>> April 3, 2011

There were so many blogs we meant to write; so many planned and partly executed; so many blogs we wanted to write about our new adventures in Las Americas. From the joys of arriving home and the reemergence of our business lives, to family, to new places we have never been. A blog is something that works as a semi-permanent placeholder; but this doesn’t work for us.

When we were in China we blogged like Julie in Julie and Julia, daily; and, we did it in spite of the great firewall of China. But, this is lost in intention. Here the blogs are not prepared. We have not been as determined to write behind the curtain and during the actual scene. Blogs put off are never as good. But, thankfully, they are demanding. They demand that they be published. This, of course, deserves the effort. They demand photo companions. We must deliver. Then, they demand you the reader to trace us at least this far again. So, we are writing about the rainforest and rivers and reencounters.


Un Año Nuevo

>> January 1, 2011

A trip around the world certainly does not make it feel smaller; in some ways, it now feels achingly expansive. The towns and regions that we were fortunate to explore during Honey Service Year are tiny, illuminated pinpricks in a vast sea of unknown and unexplored world. And yet, in my mind's eye, I can see silvery threads between these seemingly isolated points. Bridges and paths that glimmer with human connection, with bits of dialog and flecks of connection. These threads may not be especially efficient, or delineate rational travel routes, but they are my threads, my connections. Their purpose is solely to remind me of how connected we all really are.

Events of the past year have changed parts of my being, one being my levels of engagement, of interest, and of participation. I have witnessed more clearly ways in which peoples of the world are united and share commonalities. A breakdown of supposed stereotypes and assumed differences has made me softer, and rounder (the french cheese and groundnut stew certainly contributed to the latter). Sometimes I feel a sharp sense of global community, in spite of vast oceans, sharp barriers, and political walls. I share my humanity with billions that stretch from here to there, and back to here again.

Happy New Year from Cartagena, Colombia. The city is quiet, revelers are recovering, and presumably, reflecting on the year gone past.......

.......or, at least reflecting on the woes and excesses of last night. 

Wishing you great peace, perspective, and love in 2011.



Which years do you remember to finish?

>> December 31, 2010

It was quite a year.

We did some traveling. Of course, we wrote about most places we were this year thanks to this blog. We also shared our blog via internet searches like blogsherpa.

We wrote about places we'd visited because we want to treat each one as memorable to us.

There are those places we'll remember.

Then, there are those we find it easiest to talk about. Most of these are popular conversation pieces because they made big impressions or are easy to discuss with people: Shibuya, London, Aix-en-Provence, El Prado, Italy, Monaco, China.

Tonight at the dinner table we talked about all kinds of bugs we saw and ate in Thailand. Later on, I recounted how I enjoyed a BBQ Sparrow in China (one of China's milder gastronomic pursuits). Pretty funny, as it turned out my father-in-law knew this dish from living in Italy.

We want to share more but cannot. Memories are fleeting. So, we move on, remembering everything we can. And, we reinforce our memories with our storytelling. People ask us what we liked most, where our favorite locale was, what was most frightening or unnerving.

I wish people asked us what means most to us when we travel around this world. That answer is easy - the kindness and welcoming spirit of strangers - the joy and friendship and camaraderie which we made momentarily or longer with people we met along our way.


Sweet Home, Happy New Year

It is so easy for me to enjoy the peace and calm of Winter here in rural Sweet Home, Oregon.

It is the childhood home of my wife, the Ogilby's Humble Hollow. It is a quiet hollow surrounded by a beautiful mix of fir forest and carefully tended north-western farming. An idyllic landscape many would covet far fewer would actually have the patience for. It is this patience, a loved land and its the caring stewardship what makes the Ogilby hollow so invigorating.

As this year winds down Humble Hollow reminds me of other landscapes, each with their own mantle and spirit.

Brittany's father Clem has a brother-in-law in Maine who also lives surrounded by a landscape he loves. He love of the earth as a geologist making his location all the sweeter. He takes sea-kayaking and winter cross-country as adventure through Earth's millinea of milleneum invested in the landscape of his forest and coast. We took long walks with Uncle Boo-boo on fire roads set into the surrounding forests to make them accessible and halt forest fires.

Humble Hollow also reminds me of the Bapu Kuti's ashram in India's burnt interior. On the Ghandian ashram, the development of harmless activity as a community is the simple goal. Their work challenges us all to think of our personal and communal relationship to self-sufficiency and service. Bapu's life and work reminds me of justice, how our love for our family during the holidays makes us stronger to do justice to our fellows throughout the years.

Bapu's ashram reminds me of my own family history in Ahmednagar. Our families walked and rode horses to a place wshich is still in service today. None of us are perfect (for long) and so it goes with the history of the American Missions my family endeavored in.

Amednagar reminds me of Selma, Indiana. All Shroyers I am closely related to walked from Pennsylvania to Selma 180 years ago. They learned the benefits of self-sufficiency that first Winter as they arrived with little time to construct permanent shelter. They all wintered over together in the buggy. The next Spring they settled in.

Selma, Indiana reminds me of the costs, opportunities, and consequences of rural self-sufficiency. Rural self-sufficiency reminds me of why I am such a huge proponent of ZERI.
Aren't we all searching for ways to use labor, nature, and science to insure the health and welfare of our planet for coming generations?

ZERI has been studying the "best solutions for social and economic development, using available resources designing a competitive model that provides water, food, health, energy and jobs for all." Is ZERI something you can orient your community towards and support. I have a New Year's resolution. I am going to champion ZERI and its benefits much in 2011.

ZERI reminds me of the end of December 2010. We were in Tokyo. What a year!


ZERI leaves us with this lovely poem on their homepage:

If I can see a little further than the green economy today

it is because I can stand on the shoulders of so many giants.

The poem reminds me of why I love to visit Sweet Home, Oregon. Sweet Home reminds me of family. Oregon is family to me. I love to be around rural stewardship. Oregon has done a fine job of taking its roles of rural stewardship pretty seriously.

Stewardship reminds me of the family and holidays: It reminds me of what people tell me I will appreciate about the holidays each year (even as much as they know I will fuss).

Blessings and Prosperity to you all in the New Year 2011 and the Year of the Rabbit.

Footnote: The chart at the top of the page is for all who love mushrooms, bread, and beer!

Happy New Year to all where ever your Sweet Home may be,


World cities become more dense, crowded

>> December 30, 2010

India's cities are straining under the weight of mass migration. Across the world, as crowding and poor standards cause building collapse and other lapse of reason societies tremble. What is happening. Mass poor are moving to cities which have neither governmental nor physical infrastructure to accommodate them.

We are planning our return to India in 2013 for the 200th anniversary celebrations of the Maharathi Missions. Our Earth strains more today than it did 160 years ago when generations of my Grandparents spent lifetimes in India challenging assumptions about how our planet was going to involve the masses in its evolution and structural construct. Records of the history of early mission are kept in the Amistad Research Center in New Orleans.

Today marked the passing of Frank Bessac. I did not know much about Frank before I read about him today. But, in reading about his life, I loved his company...

I crashed the dessert course of a dinner on at my wife's godmother's house Christmas Eve. It was worth it for many reasons. One of which is I met our hostesses mother Bisi. Her father was a diplomat in China during the same time my Grandfather (who was raised by the American Missionaries in India). "My father did not think much of most of the missionary work in China," Bisi told us, "but he thought the Medical colleges were an admirable lot." The exchange of ideas, education, friendship, respect and service engenders trust.

What can we do to trust and build trust with emerging populations in cities and rural areas?


At last....

>> December 7, 2010

At 8:30am, it's 41 degrees in our screened porch, and I sit with hot water bottle on my lap, baby blue angora hat atop my head, and a steaming cup of jasmine tea close at hand. It's a good life, really it is.

Have you heard about our Porch? My husband built it. It's amazing and a perfect nest after a year of travel.

When we first returned to New Orleans, I had ambitious plans to weatherize our little home, but a multitude of rental property projects, family gatherings, and general busyness quickly allowed my porch project to fall by the wayside. But we have a lofted bed that is walled on three sides, the fourth side I have insulated with an old sleeping bag. With a space heater and partially-working electric blanket, it is a cozy space for two. However, after a 34 degree night, we are eagerly awaiting our Christmas present from the folks - thanks (in advance) for the down comforter, Mom and Dad! 

So, for now, we enjoy our last few weeks in New Orleans. It has been a joy to have our friend Elisa visiting us from Ireland. The circle of couchsurfing is incredible, especially when you are able to host a traveler who once hosted you. Elisa's visit has prompted us to enjoy some of the special and unique aspects of our fair city, and to take a pause from the head down, blinders on, utterly focused, seemingly never-ending task list of repairs and roofs and projects. Poboy picnics in City Park, candy-making, early morning beers at the Mother-In-Law Lounge garage sale, and bonfires in the yard with neighbors and friends were just the diversions we needed. Can we continue the circle by another visit to Dublin someday soon?

Yesterday, I spent the afternoon and evening alternating between my current holiday card project, and stoking the ongoing bonfire (we are trying to burn through a few 'trash' trees in the yard). Apparently, my card project was just the push I needed to get my creative thoughts a-flowin'. I awoke to blog concepts piling up with great speed, henna designs, and quilt-making patterns all racing through my mind. Like I said, I'm a morning person. I'm not allowed to have coffee - I don't need any additional energy in the mornings.

The countdown to an Oregon Christmas is on....t-minus 15 days 'till our departure. 

And so we gear up to hit the road again, didn't we tell you that the journey wasn't ending?

Hope that you all are enjoying the holiday season and staying warm, wherever you are.


Coming soon: How much waste is necessary after your FEMA managed disaster?

>> November 26, 2010

This is just a tantalizer...

Look for our article coming soon: How to lower waste after your disaster.

We have been astounded by the number of lots across south Mississippi which are filled with decaying 'FEMA' mobile homes for sale. Remember how these travel trailers were rushed to the Gulf Coast only to sit in lots of up to 40,000 trailers unused for months after the disaster? Remember how the first 18month life from purchase by our government through maintenance contract meant that average unit costs of $120-180k more than doubled the cost of complete renovation estimates per New Orleans' native 'double' family home?

But, in the USA when we have a disaster our government does not allow that recovery produce permanent solutions such as restoring existing housing - only temporary patches allowed.

Years after these trailers were determined unsafe to live in (due in part to being constructed with high concentrations of formaldehyde) they are being offered as reused, cheap, housing. They now fill plastic lots with signs asking potential customers to 'make offer.'

How the US wasted resources and other opportunities to use the disaster of Katrina continues to astound us almost 6 years since our disaster. But, how are our lessons being applied? How have we used the opportunities for teaching, learning, and being more humane in the disasters which have occurred since the Gulf Coast and Katrina? How has Haiti, by example, benefited from histories of New Orleans and Gulf Coast (non)recovery and/or (lack of) human restoration? Has the US/FEMA, Red Cross, or NGO community changed significantly how it expenses limited resources since Katrina's gross misuse of funds and misrepresentation of aid or assistance?

We are investigating. We are going to visit the FEMA parks and share our images. Did you have a FEMA trailer? Can we share your story? When you share it can help defend others. Your story matters; What we do now in sharing the truth defends the next disaster community.


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