Pillow Talk

The September issue of Domino magazine profiles Montreal-based textile designer Anupama Swaminadhan, whose years-ago stint overseeing the production of couture fabrics in India informs her current work. Swaminadhan’s new line of pillows, stoles and other home accessories are created through kalamkari, an ancient Indian printing technique. The dyes used in the line are all-natural and come from vegetable and mineral dyes. For inspiration, Swaminadhan draws on India’s “[t]raditional temple art depicting mythological scenes and narratives.”

Domino also features Swaminadhan’s line in its back-of-the-book “Domino Deals” section.

More: Anupama Swaminadhan’s official site.

Comments Off on Pillow Talk         Facebook   RSS 2.0   Permalink   September 21, 2007

Paperation Dumbo Drop

Kagan McLeod for New York Magazine

As we’re all probably aware, cow dung is more than just waste; users ranging from subsistence farmers and multinational energy companies to myriad South Asian grandparents can all come together under the bovine manure banner.

But a Sri Lanka-based company has its eyes on an even bigger prize: Eco Maximus traffics in paper made from elephant dung.

Elephant habitats and agricultural development overlap discordantly in Sri Lanka; the problem comes to an awful head when desperate farmers kill the animals in order to shield their crops from damage. The company aims to change farmers’ perception of the elephants from threats to worthwhile assets through cultivating the market for paper products created from pachydermal, er, output.

I love the idea, because I look at it this way—recycling is great, but recycling plus scatalogical jokes is even better. Moreover, when elephants are protected, that leads to more baby elephants. Baby elephants inarguably number among the best things ever, so everyone wins. Especially yours truly Planet Earth.

A more elaborate Eco Maximus raison d’etre
Elephant dung paper featured in an article spotlighting eco-chic products
Baby elephants being adorable, as usual

Comments Off on Paperation Dumbo Drop         Facebook   RSS 2.0   Permalink   June 17, 2007

Big B Cooler Than Ever

<Sienna Bachchan

You knew he was cool, but Global Cool? 

Amitabh Bachchan has joined Factory Girl Sienna Miler in raising awareness for the International Indian Film Academy/Global Cool climate change campaign.

At an IIFA breakfast event yesterday, Bachchan stressed the importance of taking small steps toward leading a more eco-efficient life. The Global Cool campaign will work to equip people with the “tools and knowledge to actively decrease CO2 emissions” and will target the half-a-billion Bollywood fans worldwide.

“IIFA is committed to using the power of Indian cinema to build bridges and bring people together on global issues,” Bachchan told reporters. “We aim to carry this message to a constituency of people who may otherwise be unaware of the serious impact of global warming.”

“Climate Change is an issue that is going to affect us all unless we act now and I truly believe Global Cool’s approach of encouraging individuals to reduce their energy use will go a long way to solving the problem,” added Miller.

Carbon dioxide emissions in India have been increasing at a steady and alarming rate over the past two decades.

Here in the US, we are each responsible for producing 40,000 pounds of carbon dioxide each year. Go here to figure out exactly how much you emit.

Comments Off on Big B Cooler Than Ever         Facebook   RSS 2.0   Permalink   March 29, 2007

Total Denial: Doe vs. UNOCAL

Total Denial

Shot in Burma, Thailand, Europe, and the U.S. courts between 2000-2005, Total Denial documents the story of a historic lawsuit: Fifteen villagers from the jungles of Burma bringing suit in U.S. courts against a giant oil corporation for human-rights abuses committed in the mid-1990s by soldiers providing security for Unocal’s natural gas pipeline in southern Burma.

The plaintiffs achieved victory in Doe vs. UNOCAL after 10 years of fierce legal battles. John Doe IX, who had done back-breaking forced labor, said, “I don’t care about the money. Most of all I wanted the world to know what Unocal did. Now you know.”

Producer/director Milena Kaneva documented the abuses of villagers with help from Ka Hsaw Wa, a member of the Karen, an ethnic minority discriminated against by Burma’s military regime. Award-winning environmentalist and human rights activist Ka Hsaw Wa was also one of the leaders of the Burmese student democracy movement in 1988. In hiding in the jungle for more than seven years, he gathered the evidence of thousands of victims. At the federal court hearings, Kaneva’s camera was the only one allowed.

Total Denial is part of the Human Rights Watch International Film Festival 2007. Other films running at the festival include the Oscar-nominated My Country, My Country, and Black Gold, an exploration of the the global coffee trade from Ethiopian bean growers to multinational companies to U.S. coffee consumers.

HRW 2007 International Film Festival

Comments Off on Total Denial: Doe vs. UNOCAL         Facebook   RSS 2.0   Permalink   February 15, 2007

Sunita Moonwalks Her Way Into History Books

Williams in Space
Williams on Jan 31 (AP/NASA)

American astronaut Sunita Williams broke a world record yesterday, having spent more time walking around in space than any other woman.

According to an Associated Press report, Williams set the record–of 22 hours and 27 minutes–while upgrading the international space station’s cooling system.

This beats the previous women’s spacewalking record by over an hour.

Blast off! Sunita Williams Heads Back to Space
We spoke to Williams back in 2004. Read the interview here.

Comments Off on Sunita Moonwalks Her Way Into History Books         Facebook   RSS 2.0   Permalink   February 5, 2007
Read more stuff


Kumbh Mela
Naga Sadhus at River’s Edge. AP Photo

Millions gathered in celebration of the Ardh Kumbh Mela this past weekend, along the riverbank where the spiritual Ganga, Saraswati and Yamuna waters converge.

The area in and around Allahabad will welcome about 70 million visitors to the festival in the coming weeks (some suggest Sonia Gandhi will be among the bathers again this year)

Last Friday, when astrologers determined that 6.10 AM was the most auspicious time to take a dip , millions, “undeterred by numbing winter temperatures” took the plunge.

But, as NPR’s All Things Considered reports, many pilgrims are angry that the waters have become incredibly polluted (due to industrial and human waste that continues to be drained into the river).

The award-winning 2004 film Short Cut To Nirvana: Kumbh Mela documents the journey of pilgrims (including that of an American couple Justin Davis and Dyan Summers). It is now out on DVD.

The Kumbh Mela began on January 3 and will continue until the 16th of February.

Comments Off on Kumbh-A-Yaa         Facebook   RSS 2.0   Permalink   January 24, 2007

Sunita & Crew Give Martha Tour Of Expedition 14

expedition 14 crew
Lopez-Alegria and Williams chat with Stewart (NASA TV)

Martha Stewart chatted with the crew of Expedition 14 Monday morning, including Sunita Williams, in an event shown on NASA TV.

Expedition 14 Flight Engineer Sunita Williams showed off her green thumb with a sample of bean sprouts she had been growing as part of a horticulture experiment for long-term living in space. Pickles and shrimp cocktail were the crew member’s top choices when asked of their favorite foods in space.

After giving a glimpse of their personalized sleeping areas, Williams and Commander Michael Lopez-Alegria told Stewart they were open to any home decorating or cooking tips for their home in space.(NASA)

Blast Off! Sunita Williams Heads Back to Space
Working Woman: Sunita Williams, Nirali 2004
Emeril Lagasse chats with Station Crew (video)

Comments Off on Sunita & Crew Give Martha Tour Of Expedition 14         Facebook   RSS 2.0   Permalink   January 24, 2007

Forcing Turtles Out of Their Shells

Image: Zoological Society of London

About $23,600 worth of rare Indian freshwater turtles were seized in Uttar Pradesh earlier today.

Turtle meat is routinely sold on the black market as a specialty aphrodisiac.

“Preliminary investigations suggest that a large chunk of the contraband finds its way to Southeast Asian countries, where turtle meat is converted into crunchy chips for convenient consumption,” explains Ram Kumar, a UP-police chief.

India has 28 species of tortoises and freshwater turtles “making it one of the most diverse chelonian faunas in the world (source).”

Comments Off on Forcing Turtles Out of Their Shells         Facebook   RSS 2.0   Permalink   January 8, 2007

Two Years Later

tsunami memorial lanterns
Lanterns over Andaman Sea in tribute to tsunami victims. REUTERS/Chaiwat Subprasom

Two years ago, one of the most powerful earthquakes recorded triggered giant waves that destroyed villages in several nations along the Indian Ocean shores and took the lives of hundreds of thousands of people. On Tuesday people in the affected areas marked the tsunami’s second anniversary with all manner of tributes, including tears, prayers, silence and jitters induced by powerful earthquakes in Taiwan that triggered a temporary tsunami alert.

Last year covered the stories of survivors and those who helped out with the recovery efforts following the destruction (“Wave of Destruction,” 2/05). Orlantha Ambrose, a Sri Lankan American whose work with children and music education took her from Los Angeles to Colombo, was one of those people in the path of the tsunami who did not survive. Look for more on Ambrose and Strings by the Sea, the non-profit she founded which continues her mission of bringing music to underprivileged kids, in an upcoming issue.

Related: Swing Batter-Batter, Becoming Family: A Tsunami Relief Documentary

Comments Off on Two Years Later         Facebook   RSS 2.0   Permalink   December 26, 2006

Swing Batter-Batter


You knew he could swing a racket, but a cricket bat?

Roger Federer spent yesterday 100 miles south of Chennai, playing a few rounds of cricket with the displaced children of the Pudupettai rehabilitation colony.

The children have been homeless since the tsunami hit on December 26, 2004.

The tsunami-death toll stands at just under 300,000 people (18,000 in India alone).

“In the beginning they threw the ball at me slowly, and then realized that I was not that bad after all,” said Federer of his fellow cricketers.

“In the end, they did get me out.”

The boys, of Tamil Nadu’s Cuddalore district, were said to be “delighted” with the visit. Roger Federer is a top-seeded tennis player and a goodwill ambassador for UNICEF.

For more on how you can help with tsunami recovery efforts, visit MercyCorps.Com or go to the UNDP’s relief site.

3 Comments         Facebook   RSS 2.0   Permalink   December 23, 2006