Inspiring Women January 2022

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<strong>January</strong> <strong>2022</strong>, Volume 6 Issue 1

profiles<br />

7<br />

13<br />

18<br />

25<br />


Gender Justice<br />

is Good for<br />

Climate Change<br />

Stacey Kimmig on<br />

her work with the<br />

UN.<br />

Grassroots Thinking Sprouts<br />

Green Recycling in Moscow<br />

Maria (Masha) Megrelis works hard to<br />

reuse and recycle as much as she can<br />

and encourage others to do the same.<br />

Lessons from “Le Terroir”: Caring for<br />

Vineyards, Saving the Earth<br />

Mary Bruton Sandifer makes wine and<br />

writes stories while caring for the<br />

environment.<br />

Art As a Catalyst<br />

for Environmental<br />

Change<br />

Nadine Anderson<br />

raises awareness of<br />

the environment<br />

through art.<br />

31<br />

35<br />

45<br />

49<br />

Environmental<br />

Lessons from<br />

the Pandemic<br />

Ayuska Motha<br />

looks at what she<br />

has learned from<br />

the global<br />

pandemic.<br />

Getting “Schooled” About<br />

Recycling in Russia<br />

Maria (Masha) Sumina works hard to<br />

recycle and get others to do the same<br />

in Moscow.<br />

“Containing” the<br />

Waste Problem<br />

Alexandra Vo on<br />

why it’s important<br />

to refuse all plastic.<br />

Persistence Builds a Composting<br />

Business in Morocco<br />

Rajea Benkirane Alami believes<br />

ecologically friendly compost is the way<br />

to go.<br />

56<br />

Changing Lives One Person At A<br />

Time Ulrike Näumann does what she<br />

can for the refugees she meets.<br />


features<br />

11<br />

The<br />

Environment<br />

Needs You!<br />

Amanda<br />

Drollinger on the<br />

importance of<br />

SDG #13.<br />

39 ”I Am Who I Am Today Because of<br />

the Choices I Made Yesterday”<br />

Suzan Zhuta, member of AWC<br />

Hamburg, discusses the importance of<br />

clean energy.<br />

16<br />

Catching the Rain for a Better<br />

Future<br />

Carol Strametz, Carole Harbers and<br />

Ulrike Henn tells us about this project<br />

based in India.<br />

41<br />

A Club Inspires : AWC Denmark<br />

22 24 Hours in Amsterdam, the<br />

Netherlands: the Venice of the North<br />

Sharon Smillie invites us to her favorite<br />

places in this beautiful city.<br />

51<br />

<strong>Inspiring</strong> Reads: Exiled South<br />

FAUSA member Harriet Cannon tells<br />

us about her book and the inspiration<br />

for it.<br />

29<br />

Recognition of the Environment<br />

as a Fundamental Human Right<br />

Deirdre Pirro, an<br />

international<br />

lawyer, tells us<br />

about her work for<br />

the environment.<br />

in every issue<br />

4<br />

Advertisers Index<br />

54<br />

<strong>Inspiring</strong> You<br />

5<br />

A Note from the Editor<br />

Liz MacNiven<br />

55<br />

More About This Issue<br />

6<br />

Let’s Chuck the Pearls More about<br />

what you can find in this issue from<br />

Elsie Bose.<br />

56<br />

57<br />

Coming May <strong>2022</strong><br />

That’s Inspired!<br />


advertisers index<br />

We appreciate your support of our advertisers!<br />

Lauren Mescon, Rodan + Fields p.10 Lauren, member of AWC<br />

Amsterdam, works with the #1 premium skincare brand in North<br />

America, Rodan + Fields, offering you the best skin of your life.<br />

Yummylicious Serums Paris p.21 Yummylicious Serums are an<br />

eco-friendly, pure, all organic and all natural line of healthy serums<br />

for your skin and hair designed by AWG Paris member Kristina Soleymanlou.<br />

London & Capital p.28 Whether you are a US Citizen living abroad, or a foreign entity with US reporting,<br />

their dedicated teams take care of your wealth, giving you time to concentrate on the things that matter<br />

to you. London & Capital has been supporting FAWCO since 2016.<br />

Janet Darrow Real Estate p.34 Around the corner or a world away, contact Janet Darrow, FAUSA<br />

member, to find the best properties. FAWCO referrals to Janet help the Target Program!<br />

The Pajama Company p.38 The Pajama Company, founded by Ellie Badanes,<br />

member of FAUSA and AW Surrey, sells pajamas that are cozy, cheerful and<br />

online!<br />

London Realty Intl. p.44 London Realty Intl. is owned by AWC London member<br />

Lonnée Hamilton, a worldwide property consultant. Her firm works with the<br />

best agents across the globe to fulfill your property needs.<br />

The Short List p.53 The Short List assists students with the college admissions<br />

and application process. Ask your club to schedule a webinar to acquaint<br />

members on how to get started.<br />

Throughout the years FAWCO has relied on advertisers and sponsors to augment its<br />

income. This revenue has allowed FAWCO to improve services and the flexibility to try the latest<br />

innovations to enhance the FAWCO experience. FAWCO’s advertising<br />

partners believe in our mission and support our goals. Some directly<br />

support our activities and projects.<br />

We encourage club leadership throughout the FAWCO network to share<br />

our publications with their membership. Please support them! Our<br />

advertising partners have valuable products and services and we want<br />

your members to take advantage of what they offer. For more information on these advertisers<br />

or if you have any questions about FAWCO’s advertising program, please contact Elsie<br />

Bose: advertising@fawco.org.<br />

Why not advertise in <strong>Inspiring</strong> <strong>Women</strong>? FAWCO club members - do you want to take your<br />

business worldwide? Contact Elsie Bose at advertising@fawco.org to get started. We offer great<br />

rates and comprehensive packages for almost any budget.<br />


“W<br />

hat you do<br />

makes a<br />

difference, and<br />

you have to<br />

decide what kind<br />

of difference you want to make.”<br />

A Note from<br />

the Editor<br />

Dr. Jane Goodall, (British Primatologist)<br />

The other day I was listening to a podcast of the<br />

BBC Radio 4 programme, Woman’s Hour. (If you<br />

don’t know it, I can highly recommend it; available<br />

daily.) Anyway, they were interviewing three<br />

young, Generation Z women about life and the<br />

future. I was very struck by one woman who said<br />

she thought it was only the younger generations<br />

who really understood and cared about the<br />

environment and specifically climate change. She<br />

felt the older generations were not willing to<br />

invest the money required to sort out these<br />

difficult issues because (and I paraphrase) “they<br />

wouldn’t be around to see the results.”<br />

This issue of <strong>Inspiring</strong> <strong>Women</strong> Magazine flies<br />

totally in the face of that. We have profiles and<br />

features from women across the FAWCO world<br />

who really are doing something, not just leaving it<br />

to the younger generations. Whether they are<br />

involved at the highest level internationally or<br />

doing what they can from the privacy of their own<br />

homes, these women are putting the environment<br />

at the top of their agendas.<br />

member of AWC<br />

London, has taken on<br />

the newly created post<br />

of Profiles Coordinator.<br />

So you will see in all our<br />

notes about future<br />

profile nominations<br />

that you should now<br />

send these to Haley. If<br />

you feel like writing us a feature article those go to<br />

Michele Hendrikse Du Bois as before but Haley is<br />

coordinating all the profiles. The address for each<br />

of them is on p.57.<br />

Anyway, I hope you enjoy reading the profiles and<br />

features in this issue. Please do let us know what<br />

you think by completing our survey (p.56) or<br />

sending me your thoughts at<br />

inspiringwomen.editor@fawco.org. I’m off to find<br />

another excuse to go and visit Tristan!<br />

Liz x<br />

I admit I haven’t always been able to find the<br />

energy to do as much for the environment as I<br />

would like. Since October 21, 2021, however, I<br />

have a very special reason to care about the<br />

future of this planet. His name is Tristan and I<br />

have to tell you a serious new love affair has<br />

begun for me!<br />

My daughter, Rachel, sets a great example with<br />

her purchasing decisions for Tristan (“pre-loved”<br />

wherever possible, natural fibres, as little plastic<br />

as she can etc.) and I will do my grandmotherly<br />

best to follow suit. I have already learned (having<br />

been nudged by Rachel) to have a healthy<br />

appreciation of Facebook Marketplace as a source<br />

of pre-loved baby equipment and toys. I want to<br />

do my bit to ensure I leave the planet in as good a<br />

state as I can for Tristan.<br />

These are things that for me, feel easy to do and<br />

my motivation is higher than ever. As Dr. Jane<br />

Goodall suggested, I have decided that this is the<br />

difference I want to make. Perhaps a story in this<br />

issue will help you decide your difference.<br />

There is another new member of the <strong>Inspiring</strong><br />

<strong>Women</strong> team (we can’t really count Tristan can<br />

we? Ha ha!!). We are delighted that Haley Green,<br />


Let’s Chuck the<br />

Pearls<br />

<strong>Inspiring</strong> <strong>Women</strong> Magazine founder Elsie Bose<br />

introduces our environmental theme.<br />

There is a great deal of pearl clutching going on<br />

about the state of the world today. The term<br />

“pearl clutching” (to me) refers to people who talk<br />

about what is wrong but who are slow to take<br />

action towards solutions. It’s time to limit the<br />

lamenting and debating and start taking steps to<br />

limit the damage we are doing to the planet and<br />

each other.<br />

Of all the existential questions challenging the<br />

world today, the fate of our planet is “The<br />

One.” We must take care of it. If not, there’s not<br />

much point to anything else!<br />

FAWCO has been taking action to improve the<br />

environment since at least 1957 when it sent<br />

relief funds to victims of the Thessaly earthquake<br />

in Greece. FAWCO focused on the environment<br />

making it the theme for its conference in Vienna<br />

in 1991. I put on a pair of rubber boots and<br />

participated in a FAWCO tree plant-a-thon with<br />

other club members in Brussels. The first Target<br />

program was devoted to access to clean water<br />

and FAWCO member clubs raised funds beyond<br />

its wildest expectations for the first Target<br />

Project, ”Tabitha-Wells for Clean Water,<br />

Cambodia.” This year FAWCO is set to announce<br />

the environment will once again be the focus for<br />

the next Target Program.<br />

Never have there been more Inspired <strong>Women</strong>!<br />

This issue introduces you to the women in FAWCO<br />

clubs who have been supporting the effort to keep<br />

the earth alive. <strong>Women</strong> who have all taken on the<br />

“care and feeding” of our Earth. Our goal in this<br />

issue is to not only inform you, but to inspire you<br />

(we like to believe we do what we say on the<br />

cover!) to act.<br />

Because here’s the thing, you can clutch those<br />

pearls all you want. We can talk about poverty,<br />

war, inequities in health care, hunger, or economic<br />

imbalance. We cannot, however, fully correct<br />

these problems unless we DO something about<br />

the environment.<br />

If we don’t, those pearls are going to melt out of<br />

your hand like a Hershey Chocolate Kiss candy, as<br />

it did in mine, on a near record-breaking 80°<br />

Christmas Day (2021) in North Texas.<br />

Elsie<br />

advertising@fawco.org<br />



Gender Justice is<br />

Good for Climate<br />

Change<br />

Stacey Kimmig, a member of AIWC<br />

Cologne and a FAWCO UN Climate<br />

Rep, explains how she got<br />

involved.<br />

I grew up in Schaumburg, Illinois, which was a<br />

small town when I was little, with corn fields and<br />

rural roads. My parents were active in establishing<br />

the church we would attend my whole childhood;<br />

they raised money to build the church and (very<br />

importantly for my parents) buy an organ.<br />

My Mom was often the music committee Chair, so<br />

she would sign my sister and me up to sing at the<br />

church services as “special music.” She was a<br />

gifted singer and pianist/organist and she taught<br />

piano when we were young. A vivid memory from<br />

my childhood is coming home to children banging<br />

out pieces on our living room piano, sometimes<br />

for weeks on end. I would listen to her praise her<br />

students; she always found something that she<br />

could compliment. I admired her patience and<br />

positive attitude.<br />

Me as a little girl<br />

A love of music<br />

I gained my love and appreciation for music from<br />

my parents, both of whom filled our home and<br />

life with beautiful music. I learned to play the<br />

piano, then went on to play the cello. Singing was<br />

and always will be my first love, however. High<br />

school was a wonderful time in my life, filled with<br />

choir, orchestra, a string quartet, roles in musical<br />

productions, as well as building sets and working<br />

in the sound and lighting booth for theater<br />

productions.<br />

Yearning for adventure<br />

Although Schaumburg expanded over the years<br />

(my high school had about 2800 students), my<br />

desire to see the world was nevertheless ever<br />

present. So, in high school, I studied French and<br />

enrolled in an exchange program to go to<br />

Strasbourg for three weeks.<br />

At university, I also studied in Paris for a year,<br />

which I thoroughly enjoyed. I had every intention<br />

of moving back to France after I graduated, but I<br />

met my German exchange student husband in my<br />

senior year, so it was back to the drawing board<br />

on my foreign language skills and life plans.<br />

Moving to Germany<br />

Stacey Kimmig<br />

With my accounting degree completed, I worked<br />

in Chicago for a large public accounting firm and<br />

after two years of long distance romance, I moved<br />

to Germany with nothing but my two suitcases<br />

and a cat.<br />

Abbott Laboratories became my new employer,<br />

where I was responsible for establishing and<br />

managing the growing diagnostic markets in<br />

Eastern Europe, the Middle East and Africa. It was<br />

very surreal to be at a medical fair drinking vodka<br />

shots in the back room with doctors, but it taught<br />


With my husband and three sons<br />

me a lot about respecting other cultures and<br />

defining differences as enrichment in life. It also<br />

taught me that a note saying you gave your friend<br />

$30 to sleep on his couch because there is a war<br />

going on in the country and hotels are closed is an<br />

acceptable receipt on an expense report. Humans<br />

are resilient and wonderful, and every person can<br />

teach you something about yourself and the world<br />

around you.<br />

Three sons later, I was a stay-at-home mom, busy<br />

with school events, building a library with a friend<br />

at the grade school, practicing various skills with<br />

children left in the hallway because they did not<br />

attend religion class, or taking kids out of English<br />

class for individual speaking practice at the local<br />

high school. We moved around Germany and then<br />

spent a year in Sweden and a year in Illinois, the<br />

kids enjoying every minute of time with their<br />

American relatives.<br />

Since 2010, we have been back in Germany in the<br />

former German capital, Bonn. The youngest of my<br />

three children graduated from high school this<br />

summer and will soon be moving on to his next<br />

chapter, so we will be empty nesters. We are<br />

excited for the possibilities this new freedom<br />

brings, but of course, it will be an adjustment.<br />

Protecting the environment<br />

Protecting the environment has always been<br />

important. We were told when I was little to turn<br />

off the water when brushing your teeth, or the<br />

lights off when leaving a room. I think we can all<br />

agree that using the resources we have wisely is<br />

so important.<br />

However, FAWCO offered me a unique<br />

opportunity to learn so much more about the<br />

environmental crisis. This opportunity came about<br />

because I was desperately trying to figure out how<br />

I could see the UN from the inside, as I had always<br />

been fascinated by the UN’s work and I now lived<br />

right down the street from their headquarters in<br />

Bonn. Laurie Richardson made it happen by<br />

applying for accreditation and FAWCO now has<br />

had two slots to attend the climate conference<br />

(and associated environmental meetings).<br />

Attending COP sessions<br />

Since 2017, Ayuska Motha and I have been<br />

attending the COP sessions, planning and strategy<br />

meetings, supporting actions and tweet storms in<br />

cooperation with the <strong>Women</strong> and Gender<br />

Constituency. The WGC is a group of NGOs, based<br />

worldwide, which work together at COP to ensure<br />

that any agreements made at the climate<br />

conference itself include the all important gender<br />

and human rights language.<br />

Speaking to women from around the world and<br />

hearing experts speak year after year has made<br />

me much more knowledgeable about how the<br />

climate crisis impacts women and girls more than<br />

it does men, although we all inhabit the same<br />

planet. It has also taught me that the climate crisis<br />

is complex and cannot be solved with one simple<br />

solution. There’s no magic bullet. We are all<br />

sharing this one planet, and yet, none of us have<br />

the entire picture; the issue is too complex.<br />

For example, if we stop buying fast fashion, how<br />

many people in developing countries will be out of<br />

a job which barely puts food on the table for their<br />

children? Do we know the answer to that, or do we<br />

just feel good that we are doing our part to save<br />

the planet? Of course, it’s a good idea to buy less<br />

and spend more on sustainable fashion, but until<br />

a system for fair working conditions is in place, we<br />

might worsen conditions for others by our actions.<br />

That’s why more inclusion and leadership from<br />

local peoples and indigenous communities is<br />

essential in any climate solution.<br />

The challenge for me<br />

My biggest challenge in my work at the climate<br />

conferences has been to acquire enough<br />

knowledge of the issues as well as understanding<br />

the UN processes to be effective in pushing for<br />

gender justice in the process and the solutions. An<br />

important part of being an advocate is to<br />

approach the negotiators at the conferences and<br />

give them a rundown of key demands from the<br />

WGC about what we hope to see in the final<br />

agreement reached between country<br />

negotiators. I have had negotiators very<br />

interested to learn more from the WGC about the<br />

key issues of gender justice and how important it<br />

is to include gender considerations in climate<br />

change solutions, but I’ve also had a negotiator tell<br />

me to quit distracting and delaying their work by<br />

bringing gender into it. So, another essential skill is<br />

reading people and being quick enough on your<br />

feet to steer the discussion in a positive direction.<br />

An important message<br />

I think that the most important message I can pass<br />

on from my work on environmental issues is to<br />

contradict a statement from Barack Obama. In his<br />

speech at COP 26 in Glasgow in November, he<br />

said, “To all the young people out there – I want<br />

you to stay angry. I want you to stay frustrated.” I<br />

don’t want that. I don’t believe that a constant<br />


atmosphere of anger and frustration is what we<br />

need to solve the climate crisis.<br />

Anger and frustration over a long period of time<br />

cause fatigue and burnout, but solving the climate<br />

issues facing us will take time. I see anger in some<br />

activists; their anger is often directed towards<br />

others, which develops into a “them against us”<br />

mentality. But we need everyone to work together<br />

(and feel responsible) to solve the complex issue<br />

of climate change. We also need to be mindful of<br />

the needs and fears of others around the<br />

world. So, I like to share a different message: “Stay<br />

positive. Don’t be frustrated or overwhelmed.<br />

Know that change happens one step at a time.<br />

Every step matters. It might not feel fast enough,<br />

but every step forward is better than a step<br />

back. Do what you can to make better choices in<br />

your daily life. Spend more time communing with<br />

and appreciating nature, it has much to tell you<br />

and it is a force more powerful than mankind. We<br />

will get there, don’t give up.”<br />

It seems to me that the best social movements in<br />

history were the ones which speak of coming<br />

together and being kind. That is what I hope for us<br />

and our planet.<br />

My work with FAWCO<br />

Through my work with FAWCO, I believe that I am<br />

contributing in some small way to a better<br />

future. UN work is slow and tedious, focusing on<br />

lengthy agreements and painstakingly long<br />

discussions on articles and their wording. It is not<br />

always obvious why a negotiator has a problem<br />

with the formulation of the document. This is<br />

when I wish I had more of my Mom’s patience!<br />

However, being at the climate conferences,<br />

surrounded by people who truly care about the<br />

work they are doing is inspiring. I am encouraged<br />

by the number of people making a difference in<br />

their local communities; these are the unsung<br />

heroes in the climate crisis and I wish more<br />

funding would be made available to those<br />

organizations. Some funding sources only fund<br />

projects of a million dollars or more. This leaves<br />

With my Mom and Dad and siblings<br />

many small projects out, where $5000 could have<br />

a huge impact.<br />

Limited funding and other frustrations<br />

Most of the NGOs we work with have limited<br />

funding and never enough staff. So my job, in<br />

supporting the WGC, is often to jump in when no<br />

one else can. Early on I volunteered to deliver the<br />

statement for the WGC at a closing plenary. After<br />

helping to put the statement together and<br />

practicing how to cram four minutes of text into<br />

our allotted two minutes by speed-speaking, we<br />

were finally told at 10 or 11 pm that the final<br />

statements by the constituencies would not be<br />

heard. I recorded our statement anyway and it<br />

was posted online.<br />

The next year a colleague from Africa was<br />

supposed to give the statement and I found<br />

myself alone with her to write the two-minute<br />

speech. I felt completely unprepared for the task,<br />

but I rolled up my sleeves and we got it<br />

done. Although these statements won’t stop<br />

climate change, they do let people in power know<br />

that we are here and we are paying attention.<br />

That is probably more impactful than the fact that<br />

With Ayuska Motha at COP25<br />


I no longer use plastic bags. Everyone can play a<br />

part in making positive change towards a better<br />

future for us all and I am very grateful for the<br />

opportunity to work, through FAWCO, on the<br />

important issue of climate change.<br />

A favorite memory<br />

The year I studied in Paris happened to be the<br />

year when the Berlin wall fell. As events unfolded,<br />

my American roommate and I spontaneously<br />

decided to get on a night bus to Berlin to see what<br />

we could see. It was a long journey, but we made<br />

it and what we encountered in Berlin was an<br />

experience I’ll never forget.<br />

We arrived before the partying on the walls began<br />

that you remember from the news. When we were<br />

there, people were excited, but quiet, milling<br />

about, but unsure exactly what would happen<br />

next. We made our way to the wall where a few<br />

people were picking away at the stones using<br />

hammers and picks and whatever they had to<br />

break the wall. We could feel the historic<br />

importance, but it was unclear how it would all<br />

unfold. East German guards were still protecting<br />

the wall.<br />

At some point, my friend and I found ourselves in<br />

front of a hole in the wall large enough to look<br />

through. On the other side, a guard looked back at<br />

us. It is a shame that I couldn’t speak German<br />

back then; I would have liked to know what he was<br />

East German guard at the Berlin wall the night it fell<br />

thinking. He seemed unsure of his duty at this<br />

point; should he be keeping people in, or keeping<br />

westerners out, or none of the above? We<br />

communicated through gestures and shared a<br />

moment with him.<br />

I will never forget his face and I wonder what<br />

became of him. My little box of Berlin wall pieces<br />

that I chipped off the wall that night is one of my<br />

favorite souvenirs from my travels.<br />



The Environment Needs You!<br />

And You Need the Environment.<br />

Amanda Drollinger, AWC Central Scotland member and FAWCO’s<br />

Environment Co-Chair, on a solution-based approach to<br />

environmental issues.<br />

I was born in Ohio and have a Bachelor’s of<br />

Architecture from Pratt Institute in New York and<br />

a Master of Architecture from the University of<br />

Edinburgh and the Edinburgh College of Art. I live<br />

in Scotland and am the director of my own design<br />

practice, Henderson Drollinger Architects.<br />

Approaching the Environment<br />

I only give this background about myself to an<br />

article otherwise about the environment and<br />

climate action because these are the things that<br />

currently and for a long time have framed my<br />

understanding of the world and the environment.<br />

My interests in hiking and nature, education and<br />

work in design inform how I approach any<br />

situation or problem. My youth in Ohio, in rural<br />

farm areas or urban cities and hiking and<br />

camping on land or sailing on Lake Erie, showed<br />

me that the tension and balance between human<br />

civilization and nature is ever present. I think<br />

there is a lot of fear of the unknown or unfamiliar<br />

and many approaches to coping with that fear<br />

and uncertainty.<br />

My education in architecture (built environment)<br />

gave me a methodology for approaching this fear<br />

and solving complex problems that have created<br />

the fear. My favorite phrase from architecture<br />

school was “fail fast to succeed sooner” which<br />

simply means: try to solve the problem and keep<br />

Polar Bears at COP26<br />

trying until the problem is actually resolved, no<br />

matter how many attempts are required. That is<br />

my approach to solving complex design problems.<br />

The environment is simply a complex problem to<br />

negotiate. There are no right answers and no<br />

wrong answers either, just ones that don’t work at<br />

that moment or have been misapplied.<br />

Because my approach is solution based, I prefer<br />

to use the SDG #13 Climate Action to any of the<br />

other phrases to describe what is needed and<br />

what is happening in the world. It is positive and<br />

COP26<br />


directing. You might prefer or disagree with global<br />

warming/ heating, climate change, climate<br />

emergency/ crisis or breakdown. Climate action is<br />

something all humans do already, not always as<br />

effectively or as well as we need to do. If you are a<br />

human and live in a building in any kind of social<br />

context, climate action is a part of your existence<br />

and we need to do it better. We have failed fast<br />

and now we need to succeed sooner by trying<br />

again with new, different and more solutions.<br />

Who is needed? Everyone<br />

Being on the Environment Team has given me the<br />

opportunity to think about and speak about the<br />

environment on a regular basis. The group is<br />

dynamic in location and life experience and<br />

everyone on the team offers their views openly on<br />

environmental topics. The views and topics don’t<br />

need to be the same. They need to be as far<br />

ranging as the people that express them. The<br />

environment is relevant to everyone and so needs<br />

everyone to participate in it through educated and<br />

evolving/ reactive climate action. We need you.<br />

Absolutely every single person of the estimated<br />

7.8 billion people living today. Thus we are<br />

planning and working for the estimated 10 billion<br />

people that will be alive in 2050, over half of which<br />

don’t exist yet.<br />

How can the topic be divided up? By scale:<br />

Small, Medium and Large<br />

The problems (and solutions) of climate action are<br />

small, medium and large. Small is the individual,<br />

it’s you and your day-to-day life. Medium is your<br />

local community, city/ village, state or country.<br />

Large is global. The whole interconnected network<br />

of human existence. We are all participating in all<br />

three scales all the time but our individual<br />

personalities may lead us to feel calmer thinking<br />

about only one at a time. That is ok. We all need to<br />

work on the problems and solutions that appeal<br />

Amanda with Mimi Gilmore (AW of Aberdeen) and Tara<br />

Scott (AWC Central Scotland) at COP26<br />

to us. That is how we as a society achieve the best<br />

outcomes for everyone.<br />

Where can I get information? COP /<br />

UNFCCC<br />

Due to twists and turns in circumstances I had the<br />

opportunity to attend in person COP26 (the 26 th<br />

Conference of Parties, a UN Climate Change<br />

Conference) which was in Glasgow, Scotland in<br />

November 2021. An event that until it happened<br />

was uncertain in format and location.<br />

Climate change in the form of a pandemic had<br />

changed the year it took place and also meant it<br />

might have only been virtual. In the end it was in<br />

person and virtual. Many at the event lamented<br />

that this was the 26 th and the topics were the<br />

same. For me this was a testament to human<br />

survival. The problems of the climate have not<br />

been solved so the discussions and search for<br />

solutions continue. They will always need to<br />

continue because the topics and problems will<br />

always be evolving as we evolve. This COP and<br />

future COP are open invitations to the global<br />

population, you too, to get involved, to find out<br />

what we as a global society know already and<br />

where we are trying to go. The world is there in<br />

some form or another, along with the jumping off<br />

points for thousands of topics, solutions and<br />

questions. We need you and your interests and<br />

passions to make this world livable for everyone.<br />

Amanda Drollinger is a member of AWC Scotland<br />

and co-chair of FAWCO’s Environment team.<br />

Originally from Ohio, she currently lives in Scotland<br />

with her partner and daughter and has her own<br />

architectural design practice.<br />

Amanda at COP26<br />



Grassroots<br />

Thinking Sprouts<br />

Green Recycling<br />

in Moscow<br />

Maria (Masha) Megrelis, member<br />

of AWO Moscow, on living a more<br />

sustainable life.<br />

I grew up as the daughter of a Russian Orthodox<br />

priest in New York. On Saturday mornings, we<br />

went to Russian school; our piano and ballet<br />

teachers were Russian. And we lived next door to<br />

the church, so we spent a lot of time there! Too<br />

much for my taste when I was a child, but I have<br />

come to appreciate this aspect of my childhood as<br />

I have gotten older and tried to pass some of<br />

these traditions on to my children. There was a<br />

very vibrant Russian immigrant community in the<br />

small village on Long Island where I grew up. I<br />

never planned on living in Russia. But my roots<br />

pulled me back, I guess.<br />

Studying abroad<br />

I spent my last year of high school studying in<br />

France on a School Year Abroad program<br />

sponsored by Phillips Andover and Exeter<br />

Masha Megrelis<br />

Academies. I was extremely fortunate to be<br />

accepted to this program and was one of the<br />

only students participating from a public high<br />

school. It was truly an amazing experience and<br />

one that changed my life. I remember sitting on<br />

the floor in the local library resource room<br />

researching study abroad programs. I recall that I<br />

requested an application and submitted it on my<br />

own, with little or no input from my parents. It<br />

was the first experience in my life that showed me<br />

I could accomplish amazing things if I just dared to<br />

try, even if the chance of succeeding seemed<br />

infinitely small.<br />

Living abroad at this age, with a host family, truly<br />

allowed me to immerse myself in a new culture<br />

and language, which has served me well<br />

throughout my life. Without this program, I don’t<br />

think I would have ended up working for a French<br />

company, meeting my French husband, and<br />

having five children who are equally comfortable<br />

in France as well as in the USA. So, when I say it<br />

changed my life - it really changed my life!<br />

Afterward, I studied Russian and French at Boston<br />

College. I spent a semester in Moscow and a<br />

semester in Paris during my junior year abroad.<br />

Moving to Moscow<br />

I came to Moscow right after I graduated from<br />

university in 1995. I was very fortunate as, at the<br />

time, a college graduate with no experience could<br />

find great job opportunities in Russia. I worked as<br />

an advertising manager on the launch of the<br />

Russian edition of ELLE magazine and then as<br />

advertising director of Parents Magazine.<br />

Early days with my Dad<br />

I met my French husband, who is an<br />

entrepreneur, in Moscow. We never thought we<br />

would stay in Russia; however, 27 years later, we<br />


are still here. It’s been a wonderful place to raise a<br />

family, and we love it here.<br />

I took a break from working for several years and<br />

then opened my own business - one of Moscow’s<br />

first children’s hair salons. It was an Americanstyle<br />

salon where kids sat in cars and airplanes<br />

and watched cartoons while getting their hair cut. I<br />

had the business for 12 years and loved it, but<br />

several years ago, it became clear that it was a<br />

good time to sell. I have enjoyed slowing down a<br />

little in the past three years, focusing on my five<br />

children and charity work.<br />

The importance of the environment<br />

I believe the environment is the most critical issue<br />

for our generation, and it is tied to so many other<br />

issues - social justice and health, to name just two.<br />

The negative effects of climate change have led to<br />

an increasing number of refugees fleeing unlivable<br />

situations in their home countries. Climate<br />

disasters are wreaking havoc worldwide and often<br />

impacting the most those who have the least.<br />

However, climate change directly affects ALL of us,<br />

rich or poor, and it impacts our health and our<br />

children’s health.<br />

On another level, I find it tragic that the way we<br />

live now, our unsustainable consumerism, and the<br />

desire for more - on both a personal and<br />

corporate level - has led to pollution,<br />

overdevelopment, and the depletion of natural<br />

resources. We are literally killing the natural world.<br />

How can we not be horrified that by 2050 the<br />

oceans may contain more plastic than fish? How<br />

can we not be terrified that so many animals are<br />

facing extinction? I think everyone would be<br />

horrified if they thought about this issue in depth.<br />

However, many people prefer to glance at the<br />

headlines and then turn away, choosing not to<br />

think about it.<br />

years as a toothbrush holder. It says Reduce,<br />

Reuse and Recycle! So maybe the interest was<br />

there, but it took a few decades for me to act.<br />

Doing something about it<br />

When I believe something is important, I believe in<br />

doing something about it. I started a Facebook<br />

group, Moscow Expats Green Group, to have a<br />

place where expats could ask practical questions<br />

related to Moscow and the environment (where to<br />

recycle, the location of second-hand and zero<br />

waste stores, vegan food options) as well as being<br />

a forum to discuss broader environmental issues. I<br />

also began a second-hand group in Telegram for<br />

the English-speaking community, and both groups<br />

have grown to several hundred members.<br />

I joined AWO, explicitly intending to do activities<br />

related to the environment. I have been writing a<br />

Green News section in the AWO Moscow monthly<br />

newsletter for the past two years. And my friend,<br />

Masha Sumina, and I recently started an AWO<br />

Green Group focused on visiting “Green” places in<br />

Moscow. The group’s purpose is to share our<br />

excitement about eco-friendly places in Moscow.<br />

We organize visits to second-hand, and zero waste<br />

stores, vegetarian restaurants and other “green”<br />

businesses in Moscow. Despite our names and<br />

blonde hair, Masha and I come from very different<br />

backgrounds - she is an atheist, my father was a<br />

priest. She grew up in the Soviet Union, and I grew<br />

up in the USA. She has one child; I have five. And<br />

yet, we are truly kindred spirits. The more I get to<br />

know her, the more I realize we have in common.<br />

My “aha” moment<br />

About four years ago, I had my “aha” moment.<br />

Something I saw on Facebook about the<br />

environment, I can’t remember what dismayed<br />

me. So, then I started doing more research,<br />

watching documentaries, reading books. At first<br />

mostly about plastic. As a result, my first step was<br />

to reduce our use of disposable plastic at home.<br />

And this led me to think about the idea of<br />

consumerism and how it’s affecting the<br />

environment. This led me to do a “No Buy Year” in<br />

2020. As a result of that experience, I still buy<br />

almost nothing new - instead, I focus on secondhand.<br />

But I also try to think hard about whether I<br />

truly need something, even when buying secondhand<br />

items.<br />

I can’t say I was especially interested in the<br />

environment when I was younger - on the other<br />

hand, I still have a reusable plastic mug from<br />

Boston College, which we have used for over 25<br />

With my husband, kids and our dog<br />


She is also one of the few people I know who is as<br />

passionate as I am about the environment and<br />

trying to do our part to make things better and<br />

inspire others.<br />

Some people say actual change can only come if<br />

governments and multinational companies take<br />

action. Things DO have to change at this level, but<br />

I also believe that our actions matter and make a<br />

difference. Grassroots movements have led to the<br />

end of colonialism, apartheid, and communism.<br />

Why can’t it also be a major driver of change for<br />

environmental issues?<br />

Moscow Expats Buy/Sell Group<br />

I began the Moscow Expats Buy/Sell Group on<br />

Telegram two years ago. We now have over 900<br />

members, and the group is very active. I love that<br />

it gives people a way to responsibly re-home their<br />

no longer needed items. And I also love that it<br />

allows our community the opportunity to buy<br />

things they need or want second-hand. I genuinely<br />

believe this reduces our negative impact on the<br />

environment.<br />

In the USA, recycling has been a big thing for<br />

decades, but less so in Russia. In the past few<br />

years, recycling bins have popped up in quite a<br />

few public places; however, generally they do not<br />

seem to be working as people don’t pay attention<br />

to what they throw in. I sort my recycling and<br />

bring it myself to a center which I am 100% sure<br />

recycles everything they can. So, for the time<br />

being, recycling is not practiced on the same level<br />

as in the USA.<br />

On the other hand, it is recycled locally and not<br />

sent off to pollute developing countries.<br />

Unfortunately, we have learned this is common<br />

practice in many North American and European<br />

countries in the last few years. I am very conflicted<br />

about recycling. I feel we should all do it but, as a<br />

last resort. The focus should be on consuming<br />

less, consuming more responsibly, and closedloop<br />

systems. Recycling should be available;<br />

however, it should be presented as a last resort -<br />

not as a panacea for our environmental problems.<br />

Food waste<br />

If I could wave a magic wand to fix an<br />

environmental issue, my first one would be food<br />

waste. This problem should not exist, especially<br />

since so many people are experiencing food<br />

insecurity. The problem is vast and exists on so<br />

many different levels. Food is thrown away before<br />

it leaves the farm, often only because it doesn’t<br />

conform to a specific size, shape, or color which<br />

retailers demand – perfectly edible food, thrown<br />

away because it doesn’t look perfect. More waste<br />

is created as food is transported. And then more<br />

in the supermarkets (so much food, which can still<br />

be eaten, thrown away because it is approaching<br />

Having fun with the kids<br />

its’ best sell-by date). And then finally even more<br />

waste is created in our homes. This problem<br />

should not exist and I believe it can be solved<br />

relatively easily.<br />

There is a fascinating documentary, Just Eat it,<br />

which is a story about food waste and a couple<br />

that decides to eat only discarded food for six<br />

months. And American Wasteland: How America<br />

Throws Away Nearly Half its Food (and what we can<br />

do about it) is an interesting book taking an indepth<br />

look at this issue.<br />

<strong>Women</strong> who fascinate me<br />

I would love to meet Jane Goodall and have a<br />

conversation with her about nature, the<br />

environment, and her work. I am also fascinated<br />

by the work of marine biologist, Sylvia Earle. The<br />

lives of these two women are fascinating and<br />

inspiring. Also, since I have been dealing with a<br />

chronic autoimmune issue, I ran across a<br />

documentary, Code Blue, which features the story<br />

of Dr. Saray Stancic - a young doctor who was<br />

diagnosed with MS and only began feeling better<br />

when she realized food is medicine and that she<br />

needed to treat her condition with a functional<br />

medicine approach. She also wrote a book called<br />

What’s Missing From Medicine - six lifestyle changes<br />

to overcome chronic illness.<br />

What all three of these women have in common is<br />

that they are intelligent, independent, never took<br />

no for an answer, and were willing to look outside<br />

the accepted system to find their success,<br />

happiness, and meaning in life.<br />



Catching the Rain for a Better Future<br />

Carol Strametz, Carole Harbers and Ulrike Henn, members of AWC<br />

Hamburg, illustrate how The FAWCO Foundation Development Grants<br />

have supported projects in India.<br />

support the development of the hamlet Paregaon<br />

Khurd through Nandanvan. With this support, 17<br />

families started transforming their desertified<br />

land and lives. In 2012 Ulrike visited the hamlet<br />

and reported back to our club. At that time a<br />

significant portion of the land had been<br />

regreened; even after two years of drought, there<br />

was still enough water in the open well to last to<br />

the next monsoon season and the families still<br />

had lentils and grains to last until the next<br />

harvest. This was the successful beginning of a<br />

project that has continued with support from the<br />

government of India.<br />

Applying for a Development Grant<br />

Signage at Paregaon Khurd, India<br />

AWC Hamburg has been supporting the<br />

Nandanvan Trust, also known as the Integrated<br />

Tribal Watershed Development Programme<br />

(ITWDP), for more than 11 years. This organization<br />

has proven to be a special, personal and reliable<br />

partner to support environmental projects in<br />

Maharashtra, India—the home of many extremely<br />

poor tribal communities.<br />

The primary scheme of Nandanvan uses<br />

watershed development (“catching the rain”) to<br />

revitalize the desertified land in rural areas. To<br />

“catch the rain” deep furrows traced from the<br />

mountain slopes down into the valley are dug,<br />

filled with loose soil, and planted with young<br />

trees. When the rainy season comes the water is<br />

caught in the furrows, the tree roots hold the soil,<br />

the groundwater in shallow aquifers is<br />

replenished, and the land is regreened. These<br />

measures not only restore natural resources but<br />

increase agricultural productivity and income for<br />

the tribal communities—providing environmental,<br />

economic and social sustainability. The<br />

organization also takes the next step by<br />

promoting education, health and sanitation<br />

through follow-up projects. Collectively,<br />

Nandanvan helps the tribes acquire secure<br />

livelihoods and a chance to live in dignity.<br />

The FAWCO Foundation launched the<br />

Development Grant (DG) in the category<br />

Environment “Nurturing our Planet” in 2017.<br />

Father Robert D’Costa, the director of Nandanvan,<br />

had visited Hamburg shortly before the<br />

announcement and given AWC Hamburg<br />

members updates on Paregaon Khurd and other<br />

projects. It didn’t take us long to realize that a<br />

project for Nandanvan would be perfect for a DG<br />

nomination. A core team set out to develop and<br />

nominate the project “Hazarwadi Open Well”. The<br />

2018 $4500 grant was awarded for the<br />

construction of a concrete-lined open well<br />

(diameter 23 feet, depth 35 feet) with a pipeline<br />

and a pump. This well now provides an adequate<br />

water supply throughout the year, allowing for the<br />

irrigation of a second crop that can be sold for<br />

income, but also improving the hygienic<br />

conditions with clean water.<br />

When did it start?<br />

In 2010, AWC Hamburg joined AIWC Cologne and<br />

AWC Düsseldorf in a FAWCO club effort to<br />

The Hazarwadi Well 2, a 2018 Development Grant recipient<br />


In 2019 AWC Hamburg nominated Nandanvan for<br />

a DG in the category Education. To ensure the<br />

sustainability of the eco-restoration and socioeconomic<br />

advancement in watershed developed<br />

areas, it is essential that children, especially girls,<br />

receive an education. Fundamental learning skills<br />

and habits for attending public school can be<br />

taught in kindergarten. The project “A<br />

Kindergarten for Tribal Children in Rural India”<br />

was awarded the $5500 AW Surrey Hope through<br />

Education grant for the construction of a 50 m 2<br />

kindergarten building in Hazarwadi, providing the<br />

needed foundation for future education and<br />

perpetuation of the positive changes the<br />

watershed development had brought to the area.<br />

The following two years we took a step away from<br />

Hazarwadi to the Mokhada Cluster of the Palghar<br />

District of Maharashtra, where a successful<br />

watershed had been implemented. In 2020 we<br />

nominated the project “Trees for Sustainability”<br />

for a DG in the category Environment. The $5000<br />

grant was awarded to buy 1500 cashew trees to<br />

plant on 40 acres to secure the watershed but also<br />

New kindergarten school house, a 2019 Development Grant<br />

recipient<br />

Carol Harbers joined AWC Hamburg in 2017, when<br />

she retired from her work as a research scientist in<br />

the field of molecular cancer. An American who has<br />

lived in Hamburg for 40 years, she enjoys the<br />

satisfaction of helping others. Carol Strametz is the<br />

coordinator of the core team. Her career as an<br />

editor and author in the field of chemistry and her<br />

enthusiasm for philanthropy bring a special<br />

balance to the team. She joined AWC Hamburg in<br />

2012 after living in Frankfurt for over 40 years.<br />

Ulrike Henn provides the emotional drive to our<br />

team, having visited Maharashtra and seeing how<br />

Nandanvan touches so many lives. Ulrike studied<br />

photo design in Munich, managed her own press<br />

agency from 1990 to 2004, and freelances as a<br />

photographer in the USA and Germany. The team<br />

also includes Michaela Anchan who lived in Mumbai<br />

for seven years.<br />

Recently created watershed, a result of a 2021<br />

Development Grant<br />

provide a second crop for cash income for 40<br />

families, stopping the devastating migration for<br />

seasonal work. Our nomination “Harvesting and<br />

Storing for a Better Living” in 2021 was awarded<br />

the $4000 DG in the category Environment to<br />

finance the construction of a storage building for<br />

harvested grains and seeds. Not only does the<br />

storage building, which will be used by 22 families,<br />

protect the harvest from bad weather and<br />

predators but it will allow the farmers to take<br />

advantage of market fluctuations to increase their<br />

income as much as they can.<br />

AWC Hamburg is proud and honored that we have<br />

been able to support the Nandanvan through the<br />

FAWCO Foundation Development Grants. What<br />

started out as a small group of supporters in our<br />

club has grown to a large group that looks forward<br />

to our Nandanvan presentations and fun(d)<br />

raisers. Knowing that these environmental<br />

projects ensure the sustainability of the watershed<br />

and have greatly improved the lives of many in the<br />

area is our reward.<br />

Carol Harbers, Carol Strametz and Ulrike Henn<br />


Lessons from “Le<br />

Terroir”: Caring<br />

for Vineyards,<br />

Saving the Earth<br />

Mary Bruton Sandifer, member of<br />

AW Aquitaine, is a writer and<br />

vineyard owner who combines<br />

these passions with caring for the<br />

environment.<br />

I was born in Washington DC, the first daughter<br />

after four boys. Though spoiled by my brothers,<br />

three younger sisters brought a mantle of<br />

responsibility. Our parents were very strict, so we<br />

children became a tribe, defending each other in<br />

our secret mischief-making. We loved the fun of<br />

our grandparents’ farm in Michigan. Barns,<br />

animals, cousins! My grandmother grew their<br />

food, killed the chickens as needed, milked cows,<br />

made her own butter, bread, jam… AND she sent<br />

her eldest daughter to the city for a proper<br />

education. She told me later, “farming is a hard<br />

life.” Indeed it is.<br />

My favorite childhood game was playacting with<br />

siblings and friends. I made up a story (often<br />

about covered wagons crossing the American<br />

Me aged about five<br />


plains), assigned roles, and we acted it out in the<br />

backyard for days, lost in our imaginations. My<br />

sixth-grade teacher told my parents I would grow<br />

up to be a writer.<br />

As a teenager, I went to a wonderful girls’ school<br />

in Maryland, Regina, which emphasized concern<br />

for others. When we demanded our “freedom,”<br />

the teachers asked, “But what will you do with<br />

your freedom?” They taught us to think critically<br />

and put our ethics into action. One teacher<br />

sponsored me for a summer study program at<br />

Oxford University. It was my first experience of<br />

Europe, and I was utterly smitten.<br />

Early Adulthood<br />

Mary Bruton Sandifer<br />

I attended Catholic University in DC, a superb<br />

school where I studied Literature. After<br />

graduating, I worked 12 hours a day waiting on<br />

tables for money to go back to Europe. I adored<br />

France and Italy, learned those languages and<br />

met international students who opened my eyes<br />

to how the USA is perceived from abroad, the<br />

positive and the negative.<br />

When I came back stateside, I worked at the<br />

National Endowment for the Arts in a clerical<br />

position surrounded by exotic luminaries from<br />

the art world. That created a hankering to<br />

experience the excitement of New York<br />

City. There I met John, my French-American<br />

husband, in a love-at-first-sight moment. Working<br />

as a freelance writer in such a demanding market<br />

was an excellent challenge to hone my skills. We<br />

didn’t have much money, but we had friends,<br />

opportunities and a beautiful view of the Hudson<br />

River. A daughter was born, and I think NYC is the<br />

place where we grew our wings.<br />


and air. All this impacts every other issue and<br />

women in particular. When there is access to<br />

proper nutrition, water, and air, education<br />

becomes possible, and educated mothers have<br />

healthier children. The health of mothers and<br />

children isn’t just a moral imperative; it’s a starting<br />

place, a lynchpin in long-term economic and<br />

geopolitical stability.<br />

Living climate change<br />

Our life changed when we took over this land. We<br />

saw how our neighbors, small-scale farmers, are<br />

the canary in the mine for environmental<br />

issues. They live climate change every day, and<br />

they are penalized when policymakers prioritize<br />

large industrial farms even though we know “local”<br />

is increasingly vital to agricultural quality.<br />

The Sandifer Family<br />

Mid Adulthood<br />

In our 30s, my husband’s work brought us to<br />

Europe. Brussels to London to Paris, adding two<br />

sons along the way. It was enriching and fun, but<br />

not always easy - starting over, no friends, small<br />

children, husband away on travel…<br />

Paris became our favorite home. The children<br />

attended a bilingual school, and I finally had time<br />

for some playwriting projects (expanding on the<br />

backyard version). Two staged readings allowed<br />

me to work with actors and observe audience<br />

reactions - what worked, what didn’t. This was<br />

essential to the storytelling craft.<br />

Meanwhile, we spent our free time helping John’s<br />

parents on their estate outside Bordeaux. When<br />

they died, we decided to take over the property<br />

and make wine. It was a crazy leap of faith. Grapes<br />

and Old Stones is my chronicle of our discoveries,<br />

struggles and joys. The biggest surprise was when<br />

our three children returned from the States to join<br />

us. Among their many projects was opening a<br />

restaurant here where we have spectacular views<br />

of the Dordogne valley.<br />

Daily family life is focused on making wine and<br />

renovating this property, once a polyculture farm.<br />

Henri advises on soil remediation; Julien is head of<br />

vineyard operations. Grandchildren now mark our<br />

5th generation at Domaine La Tourbeille.<br />

Farmers have been discouraged, which is urgent<br />

because so many are now retiring. This threatens<br />

the transmission of agricultural experience of<br />

people who have worked the land for<br />

generations. To say nothing of the loss of fertile<br />

land if it is sold and paved over, as happened in<br />

the Maryland suburbs in the 1970s.<br />

About 10 years ago, I learned that laws were<br />

quietly passed that would erode the right of<br />

farmers to freely exchange seeds as they have<br />

done for thousands of years. This event spurred<br />

me to write a novel about the greed that threatens<br />

seed sovereignty and traditional know-how.<br />

Fortunately, there’s been a backlash in<br />

Europe. Support is growing for “local” and small<br />

agricultural businesses. The pandemic has been a<br />

wake-up call for the need to grow basic food in<br />

our home territory. People used to say that in<br />

order to “feed the world,” we need colossal farms,<br />

and we are discovering that is not true.<br />

Learning to care for a vineyard<br />

When we took over the vineyard, we were<br />

novices. We read books and hired an oenologist to<br />

accompany us, but mostly we are self-taught.<br />

Neighbors have been generous, sharing advice,<br />

time, cuttings, and even equipment. Our passion<br />

The importance of the environment<br />

When everything is urgent - war, corruption, a<br />

pandemic, poverty – how can we decide what to<br />

tackle first? But every pressing issue pales when<br />

you ask: if the land is poisoned or sterile or<br />

appropriated for private gain, what will we eat? If<br />

the water is polluted, what will we drink? If the air<br />

is toxic, what will we breathe? If we ruin our<br />

habitat, nothing else matters. To solve any<br />

problem, we have to be healthy, and much of our<br />

health depends on the quality of our food, water<br />

La Tourbeille, with my husband John, a rosé moment on<br />

the hilltop with the river valley beyond<br />


instructs school cafeterias to serve organic food,<br />

source it locally, and offer a menu with no meat at<br />

all once a week. This change prompted a surge in<br />

support for local vegetable growers, with regions<br />

providing land and some financing. And, of course,<br />

it means children are experiencing plant-based<br />

options to meat in a normalized context. This is<br />

how the world changes, through the children.<br />

Another recent development: programs to<br />

encourage young people to go into farming. Many<br />

farmers are retiring, and their children are not<br />

always taking over the farm. Our son has been<br />

accompanied by the Chamber of Agriculture. It’s<br />

not perfect, but we’re impressed by the caliber of<br />

passionate people who helped.<br />

Tree planting in 2014<br />

is the soil. We had no a priori, except that healthy<br />

soil will make healthy plants and thus delicious<br />

fruit and vegetables. We witnessed the<br />

degradation caused by industrial methods<br />

(compacted soil, asphyxiated roots, lack of mineral<br />

uptake, accumulation of heavy metals, the loss of<br />

natural “helpers” due to toxic chemicals…). So<br />

we’re learning techniques like sowing particular<br />

plants between crop rows to aerate compacted<br />

soil, extracting heavy metals, and encouraging<br />

helper insects; the use of certain fungi to improve<br />

the mycorrhizal (symbiotic) function, which boosts<br />

the plant’s immune system and health; replanting<br />

biodiversity hedges… It’s all about restoring the<br />

balance so that Nature can defend herself.<br />

Industrial farming makes me mad<br />

The global explosion of industrial animal farming<br />

makes me angry. The increased demand for meat<br />

has caused deforestation and the loss of precious<br />

natural habitats. Industrial production often<br />

means cruel conditions for the animals,<br />

antibiotics, and hormones that cross into the<br />

human body with significant health issues, sewage<br />

runoff that fouls the water, and the rise of carbon<br />

emissions. This supermarket meat may be<br />

cheaper, but many people don’t realize they’re<br />

likely paying more for it anyway through subsidies<br />

via taxes.<br />

And it’s interesting to note that the grandparents<br />

of most French people our age lived in the<br />

countryside, and many were farmers. The result is<br />

that people still have a feeling for “the land.” Even<br />

if they are city lovers, they maintain a nostalgia<br />

about farms and ancestors, a love of good (real)<br />

food, and a reverence for meals. And many still<br />

know that food comes from the earth, not from a<br />

supermarket aisle.<br />

Making change<br />

Change only happens if you reach people’s hearts<br />

and minds. We can’t hit adversaries over the head,<br />

they need to see another perspective. Since good<br />

stories “show, don’t tell,” they are a brilliant way to<br />

open people’s eyes. A story can frame a crisis, so<br />

it’s personal and up close. If people feel the<br />

danger, they might want to find a solution.<br />

Inspired by valiant local people and fear for the<br />

future of some traditional practices, I wrote<br />

Jeanne: Seeds of Infinity. It tells the story of an<br />

aristocratic young French woman in a world where<br />

seed sovereignty and traditional herbal remedies<br />

are banned. Her botanist father is imprisoned for<br />

defying the new laws, and her family ends up<br />

losing everything.<br />

It was only a hundred years ago that meat was<br />

considered a “nice-to-have,” a treat for occasional<br />

meals. The meat eaten back then was wholesome<br />

and nutritious. To turn this around, we need to<br />

buy from farmers who produce ethically raised<br />

chicken, pork, beef… Yes, it costs more, but the<br />

idea is to eat less but eat better and include a<br />

variety of grains and pulses. You don’t have to be<br />

vegetarian to opt out of the industrial meat<br />

paradigm and reap health benefits from a more<br />

plant-based diet.<br />

Food production in France<br />

Here in France, the tide may finally be changing<br />

towards “local.” For example, in 2020, a rule<br />

Serving our wine at the Fête du Village<br />


I think the best I can offer our world is stories. I<br />

am gratified when readers of Grapes and Old<br />

Stones tell me the anecdotes help them feel that<br />

nature truly is precious and fragile.<br />

The power of plants<br />

I’m fascinated by the power of plants to heal and<br />

the ancient knowledge of healers who cared for<br />

their villagers before modern medicine. I’ve been<br />

cultivating a medicinal garden for years, with<br />

plants for small cures and herbal teas. Some are<br />

ordinary but have wonderful properties! Like<br />

Rosemary, Bourrache, Calendula, Verveine… My<br />

favorite is Hélichryse italicum, which heals bruises<br />

and perhaps also “Les bleus d’âme” (bruises of the<br />

soul). The garden is also intended to provide<br />

flowers most months of the year to feed<br />

honeybees and hungry, hard-working insects and<br />

pollinators. If I could start a new career, I would<br />

raise bees and concoct herbal remedies.<br />

and ourselves. She lives on a farm in southern<br />

Appalachia where she writes, works her land,<br />

connects with her neighbors and local traditions. I<br />

love her sense of modesty and the keen, loving,<br />

and critical eye with which she writes about<br />

human nature and the richness of Mother Nature.<br />

Editors Note: Mary’s book Jeanne: Seeds of<br />

Infinity was published in December 2021. The<br />

book is set in rural France in a time when<br />

traditional customs persist and the wisdom of<br />

herbal healers is respected; a place where Nature<br />

still unfolds her magic. Click the link to find out<br />

more about it.<br />

Finding inspiration<br />

I would love to meet Barbara Kingsolver, biologist,<br />

writer, environmental champion. Her book The<br />

Poisonwood Bible inspired me beyond<br />

description. She weaves a riveting tale that takes<br />

place in the Republic of Congo in the 1960s. It<br />

makes us care about the fate of the characters<br />

and understand how self-righteous and rigid<br />

dogma can destroy an emerging culture, nature,<br />

At my book launch<br />



24 Hours in Amsterdam, the Netherlands:<br />

the Venice of the North<br />

Sharon Smillie, FAWCO Rep of AWC Amsterdam, gives us her top tips<br />

for a day in the city.<br />

From its picturesque canals to its historic homes<br />

and museums, Amsterdam is a popular<br />

destination. Rent a bike and join us locals to<br />

explore this beautiful city. Must-see sights include<br />

the Anne Frank House, the Rijks, Stedelijk, Van<br />

Gogh and other museums, and the world's only<br />

floating flower market. Go to a gig at the Paradiso,<br />

enjoy classical music at the Concert Gebouw, or<br />

take in a world-class ballet performance at the<br />

National Ballet Theatre. Reach out to us and we<br />

will tour you around or provide you with our list of<br />

favorite places to go!<br />

Wikipedia tells us some interesting facts:<br />

“Amsterdam is the capital and most populous city of<br />

the Netherlands, with a population of 872,680 within<br />

the city proper, 1,558,755 in the urban area and<br />

2,480,394 in the metropolitan area. Found within the<br />

province of North Holland, Amsterdam is colloquially<br />

referred to as the "Venice of the North" due to the<br />

large number of canals which form a UNESCO World<br />

Heritage Site.<br />

Amsterdam was founded on the Amstel River, which<br />

was dammed to control flooding; the city's name<br />

derives from the Amstel dam. Originating as a small<br />

fishing village in the late 12th century, Amsterdam<br />

became one of the most important ports in the<br />

world during the Dutch Golden Age of the 17th<br />

century, and became the leading center for finance<br />

and trade. In the 19th and 20th centuries, the city<br />

expanded and many new neighborhoods and<br />

suburbs were planned and built. The 17th century<br />

canals of Amsterdam and the 19th–20th century<br />

Defense Line of Amsterdam are on the UNESCO<br />

World Heritage List. Sloten, annexed in 1921 by the<br />

municipality of Amsterdam, is the oldest part of the<br />

city, dating to the 9th century.<br />

Amsterdam experienced an influx of religions and<br />

cultures after the Second World War. With 180<br />

different nationalities, Amsterdam is home to one of<br />

the widest varieties of nationalities of any city in the<br />

world. The proportion of the population of<br />

immigrant origin in the city proper is about 50% and<br />

88% of the population are Dutch citizens. There is no<br />

The canals of Amsterdam<br />


shortage of English spoken in Amsterdam, but<br />

outside of the city, Dutch is a good language to know!<br />

Amsterdam has an oceanic climate strongly<br />

influenced by its proximity to the North Sea and with<br />

prevailing westerly winds. While winters are cool and<br />

summers warm, temperatures vary year by year.<br />

There can occasionally be cold, snowy winters and<br />

hot, humid summers.” We can have a cool, rainy<br />

summer or relatively warm, rainy winters. If you<br />

don’t like the weather here, hang around because<br />

it will change.<br />

Where to eat<br />

Breakfast: "Uitsmijter" is an open-faced sandwich<br />

with two fried eggs, ham and cheese, which<br />

literally means "forcefully throw out." It's a solid<br />

meal, usually taken at breakfast or lunch, and<br />

eaten with a knife and fork.<br />

a Development Grant from The FAWCO<br />

Foundation. Do not miss it! Dignita has three<br />

locations, Konninginneweg 218,<br />

Spaarndammerstraat 55h and Nieuwe<br />

Herengracht 18a, behind the Hermitage museum.<br />

Visit the museum then stop there for a bite!<br />

Lunch: There are too many places to choose<br />

from! One is Blue Amsterdam, with the best 360<br />

degree view of Amsterdam. Located in the<br />

shopping area of the Kalverstraat, it is definitely<br />

worth a look!<br />

A visit to Amsterdam is not complete without<br />

eating friets and sampling some of our great<br />

cookies! That is considered a good lunch. Try<br />

Mannekin Pijs, located at Damrak 41, in the center<br />

of the city, or Vlaams Friteshuis Vleminckx at<br />

Voetboogstraat 33 for the best in the city. And for<br />

cookies, Belicio Cheats, Heiligeweg 20h, and Van<br />

Stapele, Heisteg 4, for the best chocolate cookie in<br />

the world, are not to be missed!<br />

And if you like herring or are daring, check out<br />

one of the many herring stands throughout the<br />

city… but watch out for the gulls, they like it too<br />

and may try to take yours!<br />

Dinner: Don’t miss the Rijstafel, brought from<br />

Indonesia. The best places are Sampurna, Singel<br />

498, and Sama Sebo, PC Hoofstraat 27, and be<br />

sure to order the entire range of dishes. For<br />

traditional Dutch food, try Moeders, Rozengracht<br />

251, or De Vijff Vlieghen, Spuistraat 294-302, for<br />

dinner in a historical buiding with original<br />

Rembrandt etchings.<br />

“Uitsmijter”<br />

It’s sold in most traditional Brown Cafes, but<br />

according to Mokum Magazine, Koffiehuis De<br />

Hoek’s uitsmijter, at Prinsengracht 341, got a 10<br />

out of 10.<br />

Brunch: Dignita is rated one of the best brunch<br />

places in Amsterdam and has previously received<br />

Snacks: If it’s you’re still hungry try the best apple<br />

pie in Amsterdam at Winkel 43, or Noordemarkt<br />

43 or stop by any local bar to fill yourself up with<br />

bitterballen or croquettes.<br />

And last but not least, no trip to Amsterdam<br />

would be complete without a stroopwafel, the<br />

best ones to be found at Lanskroon Bakery,<br />

Singel 385.<br />

Meet some of the ladies of AWC Amsterdam<br />


Top three places to visit in the morning<br />

Go to Anne Frank’s House to beat the crowds first<br />

thing (book tickets online and in advance), or the<br />

Rijks Museum (Dutch Masters), or Van Gogh<br />

Museum. Once you’ve had enough, stroll along the<br />

canals or take a boat ride on the UNESCO World<br />

Heritage canals, and meander through the 9<br />

Straatjes to have lunch at one of the quaint cafes<br />

or go to Blue, a rooftop cafe and bar with<br />

outstanding views of the city. Order a nice salad or<br />

broodje and drinks or koffie verkeerd (latte) and<br />

take in the rooftop views of the city center.<br />

Top three restaurants<br />

1. D’Vijff Vlieghen is a well-known location for an<br />

elegant Dutch meal. The dining area is spread<br />

across a variety of rooms, including one with<br />

original etchings by Rembrandt. The menu<br />

features modern and creative interpretations<br />

using typical Dutch ingredients. (D'Vijff Vlieghen<br />

Spuistraat 294-302, Centrum)<br />

2. If a restaurant has been around for over 60<br />

years you can rest assured that it is well worth the<br />

visit. Hap-Hmm specializes in authentic Dutch<br />

cuisine, serving traditional dishes made fresh daily.<br />

The menu is constantly changing, so you'll have to<br />

pop in to find out what's cooking today. (Hap-<br />

Hmm, Eerste Helmersstraat 33, Oud-West)<br />

3. In Amsterdam Oost, on the recently renovated<br />

Javaplein, you will find restaurant Wilde Zwijnen.<br />

Do not expect an authentic Dutch interior but the<br />

focus here is on presenting authentic Dutch<br />

dishes, using fresh, high-quality seasonal products<br />

as much as possible. (Wilde Zwijnen, Javaplein 23,<br />

Oost)<br />

Sharon Smillie is the FAWCO Rep for the American<br />

<strong>Women</strong>’s Club Amsterdam (AWCA). Originally from<br />

the Cleveland area, she now calls Amsterdam home<br />

and has been living in the city for 21 years.<br />

Or grab some friets mayonnaise at Vlaams<br />

Friteshuis Vleminckx. This outlet is nothing more<br />

than a tiny hole in the wall, but you’ll know by the<br />

long line outside that something special awaits.<br />

People come from all over for their amazing fries<br />

and after one bite you’ll soon see why. They hand<br />

cut the fries and have a huge selection of sauces to<br />

choose from.<br />

Afternoon activities<br />

There is a quaint little church called H.H. Petrus en<br />

Pauluskerk (De Papegaai) hidden away on the<br />

Kalverstraat, which is worth a visit. Afterwards you<br />

can go shopping then make your way to the 9 Little<br />

Streets for quaint individual shops.<br />

After-dark fun<br />

Locals head to restaurants for dinner and drinks<br />

with family and friends, or go to various night clubs<br />

or catch a gig at Paradiso, Melkweg, or concert at<br />

the Concert Gebouw.<br />

On nice days or evenings locals will take their boat<br />

out on the canals or Amstel River. Tourists can rent<br />

a boat too.<br />

Check out Boat Rental Amsterdam Canals (Email:<br />

werckvaart@hotmail.com); Canal Motorboats, Boaty<br />

Boat Rentals.<br />

Sharon out skating with AWA friends<br />



Art As a Catalyst<br />

for<br />

Environmental<br />

Change<br />

Nadine Anderson, member of<br />

AIWC Düsseldorf, tells us about<br />

her life caring for the<br />

environment.<br />

I was born in Jamaica. My father loved the sea,<br />

and each neighborhood I grew up in was always<br />

within walking distance to the sea. Many<br />

Sunday evenings Mom would pack a full fourcourse<br />

dinner and a blanket was spread on the<br />

sandy shore.<br />

In those early years I would visit my grandparents<br />

most summers. They owned a coffee farm<br />

growing most of their own food, in the<br />

mountains. My grandparents were always helping<br />

those around them, always offering dinner to<br />

passing neighbors. My mom had the same<br />

disposition; our car was never empty when my<br />

mom drove us home from school, giving a lift to<br />

someone from her office or having a relative stay<br />

with us a year or two if they were studying<br />

nearby. My father was big on energy conservation<br />

– I still remember one Saturday I was outside<br />

playing with friends and he called me inside,<br />

stood in the doorway of my room and told me to<br />

turn the light off. A story I had to tell my husband<br />

the first time he came home and found me with<br />

no lights on in the house – LOL!<br />

Leaving home<br />

Nadine Anderson Cheng<br />

From Sundays spent drawing with my brother, my<br />

interest in art blossomed, but, led by my father, I<br />

went to study law. After two years of lackluster<br />

studies, I gave it up and changed to art college to<br />

study something I found much more satisfying:<br />

Graphic Communications. This gave rise to my<br />

underlying entrepreneurial spirit.<br />

Soon I was creating products and selling to<br />

classmates and my mom’s coworkers and more.<br />

My first job in advertising paid well and, along<br />

with sold-out exhibitions, enabled me to buy my<br />

first home at 24 years old. I was also giving back,<br />

as per my family tradition, donating art to help<br />

charities such as United Way, and creating free<br />

marketing workshops for other artists to<br />

maximize their earning potential.<br />

Dreaming of Europe<br />

Promoting clean air in Florida<br />

I moved to Florida in 2002, becoming a dual<br />

Jamaican/American citizen. But I always loved<br />

history and anthropology, often daydreaming of<br />

going back to swashbuckling times, being the<br />

sword-wielding wench protecting the weak. As a<br />

result I really wanted to move to Europe. So, after<br />

feeling a bit of burnout in advertising and trying<br />

casting for film in America, I was offered a<br />

teaching job in a Swiss boarding school. It<br />

sounded perfect … I had been divorced for several<br />

years and my only child had flown the nest.<br />


I continued to self-educate by attending<br />

workshops/training for handling sea life including<br />

turtles, doing beach/city cleanups and bike rides<br />

to promote fresh air. I volunteered my time also<br />

as a consultant for Collaborising Inc., San<br />

Francisco. Their focus is on cleaning up tented<br />

homeless communities.<br />

On arrival in Germany I curated a five-artist, threecity<br />

tour (Cologne, Basel, London). Humanity the<br />

Exhibition focused on the environment and<br />

social issues. I also became a part of Fashion<br />

Revolution, who give insights to the public on the<br />

issues of “fast fashion” and waste,<br />

encouraging more recycling or upcycling.<br />

My current focus<br />

Miami Beach <strong>Women</strong>’s Conference<br />

But I met my German now-husband, a single dad,<br />

in Florida and relocated to Hahn, near Düsseldorf<br />

instead in 2018. With his job traveling to many<br />

cities, I’ve gotten to embrace my love of travel and<br />

gain intimate insights into varying cultures. I’ve<br />

also been able to freelance in graphic design and<br />

marketing at my own pace, while working<br />

on being the artist I’ve always wanted to be,<br />

getting a stipend through the city of Düsseldorf to<br />

create a social-themed public sculpture and<br />

creating a project that would help other artists or<br />

refugees integrate better in their newly found<br />

home country.<br />

The importance of protecting the<br />

environment<br />

Simply put – quality of life. Pollution gets in our<br />

lungs and in the water we place in our bodies, and<br />

I feel this creates many of the illnesses around<br />

the world. According to the WHO, ambient air<br />

pollution accounts for an estimated 4.2 million<br />

deaths per year. I have two non-smoker friends<br />

who have recently been diagnosed with stage 4<br />

lung cancer...<br />

Aside from active manual duty volunteering, my<br />

main focus is driving awareness through art and<br />

information. Art has always been a catalyst for<br />

change – it’s a cross culture communicator. When<br />

people see the statistics and visuals, they get<br />

a better understanding of the harm humanity<br />

imposes on the environment, and those feelings<br />

help to convert.<br />

A new project I recently started is to help upcycle/<br />

create art from items which would have been<br />

wastefully thrown out by companies.<br />

Challenges I see<br />

Ignorance is a big one … people thinking of only<br />

blaming big industries. Yes, they protest in the<br />

streets, but they may not understand that their<br />

everyday behavior makes a significant difference<br />

too: Not buying that 50th pair of shoes, not<br />

turning on every light in the house, not tossing<br />

that cigarette (it goes into our sewage and<br />

chemicals go into our seas and our air) in the<br />

street, not leaving the water running while<br />

brushing their teeth, not using wet wipes instead<br />

of a reusable wash cloth, not driving that one<br />

kilometer instead of walking.<br />

Involvement in the environment started on a<br />

subconscious level for me. I was always picking up<br />

trash on the beach as a kid, and later (sounds<br />

silly), teenage me broke up with a boyfriend<br />

because he littered, and I was so upset I also left a<br />

split trash can in his van. My mom taught me her<br />

love of plants and nurturing and made me acutely<br />

aware of how we each need to do our part in<br />

caring for the environment.<br />

It wasn’t until I migrated to the United States that<br />

my involvement deepened. It started out with me<br />

being invited to be a part of my college Delta<br />

Epsilon Iota National Honor Society. That year I<br />

won the Collegiate DEI Philanthropist and<br />

Environmental Award for my volunteer work with<br />

the Marine Mammal Conservancy in Key West, FL.<br />

I was on call to help with stranded pilot whales/<br />

dolphins and doing plenty of fundraising.<br />

A learning system for teens<br />


I’m Only Human<br />

I created a mixed media artwork and named it I’m<br />

Only Human because I feel that so many people<br />

have a defeated, “why should I bother” attitude.<br />

Trying to save the whales<br />

Though my curated Humanity exhibition I have<br />

successfully informed and touched the lives of<br />

many. But I am most proud of my volunteering<br />

with the Marine Mammal Conservancy team. I<br />

remember getting a call one stormy night and<br />

leaving Miami to drive the 67 miles to Key Largo in<br />

blinding rain and crashing thunder, where 15 pilot<br />

whales were stranded on shore, sick. Amidst the<br />

lightening that threatened to scorch us and winds<br />

that ripped at the tent, wet suits were donned,<br />

vets and divers alike got in the water to push the<br />

whales back, using human bodies as a shield to<br />

keep them from going back on shore. I was<br />

terrified, but still somehow felt that obligation to<br />

nature. I cried bitterly that week as one by one<br />

they died, wondering who did this to them … our<br />

contaminated wastes from cruises? Our chemicals<br />

from rivers to sea? Maybe this time wasn’t a<br />

success story for the whales, but for me it made<br />

myself and others more determined to do better…<br />

and on other occasions we have been able to save<br />

some sea life.<br />

Food waste<br />

We spend so much energy polluting the air,<br />

chopping down trees, on genetic splicing,<br />

antibiotics, pesticides, water contamination, soil<br />

degradation … yet we fill our plates at the buffet<br />

and don’t eat it, or if it has a slight blemish<br />

it’s thrown out, we buy more than we are able to<br />

consume before it goes bad, after an event we opt<br />

to destroy rather than share with those in need.<br />

The good news is that several steps are being<br />

taken. France has shown initiative by creating laws<br />

specific to food waste, which countries like China<br />

are adopting. I’m still waiting on the United States<br />

and Germany to follow this decision. The<br />

important thing is for all of us to do our part … not<br />

just saying to our kids, “other people are starving<br />

in other countries,” but actually taking action<br />

because yes, there are a lot of starving people in<br />

not only underdeveloped countries but developed<br />

(first world) countries as well.<br />

Environmental issues needing fixing<br />

Deforestation, because I feel ultimately it affects<br />

so many aspects of our lives, our air quality, our<br />

ability to have rainfall without massive landslides<br />

due to soil erosion. The hotter the earth becomes<br />

without trees, the more coastal flooding will occur,<br />

with melting ice caps destroying the seas.<br />

According to research, deforestation also means<br />

that the carbon stored in trees has the potential<br />

to be released back into the atmosphere as<br />

carbon dioxide.<br />

Quick answers<br />

• Okay, this might sound a bit weird, but when I<br />

travel I’ll walk around a city non-stop on<br />

average six-nine hours when I arrive and<br />

sometimes follow a random person who looks<br />

interesting through a random neighborhood,<br />

just to get a glimpse into their world.<br />

• When I grow up I want to be … an artist whose<br />

work is a catalyst for positive change to make<br />

this world a happier, healthier place for all of<br />

humanity regardless of race, disabilities,<br />

religion, social status.<br />

• If I were an animal I’d be a cheetah; fast, though<br />

not at the top of the food chain, they are able<br />

survive in their surroundings. Passion,<br />

evolution, flexibility, adaptability are some of<br />

the words linked to the cheetah, and I feel<br />

these are a part of my personality.<br />




Recognition of the Environment as a<br />

Fundamental Human Right<br />

Deirdre Pirro, an international lawyer, coordinates committees for the<br />

ICEF (International Court of the Environment Foundation). She gives us<br />

an insight into their work.<br />

The ICEF is an international NGO headquartered<br />

in Rome and accredited with the United Nations<br />

(ECOSOC and FAO) and with the Council of<br />

Europe. The Foundation has, since 1991, worked<br />

for the promotion of international environmental<br />

law and for its effective enforcement. Its mission<br />

is to advance social access to justice through<br />

information and participation, founded on the<br />

recognition of the environment as a fundamental<br />

human right.<br />

Deidre working as part of the ICEF<br />

The committee is set up<br />

The idea of the need to create an International<br />

Court of the Environment began as early as 1988.<br />

A committee was set up in Rome to examine the<br />

project. It was uncertain whether the court should<br />

be based simply on moral sanctions, set up as a<br />

permanent institution, or a combination of the<br />

two. In October 1990, the campaign for the<br />

“Creation of an International Court of the<br />

Environment” was officially launched in Rome. To<br />

establish itself as an international NGO, ICEF's<br />

first step was to be set up as an institution under<br />

Italian law. A Special Decree of the Italian<br />

Supreme Court in September 1991 set up the<br />

Scientific Secretariat of ICEF with a view to its<br />

future development and it was registered as a<br />

non-profit organization. Since its inception, the<br />

ICEF has worked to improve dispute resolution<br />

mechanisms within international environmental<br />

law and to promote access to “green” information<br />

and participation in environmental decisionmaking<br />

processes as well as access to justice, in<br />

keeping with Rio Principle 10. Since then, ICEF has<br />

continued its work promoting its model of an<br />

International Court of the Environment in the<br />

belief that, in every case of environmental<br />

damage, there is always a social dimension.<br />

Today, sustainable development is indispensable<br />

for global peace, stability, and the ecological<br />

management of the economy. For the<br />

environment, this means there has to be a<br />

purposeful partnership between the State and<br />

civil society and a trusting and collaborative<br />

relationship between the States and the<br />

International Community. Only the strongest<br />

shared feeling of belonging, typical of a common<br />

cause, will prevent further damage to the<br />

ecosystem, thereby guaranteeing true sustainable<br />

development in the longer term.<br />

Speaking at the UN<br />


Future generations must be guaranteed the right<br />

to life. Without the equitable use of resources,<br />

there is a risk is of ethnic conflicts sharpened by<br />

environmental degradation; environmental<br />

migration conflicts; and armed international<br />

conflicts over vital resources like water. In<br />

underdeveloped countries, women are often the<br />

greatest victims of these conflicts. If the pollutionoriented<br />

economic model of production and mass<br />

consumption by more developed countries<br />

continues to remain substantially unchanged, this<br />

is bound to lead to the worsening of the global<br />

environmental crisis.<br />

Working in Kobe, Japan<br />

In 1991 and 1992, ICEF was optimistic because the<br />

European Parliament placed two Motions for<br />

Resolution on the agenda, calling for a European<br />

Community initiative on the subject of an<br />

International Court of the Environment. The first<br />

Resolution of February 1992 stated that the EC<br />

should attend the UNCED Earth Summit in Rio de<br />

Janeiro in June 1992 and called for “the institution<br />

of an international environmental court with<br />

worldwide jurisdiction, either at the ICJ in The<br />

Hague or at the UN in New York.” Based on this,<br />

ICEF sent a strong delegation, of which I was a<br />

member, to UNCED, which was celebrating the<br />

20th anniversary of the first Human Environment<br />

Conference in Stockholm, Sweden, in 1972.<br />

As early as 1994, a special forum, then known as<br />

ICEF's Social Forum, added its voice to this<br />

movement and has regularly attended the<br />

meetings of the UN Commission on Sustainable<br />

Development in New York. Since 1996, ICEF has<br />

also attended the Conferences of Parties (COP) on<br />

Climate Change held annually, including the recent<br />

COP26 held in Glasgow, where we presented a<br />

proposal on sustainable forestry. In 2002, ICEF's<br />

delegation, including me, was present at the World<br />

Summit on Sustainable Development (WSSD), in<br />

Johannesburg, South Africa. This was followed by<br />

the United Nations Conference on Sustainable<br />

Development (UNCSD), known as the Rio+20<br />

Conference. In April 2016, ICEF held a National<br />

Conference on “Climate, Biodiversity and Italy” at<br />

the Abbey of Montecassino. This led to an<br />

invitation in September 2018 from Moscow's<br />

Department of Natural Resources Management<br />

and Environmental Protection to the 2nd Climate<br />

Forum of Cities, where ICEF's Director Supreme<br />

Court Judge Amedeo Postiglione and I both<br />

presented papers.<br />

The role of women<br />

<strong>Women</strong> have always played a unique role in<br />

improving and protecting the natural environment<br />

and human health. This is because it is often<br />

women and their families who suffer the most<br />

from environmental degradation, climate change,<br />

pollution, toxic exposure and health risks.<br />

According to the United Nations, 70% of the 1.3<br />

billion people living in conditions of poverty are<br />

women. In urban areas, 40% of the poorest<br />

households are headed by women. <strong>Women</strong><br />

predominate in the world's food production (50-<br />

80%), but they own less than 10% of the land. They<br />

are now calling out loud and clear for<br />

environmental and social justice. Therefore, the<br />

great advantage of ICEF's proposal of an<br />

independent, permanent International Court of<br />

the Environment is that it gives standing to<br />

individuals and NGOs, unlike the International<br />

Court of Justice in the Hague, which provides<br />

access only to the States and only if they are<br />

willing to submit to its jurisdiction. Our Court<br />

would provide comprehensive, as opposed to<br />

fragmented, international legal protection and<br />

enforcement. Because it would be responsible for<br />

international environmental cases, it would also<br />

become specialized and create precedent in the<br />

application of the law in this highly complex field.<br />

Deirdre Pirro is the FAWCO Representative for the<br />

American International League of Florence (AILO)<br />

for the 2021-<strong>2022</strong> club year. She is also an<br />

international lawyer who has worked as the<br />

International Relations Officer with the<br />

International Court of the Environment Foundation<br />

(ICEF) since its inception in the early 1990s. Her role<br />

is to coordinate ICEF's Organising Committees<br />

throughout the world, which lobby for the creation<br />

of the Court, to assist in the preparation of its<br />

international and national conferences, and to help<br />

in the production of its documentation and in<br />

editing its numerous publications.<br />



Environmental<br />

Lessons from the<br />

Pandemic<br />

Ayuska Motha is member of AIWC<br />

Cologne as well as a member of the<br />

AIWCC SDG (Sustainable<br />

Development Goal) Awareness<br />

Team and the FAWCO Environment<br />

Team. She is also a UN Rep to the<br />

UNFCCC (United Nations Framework<br />

Convention on Climate Change)<br />

headquartered in Bonn.<br />

I moved around a fair bit during my childhood. My<br />

roots are Sri Lankan since my parents were born<br />

and raised there. I was born in the US but my<br />

childhood was spent in the Pacific and Australia.<br />

My earliest memories are from Canberra,<br />

Australia. From there we then moved to New<br />

Caledonia (a Pacific island) for three years and<br />

then back to Australia.<br />

What did stick in my mind from this move was the<br />

huge difference between the tropical, coastal<br />

environment and the dry, inland environment of<br />

the Canberra region. The lush, vibrant colors of<br />

the flowers, fruits, vegetation, beaches and ocean<br />

starkly contrasted against the harsh, yet stunning,<br />

drought-stricken landscape of inland Australia.<br />

I remember one time when bushfires had<br />

encircled the city of Canberra. At night you could<br />

Me as a young girl<br />

see the glow of the flames surrounding the city<br />

and it was a scary feeling not knowing if or when<br />

the flames might reach our homes.<br />

From Australia to Washington<br />

At age 13, I and my family moved away from<br />

Australia to a suburb of Washington DC where I<br />

spent most of my teens. I remember missing the<br />

sights of that beautiful, rugged landscape, the<br />

vast, southern hemisphere night sky, and the<br />

sounds of the unique bird songs.<br />

I often attribute my love of biology, botany and<br />

zoology back to these early impressions from<br />

these moves, where the different vegetation,<br />

wildlife, climate and temperature made a strong<br />

impression on me, even as a child. I noticed that it<br />

no longer rained or that the grass was brown<br />

instead of green.<br />

Leaving home<br />

The first time I left home, I was in my early 20s<br />

and I moved to Wales to do a Master’s program. I<br />

spent a fabulous year studying in the small<br />

coastal town of Aberystwyth. It was there that I<br />

met a very unusual German student (who I later<br />

married). I returned to the US after my program,<br />

and finished my thesis while working. Then I<br />

decided to study some more, so I went to Duke<br />

University in Durham, North Carolina for two<br />

years. Following that, I eventually ended up<br />

working as an environmental scientist for an<br />

environmental consulting firm in the Washington<br />

DC area. After several years there, I got married<br />

and moved to Germany.<br />

Living in Germany<br />

Ayuska Motha<br />

My family has lived in Cologne for 17 years. We<br />

moved here from Frankfurt right after our second<br />

child was born, for my husband’s work and to be<br />


With Stacey Kimmig at COP24 in Poland<br />

closer to my husband’s parents and siblings. Since<br />

I moved around quite a bit growing up, for some<br />

reason, I felt very strongly about trying to raise our<br />

children in one place (as much as possible). So I<br />

have now lived in Cologne longer than I have lived<br />

anywhere else in my life.<br />

We have a daughter who is at university in<br />

Amsterdam and our son is in his final year of<br />

school here in Cologne.<br />

Why protecting the environment is<br />

important<br />

I have so many reasons why I believe that<br />

protecting the environment is so important: 1) for<br />

its own intrinsic value. 2) I love nature. I also<br />

respect and am fascinated by it. 3) Some societies<br />

have had an exploitative, destructive relationship<br />

with nature, which is disrespectful and unjust and<br />

needs to be re-evaluated and corrected. 4)<br />

Humans rely on the environment to sustain and<br />

support human life. 5) Our planet can live without<br />

us, but we are dependent on all the natural<br />

resources to survive.<br />

Working in the field<br />

I have a bachelor’s degree in biology since I have<br />

always been fascinated with the field. I then<br />

completed a Masters of Science in environmental<br />

impact assessment followed by another Masters<br />

in environmental management in environmental<br />

toxicology and risk assessment. I worked in<br />

environmental consulting in the US and then for<br />

several years in Frankfurt. For my consulting work,<br />

I worked on projects for particulate matter<br />

standard setting, solid-waste disposal, air-quality<br />

issues and phasing-out of ozone-depleting<br />

chemicals as well.<br />

For the volunteer work I have been doing for<br />

FAWCO since 2017, I went into the much broader<br />

field of climate change and advocacy. I had not<br />

been even vaguely prepared for it, so I had to start<br />

learning everything from scratch. Coming from a<br />

hard science field to UN advocacy, I found that<br />

these were at complete opposite ends of the<br />

spectrum. Advocacy would have been enough of a<br />

challenge but there was also learning about the<br />

UN system, how things work, all the abbreviations<br />

and the negotiating strategies/games. So for this<br />

portion of my journey, I am not sure how much<br />

any of my degrees helped.<br />

What did help was the first week that I attended<br />

the UNFCCC meetings. Laurie Richardson, the<br />

FAWCO UN Liaison, introduced both Stacey<br />

Kimmig (the other FAWCO UNFCCC Rep) and<br />

myself to the <strong>Women</strong> and Gender Constituency<br />

(WGC). The WGC are a group of approximately 30<br />

women’s environmental organizations who join to<br />

advocate for gender equality in the UNFCCC<br />

process and its outcomes. WGC works to increase<br />

awareness about the gendered impacts of climate<br />

change and the meaningful participation and<br />

representation of women in decision making and<br />

in the negotiating teams involved in the UNFCCC<br />

process. Working with this group of international<br />

environmental women’s groups, I have been<br />

privileged to work alongside admirable feminists:<br />

strong, determined, focused, powerful, diverse<br />

and humble. I have been honored to have been<br />

able to learn from them and hear about their vital<br />

work in their home countries.<br />

Contributing to managing climate change<br />

By bringing about more awareness on the fact<br />

that women are disproportionately impacted by<br />

climate change, we can include more women as<br />

decision-makers and we will likely see more bold<br />

action on climate change. Studies have shown that<br />

often women decision-makers make less risky<br />

decisions about human health and environmental<br />

issues, but historically these decisions have been<br />

proportionately made by men. By increasing the<br />

awareness that women are often<br />

disproportionately impacted by the effects of<br />

climate change and raising up, amplifying and<br />

supporting women’s solutions that are community<br />

Flyer from a climate event I attended in Germany<br />


My sign, marching in Cologne<br />

led, holistic and gender just, we can protect and<br />

support communities and the environment.<br />

From the #MeToo and Black Lives Matter<br />

movements, we have also realized that many<br />

opinions and solutions to climate change (and<br />

other issues) were not being considered since<br />

those in power had not included all perspectives.<br />

So we need a more inclusive approach to<br />

proposing and making decisions on climate<br />

change issues.<br />

We need to include the perspectives of youth to<br />

ensure that the solutions are mid- to long-term,<br />

instead of choosing short-term solutions or<br />

putting off action for another generation to deal<br />

with. We need to include the perspectives of<br />

indigenous peoples since they live on much of the<br />

planet’s remaining carbon sinks and are also<br />

home to a large percentage of the planet’s<br />

biodiversity. We also need to include the<br />

perspectives of those being displaced by sea-level<br />

rise, salinity, droughts, floods, wildfires, and<br />

increased frequency of severe weather events,<br />

since they bring the urgency of the issue into the<br />

decisions and help in determining who pays for all<br />

their losses, caused by emissions elsewhere.<br />

The urgency of climate change has been stifled<br />

since those most severely impacted have not been<br />

fully included in the decision-making and lacked<br />

the power to gain the consensus needed. So I see<br />

my role as working to bring those perspectives in<br />

so as to encourage everyone to work effectively -<br />

and collaboratively to cut greenhouse-gas<br />

emissions drastically by 2030.<br />

If I could wave a magic wand I would fix…<br />

Probably climate change since it is so broad and<br />

far-reaching geographically and temporally and<br />

would therefore address so many complex and<br />

related issues: fossil-fuel extraction and burning<br />

(greenhouse-gas emissions, pollution, loss of<br />

biodiversity), plastics in the environment (air<br />

toxics, solid waste on land, ocean waste,<br />

microplastics), air pollution, climate justice issues<br />

related to heightened exposure of marginalized<br />

communities to negative environmental effects.<br />

Lessons from the pandemic<br />

I think the COVID pandemic has changed<br />

everything and, being the creatures of habit that<br />

we are, we are continuing to fight the lessons and<br />

changes learned. My words are based on my own<br />

personal experience and everyone may have their<br />

own experiences and opinions.<br />

I do think that the lessons we are learning from<br />

the COVID pandemic are numerous and valuable.<br />

However they also will take time for us to accept<br />

and embrace.<br />

1. Our connections are at the core of everything.<br />

We have learned that we are social and need<br />

social connections and support; otherwise<br />

many of us suffer from loneliness and mental<br />

health issues.<br />

2. Related to this is that we have learned the<br />

importance of community and being there to<br />

support and be supported by each other.<br />

3. We have also learned the importance of<br />

resilience everywhere. Only through crises can<br />

we understand how important resilience is to<br />

buffer us from the worst damage be it when<br />

considering a health care system, a city,<br />

human health, a forest, mental health, a<br />

business or an ocean. Such investments may<br />

seem a waste or unnecessary until something<br />

unforeseeable happens, and then we<br />

appreciate the investments we made in<br />

preparing and strengthening that system prior<br />

to the event.<br />

4. We have learned the importance of science<br />

guiding policy. It is not the only factor but is<br />

critical and must be included.<br />

5. We have learned that we need to carefully<br />

watch identified hotspots in case we have<br />

similar viruses being created and in order to<br />

better prevent such pandemics in the future.<br />

6. We have learned the importance of the media<br />

in shaping people’s behavior.<br />

7. We have learned the importance of good<br />

leadership to be well informed, calm, to<br />

consider all impacted and be able to<br />

compromise, where possible.<br />

8. We have learned the importance of continuing<br />

Walking in Sri Lanka<br />


to produce our own food, energy, medical<br />

equipment and anything else that we might<br />

not be able to import or access.<br />

9. We have learned the importance of green<br />

spaces and nature to improve our mental and<br />

physical health.<br />

10. We have also learned how quickly the world<br />

can make drastic lifestyle changes and also<br />

pull together resources to fight a threat.<br />

Fun facts about me<br />

• My husband and I were born on the same day.<br />

Based on the official times of our births, I was<br />

born a few hours before him in California,<br />

while he was born in Germany. We realized<br />

that, although on paper I am older than he is,<br />

he was actually born before me.<br />

• If I became an animal I would be a dolphin<br />

because they can swim so efficiently and<br />

gracefully; they always look happy and seem to<br />

be having fun; they are highly intelligent and<br />

social; they live in pods; and finally they live in<br />

the ocean, often near beautiful beaches.<br />

COP 24 march with Stacey<br />



Getting<br />

“Schooled” About<br />

Recycling in<br />

Russia<br />

Maria (Masha) Sumina, member of<br />

AWO Moscow, on her recycling<br />

efforts and encouraging others to<br />

do it, too.<br />

I was born in the Soviet Union. My father was a<br />

military engineer, and most of my family worked<br />

for the Russian intelligence services. I was raised<br />

as a normal Soviet girl – an atheist young pioneer;<br />

however, we did spent several years living abroad<br />

in the late 1980s. As exciting as it may seem for a<br />

child from behind the Iron Curtain, life in a Soviet<br />

embassy in Havana was pretty boring. I spent<br />

most of my time reading books about nature and<br />

animals, dreaming about being able to go explore<br />

the wild jungle of the Amazon or help take care of<br />

animals in sanctuaries. On weekends, we often<br />

drove outside the city to have a picnic by the sea,<br />

where I would snorkel for hours, observing the<br />

marine fauna. I loved the pristine beaches, clean<br />

ocean water and the colorful coral reefs of the<br />

Caribbean, teeming with life. I even made friends<br />

with an octopus!<br />

Leaving home<br />

Masha Sumina<br />

Upon returning to Russia, in my last year of high<br />

school, I passed a difficult test and was offered<br />

the chance to spend a year as an exchange<br />

student living with an American family in Texas.<br />

However, I never went, since I was also accepted<br />

to the best Russian university, Moscow State, to<br />

study linguistics.<br />

I regret not taking the gap year because ever<br />

since, I have never had an opportunity to live<br />

abroad for an extended period of time.<br />

Nonetheless, I have always been interested in<br />

foreign cultures, so I was immersed in music,<br />

movies, books and TV shows, especially old ones. I<br />

learned several foreign languages, and shortly<br />

after graduating I started working for<br />

international companies, first as a translator and<br />

later as a project manager.<br />

Life in Moscow<br />

Being a young adult in the late 1990s in Moscow<br />

was an amazing experience. Well-educated<br />

English speaking staff were in high demand by<br />

Western companies which were opening their<br />

offices in Russia, and I had an opportunity to work<br />

with very interesting people in telecom and<br />

service sector.<br />

Exploring a poisonous jellyfish that had been washed up<br />

I met my American husband though a colleague at<br />

work, and although he doesn’t speak much<br />

Russian despite almost 30 years here, we are still<br />

living in Moscow!<br />


persuaded the administration to ban most types<br />

of disposable plastic on campus.<br />

Students, parents, teachers and staff are educated<br />

about the importance of sustainability, and the<br />

Committee has a rather popular Facebook page<br />

and blog, publishes weekly updates in the allschool<br />

newsletter, and has representatives in all<br />

school divisions.<br />

Hiking the Camino de Santiago with my family<br />

I remember that back in 2008 I took my toddler to<br />

Chik-Chik, a popular hair salon for kids, and<br />

chatted briefly to the owner, a nice American lady.<br />

This was Masha Megrelis, but I properly met her<br />

more than 10 years later through AWO – and we<br />

became best friends!<br />

My daughter started at the Anglo-American School<br />

of Moscow, an international school, in 2010, but I<br />

didn’t want to return to office work. Instead, I<br />

seized the opportunity to make a meaningful<br />

change at a local level and joined the newly<br />

launched AAS Green Committee.<br />

My work for the environment<br />

As Chairwoman, I am proud that over the years<br />

the Eco Green Committee, which started as a<br />

small group of enthusiastic parents pushing<br />

for a recycling program, has become a prominent<br />

force at our 1200+-student international school,<br />

and an important and indispensable part of<br />

the community.<br />

The Committee supports various aspects of the<br />

school curriculum, organizes afterschool activities<br />

and events, and has been a force behind a vast<br />

number of positive changes in the school<br />

infrastructure, maintenance and operations.<br />

In addition to a fully established and functioning<br />

recycling program for paper, cardboard, plastic,<br />

aluminum cans, batteries, tetrapak packaging,<br />

broken electronics and glass, most of the<br />

bathrooms are now equipped with motion<br />

detectors for light and water, and water fountains<br />

with bottle filling taps. All lights are now energysaving.<br />

Paper towels are made from recycled<br />

paper. We have stopped using disposable plastic<br />

plates at large school events and replaced them<br />

with sturdy but lightweight reusable plates. The<br />

Committee joined efforts with students and<br />

The Eco Green Committee organizes many schoolwide<br />

events and activities, like Eco Movie Day,<br />

lectures by prominent guest speakers, an April<br />

Green Fair, an Upcycling Art Contest, a Yard Sale<br />

and a Farmers’ Market.<br />

Finally, in 2021, the School Board adopted the<br />

Environmental Sustainability Policy which will<br />

serve as a guideline for all aspects of the school’s<br />

operations, from curriculum to maintenance, as<br />

well as holding all stakeholders accountable on<br />

the path towards creating an environmentally<br />

sustainable school.<br />

Recycling in Russia<br />

One of the continuous challenges I have faced in<br />

my role as the Green Committee Chairwoman has<br />

been convincing the community that we do<br />

actually recycle at AAS, that a recycling industry<br />

does actually exist in Russia and that we are not<br />

throwing all of our sorted materials into the trash.<br />

People have doubts that Russia even has the<br />

infrastructure for recycling. (It does!)<br />

In fact, many people do not realize that it is<br />

actually in the West that recycling has become a<br />

global mystification. For decades, people have<br />

been brainwashed to believe that once they throw<br />

their disposable plastic bottle into the appropriate<br />

bin, they can pat themselves on the back and<br />

consider their job of saving the environment done,<br />

and they can go back to consuming more<br />

disposables. Sadly, in many cases, the collected<br />

materials are, at best, incinerated for energy, or<br />

more often than not, shipped to developing<br />

countries where they will remain in landfills or<br />

float into the ocean. (Read more here)<br />

In Russia, on the other hand, waste collection and<br />

sorting is organized in very few cities, but where it<br />

exists, it is the real deal: you can find out exactly<br />

where your plastic bottle or battery will be<br />

recycled and trace its path from the bin to the<br />

sorting facility to the local factory.<br />

Yes, Russian landfills occupy a territory equal to<br />

the size of Switzerland, but we still have a chance<br />

to build a sustainable, locally-operating waste<br />


2018, I realized that I had too many clothes and<br />

made an oath not to buy a single item of clothing<br />

for year. (It wasn’t even hard because I rediscovered<br />

many things I’d forgotten I owned and<br />

created new combinations). I have been fostering<br />

and training homeless dogs because well-adjusted<br />

animals have a better chance to be adopted and<br />

fit in well in a new family.<br />

The importance of the environment<br />

Representing the Green Committee at an Open House<br />

management industry, capitalizing on the Soviet<br />

tradition of recycling valuable materials, as there<br />

is both the supply and the market for it.<br />

Getting started as a recycler<br />

Growing up in the Soviet Union, we all reduced,<br />

reused and recycled out of necessity, before there<br />

was a word for it. Washing aluminum foil and<br />

plastic bags, darning stockings, making your own<br />

LP player from spare parts (like my dad made me),<br />

passing on clothes and prams from one<br />

generation of kids to the next. It was a normal way<br />

to live. With the collapse of the Soviet Union came<br />

prosperity, and all that re-fixing, re-washing and<br />

renewing was forgotten like a bad dream. People<br />

wanted to be wasteful because wasting signified<br />

affluence. Throwing things away meant that<br />

there'd always be enough.<br />

But somehow I never went through that phase.<br />

Without giving it much thought, I just never liked<br />

to be wasteful. Even as a single adult with a decent<br />

income, I enjoyed fixing my clothes, creating<br />

gourmet masterpieces from leftovers, and<br />

donating clothes and appliances rather than<br />

throwing them away, but I never really thought<br />

about it on a conscious level.<br />

Only many years later was I able to formulate my<br />

ideal way of living in concrete words: leaving the<br />

world a better place by reusing rather than<br />

wasting things.<br />

Personal responsibility and trying to minimize<br />

one’s individual footprint is very important, but I<br />

firmly support Greta Thunberg when it comes to<br />

demanding accountability from governments and<br />

industry. I think activists who push for global<br />

change are the heroes of our time, because they<br />

often endanger their lives, as big corporations and<br />

populist governments are still reluctant to assume<br />

responsibility for the damage they are causing to<br />

the environment. There is a firm scientific<br />

consensus on anthropogenic climate change, but<br />

we are struggling to accept the fact that if we want<br />

our civilization to continue beyond the 21st<br />

century, world economics will have to be<br />

drastically transformed. Having reaped<br />

megaprofits in the 20th century, now<br />

governments and enterprises need to make some<br />

hard and unpopular choices in order to save what<br />

is left of the ecosystems.<br />

I know this change will be tough, because even on<br />

the small scale of one international school, the<br />

adoption of an Environmental Sustainability Policy<br />

was a long and arduous process. But I pushed for<br />

it because in the end this is the only way to turn<br />

miscellaneous uncoordinated initiatives into a<br />

sustainable system that is embedded into the very<br />

core of the school’s operations. I firmly believe<br />

that all institutions, from governments to<br />

preschools, need to adopt a sustainability policy<br />

and be held accountable for its execution.<br />

Individual change is important, but we desperately<br />

need global systemic changes to save our planet.<br />

I started recycling because I didn’t want to<br />

contribute to ever-growing landfills. I buy as much<br />

as I can second-hand in order to consume fewer<br />

resources. I actively try to find a new home for my<br />

unwanted things so that they are appreciated and<br />

used again. (Masha M.’s second-hand sale group is<br />

magical for that!) I started two types of<br />

composting systems because I hated food waste<br />

(yes, I have a worm bin in my city apartment). In<br />

Collecting trash in the local forest<br />


somehow the world is in denial about it. With a<br />

magic wand, I would make journalists,<br />

governments and normal people listen to<br />

scientists and face the unpleasant truth that our<br />

civilization as we know it may cease to exist very<br />

soon unless we try to reverse the damage we are<br />

doing to the planet.<br />

The future<br />

Biking in a national park<br />

Key environment issues today<br />

Ocean pollution and decline in marine biodiversity<br />

are the most worrisome issues nowadays because<br />

very few people are talking about them. Oceans<br />

play in an immense role in regulating climate, and<br />

about half of the Earth’s oxygen is produced by<br />

plankton. There is a somewhat controversial but<br />

eye-opening movie called Seaspiracy (2021,<br />

Netflix) about the collapse of the oceanic<br />

ecosystems due to oxygen depletion, pole melting,<br />

change of currents, but mostly overfishing and<br />

pollution, which will lead to unforeseeable and<br />

irreversible catastrophic consequences, and yet<br />

One of the biggest blows we have all suffered was<br />

the COVID-related tsunami of disposable items.<br />

Single-use masks, plates and silverware were<br />

everywhere in 2020; the AAS was no exception. I<br />

do hope that most organizations and individuals<br />

will shift back to reusable items quickly.<br />

On the other hand, travel, especially air travel, has<br />

dropped dramatically, and planes, along with cars,<br />

are the most polluting means of transport. Thanks<br />

to advances in technology, people have<br />

discovered that most meetings do not need to be<br />

held in person.<br />

Another thing I would like to happen is that my<br />

family finally accept that I do not want any<br />

presents, especially new things. It is very hard and<br />

counterintuitive for most people NOT to buy gifts.<br />

I would appreciate a donation in my name, a preloved<br />

book or an experience that we as a family<br />

can enjoy together.<br />



”I Am Who I Am Today Because of<br />

the Choices I Made Yesterday”<br />

Eleanor Roosevelt<br />

Suzana Zhuta, member of AWC Hamburg, believes in the importance<br />

of clean energy.<br />

United Nations Sustainable Development Goal<br />

#7: Affordable and clean energy.<br />

Clean energy is available for free from Mother<br />

Nature. When we harness it in increasing<br />

quantities, we not only contribute to serving the<br />

world's energy needs, but we also help restore<br />

our environment. Clean energy is inexhaustible.<br />

This goal can transform our world. I own a<br />

renewable energy company. I not only support<br />

this goal, but I live it.<br />

The main motivation for starting a sustainable<br />

energy company was my two daughters. There is<br />

no way around it: as a mother you are responsible<br />

for every action you take. There is no time to<br />

waste; every day we must live by example and, in<br />

my opinion, doing something for the planet is the<br />

biggest responsibility we have. Sustainability is an<br />

extremely urgent and universal concern. We have<br />

to act now and go forward.<br />

The company’s name, Forward Energie, was<br />

chosen in order to explain where we are headed.<br />

We are a green tech energy provider based in<br />

Hamburg’s HafenCity, offering sustainable and<br />

green power nationwide.<br />

As an American moving to Germany, I was<br />

introduced to a new way of life. Here everyone is<br />

Planting trees<br />

much more aware and efficient with the way they<br />

live. Through the years, I realized what advantages<br />

Germans had in reference to the rest of the world.<br />

Their sustainability solutions were always very<br />

advanced, but that was not enough.<br />

The German energy approach is very<br />

conservative. When I moved to Germany, I found<br />

that energy is readily available, but you are<br />

charged a very high monthly rate per usage, and<br />

the energy is not renewable. This is not the way to<br />

go. I had to find a new approach. The increasing<br />

digitalization of many areas of life is only just<br />

beginning. Because the existing system in<br />

Germany is outmoded and problematic, we at<br />

Forward Energie decided to offer a completely<br />

new approach. We are the antithesis of the classic,<br />

long-established energy provider! We combine<br />

today's technology and our expertise to keep<br />

processes effective and lean.<br />

For me it is important to be sustainable, not just<br />

by using green energy but also by being<br />

economical. That’s why Forward Energie created<br />

the Energy Smart Box, enabling the consumer to<br />

see and engage with the energy that they are<br />

consuming in their home.<br />

My kids planting trees!<br />

The Smart Box is a digital device that reads a<br />

customer‘s electricity meter and sends<br />


Information from the Smart Box<br />

data to their smartphone, where it is managed via<br />

an app. The benefit of the Smart Box is<br />

continuous, clear monitoring of energy<br />

consumption, which enables the customer to<br />

identify areas of energy-saving potential.<br />

Our target group’s interest in ‘‘smart‘‘<br />

consumption monitoring was already very high,<br />

and the benefits of the system were immediately<br />

evident to them. Our customers using the Smart<br />

Box app have been very happy with the system.<br />

The Smart Box enables both the customer and<br />

Forward Energie to record energy consumption<br />

data in real time and use it intelligently. There are<br />

considerable advantages to this for both sides.<br />

In the future, only green electricity and green gas<br />

will be sold. Our company already has several<br />

years of experience here. The strong trend toward<br />

sustainable products will also continue to<br />

determine the electricity market. This is already<br />

well-established for private consumers, and there<br />

is a lot of potential for small and medium-size<br />

companies in this area too.<br />

The essential building blocks of the new business<br />

model are digital and sustainable. Both these<br />

qualities will have increasing urgency in people’s<br />

lives in the decades to come. With our emphasis<br />

on these features, we have the best chance for a<br />

growing, successful market presence.<br />

You can visit us in person at our Concept Energy<br />

store in HafenCity or you can reach us 24/7<br />

through our digital home, www.forwardenergie.de<br />

Suzana Zhuta holds a Bachelor of Science in<br />

Accounting from Teiyko Post University in<br />

Connecticut, USA. During and after her studies,<br />

which she completed in 2003, she held key roles in<br />

finance and business administration both in the<br />

field of aviation and at the multinational<br />

technology company International Business<br />

Machines Corp. (IBM).<br />

As a businesswoman and entrepreneur, Suzana has<br />

vast experience in founding, building and running<br />

companies. In 2016, her belief that the world<br />

should prepare for a future of renewable energy<br />

burgeoned into a business idea: she founded<br />

Forward Energie with her husband and partner,<br />

Lulzim Zhuta. Suzana is managing director of the<br />

Hamburg-based green energy supplier.<br />

She also lends her managerial skills to the nonprofit<br />

sector as vice president of the<br />

Amerikazentrum Hamburg e.V., a bi-national<br />

cultural institute that supports German-American<br />

educational and cultural exchange through its<br />

work. Suzana lives in Hamburg, Germany, with her<br />

husband and their two children.<br />

We live in a free world, one where we think we<br />

can make decisions for a better world, and yet we<br />

are not moving forward as fast as our technology.<br />

The future of the energy market will have to be<br />

both digital and sustainable.<br />



A Club Inspires: AWC Denmark<br />

Mary Stewart Burgher, Club President and Chair of FAWCO’s US<br />

Voting Committee, introduces her club to us. AWC Denmark is<br />

one of seven clubs in FAWCO’s Region 2.<br />

When and why was your<br />

club started, and by<br />

whom?<br />

Ruth Bryan Owen,<br />

Democratic<br />

Congresswoman and<br />

Ambassador to Denmark<br />

appointed by FDR – also the<br />

daughter of William<br />

Jennings Bryan – founded<br />

AWC Denmark in 1934 to<br />

help bring Americans and<br />

Danes together. The club<br />

Mary Stewart Burgher still does that today, though<br />

we focus on doing it<br />

through “fun, friendship and philanthropy”. We<br />

are proud to tell you we joined FAWCO in our<br />

founding year.<br />

How does the club run?<br />

We have a small elected Board, but also some<br />

dedicated volunteers – the kind of people who<br />

turn up every time help is needed. I don’t<br />

remember ever having seen more than one<br />

nominee for a Board position.<br />

What kind of events do you have in your club?<br />

Our annual events usually involve food: a 4 th of<br />

July barbecue, a Thanksgiving potluck and a<br />

Chinese New Year’s dim sum lunch. Most interest<br />

groups tackle the usual subjects – books, various<br />

crafts, walking, movies, etc. – and meet monthly.<br />

We also run vigorous voter registration and<br />

assistance programs with other volunteers in the<br />

US community and usually in cooperation with the<br />

Our founder is renowned among us for having<br />

done the opposite of most of our members;<br />

instead of meeting a dashing Dane and moving to<br />

Denmark, she met a dashing Dane in Copenhagen<br />

(in the King’s Life Guard), married him – becoming<br />

Ruth Bryan Owen Rohde – and took him to the US.<br />

How many members do you have, and what<br />

are their nationalities?<br />

We are about 100, with a pretty even mix of<br />

Americans and other nationalities, including<br />

Danes. Before the reductions in US<br />

businesspeople sent overseas, we used to be<br />

about 50–50 “transients” and “lifers” – now we’re<br />

nearly all lifers: people who came to Denmark for<br />

love and/or work, put down roots and stayed.<br />

A few years ago, we decided to admit men as<br />

associate members, and there are currently<br />

around five. Some are widowers of Danish AWC<br />

members and some are just part of the US<br />

community in Denmark. Any man who’s willing to<br />

pay his dues and tell people that he’s a member of<br />

the American <strong>Women</strong>’s Club is the kind of man I<br />

can admire.<br />

Members of AWC Denmark<br />

US Embassy, in every year with US elections. We<br />

also distribute useful information, as we can, on<br />

US tax requirements. New in 2021 is the Foodies,<br />

which visit various restaurants – now that we can<br />

get back into them. The Board organizes the<br />

annual events and interested members run the<br />

interest groups.<br />


eautiful and/or interesting part of Copenhagen<br />

that may be new to them. Routes range from the<br />

Green Path (part of a 40-km route for cyclists and<br />

pedestrains) to a pre-Halloween tour of the<br />

historic Assistens Cemetery. Several features<br />

always appear: exercise, good company and hot<br />

drinks at the end of each walk.<br />

Drawing by Heather Spears<br />

Do you raise money for any particular cause?<br />

Having given an annual Philanthropy Award for<br />

many years to a wide range of projects (focused<br />

on women, children, health, disability, etc.) in and<br />

around Copenhagen, we have focused in the last<br />

few years on building long-term relationships with<br />

a few: a meeting place/café to help immigrants<br />

integrate into Danish life, a safe house for sexually<br />

trafficked people and a soup kitchen for homeless<br />

people run by the Missionaries of Charity. We also<br />

give scholarships to Danish women for study in<br />

the US and a Cultural Award, every three years.<br />

The last winner of our Cultural Award was one of<br />

our own members, Heather Spears, a skilled artist<br />

and writer whose work included making portraits<br />

of premature and stillborn babies at the national<br />

hospital in Denmark.<br />

We raise the money by selling jewelry, some<br />

handmade and some used, and holding raffles<br />

and receiving donations at events, etc. Flea<br />

markets are so common in Denmark that we<br />

stopped holding our bazaar some years ago.<br />

We focus on charities that help immigrants<br />

because most of us are immigrants, and also on<br />

the needy because most of us have more than<br />

enough ourselves.<br />

Another anti-isolation measure was the opening of<br />

the AWC Denmark Coffeeshop during the<br />

lockdown: a private Facebook group for members<br />

and friends to hang out, and share photos and fun<br />

things (lots of cat jokes and animal videos). We<br />

also use it to list and advertise club events, and<br />

cultural opportunities in Copenhagen. (The<br />

Coffeeshop appears to have boosted<br />

membership, too!)<br />

What else would you like us to know about<br />

your club?<br />

We have always had a serious case of FAWCO<br />

fever and enjoy participating in its activities,<br />

fundraising and charitable work. The Target<br />

Project has always attracted interest in our club,<br />

and we have been proud to have members’<br />

children receive scholarships and to nominate<br />

projects that received development grants.<br />

Also, though we don’t raise money, we’ve much<br />

enjoyed two other chartable projects: 1) making<br />

pillow cases and stuffing pillows for the Heart<br />

Pillow project in Denmark (http://heartpillow.dk) –<br />

the project that introduced heart pillow work to<br />

FAWCO, by the way – and 2) collecting quality used<br />

English books for use in schools in Ghana. For the<br />

book drives, we join other groups in Copenhagen,<br />

and collect books for pick-up by Embassy staff.<br />

For the heart pillows, we held small outdoor<br />

stuffing events during the lockdown/restrictions,<br />

but were happy also to join lots of other groups to<br />

participate in a Pink Saturday (Lyserød Lørdag)<br />

event to raise money for the national anti-cancer<br />

movement. In addition to stuffing pillows, one of<br />

our members made and donated 100 pillowcases!<br />

What was your own favorite activity last year ?<br />

There are several! We don’t hold a Christmas party<br />

– everyone in Denmark is awash with Christmas<br />

parties connected with their jobs, families and<br />

other activity groups. We hold a gift-wrapping<br />

party for clients of the charities we support. The<br />

aim is to collect and wrap enough toiletries and<br />

clothing items, so that every resident of the safe<br />

house or visitor to the soup kitchen, respectively,<br />

has a (useful but enjoyable) personal gift to open<br />

for the holidays. Last year, we collected and<br />

wrapped over 200 gifts. Then we eat pizza, not<br />

Christmas treats.<br />

Also we started a new activity in 2020 to enable<br />

members to get together safely during and after<br />

lockdown: the monthly Our Secrets walk. Every<br />

month, a member guides a group through a<br />

Pillow stuffing<br />


See our public Facebook group (https://<br />

www.facebook.com/groups/296190131659089)<br />

for short texts with photos about Pink Saturday,<br />

the book drive and pillow stuffing, etc.<br />

freezing temperatures and getting too close to the<br />

thousands of other Copenhageners participating.<br />

The Festival combines a lot of the best things<br />

about Copenhagen: using the darkest month of<br />

the year to enable people to exercise and enjoy<br />

artworks and each other’s company, safely and for<br />

free. We plan to go again in <strong>2022</strong>.<br />

What are a few undiscovered gems in your city<br />

and/or country?<br />

Well, any park; most historic and tourist sites are<br />

pretty well known. My favorites are H.C. Ørsted<br />

park and the King’s Garden (Kongens Have), smack<br />

in the middle of town. Both have gorgeous trees<br />

and flowers, beautiful water features (with swans),<br />

lots of nice places to sit with a friend and enjoy<br />

the views, and good cafés.<br />

The H.C. Ørsted park<br />

Tell us a little about your city and country in<br />

general<br />

Sorry to get all Danny Kaye about it, but<br />

Copenhagen really is wonderful: beautiful and<br />

historic, but also modern and exciting, full of<br />

cultural activities and opportunities to enjoy<br />

nature. It has excellent public transport and is<br />

very safe to walk or cycle in.<br />

The club put together a group to enjoy the 2021<br />

Copenhagen Light Festival and eight women<br />

wandered all around the central city at night,<br />

looking at the various outdoor light installations<br />

without worrying about anything other than the<br />

<strong>2022</strong> will be big year in Denmark, as it’s Queen<br />

Margrethe’s Golden Jubilee: celebrating her 50<br />

years as monarch. We plan to make a group visit<br />

to an exhibition of her jewelry at the Amalienborg<br />

Palace Museum. That’s just one of dozens of<br />

exhibitions and hundreds of events planned all<br />

over the country.<br />

Any unusual/interesting traits of the locals?<br />

Santa is not a really big deal in a Danish<br />

Christmas; elves (nisser) are a much older and<br />

more important tradition. Everyone knows what<br />

nisser are like: they’re tiny people who wear red<br />

conical hats (nissehuer) and eat rice pudding (and<br />

make trouble if they don’t get it). There’s a large<br />

bronze statue of the Nile River and its 15<br />

tributaries at the end of Queen Louise’s Bridge,<br />

which crosses one of the artificial lakes that mark<br />

the boundary between central Copenhagen and<br />

the rest of the city. Every year, some kind soul<br />

puts nissehuer on every one of the Nile’s children,<br />

and everyone else knows it’s Christmas time.<br />

The statue with the Nile’s children<br />


One thing an American has to get used to: Danes<br />

have very small personal spaces. Even trying to<br />

social distance, Danes usually stand closer to<br />

others – in stores, queues and crowds – than is<br />

normal for Americans.<br />

Danes can be hard to form relationships with –<br />

coming from such a small country, most of them<br />

still know/are friends with people from their<br />

kindergarten/primary school/high-school/<br />

university classes. Other than marrying/living with/<br />

giving birth to one, the best way to get to know<br />

them is to take a class on any subject with them,<br />

or join a sports team.<br />

Denmark has been a great place to live through<br />

COVID: Danes have a strong sense of social<br />

responsibility and considerable trust in their<br />

government, arising from its good performance<br />

and many Danes’ active participation in political<br />

life. So when the government sets rules and gives<br />

advice, people tend to follow them, and think<br />

seriously about what they can do to help the<br />

whole society get through the crisis.<br />

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“Containing” the<br />

Waste Problem<br />

Alexandra Vo, member of FAUSA<br />

and, from March <strong>2022</strong>, the new<br />

FAWCO Target 5 (Environment)<br />

Chairperson, tells us about her<br />

determination to use less plastic.<br />

Alexandra Vo<br />

I am the seventh of eight children born in Vietnam<br />

and became a refugee at six years old when<br />

Saigon (South Vietnam’s capital) fell to the North<br />

Vietnamese army in April 1975. My parents told<br />

me that the army was marching into the city and<br />

bullets were flying in the streets when they<br />

escaped with me and my three-year-old sister. At<br />

this point, they had already sent off the older six<br />

children, ages ranging from 7 to 18 years old, in<br />

two separate groups with relatives.<br />

My parents, sister and I fled as “boat people”<br />

because the American army had already<br />

evacuated and the only way to escape was by<br />

boat. We were lucky in that my mother was well<br />

connected enough to know someone with one of<br />

the few remaining boats. And we left early<br />

enough that the American aircraft carriers were<br />

still waiting in international waters, just beyond<br />

Me as a little girl<br />

Vietnam's border, to pick us and others up. We<br />

were among the first wave of Vietnamese<br />

refugees. Later, many boat people would perish<br />

or be captured by pirates.<br />

I can’t imagine the terror my parents must have<br />

felt but, as a young child at the time, I only have a<br />

few snapshot memories: being on the boat eating<br />

dry ramen noodles and vomiting; stepping onto<br />

the aircraft carrier with my bare feet and feeling<br />

the burning heat; tasting my first soda from a<br />

vending machine in the hangar. We eventually<br />

ended up in refugee camps on Wake Island and<br />

Guam where we reunited with the rest of the<br />

family, although we would again be split up when<br />

sponsorships to the USA came through.<br />

Early life in the USA<br />

We relocated to several Army bases, including<br />

Camp Pendleton in CA. Finally, my father<br />

requested resettlement in MD so we could be<br />

close to Washington DC and the President of the<br />

United States. I never did ask why that was<br />

important but I can understand that, having fled<br />

one capital, my father wanted to be close to<br />

another to understand the pulse of that new<br />

country. Thus we were sponsored by a Methodist<br />

church, which found us a rental home on a<br />

fantastically diverse street with German, Greek<br />

and Nicaraguan immigrants.<br />

Looking back, I realized that my parents didn’t talk<br />

much about that time or their earlier life in<br />

Vietnam, which I later learned was one of wealth<br />

and privilege. I guess they were just too busy<br />

trying to survive in the USA, working multiple jobs.<br />

It was only as a young adult that I started asking<br />

them questions.<br />


In those early years we couldn’t afford to take<br />

vacations so I spent the summers at my father’s<br />

bicycle shop or at the local libraries reading books.<br />

I didn’t go to school dances or other events. We<br />

mostly attended Vietnamese social events or<br />

otherwise ate at home. I remember that my<br />

brother would occasionally bring home French<br />

fries from his job at McDonald’s and that was such<br />

a treat.<br />

Leaving home<br />

When I went to Yale to study philosophy, the<br />

world suddenly opened up. For one thing, I had to<br />

learn how to use a fork and knife properly. Up<br />

until then, I mostly used chopsticks. I took a junior<br />

year abroad to Paris, where I had many relatives,<br />

and soaked up the culture that enmeshed with my<br />

own. Vietnam, being a former colony of France,<br />

and my father's family being particularly well<br />

known, meant that my father had a French<br />

baccalaureate degree from Saigon and studied<br />

electrical engineering in Paris along with his<br />

siblings. Some of his siblings never actually ever<br />

returned home.<br />

Ironically, it was only after leaving my own home<br />

in MD that I began to explore my roots as a<br />

Vietnamese. In high school, the war was not even<br />

mentioned. Until college, Vietnam felt like a taboo<br />

topic; nobody talked about it and so it became<br />

internalized as guilt for being Vietnamese and<br />

causing so much horror.<br />

At Yale, I found my people in the Vietnamese<br />

student club and discovered I had a knack for<br />

recreating my mom’s home cooking. During one<br />

summer, I interned at the Indochinese Resource<br />

Action Center (IRAC), now renamed SEARAC<br />

(Southeast Asia Resource Center), where I wrote a<br />

letter, co-signed by the local NAACP chapter, on its<br />

behalf decrying the biased behavior of the<br />

Milwaukee Police Department, which returned an<br />

escaped Cambodian child back to Jeffrey Dahmer,<br />

a white man, who would later kill and eat him.<br />

Just as important was my exposure to the work of<br />

human rights advocacy for Southeast Asian<br />

refugees and learning the concept of “sympathy<br />

fatigue” which would rear its head again and<br />

again, with other refugees.<br />

Another important discovery at college was<br />

learning to fence, which was a walk-on sport back<br />

then and something I had always wanted to do.<br />

Actually, I was a terrible fencer but being on the<br />

team was how I met my future husband. Philip<br />

was an experienced fencer whose family is<br />

Belgian. He’s a New Yorker who has lived and<br />

traveled abroad, loved the sciences, skied and ate<br />

sushi! He is my total opposite but a kindred spirit<br />

for our love of food and travel.<br />

Starting work after college<br />

After Yale, I was tempted by the connection I<br />

made at IRAC to join one of Geneva’s United<br />

Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR)<br />

teams. Alas, Philip was pursuing his MD/PhD in<br />

New York City, so instead, I chose to stay and<br />

marry him and follow corporate life by working<br />

with Citibank and Colgate-Palmolive. Later, we<br />

moved to Boston where Philip started his medical<br />

residency and where my parents had moved. We<br />

started our family and I started a successful<br />

catering business serving lunches to the many<br />

hospitals there.<br />

Life has a way of circling back on itself because we<br />

seek to maintain both our roots and passion. In<br />

2014, we took a sabbatical year and moved our<br />

young family to Paris where I joined AWG Paris<br />

and had the best time exploring the city of lights.<br />

But the circle started with Philip’s mother who was<br />

a member in the late 70s and introduced me to<br />

AWG Paris. Of course, once I returned to the USA,<br />

AWG connected me to FAUSA and eventually<br />

FAWCO. When we moved to New York, I happened<br />

to see a post on FAWCO’s Facebook page about<br />

our work with the UN and, just like that, I got back<br />

to the work I was passionate about in my college<br />

days. Full circle.<br />

Protecting the environment<br />

My Vietnamese wedding<br />

46<br />

Protecting our environment has so many long<br />

reaching ramifications. Pollution waste is an<br />

obvious detriment to our environment,<br />

endangering our water source and marine life.<br />

However, it’s not just about maintaining the<br />

biological diversity of this planet in the form of<br />

saving endangered animals and plants. It’s about<br />

understanding how interdependent we are as one<br />

species with others. Animals are not just<br />

curiosities in zoos; they actually play important<br />

roles in Earth’s balance from the smallest insect to<br />

the tallest giraffe. We all understand the roles of<br />

bees to pollinate crops. But wolves are important<br />

too. They keep down the deer population which in<br />

turn keeps them grazing on higher ground, which<br />

in turn encourages more plants at the river banks,<br />

which in turn causes less soil erosion for healthier<br />

rivers and life under water.

Protecting our environment means reevaluating<br />

how and what we eat. Too much livestock<br />

encourages the destruction of forests for grazing<br />

land while raising the level of methane gas, a key<br />

contributor to the greenhouse effect and the<br />

warming of our planet. Farming just one crop over<br />

and over again destroys the soil. Transporting<br />

food long distances to our supermarkets increases<br />

our carbon footprint. In the US, we waste a<br />

staggering 40% of our food which ends up in trash<br />

heaps and breaks down into methane gas.<br />

Protecting the environment means protecting<br />

living in harmony with nature, protecting<br />

ourselves and our neighbors and ensuring a<br />

beautiful future.<br />

Getting involved<br />

I feel so strongly about environmental causes that<br />

you would think that I’ve had a long running<br />

passion in the area. Actually, it only started a little<br />

over six years ago.<br />

I think being involved in environmental issues is<br />

somewhat of a luxury. Certainly, as refugees, my<br />

parents didn’t have the time to think about<br />

reducing plastic use or saving endangered species<br />

or even the time to learn about them. They can’t<br />

pass along to me what they didn’t know.<br />

This is, to some extent, true for developing<br />

countries which are just fighting to provide basic<br />

needs for their citizens. Those ubiquitous sachet<br />

drinks, for instance, are affordable but not<br />

recyclable so they litter the once beautiful beaches<br />

of island nations like the Philippines. We have to<br />

ask ourselves whether the sachets are the fault of<br />

the users or the companies who profit from selling<br />

them. Like so many of us, I am the product of my<br />

manufactured environment. How many of us used<br />

straws in restaurants to drink water when we<br />

drink straight from a glass at home – and not<br />

question it?<br />

My family went through a phase when my children<br />

were very young when we received so many gifts<br />

Me at the UN<br />

for their birthdays and at Christmas, year after<br />

year. We eventually accumulated bags of barely<br />

used stuffed animals and boxes of plastic toys that<br />

even the thrift shops do not want. Finally, when<br />

we could afford a home in a nicer neighborhood<br />

with tree-shaded streets, it also came with a wider<br />

community that had the luxury to worry about<br />

their natural environment and that’s when my<br />

education started. Also, life had slowed a bit with<br />

my children now older so I could finally take a<br />

breath and take stock. I think nature is so<br />

beneficial to our well-being that we all have an<br />

affinity to it.<br />

A love for growing things<br />

What my parents did instill in me was a love of<br />

growing things. Growing up, we would grow<br />

tomatoes and fruit trees and herbs. Although I<br />

have no formal education or training in<br />

environmental issues, I had self-interest and<br />

curiosity. My interest did not start with some<br />

esoteric goals to save the planet. My self-interest<br />

simply means staring out of my windows and<br />

seeing my magnificent maple tree or watching<br />

birds at the feeders and then being interested in<br />

keeping alive what gives me pleasure. Growing my<br />

herbs made me aware of pesticides. Getting a dog<br />

made me think about the possible link between<br />

dog cancers and chemicals to beautify the lawns.<br />

This led me to join a local nature group on<br />

Facebook where I learned so much about the<br />

importance of native plants and our wild animals.<br />

Yeah for opossums who eat ticks! I also learned to<br />

question why we spend so much time and money<br />

to bag fall leaves when we could leave them in a<br />

“wild section” and they would provide water and<br />

nutrients back into the soil as well as sheltering<br />

beneficial insects. I believe we are all naturalists.<br />

Environmental work for FAWCO<br />

With my dog<br />

My local community woke me up to<br />

environmental concerns and my work at FAWCO<br />

on the Environment Team and the SDG Awareness<br />

Team is 1) to learn more and 2) not so much<br />

educate, but make connections with members.<br />


For example, #FAWCOtrees is an initiative to<br />

connect our members to the simple pleasure of<br />

trees from all over the globe. Once the connection<br />

is made, I hope the curiosity will take care of the<br />

rest, whether that is a deeper interest in nature or<br />

planting trees or eating less meat or donating to a<br />

charity. I write articles about plastic pollution with<br />

the hope that they will inspire readers to be more<br />

interested in the choices they have to make the<br />

world better.<br />

The biggest challenge in advocating for the<br />

environment is making it relatable, not<br />

overwhelming and depressing. How can I get<br />

readers to be interested in something that they do<br />

not see in their daily lives? The Great Pacific<br />

Garbage Patch is a massive island of nonbiodegradable<br />

plastic trash about three times the<br />

size of France. It is strangling marine life and<br />

breaking down into micro-plastic that's ending up<br />

in our food sources. And yet it is often the case<br />

that out of sight is out of mind. The problem also<br />

seems insurmountable; what can we possibly do<br />

about it? My last article for FAWCO is my attempt<br />

at reducing the big issue down to something that<br />

we can all do at home while taking the pressure<br />

off to do it perfectly. Just start!<br />

I think my biggest successful event was actually<br />

the SDG Social Hour event in September 2021<br />

produced by the SDG Awareness Team. We<br />

showcased three women who work towards the<br />

Sustainable Goals while also tackling the waste<br />

problem. Seeing real women speaking about their<br />

passion was relatable and inspirational.<br />

At CSW63, in New York<br />

Plastic waste<br />

As you can now guess, the biggest environmental<br />

concern for me is the plastic waste problem.<br />

What’s even more infuriating is that I live in the<br />

country that produces the most plastic waste in<br />

the world, the USA.<br />

The pandemic has only exacerbated the problem<br />

with disposable masks, hospital gowns and<br />

respirator parts thrown out by the millions on a<br />

daily basis. None of them recyclable. Even<br />

supposedly recyclable products like take-away<br />

With my family<br />

coffee cups are only recycled 0.25% of the time in<br />

the UK, because few recycling plants are equipped<br />

to separate the plastic coating from the paper.<br />

However, I think one of the upsides of the<br />

pandemic was that it made us pause. Not only did<br />

we stop to read up on social justice issues, but we<br />

took walks and reconnected with nature. We said<br />

to ourselves, we didn’t have to continue the way<br />

we were.<br />

Enormous as the plastic problem is, this is one<br />

area where the average consumer can make a<br />

difference by starting at home. Make your own<br />

coffee. Bring your own mugs if possible. Refuse<br />

plastic! Each of us refusing plastic together will<br />

amount to millions of people refusing the easy<br />

and wasteful way. Only then will we be calling the<br />

shots and not the manufacturers.<br />

One point I made in my article Refusing Plastic is<br />

that we have to circle back to our parents’<br />

generation. My parents may not have had the<br />

time to learn about the environmental impact of<br />

easy consumption, but they were frugal and didn’t<br />

succumb to take-outs or fast fashion. They never<br />

wasted food. Once, my mother opened my<br />

cupboard and saw my stack of take-out<br />

containers. To me, the stack represented my guilt<br />

if I just threw it out, while my mother saw it as my<br />

eating out too much. But actually both views are<br />

about the same thing, just seen at different<br />

angles. If I had eaten out less then I wouldn’t have<br />

had that stack. Theirs was the original generation<br />

of repurpose and reuse. I remember my mother<br />

reusing baby food jars to put her homemade<br />

yogurts in.<br />

Fun fact about me<br />

Not many people know that I am a descendent of<br />

the last royal dynasty of Vietnam, the Nguyen<br />

dynasty. My father’s mother had the title of<br />

“princess” even though we are quite far removed<br />

from the last Nguyen Emperor, Bảo Đại, who<br />

abdicated in 1945.<br />

It’s not exactly something that is relevant to my<br />

everyday life. I first discovered this connection<br />

when I got married and was given a translated<br />

copy of my grandmother’s poem on how to be a<br />

good wife.<br />


Persistence<br />

Builds a<br />

Composting<br />

Business in<br />

Morocco<br />

Rajea Benkirane Alami, member<br />

of AIWC Casablanca, believes<br />

ecologically friendly compost is<br />

the way to go.<br />

I was born in Fez, Morocco and have lived in this<br />

country my whole life. I am married and have<br />

one daughter.<br />

My professional and business career has had its<br />

ups and downs. I started my first ecologicallyoriented<br />

business, Sotrafum, in 1991; its focus<br />

was on the treatment of organic residues.<br />

Soil in Morocco<br />


Morocco is an agricultural country, and its soil has<br />

been depleted by the overuse of chemical<br />

fertilizers. So a return to the traditional use of<br />

manure and compost protects its ecosystem and<br />

makes the country’s agriculture more resilient.<br />

Composting reduces pathogenic waste in the soil<br />

and prevents manure slurry from leaching into<br />

the water table. It produces ecologically friendly<br />

compost which restructures the soil chemically<br />

and biologically. Compost also traps CO², in the<br />

soil itself.<br />

Unfortunately, this first venture failed in 1993.<br />

Even though the equipment had been bought<br />

from a company in Sweden, a leading country in<br />

environmental protection, this sophisticated<br />

technology did not suit conditions in Morocco.<br />

In that same year, fate stepped in. With a handful<br />

of other women, I started the association Espod,<br />

with the aim of providing training for young<br />

women in difficult circumstances to learn incomegenerating<br />

trades.<br />

When Espod attended a seminar held by the<br />

Canadian International Development Agency<br />

(ACDI) that year, I spoke about the failure of<br />

Sotrafum. I told the agency the reasons why my<br />

idea of treating manure in Morocco would help<br />

rebuild the soil depleted by chemical fertilizers.<br />

The big question was how to gain the know-how<br />

to do this successfully so that everyone could use<br />

compost in the soil.<br />

I wanted to invest in environmental protection<br />

and the farming sector. Fortunately they decided<br />

that I was an ideal candidate for training in this<br />

field, and my application was accepted.<br />

The training program in composting technology<br />

and business management lasted from 1993 to<br />

1998. It was hard, but I stayed the course and<br />

learned a trade that I previously knew little about.<br />

I learned how to manage a business and develop<br />

the tools needed to win large market shares in a<br />

traditionally male-dominated sector.<br />

Starting again<br />

Rajae Benkirane Alami<br />

Firmly believing in my idea, in 1996, I formed my<br />

second company, Ecologie-Fertilisation or<br />

Ecofertil, with the help of the Canadian backer.<br />

With King Mohamed VI in 2006<br />


The hardest thing to do was to start again from<br />

scratch, launch a new production unit and forget<br />

the first failure. With my husband Azzedine 100%<br />

behind me, I looked for a plot of land suitable for<br />

building a platform for the composting equipment<br />

we needed.<br />

The Canadian composting equipment we had<br />

before did not suit the rocky soil or the hot<br />

climate. Azzedine, who had experience as general<br />

manager of a truck assembly company, had the<br />

excellent idea of building a workshop to make all<br />

the composting equipment on-site in Morocco.<br />

Once the various administrative formalities for the<br />

company were all completed, the banks had to be<br />

convinced to back the venture again. So I had to<br />

provide a detailed, well-prepared business plan<br />

for the new company.<br />

While waiting for the bank to agree to the loan, I<br />

managed to persuade a major distributor to try<br />

the compost on their farms. Luckily, the results of<br />

the composting were carefully monitored on the<br />

different crops. The results were excellent, and a<br />

distribution partnership was signed. Not only that,<br />

the distributor agreed to pay for the orders in<br />

advance while Ecofertil waited for the bank loan to<br />

come through!<br />

With my daughter, Mouna<br />

In 2014, after two years of negotiations, the<br />

company was finally able to sign a 17-year lease<br />

for agricultural land to expand the company.<br />

I’ve recently decided to hand over the reins of the<br />

company to my daughter Mouna, who is as<br />

passionate about the environment as I am.<br />

Ecofertil is going strong today and making a<br />

valuable contribution to Morocco’s green future.<br />

I am a member of a number of women’s and<br />

environmental associations, including ESPOD (to<br />

help train young women entrepreneurs), AFAK<br />

(Moroccan association for good citizenship and<br />

development) and T&H (an agro-ecological<br />

association).<br />

In 2010, I became a founding member of the<br />

FIMABIO (Moroccan organic production<br />

federation). Within these associations, I have<br />

taken part in events in Morocco and abroad and<br />

also with organizations such as USAID and the<br />

Canadian International Development Agency.<br />

Publicity for Ecofertil Morocco<br />

It was a long, hard journey for me to demonstrate<br />

our abilities and to get everybody on board in the<br />

creation of this new company.<br />

The media started to show an interest in compost,<br />

and I took part in lots of workshops, round tables,<br />

interviews and entrepreneurial competitions, both<br />

nationally and internationally.<br />

I had a stand at all the regional fairs in Morocco to<br />

promote the company and increase its market<br />

share. At the first Meknes agricultural show in<br />

2006, the Ecofertil stand was visited by HM King<br />

Mohamed VI, who took an interest in the compost<br />

and asked for the catalog. You can imagine how<br />

proud I felt!<br />

Ecofertil was finally creating its place on the<br />

market, and I was even nominated for the 2M<br />

Maroc TV channel’s Khemissa trophy.<br />

Recently I have been supporting AIWC<br />

Casablanca’s pilot project to plant trees in the<br />

urban community. AIWCC’s first tree-planting<br />

action was in an orphanage and at the<br />

headquarters of an association for visually<br />

impaired young people. I helped source all the<br />

trees free of charge from a local chain of<br />

nurseries. I think that planting trees in places like<br />

orphanages, associations for children and schools<br />

not only helps the environment but also raises<br />

young people’s awareness of the importance of<br />

trees, water and the natural environment.<br />

Planting trees with AIWCC<br />



<strong>Inspiring</strong> Reads:<br />

Exiled South<br />

FAUSA member, Harriet Cannon, is a writer<br />

with roots in South Carolina. As a<br />

psychotherapist, she served as a consultant to<br />

The Boeing Company, International Schools<br />

and worked for the US State Department in<br />

Chile. Harriet is co-author of Mixed Blessings: A<br />

Guide to Multicultural and Multiethnic<br />

Relationships. Exiled South is her debut novel.<br />

Harriet and her husband now live on the<br />

Olympic Peninsula in Washington and have<br />

two grown children.<br />

For our inaugural <strong>Inspiring</strong> Reads feature, the<br />

<strong>Inspiring</strong> <strong>Women</strong> team interviewed Harriet about<br />

her new book Exiled South.<br />

What was your inspiration for the book? I have<br />

Southern roots and grew up listening to my<br />

elders’ tall tales about the Revolutionary War hero<br />

Francis Marion, “the swamp fox”, and ancestor<br />

blockade runners during the Civil War. While living<br />

in Chile I stumbled on the story of The<br />

Confederados, a colony of Southerners who<br />

immigrated to Brazil after losing their citizenship<br />

and land in 1865. The seeds of my novel, Exiled<br />

South, were planted.<br />

How long did it take you to write the book? I<br />

began serious research 10 years ago on the<br />

Confederados out of curiosity. I started writing the<br />

dual time, contemporary and nineteenth century<br />

novel about five years ago.<br />

What kind of research do you do, and how long<br />

do you spend researching before beginning a<br />

book? I believe novelist Elizabeth George gives<br />

the best advice. If you want your novel to play to a<br />

sophisticated audience, go to the location where it<br />

takes place and spend quality time there, not just<br />

a day or a week. Consult maps, talk to the elders,<br />

and gather stories.<br />

For Exiled South, the locations I used are all places<br />

where I have spent weeks, months and in some<br />

cases years. The contemporary character<br />

development wasn’t as challenging as the<br />

nineteenth century characters, who took research<br />

and work getting into the heads of those who<br />

lived mid nineteenth century.<br />

Research for my nineteenth century protagonist, a<br />

nurse and herbalist, really drew me in. I found the<br />

most fascinating articles and books about<br />

medicine of the era and the philosophy around<br />

healing arts. For my blockade runner protagonist<br />

in the Civil War era, maps of the era, interviews<br />

with historians, a naval architect husband, and a<br />

couple of trips to Scotland, one of which was in<br />

2018 when I was well into writing the novel.<br />

What is the most important thing you want<br />

readers to take from your book? That we are all<br />

connected in ways we least expect.<br />

When did you start writing? I am dyslexic and<br />

didn’t read for pleasure until I was in my teens.<br />

The Fonz, Henry Winkler from the TV show, Happy<br />

Days, is my hero for outing his learning disability<br />

and writing children’s books about it. I have ways<br />

of compensating. I always have someone<br />

proofread my work before it goes out and I spent<br />

30 years writing professionally as a<br />

psychotherapist. I started writing fiction, short<br />

stories, essays, about 10 years ago.<br />

What’s your favorite under-appreciated novel?<br />

Maybe Varina by Charles Frazier or Hieroglyphics<br />

by Jill McCorkle.<br />

What is your favorite childhood book? My<br />

mother had a wonderful voice and used to read to<br />

my brothers and me from Kipling. I especially<br />

loved The Jungle Book. As I said before, I didn’t<br />

read for pleasure as a child. I have horrible<br />

memories of being called lazy (my teachers could<br />

tell I wasn’t mentally challenged) and being in the<br />

“slow” reading groups in grade school.<br />

Fortunately, like most dyslexic people of my<br />

generation, you find tricks to compensate and the<br />

reading gets easier.<br />

What are you reading now? I always read two or<br />

three books at the same time. I know, kinda<br />

crazy. The Mermaid Chair, Sue Monk Kidd, A Land<br />


More Kind than Home, Wiley Cash, Death at a<br />

Séance, Carolyn Wilkins.<br />

Give us a short summary of the book: Lizbeth<br />

Gordon, a school counselor and master of<br />

facilitating conflict in everyone’s life but her own,<br />

returns home to South Carolina after her<br />

husband’s sudden death. She seeks solace<br />

walking the winter beach, but peace eludes her.<br />

An elderly aunt has half told family stories about<br />

ancestors: a civil war blockade runner hunted<br />

as a traitor after the Civil War, his sister and her<br />

mixed-race daughter.<br />

Tentacles of the past reach across the continents<br />

when Lizbeth takes a job in Rio de Janeiro and<br />

meets multiethnic descendants of exiled<br />

confederates with her surname. Lizbeth becomes<br />

determined to fully discover – and to ultimately<br />

come to terms with – her ancestral history.<br />

Can the keys she finds to generations-long secrets<br />

open a path to reconciliation and healing?<br />

“Exiled South gives readers just what they want<br />

from a historical, yet superbly contemporary,<br />

novel: stay-up-until-the-sun-comes-up reading.” –<br />

Mary Lou Sanelli, Author of Every Little Thing<br />

“Exiled South rips the cover off traditional<br />

Southern sagas and takes you on a riveting<br />

international journey exploring the hidden trauma<br />

and deep wounds of three generations of<br />

one family following the Civil War.” Eleanor<br />

McCallie Cooper, Author of Dragonfly Dreams and<br />

Grace in China.<br />

Books presented in the <strong>Inspiring</strong> Reads feature are available for purchase via the<br />

FAWCO website in the Books by Members or Books by Clubs sections. Enjoy!<br />

<strong>Inspiring</strong> Reads is a new feature for <strong>2022</strong><br />

where the <strong>Inspiring</strong> <strong>Women</strong> Team<br />

interviews an author about their book. If<br />

you have any FAWCO member books/<br />

authors you would like to recommend,<br />

please get in touch with Michele<br />

Hendrikse Du Bois at<br />

inspiringwomenfeatures@fawco.org<br />




Founded in 1931, FAWCO is a global women’s NGO (non-governmental organization), an<br />

international network of independent volunteer clubs and associations comprising 58<br />

member clubs in 31 countries on six continents. FAWCO serves as a resource and a voice for<br />

its members; seeks to improve the lives of women and girls worldwide, especially in the areas<br />

of human rights, health, education and the environment; advocates for the rights of US<br />

citizens overseas; and contributes to the global community through its Global Issues Teams<br />

and The FAWCO Foundation, which provides development grants and education awards.<br />

Since 1997, FAWCO has held special consultative status with the UN Economic and Social<br />

Council.<br />


FAWCO is an international federation of independent organizations whose mission is:<br />

• to build strong support networks for its American and international membership;<br />

• to improve the lives of women and girls worldwide;<br />

• to advocate for the rights of US citizens overseas; and<br />

• to mobilize the skills of its membership in support of global initiatives for<br />

education, the environment, health and human rights.<br />


We want this magazine to be interesting for all FAWCO members. In an effort to provide articles<br />

of interest to all of our readers, we have created an online feedback questionnaire. It<br />

should only take a few minutes of your time to complete and will be a great help to us!<br />

Please click on the link or paste it into your browser<br />

to complete our short five question survey.<br />

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THANK YOU!<br />


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adverts are not endorsed by FAWCO.<br />

Copyright <strong>2022</strong> FAWCO<br />

<strong>Inspiring</strong> <strong>Women</strong>© Magazine is owned and published electronically by FAWCO.<br />

All rights reserved. All bylined articles are copyright of their respective authors as indicated herein and are<br />

reproduced with their permission. The magazine or portions of it may not be reproduced in any form, stored in<br />

any retrieval system or transmitted in any form by any means – electronic, mechanical, photocopy or otherwise –<br />

without written consent of the publisher.<br />



The <strong>Inspiring</strong> <strong>Women</strong> Team<br />

Liz Elsie Karen Berit Michele Haley<br />

For more information about this magazine, please contact a member of the <strong>Inspiring</strong><br />

<strong>Women</strong> team:<br />

Editor in Chief, Liz MacNiven, inspiringwomen.editor@fawco.org<br />

Advertising and Sponsorship Manager, Elsie Bose, advertising@fawco.org<br />

Distribution Manager, Karen Boeker, iwdistribution@fawco.org<br />

Social Media Manager, Berit Torkildsen, iwsocialmedia@fawco.org<br />

Features Coordinator, Michele Hendrikse Du Bois, inspiringwomenfeatures@fawco.org<br />

Profiles Coordinator, Haley Green, inspiringwomenprofiles@fawco.org<br />

Acknowledgements:<br />

Thanks to our profilees: Alexandra, Ayuska, Maria M, Maria S, Mary, Nadine, Rajea and Stacey,<br />

with thanks also for the use of their photos and those of their friends and families. Additional<br />

thanks to Amanda, Carol H, Carol S, Deidre, Harriet, Mary, Sharon, Suzana and Ulrike for their<br />

work on the articles.<br />

The cover photo is of Masha Sumina on a visit to Cypress, Texas. Masha was born in Russia,<br />

and for the past 11 years has been volunteering at her daughter’s international school in<br />

Moscow as a leader of the Environmental Sustainability Committee, developing it from a<br />

small-scale recycling initiative to an all-encompassing community-wide program supported<br />

by the school's official policy. On their trips to other countries, one of the first things for the<br />

family is figuring out the local recycling system. Here Masha is dropping off recycling at the<br />

Cypress recycling center, a first-time visit for her local hosts as well.<br />

Special thanks to the proofreading team of Karen Boeker (AWC Denmark), Sallie Chaballier<br />

(AAWE Paris), Mary Dobrian (AIWC Cologne), Tamar Hudson (AIWC Cologne), Carol-Lyn<br />

McKelvey (AIWC Cologne/FAUSA), Lauren Mescon (AWC Amsterdam), Mary Stewart Burgher<br />

(AWC Denmark), and Jenny Taylor (AIWC Cologne and Düsseldorf).<br />

Please note: images used in this publication are either sourced from the authors themselves or<br />

through canva.com.<br />


Coming in May<br />

<strong>2022</strong><br />

<strong>Women</strong> and Gardening:<br />

”Mothers of Nature”<br />

The <strong>Inspiring</strong> <strong>Women</strong> team thought that the perfect<br />

follow-up to the environment issue was an issue about gardening. We think it will be fun, informative<br />

and get us all thinking about the glorious things we can do with seeds and soil to improve the planet.<br />

If you moved from your country to an international assignment, have you been able to continue to<br />

garden in your host country? What are the differences? What have you learned that you can take<br />

back with you?<br />

Are flowers your thing? Do you prefer wild and random flowers and plants or Versailles precision<br />

gardens? We are also interested in those who make their livelihoods from plants - landscape artists,<br />

florists, flower arrangers.<br />

Or are vegetable gardens your passion? We would love to profile farmers, food growers or<br />

agricultural engineers. Tell us about your farm to market experiences, your canning and preserving<br />

acumen or how what you are growing is making an impact.<br />

This theme is a “big tent”. We always look forward to getting nominations or ideas for features that on<br />

the surface don’t seem to align with the theme, but upon further review they are a perfect fit!<br />

This is a great opportunity for members to share gardens in the cities where they live. From Norway to<br />

Nigeria, we want our readers to experience the natural beauty across the FAWCO World. Whether<br />

profiles, features, or photos, we look forward to sowing the seeds for our May Issue.<br />

To nominate candidates for profiles, please send<br />

the candidate’s name, candidate’s email address and a<br />

brief description (50-100 words) of why you think they<br />

are inspiring and fit the theme for the issue. Send the<br />

information to Haley at<br />

inspiringwomenprofiles@fawco.org<br />

FEATURES: To complement the profiles, we are<br />

looking for women to write feature articles around the<br />

theme of gardening. Once again, this is a broad theme;<br />

let us know what you would like to write about. Our<br />

features are 700-800 words plus photos.<br />

To contribute an article or feature that you think fits<br />

with our theme, contact Michele at<br />

inspiringwomenfeatures@fawco.org<br />

Photographs are integral to our magazine. We end each issue with a page of a photograph that<br />

offers a unique perspective on its theme. The photo can be<br />

provocative, amusing, entertaining and/or artistic. The photo should<br />

lend itself to a portrait orientation and able to fit an A4 page. To<br />

submit a photo that you think says “That’s Inspired!” for this issue<br />

please contact inspiringwomen.editor@fawco.org<br />

56<br />




That’s Inspired!<br />

The pace of international conferences can take their toll on anybody!<br />

Riva Dagmar Henderson Drollinger recently participated in COP26 in Glasgow along with her<br />

Mom Amanda Drollinger (AWC Central Scotland), co-chair of the FAWCO Environment<br />

Team. While waiting for her next meeting, Riva takes a well-deserved time out. Ever the<br />

FAWCO supporter, she is reading What is a Perfect World?, a children’s book by Nancy Lynner<br />

(AWC Central Scotland), illustrated by Tharien van Eck (AWC Antwerp), designed by Joyce<br />

Halsan (AWC Central Scotland) and produced by Amanda Drollinger (Mom). The book is<br />

available for sale via the FAWCO website. Net proceeds go to the Target Program.<br />


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