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It’s true. And that’s the least of it. Click the video below to see more about trees and some people who love to plant them. This one gave me goosebumps. I want to be Wangari Maathai when I grow up. -RB
About Wangari Maathai
Wangari Muta Maathai was born in Nyeri, Kenya (Africa) in 1940. The first woman in East and Central Africa to earn a doctorate degree, Professor Maathai obtained a degree in Biological Sciences from Mount St. Scholastica College in Atchison, Kansas (1964). She subsequently earned a Master of Science degree from the University of Pittsburgh (1966). Professor Maathai pursued doctoral studies in Germany and the University of Nairobi, obtaining a Ph.D. (1971) from the University of Nairobi where she also taught veterinary anatomy. She became chair of the Department of Veterinary Anatomy and an associate professor in 1976 and 1977 respectively. In both cases, she was the first woman to attain those positions in the region.
Professor Maathai was active in the National Council of Women of Kenya in 1976-87 and was its chairman from 1981-87. In 1976, while she was serving the National Council of Women, Professor Maathai introduced the idea of community-based tree planting. She continued to develop this idea into a broad-based grassroots organization whose main focus is poverty reduction and environmental conservation through tree planting. With the organization which became known as the Green Belt Movement Professor Maathai has assisted women in planting more than 40 million trees on community lands including farms, schools and church compounds.
In 1986 the Green Belt Movement (GBM) established a Pan African Green Belt Network that has exposed many leaders of other African countries to its unique approach. Some of these individuals have established similar tree planting initiatives in their own countries using the methods taught to improve their efforts. Countries that have successfully launched such initiatives in Africa include Tanzania, Uganda, Malawi, Lesotho, Ethiopia, Zimbabwe and others.
In September 1998, Professor Maathai became co-chair of the Jubilee 2000 Africa Campaign, which seeks debt cancellation for African countries. Her campaign against land grabbing and rapacious allocation of forest lands has gained international attention in recent years.
Professor Maathai is internationally recognized for her persistent struggle for democracy, human rights and environmental conservation. She has addressed the UN on several occasions and spoke on behalf of women at special sessions of the General Assembly during the five-year review of the Earth Summit. She served on the commission for Global Governance and the Commission on the Future. She and the Green Belt Movement have received numerous awards, most notably the 2004 Nobel Peace Prize.
Other awards include the Disney Conservation Award (2006), the Paul Harris Fellow (2005), the Sophie Prize (2004), the Petra Kelly Prize for Environment (2004), the Conservation Scientist Award (2004), J. Sterling Morton Award (2004), WANGO Environment Award (2003), Outstanding Vision and Commitment Award (2002), Excellence Award from the Kenyan Community Abroad (2001), Golden Ark Award (1994), Juliet Hollister Award (2001), Jane Adams Leadership Award (1993), Edinburgh Medal (1993), UN’s Africa Prize for Leadership (1991), Goldman Environmental prize (1991), the Woman of the World (1989), Windstar Award for the Environment (1988), Better World Society Award (1986), Right Livelihood Award (1984) and the Woman of the Year Award (1983).
Professor Maathai was listed 6th in the Environment Agency (UK) peer review of the world’s Top 100 Eco-Heroes. She was also included in UNEP’s Global 500 Hall of Fame and named one of the 100 heroines of the world. In June 1997, Professor Maathai was elected by Earth Times as one of 100 persons in the World who have made a difference in the environmental arena. In 2005, Professor Maathai was honored by Time Magazine as one of 100 most influential people in the world, and by Forbes Magazine as one of 100 most powerful women in the world.
Professor Maathai has also received honorary doctoral degrees from several institutions around the world: Williams college (1990), Hobart & William Smith Colleges (1994), University of Norway (1997), Yale University (2004), Willamette College (2005), University of California at Irvine (2006), and Morehouse University (2006).
The Green Belt Movement and Professor Maathai are featured in several publications including: Speak Truth to Power (Kerry Kennedy Cuomo, 2000), Women Pioneers for the Environment (Mary Joy Breton, 1998), Hopes Edge: The Next Diet for a Small Planet (Frances Moore Lappe and Anna Lappe, 2002), Una Sola Terra: Donna I Medi Ambient Despres de Rio (Brice Lalonde et al, 1998), Land Ist Leben (Bedrohte Volker, 1993. Dr. Maathai has also written two books of her own: an autobiography, Unbowed, and an explanation of her organizational method, The Green Belt Movement: Sharing the Approach and the Experience.
Professor Maathai serves on the boards of organisations including the UN Secretary Generals Advisory Board on Disarmament, the Jane Goodall Institute, Women and Environment Development Organization (WEDO), World Learning for International Development, Green Cross International, Environment Liaison Centre International, the Worldwide Network of Women in Environmental Work, the Global Crop Diversity Trust, Prince Albert II of Monaco Environmental Foundation, and the National Council of Women of Kenya.
In December 2002, Professor Maathai was elected to Kenya’s parliament with an overwhelming 98 percent of the vote. Until 2007, she represented the Tetu constituency, Nyeri district in central Kenya (her home region). From 2003- 2007 Professor Maathai served as Assistant Minister for Environment and Natural Resources in Kenya’s ninth parliament.
In 2005 Professor Maathai was elected the Presiding Officer of the Economic, Social and Cultural Council (ECOSOCC) of the African Union based in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. ECOSOCC was formed to advise the African Union on issues related to the African civil society. Dr. Maathai was also honored with an appointment as Goodwill Ambassador to the Congo Basin Forest Ecosystem, where she serves in an advocacy role for the region’s conservation and protection.
In April 2006, the President of France, Mr. Jacques Chirac honoured Professor Maathai with France’s highest honour, Legion d’Honneur. The decoration ceremony took place in Paris in April 2006 and was presided over by Minister of Ecology and Sustainable Development, Madam Nelly Olin. Also in 2006, Professor Maathai founded the Nobel Women’s Initiative with her sister Nobel Peace Laureates Jody Williams, Shirin Ebadi, Rigoberta Menchú Tum, Betty Williams and Mairead Corrigan. In 2007 Professor Maathai was invited to be co-chair of the Congo Basin Fund initiated by the UK government to help protect the Congo Forests.
2008, Royal Institute of British Acrchitects, Honorary Fellowship (2007)
Nelson Mandela Award for Health and Human Rights (2007)
Jawarhalal Nehru Award (2007)
World Citizenship Award (2006)
The Disney Conservation Fund Award (2006)
Paul Harris Fellowship (2005)
The Sophie Prize (2004)
The Petra Kelly Prize (2004)
The Conservation Scientist Award (2004)
The J. Sterling Morton Award (2004)
The WANGO Environment Award (2003)
Outstanding Vision and Commitment Award (2002)
The Excellence Award from the Kenyan Community Abroad (2001)
The Juliet Hollister Award (2001)
The Golden Ark Award (1994)
The Jane Addams Leadership Award (1993)
The Edinburgh Medal (1993)
The Hunger Project’s Africa Prize for Leadership (1991)
The Goldman Environmental Prize (1991)
Women of the World Award (1989)
The Windstar Award for the Environment (1988)
The Better World Society Award (1986)
The Right Livelihood Award (1984)
The Woman of the Year Award (1983)
“There is a vitality, a life force, a quickening
that is translated through you into action,
and because there is only one of you in all time,
this expression is unique.
If you block it,
it will never exist through any other medium
and be lost.
The world will not have it.
It is not yours to determine how good it is;
nor how it compares with other expressions.
It is your business to keep the channel open.
You do not even have to believe in yourself or your work.
You have to keep open and aware directly
to the urges that motivate you.
Keep the channel open.
No artist is ever pleased.
There is no satisfaction whatever at any time.
There is only a queer divine dissatisfaction;
a blessed unrest that keeps us marching
and makes us more alive than the others.”
–Martha Graham to Agnes De Mille
“Everyone should be able to build, and as long as this freedom to build does not exist, the present-day planned architecture cannot be considered art at all. We must at last put a stop to having people move into their quarters like chickens and rabbits into their coops.”
-Freidensreich Hundertwasser, from Mouldiness Manifesto against Rationalism in Architecture
Hundertwasser was born in Vienna in 1928 as Friedrich Stowasser. Around 1949 he exchanged the Czech “Sto-” (which translates to ‘hundred’) in his surname for the German “Hundert-” (which also translates to ‘hundred’). At this same time, he went from “Friedrich” to “Friedensreich” – effectively becoming “Peace-Kingdom Hundred-Water.” He initially gained acclaim for his paintings, but is currently more renowned for his unique architectural stylings. His revolutionary ecological stands with regard to architecture have earned him the nickname “Architecture-Healer.” His works have been used for flags and stamps, coins and posters, schools and churches.
Hundertwasser so believed in the negative influence of “straight line” architecture on one’s health, that he encouraged people to refuse to enter into buildings that were based on the ninety degree angle / grid paradigm. He told people that if they were supposed to meet somebody in one of those straight buildings, they should call from a phone outside and ask the person to meet them under a tree, or in a Baroque pavilion. He said “I will carry a kilogramme of plaster of paris around with me. If I receive an invitation to go somewhere, i will have a look at the building first. If it is a smooth one in which people are confined who are not allowed to do anything, who can do nothing, want to do nothing, I will insist on putting a nice lump of plaster of paris on the wall with my own hands. If I am not permitted to do this I won’t go in.”
Hundertwasser was a big fan of decay, deterioration, rust, vandalism, graffiti – anything that would encroach upon the tyranny of the rigid, measured and sterile world, undermining its fascist authority and returning objects to a state more harmonious with nature. He yearned for bright colors, twisting and irregular lines that reflected man’s meandering path through his day, the unstructured debris of life careening towards entropy. –Ciphe
Hundertwasser Manifestos and Texts
…Hundertwasser’s thoughts are a philosophy of the aesthetic, the life and art in harmony with nature. Mostly the texts were devised and written for special occasions or individual concerns. The publications appeared singular and texts were distributed differently. Hundertwasser saw himself not as a writer but rather as a thinker
Since his first artistic actions his thoughts circulate around the same topics: life, nature and all beauty, what happens between, next to function and profit. It attracts attention that the texts were cumulative subdivided, more targeted and gets more profoundness by and by. They obey not the trends, the rumour of the public and the exchange value, they owe their appearance the diligently and exact study of humans and their manifold interdependences and addictions, necessities and opportunities, but also their lapses…
Walter Schurian, in:
Friedensreich Hundertwasser, Schöne Wege, Gedanken über Kunst und Leben [Beautiful Paths, Thoughts on Art and Life]
Writings 1943 – 1999, Munich 2004 (translation from German)
For more about Hundertwasser, click the photo below.
Mouldiness Manifesto against Rationalism in Architecture
Painting and sculpture are now free, inasmuch as anyone may produce any sort of creation and subsequently display it. In architecture, however, this fundamental freedom, which must be regarded as a precondition for any art, does not exist, for a person must first have a diploma in order to build. Why?
Everyone should be able to build, and as long as this freedom to build does not exist, the present-day planned architecture cannot be considered art at all. Our architecture has succumbed to the same censorship as has painting in the Soviet Union. All that has been achieved are detached and pitiable compromises by men of bad conscience who work with straight-edged rulers.
The individual’s desire to build something should not be deterred! Everyone should be able and have to build and thus be truly responsible for the four walls in which he lives. And one must take the risk into the bargain that such a fantastic structure might collapse later, and one should not and must not shrink from human sacrifice which this new mode of building demands, perhaps demands. We must at last put a stop to having people move into their quarters like chickens and rabbits into their coops.
If such a fantastic structure built by the tenants themselves collapses, it will usually creak beforehand, anyway, so that people will be able to escape. But from then on the tenant will deal more critically and more creatively with the housing he lives in and will bolster the walls and beams with his own hands if they seem too fragile to him.
The tangible and material uninhabitability of slums is preferable to the moral uninhabitability of utilitarian, functional architecture. In the so-called slums only the human body can be oppressed, but in our modern functional architecture, allegedly constructed for the human being, man’s soul is perishing, oppressed. We should instead adopt as the starting point for improvement the slum principle, that is, wildly luxuriantly growing architecture, not functional architecture.
Functional architecture has proved to be the wrong road to take, similar to painting with a straight-edged ruler. With giant steps we are approaching impractical, unusable and ultimately uninhabitable architecture.
For the rest of the Manifesto, click here: PDF-Download