Top Afri-love picks for the Women at the World Festival 2012, at London’s Southbank Centre

Women of the World Festival Southbank

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The Southbank Centre's Women of the World Festival returns this month to coincide with International Women's Day on Thursday 8th March. Celebrating the formidable strength and inventiveness of women, there is an even more exciting line-up of activities, talks, debates and performances than last year.

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Black people and nature: missing out and connecting

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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. 

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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.

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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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Etsy inspiration from AfricaDirect: African trade beads, art, jewellery and other artifacts

Green Talhakimt Glass trade bead

10 British West African Coins Nigeria African

Since setting up my Etsy shop, I've been spending a lot of time on the global handmade marketplace. Abundant with creativity, it's a great place for inspiration. Recently, I came across Etsy shop, AfricaDirect, specialising in trade beads, jewellery, carvings, masks, textiles and more.

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Inspiration for Adorned

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Above, some of the inspiration for the exhibition/installation I'm preparing for, Adorned. Along with circles and patterns, I'm obssessed with adornment, in its many interpretations and expressions.

Peter at Fusion Deli is to thank for steering me in the food direction. He asked me if any of my work had to do with food and, up until that point, it didn't. As I opened my mind to the idea, all these playful images started to fill my mind and make their way into reality, via experiments on-screen and on paper. Stay tuned for tomorrow's chapter where I rope in a little help from some friends …

Botanical illustration by Ernst Haeckel via The Sea of Tea; Yves Saint Laurent ring on Net-a-Porter; tentacles photo by locket479 on Flickr, woody plant cross-section via PAXcam.com; trees watercolour by Stina Persson; cross-section print by Degree; belts by Adele Dejak; painted wardrobe by Sans Parapluie.

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 technicolour: debut post!

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In my "day job," I work as a designer. I have had the great opportunity, especially lately, to work on several projects that promote the idea of Afri-love (I'll be sharing some soon). In many cases, the brief requires an aesthetic that says Africa without conjuring up the cliché images that many associate with the continent. While Africa has great artistic and cultural traditions that have become iconic around the world – for example relating to sculpture and fashion – the continent's creative expression is so much wider than just these. There is a new generation of imagination and talent that is clamouring to prove this.

That is often part of my challenge as a designer. How to draw from the wealth of tradition and at the same time, say something new. Colour plays a big part of it. I'm often experimenting with putting together palettes that express the vibrance of Africa, without being limited to the stereotypical red, yellow, black and green.

Today I present the first in a new series of posts – Africa-inspired colour palettes. Here I combine my love of textiles and accessories; my colour explorations and; inspiration drawn from the Simply Color series of posts, on the Design*Sponge blog (which is excellent for design and creative inspiration in general).

Today's colours (from left to right): PMS 608, PMS 296, PMS Yellow 012 and PMS Rubine Red.