Thanks to Clare for nominating Karen Piper as a non-fiction writer to celebrate this week. Karen Piper is the author of The Price of Thirst, Cartographic Fictions and Left in the Dust, which the Los Angeles Times has called an “eco-thriller” that every “tap-turning American” should read. A regular contributor to Places magazine, Piper is also a winner of Sierra’s Nature Writing Award and has published in numerous academic journals. She is professor of postcolonial studies in English and adjunct professor in geography at the University of Missouri.
I'm particularly interested in The Price of Thirst. For those who have no access to clean water—a fifth of the world's population—the price of water isn't $2.99 a bottle, it's thirst. This is the frightening landscape that Karen Piper leads us through in the book—one where thirst is political, drought is a business opportunity, and more and more of our most necessary natural resource is controlled by multinational corporations.
In visits to the hot spots of water scarcity and the hotshots in water finance, Piper shows us what happens when global businesses with mafia-like powers buy up the water supply and turn off the taps of people who cannot pay: border disputes between Iraq and Turkey, a “revolution of the thirsty” in Egypt, street fights in Greece, an apartheid of water rights in South Africa. And in our own backyard, where these same corporations are quietly buying up water supplies, Piper reveals how “water banking” is drying up California farms in favor of urban sprawl and private towns.
The product of seven years of investigation across six continents and a dozen countries, and scores of interviews with CEOs, activists, environmentalists, and climate change specialists, The Price of Thirst paints a harrowing picture of a world out of balance, with the distance between the haves and have-nots of water inexorably widening and the coming crisis moving ever closer.
Wanna do something this year to support the millions of people living without access to clean water around the world. Support organizations like charity: water, Water Charity (yes, they are two different organizations), and others who are working on this issue.
In honor of Thanksgiving, I'm celebrating two culinary geniuses that changed my life: Rory Freedman and Kim Barnouin. These two ladies started a movement when they wrote their bestselling manifesto, Skinny Bitch. A sassy, hilarious diet book, Skinny Bitch exposed the horrors of the food industry while inspiring people to eat well and enjoy food. If you haven't read it, buy it right now. You'll throw out that turkey and find something else to eat that's not so chock full of hormones, anti-biotics, and life-threatening bacteria!
(Check out that turkey above...he was found that way during an undercover investigation at a factory farm in North Carolina owned by Butterball.)
Yep, I eat a vegan diet. Didn't see that one coming, did ya?
Rory: Rory Freedman attended the University of Maryland, right down the street from me, and developed a passion for writing about food the ethical treatment of animals. She always saw herself as an animal lover and she was disgusted by what she saw in a magazine article one day. One image in the article was of baby chickens crammed into a garbage bag and thrown into a dumpster. The next picture she saw was a picture of a mother cow and a baby cow. The baby was taken away from the mother, and being upset that her baby was taken away, the mother started to ram the cage and broke her neck. The mother cow was left to die. The other picture she saw was of a downer cow, an injured cow, on the back of a truck being unloaded by a chain wrapped around the cow's legs. She was devastated to know that animals were being treated this way due to her eating meat. After reading this article in the magazine, she made the decision to become vegetarian.
Kim: Before she was a Skinny Bitch, Kim Barnouin was a high school drop-out turned model who only crossed paths with a vegetable on her pizza. Born in Rhode Island and raised in Maryland, Kim felt she wasn’t ready for college and dropped out in the 11th grade. At the age of 22, Kim moved to South Beach where the waves of Miami left Kim feeling seriously lost. She modeled, waited tables to make ends meet and considered herself more of a helpless beach bum.
Kim questioned her unhappy and unhealthy self during those years. What changes could she make to her lifestyle? Instead of turning to booze or something else less attractive, Kim explored food. By eating better, Kim started to physically and mentally feel better. A lightbulb went off in her head – food heals. She got her hands on every book on food she could find and enrolled in a Bachelor’s program in Natural Health. She wouldn’t stop there. This retired beach bum went on to receive a Master’s in Holistic Nutrition and is currently working on her PhD. Learning about how food affects and heals many diseases and illnesses was something she wanted to share with everyone. Eager to spread her word to the masses, Kim worked with longtime friend and vegan Rory Freedman to write a book. Neither thought Skinny Bitch would be become such a hit let alone a New York Times bestseller for two years straight.
I wish you all a happy Thanksgiving full of seitan, tofu, and all the vegetables you can eat. And pie. Vegans can eat pie, too. Lots of pie. Don't forget the coconut milk ice cream!
(Vegan rhubarb-strawberry-blueberry pie with caramel oat ice-cream pictured below!)
Last week, I asked you all for suggestions on a woman who was an exceptional peacemaker - someone who brought people together. Because, man, do we need that right now!
Thanks to Clare for sending me a wonderful suggestion! This week we celebrate Ángela Oliveira Cézar de Costa.
At the beginning of the 20th century, Argentina and Chile were coming close to armed conflict over a border dispute. The bishop of Cuyo, monsignor Marcelino del Carmen Benavente, promised to erect a statue of Christ the Redeemer to remind the parties of Christ's message of peace. The statue was subsequently made by Buenos Aires sculptor Mateo Alonso.
As the countries slipped closer to war, Ángela Oliveira Cézar de Costa, a well-connected society lady who led a Christian group, had the idea of taking the statue to the Andes as a symbol of unity between the two nations. She had particular cause for concern as her brother was an Argentine Army general preparing for conflict at the frontier. As a friend of the President of Argentina, Julio Roca, she was able to gain the interest of both countries. She would later be nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize.
In May 1902 there was a diplomatic breakthrough and Argentina and Chile came to peaceful agreement. The plan for the statue progressed and Oliveira Cézar de Costa and Bishop Benavente prepared to move the statue to the pass of Cumbre del Bermejo.
In 1904, the Christ was moved in pieces and carried up the mountains by mule. On 15 February 1904 a pedestal designed by Molina Civit was completed and the original sculptor Alonso directed the piecing together of the bronze statue. It was erected with the figure facing the line of the border, standing on a globe with South America prominent, his left hand holding a cross and his right raised in blessing.
Angela halted a war and brought two countries together with a bronze reminder of how precious peace is to their shared religious beliefs. She didn't care where the invisible border fell between the two countries. May we all walk in Angela's footsteps!
I know you haven't heard from me in a couple of weeks. October has been filled to the brim! I finished my fourth novel, started my fifth and finished up a blog tour for Fractal. Plus taking care of my growing baby boy! So thanks for your patience and sorry I skipped a few Wednesdays with you.
Onto our Wicked Woman of the day! A few weeks ago, I asked you to name a wicked awesome woman who's in a profession that society tells her she shouldn't be in. Thank you to Clare for suggesting Rhianna Pratchett. Yes, she is the daughter of fellow word wielder, Terry Pratchett. And she is also a writer...well, sort of...
Having written numerous features and columns on games, movies and books and originally cutting her teeth on PC Zone magazine and The Guardian newspaper, Rhianna moved into video game script writing and narrative design in 2002. In 2007 her work on Heavenly Sword was nominated for a BAFTA and a year later she won a Writers’ Guild of Great Britain ’Best Videogame Script’ award for Overlord.
Alongside writing for videogames, she has also authored the Tomb Raider: The Beginning comics with Dark Horse and the 6-part Mirror’s Edge miniseries with DC Comics and several of her own short stories.
Rhianna has contributed to various books on game narratives including Professional Techniques for Video Game Writing (Edited by: Wendy Despain) and Game Writing: Narrative Skills for Videogames (Edited by: Chris Bateman).
Do I hear glass shattering in the gaming world? Here's to Rhianna and her ambition to take writing to a whole new dimension!
I write about power dynamics in relationships, the empowerment of women, and the ethical and moral dilemmas love can create in our lives. This is a space where I meditate on those themes and share them with the word. Who knows, my next novel may start right here...