Sunday, August 28, 2016

The Wedding of Ash and Kip

To round off the insanity that has been August, I popped back to the American West for the wedding of a beloved friend via AMENDS. Ashley and Chris were married at her family's beautiful vacation home in Frisco, Colorado, surrounded by mountains and lakes and forests. Check out their itinerary and scenery:

A few other AMENDSians made it to the wedding as well, making for a wonderful weekend of catching up...and trying to explain American wedding traditions!


Highlights of the weekend included good conversation with our AirBnB host, watching an Israeli teach a Bahraini how to make a s'more, and meeting some amazing social justice filmmakers. 

To cap it all off, a fantastically long layover in Chicago gave me the chance to have an afternoon with beloved family friends. 

And now. And now! Back to London I go. 

Thursday, August 25, 2016

The Grand Canyon and Zion

Last week was a time of climbing. Lots of climbing.

At the Grand Canyon, you climb down...and then have to get up. Dad, Greg and I had fun doing that one day. Fantastic (though dirty) Colorado River scenery when you're down there. 

Alternatively, you can walk along the rim for very spectacular views. And there's some climbing you can do there too - up trees, to cliff edges, etc. 

Then in Zion you can hike through a river, splish-splashing in the water and little rocks. 

For the more excitable folks, Angels Landing offers a proper climb. Clinging to chains, pulling yourself up kind of proper. It was magnificent. I'm at the bottom in this next photo - I got to the top of the rocky peak behind me. 

And celebrated with a spot of tree-hugging. As one does. 

These pretty places are highly recommended. :)

After the Southwest with my family I snuck back to Michigan to see a bunch of mates, and am now on a plane to Denver for a friend's wedding. My last stop on this trip will be a long layover in Chicago, during which I'll steal a lingering lunch with family friends. 

Off again off again we go!

Thursday, August 18, 2016

Dee and Jake's Wedding

My big cousin got married!! Deanne's wedding is the main reason I'm currently Stateside.

The beautiful couple came to do a roadtrip in Ireland with me last spring, so I got to know the very lucky groom quite well. It was a joy to see their happy weekend.

I have incredibly few photos, as there were a couple of professional photographers and I tend to leave things to them at those kinds of occasions. But I do have this really rather artistic photo highlighting some of the bride's dress. It's especially artistic given that it was taken by her five-year-old niece (my first cousin once removed). Turns out the ability to take photos was a way to get her at least slightly hushed during some of the speeches...

Additionally in the world of artistic photos: this shot of my shoes hanging from the swing at the reception venue. Because obviously they weren't going to stay on my feet (in case anyone is unaware, I am infamous for my total lack of respect for footwear). And where else should they go?!

And lastly, here's what I got to spend most of the weekend doing. Our budding photographer has two younger brothers. I hadn't yet met the youngest. So here's me and the handsomeness that is baby Rockwell!

Friday, August 12, 2016

International Youth Day

It's International Youth Day!

This post was written by Mahdi Lefram, one of the Environmental Youth Ambassadors who works with Dar Si Hmad, my Moroccan research partner. Check out his writing about youth, culture, and education below. And check out the original post on Dar Si Hmad's blog.
Today we celebrate the International Day for Youth! Youth as social, political and economic catalysts. Throughout time, it is undeniably true that young people have never before had the same kinds resources and abilities to truly change the world. We are seeing the power of young people from Silicon Valley technology entrepreneurs to Middle East social justice movements to internet & social media influencers…and beyond.
The 2016 Theme, “The Road to 2030: Eradicating Poverty and Achieving Sustainable Production and Consumption” focuses on the highly important role of youth in ensuring poverty eradication and accomplishing sustainable development through environmentally responsible production and consumption.
Sustainable consumption involves using products and services that meet the basic needs of today’s communities while protecting the needs of future generations. The development and promotion of individual choices and actions that increase the eco-efficiency of consumption and minimize waste is critical to achieving equitable socioeconomic development.
Yet, many young men and women face obstacles to certain green habits. Obstacles to sustainable consumption choices include the high prices of goods and services and a lack of information about the available options. By focusing on the social development dimensions of sustainable consumption and production, this year’s theme emphasizes a multidimensional approach to sustainability.
This brings us to highlight our current youth-driven environmental programs that correlate with the International Youth Day 2016 Theme. Over the last few months, a group of seven young activists have been promoting environmental sustainability in their communities through visual storytelling, social media and local events. So far, our Environmental Youth Ambassadors (EYA) have contributed to the 2016 Water School, organized two community events with more than 60 youth participants, and are leading advocacy efforts through blogging and social media. With original, multilingual, multimedia content including articles, photos, videos and infographics, the EYAs are challenging the status quo surrounding the environment and natural resources. The Ambassadors participated in the Mediterranean Youth Climate Forum (MYCF) that was held in Tangier last July and one of their pictures was selected as a semifinalist in the worldwide Global Giving 2016 Photo Contest. Follow their adventures here.
Furthermore, this year, Dar Si Hmad (DSH) also successfully implemented its third Water School, an environmental education program for children in the region of Aït Baamrane using innovative teaching methodologies including workshops, hands-on activities as well as games and field trips. The Water School’s STEM-based curriculum explores the concepts of water, sustainability, conservation, and environmental challenges. During the program, children learn by doing, develop communication skills, interact with each other, meet new people, and discover various topics. Watch the YouTube video series about this life-changing experience here.
Last but not least is the RISE & THRIVEprofessional development program. With the generous support of the U.S.-Middle East Partnership Initiative (MEPI), Dar Si Hmad’s urban Agadir training program was a great success, as demonstrated by participants’ commitment, personal growth and considerable achievements. Through workshops, conferences and extracurricular activities, students developed leadership and teamwork abilities and acquired technology, business and financial skills. Two small grants of $500 were awarded to selected participants in order to support the projects they developed over the course of the program. Through this initiative, Dar Si Hmad prepared students for job opportunities, sparked their entrepreneurial spirit and above all, grew citizens that are taking the lead in Morocco’s future. Watch highlights from this eight-month journey here.
Today’s youth are tomorrow’s leaders – and today’s. Through the Environmental Youth Ambassadors (EYA), Water School, and RISE & THRIVE programs, Dar Si Hmad is partnering with Moroccan youth to be positive social change catalysts in their communities. From all the Dar Si Hmad staff, volunteers and community members, happy International Youth Day to them and to you!

Monday, August 8, 2016

Girls' Roadtrip

I have arrived in the US. I landed in O'Hare Thursday night and was met by two friends, who drove me to my grandmother's. Early Friday morning, she and I took off with my mum for a girls' musical roadtrip. We drove down to Atlanta belting showtunes to see a beloved friend, Garrett, star as Benny in "In the Heights".

En route, we happened to fall into the Georgia Aquarium to see the whale sharks and sea lions and dolphins. It was rather magnificent. 

We are now heading back up via Lexington, where we'll stay with old family friends, and South Bend, where I'll see my sister and nieces.

Mum and Granna are driving and navigating, leaving me in the back to get various bits of work done. Life is good. 


Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Tuesday is for kids. And theory.

I did a PhD thing today! No, really. I had a really good meeting with my supervisor and we pushed a lot of ideas. Good stuff.

And then I stole the baby and we went to Liverpool Street Station to pick up friends from Norfolk and enjoyed ourselves all over Spitalfields Market and the Southbank. With my PhD theory getting debated in my subconscious the whole time, of course.


I then arrived home to an invasion. We are hosting two six-year-olds and a dog in addition to the regularly resident five-year-old Maestro tonight. 

So obviously I got lots done today. At least, the stuff that's actually important. :)