It’s an open secret – I am obsessed with sewing (as a hobby). Handling natural fabric, making critical decisions (:)) about what to make with what fabric, tracing out and cutting paper patterns, and finally sitting at the sewing machine with music in the background… that’s my happy place. A creative outlet, but also a place where the mind can rest, process, imagine.
Having made patchwork quilts for many years, I finally progressed to sewing clothes about three years ago (learning from books and YouTube and trial and error). I’ve since made a bunch of lovely pieces for myself, my boys, and even a couple of friends.
I was recently invited to speak at my alma mater, University of Connecticut’s Career Night, which got me thinking about some of the lessons I’ve learned in my two-decades plus career in science communications. I was sewing while thinking about it, and so many parallels popped up between sewing, work, and life that I decided to put them down.
1/ Visualize the product
2/The end result might be different than the vision… and that might be OK
One of these for me is the seemingly inexhaustible supply of informative, entertaining, and uplifting podcasts that’s out there.
The podcast, IMHO, is god’s gift to the multitaskers of this world… I often listen while driving, walking, cooking, sewing, chilling, whatever. Plus, unlike a watching a video or scrolling through twitter, listening to a podcast is not antisocial, and can be enjoyed with other people.
Here are a few podcasts I’ve enjoyed during the Pandemic! Krista Tippet’s OnBeing is my all-time favourite channel, so many on the list are from there.
Chumani village in Kilifi, where my buddy has set up a sustainable mixed farming homestead, is a 10-minute walk from one of the most gorgeous, white sandy beaches on the East African coast. In Chumani the skies are blue, the air is warm, and the moon and stars hold a beauty contest every night.
Plus, Chumani has the most delicious mahamri this side of Pwani, made fresh every morning by Mamake-Anna and her daughter Anna in their low thatch-roof kitchen-cum-restaurant by the side of the short stretch of road that turns off the Mombasa–Kilifi highway into the villlage and straight to Chumani Beach.
Legend has it that this road once had a big chunk of chuma (‘metal’ in Kiswahili), which slowly became a landmark. As time went on the village came to be known as the place with the chuma (Chumani).
Ever wondered how Africans managed in the olden days?
How did women deliver children at home? What did they feed their babies? And when people fell sick who brought them back to health… and with what?
And then when the British colonialists came and tore apart the social structure in Central Kenya, what drove people to nonetheless take up the formal education they brought? (My parents’ families were among the early adopters.)
In May this year, my mum, author of a memoir titled “It’s Never Too Late”, and I were invited to The Books Café, a radio program hosted by Khainga O’Okwemba, on the national broadcaster KBC.
Though I kicked and screamed when Khainga suggested that I should join the program, it turned out OK, and I even enjoyed the chit chat…you have to think on your feet!
Here’s the audio. 1 hour long. And below it the promo clip too – 30 seconds.
Anyone who has walked outside on a sunny day knows that forests and trees matter for temperature, humidity and wind speed. Planting trees speaks to concerns about climate change, but the directly important aspects of the tree-climate relationships have so far been overlooked in climate policy where it relates to forest.
That, at least, is the conclusion of a new review. The authors suggest that the global conversation on trees, forests and climate needs to be turned on its head: the direct effects via rainfall and cooling may be more important than the well-studied effects through the global carbon balance.
Yet, current climate policy only recognizes the latter. While farmers understand that trees cool their homes, livestock and crops, they had to learn the complex and abstract language of greenhouse gasses and carbon stocks if they wanted to be part of climate mitigation efforts. Not anymore, if the new perspectives become widely accepted.Read more
Launching his new album Pandizo, Kombo Chokwe Burns and his band got their lucky audience off their seats in no time flat!
His mastery of the guitar, his own and his singers’ gorgeous voices, a powerful stage presence, and a fun ‘pekeshe’ -style from the Kenyan coast [they call it Mijikenda Fusion], did the trick that balmy evening of 6 November 2016. Besides the guitars, the Chivoti—a traditional bamboo flute— went straight into our souls.
The songs in the album, done in Kiswahili and the Mijikenda languages, have great lyrics – some environmental (e.g. Maji – water).
There’s one more reason to be jolly this season: the frankincense tree—source of one of the precious gifts of the Magi in the Christmas story—is being called “a suitable tree species for use in dryland restoration under a changing climate.”
Based on studies on frankincense trees (Bosweillia neglecta) from southern Ethiopia, World Agroforestry Centre (ICRAF) and partner researchers are calling for this tree’s expanded application in the restoration of drylands in the Horn of Africa.
In this region, covering Ethiopia, Eritrea, Djibouti, Somalia, and parts of northern Kenya, frankincense is tapped from Bosweillia and several other dryland trees found naturally in dry tropical forests and woodlands. When injured, the bark exudes a fragrant watery sap, which is collected and left to harden into the frankincense resin. Bosweillianeglecta tree produces a particular, earthy frankincense known as ‘Borena type’.
An important commodity, frankincense is used in pharmacology, as a flavouring, in cosmetics and in perfumery, and is traded locally and internationally. The incense is used in many religious and cultural ceremonies around the world; indeed, no Ethiopian coffee ceremony is complete without the sweet, heady aroma frankincense releases when heated over hot coals.Read more
For three days, the World Agroforestry Centre (ICRAF) was abuzz with stakeholders concerned about the state and fate of Africa’s soils. Over 150 government, UN and NGO officials, researchers, agricultural technology providers and human rights advocates were attending the first ever African Soils Seminar, 28 – 30 November 2016.
“Soils are the basis of our survival,” said the co-chair Wanjira Mathai, who directs wPOWER Hub and chairs the Green Belt Movement founded by her mother Nobel Laureate Professor Wangari Maathai. Read more. . .
The 22nd UN climate conference (COP 22) held in November in Marrakech, Morocco’s ‘Ochre City,’ was all about action.
Action not only to reshape the path of development in order to curb global temperature rise as a result of climate change, but also to sustainably feed and provide for a growing global population. The actions are part of countries’ commitments of the 2015 Paris Climate Change Agreement, which came into force on 4 November 2016, just days before the Marrakesh conference kicked off on 7 November.