Monday, June 30, 2014

Hawaii, Ecotopia, Mongabay, Africa!

Pololu Point Lookout, Hawaii (the Big Island). Copyright (c) 2014 Wendee Nicole

Hello pumpkins! Soon I will post more photos and update about my week in Hawaii, where I visited my long time friend Elissa (who is a pilot for Mokulele airlines!) and traveled around Oahu and the Big Island (loved Volcanoes National Park!). The house I've lived in for the past decade, where I've raised my sweet children, goes on the market in a couple of days, and when my son goes off to University of Texas this fall, I am moving also, to .... AFRICA!! I am excited and nervous and melancholic all swirled into a bundle. But for the past several weeks, I have been prepping my house, landscaping, painting, fixing stuff (with the help of a dear guy friend - thank God for him!) and now the time has come. Houses are selling like hotcakes here, and I hope and pray it sells quickly and for what I am asking, as some of that money will be used to fund the nonprofit I've founded with a friend from Africa!

Check out our new website, which I designed, for the Redemption Song Foundation, and please "like" us on Facebook too! Our vision is "empowering youth through education, poverty alleviation, spiritual development and song" and we are accepting donations via the link on our website (or by check, but you have to send to me for now... I'm in the process of registering the "dba" and the other info for us before I move). We are providing school fees and basic necessities like food, clothing and hygiene /medical care information. We have plans for other exciting projects, like income-generating activities for older youth. One of the problems in the area is that the most impoverished girls and women can't afford menstrual pads, and they use leaves, dirty rags, etc, and we want to provide pads to these to girls, and create an income stream to those working on the pad project, making them using a cool machine made by an Indian entrepreneur (profiled on the BBC and in the new documentary, Menstrual Man). They often drop out of school when they start their periods. Some organizations provide hygiene packs to girls, but not everywhere - there is a big need. We will be starting an Indiegogo campaign to raise money for this soon.

I have had two more feature articles come out under my Mongabay Special Reporting Initiative Grant! Check them out:

  • Tipping the scale: How a political economist could save the world’s forests

    “[T]here’s a five-letter word I’d like to repeat and repeat and repeat: Trust.” Thus spoke Elinor Ostrom in her 2009 Stockholm lecture, when at age 77 she became the first woman to receive the Nobel Prize in Economics. She’d spent a lifetime traveling the world and observing everyday citizens cooperating against all odds. Ostrom frequently encountered groups of people managing commonly shared resources, creating systems based on trust, such as peasant farmers in Nepal cooperatively managing simple irrigation systems, and people working to solve human-wildlife conflict with forest elephants in Kenya. Such collective behavior flew in the face of the longstanding theory of the day, which said that people will selfishly take whatever they can, ultimately causing a “tragedy of the commons.”

  • Ecotopia emerging: Sustainable forests and healthy livelihoods go hand in hand

    Callenbach's 1975 utopian novel Ecotopia became wildly popular among environmental-leaning folks, hippies, and progressive thinkers of the day. The rebels who founded Ecotopia believed human health and livelihoods can coexist with nature, and built their nation For a book that has fallen mostly off the radar, outside of a smattering of college classes and small-scale environmental movements, certain aspects of Ecotopian society fall remarkably in line with research by Economics Nobel Laureate Elinor Ostrom, and more recently the work of Arun Agrawal, a scholar who studied under Ostrom. Research - described in this piece - discusses how decentralization of conservation policies and intrinsic motivations to preserve the environment are found in time-tested research, as well as the almost prophetic writings of Callenbach some 40 years before.

A green sea turtle we saw while snorkeling in Paradise Cove on Oahu. Copyright (c) 2014 Elissa Zavora. Love this image!! So cool! It was an amazing experience to swim next to the turtle, and another one showed up too! More to come. Love to you all!

Monday, April 21, 2014

I interviewed Jane Goodall - a hero of mine!

A young chimpanzee in the trees at the Budongo Forest in Uganda. Who is watching whom? 

Articles under the Mongabay Prize for Environmental Reporting grant I received have started coming out! This is a 6-month grant to report on tropical forest conservation that allowed me to travel to Uganda to report on some initiatives and projects there. Several more articles will be coming out, but here's a start!

If you have been following any sort of wildlife or science news, you may have seen that the legendary Dr. Jane Goodall turned 80 on April 3rd. On the Sunday before her birthday, I interviewed her by phone for Animal Planet's 80 Years of Jane online content. She was in Montreal about to fly to California, and it was so neat to hear her voice over the phone lines. Although mountain gorillas and not chimpanzees are my favorite animal, in high school I watched many a Jane Goodall National Geographic documentary, as well, and read her book In the Shadow of Man. I have the coolest job!

Here's a link to my Dr Jane Goodall Q&A for Animal Planet! I also did this longer piece for Animal Planet: 10 Reasons Why Everyone Should Love Jane Goodall! (If you scroll to the bottom of the first page there, you can click "show all on one page" so you don't have to click through one by one.)

But my favorite articles so far is published on CBS Smart Planet: How Jane Goodall’s legacy is alleviating poverty. This is about the Sustainable Livelihoods Project that I visited near Hoima, Uganda. Not long after I arrived in Uganda, I drove from Kampala to Budongo Forest Reserve with Peter Apell of the Jane Goodall Institute-Uganda, and got all those great quotes on that trip - he is a great interview. I spent a couple of days tracking chimps and such at Budongo, and then drove to the project in the field with JGI's Tomas Acidri, and interviewed one of the community villagers, Joram Basiima, whose photo appears in the article. I was impressed with the project and their approach. More articles from Uganda, and from the Mongabay grant, will be coming soon! Stay tuned!

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

I've been productive!

The Habinyanja family group of mountain gorillas in Bwindi Impenetrable Park, Uganda. Notice the green lips! I guess mountain gorillas like their lipstick green. :) 
Photo Copyright (c) 2014 Wendee Nicole

Check out my first Mongabay blog post Reporter's Journal: The Forests of Uganda, posted today! I have pieces coming soon at Animal Planet Online, CBS, and Environmental Health Perspectives from my Uganda Adventures, but in the meantime several other articles on other topics have come out:

  • Pig Poop Power: Scaling up waste-to-energy technology could transform the hog farming industry. Discover Magazine, Mar 2014. (the full article will not be online until May).

  • BMW's Big Bet on Carbon Fiber. How carbon-fiber technology is transforming the auto industry, starting with the uber-cool BMW i-3! Solutions Journal (Rocky Mountain Institute). Spring 2014.

  • A Question for Women's Health. Chemicals in Feminine Hygiene Products and Personal Lubricants (may not be safe...). Environmental Health Perspectives. PDF version. Mar 2014.

Wednesday, February 05, 2014

African safari wildlife

Took a day in Queen Elizabeth National Park on the way back to Entebbe from Bwindi, and saw many of the typical African wildlife and wanted to post a few photos!

Sunday, February 02, 2014

Postcards from Uganda

I've been in Uganda more than a week and just wanted to post some of my favorite photos. I will give more information about each later, but... chimpanzees, mountain gorillas, the incredible Batwa (forest pygmy) Experience, and the sad state of their children at their homes, now, 20 some years after being evicted from Bwindi Impenetrable Forest.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Christmas all over again :)

I love these two most precious humans!!! This is my new favorite picture of my kiddos. It is now my desktop on my laptop and tablet and phone! These photos are taken by and copyright by my daughter Savannah, check out her blog! As I'm leaving for Uganda shortly I don't have time for captions but… this was Christmas! It was great! Just a little too much pie :)

You can tell Skip is a real cat person :)