Jane Goodall: One of Time’s 100 Most Influential (2019)

By Leonardo DiCaprio

I admired Jane Goodall long before we ever met. I knew of her landmark work with chimpanzees in Gombe. I had read about her, read books written by her, but it was only when I got to spend more time with Jane a few years ago that I truly felt I was in the presence of one of the most impactful and important leaders on the planet. She chose to go to Tanzania at the age of 26 to study chimpanzees, and the research she conducted there, in the jungle at the eastern shore of Lake Tanganyika, ended up changing behavioral science forever.

Time’s Portrait of Jane Goodall is Reminiscent of the Mona Lisa

Since then she has committed her life to environmental protection. Even now, at the young age of 85, Jane spends nearly every day spreading optimism and raising awareness worldwide; hers is a powerful message to protect the inherent rights of every living creature, to provide hope for future generations and to sound an urgent call against the greatest environmental threat of all—climate change. Anyone who has heard her speak, or heard her story, has been mesmerized by her life’s work and moved by her philanthropic legacy.

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Moki Dugway Road and Muley Point Overlook

A 3-mile stretch of the Mexican Hat to Natural Bridges road (SR-261) is referred to as Moki Dugway.  It is a mostly unpaved and consists of a dramatic series of switchbacks which climb the cliffs which separate Valley of the Gods from Cedar Mesa.  The views down into Valley of the Gods are spectacular.  This is one of the most heart-pounding sections of road in the western United States.  It can be traveled in a car, but not by vehicle pulling a trailer.  There are only a few stretches that have safety guards, and in some areas the road is quite narrow.  So drive carefully.  This 1,100-foot climb is not for those who have a fear of heights, but is strongly recommended for everyone else.

Warning Sign at the Start of Moki Dugway Climb

Switchbacks on Moki Dugway Road with Muley Point in the Background

At the top of Moki Dugway, there is a turnoff to a gravel road that heads mostly south.  After a relatively short drive of a few miles, you arrive at Muley Point.  Here you have a wonderful panorama that extends from Valley of the Gods west past Monument Valley to Navajo Mountain and beyond.  Beware, there is no safety railing or protective fencing.  Watch your children.

Muley Point Overlook, Watch Your Step!

For additional exciting drives, there are the Transfaragasan Highway in Romania and the Calca-to-Lares road in Peru.  The latter is at very high altitude.

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Places to Visit and Things to Do in Southern Utah and Northern Arizona

Southern Utah and Northern Arizona have a wonderful places to visit including:  Monument Valley Tribal Park, Gooseneck State Park, Cedar Mesa, Valley of the Gods, Upper Antelope Canyon, Lake Powell, Rainbow Bridge National Monument, Navajo National Monument, and what’s left of Bear’s Ear National Monument.

Below is a list of my posts which describe additional places to visit, with emphasis on the northern Navajo Nation:

  • Places to stay in San Juan County, Utah, click here.
  • Volcanic features of the 4-Corners Region, click here.
  • Unusual places to visit on the northern Navajo Nation, click here.

Precariously Balanced Rock Formation in the Northern Navajo Nation

  • Visiting Navajo Mountain Chapter, Navajo Nation, click here
  • Visiting Cove Chapter, Navajo Nation, click here.
  • Arches and Bridges in the Navajo Mountain area, click here.

Hawkeye Natural Bridge Located North of Navajo Mountain

  • Lower Antelope Canyon, Page, Arizona, click here.
  • Visiting Minor Anasazi Ruins on Cedar Mesa, click here.
  • Moki Dugway Road and Muley Point Overloosk, click here.

Switchbacks on Moki Dugway Road with Muley Point in the Background

A new website is working to highlight the joys of southern Utah and the surrounding area.  They specialize in places to stay:  All the rooms, everywhere

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Ghanaian Trade Beads (Recycled Glass)

Earlier this week (April 2019), I visited a bead fabrication shop in Accra, Ghana.  It was a informative experience.

Trade beads have a long history in the West African.  Ghanaian beads, for example, were once a form of national currency and were used to purchase many different kinds of goods including gold, alcohol, slaves, and even textiles. The production of beads in Ghana was first documented over 200 years ago. However, evidence of bead production extends back over two thousand years.

Punching Hole in a Recently Fired Bead

Kiln for Firing Beads

Painting the Design on the Beans

Bead Molds

A number of bead varieties are produced in Ghana. These include recycled glass beads that are made from empty glass bottles.. The manufacturing of recycled beads is one way that Africans use traditional inspiration to bring new uses to old materials. The process of fabricating beads involves crushing used bottles and then melting and shaping using clay molds designed with the desired shape in mind. Beads are then washed in sand and painted with designs.

Bottles Ready for Crushing

In recent years, there has been a revival in the use of trade beads. So much so that young people are wearing them as an expression of pride in African tradition. Interestingly, the different colors that are used in the design of beads have different symbolism such as blue that represents purity, white fertility, and gold wealth.

Necklaces Made of Multicolored Ghanaian Trade Beads

If you have an interest in Ghanaian beads, feel free to contact me:  rogerdhansen45@gmail.com.  I have a supply.

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Installing Playground Equipment in the Accra, Ghana, Area

At the Accra airport, I was met by a friend of a friend, Paul G.  His family was nice enough to offer me board and room during my short stay in Ghana.

Paul had selected 3 locations to install playgrounds and had started fabrication on the equipment.  This meant we could hit the ground running.  As with all installations, a certain amount of field engineering was required.

Our first installation was at the Madina LDS Stake Center.  There we hired 2 church members to assist. We partially assembled some equipment and dug holes for the concrete.

Leveling the Monkey Bars at the Stake Center

At the second location, Ayi Mensah Basic School, we were able to complete the installation in one day, including the placing of concrete to anchor the playground equipment.  We installed:  a swing set, 2 monkey-bar sets, a tire climbing tower, and a tetherball pole.

Two Monkey Bar Sets, Swing Set, and Tetherball Pole at Ayi Mensah School

Installing Two-Tiered Tire Climbing Tower

The next day, we returned to the Stake Center to finish their playground.  We assembled the climbing tower and placed concrete.  The completed playground has:  a swing set, a monkey-bar set, a tire-climbing tower, and a tetherball pole.

Installing a Tire Climbing Tower, with Swing Set and Monkey Bars in the Background

Children at Stake Center Enjoying the Tire Climber

Children Testing the Swing Set During Stake Party

Lastly, we installed a swing set at Julce’s Montessori School located in East Legon.  The school is for children aged 6 months to 5 years.  So we are making some design changes and won’t get it fully completed until August when we will get additional parts.

Installing Swing Set at Montessori Nursery School near Accra

One fun part of the activity:  the neighborhood children helped with the installation work.  They helped level the equipment, and helped assemble and move the tire-climbing tower.  And, of course, they helped test all the playground equipment.

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Bidibidi: A New Concept for Refugee Settlement?

By Nina Strochlic (NG, April)

Bidibidi, with a quarter million people living in many villages in northwestern Uganda, is the second largest refugee camp in the world, after the Rohingya camp in Bangladesh.  [To create the camp,] a forest was razed and 250 miles of roads were carved through head-high grass and over streams to make room for a flood of South Sudanese fleeing war just a few hours north.

A great experiment is underway at Bidibidi.  An industrial skyline of water and cell towers hovers over sturdy mud huts and small farm plots.  Schools and health centers are built from brick, slathered in concrete, and fitted with glass windows.  Taps run freshwater, small solar panels power streetlights, as well as radios blasting music from barbershops, televisions airing soccer matches in community halls, and cell phones snaking from charging stations in shops.

Bibibidi Temporary School with New Permanent Buildings in the Background (circa 2017)

In Uganda, under one of the world’s most progressive policies, those who’ve fled the nearby civil war can live, farm, work freely.  Here, Bidibidi’s future is discussed at the highest levels of government and the international community.  The goal:  To build a livable city out of a refugee camp, one that might endure even if the refugees return home someday.

Unlike many refugee camps, which are isolated and gated, Bidibidi merges almost seamlessly into its surroundings.  The refugees’ homes, surrounded by corn, peanuts, and sesame plants, are nearly identical to those in the Ugandan villages.

South Sudanese Refugee Settlement

Long-term stability means shifting the refugee-camp paradigm from humanitarian aid toward private industry.  A California-based think tank called Refugee Cities is lobbying refugee-hosting governments to build development zones that could draw foreign investment.  “If you create the legal space in which economic activity is allowed and people are given basic legal stability, you can unleash tremendous dynamism that ultimately creates prosperity,” founder Michael Castle Miller says.  “Not just for people there–but throughout the country.”

Blueprints and budgets drafted by various humanitarian organizations show how economic development might come to Bidibidi:  wi-fi zones, mini-electric grids, large-scale production facilities.  For now, business is small-scale, and private companies are only starting to think about how to tap Bidibidi’s idle labor force.

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Blackboards and Benches Provided for Rwenzori Mtn Schools

The schools in the Rwenzori Mtns, in southwestern Uganda, are extremely primitive.  To help improve conditions, Playgrounds Everywhere (a Utah-based NGO) contracted with KAAYGO, a woodworking training shop in Kyarumba, to make blackboards and benches for the schools.  The job was recently completed.

Displaying Finished Blackboards at KAAYGO Woodworking Training Shop

Preparing to Deliver Benches to Rwenzori Mtn School

There a lot of benefits of making improvements this way:

  • We provide support to a local woodworking shop,
  • We put money into the local economy, and
  • We provide important enhancements to the mountain schools.

That is why many foreign assistance specialists recommend that cash donations to humanitarian organizations are preferred.  The money can be spent in country where it will do the most good.

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