Stories circle the globe

http://www.ethiopiareads.org/ethiopian-odyssey-ii  I’m super jazzed to talk with my Vermont College of the Fine Arts students about how to think about the progression of a tale. I’m also super jazzed to see what this artistic collaboration can bring to some very simple, easy-to-read stories that can be used by Ethiopian educators, especially after they’re translated into various local languages.  I created this one from a story that’s told in Ethiopia and around the world…and Noh and Ellemae and I tried to teach ourselves a tiny bit about how illustrators work with perspective. See what you think.

01 turtle flower

She talked about flowers.

01 turtle ants

01 turtle wanted to touch clouds

01 turtle eagle

01 turtle touch clouds

01 turtle flying

 

01 turtle last picture

01 turtle goat friend

 

 

And another simple story for Ethiopia

01 secret a bag

01 secret what's inside

01 secret jumps01 secret thuds

01 secret

01 secret is out

01 secret last page

Our challenge to ourselves–a third grader, a fifth grader and me–was to think of American sayings or proverbs or idioms that we could turn into simple, easy-to-read stories.  These will be translated into various local languages. And of course part of the collection, ultimately, will be stories made from Ethiopian sayings or proverbs or idioms, too.

Book making project for Ethiopia

01 donkey first page

01 The donkey pulls the cart01 They see a hill01 Go01 donkey starts01 the donkey stops01 donkey snorts01 the donkey sits01 Get out

01 donkey last page

The swirl of travel

As my Vermont College semester winds to a close, two new adventures loom in my imagination: the January residency, where I will be leading a workshop focusing on picture books, and a trip to Ethiopia where I will be leading–am trying to invent–a workshop for creating some super simple, playful, patterned, culturally appropriate books that can be used in the Ethiopia Reads schools and libraries.  I’ve been using examples from a project with a school in Tanzania to explain what the end result might look like.  Love the really basic questions that are bubbling in my brain: what is a book; what is a story; what is a good beginning, a middle, an end?  Where do flashes of creativity come from that help us put together essential ingredients in new ways?

1 sample cover

Drinking water???

I like global projects that leave everyone surprised and a little more open-hearted.

I am significantThis photo is from a day when artist Stephanie Schlatter and her artist friend Aklilu decided to show kids in Ethiopia that anything can be a canvas–including YOU.

Today my neighbor was telling me about a time when he was a young man in Vietnam and talking to a farmer in a remote place. The guy wasn’t at all astonished when my neighbor hold him that Americans would soon land on the moon. Of course Americans would do that. He wasn’t fazed when my neighbor told him that when he returned home to Oregon, he was going to buy a car. But, my neighbor said, “when I told him that in America we wash our cars with drinking water, he leaped back in disbelief and shock.”

I like projects that illustrate community power–what happens when people put their skills and assets together to see what can be created.

1 empowering women through strong modelsI’ve helped raise money for school building and library planting in Ethiopia. The 2016 Maji trip will be different. I don’t yet know quite what it will look like. I do know that I’m drawn to a project of apple trees planted in the dream that some day apples can be sold to create, oh, a kindergarten, perhaps.

In my Portland neighborhood, the Woodlawn Triangle, we have a Facebook page called Foodlawn where people can arrange to trade food–last summer, for example, I traded tomatoes for duck eggs.  I also got to know a young neighbor who had a large sunny yard and neither time nor knowledge to grow vegetables. She and one of my sisters and I created a community vegetable garden with only three participants–not me, myself and I, but close.

Mid June (1)

In my own backyard, I’m creating wildlife habitat. I don’t really have either the sun or the flat spaces for edibles except in pots.

IMG_0856

But three of us in the Woodlawn neighborhood putting what we have together = some new astonishment each time I got there.  This morning, for example…

Mid June (5)

almond tree

Mid June (6)

asparagus

Mid June (8)

artichoke

IMG_0932Abundance for all.

Catching up with myself

SEEDOn May 24, I was in Washington DC to be honored by SEED for my work in spreading literacy through my books and my volunteer work with Ethiopia Reads.  As you notice, the invitation says the ending time of the event = 12:30 a.m. That Ethiopian oration is not for the fainthearted!  And it actually went until 1:00 a.m. But what a fascinating experience.

1 Dad laughingMy sister Caroline went with me and provided my introduction, mentioning that we spent our early childhood years in Maji. Unbelievably, the daughter of the man who was governor in Maji during those years (shown here with our dad at a celebration of Mom and Dad’s 20th year of living and working in Ethiopia) was in the audience and went over to talk to Caroline. Since my sis and I have been talking and dreaming of a trip back to Maji to work on literacy and solar co-ops that would provide power for the school and new hospital, it felt like amazing threads coming together.

Seeds planted…things go wild!  Or as my sweetie said to a neighbor recently, we don’t have a yard or garden…we have UNDERSTORY.  Bring on the life force!

early May (11)Let it all bloom.

5 Ethiopian traditions that should be brought to America

Yes! Beautifully put and makes me miss both Ethiopia and my little bit of Ethiopia here in the US.