Tag Archives: legacy

Grief and Bravery

I have been reflecting on the convergence of grief and bravery a lot lately.

About how death can meet us in 6 minutes and 20 seconds. The power which the silence of a small (almost) woman can have in conveying grief, honouring friends and challenging the political status quo. I cried for the length of her speech and well beyond.

At nearly the same time that the MarchForOurLives protests were taking place around the world I was in Inistioge, County Kilkenny, Ireland – quite honestly a place I never expected to be.

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To understand where I am going ‘with this’ I need to take you, dear reader, back to 1978 and the publication of my favourite book of all time – The Far Pavilions.  It is a brilliantly researched and written piece of historical (romantic) fiction that if read by warmongers in any number of countries Afghanistan might have been left alone following the First Anglo-Afghani War disaster (with an additional 12,000 civilian casualties) in the Hindu Kush in 1842. But The British didn’t learn their lesson, egos got in the way and as part of The Great Game, they tried again, and again, and then America took up where they left off in an attempt to keep Russia ‘contained’. As the story unfolds the Russians have opted for cyber-warfare to claim global supremacy throwing technology at the United Kingdom and the United States (and other countries like Ukraine, France and Germany) where canons and missiles used to be deployed.

Each time I have read The Far Pavilions I have wept at the heroic passing of a most beloved character in defending the British Mission in Kabul (1879), a character who I always assumed was fictional, and at the waste and stupidity of ‘governments’. On 24 March on the banks of the River Nore, near Inistioge and his actual birthplace his great (many times over) grandniece Ann Hamilton seemingly randomly mentioned The Far Pavilions, and then Wally etchingshe told me that Lt. Walter Hamilton, VC actually lived, was loved, and was her relative. I am grateful beyond measure for the extraordinary gift Ann has given me by bringing “Wally Hamilton” from MM Kaye’s pages to life for me through her family tree. But by making her uncle ‘real’ I was also swamped with unexpected grief for the man – or a combination of grief – that has left me openly weeping three times in two days. So we are clear it’s not ‘just’ his death one-hundred-and-thirty-nine years ago evoking my tears.

Like so many others, and because I read history, I am frayed and raw by the betrayals of both contemporary and historically broken politicians, diplomats and warmongers whose greed and egos deliver words and the subsequent actions which destroy.  The invasions of foreign lands to pillage (or civilize ‘the heathens’) as we are about to witness in Iran over oil and expanding Afghanistan for their rare earth minerals. It is colonialism, entitlement, imperialism and, of course, exploitation using military means. It angers me enormously for the loss of lives of the people of the regions and the loss of their resources which would benefit their populations as well as when an American dies to fulfill ‘orders given’ just as Walter Hamilton died.

Returning to the #NeverAgain movement, the deaths of the 17 Parkland, Florida (and the 7,000 others in mass shootings in the United States since Sandy Hook) all less than their majority came not because of a choice to enlist in the military and defend a diplomatic mission in Kabul but by the negligence of those elected to the United States Senate and Congress wearing the Republican Party lapel pin. The National Rifle Association (NRA), assuaging the greed that often accompanies career politicians, the has poured tens of millions of dollars into obscene distortions to the Second Amendment  without conscience congress 2substituting the musket ball, pan-fired rifles of the 18th century into contemporary military grade weapons. So I took particular pleasure in today’s news that Remington Guns has filed for bankruptcy.  The NRA’s agenda is profit and nothing will stand in the way of ensuring that every ill-prepared, irresponsible, mentally unstable (mostly angry white men) individual has their right to bear arms maintained no matter the cost to a civil society. That mainstream media and American politicians refuse to name these as the domestic terrorists they are because somehow white privilege precludes doing so.

Since the slaughter at Parkland another 73 teenagers have been shot and only four states have changed their laws making it harder to obtain a firearm; which brings me to the bravery referenced in my title.

“You can’t be brave if you’ve only had wonderful things happen to you.”

~ Mary Tyler Moore

I think there is a duality of appropriateness around this quote which we are witnessing.  First, of course, is the loss which the Marjory Stoneham Douglas students and their families have endured and second, the inspiring life of the woman for which their school is named Marjory Stoneham Douglas (MSD)  (from being a Suffragette and civil rights crusader to squarely beating the agricultural and business interests looking to destroy the Florida Everglades as an octogenarian).  Her legacy of fostering change seems in very capable hands.

The MSD students are channeling their grief in taking on the corruption of American politics, the gun lobby and the wing-nuts clinging to the Second Amendment and in doing washingtonso they are seemingly fearless in facing the enormous opposition and accompanying death threats and limitless financial resources. In spite of these obstacles, in the space of five weeks, ‘these kids’ managed to rally hundreds of thousands (est. 800K) to Washington, DC. with protests staged in major cities and small towns everywhere beyond the Beltway.

They have already faced the greatest possible fear that anyone could – dying as bullets rip through their young bodies, and watching their friends die.  Walter Hamilton faced that same death by choice, the NRA and American politicians stripped nearly 7100 teenagers of any choice since 14 December 2012. #NeverAgain, #EnoughIsEnough.

If you enjoy my blog please consider sending me the price of a cup of tea in your currency via PayPal to livelikeadog@gmail.com and do share it with your friends on Facebook, Google+ and Twitter – I am @TeresaFritschiTo order my book, please click on the cover art of my book below, thank you! 

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Alberghi diffusi, the truest luxury is authenticity

The Travel & Leisure article entitled Reviving the Italian Village takes a note of vanity efforts afforded by the enormously wealthy. That might seem a judgmental statement, it isn’t. I am grateful for anyone, for whatever reason, choosing to take on the arduous process of heritage preservation.

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When Dr. Giancarlo Dall’Ara originated the concept of alberghi diffusi thirty years ago, long before futurists started speaking of circular economies, I believe he aspired to create a noble legacy which would positively impact rural Italian economies by driving tourism, ensuring the preservation of cultural heritage and providing a path to the continuation of a more connected way of living. As urban life has become more complicated and messy, much like the value proposition offered by Product of Designated Origin (PDO) assignation, the alberghi diffusi now has the potential to fulfill a demand for an authenticity remarkably devoid from most contemporary life. I don’t see alberghi diffusi as a Utopian fantasy but a model of socio-cultural, economic and environmental sustainability, scalable and practical in perfect harmony, and logical extension of what I set out to create with Thistle & Broom back in 2003.

The haemorrhaging of rural communities and the diaspora of countries alike is not new. Natural disasters and economic hardships have driven great migrations of people to cities nearer, and very far away from agrarian lifestyles for hundreds, if not thousands, of years.

Infografica Alberghi Diffusi 2013 (1)

The currently running ‘Anno dei borghi’, organised by Italy’s MIBACT (Ministry of Cultural Heritage, Activities, and Tourism) is designed to entice visitors to explore 18 regions and help manage the impact of the tourism sector growth on Italy’s urban areas – as well as spread the economic impact around.

Creating an alberghi diffusi from a near-ruined village without services takes time. Italy’s unemployment hovers around 11%, and is more than three times higher among those under the age of 25. Housing, following the 2016 earthquake, remains at a premium. At the end of a rather long and dark tunnel, two emerging trends of isolation as luxury and experiential travel provide a much welcome light. Mind you this isolation is not a minimalistic, silence-only spiritual retreat but one replete with simple but exquisite accommodations, agro-tourism/slow food/gourmet dining, extraordinary privacy and ultra-high speed internet connections – all of which create jobs, and provide economic stability.

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It is here that a sweet spot of sustainable development exists, a convergence of yet-to-be alberghi diffusi with a tremendous opportunity to prove systems destined for adoption in Smart Cities. I am not referencing autonomous cars but rather reinvigorating, and making contemporary circular economies which have always existed in communities bound by the ‘butcher, baker and candlestick maker’. The alberghi diffusi model is a solution to any number of pressing contemporary issues worthy of both investment monies and public policies support.

Clean-tech incubated in alberghi diffusi would pull villages off the easily hacked central grid while providing self-sufficiency. What’s more, this model allows those individuals not lured to the bright city lights to continue practicing (or develop) arts, crafts and traditional hand-skills of a region with the market (quite literally) coming to the mountain. Imagine bathing with organic botanical goats’ milk soap and sleeping on crisp linen sheets hand-woven from blue-flowered flax grown in the meadows surrounding these villages which a year before was wafting in the breeze and growing tall in the sunlight. That the village is masterfully IoT connected and a set (or two) of those linens can be ordered and paid for with a voice command based upon block-chain technology generates real efficiencies and quality of life for all parties.

The truest luxury is dictated not by fashion, but finely crafted authenticity and the improved efficiencies offered by technology.

If you enjoy my blog please consider ‘buying me a cup of tea’ in your currency via PayPal to livelikeadog@gmail.com and then, please do share the blog with your friends on Facebook, Google+ and Twitter – I am @TeresaFritschiTo order my book, please click on the cover art of my book below, thank you!