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Friday, March 30, 2012

Rodale Institute ORGANIC TULIP FESTIVAL April 14

Rodale Institute farm for...
Organic Tulip Festival
 April 14, 2012
10 am to 4 pm
With this year’s early spring, the 25,000 organic tulips we planted last
fall are up and blooms are already peeking from the beds.
  • Hands-on activities for kids
  • Organic wine and cheese for adults
  • Tulip tastings for everyone (yes, the petals are edible!)
  • Jeroen Koeman from EcoTulips, the company that provided the bulbs, will give a talk at 11 am on the pavilion (located next to the store) and be on hand to answer questions that day.
Although the official festival is still two weeks away, some of the
early varieties are ready to pick NOW!
U-pick organic tulips are available
April 3 to 21
Tuesday through Sunday (excluding Easter Sunday)
10 am to 3 pm
611 Siegfriedale Road | Kutztown, PA 19530 US

Thursday, March 29, 2012

From Northern Ghana and the Gushie Women's Shea Nut Collective (Part 1 of 3) by Wickham Boyle

Women the world over; mothers want the same things. We want safety, joy, and satisfying lives for our children and we will move the heavens to provide that. The women in the northern Ghanaian village of Gushie have a much harder time insuring these simple inalienables come to fruition for their darlings. This was why I traveled for days to meet and work with the great Gushie Women's Shea Nut Collective.

Our company, Just Shea, an LLC, and its non-profit partner One Village Planet Women’s Development Initiative was begun four years ago by the then 25 year-old Danielle Warren. Warren had been on a fact-finding mission with her father, an agronomist, in search for hardy trees that might grow in Haiti; instead she found a life's work. Warren set about creating a non-profit that would help the women who harvest shea nuts, which are used to make shea butter that is incorporated into oh so many cosmetics, and food products. The harvesters were plagued by snakebites, as they possessed no protective gear. No boots, hats or gloves. 

I joined Just Shea last year as the second in command taking up the stanchion of creating a product line using the rich, emollient shea butter in the hopes that we could concoct products for American women’s face, hands and feet that might sell like hot cakes. We would then utilize the funds to further help the harvesters secure gear, send their sweet round faced kids to school and maybe even build these women a barn where they could store their crops.

And so we launched our products to some good press, made some money and then did a campaign on Global Giving to raise a few more dollars. We loaded the cash into our pockets, really we did and we flew over to Accra, the capital of Ghana. From there we made our way north until we got to the village of Gushie. 

----------------------More on next post (2 of 3)---------------------------

If you would like to purchase Just Shea products please visit
If you would like to donate to complete the barn or buy equipment for the harvesters please visit Global Giving, here is our direct link.

From Northern Ghana and the Gushie Women's Shea Nut Collective (Part 2 of 3) by Wickham Boyle

Building a Future

Once there, we were excited to see that the women of the Gushie Collective had been busy making cement bricks by hand. There was a field of bricks and the outline of an amazing storage building, 16' by 60'. OK, the roof was open to the elements, there was no front door, but we nearly wept when we drove up and saw the reality of what we have been plotting and planning for months. We got to work to insure that before we left there would be a place where the women could store their crops and lock the door to keep them in.
Why is this important? I have explained it, the notion of regularizing a supply chain, as allowing the harvesters to capture better moments in a fluctuating market. We all know how wonderful and inexpensive peaches are in August, and how much we have to pay for them if we want one in February. Well the shea nut harvesters, because they had no place to store their crops, sold everything as the lowest point, when the market was flooded with crops from every small village dotting the roads in Ghana. Now with a barn they will be able to sell their crops piece by piece taking advantage of higher prices later in the season. A powerful change for rural women.
What I saw with these women was an endless ability to multi-task with no notion as to the amazing varied work they were doing. When we held the meeting to discuss who would run the building, and how fees would be assessed, the fifty or so women all came with children in tow, and benches on their heads. The voices rose and chattered as our translator and on the ground, the organizational wizard Mohammad Zakariah translated. Babies were at breasts or sitting in trees watching quietly as their mothers ruled the day. Everyone voted, many participated in the lively discussion and then after elections were held they put their seats on their heads and headed home.
Everyday at the construction site Danielle and I received a noontime meal brought by children carried on their heads. It came in a large enameled metal pot decorated with red flowers and green leaves. It was always a rice dish, adorned with spicy tomato sauce or guinea fowl and onions. There were many spoons stuck inside and we all ate silently slurping filtered water from plastic bags ubiquitously sold at roadsides. The men plastering, or tinning the roof and mixing cement stopped and ate their lunches under trees or napped under trucks until the work hive came alive again.
----------------More, next blog part 3 of 3 ----------------

If you would like to purchase Just Shea products please visit
If you would like to donate to complete the barn or buy equipment for the harvesters please visit Global Giving, here is our direct link.

From Northern Ghana and the Gushie Women's Shea Nut Collective (Part 3 of 3) b Wickham Boyle

Life in the Village

The life in the village saw children wandering alone in wonderful packs. Joyful, really tiny boys and girls playing with goats, running after bottle caps and laughing as they stuck hand bills for new cell phones to their faces. They laughed at this red-faced interloper who made noises like animals and sometimes scared the babies just by virtue of my blue eyes and to them, ghost like appearance. But I was constantly beguiled.

The mother crushing shea nuts over an open fire in a huge caldron with a baby firmly attached to her waiting breast entranced me.  I could barley contain myself when the eldest mother of the village Magazia, took my hands to thank me. Her honest fervent gaze needed no interpreter to tell me that she appreciated all the work and the results we were able to create for her and the women in the collective.

I loved teaching clap games to the older girls and dissolving into giggles as we missed our beats. The little kids watched in wonder, then wandered off to challenge goats to the king of the wood mountain or hide from one another behind creaky gates. These are not the games we see children play in America. Our children are too closely watched. We worry about fire and fingers in gates, and skittish animals, but these little ones made worlds of their own away from the eyes of adults who might constantly monitor and adjust kid's behavior. And one thing I noticed was the absence of crying, of whining. They shared, they fought some, and they haggled over an empty water bottle and laughed gleefully at the photos I could show them instantly. But they seemed so happy and at ease. I even watched one two year-old put himself to bed for the night after rubbing his eyes for a good half hour. " Go find your bed", he was told, and without hesitation he was off to slumber.

Eldest mother of the village Magazia, sharing a special moment 
It was as if all the hard work, the family and community connections created a sense of peace. True there was palpable poverty, and what we would consider primitive living conditions: no electricity, no toilets, a tiny store selling matches, hot sodas and gum, but there was joy and so much hope for the future.

I trust we added a modicum of belief that others are watching, others care, and all of us as mothers are attempting to hold the hands of our children across time zones and cultures to create in some tiny way, a better tomorrow.

Wickham Boyle "Wicki",  has been a writer for as long as she can remember. She has also worn many hats, including that of experimental theater producer (seven years at New York's famous La Mama) and Wall Street
stockbroker. She is the director of Wizard, a consulting company that solves all sorts of problems and the editor-in chief of THRIVE NYC a new magazine launching in November 06 dedicated to baby boomers and their parents.
She was one of the founders of Code Magazine and has contributed to the New
York Times, New York Magazine, National
Geographic Traveler, Budget Travel,
Men's Health, Forbes, Mode, Gotham among others. Her essays make a radio debut this fall on the AARP station as part of "Prime Time". Wicki continues to ride everywhere on her 1968 Raleigh and lives downtown with her husband, sports consultant Zac Minor, and occasionally their two far-flung children.

If you would like to purchase Just Shea products please visit
If you would like to donate to complete the barn or buy equipment for the harvesters please visit Global Giving, here is our direct link.

Catalyst Panel Discussion: The Portrayal of Women and it's Impact on Society

Friday, March 16, 2012

Real Beauty message




Real Beauty by Seena      

I was at the hair salon recently, sitting in the waiting area listening to the chatter around me. Above the din of blow dryers I could hear my stylist, Jeff, talking as he worked with another client. I'm not sure if he realized he was being sagacious at that moment, but he was uttering words of wisdom. What I heard was: ...that's the thing isn't it? At some point all this physical stuff changes and goes away - our hair colour, our figures, our looks - and what we're left with are qualities that  define us: charm, confidence and humour. That's ultimately what makes someone attractive anyway. That's real beauty.

Wow. Were truer words ever spoken?

I've been reflecting on his words ever since. How much time do we spend thinking 'when I've lost 15 lbs..., when I have more time..., when I ________.' Yet the clock keeps on ticking. Wrinkles are slowly etching themselves around our eyes. Try as we might we can't control it. We can work with it, though. We can make the best of what we've got at this moment and be grateful it's not any worse.

That leads to thinking about all the mental energy expended trying to do just that. When really, isn't that energy better spent on those internal qualities, that je ne sais quoi, that will become the real definition of ourselves as we look back twenty or more years from now? Because I know, and I think you know, Jeff is right. Can't we tell when someone lacks confidence? Doesn't that make their glow a little less bright? And who would you rather surround yourself with, sourpusses or people who make you laugh and smile? The same goes for our friends. So yes, looking good is important. After all, it makes us feel good. But as my wise Grandma used to say, take one last look in the mirror before you leave the house. Fix your hair and your lipstick. And then forget about it. There are more exciting things on the other side of the door.


Thank you so much Seena for sharing here.  Resonated with me this morning and know other women would appreciate it.
Good luck and be well in Canada!

A New Standard of Beauty - USA TODAY (Today) Friday March 16th

Happy 100th Birthday Girl Scouts!

 Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media News 

  • Celebrating 100 years of Girl Scouting
    As a proud partner of the Girl Scouts' Healthy MEdia: Commission on Positive Images of Women and Girls, we wish the Girl Scouts of the USA a happy 100th anniversary! This month, news organizations across the county, such as The Wall Street Journal, The Huffington Post and the Chicago Tribune, are honoring the 100th anniversary of the Girl Scouts of the USA.

    As the Girl Scout blog notes, a century ago, Juliette Gordon Low assembled 18 girls in Savannah, Ga., for the first local Girl Scout meeting. She believed that all girls should be given the opportunity to develop physically, mentally, and spiritually. Today, Girl Scouts of the USA has a membership of over 3.2 million girls and adults in every residential U.S. zip code and in 90 countries. Nearly 60 million living women in the U.S. today are Girl Scout alumnae.

    What is especially important about the Girl Scouts' rich history of supporting women's leadership is their insistence on being a voice for all girls, regardless of their background or neighborhood. Founder Juliette Gordon Low's first 18 Girl Scouts included girls from influential Savannah families, as well as girls from the Female Orphan Asylum and Congregation Mickve Israel. As early as 1917 the first African-American troops were established, as well as troops for disabled girls. One of the earliest Latina troops was formed in Houston in 1922; Girl Scout troops supported Japanese-American girls in internment camps in the 1940s, and by the 1950s, Girl Scouts was leading the charge to fully integrate all of its troops.

    Girl Scouting continues to build girls of courage, confidence and character who make the world a better place. We are proud to partner with our Girl Scout friends in building women leaders for the next 100 years
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Thursday, March 15, 2012

The Body Image Project - Welcome Jill Beilke Author - Activist

Why “The Body Image Project?”

Curiosity.  That’s how it began.  The constant wondering if others had similar thoughts and insecurities regarding their body image as I did mine.

Of course, the answer is yes.  But to what level?

All stories have a courageous power…and I wanted to help women and girls find their voice.  So I posed the question, “When you look in the mirror, what do you see?”  And with each new entry, I discovered manifestations of truth.  Women and girls no longer silent about their pain (or joy).  Women and girls relieved to learn they are not alone.

There is power in sharing.  We are given the opportunity to learn from the words, wisdom and pain of others.  And we are given the opportunity to change perceptions.

ALL stories have a courageous power.