybe I should watch television.

What a great sport. It is more easy to understand both the vitality and the brutality of playing the waves in this way than it is for me to understand surfing the massive waves. Bodysurfing is something everyone has done, with or without a board, the moment you are in the water and there is any waves pulling you inshore. Bodysurfing is the Merengue to the big wave surfing tango. So much more accessible and democratic. I might never have done any of the moves these surfers are doing, but my heart can feel the thrill.

03 December, 2011

An Endless Autumn

fiona sunset 04
The above is inspired/fired by a photo of Ladyfi. She kindly offered to let me use another of her marvelous Swedish landscapes.

Recently, a friend asked me whether she could make some postcards of my collages. Yes, feel free. Anyone can download any of my collages onto your computers. As long as you are not using the collages for commercial gain, I'm happy to let you use my images.

If you wish to make postcards of superb quality, I can highly recommend moo postcards (or business cards, mini cards). Their paper and colours are exceptional and the costs reasonable. If, for example, you order a pack of 20 postcards, you can upload 20 different images. Also, a plus, you can personalise the back of the postcard with your name and address.

02 December, 2011

Thinking of my others

The tall elm tree is decorated in fairy lights the whole way up its trunk and all of its branches. A magnificent serendipitous emblem of Christmas madness. The lights shine onto the windows of the three story building where three families live.

On the first floor, a rather depressive family from Uruguay, cover up the windows to shield them from the lights that shine throughout the night. The fairy tree quietly mirrors back its light into the street. The lights are unconcerned with the thick curtains. No one can impinge upon its joy.

The  family on the second floor, who so valiantly carry their baby and carriage up and down those steep stairs numerous times a day, have put large shining orange paper maché stars in every window.

On the third floor, the young couple play their violins together every evening. How romantic. Or is it just their job? They hang one red star in their living room widow. A token to Advent. It appears lost. Almost an after thought. When they are finished practicing their music, the living room lights turn off, the lone red star shines alone. In the next room their television flickers hours long.

I sit and wonder at all the goings-on in that household. The Christmas lights. Hoping they bring joy to those they shine upon.

Suddenly, the sickle moon appears from behind a moving cloud. It shines down on the building, over into my window, and thankfully, to all my others; my kindred souls sprinkled all over the place. I send you my thoughts and wishes for a fine holiday season.