Last Summer I was invited to a wedding in Apulia. Apulia is the region which forms the heel of the Italian peninsula. It has amazing coastline, beautiful hills and stunning villages and cities without even mentioning the variety of food and how good it is. This visit was for me the first time.
Apulia, apart from being famous for its breathtaking landscape, is also renowned for its trulli. Trulli are cone shaped dwellings which dot the Itria Valley. The trullo (singular) is a structure whose internal space is covered by a dry stone vault. Most of the time these buildings were constructed for rural purposes and they used to be built as temporary shelters or, as permanent dwellings for small landowners or rural workers. There is also evidence that Trulli were already popular in Prehistoric time and they may have been used to bury deceased.
The oldest Trulli which can be found today are from the 16th century. Again, it is not clear why these buildings became so popular. One theory says that it could have been because of heavy tax laws in the 17th century. In fact, any permanent structure incurred a significant levy. Therefore, being able to topple the trulli with the removal of a single keystone when tax inspectors were in the area came very handy.
Apart from the very interesting history this dwelling has had it is an iconic element of the Apulian landscape. Everybody in Italy knows about trulli but nothing prepares you for their magnificence. I was already super excited when spotting them around in the countryside but arriving to Alberobello leaves you speechless. It’s a blaze, an outburst, and an apotheosis of Trulli. That is why Alberobello’s Trulli, in 1996, were declared UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Recently, Trulli have been very popular. While a few decades ago they were left in ruins, now they are restored into beautiful dwellings. Many of them remain parts of private houses, farms and estates but many have become restaurants, hotels, shops, etc. so that tourists can enjoy both their view and experience them. Therefore, if you ask me, I would suggest staying overnight in one of these buildings. Although it is touristy in Alborebello, it is also amazingly beautiful and it is really astonishing meandering and wandering through the little streets among 1000 trulli. But you can still experience the quiet Italian way of sitting outside your trullo talking to people next door while inviting the tourist inside a shop, restaurant, and/or bar. For the tourist it also remains an opportunity to see how these buildings are structured inside.
The French giants in Leeuwarden, European Capital of Culture
by NYLESA member Stef Stevens
This summer I had the pleasure to travel to the Northern Province of Holland, Friesland; where I witnessed an incredible 3-day theatre spectacle by the Giants of Royal-de-Luxe. The story revolved around a ‘little’ girl and her dog wandering the city of Leeuwarden in search for their father the diver, a 11-meter-high giant, who assisted the locals with strengthening their dikes and is now searching for a lost ice-skate in one of Leeuwarden’s canals. The sight of the magnificently manually animated giants is mesmerizing.
The three giants have a classic and romantic wooden doll appearance and their life-like movements make it an incredible spectacle.
Royal-de-Luxe is an iconic French street theatre company and their giants make their appearance on big events throughout the world (from Montreal to Perth). I can totally recommend this to everyone and suggest to be on the lookout for a performance near you, as it is a unique phenomenon for all ages.
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Author: NYLESA member Stef Stevens
As we are celebrating the day of the sustainable gastronomy on the 18th of June, I wanted to talk about our own source of sustainable gastronomy: the Park Slope Food Coop (PSFC).
Founded in 1973 in Park Slope, Brooklyn in a time that young families slowly moved into this previously drug-gang dominated area. These families found that there were very few stores around and finding fresh and healthy food was a big challenge… they sat together with a number of starting farmers and founded the PSFC. Over the years the PSFC grew to be the largest Co-op of the US and with approximately 17,000 members and sales of more than a million USD per week it has become an institution which serves as a model of a successful community owned alternative to commercial profit-oriented business around the world.
In order to buy at this Co-op one needs to become a member (and owner) by investing 100 USD and working at the Co-op 3 hours every 4 weeks. In return for this you can buy carefully selected products (over 15,000) often freshly delivered daily, locally sourced and organic for excellent prices.
We have been a co-op member for almost 4 years and totally love it. As we feel that in the US making profit is often a stronger motivation than the health of the consumer it is great to have such a selective place available selling only the best products available on the market. You will not find coca cola, bio-industry meat and products coming from unsustainable or unethical trade, with a few exceptions like SodaStream a highly debated product in the co-op (due to its link to the by Israel occupied territories).
The member population is a very interesting mix of people: price conscious individuals, alternative, strict religious groups, very principle people, artists, actors, parents who want to provide their families with the best food etc. etc. including Europeans living in New York as they all love this small island of “socialism” in the middle of one of the most affluent areas of New York City.
We feel privileged to be a member of this community and to have access to these incredible products. My monthly work (shift) at the co-op is fun…. while doing my job I get to talk to many “veteran” members which tell me great stories about the history of the Co-op, New York City and provide me with great recipes to prepare fantastic gastronomic meals.
The Women’s International Forum in collaboration with the Permanent Mission of the Slovak Republic to the United Nations present a talk entitled “From Marginalized Women to Entrepreneurs: The Story of the Women of Eldoret Slum, Kenya” with Martina Bencová Utešená and Mária Mühl.
All NYLESA members are invited to join the event, on Wednesday, November 15 from 1:15pm to 2:30pm at CR7 - UN Headquarters.
Short bios of the speakers are below:
Martina Bencová Utešená is a journalist, educator and the President of the civic Association Two Colour World, which she founded in 2006. For five years, Bencová has been managing a project in Kenya, whose goal is to help children through their mothers. From illiterate and poor women, she creates entrepreneurs. They now can send their kids to school, provide food and even pay for health insurance. As a professor of health care and social work at the University of St. Elizabeth, she gives lectures on global development education and trains Slovak volunteers and doctors to work in developing countries. Bencová also studied acting and film. She has produced three documentary movies concerning humanitarian aid.
Mária Mühl is a photo-journalist with twelve years of experience. She studied documentary photography and has a Master´s degree in Mass Media Communication. Mühl covered the latest news, political, social events, and foreign affairs in one of the most renowned magazine in Slovakia. Her images provide insight into the lives of people from all over the world. Mühl and Bencová have worked together in Kenya. Since 2011 she has been working on her own projects as an independent photographer. The primary focus of her work is the region of Asia, where she lived and studied for two years. Her documentary stories from developing countries are full of children's laughter and pride. Mühl will be opening a photo exhibition in the United Nations Headquarters, on Monday, November 13, 2017.
No fee is requested for NYLESA members. Please bring your ground pass to be identified.
Please confirm your attendance by Sunday, November 12th with an email at firstname.lastname@example.org