Black people and nature: missing out and connecting

Craft-ology-Hells-Gate-Kenya

At one point in my primary school years, I belonged to the Intrepid Explorer's Club. Over the weekends we would go on hikes, climb mountains and essentially take advantage of the fact that we lived in a country where a variety of beautiful natural spaces were so accessible to us. 

Now, I went to a pretty international school, in Kenya, with people originating from over 40 countries across the world. And as far as I can recall, there were only 2 black members of the Intrepid Explorer's Club. 

Despite having nature literally on our doorsteps, I observe that a lot of Kenyans (and I think this is true for a lot of the continent, please correct me if I'm wrong), have no interest in exploring, enjoying and otherwise engaging in it. Tourism is a major contributor to Kenya's GDP and there are several national parks and reserves and yet, several people who have never visited even one. And I'm talking about people who do have the means to do so.

This is an observation I've made about the black populations in the other countries that I've lived in: the US and the UK. There's much that people are missing. From appreciating how insignificant we really are, to getting to understand how our decisions affect the world around us. Being amazed by the diversity of beautiful flora, fauna and landscapes and rekindling that childlike sense of wonder and curiosity we once had. Then there are the benefits to wellbeing: disconnecting, exhaling, exercise, sun. 

Outdoor Afro logo


OutDoor Afro

It's great to discover sites like OutDoor Afro, "where black people and nature meet". Founder Rue Mapp grew up between the city and woodlands, developing an appreciation of nature which, she observed, was consistently rare in the African American community. OutDoor Afro is a space where people of colour who share outdoor interests can connect.

The site includes a community where members can have discussions, share photos, videos, and events, as well as create specific interest groups. OutDoor Afro takes advantage of other social media spaces (Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Flickr) to inspire, inform and give like-minded people an opportunity to interact.

Christmas-tree-farm-Wilderness-Wood

 

Back to nature

Living in a city and being busy is an easy excuse to not make an effort to get out there more. I'll be the first to admit my guilt. Yet, I live in walking distance of three parks and the Trans Pennine Trail is literally around the corner. I'm committing to making that effort this year, as one of the 30 ways in which I intend to live more creatively (being outdoors in nature really helps me think clearly and get inspired). Londoners can check out nearby Wilderness Wood for a taste of what nature has to offer (I work with the Wood in my Asilia capacity and have had the opportunity to spend a bit of time there. It's a great place).

Why do such few black people get outdoors?

That's another post altogether. I would love to hear your thoughts!

Thanks Brandon for the introduction to OutDoor Afro (Everybody, check out designer and musician, Brandon Reevey's world)!

Photographs: Top – Gorge at Hell's Gate, Kenya, by Craft*ology on Flickr. Bottom – Christmas tree farm at Wilderness Wood, by yours truly, Lulu Kitololo

30 ways I’ll be living more creatively this year

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I grow increasingly excited about this year – if I had to pick a word to describe what I'm concentrating on, it would be "creating". Sure that's my line of work anyway but the word is taking on all kinds of meaning in 2012. Not only will I be making ideas happen in the workspace but I also want to spend more time injecting more creativity in my life in general.

A few weeks ago, I wrote about making room for a more creative life over on Technorati. As a creative who has not been living as creatively as I'd like, I shared ideas for how to inject more creativity in your days (whether you are a creative professional or not).

Today I'm sharing 30 (mostly) specific things I'll be doing this year. I choose the number because this year I will be happily turning the big 3-0!

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The Love Letter continues

The-Afri-love-Love-Letter-Continues

As much as this blog has been a love letter to the continent I call home, it’s also been an outlet for me to explore how to better (and better love) myself.

Blogger Brigitte Lyons puts it so well when she says, “if you want to change the world, better yourself first.” That was the thinking behind this whole Afri-love idea. In order for us to inspire, encourage, demand and create the changes we want to see in our continent, we have to first know, be proud of and love who we are and then, act from that position.

Overcoming the madness
Last year was the busiest year I’ve experienced. Getting a business off the ground is no joke and all the learning, administration, establishing of relationships, bidding for projects, servicing clients and actually doing the core work was a lot to handle. On top of all that, I attempted to blog every weekday and pursue other personal projects. At the end of the year I was exhausted and overwhelmed yet hopeful that the Christmas break would give me an opportunity to work on the things that usually get attention last.

I had a wonderful holiday with my family, who I don’t get to see very often. Wonderful but, not productive in the way that I had planned. January rolled around and it wasn’t exactly the fresh start I’d expected. I found this post from Miss Modish and I could relate, almost down to the word, with how she’d felt before she decided she needed to change things up, for her sanity and health.

Continue reading “The Love Letter continues”

Reporting back from A Tropical Christmas

  Mindful-Maps-interpretation-of-A-Tropical-Christmas

I anticipated, I wished and then I … thoroughly enjoyed!

Last Saturday, I spent a wonderful day at The Drift Bar in London, celebrating creativity and good company at the Asilia and Afri-love Tropical Christmas celebration. 

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A Tropical Christmas (in London): Saturday 17th December

I haven't celebrated the festive season at home (Kenya) since the year 2000. Instead, I've gathered with similarly displaced friends and enjoyed eclectic celebrations comprising of the best from all our worlds. Pot-luck Christmas dinners where bread sauce and mac n' cheese sit next to bread fruit and mtori; music spanning from across the tropics and; … dancing, always.

Regardless of the cold and sun-starved winter and despite being far from family, these holidays have been fantastic because I've been in such good company. This year, Afri-love and Asilia, the creative agency I co-own, are hosting a Christmas celebration in this same spirit.

A Tropical Christmas

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A celebration of creativity and good company, a Tropical Christmas will be a laidback afternoon to: unload some of the holiday stress; get some last minute Christmas shopping done, away from the hustle and; support quality African and African Diaspora design.

You can expect:

Don't forget to bring some business cards for the "collaboration board" – share your passion and make exciting connections for 2012!

The Details

Date: Saturday 17th December
Time: 12:00 – 8:00pm
Venue: The Drift Bar, Heron Tower, 110 Bishopsgate, London EC2N 4AY

If you're on Facebook, you can RSVP via the event page. There's no need to RSVP though, just come along.

Looking forward to seeing you! 

The world I choose – a Think Act Vote Futures Interview

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Think Act Vote (?!X) is my kind of initiative. Using creativity and culture, the think-tank explores and expresses issues of sustainability, citizenship, politics and essentially, change. Most importantly, they remind us that change is in our own hands. We have agency – to dream and to take action towards making those dreams come true. 

Recently, Think Act Vote asked me to contribute to their Futures Interview series and share my dream of the future. This is it

What's the future you choose? Share it with Think Act Vote here and check out the many inspiring visions.

In our own hands: an interview with Kesha Bruce for the 6×6 Summer Blog Tour

Keshabruce_I'll fly away

My exploration of Afri-love has tended to centre around creativity and the creative professions. Mainly because it's what I do and what I love but, also because of a strong belief that creativity is a powerful way of inspiring and creating positive change. I've also been going on and on (and you may be sick of it by now) about how everything starts with the self. Any change we can hope to encourage on a large scale is likely to be futile if we haven't also considered how to implement it for ourselves.

Enter artists and Baang+Burne directors, Kesha Bruce and Charlie Grosso, and their 6×6 project: their answer to the question “what if there were no more art galleries?” For 6 weeks starting in September this year, artists in New York City will take matters into their own hands and put on exhibitions to showcase their work. What an inspiring concept! What amazing potential such an idea could have in an African context, where the necessary infrastructure for a viable career as an artist is even more scarce …

I thought I'd get more wisdom from the source – the wonderful Kesha Bruce.

Continue reading “In our own hands: an interview with Kesha Bruce for the 6×6 Summer Blog Tour”

New year, new mission, same big picture

Reflection

"2010 is all about doing and discovering." I am happy to say that this mantra worked better than any resolution I could have fooled myself into making. Vague enough to reduce the possibilities of failure and inspiring enough to pull me out of bed especially on dark, cold winter mornings. I started last year with an optimism and energy that propelled me through the tougher days. I did, a lot, and I learned a hell of a lot about myself, life, business and more.

It was exhausting!

Continue reading “New year, new mission, same big picture”

5 steps to creative independence (my guest post on the African Digital Art network)

5-Steps-towards-creative-independence

Earlier this week, a post I wrote and illustrated, especially for African Digital Art (ADA), was published. "5 Steps towards Creative Independence" shares some of the things I've learned during my one and a half years of self employment.

Check it out if you haven't already and don't forget to join the ADA District – an online community designed and created for African creative professionals, designers and artists. 

About


The Afri-love philosophy

Love is vital to growth and actualization. 

Imagine Africans who love who they are, as they are, and so love each other and the environment that nurtures them. Confident and assertive, they are engaged in charting their growth and celebrating success as defined on their own terms.

Imagine all who are inspirited by Africa – all whose lives and hearts have been touched by the spirit of the continent – sharing their passion through collaboration, in the name of mutual empowerment.

Imagine all starting by looking inside themselves. Self-discovery, self-awareness, self-love and self-respect. And then true learning, understanding, love and respect of the other. Harnessing the power of emotion to influence great positive change.

This website is a place to document a growing idea. One that will be shaped by all who interact with, interrogate and contribute to it. Through facilitating a platform for commentary, stories, interviews, ideas for action, shared resources, reviews, news, art and much more, Afri-love hopes to become a community of creativity, knowledge, passion and ideas.

Be proud. Be inspired. Spread love. Grow.