Monday, August 22, 2016


Why People Need Poetry

Stephen Burt's TED talk is not ambitious but it is intriguing.  Lead me to look into Keats and more of his work.

Text of "This Living Hand" by John Keats on the Poetry Foundation site.

Do you have a favorite Keats poem?

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

2011 Crop Production at 12% of Normal's partner in Niger, Issa, reports that crop production Maradi region is running at 12% of normal. The crops in the field are afflicted with insect pests and so now his villagers hope for rain not only to water their crops and but also as a way to disrupt the infestations. This sounds like an environmental approach for insect control, but not a terribly effective one.

Issa's proposed budget covered $3,000 for modest amounts of fertilizers and insect controls in order to produced healthier plants and better yields. While this year's crops are almost a total loss, Issa is an eternal optimist and is making plans for a better 2012 growing season. is gathering ideas and dollars from all willing partners in this effort.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

The GAGURI project in Niger now officially registered as an agricultural cooperative by the local regional government. The eight people pictured here are serving as leaders of this organization, coming from two dominant ethnicities, Hauza and Buzu, and two faiths, Islamic and Christian. They are united in their determination end the threat of famine in their village by building a modern granary to safely store their grains and seeds for planting and for emergency use as food. is working to line up individuals and organizations who can provide advice and financial support for the GAGURI Agricultural Cooperative.

Friday, August 5, 2011

Sandy soil and no rain, but a wealth of hope.

The growing season in Dan-Makaho village depends on rain for germination of the seeds and for growing the young plants to the point that their leaf and root system is large enough to take in what little moisture comes in the dew and light rains. The village chief Issa reports that the soil was already dry at planting time and occasional bursts of rain have not been optimal for a good harvest later on this year.

Against the odds, these young men have hope in their eyes and courage in their hearts. A recent delivery of grain from the local government will be shared with the village as a goodwill offering to get them through the hot summer while their crops mature.

Friday, July 29, 2011

Camels Don't Mind a Little Green in the Desert

Issa is the village chief of Dan-Makaho and he is's partner in Niger. He recently sent along a few photos showing how his people plant their crops.

It makes sense that a camel could be used to pull a plow. The young guy riding the camel in his flip flops makes it look relatively easy. The nice, fresh greens that have sprouted from the desert floor make tasty treats for the camel, and must put him in a good mood for plowing.

This year's crops are sorghum, millet, and cow peas. Issa and are partnering to build a more modern warehouse to store the harvest and to save seeds for next year's planting.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Another Way of Seeing

My friend's village is more visible now that a few of our photos are visible on Google Earth and on Panoramio. Viewed on Google Earth or Panoramio, these pictures include the lattitude and longitude and are placed on a real map of southern Niger. Zooming in on the village of Dan-Makaho from the air, the village well is clearly there in the clearing surrounded by a few trees. There are also modest houses and the arid fields where the people grow their sorghum, millet, and cow peas.

In addition to the precision map experience on our Panoramio page, we can also gain context. Clicking out to view the wider Maradi region shows dozens of villages. Clicking out to view Niger as a whole reveals the proximity of important neighbors like Nigeria, which is only a few kilometers away from Dan-Makaho and which shares the Hausa tribal ethnicity. The other neighbors to the north, east, and west include a diverse assortment of ethnicities, histories, and landscapes: Algeria, Libya, Chad, Mali, Burkina Faso, and Benin.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Seeing is believing

A friend of mine is village chief in the African country of Niger. He knows that a village granary is the only sustainable way for him to protect his people from famine, by storing seeds for future crops and by storing surpluses for lean times. Like many good ideas, if this one is to be realized it needs planning, funds, and hands on work.

Funds are hard to come by. And, most people feel better about funding something they can see and understand so I set off to make this granary in Niger more tangible through photos, videos, and stories.

I sent a Canon SX95 camera to my friend the Chief and he began snapping photos of traditional granaries, neighboring town's modern granaries, and local farms. He starting emailing me lots of photos at 640x480 in order to fit more photos into each email, but I really wanted to share compelling high quality photos with other folks who might want to join our effort.

Flickr vs Picasa? I think of Flickr as a feature rich publishing mechanism and I think of Picasa as more of an individual editing and sharing mechanism.

Please take a look at our Flickr site and tell me what you like or don't like.

How do you think I should go about sharing the photos that will reach people who will see this project and believe in it?