Posts Tagged ‘South Africa’

Sixto Rodriguez – A 40-year Overnight Success.

01/03/2013
Sixto Rodriguez

Sixto Rodriguez

Searching for Suger Man – The Life and Times of Sixto Rodriguez
By R. Richards,
Mountain Spirit Institute Founder
It’s been said that happiness and sorrow are different sides of the same coin, and that presence is the razor’s edge one walks to weather life’s ups and downs in peace. This comes to mind when I think of Sixto Rodriguez‘s life story, told in the Oscar winning documentary, Searching for Sugar Man directed by Sweden’s Malik Bendjelloul.

Director and Subjects of Searching for Sugar Man

Director and Subjects of Searching for Sugar Man

For those unfamiliar with this documentary, it’s the story of a folk singer/songwriter with a powerful gift of prose and music who never “made it” in the U.S. when he released two albums in the early ’70’s. When the releases never took off, he just went back to work in his home town of Detroit, doing construction and remodels.  He and his promotional agents couldn’t believe his albums never became popular. (more…)

Quebec vs. American Anxiety

26/02/2010

By D. R. Richards

Telltale signs of "joie de vive"

What is it, that makes Quebec, Canada a breath of fresh air for those of us who often escape there from the northeastern U.S.? It’s interesting to experience this question through the eyes of my wife, who’s from New Zealand, Australia and South Africa. She’s new to the U.S, and to New England, and is not afraid to share her observations. I always felt more comfortable when I lived in Europe, South America and New Zealand,  but, honestly, still struggle to put into words exactly why an ex-pat life could still be my destiny. I had my “Euro-epiphany” at 21, after having a chance meeting with Erga Rehns in Portugal. It took two years to sink in, and I almost didn’t return stateside. I still have that ex-pat perspective. I still look at the U.S. with the eyes of an foreigner.
My wife just got her Green Card a few days ago, on the 22nd, and the next day we were outa here, off to Magog, Canada. Partly because my birthday was on the 23rd, and partly because she was on the wait list for a Vipassana course for which she was accepted and started the following day.

Mt. Orford with "Visitor's Center"*

As we walked the streets of the little Quebec towns, and went for a walk at Mt. Orford Provincial Park, we discussed what exactly is it that makes us feel more relaxed away from the U.S.? Here’s what our conversation yielded: For one, the people take care, and pay attention of their food and time. They are not as stressed. Immediately it’s obvious that there isn’t an anxiety in the air –  in fact, there’s a calmness. Kids are smiling, people are quietly enjoying their week-day afternoon. We also concluded it takes a lot more effort in the U.S. to relax because of the nervousness of the collective consciousness. Today’s Health Care Summit in Washington illustrates the deep crisis Americans are experiencing about such basics as going to the doctor. In other countries, people are incredulous that there’s even a debate in the U.S. about profit over people. The idea that someone could lose their house should they become sick is a foriegn concept.  It would simply not happen in France or New Zealand, or in Canada. (See the movie Sicko)

Meditation: The Ripple Effect

As I write this, my wife is sitting peacefully in the mountains of Quebec at a Vipassna retreat center. I feel the ripple effect, and I hope you do as well. Janice Vien, in her Iyengar yoga classes always closes with the phrase, “May the benefits of this practice be extended to others”. It’s clear Americans face difficult roads ahead because of the greed of the “corporatracy”. And yes, of course, one can keep their center no matter where one is, as put forth by Eckhart Tolle. But for those that are sensitive, the difference in  energy between the U.S. and Quebec is striking.

Maison Verte's B&B = Quality and Care

*The reason I put quotes around the Mt. Orford Visitor’s Center is the sense of scale in Quebec, and other countries is more realistic than in the U.S.  When one thinks of  “Visitor’s Centers”  in the U.S., usually the image of the Denali National Park, Arches National Park, or the Smithsonian most likely comes to mine. The Center is Quebec however, is a small lodge, (with fireplace, bathrooms and picnic tables), despite it being a popular national park.

Rooibos Tea Plant Under Threat

22/12/2009

Rooibos Tea farmers on the Front Line of Cimate Change
By Amanda Richards

Rooibos - The Frontline of Climate Change

I was born in South Africa, and we all grew up with Rooibos or, red bush tea. I was saddened to see this recent article covering this important plant being threatened by environmental and man-made factors.

In this article in The Independent newspaper, Virginia Marsh explores how this valuable plant is threatened by climate change – and with it the independent farmers that depend upon it for their livelihoods.

By Virginia Marsh

"Red Bush" or Rooibos Tea

Unusually, the entire global supply of rooibos comes from a single production area in the west of South Africa that measures just 200 x 100 kilometres. Efforts to cultivate it outside of the Suid Bokkeveld have not been successful: it draws on the region’s unique soils and climate and needs to grow alongside other components of its ecosystem.
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