Disaster Relief: KIRF’s Nepalese Earthquake Supplies Delivery in May 2015

Kirwin International Relief Foundation logo (registered)KIRF co-founder and disaster relief volunteer Mark Kirwin is flying out to Nepal with a disaster relief volunteer from Ventura Rotary next week, May 12, 2015.

Mark Kirwin’s May 2015 field report from Nepal has been posted on KIRFaidblog.org >

Mr. Kirwin is Cultural Anthropology Adjunct Professor Angela Kirwin’s husband. The Kirwins created their volunteer disaster relief non-profit charity, called “Kirwin International Relief Foundation,” or “KIRF” for short,  after surviving the Andaman Sea tsunami disaster with their children on the coast of southern Thailand on December 26, 2004. After using their own funds and volunteer efforts to help families who lost everything in Thailand, they realized that with the right disaster zone connections and cultural knowledge, they can deliver effective, efficient and locally needed disaster relief. Also, they realized that getting needed disaster supplies into disaster zones quickly and efficiently is still a huge un-met need among the poor and marginalized communities worldwide. Very often disaster relief supplies are diverted away from these communities due to national and local social and political pressures.

Donations made to “KIRF” for Nepal’s earthquake relief will go directly to earthquake survivors in the form of requested building and emergency supplies that will be locally purchased and delivered in Nepal with the donated funds. By purchasing locally, the funds will also help local business owners and their families hit by the earthquake disaster recover. The Kirwin International Relief Foundation is a registered 501(c )(3) non-profit charity in the State of California. Donations are tax deductible.

Updates and photos about this relief effort will be on KIRF’s social media: Twitter.com/KIRFaid  and KIRFaid.org and KIRFaidblog.org

Advertisements

How Wikipedia Really Works

worstthingswikipedia

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Well today I fell down the Internet rabbit hole again. I found some interesting articles about Wikipedia and social media (and then updated my social media accounts: @AgBioethics, @MultisportMama, @KIRFaid and my (pseudo) private Facebook profile. While looking for an anthropological graphic to post on this blog (found it–it’s below), I read this article by Sociologist and professor Antonio A Casilli about Wikipedia’s crowd-sourced and democratic mechanism of knowledge production titled “THE ACADEMIC, THE WIKIPEDIAN, THE VANDAL [FULL VERSION, UPDATED 05.11.2012]”

On this post is the cartoon that I found in Google Images that led me to that fascinating hour of non-productive time reading Casilli’s well-researched report. Hopefully, some day, I will be able to justify that hour and use some of his article’s information and his links to more information for my Cultural Anthro class.

Sometimes the Internet is just too darn generous with its Information with links to more Information with more links… to more information… and more links… and on and on. It sure is fun though. 🙂

International Students Welcome Back Picnic at College of the Canyons

The International Services and Programs department at College of the Canyons here in Santa Clarita (near Six Flags Magic Mountain) is hosting tomorrow’s Welcome Back Picnic for the college’s many international students attending both it’s Valencia campus and Canyon Country campus.

The International Services and Programs department has helped, so far, in the 2014-2015 academic year, 270 international students. That is about a 100 more than in the previous academic year of 2013-2014. The department is anticipating more international students next year. College of the Canyons has added many services, activities, and workshops to better serve the entire campus community as well as its growing body of international students.

Please feel free to stop by the Welcome Back picnic tomorrow, Wed., February 25, 2015 between 2-4pm at the lawn in front of the International Services Programs office at the Valencia campus.

Welcome Back Picnic for International Students at College of the Canyons, February 25, 2015Now that I’m teaching “culture” at College of the Canyons, I figure it’s about time to update this blog and post about cultural and internationally-focused events at College of the Canyons for my students. À bientôt! 🙂

AAA Conference Presentation: Disjunctures Between Pre-Race and Post-Race Foodways and Practices of Triathletes and Long-Distance Runners

AAA 2013 Conference Lecture "Disjunctures Between Pre-Race and Post-Race Foodways and Practice of Triathletes and Marathon Runners

AAA 2013 Conference Lecture

I will be presenting with several other anthropologists on the ethnographic research methods we used in our foodways research at this month’s AAA (American Anthropological Association) Annual Conference in Chicago. These methods should help other researchers when they encounter discrepancies between what people say they eat and what they actually eat.   I will be talking about the surveys I used for my research on the food rituals, beliefs and post-race binging of competitive triathletes and marathon runners. This being my first AAA conference and first AAA session presentation, fortunately for my nerves, it will be before the Thanksgiving holiday.

The session where we will be presenting our food research methods is called Foodways in Discourse and Practice:  A Discussion of Ethnographic Methods.  It will be held on Sunday, November 24, 2013, 12:15 PM to 2 PM in Conference Room 4L at the Chicago Hilton. For more information about this years AAA conference, please go to the “2013 Annual Meeting Central” section of the AAA website.

My presentation’s title is “Disjunctures Between Pre-Race and Post-Race Foodways and Practices of Triathletes and Long-Distance Runners.” Below is an abstract (250 words):

Triathlete at the 2007 Carpinteria Triathlon enjoying a post-race binge.

Triathlete winner of 2007 Carpinteria Sprint Triathlon enjoying a post-race binge.

In this research project I discovered the multiple disjunctures between the pre vs. post-race foodways beliefs and practices of triathletes and endurance runners in California.  I also discovered the ideal body types and food beliefs of these endurance athletes and how these ideals are influenced by scientific hegemony and an American fitness culture of embodied elitism, health and morality. Using the symbolic interpretive technique of Lévi-Strauss’ binary oppositions to tease out “good/bad” foods and body types I analyzed how these ideals are actually employed in day-to-day nutrition and eating practices using Bourdieu’s practice theory and concept of cultural capital. In regards, to race rituals (and rites of reversal which occur during a race event for some participants) I used Turner’s theory of how rituals serve to reproduce the values and practices of cultures and maintain group solidarity. I also analyzed through self-reported symptoms of physiological stress response on how these rituals, which included binging on carbohydrate-rich foods, may be reinforced as techniques of stress hormone reduction. Research methods I used include participant observation—doing the workouts with my triathlete and runner informants and participating in two races, in-person semi-structured interviews, and online surveys. I found my nearly 150 respondents through the membership of two local competitive triathlon and marathon training clubs, informal networks of friends and friends-of-friends of triathletes and competitive long-distance runners as well as informal networks of online followers of a twitter profile which I set-up for this project. The results of my research illustrate how useful some of these “old” classic theories of anthropology still can be in current research of both cultural ideals, identity and as well as the biological effects/functions of nutritional practices.

Here is a copy of the Spring 2009 research survey that I used for my research on discovering the possible reasons behind the disjunctures of what runners say they eat and what they actually put in their mouths during a post-race celebratory meal: “Runners Pre-Race/Post-Race Survey” [PDF].

Here is a copy of my research analysis (un-published paper) of which my presentation at the AAA was based: “Post-Race Food Cravings and Food Consumption of Endurance Runners” [PDF].

The other presenters during this food research methods session at this year’s AAA conference have some great perspectives and methods to share from their own research areas. They include the session’s organizer PhD Candidate Amber O’Connor from The University of Texas at Austin and her presentation “Obviously Imperceptible: Identity and the Tortilla in Quinta Roo.” O’Conner applies Bourdieu’s practice theory to the complexity of identity formation in her ethnographic research in a Maya village in Mexico. Graduate student Tylor Short of the University of Louisville will show how to discover the reasons behind a consumer’s performance of morality-based food choices with his revealing research on public versus private coffee consumption using dietary recall surveys and questionnaires. All three of these presentations illustrate the importance of participant observation as an invaluable research method for verifying survey data. It was the observations of each anthropologist that revealed the discrepancies between what people said they ate and documented in the surveys they completed and the foods that they actually consumed–the reason for the discrepancies. This research methods session should be of particular interest to anthropologists working in the private sector as consumer research professionals in the food industry or in the public sector in the arena of public health research as well as anthropology instructors and students.

A Conservation Tourism Assessment in Nicaragua: GPS Trail Mapping and Howler Monkey Census

Brick house just before the Papaya Grove and across the street from a rain forest patch

House across the road from a rainforest patch (and home to a group of wild mantled howler monkeys) in Playa Gigante, Nicaragua Photo: AR Kirwin

This post is about an assessment of the local conservation tourism opportunities in Playa Gigante, Nicaragua that I did in the summer of 2013.  Playa Gigante is a small fishing village and, recently an international surf destination, on the Pacific Coast of southern Nicaragua a couple of hours north of the Costa Rican border. This report includes a summary of the social and economic changes that are creating both hardships and opportunities in the town, and the various ecological data on the local howler monkey groups and their food trees and scenic trails that I was able to collect during the assessment.  My complete field report about this project is posted on the blog for the Kirwin International Relief Foundation (KIRFaidblog.org)– a non-profit disaster relief and education organization that I co-founded with my husband in 2005. Our non-profit has been supporting the humanitarian and environmental conservation efforts of two other non-profit organizations who are making a big difference in the town: Project Waves of Optimism and Sweet Water Fund. This was my second visit to Playa Gigante after helping out the local women’s softball team Las Estrellas through Sweet Water Fund and vising the construction of the new Gigante Community Health Center, made possible by local community volunteers and fund raising effort lead by the inspiring group of young surfers at Project Waves of Optimism. Continue reading

Arroyo Verde Park Short Loop: Online Map of a Hiking/Running Trail for Ecotourism Project

Here is a an example of a hiking/running trail map of a running route I created on the public trails in Arroyo Verde Park in Ventura, CA.

Arroyo Verde Park in Ventura, CA

View Interactive Trail Map at ArcGIS Explorer Online

It was mapped using a common research tool for primatologists, public health workers and first responders for disaster relief: GPS and geospatial analysis using a GIS (geospatial information system). In this case the GIS I used is called ArcGIS Explorer Online. Continue reading

Anthropologists’ studies of adaptations by coastal communities to climate change

Sunset over a destroyed Gulfport, MS (2005)

Sunset over a destroyed Gulfport, MS (2005)

The study of how present-day climate change is impacting local cultures in coastal areas is an emerging field in anthropology. I found this surprising when I first began reviewing studies done by anthropologists of climate change impacts on culture in 2011.  What about the Dutch and their seawalls I thought? What about the longer crop growing season in Greenland, the huge increase in insurance premiums to cover wind and flood damage along the increasingly hurricane-prone Gulf Coast, or the impacts of less sea ice on traditional hunting and foraging of the Inuit? The global impacts on local culture (or “glocal” per a certain anthropologist) due the rising sea-level, melting polar ice caps and warming upper latitudes combined with a growing number of climate-related natural disasters didn’t just start a few years ago (Piertese 1995:49). These things have been impacting coastal communities for a long time. Since coastal communities have been adapting to these things for a while now, where are the anthropologists?

When I started my anthropological literature review while in graduate school that year, I found surprisingly few examples of anthropologists studying cultural adaptations to climate change impacts on coastline communities. The coastal communities of Bangladesh, the Netherlands, and the Gulf Coast which have been directly impacted by the rising sea levels and extreme weather events for years have been almost ignored by the anthropological community (at least the ones in the community who publish in English in the main anthropological journals).  The few anthropological studies that I did find were mostly reports on the impact of climatic change on non-industrialized and prehistoric communities by archeologists and environmental anthropologists (Büntgen 2011; Crate 2009; Crate 2011; Fagan 2008; Strauss 2003). It also seems that anthropologists are still less likely to collaborate with other scientists from other fields. Most of the climate change studies that I found were cross-disciplinary projects by scientists working from other perspectives: geography, economics and political science. Continue reading