Category Archives: SUSTAINABLE LIFE + DESIGN

A BUREAU OF FRIENDS

As I sit in my winter living room and look out the window, I think about what an amazingly full, rich, intense year it has been. I recently made the joke that I sometimes I feel like Roy Batty (Rutger Hauer) in Blade Runner… when I am lying on my death bed, I will say, “I’ve seen things you people wouldn’t believe. Attack ships on fire off the shoulder of Orion. I watched C-beams glitter in the dark near the Tannhauser gate. All those moments will be lost in time, like tears in rain….”

I feel lucky, blessed, and grounded to have recently met so many new acquaintances to add to the dear old friends who fill my cup with inspiration. While sitting on a couch late one afternoon in South Africa, I decided that I want to take a moment each month to talk about one of these rich, rich souls who has enriched my life.
From painter Judith Eisler, woman extraordinaire Marsha Guerrero, documentarian Davia Nelson, woman of style Julie Gilhart, film maker Jennifer Venditti, writer/stylist/foodie Angie Mosier, and hero Alice Waters, to designer Christina Kim, I want to highlight work that I find world changing, heartfelt and inspirational.
So is born “A Bureau of Friends.” Stay tuned for monthly stories.
Here’s a wish that 2009 may continue to be a great adventure…

FUROSHIKI – THE “GREEN” WRAPPING

While visiting Boston recently, my hosts at the Museum of Fine Arts gave all of the attendees this flyer about Furoshiki.

The term describes “a type of traditional Japanese wrapping cloth that was frequently used to transport clothes, gifts or other goods.”

“Although there are still Furoshiki users in Japan, their numbers declined in the post-war period, in large part due to the proliferation of the plastic shopping bag. In recent years, it has seen a renewed interest as environmental protection became a concern.”

What a great “green” way to use any available cloths to wrap your holiday gifts…
& see a video demo here:

& THANKS to the Fashion Council for a lovely event!


VIEW ON COLOR

“As we abandon long-established notions of the past and truly embrace this young century, the agricultural community will become the planet’s new elite, dominating our essential needs and inspiring years of farmer styles. After all, the farmers of the future will clothe us, house us, feed us, fuel us and hopefully even heal us. Ultimately they will be able to engineer design and grow furniture in a symbiosis of technology and biology, and therefore rural and urban lifestyles will merge and become one; resulting in an inversed social landscape with a greener city and a more contemporary countryside.

We will see vertical farming in the inner cities and the return of smaller luxury farms in the countryside to handle the market for fresh niche products, while arid areas of the globe will be used to power solar plants and farm new kinds of bio fuels. The farm will even become a destination for beauty and learning as well as a cradle for new retail strategies and marketplaces for the future.

This rural revival will sustain far into the future, influencing our habitations and interiors….” Li Edelkoort – an excerpt from View on Color – A World of Folk, page 67

Copies of The World of Folk issue can be purchased by contacting Tel: 212 420 7622  Edelkoort, Inc.- $95.00 + $ 7 shipping

 

INTERNATIONAL QUILT STUDY CENTER

I have been traveling so much that it has been difficult to keep up with all of the inspiring people, places and things that have crossed my path these last months. I am looking forward to slowing down for the holidays to process.

In Lincoln, Nebraska, I had the opportunity to tour the incredible International Quilt Study Center where the most fantastic, pristine, beautiful quilts find a home and are perfectly archived for future generations.

Visit their site to explore their magnificent collection or to make your own quilt design.

CHEZ PANISSE FOUNDATION

On Saturday afternoon, I had the honor of touring the Edible Schoolyard and having lunch in the new Martin Luther King Jr. Middle School Dining Commons. Alice Waters, the Chez Panisse Foundation and a team of others are working towards changing the way we see the school lunch program in America.

The program was inspiring, delicious and beautiful and I am committed to bringing this philosophy into the life of my own daughter.

Here is an overview of the work being accomplished by the Chez Panisse Foundation:

Continue reading

SOUTH AFRICA REVISITED

My trip to South Africa was such an inspiration and difficult to digest and share all of the wonderful people and projects at one time…

However, an example that continues to haunt me is the story of Monkeybiz. Economic development, women’s empowerment, health services – does not get more important than that.

There is a fantastic book that was published in 2007 that shows the work in full-color, inspirational detail.

The project has been revered by many from Donna Karen and Paulette Cole from ABC Carpet and Home in NYC to Deepak Chopra and Desmond Tutu.

Visit their website: http://www.monkeybiz.co.za/about.html

And don’t miss the book: Bead by Bead: Reviving and ancient African tradition

SOUTH AFRICA – DAY TWO

I find myself thinking and speaking more and more about business models and today I have seen two outstanding examples.

This morning, we had the opportunity to visit CIDA. This visit was an inspiring look at how one person can become a community and a community, in turn, a nation.
By empowering students, the foundation is providing a method for lifting individuals out of poverty while investing them with the tools to provide for their own communities. This short video says it all:

Our afternoon was filled with the overflowing love of the African Children’s Feeding Scheme. This organization feeds over 21,000 children each day over multiple locations while providing crucial education in health, farming and economic development for parents and caregivers (along with small farming plots.)

One lunch provides each child with 80% of his or her daily requirement for vitamins and protein. When we asked the sister her greatest need, her immediate response was to “feed more children.”
As a reminder, this curtain hanging in a kitchen window reads “No More Hunger.”

After a beautiful lunch, accompanied by Soweto song and dance, we had the opportunity to visit the Shwe Shwe Poppis cooperative.

Shwe-Shwe Poppis are hand-made in Soweto as a fund raising and economic empowerment arm of the Feeding Scheme. Each of the dolls is one child’s drawing come to life. What a beautiful circular chain: child to drawing, drawing to doll, doll to empowerment, empowerment to caregiver, caregiver to child – in complete and unbroken cycle.The paper insert that comes with one small doll reads:“Hello, my name is KHUTHAThis Shwe Shwe is based on my drawing. I live in Soweto, South Africa and buddy is my best game. Chicken is my best lunch. My favorite color is green and I also love lions.”
More tomorrow…

SOUTH AFRICA – DAY ONE

From New York, I took the long flight with South African Airlines to Johannesburg… landing yesterday to a beautiful thunderstorm, delicious food and a smiling warm faces and friends.

It is impossible to write about all of the beautiful people and places we encountered today from lunch with “Mama” to the gift of a walk through the corners of Soweto.

The highlight of the day was the Hector Pieterson Memorial and Museum which I would rank as one of the most beautiful pieces of architecture and exhibition design I have seen anywhere in the world. The saga of a horrific story told with humanity, humility and passion stirred me deeply.

I copied this quote from a small glass nook where you can look over the vastness of Soweto and imagine – if for just a moment – what courage it took to change a nation:

First victim…

A bullet burnt
Into soft dark flesh

A child fell

Liquid life
Rushed out
To stain the earth

He was the first victim

And now
Let grieving the willows
Mark the spot
Let nature raise a monument
Of flowers and trees
Lest we forget the foul and the wicked
deed…

From Don Mattera, 1976, Azanian Love Song Posted at 11:37 am