Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

An Artist’s Dreams of Happiness

Werllayne Nunes, a self-taught Brazilian painter, has captured the admiration of Austinites since his arrival in 2008. KLRU, the local public television station, just launched a video featuring the artist and his work, called Behind the Colors. It is a must see for anyone to appreciate this incredible talent and his underlying message of the resilience of the human spirit. A nominee for the 2012 Austin Visual Arts Award, Werllayne has two paintings in The People’s Gallery through January 2013 at Austin City Hall.

Werllayne’s artistic career traces to a fall morning in 2003 as he sipped coffee over the El País newspaper in a Madrid cafe. “Nigerians are the happiest people in the world…,” the headline proclaimed, according to the World Values Survey. Nigeria? This was a country known for corruption, violence, and poverty. Money, the article continued, repressed happiness.  Of modest beginnings and on scholarship, Werllayne worked through medical school in Spain–as he believed he should to support his aging parents. But it was not his calling. He asked himself:  What does it mean to be happy? What does it look like to be happy and poor?

Werllayne knew the life of a doctor was not for him soon after his 2003 show at Casa do Brasil in Madrid. His current series launched in 2003 with an oil painting, called Agua Viva (Living Water), portrayed a Nigerian woman balancing a pot of water on her head. His subjects later turned to people living in Brazilian shantytowns, known as favelas. Werllayne’s work contradicts the perception of poverty as mere misery and the poor as powerless.

 “You can be happy for simple things,” he reminds us. “It doesn’t matter where you come from. What matter are the community you’re from and the connection.”

One harsh reality in his homeland of Brazil revolves around racial discrimination. The vast majority of an estimated 54 million favela dwellers are black or of mixed race. Werllayne eschews telling others what to think about his art, but, in the end, he says, there is talk of racial issues.

He strives to challenge stereotypes of the poor by conveying the favelados’ imagination and joy. Magical realism, bright colors, and contemporary patterns fuse with cultural and religious symbolism. Individuals have the power to confront harsh realities with fantasy and indomitable spirit. “I show the contrast and the reality of poor kids when they are happy,” explains Werllayne. “The happiness transforms into virtual art as towers, doves, or elephants.”

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Money can buy happiness

Can money make you happy? Apparently, it can!

Perhaps not in the way one might imagine. To give a hint: it’s one more argument in favor of the global good.

Michael Norton tells us How to Buy Happiness:

Spend it on someone else! It doesn’t matter if it’s $5 or $50. When was the last time you gave/spent money on someone else?

Google has become a verb…?

I do my share of online research and, I admit, I use Google almost daily. However, I thought I would share a few of my lesser-known favorite resources.

I still love a good book, as opposed to a Nook. You know what I mean. To find the best price  on  new and used books, try the AddAll book search and price comparison.

If you are looking for information resources on Latin America, LANIC, the Latin American Network Information Center, is still king among online directories.

When I have to arrange international phone meetings or travel, is a handy reference. For currency conversions, both actual and historical, try to
Finally, Noodle has a great list of specialized search engines considering the scope and time-sensitivity of your research needs.

What are your best-kept secret search engines or other information resources?

1.4 Billion Reasons

A daunting fact: 1.4 billion people in the world live on less than $1.25 per day. They live in “extreme poverty”. 

The Global Poverty Project aims to educate and catalyze a world movement to end extreme poverty.

So they  developed a multimedia presentation called 1.4 Billion Reasons  to explain extreme poverty and what you can do about it.

You can do something. We all can. Check it out.

Can a good story change the world?

Check out this audio podcast from the  Social Philanthropy blog:

The Power of Stories in Social Change

What especially gets my attention these days  is the power of social media as a channel– okay, lots of channels!–  for  telling stories for social change.  Continue reading

The “Girl Effect”: it’s not what you might think.

Inspired by a comment on an earlier post, I went in search of information on social investments to support women and girls, whether investments in education, health, microfinance, etc.

But I had never before heard the exact term the “Girl Effect“. (Yes, click and watch the video!)

I came across a commentary called “Understanding the Girl Effect” in defense of how this one action– delaying childbirth–does have the overall, or domino, effect of preventing poverty.

Here’s the statement that struck me hard: “…(in developing countries) pregnancy and childbirth are the leading causes of death for girls 15–19 years old”.

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