Archive | March 2012

Happy Birthday Sonia!


Happy Birthday Sonia from 3,000 miles away!

Thinking of you as we prepare to leave for our site this week. I hope you have a fantastic birthday! Some suggestions that sound fun from abroad: Go on an outing with the dog (when it stops raining), watch a movie and eat Thai food, take a hot shower,  speak English with friends, drive a car and go to a museum.

I am sorry we are not there to celebrate with you. We miss being so close but we will see you soon!

Con Cariño,

Paul and Mari

Permaculture Workshop


Last week we also enjoyed a Permaculture Workshop both at the Training Center and in the field visiting a local huerto. I’ve recently been introduced to the idea of Permaculture, which Wikipedia (yes, I’m being lazy) defines as: a theory of ecological design which seeks to develop sustainable human settlements and agricultural systems, by attempting to model them on natural ecosystems.” I couldn’t have said it better myself.

We learned about the Australian Bill Mollison who is credited as being the “father of permaculture.” In addition, we learned about the various steps involved in designing a permaculture site from conducting a needs assessment to accounting for each of the 5 Zones that Mollison outlines going from the more populated area like a house or building (Zone 1) to the wildest area (Zone 5).

Read more about permaculture here.

Enjoy, Mari

Recycled Art Workshop


This past week I had a blast teaching fellow Natural Resources Conservation trainees how to make things out of recycled materials. I led workshops on melting plastic bags together and making things out of the resulting fabric as well as origami made from magazines. I learned a few more projects, too, like how to make a wallet from a milk carton and how to make an animal bank out of a plastic bottle.

Happy art-making! Mari

Paul and Mar Go To Palmar


Due to circumstances beyond our control we are moving sites. While this surprised and saddened us, we are moving forward and thinking positively about the future.

We are not going to return to Pucará but instead we will be living and working in PALMAR. Palmar is a fishing village of about 10,000 people in the province of Santa Elena on the Ecuadorian coast. It is home to a mangrove forest, a youth group called Neo Juventud, a tourism association, and a community banking program.

Past Peace Corps volunteers in the Youth and Families Program have served in Palmar establishing several small businesses from an internet café to a bakery. I will be working in business advising and Mari will be working in HIV/AIDS and environmental education. We will know more details later this week about our counterpart organization and will be headed to our new home in Palmar on April 5th.

Mari and I are excited to:

  • Sit on the beach and watch the sun set
  • Meet our new host family and counterpart organization
  • Eat fish and yucca
  • Make new friends
  • Go kyaking through the mangrove forest
  • Unpack and make a new home
  • Visit one of the two restaurants in town
  • Eat oysters

Community Action Day


Last week we invited several different schools to the Peace Corps Training Center for a Community Action Day. Kids from all over the area enjoyed English, environmental, and business games; recycled art projects; food; and dancing. It was a chance for us to practice our charla skills in addition to inviting the community to be a part of the Peace Corps family.

Enjoy the slideshow, Mari

Tumbaco: Next Five Faves





Pucará: Vertical Five Faves





Pucará: First Five Faves





The GOOD 30-Day Challenge: Art Every Day


Today I will be teaching some of my fellow trainees how to make art out of things that some may consider trash (or recyclables). This afternoon we will be melting plastic bags to create a new plastic fabric in addition to weaving paper wrappers and making beads and origami out of magazines. Doing these projects makes me extremely happy but also makes me miss Starting Artists! I’ve been trying to keep up with making things – from teaching my host mom how to turn our teabag wrappers into bracelets to leading two charlas on how to make paper beads (see photos above) but it’s been a while since I’ve had enough time just to hang out and be creative.

That’s why I’m so happy that I recently found out about GOOD’s 30-Day Art Challenge. Paul and I are thinking of doing this challenge once we’re settled into our site so stay tuned!

These prompts remind me of one of my favorite artists, Miranda July, and her project: “Learning to Love You More” that was both a book and a website (now acquired by SF MoMA!). She is the screenwriter and director of the fabulously quirky film, Me and You and Everyone We Know, as well as a writer, a performance artist, and a musician.

Between 2002 and 2009, 8,000 people participated in the Learning to Love You More project, which included exhibitions, screenings and radio broadcasts all over the world. Check out Miranda July’s fantastic prompts on the Learning to Love You More website and see below for GOOD’s 30-Day Art Challenge (really 31 days).

Happy Arting, Mari


Art Every Day Tasks

Visit a museum or gallery

Take a street art walking tour

Take a photo

Research an artist

Create something handmade and give it to someone

Sign up for an art class

Create a floral or stone arrangement

Make a self-portrait

Doodle for 10 minutes straight

Frame something you have been meaning to frame

Sketch somebody and give them the picture

Create a font type for your name

Create a business card

Check out an art book at the library

Break something. (You have to destroy in order to create!)

Make a collage

Support the local arts scene by going to a local festival, music event, art show, play, museum exhibit, etc.

Make a card for someone you love

Make an inspiration board (moodboard) for a future project

Draw some chalk art on the sidewalk

Make origami

Finger paint

Illustrate a song that inspires you

Add an art blog’s RSS feed to your reader

Draw the best part of today

Send a friend a link to your favorite artist’s work

Create a place in your home to store your creative supplies

Close your eyes and draw for five minutes

Draw yourself as a cartoon

Take your camera with you on a walk and document the experience

Create an artist’s workspace in your home

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