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EL PASO Search Results: “Chihuhuan Desert”

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Monk Drums

BY JOHN LAWEKA
@ VOL 11 ON OCT 10, 2015

John Laweka presents the work of Monk Drums, drums locally crafted by the hands of the desert dwelling monks of Chaparral, NM.

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Desolate Beauty: A Contemplation of the Desert

BY DAVID MORRISON
@ VOL 16 ON JUN 29, 2017

Contemplative writer David Morrison and Monk Drums (El Paso vol.11) creator Jacob Neria takes us on a journey of of sound, image, and spoken word celebrates a vision of desert spirituality.

As David explains, there is a beauty that can be experienced in the scarcity of desert if we come to it with contemplative eyes. The word, “contemplation,” in Latin, means to “gaze intently upon.” It’s possible to walk in desert landscapes and witness its emptiness until a stunning beauty arises. And further, this beauty begins to gaze into the beholder, and one is transformed forever. In the Irish language, “to contemplate,” means to place oneself at the “edge of waiting.” The desert is a liminal space on the edge of what’s familiar, and it draws and enchants those who dare to walk in its kenotic embrace.

The images are not professionally shot nature photos, but rather the simple snapshots of a lifelong desert walker. The haikus are not literary as much as they are experiential. Mary Oliver sums it up perfectly: "Every day I walk out into the world / to be dazzled, then to be reflective."

David Morrison and Jacob Neria are members of Desert Rain Community, a contemporary community of Christian contemplative monks located outside El Paso in Chaparral, NM.

 

SITEWIDE Search Results: “Chihuhuan Desert”

PAST VOL 2

Samara @ Art-cafe Paper Moon
Nov 17, 2010

PAST VOL 6

Tulsa @ Living ArtSpace
Oct 05, 2013

PAST VOL 2

Bedford @ The George and Dragon
Jun 05, 2014

PAST PechaKucha Event

Powered by PechaKucha @ Shanghai World Financial Center
Apr 23, 2014

PAST VOL 1

Alice Springs @ upstairs at Epilogue
Oct 22, 2014

PAST VOL 2

St Joseph @ The Veranda at the Whitcomb
Aug 20, 2015

PAST VOL 31

Dayton @ Dakota Center
May 18, 2017

PAST VOL 32

Calgary @ Martha Cohen Theatre
Mar 12, 2018

PAST VOL 27

Taos @ TCA - Taos Center for the Arts
Jun 14, 2018

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Crossing the Atacama Desert

BY FAISAL AL-NAKIB
@ VOL 9 ON JUN 26, 2013

Faisal Al-Nakib details his experience taking place in the Atacama Crossing desert foot race in Chile. He describes how the challenge helped him grow and learn more about himself while on his 250 km (155 mile) journey in one week.

"Presentation of the Day" on August 29, 2013.

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A City Born of an Aircraft Graveyard

BY TUC TEAMSON
@ VOL 6 ON JUL 04, 2013

Tuc Teamson talks about how three students in architecture and design start a project focusing on an "extreme situation"; A need for living space in the Arizona desert. They designed new homes from aircraft carcasses found in an aircraft graveyard. Turbines turn into a churches, cabins, and houses. Soon, a city emerges from the chaos. (In French)

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Food Desert

BY ANTHONY LEE
@ VOL 10 ON SEP 20, 2013

Retired electrician, Navy veteran, and community gardener Anthony Lee addresses the lack of fresh produce in New Orleans post Hurricane Katrina. With the encouragement of his beloved wife, Linette Williams Lee, and the help of the Tulane City Center and the Tulane School of Architecture, Lee engaged his community to build the Magellan Street Garden.

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From the Sonoran Desert to Bedford

BY KATRINA HASSAN
@ VOL 2 ON JUN 05, 2014

Katrina Hassan tells her story of moving to Bedford from the Sonoran Desert. Expect tales of monsoon deserts, punk grandmothers, marriage, upcycling, textiles, giant pinatas, rubbish jobs, excellent baking, a cute garden and a rocking baby.

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Desert Rose

BY JULIE LAURENT
@ VOL 2 ON AUG 20, 2015

Julee Laurent-Clancy is the Director of Development for Therapeutic Equestrian Center. Julee grew up in Florida and Los Angeles, and has been a resident of St. Joe/Benton Harbor for 13 years. Traveling is not a hobby for Julee - it is a need. Her travels have taken her to Japan, Italy, Costa Rica, Belize, Spain and 40 of the United States. 

One day Julee decided to drive cross-country from Los Angeles to Florida, pick up her kids and let them meet the celebrities of Hollywood. She packed up her convertable and left in the dead of night. What happens when you're in the middle of the Mojave desert with an empty gas tank?

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Gem City Market

BY AMAHA SELLASSIE
@ VOL 31 ON MAY 18, 2017

Amaha Sellassie discusses the dangers and cause of urban food deserts and the benefits of a co-op market for the community. He hopes for the co-op market to create local representation and power for the city's economy. 

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Desert encounters

BY CHANTAL VAN ARENSBERGEN
@ VOL 23 ON APR 18, 2018

Chantal van Arensbergen met her guide through the desert: Ahmed, while traveling in Egypt. An unforgettable experience. This inspired her to set up desert encounters in Leiden and beyond. People experience moments of happiness in very different ways during those meetings. The money she raises is spent on the construction of the school that is being built in Ahmed’s oasis village.

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Solo Sketches of the Skeleton Coast

BY MARZAHN BOTHA
@ VOL 49 ON JUL 03, 2018

Marzhan, a photojournalist, was invited to shoot a photo story on the Skeleton Coast, one of the most deserted place on earth. Her talk is about how the desert spoke to her in times of need through shipwrecks, lonesome animals on the dunes, footprints, colours, and abandoned airplanes.

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Días de tierra y Luz

BY EDGAR GARRIDO
@ VOL 1 ON AUG 31, 2018

Presenta: Edgar Lima. Fotografo radicado en la Cd. De ensenada presenta una seleccion de sus fotos favoritas del desierto

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PKN Barcelona Planting Trees

PechaKucha Night in Barcelona recently teamed up for a new eco project with Tree-Nation in which they are planting one tree for each of its presenters. PKN Barcelona organizer Petz Scholtus explains: Pecha Kucha Barcelona is planting trees: it’s fun, and the trees fight poverty, desertification, deforestation, and climate change. For Vol. 5, we partnered up with Tree-Nation, and from now on every speaker will be given a tree that is planted in the growing heart-shaped forest in the Nigerian desert. The trees are virtually planted over the internet, where you can see it grow, water it, add photos, and connect to other trees and their people while a real tree grows in Tree-Nation’s plantation. Here is a direct link to Pecha Kucha Barcelona’s forest. Check out and join Tree-Nation, the biggest free Internet social network with the objective of planting trees.

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PKN Posters: Santa Fe Vol. 1

Coming up in just under a month in the desert state of New Mexico is the very first PechaKucha Night in Santa Fe. Organized by Colleen Rubart, this new series looks to be an exciting one -- it's already been featured on the Santa Fe radio show "The Voice of Santa Fe" (interview with Colleen Rubart begins about 31 minutes in). Here's what she had to say about the moody, atmospheric poster made for PKN Santa Fe Vol. 1: "...the artist who created this, Elizabeth Starks, is a graduate of Santa Fe's Institute for American Indian Arts, the only four-year degree fine arts institution in the U.S. devoted to contemporary Native American and Alaska Native arts. Elizabeth is currently a web designer at Ohkay Owingey Museum at the Ohkay Owingeh Pueblo in New Mexico." It's not only great to see an organizer who really embraces and understands PechaKucha, but also one who showcases local talent within their respective communities. Check out the PKN Santa Fe Vol. 1 event page for more details on this exciting evening. To see more great posters from PechaKucha Nights all over the world, check out our Tumblr blog.

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Crossing the Atacama Dessert

Salt flats, solar radiation, minefields, and extreme temperatures -- this is the Atacama. In today's Presentation of the Day, "Crossing the Atacama Desert" from Kuwait City Vol. 9, Faisal Al-Nakib details his experience taking place in the brutal Atacama Crossing desert foot race in Chile. He describes the severe trials, tribulations, as well as how the challenge helped him grow and learn more about himself while on this one week, 250 km (155 mile) journey.

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Hermosillo Night #2

Hermosillo, Sonora, México. October 10, 2013. With double the assistance and double the fun, Hermosillo presented its second PechaKucha Night at the mecca of indie/local music "Backroom". Mexican sculptor Enrique Aviléz was the first presenter on stage and took us around his life-long journey of working with stone, copper, several types of clay, glass, wood and any other material that will help in the execution of his multiple ideas influenced entirely by the local culture. Enrique shared with us an interesting point of view: he believes the name of the streets in a city shapes its identity, just like certain features define us as a human being. Find more about Enrique here. Graphic designer and photographer Alejo Gastélum invited us to witness his collection of Art Toys, inspired by a well-known toy brand. He showed a passion for geometric shapes and optical illusions and his experience and thoughts about working with logotypes and branding for local businesses. Find more about Alejo here. Following the format and taking advantage of it, Desierto Indie gave us a packed-full of ideas presentation. Their project consists of documenting local gigs and cultural events with videos and photographs but the core idea behind it is allowing the future generations consult this sort of "gig/event library" to let them know how cool Hermosillo's music scene "was" in 2013. Their motivation also consists on expanding the art variety in the city and creating a historic archive of the current art movement. Surf Desierto Indie's library here. Next to Desierto Indie, David Norzagaray captivated the crowd with such interesting project which consists on producing music to use as therapy for disabled people. All of this, fusioned with his passion for Mexico and most of all, the northern Mexico's chords of the Sonoran desert. David's most recent execution includes a music album for kids with lyrics completely inspired by universal literature. Find more about David's work here. Speaking of captivating, Daniel Ríos showed us the massive influence on todays creative processes and its results from a speedy technology development perspective. How different the art-creating life was back then where videos were literally 'cut' and 'glued' back together and how simple it is today by just tapping a few times on a super-clear display and upload it anywhere within minutes. Find more about Daniel here. Miguel Franco's presentation was as brilliant as his cinematography career. His experience has given him plenty of emotions and character including probably the most important: perseverance and stepping out of the comfort zone. Miguel told us how film has been his dream since he was a kid and all the trouble and happiness this has brought to him including a few career-threatening accidents. Find more about Miguel here. Mexican fashion designer Isa Valdéz shared with us her creative process inside the fashion/textile business and the different ways she chooses to come up with a method to execute an idea and the mysterious places she can get into, obtaining as a result always three ideas at once. She compares it to solving a puzzle. Her main goal is creating an emotion in her and the spectator at once. This way, Isa feels she connects with the world, being her little daughter a fundamental part of her motor. Find more about Isa here. Carlos Iván was one of those extra-interesting presenters. He photographs abandoned houses, cars, towns and all sort of situations that tell a story to his camera lens. Carlos perspective certainly showed us through his pictures the beauty of isolated objects, almost as if they were beautiful sculptures in the middle of nowhere narrating a charming tale. Find more about Carlos here. After a successful beer break, Miriam Salado was kind enough to explain from top to bottom, the meticulous process of building an art exhibition. Her paintings, part of "Muerte y Gloria (Death and Glory)" show the heavy influence of mexican-american cultures in clothing, habits and the new ways of living and gave Miriam a second place in the 8th Visual Art Biennale of Sonora. Find more about Miriam here. "Sin Llorar (No crying)" consists of a determined couple of local artists who came to revolutionize the custom tattoo industry in the community with their high-quality custom art. They shared with us the complexity of the process and the hard work it requires to usually compress a lot of feelings onto one little graphic on the customer's skin. Be brave and make an appointment here. Fernando Valles a local TV host, gave us an insight on rustic to modern video-making, the television life and the long ride he has experienced with "Video Track", a tv show aimed at young visual art enthusiasts. Find more about Fernando and Video Track here. Our next presenter was the shocking moment of the night. Mexican radio/voice-creative César Parra amazed us with his broad experience with radio, jingles and advertising. He has provided professional voice services for Pepsi and other famous brands. We all cheered and squeaked in happiness the very moment he started performing the voice of several Thundercats characters (cartoon) on stage as he worked in the project back then. We were so astonished by his presentation that none of us remembered to snap a pic. :( Find more about Cesar here. Our next presenter Keops took the stage and taught us about the importance of co-working and the amazing results it produces. His presentation included a well resumed list of benefits from working along with other creative people and how far and big a project can turn with just the right combination of people, all started with just a simple idea. Find more about Keops here. Sergio Durón was one of our last presenters but managed to keep our already tipsy heads with his clever work. His broad graphic design experience involves several local communities, being the most famous "Bikes & Beers" where the Hermosillo bike enthusiasts gather at a certain landmark, travel for a few kilometers and finish at a bar having a couple of beers and sharing the fandom. Find more about Sergio here. Our last presenter Javier Quiñonez gave us a tour around the geology of the city. Being the "Cerro de la Campana (Bell Hill)" one of the most important landmarks in the city, he taught us about the resonancy of the rocks surrounding said landmark, therefore the name of the famous hill that can be seen almost from every point in Hermosillo on a clear day. Find more of Javier here.  Thanks again to PechaKucha in Tokyo for letting us hold the event in Hermosillo and being part of the Global Night that we enjoyed so much. We would also like to thank Backroom for letting us host the event in this venue. -Elizabeth Torres         Photos by: Carolina Fierros and E. Torres.  

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Hands that Remember the Rifle

"Yes of course I'm alive, but as years have gone by I've become aware of the fact that I'm not in one piece -- that a part of me was left behind in that desert..." In today's Presentation of the Day, "Hands that Remember the Rifle" from PKN Albany, Georgia Vol. 2, former-U.S. Marine James Gillham recounts the devastating experiences he had serving in the Iraq War. He discusses the collateral damage of war, his battalion's first death, and the post-traumatic stress that affects each and every soldier upon their return home.

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Vol. 18 presenters announced

We are happy to you announce the Vol. 18 presenters! In no particular order:   Eli Miller, Art Director Eli Miller, a San Antonio native, attended Savannah College of Art Design where she earned a B.F.A. in Art Direction. After graduation, Eli returned to San Antonio where she met Chuck Kerr, the San Antonio Current'sthen Art Director. Upon receiving his business card she joked that she intended on stealing his job. Three months later she did. Eli has been working at the Current ever since.   Amanda Bianchi, Snazzy Arts Babe Amanda Bianchi works at Cinnabar art gallery in Blue Star and is a style contributor for the new LGBTQ publication, Out In SA. She has also been actively involved with the food and beverage industry in San Antonio for the past five years, working at establishments such as The Monterey and Feast that have helped to shape the current landscape we see today.   www.bianchisbits.com    Avi Avalos, Mr. Piñata SA Avi Avalosis a Mexican-American artist and San Antonio native. His art is simply a visual language used to connect to the city’s vibrant culture in the most positive light. Mr. Piñata SA was initially created as a research tool for a children's book in 2013 but evolved into an initiative to bring fine art to public places in an effort to create cultural art awareness. Mr. Piñata SA is now an ambassador of San Antonio, and his adventures have taken him across the U.S. as he promotes our City on the Rise. www.mrpinatasa.com    Lewis F. Fisher, Author and Historian Lewis F. Fisher is the author of numerous prize-winning books on San Antonio. They include American Venice: The Epic Story of San Antonio's River, Chili Queens, Hay Wagons and Fandangos: The Spanish Plazas in Frontier San Antonio and Saving San Antonio: The Precarious Preservation of a Heritage. His Maverick Publishing Company, which published 45 general interest nonfiction regional books by 26 authors, was recently acquired by Trinity University Press.   Corey Squire and Helena Zambrano, A Sustainable Relationship Helena Zambrano and Corey Squire both decided at a young age that they wanted to save the world, and they came to the same conclusion: that architecture is the way to do it. They both currently work as sustainability coordinators at neighboring architecture firms — Helena at Overland Partners and Corey at Lake | Flato Architects — and serve on the AIA Committee on the Environment (COTE) as chair and treasurer, respectively. They first met at a COTE meeting and bonded over their shared love of daylight simulation and their shared hatred of perforated metal. Corey and Helena live in Dignowity Hill where they spend their time cycling, composting, and subsisting off vegetables from their garden and eggs from their chickens.   David Martin Davies, Public Radio Journalist David Martin Davies was once arrested for playing punk rock music inside Wonderland Shopping Mall. Today, he hosts The Source on KSTX Texas Public Radio — a live daily call-in news program. He also hosts Texas Matters, which airs on Texas Public Radio stations. In his 20 years in journalism as a TV news producer, reporter and columnist, his work has been featured on NPR, Marketplace and the BBC. His many awards include the 2008 Texas Radio Journalist of the Year. www.tpr.org   Jeremy Joseph, Clinical Psychologist Jeremy Joseph is a psychologist who conducts clinical research on treatments for post-traumatic stress disorder. He is interested in how we relate to our dreams, often working with patients who struggle with nightmares. The California native went to college in Chicago, volunteered in Israel, earned a Ph.D. from the University of Wyoming and did an internship year in Albuquerque. In 2013 he began a postdoctoral fellowship at The University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio. If you live in Monte Vista, you’ve probably seen him and his wife walking their greyhound, Sofia. www.jjosephphd.com   Libby Wardlaw Maddin, Road Trip Enthusiast Libby Wardlaw Maddin is a musician, road trip enthusiast, and San Antonio native. She spent the vacations of her youth packed into a 1978 suburban with her five siblings and parents, who ignited her passion for exploration and in more recent years provided her with a day job flexible enough to take business calls and write emails from the middle of the desert. When she's not hitting the road, she sings in various musical projects with her husband Chris and with the San Antonio Mastersingers. She has also been a host on KRTU's Indie Overnight for 10 years.  www.sharkheart.com  

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YK Food Matters: A Recap

Another season, another PechaKucha, this one about food. It was appropriate that this event fell during autumn, a time of harvesting and preparing food for the long winter. YK Food Matters was a collaboration between the Yellowknife Farmers Market, the NWT Recreation and Parks Association, and the Prince of Wales Northern Heritage Centre. We received support from the GNWT Department of Industry, Tourism, and Investment. The title of the evening’s event, YK Food Matters, was meant to highlight the biological, social, and cultural import of food. Food matters to our health and wellbeing, as individuals and as a community. The title was also a reminder of the environmental, cultural, economic, political, and social aspects of how we gather, produce, process, distribute, consume, and dispose of food, or “food matters.” We used the idea of the food system to organize the evening’s presentations. A food system is the path that food travels from the land to our plates and beyond. It includes the growing, harvesting, processing, packaging, transporting, distributing, marketing, consuming, and disposing of food. It also includes the inputs and outputs of each step, including labour, equipment, fuel, and waste. The graphic below is one way to represent a food system. [Graphic Credit: Nourish (www.nourishlife.org).] Food systems, as this image illustrates, are multi-faceted and complex. There is no way we could cover every part of the food system in one night. Rather YK Food Matters was intended as a sampling of different components of the food system, a tapas PechaKucha, so to speak. Shortly after 7, Master of Ceremonies Mark Hyeck introduced the first speaker, Tracey Williams, and we were off! In her presentation entitled “Food Charter and Food Security, Making the Connections,” Tracey introduced the audience to the Yellowknife Food Charter. A food charter is a document developed by community members and endorsed by decision makers that articulates a local vision for a just and sustainable food system. In explaining the origins of Yellowknife’s food charter, Tracey also fleshed out the idea of a food system and food security. In “Decolonizing Consumption,” Peyton Straker described her apprenticeship as a hunter and the lessons she learned as she butchered and shared the meat. She also talked about the different ways in which she uses the animals and plants she harvests: dry fish, moose hides, muskox jewellry, and spruce gum salve, to name just a few. Peyton’s presentation shed light on the harvesting of animals, plants, and medicines as acts of food security and decolonization. If you were at the final Farmers Market in September, you may have picked up some swiss chard or potatoes from the Northern Farm Training Institute’s stall. Based in Hay River, NFTI supports the creation of local agricultural experts through in-depth hands-on learning experiences in “living classrooms.” This evening’s presentation about NFTI was to be delivered by organization president, Jackie Milne. Unfortunately, Jackie was unable to attend. France Benoit kindly stepped in to take her place. Entitled “Restoring Vitality Through Restoration Agriculture,” the NFTI presentation explored how growing plants and raising animals in a good way, or restorative agriculture, can heal people, communities, and the land. Restorative agriculture “produces food that comes from a healthy, diverse, abundant ecosystem.” It is a realistic alternative to the industrial food system that supports food sovereignty and security in the North. The fourth speaker, Maxime Carpentier,was recently hired as the Food Service Manager at Avens. Maxime believes strongly in the importance of good quality food and his commitment is changing how residents at Avens eat. Maxime shared how he is making it a priority to source local food from Great Slave Lake whitefish to Yellowknife-grown tomatos to barrenland caribou. He is also experimenting with different preparations, such as smoking, and new recipes, to ensure that elders receive the food they know and love. Maxime’s presentation, “Little Changes, Better Quality!,” revealed how individuals and organizations can make sourcing decisions, which support local producers and are economically sound, not to mention delicious! The evening continued on the theme of eating well with a presentation by Amy Lam, a lover of cooking and eating and a food photographer. In her presentation, “Northern Fancy Eats,” Amy described her Northern food journey from her earliest impression that Yellowknife was a food desert to her current passion for the rich and diverse food cultures of the NWT capital. Along the way, Amy participated in a NFTI course, tried her hand at growing, worked with the Farmers Market, diversified her cooking repertoire, and took some beautiful photos. Food, to this point in the evening, had been described as sustenance, political, cultural, and pleasureable. The sixth speaker, Dr. Kyla Wright, a naturopathic doctor practicing at Gaia Integrative Clinic, demonstrated how food can also be medicine.Kyla’s presentation, titled “Food as Medicine in the 21st Century,” highlighted some of the problems with the industrial food system, such as the widespread use of sugar and the enormous distances that separate field from plate. The focus, however, was on the delicious and healthy foods that are close at hand for Yellowknife residents from trout to wild rose petals to dandelion root to chaga. In 2014, Yellowknife’s Food Rescue diverted 14,000 kg of food waste, putting it in the hands and bellies of those in need. Grocery stores and mining camps donate items each day that have passed their best before date or are bruised, damaged, or broken. A team of 30-odd volunteers and a part-time paid driver then sort, process, repackage, and redistribute the food to schools and local organizations like the Centre for Northern Families and the Salvation Army. Mona Durkee’s presentation, “Food Waste: From Rejection to 'a Peeling,’” revealed how Food Rescue is transforming the local food system, one bruised banana at a time. The final speaker of the evening was Yellowknife’s Sustainability Coordinator, Chris Vaughn. Chris’ presentation, entitled “Organics Recycling in the North,” shed light on opportunities and challenges related to waste management in the Yellowknife. It also took the audience behind the scenes at the city’s compost facility. A key message from Chris’s presentation was that while waste diversion is important, waste reduction should be our primary goal. In addition to eight amazingly interesting, informative, and funny stories about food in Yellowknife, the event featured a pop-up exhibit about Yellowknife food, past and present. There were photographs from the NWT Archives depicting moose hunts, market gardens, and food waste, as well as displays on northern food models, creative canning, the Yellowknife Food Charter, and local food sourcing at Co-op. Keep an eye out for the fourth and final PechaKucha Night of 2016: #LovetheLand, which will take place on Thursday, December 8. Did you miss YK Food Matters? Don't despair. We recorded the presentations. They are available here.  

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Travel Pakistan: one country, infinite landscapes

Article by Ayesha Fazlur Rahman, Programme Manager Kuch Khaas - The Centre for Arts, Culture and Dialogue  Travel for leisure is great; make a checklist, get your torch , snack bars and meds supply and off you go. But what about finding the travel companions? I learnt the perfect solution to that  problem one afternoon in Boston when I wanted to attend a Rumi event at the unfamiliar MIT campus. I asked not one, not 7, but 11 of my university buddies! “Sounds great, but I am busy today” was  the response , worded differently. I looked up the place on the map, got me on the bus on a cold winter evening and went alone. It worked out just fine. I also got to eat free baklava! Since then, this has been my travel plan: I go from point A to point B, I ask several potential travel partners and if nothing works out I book a tour with a tour operator and go with a group of complete strangers! The result? I have been on several trips with several travel buddies and at times even alone. Chitral, KP Province  I went to Chitral for the Kalash Spring Festival with Humaira whom I had met at a hike on the Margallah Hills, Islamabad. She was trigger happy when it came to taking pictures, which meant I got lots of pictures taken too! We were part of a travel group and got to chat with several of the other travellers: the American woman who wanted to interview all the locals and wouldn’t give a straight answer about her nature of work in Pakistan, the Dutchman who spoke the most formal version of Urdu ever spoken since 1947! The Pakistani lady doctor who one day, at the breakfast table, demanded to know why the Norwegian couple, married for 7 years, had not been able to produce an offspring thus far! During the  jeep rides across the Rumbur and Bumburet valleys, most people, other than couples, hopped on to the jeeps close at hand instead of clinging to the friends they had come with. (Internet image for Chitral) Deosai National Park, Gilgit Baltistan At an average elevation of 4114 meters , the Deosai National Park in Skardu is the second highest plateau in the world. Traveling through valleys and narrow roads, you suddenly are struck by the sheer expanse around you as you approach Deosai, literally meaning the Land of Giants. It’s a treeless plain , covered with grass and tiny pink flowers that give it a pink hue. Travel, they say, is about facing your demons and slaying them etc: for some its the fear of heights, of losing  cellphone connectivity, of getting in an accident. My fear was not having hot running water: that got sorted every morning when my still half-closed eyes were greeted with a splash of water from an ice cold mountain spring, near our camping site! What better way to prepare for a 5km not-so-steep hike to search for the Holy Grail of Deosai, the  brown bear. The day we embarked on our search, the wind announced our arrival to the bears who thought it best to take cover, away from our prying eyes and cameras. May be another day, another trip the winds will be on our side. Cholistan Desert, Multan, Bahawalpur (Punjab Province) South Punjab is also a popular tourist destination that hosts both jeep rally enthusiasts and campers in the Cholistan Desert; heritage lovers and devotees visit the beautiful shrines in Multan and Uch Sharif . To escape the relentless heat here, tours are planned in the winter months. My travel companion on this trip, Najia,  took me to an unknown destination too: the childhood world of fits of uncontrollable laughter, that had somehow not been possible since school ended. The freedom that comes with anonymity made us unbelievably foolhardy as we merrily wandered to forbidden parts of the Panjnad Headworks in Bahawalpur! I made a lasting friendship with an elderly German couple; Najia offered me up for adoption to them! Mr Manfred took a prize winning photo of us at the Lal Suhanra Park in Bahawalpur, blackbucks enjoying the misty morning along with us. Hunza and Khunjrab Pass , Gilgit Baltistan Hunza and the Khunjrab Pass (Pak-China Border) were next on my list. This time I roped in a friend of a friend’s son, whom I had met at his wedding, to travel with me. She agreed! Michelle turned out to be someone who liked to observe people and scan their conversations for deducing their personality traits; thus there was always interesting analyses of events and interactions happening around us! So this trip we talked to people and also a lot about them! The Hunza residents are known for longevity and good health, attributed mainly to the Hunza water and diet of honey and nuts. They look lean and fit too. At an elevation of 4693 metres, the Khunjerab Pass is the highest paved international border crossing in the world. Fairy Meadows , Gilgit Baltistan This is a valley with a breathtaking view of Nanga Parbat The Killer Mountain. Fittingly, the 10 km road that leads from Raikot Sirai to Fairy Meadows is rated among the top 12 most dangerous roads in the world. Once there, a 6 hour mountain trek takes you to the Fairy Meadows camping site, at an altitude of 3300 metres. This trip is not for the fainthearted so I wanted to do it while I still had age on my side; no travel partner, no problem: I went alone with a bus full of strangers. Nope, didn’t make any lasting or even temporary friendships this time, the sole of my hiking boots gave way at the first step of the 6km hike. The ghoray wallah offered to trade shoes with me for the duration of the hike, at the end of which a Nepalese med student from Lahore gave me an extra pair that he had. See, it worked out just fine. We think we need friends more than we actually do. Believe me when I say the following about the view of the Nanga Parbat: It’s alive, with a personality, with changing moods; mostly unsmiling but generously giving from its treasure trove of beauty a few coins for the lonely traveller to carry home. Sardaryab (KP Province) , Pir Chinasi (AJK) Sometimes travel for work can turn into a bit of sight seeing too. My colleagues Fauzia, Samreen and Rahmat in Peshawar took me to Sardaryab ( the head of the river) in Charsadda. We picked chapli kebabs along the way and ordered fish there, what a treat! What a serene little spot! After a training workshop for textbook developers in Muzaffarabad, the capital of Azad Jammu &Kashmir (AJK), we went up a spiralling road to Pir Chinasi. At an elevation of 2900 meters, this hill top gives a pretty view of the city and surrounding rural areas.