Archive for March, 2011

31 Mar 2011

Andalusia without sky

No Comments News, Photographs

This is a series from Southern Spain —Granada, Seville, the Alpujarra range, the coast at Nerja, and Cordoba. I was traveling to meet a colleague at a film conference, and spent a week exploring this magical region, Andalusia, alone. I had a recently broken heart. I think that brought a heightened awareness, a kind of hyper vigilance, to my eye. Perhaps the photos have something sorrowful, hungry, and of course, downcast, in them. Taking the title from the photo of a mural that has the Spanish word for sky, ‘Cielo’, scrawled above the horizon, these pictures formed an exhibition at Rapp Optical gallery in Toronto called Andalusia: Sin Cielo (no sky).

Andalusia is the heart of Moorish Spain, where for some 800 years (710 to 1480) lslam held sway. By 1200, the vast majority of Iberia’s 7 million inhabitants, nearly all born there (now Spain and Portugal), were Muslim. In the Middle Ages, Cordoba was a magnet for the finest minds of the known world and burned like a torch in the gloom. After the first convulsions of Reconquesta in the 1200s, the Moorish Kingdom of Granada continued for three more centuries. The cathedrals of Cordoba and Seville have mosque architectural details and orange groves within them, and thankfully the delicate, transcendent wonders of the Alhambra Palace in Granada were not destroyed when Christendom established its hegemony in Europe and the Spanish Inquisition followed.

All rights reserved. Please contact Ecotone for reproduction rights.

31 Mar 2011

The Future of Travel

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Train station, Amsterdam (Photo by Chris Lowry)

Many of us enjoy traveling to far-off places – usually by air – sometimes for only a weekend. Southern Ontario attracts large numbers of visitors arriving by plane. Heck, they just expanded Pearson Airport to accommodate increasing traffic. It’s normal, it’s a way of life that’s taken for granted…and it probably won’t last much longer.
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30 Mar 2011

A Conversation with Northrop Frye about William Morris

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Interested in Frye, author of The Great Code? Ever heard of Morris, the English arts and crafts radical of the late 19th century? William Morris was a multi-disciplinary designer, poet, social activist, translator of ancient Icelandic sagas, and a central member of the Pre-Raphaelites. Dante Gabriel Rossetti (12 May 1828 – 9 April 1882) was perhaps the most famous of those, and Morris’s wife was the model for the heroine in many of Rosetti’s gorgeous medieval scenes. Read more

29 Mar 2011

Jane Jacobs: Prophet of Globalization? Yes, but with a (local) human face

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Inspired by the Ideas that Matter conference celebrating Jane Jacobs in 1997, this essay is an effort to place her work within the continuing debate about how globalization works, and where we go from here. Read more

29 Mar 2011

Karate Kids

No Comments Film, Uncategorized

Karate Kids was a film I produced in 1989 when I served as Director of Educational Media at Street Kids International (1988 to 1998).  Here I produced animated films and the programs that delivered them to street educators in over 100 countries. Dealing with street life and HIV/AIDS, Karate Kids was the first of SKI’s educational cartoons, distributed in multiple languages around the world, and still in use today.  It was a co-production of SKI and the NFB, dreamed up by Peter Dalglish, and directed by the great Derek Lamb with Kai Pindal as chief animator.

Karate Kids, Derek Lamb, provided by the National Film Board of Canada

28 Mar 2011

A Taste of History: Toronto’s Craft Breweries

1 Comment News, Words

It may surprise you to know that in the mid-19th century, every town in Ontario had a brewery and a tavern or two. During the 18th century, British soldiers in Canada were entitled to six pints of beer a day, and it was often quite strong beer, as much as 12% alcohol by volume! In The Canadian Settler’s Guide, the19th-century Canadian writer Catharine Parr Traill wrote that beer was the best beverage to provide “some cooling and strengthening…much required by men who have to work out in the heat of the sun.”
Mill Street Brewpub in the old Distillery District
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26 Mar 2011

Jesus of Guadalajara

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During the ten years that I worked with Street Kids International, I met a lot of cool, big hearted people working in the field around the world. This is a portrait of one of the best: Rogelio Padilla.

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26 Mar 2011

An Altered View of What it Means to be Human

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Photos of Oliver Sacks by Angela Radulescu

Oliver Sacks is simply a delightful writer, and this essay partakes of that pleasure. Oaxaca Journal crackles with botanical and ecological information framed for its meaning, not merely presented as scientific factoids. Science, it has been remarked, has no meaning. It is up to wise scientists to frame the facts meaningfully, as Sacks does.

This is a short essay about Oliver Sacks’ Oaxaca Journal, published in National Geographic Directions (Washington, 2002).

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26 Mar 2011

Please Pull the Baby out of the Fire: The Fallacy of Protecting Children from Armed Conflict

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Child alone, Kabul River (Photo by Chris Lowry)

The title, ‘pull the baby out of the fire’, comes from an 18th century English satirist named Mandeville. In The Fable of the Bees, Mandeville explains the nature of Virtue and Vice with a story. The story goes like this.

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26 Mar 2011

Conversations with Laurens Van Der Post, Marion Woodman, Ross Woodman, and Thomas Berry

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Four of wisest people who have shared the planet with us agreed to be interviewed by film maker Nancy Ryley for a book. Two of the subjects, Ross and Marion Woodman, are also friends of mine and both appear in my 1981 film about Jack Chambers. My first published book review was in praise of Marion’s first book, The Owl Was a Baker’s Daughter (Obesity, Anorexia and the Repressed Feminine).

“In times like these,” says Thomas Berry, “…we need people who realize that we are shaping a new order of things.”

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26 Mar 2011

What Do You Mean By Green?

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Green filters, certification, screening criteria, eye of the green needle—how do you know if you’re ‘green’ enough?

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26 Mar 2011

The Exile of Poetic Imagination

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This essay looks at my work promoting the use of expressive arts therapies with war-affected kids, and the challenges we faced in this work.
Boy with kite, Bamian, Afghanistan (Photo by Chris Lowry)

I am interested in the transformative power of theatre and ritual. “At its deepest level this is what theatre is about, the ability to frame and control, to transform the raw into the cooked, to deal with the most problematic (violent, dangerous, sexual taboo) human interactions.” (Schechner)

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25 Mar 2011

Children, War, and The Forgotten Ground of Healing

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This essay deals with ways to focus on the strengths and gifts of communities, and especially children, in war and other adversity. It comes out of the many years that I worked in the field of child health and rights.

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25 Mar 2011

Karate Kids: Reaching The Unreached

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The Karate Kids AIDS education project was famous in development circles, because it defied the conventional wisdom with its explicit sexual information for children, including the f- word. It was also famous because it went on to be translated into about 30 languages, and the video was distributed at street level all over the world. Produced in 1990, it is still in use today. I was a co-producer and Managing Director of the project, which included language versions, as well as editing and publishing books and comics with partners in many countries.

Karate Kids, Derek Lamb, provided by the National Film Board of Canada


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25 Mar 2011

Play, Learn, Work, Struggle, Suffer, Belong: Children and the Dynamic of the Street

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Illustration by Bernice Schwartz

‘le plus ça change…’
Not much has changed for the prospects of street children worldwide since I wrote this research paper in the late 90s for CIDA and Street Kids International. The work remains rewarding, and the need is increasing (check out the new book, Arrival City).

This paper deconstructs some of the common images and assumptions that cloud the subject. “Pity would be no more/ If we did not make somebody poor.” —William Blake.

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25 Mar 2011

Folky

No Comments Music

Dirty Old Town

(Ewan MacColl)

My inspiration was the Pogues. We played with the arrangement to make something new, and I think we did bring out some primal loneliness with Teilhard’s bodhran and the Ansgar’s harp solo.

Millworker

(James Taylor)

Like John Prine’s ballad “Angels from Montgomery” this song is about suffering and regret written by a man in a woman’s persona. Full of defiance, it cuts to the heart of a factory worker’s boredom and a poor single mother’s desperation. Yet in her dreams she soars toward the light. This is probably the first time Francis Cabrel’s French version has been mixed with James Taylor’s lyrics.

25 Mar 2011

Rocky

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Saint James Infirmary

(traditional)

When I came across the lyrics to this song in a book, it conjured up a long-dormant memory. I must have heard Louis Armstrong’s recording of it when I was a kid, so this arrangement grew out of that fragment of melody. This song has the alchemical power to take a singer deep down inside where that paradox of the blues happens, where sadness becomes energy, where grief is transmuted into joy.

The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down

(Robbie Robertson)

This one reminds me of my dad, Ben Hugh Lowry (1919-1992). Like Virgil Cane, he had a particularly Southern sense of betrayal in his blood, and a fierce courage. When I was very small he had a wonderfully aromatic cigarette lighter with a Confederate flag on it. One of my earliest, fondest memories is the magic of that lighter, because when you flipped the lid open it played Dixie and burst into flame.

25 Mar 2011

Video Production

No Comments Video Production

Ecotone is currently developing new documentary projects. Keep an eye on the site for details.

25 Mar 2011

The Brewers Plate

No Comments Events, News

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The 4th annual Brewers Plate April 6 at the Wychwood Barns was a sold-out success.
For Info and tickets for April 2012 click here.

 

 

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25 Mar 2011

Event Production

No Comments Event Production

Ecotone produces events for advocacy, public education and fundraising. Read more