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Sep 02
2010

Rebuilding in Kyrgyzstan

Posted by Bruce Robinson in war , volunteer , poverty , peace , nonprofit orgs , land rights , international , housing , history , government , families , economy , current events , construction , activism

Bruce Robinson

Of all the international hot spots where disaster assistance workers were needed last summer, Kyrgyzstan didn’t get a lot of attention. But that’s where one local volunteer spent most of July, working on rebuilding after a regime change and a spate of internal ethnic conflict.

cotton.jpgOver the past 11 years,  Chris and John Mason, co-owners of Emtu Winery in Forestville, have regularly traveled to distant, damaged parts of the world to aid in disaster relief efforts, regardless of the source of the troubles. (Here, John pauses for a picture with a cotton vendor in Osh, Kyrgyrzstan.)

As shown in this map, Kyrgyzstan lies mostly between China, to the south and east, and Kazakhstan on the north. But the southwestern bornder withUzbekistan and  Tajikistan is a cartographical jigsaw, whihc John Mason says was deliberately drawn to heighten historic mistrust between the ethnic Kyrgis and Uzbeks.
 
The ancient "Silk Road" passes through much of Kygyrstan, which John Mason found to be a beautiful and especially hospitable land.
kyrgyzstan.jpg 
 

 


 

 

Aug 26
2010

Chocolate

Posted by Bruce Robinson in students , Science , research , international , history , Health , food , education , agriculture

Bruce Robinson

Chocolate is at least 3000 years old, and we have the ancient Mayans to thank for it. By way of the conquistadors, that is.

There is tantalizing historical evidence showing that the Mayans were quite creative in their use of chocolate, and the flavor combinations they developed, but archeo-ethno-botany researcher Kirsten Tripplett (left) , says few details of their actual recipes have survived.

Spanish explorer Hernan Cortes was probably the first European to taste chocolate, and it was he who first exported some back to his homeland.

 

Dark or milk chocolate? Many people have a distinct personal preference, but Tripplett says it’s clear which type is better for us.

 

Aug 22
2010

Remembering "The Farm"

Posted by Bruce Robinson in women , resources , lifestyle , Ideas , history , Health , Green , food , farms , families , community , children , business , agriculture , activism

Bruce Robinson

Communal living was a idealistic experiment for some back when the counter-culture was in full flower, and The Farm, a pioneering outpost in rural Tennessee, mostly managed to live up to those ideals.

The earliest origins of The Farm can be traced back to San Francisco at the end of the 1960s, recalls Robert Tepper, in a group that coalesced around a San Francisco State professor named Stephen Gaskin.

That memorable caravan, as seen in this photograph (© Book Publishing Company), was also the basis for the  poster promoting the gathering of former Farm residents in Santa Rosa on Saturday.  It’s natural that such an event would happen here, Tepper adds, since the North Bay was once home to so many of the founding Farmers.

Today, The Farm (seen below from the air) hosts a much smaller population, says Linda Rake, but it remains a hub of sustainable activity.

From the founding group of around 300, the population of The Farm quickly grew, in part, Linda Speel recalls, due to their open door policy toward visitors, particularly expectant couples.

It took a few years for the community to attain economic equilibrium, but Linda Rake notes that they soon began to marshal what resources they had to reach out and assist when natural disasters struck elsewhere in the hemisphere, through an organization they named Plenty.

 

 

Aug 19
2010

Sonoma County Museum Collection

Posted by Bruce Robinson in Sonoma County , Santa Rosa , research , preservation , nonprofit orgs , lifestyle , history , education , conserve

Bruce Robinson

In most any museum, the items on display are just a small slice of their large and varied collection. And the Sonoma County Museum is no exception.

By acquainting himself with the breadth and variety of the total museum collection, Curator Eric Stanley  is then able to find ideas and items to draw from it to flesh out thematic displays. One recent instance of this, he recalls, was an exhibit based around the concept of Botany.

Another collection within the larger multitude of historic items that fascinate Stanley are the relics remaining from Santa Rosa's Chinatown. Now vanished and virtually unknown to all but the oldest area residents (or students of local history), it was a vibrant part of the core community less that 100 years ago.

The Sonoma County Museum is celebrating its own history with a  25th Birthday Party on Saturday afternoon. See a full schedule of upcoming museum activities here, including their rare, late September warehouse sale.

 

 

 

Eric Stanley

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