Category Archives: SUSTAINABLE LIFE + DESIGN

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

INTERNATIONAL DESIGN SEMINAR – FOLK FUTURES

A WORLD OF FOLK

I am very excited to be included in this seminar and looking forward to visiting Stavanger and seeing The World of Folk exhibition:

International Design Seminar – Folk Futures With: Li Edelkoort, Tord Boontje, Natalie Chanin, Dick van Hoff, Hella Jongerius, Peter Marigold, Mike Meiré, Fernando & Humberto Campana.

As part of this summer’s A World of Folk exhibition, Folk Futures will discuss the future of unique design in a day-long symposium featuring presentations by distinguished international designers: Tord Boontje, Natalie Chanin, Dick van Hoff, Hella Jongerius, Peter Marigold, Mike Meiré and the Campanas brothers.

The seminar will examine how craft and design will provide an important and continued stimulus in this new century and analyze the implications of commercial production on uniquely made objects. Exhibition curator and trend forecaster, Li Edelkoort, will introduce a dynamic line-up of speakers, illustrating the importance of telling stories through the creative process and previewing how craft and technology will merge in symbiosis in the coming years.

The Alabama-born designer Natalie Chanin will explain how soul can be ingrained into a product through the handmade, while Dick van Hoff will talk about the challenges facing industrial production when maintaining craftsmanship principles. London-based Peter Marigold will discuss how chance and performance can influence the design of a product and Hella Jongerius will be interviewed by Li Edelkoort in an interesting conversation about the integration of local folklores in contemporary design. German art director Mike Meiré will discuss local food and its integration into the design field. Tord Boontje will revisit his journey through decoration and embellishment while joining Fernando and Humberto Campana to also describe their recent collaborations with artisans in Africa and South America.

HOMAGE TO A TEACHER

Occasionally in our lives, a person comes along who changes the course of our destiny and makes us a better person, simply by having touched our lives. One such person in my life was a teacher who believed in me before I knew that one could believe.

I came to his studio as a naive, wounded young woman and his quiet guidance opened a path for me that I never knew could have existed. I am the designer, business owner, manufacturer, and person I am today because of the commitment of a teacher/professor and friend: Michael Pause.

Here is a portion of an email that I received from him today:

… Speaking of which, on 30 June I resigned from the faculty, after 33 years. Cleaned the office, put my keys in an envelope, put the years in a box, ribboned it and put it up on a shelf. It was a fantastic run; every student was a gift in some way.

I mourn for the legions of students who will miss his quiet guidance, commitment to pure design, and his struggle to keep a sliver of Bauhaus alive in education today.

Let’s take a moment today to thank all of those teachers along our way who have helped to shape us into men and women we are proud to be, walking paths we are proud to walk.

Thank you Michael. May your days be filled with family, joy, good work, and laughter.

ALABAMA BOUND

American Routes takes a trip through the music of the Yellowhammer State–Alabama. Visit the Muscle Shoals Sound Studio and find out what’s in the water around “The Shoals” to make it a historic hotbed for R&B hits by Wilson Pickett, Aretha Franklin and more. Also, a trip through Hank Williams‘ childhood home in Georgiana, and W.C. Handy Music Festival in Florence. And music from Shelby Lynne, the Birmingham Sunlights and the Delmore Brothers.

 

IT TAKES BALLS

Okay, what about a woman who can sing and cook, has her own radio program called “Apron Strings” and has a song about how it “Takes Balls” to be a woman?

Check out Elizabeth Cook.

Elizabeth has fans from all corners of the earth that make their own music videos to her songs. Check out this awesome It Takes Balls video that Elizabeth found on You Tube.

http://www.elizabeth-cook.com/