Human Flower Project
Monday, August 30, 2010
Tipping the Scale in Kentucky
Allen Bush reports from the state fair on donut burgers and leaking pumpkins—the next best thing to being there. Thank you, Allen!
FFA members from John Hardin H. S., Radcliff, KY, greet Freddy Farm Bureau, a fixture of the state fair
Photo: Allen Bush
By Allen Bush
Country folks and city folks meet every sweltering August at the Kentucky State Fair in Louisville for corn dogs, horse shows, games of chance, beekeepers and bumper cars. You can count on donkeys and the Oak Ridge Boys each year, too. The fair just wouldn’t be the same without big Asses and Elvira.
Notions of healthy Kentucky grown produce – and there is plenty around in local farm markets - are pushed aside for ten days of corn dogs, snow cones, funnel cakes and elephant ears. (A delicious beef brisket barbeque was the closest thing to Pritikin I could find.) The atherosclerotic-inducing donut bacon cheeseburger was this year’s sensation. Add an order of chili cheese fries and you could clog the next oil spill. (You wonder why, in all of “Fast Food Nation,” no one ever came-up with a donut bacon cheeseburger before, and then you’re reminded that it took 5,000 years for someone to put wheels on a suitcase.)
Culture & Society • Gardening & Landscape • Secular Customs • Permalink
Friday, August 27, 2010
N. Korean Mission: In Lieu of Kim
Former U.S. president Jimmy Carter traveled to North Korea and, with help from flowers, managed the release of an American citizen and, perhaps, much else.
A girl greeted Jimmy Carter at Pyongyang’s airport with
flowers and a salute Wednesday, Aug. 25.
There’s flying under the radar. There’s also flying over the radar – a mode of transportation accessible to a select class of travelers. Ex-U.S.-presidents qualify if, like Jimmy Carter, they’re internationally known human rights advocates who have won the Nobel Peace Prize.
Carter and his wife, Rosalynn, flew to Pyongyang, North Korea, August 25. Their trip was ostensibly to secure the release of a U.S. citizen, Aijalon Mahli Gomes, who had been sentenced to eight years of hard labor for entering the country illegally. That was the Carters’ official purpose. But such a high-profile visit suggests lots more diplomatic knitting: to gain North Korea’s cooperation in nuclear disarmament? to begin normalizing relations with the U.S.? to ease somehow the animosity between the two Koreas since the sinking of a S. Korean ship in March? Who knows? That’s what flying over the radar is all about.
The New York Times reported, “Gomes is believed to have entered North Korea in support of Robert Park, a fellow Christian activist from the United States, who crossed into the country from China in December to call on [N. Korea’s leader Kim Jong Il] to release all political prisoners. Mr. Park was expelled after some 40 days.”
But Gomes remained in custody and, according to several sources, had attempted suicide since his incarceration in April.
Carter made the trip as a “private citizen” rather than a U.S. official, opening the way for many friendly gestures that would not at present be possible for the Obama Administration. (Even so, South Korean leaders were said to be incensed at the visit).
Ceremonial flowers appeared throughout the Carters’ short stay, maintaining an air of kind formality. Upon his arrival in Pyongyang, the ex-president was welcomed by a young girl, who handed him a bouquet and extended a vivacious salute. Baring his signature smile, he accepted the flowers and “blew her a kiss before getting into a black stretch Mercedes-Benz.”
Sunday, August 22, 2010
When Did You Last Go Wild?
Roads and human egos have depleted the U.S. wilderness. The EarthScholars coax us back out of doors, to consider the plants, animals and perspective living there. Thank you, Jim and Renee.
Fireweed growing in Maroon Bells Wilderness Area, Colorado
By James H. Wandersee and Renee M. Clary
EarthScholars™ Research Group
The earth’s vegetation is part of a web of life in which there are intimate and essential relations between plants and the Earth, between plants and other plants, between plants and animals.—Rachel Carson, Silent Spring
Wilderness areas provide plant enthusiasts – and anyone else with eyes to see and a mind to wonder— with occupations for a lifetime. In the wild, we may witness, explore, photograph, and write about the natural beauty of plants, their botanical diversity, visual complexity, fascinating life cycles, and valuable ecological roles—all within the thought-provoking and memorable settings of adventure and solitude. Encounters with nature and wilderness can reawaken our sense of awe and fascination. Such experiences help recalibrate our inflated estimates of 21st-century humans’ importance and degree of control over nature.
Wednesday, August 18, 2010
Hawaii’s Delegation to Selma
A feminist and psychologist in London amplifies our story of how leis joined the March from Selma to Montgomery in 1965.
Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr, and others wore leis as they marched from Selma to Montgomery in March 1965.
Photo: WFA/Associated Press, via the Guardian
Many thanks to Nona Ferdon for filling in some of the gaps in our story of flowers in the history-making March from Selma to Montgomery, Alabama, in March 1965. We noted that several of the Civil Rights marchers, including Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., wore leis.
“You wondered how they got there,” Nona writes of the floral garlands. “We took them. There were five of us representing Hawaii on the march.“
In our earlier story we had credited the pastor of Honolulu’s Kawaiahao Church, Rev. Abraham Akaka, who had befriended Dr. King the previous year, with sending the leis. He, in fact, may have been behind this effort in some way, but Nona, who delivered the flowers, doesn’t recall ever meeting Rev. Akaka or hearing of his involvement in this gesture. “I don’t know who organized on the leis,” she writes. “It was all on short notice and we showed up at the airport around 5 in the afternoon. There was no publicity or anything like that, we just said goodbye to some friends and left. Taking leis was just something that anyone from Hawaii would do almost automatically.” Only after the march, when the leis had made their glorious statement, did the flowers inspire curiosity. Floral garlands around the neck weren’t, and still aren’t, a common sight in the Deep South.