Monday, November 28, 2011

running prayer of gratitude

"Praised be Thou, O Lord my God! Every time I attempt to make mention of Thee, I am hindered by the sublimity of Thy station and the overpowering greatness of Thy might.....Supply us, then, with Thy wondrous gifts that are hid from the eyes of men. Thou art, verily, the Fashioner of all creation. No God is there but Thee, the Almighty, the All-Glorious, the Most High. ~ Bahá'u'lláh (entire prayer can be found here.)"

There's something prayerful/meditative to me about bodies of water. For as long as I can remember whenever I see a beautiful pond/lake/river/sea I send up a prayer/thanks to God. Living in Brooklyn means lots of morning runs in Prospect Park....there is one special section right after a downhill break that levels out into Prospect Park's a sudden switch from park/road/trees to a beautiful opening of water....and every run, for the 2 years I have been living in Brooklyn, my heart smiles and I thank God when I see that body of water.

This morning I was so moved by the beauty of the sun rising over Prospect Park Lake that I had to stop running, thank God and take a picture.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Davis, joy and hope

Just returned from my 9 day trip to Tanzania......the place I lived from Sept 2006-Nov 2008, the place where I met my husband, the place that will always have a piece of my heart, the place where nature's beauty moves me, the place where at one moment I can witness something so heartbreaking that I don't know what to do and the next moment witness something so inspiring that I then figure it out.

Above is a picture of Davis (the one on the back of the bike). When Davis was first taken into the Olive Branch for Children's care he was almost 2 years old but could not walk, crawl or speak. Davis was extremely malnourished and near death. My friend Deb, who runs the Olive Branch for Children, took him in and months later he was walking/talking. Later we realized he had a learning disability. In Tanzania there are not many options for people living with a disability....and few schools able to help. Visiting doctors from the West think he's autistic.

3 years later Davis is developing well. The whole time I was there I never saw him not smiling. He would follow me around bringing a smile to my face each time. He is no longer shy and can carry on simple conversation....he still has his moments (like toilet accidents and walking around with no underwear)....but he's making great progress and bringing joy to everyone he meets.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Mumbai classroom

Classroom in Mumbai
I love visiting classrooms. I am fortunate enough that my job not only involves visiting classrooms in the US but around the world as well. A work conference this past week took me to Mumbai, India. It never ceases to amaze me how similar the qualities of good teaching are regardless of cultural/country context.

Gesture means: I am raising my hand without talking

There's something so powerful about education.....about the process of learning. Just sitting in the classroom watching the students learn English grammar concepts (Who, Where, What, Why and When) I found myself completely engaged and full of pure joy. Even though these were 3rd graders they reminded me of my high school students in Tanzania.

After their classes I went around the room talking to the students. Their English was limited but our hearts connected. I learned of their dreams to be a pilot or teacher. I learned of their favorite subjects. After teaching more pictures they asked for my autograph (I have no idea why). I ended up signing my name in 25+ heart overflowing and maternal instincts kicking ;)

Core Values for a Mumbai classroom

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Re-Case: Miniwiz's iPhone case 100% made from recycled trash

I had been delaying buying a case for my new iPhone. Then I read about Miniwiz's Re-Case cover made from 100% recycled agricultural waste and post-consumer plastic on TreeHugger and was instantly sold. 

The case fits snug providing reliable protection. I really like the look of the material. The light cross-hatch pattern and ridges on the sides provide an excellent grip. The only negative is it is really hard to get off once it's on.  

To read the product details see Miniwiz's site here or order it on Amazon.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Madecasse - beyond fair trade chocolate

"70% of the world’s cocoa comes from Africa but less than 1% of chocolate is made there. Instead, farmers sell whole cocoa pods to the first of many middlemen who eventually export the cocoa beans to chocolate makers in Belgium or France. Tim McCollum and Brett Beach--introduced to Madagascar and each other while in the Peace Corps--founded Madécasse in 2008 to keep more economic benefit within the island nation. The company partners with 45 cocoa farmers in the Ezaka cooperative and a factory in Antananarivo to move from bean to bar in one month and then onto shelves in Whole Foods and boutiques internationally." (Fast Company's 50 most innovative companies article)
Hosting the entire process in Madagascar generates 4x more income than fair trade cocoa alone.

I am actually eating the 'Sea Salt & Nibs' bar as I type this....perfect blend of 63% cocoa and salt...mmm. Madecasse reminds of the event I went to this summer featuring Ali Hassan Mwinyi, former President of Tanzania. When asked what he thinks Tanzania and African countries need the most, Mr. Mwinyi said they needed to do more production in country. Less of just exporting raw materials to other countries for a tiny percentage of the overall profits. He mentioned bananas, mangoes and Tanzanite as possible ideas. I 100% agree. It is really disappointing that even though Tanzanite can only be found around Tanzania it is often processed in Asian countries. At least Madecasse is challenging the current cocoa production trends.