Great egret in South Carolina wetlands

20141025-huntington-egretA great egret (aka a great white heron) is perched atop a ‘rice trunk’ while taking in the sun as it sets over a marsh in the coastal wetlands of South Carolina. A rice trunk is a gravity-flow mechanism that uses tidal energy to transfer water from one place to another. It was used in the 17th century for rice farming; today they are typically used to create ideal habitats for birds that thrive in wetland ecosystems

When I was 14, I had trouble fitting in and felt there was no hope. And then everything changed …

Running in a race in Quebec in 1985

I remember when I was 14 years old and I used to get bullied and beat up by the kids at school or in the neighborhood. I couldn’t play sports very well, I didn’t fit in socially and had only a few friends I could count on. I had switched schools a couple of times and often came home crying. It was around this point that my parents sent me to a boarding school, where I would be Continue reading When I was 14, I had trouble fitting in and felt there was no hope. And then everything changed …

Community-building in North Carolina

Please have a look at this photo for a moment…

This is an example of community-building happening in the town of Chapel Hill, in the US state of North Carolina. A local church and a community center organized a block party for neighborhood residents to get to know each other.


Chapel Hill is a rapidly growing college town and that brings with it a lot of benefits but also some disadvantages. Property prices have risen as developers gentrify the neighborhood to offer student housing. But this has caused problems for some longtime locals, whose property taxes have become unaffordable, since their household income has not changed.

The block party provided an opportunity to create ties. Kids are playing games, students are dancing, people are practicing handicrafts, and folks are eating, drinking and laughing. We are connecting with each other.

Hopefully in some small way this will help us to better understand each other’s perspective on what “prosperity” and “progress” really means for our community and how people are affected in different ways by development.

What’s your vision for the community where you live? Does it match what others see too?

A sweet and simple thank you from a girl who survived a brain tumour.

Thank you note from the little girl Grace in Nairobi, Kenya. Photo courtesy of Impoverished Children

Pleased to share with you this thank you note from the little girl Grace in Kenya who was diagnosed with a brain tumour earlier this year. When funds were short to pay for medical care, a small group of people came together via Facebook to raise the money she needed. She subsequently underwent brain surgery and has recovered. Here she is, back at her school in Nairobi, with a message in her own words. That’s her with her mother and the school’s principal Catherine Whiting.Isn’t she cute? This great story reminds me of that quote from Margaret Mead:

“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.”


RIP my dear cousin Fran

20070823to0828-montreal-09 (mod)
My cousin Frances (Fran) Cartman and I in Montreal, Canada – August 2007

RIP my dear cousin Fran. You always had listening ears and encouraging words for everyone around you. I have vivid memories of your smiling face as you helped students (and me) at the John Molson School of Business, your frequent and fierce hugs, and how you never failed to use an opportunity to tell me you loved me. Please give Bob a poke in the tummy for me.

An African bush elephant in Liwonde National Park

An African bush elephant (Loxodonta africana) along the banks of the Shire River in Malawi.

This is Loxodonta africana, or the African bush elephant, which is the largest living land animal in the world. It is found in about 37 countries on the continent. I photographed this elephant on the banks of the Shire River in Malawi. From what I have read this is likely a female – distinguished from the males by a rounder, more sloping shape of its head.

Preparing okonomiyaki in Tokyo, Japan

Preparing okonomiyaki in Tokyo, Japan. © Ryan Rowe /

Preparing okonomiyaki takes a lot of concentration. This is a popular Japanese dish that looks like an omelet or a pancake and is made with ingredients such as flour, egg, potato, cheese, onions, cabbage, and other vegetables. But really you can put anything you want in it. It is then grilled to your taste and you can season it with mayonnaise or seaweed flakes. Some restaurants, like this one, offer the DIY (do-it-yourself) option. Its a lot of fun and a good way to spend time with friends. Definitely a must on your next visit to Japan or even in the Little Tokyo neighbourhood of your city!

Men eating kabsa in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia

Men eating kabsa in a local restaurant in Ridyadh, Saudi Arabia. © Ryan Rowe /

Men in Saudi Arabia’s capital city of Riyadh gather at a local restaurant to eat a traditional meal known as kabsa. Kabsa is composed of different types of rice and meats which are flavoured with spices and topped with nuts, raisins and onions. Here there are several men, including myself, seated barefoot on the floor around a large platter. After a short prayer, we dug in with our hands. Delicious.