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In-deed! January 29, 2010

Posted by oluwawa writes in In-deed!.
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Volunteering/Traveling Abroad

Photos from Cross Cultural Solutions

I am a huge advocate of thinking about the world while acting in your community. If I feel like violence is a major player in the digression of humanity, then I have to look within and step outside of my doorstep and look around before I can even think about going to Columbia or South Africa or Pakistan to take action. However, if and when you do decide to travel, why not travel on purpose instead of on tour? People tend to see international volunteering as a way to help and teach others, which is great, but I’ve witness this sort of thought transform into a parent-child mentality – big mistake. Folks in the rest of the world are just as  smart, resourceful, capable and talented as you (if not even more so).  A healthier way to look at international travel and volunteering is as an exchange. This is an opportunity for others to teach you probably much more than you can teach them, but you have to be willing to submit your time, energy and attention for this process to take place. Give what you have to offer and receive what they have to offer. Cross Cultural Solutions facilitates international volunteering. They offer financial aid programs and step by step assistance. Traveling on purpose, what a great concept.

Reflect! January 28, 2010

Posted by oluwawa writes in Oluwa Series, Reflect.
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Oluwa Series: Day of Service

Monday, January 18, 2010 was MLK Day and a national day of service for many across the country. I had the wonderful opportunity to attend a collaboration event between Mo’ Better Food, Urban Releaf and Kijiji Grows to create an educational farm/park in West Oakland, CA. While there, Mo’ Better Food founder David Roach showed me around the volunteer facility and explained the fascinating gardening system that will be installed on the farm, called aquaponic. I also spoke with Kijiji Grows co-founder Keba Konte, who is also an amazing local artist, about how his organization is utilizing aquaponic, ahem, excuse the shaky camera work. I’m good at a lot of things but not quite everything:

Big thanks to David Roach and Keba Konte!

Here are some photos of the aquaponic system courtesy of Kijiji Grows:

Indoor aquaponic unit.

Outdoor aquaponic unit.

Cutting Edge Tradition January 27, 2010

Posted by oluwawa writes in Recent Posts.
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African architecture. In college I based a book project on this subject. The project, not so great. The discovery, amazing. . .


Patience: Raining. . .Still January 26, 2010

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It has been raining for the second week straight in parts of the Bay Area. Since I walk to work, it has been a test in patience for me. I tend to overthink things so I’m one of those people who get uncontrolled in both uncontrolled and controlled situations. I’m that one person who didn’t see that puddle at the curb right when a car hits a right turn and gives me a nice cold and dirty splash of rainwater. I’m that one person who chose to wear those shoes that don’t stand a chance in the rain and as a result I manage to slip n’ slide on smooth surfaces while making alien faces to keep from falling. Ahhhh, the rain! We have a long history of closeness. But this time around it’s different. After going without very little rain last season and reintroducing myself to some of the many consistent benefits of water (drinking, gardening, pampering, etc.), I have established a new found appreciation for water – for rain. The fabulously fierce writer Toni Morrison once said:

All water has a perfect memory and is forever trying to get back to where it was.

So, despite my minor frustrations with walking to work in the rain and my occasional slippery situations and practically everyone I know complaining about the rain, I’m gonna make a bold statement that could get me some major eye roll from folks but I’m gonna say it anyway:

Thank you rain for coming and keep on coming, because we need you!

You may suck your teeth at me now but you’ll thank me, or more appropriately, you’ll thank the rain sooner or later.

Illuminate! January 25, 2010

Posted by oluwawa writes in Illuminate!.
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Quilting Words

String, 1985, by renowned African American quilter Effie Mae Howard who presented her work under the pseudonym, Rosie Lee Tompkins. Photo from Selvedge Magazine.

Portrait of Effie Mae Howard, 1986. Photo from Selvedge Magazine.

Sunday was a very heavy day for me, so much so that I was at a loss for words for this week’s posts. But as I was reading an article, in a back issue of Selvedge Magazine, on quilter Effie Mae Howard (1936 – 2006) and examined her quilts featured in the article, I saw an expression of words without words. The article makes note of one of Mrs. Howard’s quilts that cite the following verse in John 1:1 – “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” Today, I will let Mrs. Howard have the Word:

Half-Squares Medallion, pieced by Rosie Lee Tompkins and quilted by Willia Ette Graham, 1986. Photo from Selvedge Magazine.

Put-Togetha (Who’da), 1985 by Rosie Lee Tompkins. Photo from Selvedge Magazine.

In-deed! January 22, 2010

Posted by oluwawa writes in In-deed!.
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MOCHA (Museum of Children’s Art)

Photo from Mocha.org

Photo from Mocha.org

Photo from Mocha.org

I used to volunteer for MOCHA (Museum of Children’s Art in Oakland, CA), a great organization that offers a wide range of art activities and programs for youth in the Bay Area. I often volunteered at community events that serviced communities where access to the arts are limited. What I appreciate most about MOCHA is that one of their main goals is to provide arts opportunities for all children. Another aspect of MOCHA that I greatly appreciate is that they reduce, reuse, and recycle by using almost anything to create art from old file folders to film canisters. If you have old art supplies, magazines, fabric, old bottles or whatever you think might make a great art component, give them a call ( 510-465-8770)!

P.S. When I got home from work last night I was faced with two choices: 1. rush my video editing of the MLK Day of service event to publish it by today or 2.  make a well edited video and publish it on Monday. I chose 2, so check back on Monday!

Stepping Out on Faith/Fate January 21, 2010

Posted by oluwawa writes in Recent Posts.
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I came across an interesting article in the New York Times last night about what some designers are doing to cope during the recession. The design industry has been hit hard by the recent downturn of the economy and they are using the creative skill that got them hired to create their own ways of making ends meet.

Coolhaus truck. Photo from New York Times

Natasha Case was laid off from her job at Disney as a designer which led her to open up an ice cream truck in Los Angeles inspired by architects and the Bauhaus art movement.

Architecture 5¢ booth. Photo from New York Times

John Morefield lost his job twice as an architect and as a result set-up a booth at a farmer’s market in Seattle offering architectural advice for a nickel. Last year he made more than $50,000.

I too will be stepping out but by choice. I have always said that from limitation creativity is born. Although I am certainly fortunate to be employed in this time of vast unemployment, it is exciting to be in the time and place that we are in at this moment. With great loss comes great transformation and renewal. A good friend of mine said that he would like to be unusually successful – that stuck with me. While most people are on the computer or in a newspaper searching aimlessly for job openings and pumping out tweaked resumes in hopes of being employed once again, I will be walking away and towards a horizon I have yet to see. Why? Well. . .why not?

How are you stepping out?

Africa on my Mind January 20, 2010

Posted by oluwawa writes in Recent Posts.

“The Mothership Tranceformer,” a rainbow-hued patchwork tent by Xenobia Bailey.
Photo from New York Times

Beaded chair from Cameroon. Photo from Authentic Africa

Lately it seems like Africa (or rather, the African aesthetic) is at the forefront of the mainstream in the West. A lot of fashion, a lot of magazines, a lot of everything has had a little or a lot of Africa infused. I am pleased to see that a different vision of Africa has made its way into the mainstream, but I can’t help but wonder if what we’re seeing is the general African image “evolving” or is the African image simply becoming the West’s new trend/source of capitalism? Just as the next person, I am into fashion and I am a sucker for a well designed and visually arresting magazine but what does all the recent Africa craze mean? What effect does this have on Africa and on Africans?


Illuminate! January 18, 2010

Posted by oluwawa writes in Illuminate!.
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Coretta Scott King

[Photo from B-Rok NYLA]

What is a man without a woman? Today, I decided to honor the woman behind (but actually, beside) the man.

[Photo from Tsutpen.blogspot.com]

[Photo from ebogjonson.com]

[Photo from 55 Secret Street]

[Photo from 55 Secret Street]

[Photo from Mickey Adair – Portraits]

Learn more about Coretta Scott King from The King Center.

In-deed! January 15, 2010

Posted by oluwawa writes in In-deed!.
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MLK Day of Service

Student Conservation Association volunteers walk a newly cleared trail on Kingman Island as part of the Student Conservation Association’s 2009 Martin Luther King, Jr. Day of Service project. CNCS photo by M. T. Harmon, Office of Public Affairs

For many, Martin Luther King Jr. Day is a day off to kick back and catch up on soaps or clean your bathroom or get rid of the junk in your basement. In case you didn’t know, MLK Day is also a national day of service. So, when you’re done clipping your toe nails or washing your hair, check out MLKDay.gov and find out how you can serve in your community or simply go out and serve your family and friends, particularly elders.

P.S. On Monday, I will be serving Urban Releaf and Mo’Better Food to aid in the construction of an Educational Farm/Park in Oakland, CA (where I grew up). I will help in planting trees and building a legacy of healthy food and healthy living for the people of West Oakland. Tuesday I will post an Oluwa Series that documents this day of service within my community.