Here, There and Everywhere

Archive for September, 2013

One Snapshot at a Time

Capturing their lives, one snapshot at a time
ROP Stories
Posted by Sean on September 16, 2013

Our boys love playing with cameras. Lend them a camera and they will run around the Center taking photos of anything and everything, filling up your memory card in no more than 20 minutes. To them photography was more about playing with a camera than it was about being creative and exploring the world through a lens. That all began to change when Amber Lucero contacted the Rwandan Orphans Project and offered to teach photography workshops to any boys who were interested, regardless of age or experience.

Amber has a background in photography and the visual arts, and is a staff member at San Diego’s Museum of Photographic Arts, or MOPA. She not only brought great enthusiasm for teaching our boys but also a wealth of creativity and a friendliness that led to our usually shy boys to bond with her almost immediately.

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Amber’s lessons started by teaching the boys the basics of composition; framing, lighting, and knowing what your subject is before you just start snapping away. Her lessons, while geared towards photography, were designed in a way that taught them shapes, colors, patterns and other basic academic principles without them even realizing it. Those early lessons were meant to lay the groundwork for the exploration of the boys’ creativity that would come later. And although they started off slowly, after a few weeks we began seeing them becoming more strategic with their shots.

Before long, even when Amber was not at the ROP, the boys would have cameras out, prospecting around our Center and its surroundings searching for interesting subjects to photograph and trying to take creative shots of themselves and their friends that were unlike the usual hip hop poses they used to always mimic from music videos they saw on TV.

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It’s been several months now since Amber’s first lesson, and it’s been truly remarkable what she has been able to teach our boys, as well as what they’ve been able to do with that knowledge. It’s also been a great way for us staff to see their lives in the Center from their perspectives. Now many of their photos are hanging up in our office. Soon others will be displayed at an exhibition here in Kigali and yet others will actually be displayed in an exhibition at MOPA in San Diego from October 19th to February 2nd. If you’re in the San Diego area during that time please visit MOPA and see their work for yourself!

Read complete story and see many more photos at ROP Stories

The Heart of America

Through the Heart of America

I admit it. When I hear news about the Keystone XL oil pipeline, I know it’s a massive threat to our environment, but I don’t often think of it as a threat to our own country.

The truth is, while it’s often Canadian and other foreign oil companies pushing for the pipeline, it would run right through the heart of America.

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That means potential environmental and health devastation right in our backyards.

Keystone XL is our fight too.

We can’t let the oil companies win and put our environment, our families and our world in danger!

Send a message to TransCanada CEO Russ Girling today: Stop the Keystone XL project before it damages the very fabric of our heartland!

Thank you for taking action,

Ellen B.
Care2 and ThePetitionSite Team

Smooth Move

Smooth Move
by Gabriel Constans

Grapefruit is low in calories and high in antioxidants, fiber, vitamins B1, B2, and C. It also prevents constipation and helps you sleep soundly, so this smoothie makes a great bedtime snack.

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Yield: 3 cups

1 cup grapefruit juice
1 1/2 ripe bananas
1 prune, chopped
1 apricot, chopped
3 tablespoons honey

Place ingredients in a blender, and blend on medium speed for 1 minute.
Pour into tumblers and serve.

More Guns, More Murder

Largest Gun Study Ever: More Guns, More Murder
by Zack Beauchamp
From Think Progress/Nation of Change
14 September 2013

The largest study of gun violence in the United States, released Thursday afternoon, confirms a point that should be obvious: widespread American gun ownership is fueling America’s gun violence epidemic.

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The study, by Professor Michael Siegel at Boston University and two coauthors, has been peer-reviewed and is forthcoming in the American Journal of Public Health. Siegel and his colleagues compiled data on firearm homicides from all 50 states from 1981-2010, the longest stretch of time ever studied in this fashion, and set about seeing whether they could find any relationship between changes in gun ownership and murder using guns over time.

Since we know that violent crime rates overall declined during that period of time, the authors used something called “fixed effect regression” to account for any national trend other than changes in gun ownership. They also employed the largest-ever number of statistical controls for other variables in this kind of gun study: “age, gender, race/ethnicity, urbanization, poverty, unemployment, income, education, income inequality, divorce rate, alcohol use, violent crime rate, nonviolent crime rate, hate crime rate, number of hunting licenses, age-adjusted nonfirearm homicide rate, incarceration rate, and suicide rate” were all accounted for.

No good data on national rates of gun ownership exist (partly because of the NRA’s stranglehold on Congress), so the authors used the percentage of suicides that involve a firearm (FS/S) as a proxy. The theory, backed up by a wealth of data, is that the more guns there are any in any one place, the higher the percentage of people who commit suicide with guns as opposed to other mechanisms will be.

With all this preliminary work in hand, the authors ran a series of regressions to see what effect the overall national decline in firearm ownership from 1981 to 2010 had on gun homicides. The result was staggering: “for each 1 percentage point increase in proportion of household gun ownership,” Siegel et al. found, “firearm homicide rate increased by 0.9″ percent. A one standard deviation change in firearm ownership shifted gun murders by a staggering 12.9 percent.

To put this in perspective, take the state of Mississippi. “All other factors being equal,” the authors write, “our model would predict that if the FS/S in Mississippi were 57.7% (the average for all states) instead of 76.8% (the highest of all states), its firearm homicide rate would be 17% lower.” Since 475 people were murdered with a gun in Mississippi in 2010, that drop in gun ownership would translate to 80 lives saved in that year alone.

Read complete article and more at Nation of Change.

Flower Power

imagesFlower Power
by Gabriel Constans

Deja vu! This is a beautiful, colorful, nostalgic drink, brimming with healthy ingredients. Dandelion greens are a good diuretic; chamomile is a relaxant; red clover blossom is a blood purifier; and sage relieves sore throats. These can be found in most natural food stores, or n your garden or fields.

This smoothie was inspired by the “flower children” of the 1960s, who congregated in San Francisco and preached a lifestyle of peace and love. Burning incense and wearing a peace symbol and flowers in your hair while making this smoothie are optional, but recommended.

Yield: 4 cups

2 cups milk (dairy or non-dairy)
4 tablespoons honey or brown rice syrup (or agave)
4 tablespoons vanilla ice cream (or rice or soy)
2 mint leaves, chopped, or 1 tablespoon dried mint
2 tablespoons flower petals from nasturtium, dandelion greens, chamomile, red clover blossom, sage, and rose petal (as available).

Place all the ingredients in a blender, and blend on medium speed for 1 minute.
Pour, drink, dance and “let the sunshine, let the sunshine in”.

The Real Story About Syria

The Real Story About Syria

The politics around Syria’s civil war are complex, but the reason to care about Syria’s millions of refugees is simple – there is very real suffering happening with our fellow humans. Real people like you and me whose lives have been up-ended. Millions of people who have done nothing to bring this upon themselves, who are struggling to survive, and who may never be able to return home.

With or without military intervention, the flood of Syrians displaced by the conflict, both within Syria and as refugees in neighboring countries, will continue.

All the news about weapons, governmental bodies, and military actions ignores the truly massive humanitarian crisis that continues to dramatically unfold.

This is 12-year-old Amina and 7-year-old Sahed with their grandmother, 80-year-old Amina. “I miss my friends from my old school the most. I don’t know what has happened to them,” says young Amina. “My wish is to be able to see again properly,” says her grandmother, 80-year-old Amina, of her failing eyesight, “and see Syria again.”

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CARE is helping refugees in Jordan and Lebanon and people affected by the crisis in Syria. As the crisis escalates, we are also starting to work in Egypt and Yemen. The more than 8 million people affected by this disaster are looking to us to help by providing basic life saving support, such as: food, shelter, clean water, medicine and medical care, and the means to stay warm when winter approaches.

Please give what you can today to help those fleeing the violence in Syria, and others caught in the crosshairs of political unrest around the world.

I believe that – as human beings, confronted with the suffering and needs of others – you and I can and must do something to help. If you suddenly lost your home, wouldn’t you want to know that someone cared enough to reach out and support you to maintain your dignity while getting you through an unimaginably difficult time? I know I would.

Together we can make a difference to help each other in times of need. Please give what you can today.

As you listen to the radio and scan the headlines, keep the faces of the refugees above in your thoughts. They are the real story. And they need our support.

With greatest hope,

Holly Solberg
Director of Emergency and Humanitarian Assistance, CARE

Purple People Pleaser

Purple People Pleaser
by Gabriel Constans

The color of this drink is a sight to see, and it tastes like velvet-smooth peeled grapes caressing your tongue. The pineapple juice helps reduce weight by digesting proteins, and the bananas provide potassium.

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Yield: 4 cups

6 tablespoons frozen organic grape juice concentrate
1 slice fresh pineapple
1 cup filtered water
1 banana
1 tablespoon almond butter
1 tablespoon maple syrup

Place ingredients in a blender, and blend on medium speed for 30 seconds.
Pour, drink with delight and stick out your purple people pleasing tongue.

Smack Dab In the Middle

Smack Dab in the Middle

My name is Donna Branham and I live in Mingo County, WV — smack dab in the middle of coal mining country. I’m a registered nurse and I’ve seen firsthand how mining hurts the health of my community. I’ve seen how it is making my community sick1 and year after year it’s only getting worse.

Mountaintop-removal coal mining blows off the tops of mountains to extract the coal that fuels our nation’s power plants. It has already leveled 500 mountains and buried over 1,200 miles of streams — but it gets worse. It raises my community’s risk of birth defects, cancer, and heart disease.

Right now, dozens of permits are pending for new mines and the Obama Administration could approve them any day. If they get approved, it will mean more people get sick and more mountains get destroyed. I don’t know about you, but I don’t want any more families to suffer the effects of Big Coal’s pollution.

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Send a message to the White House before it’s too late. I’m tired of seeing families get sick just so Big Coal can increase its profits. Tell the Obama Administration to put our health first: no more mountaintop-removal coal mines.

A few years ago, Island Creek Coal Company opened a mountaintop-removal coal mine two miles from the house where I grew up and where my Mom and Dad still lived. Because of the danger, my parents had to leave their home so that they could have a reasonable life. My Mom never felt at home again.

After that, I knew I had to act. The coal companies are putting a burden on us, and it isn’t fair. I’ve got grandchildren, and I want them to live in a better world. That’s why I’m calling on the Obama Administration to put our health first, and why I’m asking you to take action.

There have been many times where folks, like us, worked together to make change happen. If it weren’t for mothers demanding a right to vote, women would still not be allowed at the polls. It takes people like you and me who get fed up enough to take action to make a change.

I can’t do it alone, but I know that if we stand together we can create a better life for our children and grandchildren! Tell the Obama Administration to protect families from mountaintop-removal coal mining today.

Thanks for all you do to protect our environment!

Sincerely,

Donna Branham
Sierra Club Volunteer
Mingo County, WV

Wheatgrass Wonder

Wheatgrass Wonder
by Gabriel Constans

Wheatgrass juice helps cleanse the body of toxins, purifies the liver, and reportedly helps damaged cells heal. Reactions to the Wheatgrass Wonder range from “Shock” and “Fabulous” to “Stimulating” and “Arousing.”

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Yield: 6 cups

1/2 cup wheatgrass juice
1 cup fresh-squeezed orange juice
4 tablespoons lime juice
12 ice cubes, crushed

Place ingredients in a blender, and blend on high speed for 30 seconds.
Pour into small glasses and get ready to take off.

Writing for Our Lives at Esalen

Writing for Our Lives at Esalen
with Ellen Bass
November 15 – 17, 2013
Esalen, Big Sur, CA

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Esalen. The wonder of the place itself, 120 acres of fertile land carved out between mountain and ocean, blessed by a cascading canyon stream and hot mineral springs gushing out of a seaside cliff. There is the salty Big Sur air on an early morning in January, the late afternoon sun slipping into the Pacific, the riot of midnight stars. There are nights so clear the Milky Way can light your walk along the darkened garden path. And always there is the sound of the sea.

“There is a vitality, a life-force, an energy, a quickening that is translated through you into action. And because there is only one of you in all time, this expression is unique. And if you block it, it will never exist through any other medium, and be lost. The world will not have it. It is not your business to determine how good it is, nor how valuable, nor how it compares with other expressions. It is your business to keep it yours clearly and directly, to keep the channel open.”
—Martha Graham

This workshop will help keep the channels open. It will be an inspiring environment in which to write, share our work, and receive supportive feedback. We’ll help each other to become clearer, go deeper, express our feelings and ideas more powerfully.

We will evade, elude, and distract the censors that silence or limit us. We’ll approach our experience from new angles to find the story or poem within the events of our lives. We’ll question the stories we think are true and experience the power of not-knowing and discovery.

If you want to encounter more truth in your poems and stories, if you want to tell that truth in the most beautiful way possible, if you want to craft work that reflects the inextricable marriage of truth and beauty, love and death, the luminous and the ordinary, please join us for this inspiring workshop.

Ellen will talk about the craft of writing (poetry, fiction and creative non-fiction) and we’ll have time to write and share our work.

From beginners to experienced, all writers are welcome. Whether you are interested in poetry, fiction, nonfiction, or journal writing, this workshop will provide an opportunity to explore and expand your writing world.

Esalen fees cover tuition, food and lodging and vary according to accommodations—ranging from $405 (for sleeping bag space) to $730 (and more for single or premium rooms). All arrangements and registration must be made directly with Esalen.

Please register directly with Esalen at 831-667-3005 or at http://www.esalen.org

jpeg-1ELLEN BASS has a new poetry book Like A Beggar, forthcoming from Copper Canyon in 2014. Her previous books are The Human Line, which was named a Notable Book by the San Francisco Chronicle, and Mules of Love, which won the Lambda Literary Award. She co-edited (with Florence Howe) the groundbreaking No More Masks! An Anthology of Poems by Women. Her work has been published in The New Yorker, The Atlantic, The American Poetry Review, The New Republic, The Progressive, The Kenyon Review, Ploughshares, The Sun and many other journals. Among her awards for poetry are a Pushcart Prize, the Elliston Book Award, The Pablo Neruda Prize from Nimrod/Hardman, the Larry Levis Prize from Missouri Review, and the New Letters Prize. She is part of the core faculty of the MFA writing program at Pacific University. ellenbass.com

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