Sunday, December 21, 2008

leaving on a jet plane...

I'm off everyone... I arrive into Kisumu on Monday evening and then head off to spend Christmas with my Kenyan brothers and sisters at Rang'i. I'll then return to Kisumu via Katolo to meet Kirstin, Georgia and Harriet - just in time for New Years on the 30th.
Have a lovely Christmas break everyone - stay tuned for reports on the progress of Stage 1 in early January.
xx Amber

Friday, December 19, 2008

katolo open day

The organising commitee and the community of Katolo have invited bricks + cartwheels to be part of Katolo Open Day! It is taking place on the 29th of December starting at 8.00am at Kanyangoro Primary School grounds, Katolo, Kenya.

Amber - one of the bricks + cartwheels team members - will be there with bells on ready to talk to the community, show them our design brief and our current masterplan. Just to be there for this day will be fantastic! It is a great opportunity to showcase to the broader community the plans for the Secondary School for Girls and gain feedback from a wide range of people.

There will be plenty of other activities happening throughout the day such as the provision of HIV-AIDS testing and counselling services, presentation on modern methods of agricultural practices, provision of mobile library services, tree planting and tree/seedling donations, sports, games and many other fun activities!

Thank you to our friend Washington who is organising this wonderful day! We will be sure to give you updates and photos of the festivities.

pretty christmas idea.....

Our friend Felicity has always been so creative, but this I think is especially beautiful.  She has made these "snow flakes" for her front window. They sound so simple to make and look so pretty, only Fliss could come up  with such a great idea. Read more about how she made them here.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

we wish you a very...

Merry Christmas
Happy New Year

On behalf of the community of Katolo and the b+c team we would like to say a BIG thank you to everyone for making 2008 a fantastic year!

We are heading off so very soon so make sure you tune in regularly to hear all our news from Kenya!

Thank you for your generosity and your support, we can't wait to share more great things with you all in the new year!

Monday, December 15, 2008

60 years of human rights

We let this momentus occasion accidently slip by last week... i thought we should mention this anniversary even though it has passed.

On 10 December 1948 in Paris, the General Assembly of the United Nations adopted and proclaimed the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR). The Declaration was the first international recognition that all human beings have fundamental rights and freedoms and it continues to be a living and relevant document today.

Of particular interest to bricks + cartwheels and our secondary school project is Article 26: Everyone has the right to education.
We agree and so do the community of Katolo, Kenya!
To learn more or read a full history of UDHR visit here. Also this is a great summary of the 30 articles.

Friday, December 12, 2008

this time next week

one of the bricks + cartwheels team will only have one more sleep until they are leaving on a jet plane..... all the way to Kenya! Yes, she's counting down. It's all getting so close and very exciting.  
Here's hoping the rain stops for the weekend. Photo from here.

customs house exhibition

We all attended the opening of the Emergency Architects + Global Studio Exhibition on Wednesday night. If you get a chance pop down to Customs House, Level 2 and take a look. It is a very informative exhibition of the work of Emergency Architects, a foundation that labours alongside people who have lost everything as a result of earthquake, flood and war. The teams work to restore people’s sense of security, find shelter for displaced populations and arrange children’s access to education.

The amazing work of The Global Studio (read more about here) was on display also, well worth a look see to learn more about the latest expeditions.

Both are such amazing organisations that provide not only much needed research and infrastructure to deserved communities but also provide bricks + cartwheels with constant inspiration due to the tireless work they do!

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

christmas hampers

To help spread the christmas cheer a couple of us helped out with delivering hampers on Saturday for JCA. We, along with 250 other volunteers grabbed our maps and navigated our way all over Sydney!

The hampers were delivered to refugee families, some who have been here for 3 yrs to those who arrived a week ago. We delivered ours to the most divine Sudanese familes who were all so gracious when accepting the gifts. I was amazed that not one of the children ripped into the hampers but instead sat so patiently!

Today there are a staggering 21 million recognised refugees in the world – a number almost equivalent to the total population of Australia. Almost 9 million of these ‘refugees’ are actively seeking refugee status. Over 6 million are Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs), forced to flee their homes largely due to internal conflict in countries such as Sudan, Burma, Afghanistan, Columbia and Iraq. Currently more than 70% of the total refugee population seek refuge in the developing world.

Over 40% of the total refugees are from our own neigbourhood of Asia and around one quarter are from Africa. Australia takes in a tiny number – approximately 13000 in total, 6000 who are allocated under the humanitarian category.

There is more information on the above when you visit Refugee Council of Australia.

So although the delivering of hampers is just a small splash in the ocean it definitely is one of the most rewarding things you can do at christmas! I will be making it a yearly event for sure!

Monday, December 8, 2008

sunday afternoon

So the time finally arrived this past weekend to make the long awaited Christmas wreath. My mums house in Avalon turned into the wreath making factory for the afternoon. We scoured the streets and our own garden for all our materials and came back with baskets and arm loads full! We used wire frames as our base and a thinner wire to attach what we wanted to the wreaths.

There were three wreath making teams and we all went for the natural look. All with a slightly different slant. I went for the pretty flowers, eucalyptus leaves, little white flowers and hydrangeas..... this is it in progress.

Mum had a wilder approach, her finished product......

Anna and Kristina were somewhere in between..... they used chilli's too.

This is my finished product ready to hang on my door.

A fun weekend project and we all made pretty beautiful wreaths.... success all round.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Letter to a headmaster

This is a letter written by Abraham Lincoln, the 16th President of the United States (1861-1865), to the Headmaster of the school where his son was studying.
Just a little piece of educational wisdom for you all out there... imagine if every child was taught these values by their teachers and parents...
He will have to learn, I know, that all men are not just,
all men are not true.
But teach him also that for every scoundrel there is a hero;
that for every selfish Politician, there is a dedicated leader…
Teach him for every enemy there is a friend.

Steer him away from envy, if you can,
teach him the secret of quiet laughter.

Let him learn early that the bullies are the easiest to lick…
Teach him, if you can, the wonder of books…
But also give him quiet time to ponder the eternal mystery of birds in the sky,
bees in the sun, and the flowers on a green hillside.

In the school teach him it is far honourable to fail
than to cheat…
Teach him to have faith in his own ideas,
even if everyone tells him they are wrong…
Teach him to be gentle with gentle people, and tough with the tough.

Try to give my son the strength not to follow the crowd
when everyone is getting on the band wagon…
Teach him to listen to all men…
but teach him also to filter all he hears on a screen of truth,
and take only the good that comes through.

Teach him if you can,
how to laugh when he is sad…
Teach him there is no shame in tears,
Teach him to scoff at cynics and to beware of too much sweetness…
Teach him to sell his brawn and brain to the highest bidders
but never to put a price-tag on his heart and soul.

Teach him to close his ears to a howling mob and to stand and fight
if he thinks he’s right.
Treat him gently, but do not cuddle him,
because only the test of fire makes fine steel.

Let him have the courage to be impatient…
let him have the patience to be brave.
Teach him always to have sublime faith in himself,
because then he will have sublime faith in mankind.

This is a big order, but see what you can do…
He is such a fine little fellow, my son!

~ Abraham Lincoln

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

This is a top website for those of us who love to check out architectural delights when in foreign cities! If you have ever travelled with an architect you will know that we would walk all day to catch sight of a precious gem of the building variety. Website designer/creator and fellow architect, Leigh knows all too well the hours you spend scouring the cities streets. Leigh has cleverly taken the stress out of this process by creating an online database for her three passions in life - architecture, photography and travel.

Checkonsite is an online reference created by a community interested in identifying and locating the sites worth checking out throughout the world. Through this site you can locate buildings or sites worth checking out using google earth, suggest and share your favourite site or building and say what you think of a building by adding comments.

So if you are planning a trip to a new city and wondering what architecture you should be checking out? or you know what you want to see, but don’t know where it’s located, or if you have some photos from previous trips you would like to share, why not checkonsite!

Monday, December 1, 2008

world aids day

Today marks the 20th anniversary of World AIDS Day. In 1988, the World Health Organization declared the first World AIDS Day in an effort to raise public awareness about HIV/AIDS issues, including the need for support and understanding for people living with HIV/AIDS. The day is also an opportunity to reduce the stigma surrounding HIV/AIDS and to highlight the need for continued development of education and prevention initiatives.

Funds raised support services for people living with HIV/AIDS, related medical and counselling services, support and peer education groups.
Red ribbons are available from selected retailers so jump up and buy one now in support of this worthy cause.

Tribute to Utzon

Jorn Utzon, who was just 38 years old when he sketched the design for the Sydney Opera House, passed away in Denmark on the weekend, in his sleep. Today the flags on the Harbour Bridge will fly at half-mast.

Utzon entered the "international competition for a national opera house at Bennelong Point" expecting to come third. His design was initially flung into the reject pile, but picked out again by US architect Eero Saarinen. Seidler described it as a "piece of poetry" and American Louis Khan said that "light didn't know how beautiful it was, until it was reflected off this building".

Utzon received the prestigious Pritzker architecture prize in 2003 for his design. The jury singled it out as among the most iconic buildings of the 20th century, saying it "proves that the marvellous and seemingly impossible in architecture can be achieved".

Friday, November 28, 2008

it's finally friday

Enjoy the weekend everyone! Here's hoping for some long overdue sunshine.
Image from here.

finders keepers

Next weekend The Finders Keepers Markets are on at The Carriage Works in Sydney's Redfern. These markets are full of independent designers and artists. They sounds like they will be great! They are on the 5th and 6th of December and go into the evening. Another great thing about the markets are their location. The Carriage Works is an amazing place and space and well worth a visit. Hope to see you there!

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

introducing... The Katolo Project

It was very exciting news when Kimberley and her film company Ariella Pictures decided to jump on board the bricks + cartwheels wagon! After embarking on documentary projects in Australia, Israel, Holland and Germany, Kimberley has found her next project. Fostering a deep passion for human rights and education, Kimberley's inspiring vision to capture The Katolo project; its journey for both the bricks + cartwheels team, and the community of Katolo, has taken off.

With a degree in Film Production and 8 years experience in the media behind her, Kimberley is excited to be combining her passion with a project that is sure to change the lives of a community forever.

Kimberley will be heading over with us in January to start the filming from the very beginning. We are excited at the prospect of this and cant wait to see the first footage!

As you can imagine this lengthy filming process needs funding to get it off the ground. Anyone who is wanting to support The Katolo Project can do by purchasing a pack of christmas cards.

These cards are just what is needed to brighten up your christmas this year! Not only is each one hand made, each one is a beautiful piece of photographic art as well. A pack of 5 = $30. Some of the stunning images taken in Kenya are featured on the cards below.

To purchase your cards email

All money raised will go towards the realisation of the documentary The Katolo Project, a project which i am sure will be a beautiful tale of the Katolo community, the construction of the secondary school for girls and most importantly the role of education in rural areas.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

green thumbs

I suddenly have the urge to join a local community garden. After picking up the real (food) handbook with the SMH a couple of weeks ago, i have a real hankering for a little bit of digging!

This little handbook for those who didn't manage to pick one up, was packed full of interesting tidbits and buzz words such as locavore: someone who only eats food produced locally. There was info on where to go to join your closest community garden.

If you would like to join a community garden and don't know where to find them take a look at this list and put that green thumb to work!

Our resident Jamie Durie-esque friend has also alerted us to the square foot garden. This is great for those who have limited space. This is a great "how too" link if you are interested in this method. Conceived by Mel Bartholomew, author of Square Foot Gardening, the techniques have been enthusiastically adopted by gardeners all over the world! Have a go!

Friday, November 21, 2008

weekend project

a Christmas wreath! I've been wanting to make a wreath for my front door for a few years now and this year is going to be the year! I've been having a good scour around all our favourite blogs to get some inspiration..... 

The first photo is from the lovely Pia, she used a wire base and pussywillow. She adds flowers and berry's during the year, very versatile! 
This next one I really love! It's Sara's effort from last year (you have to scroll to the bottom of the page), so very pretty...... she used grape vines as her base... not sure I'm up for that yet!

The final one is from a blog that is new for me blomsterverksta, this lady makes wreaths for a living. Sophie also blogged about a pretty one she found here.
As Pia suggested I think I'm going to keep it simple and see what I can find in my garden.... maybe some eucalyptus leaves, flowers and berries. Hopefully it will be a fun and successful weekend! Next up christmas cake, anyone have a good recipe?

friday again!

Thank goodness! It's been a long week! I do believe we only have five Fridays left in Sydney before we will all be in Katolo to continue community consultations and begin construction for the Secondary School for Girls. Woo hoo!

Tonight we're heading to our alma mater, The University of Sydney to check out the final year architecture students' exhibition.

[in]form Graduate Exhibition 2008 is on at the Wilkinson Building at The University of Sydney, 148 City Road, Darlington from 6pm. Hope to see you there and if not have a lovely, sunny weekend!

Thursday, November 20, 2008

garbage warrior

Now this is one amazing guy. Anyone seen this documentary? A friend who is in the know about all things waste has watched it. I am yet to, but just visiting the website and watching the trailor was enough to inspire.

For 30 years, renegade architect Michael Reynolds and his green disciples have devoted their time to advancing the art of "Earthship Biotecture" by building self-sufficient, off-the-grid communities where design and function converge in eco-harmony.
Based in New-Mexico, Michael has come up against many critics, so much so that he was stripped of his architecture licence. These earthships defy state standards and Reynolds has continued to lobby for the right to create a sustainable living test site.

It was when the Tsunami struck that Reynolds was able to use his pioneering skills to rebuild communities such as the Andaman Islands. He was able to teach the locals how to recycle cans, bottles, tyres and collect rainwater off these structures for clean drinking water.

He looks to be a wild character, a one of a kind and as some put it a hero of the 21st century! I will be heading out to grab my copy of Garbage Warrior for sure. To watch the full length trailor visit here.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

World Toilet Day

It is World Toilet Day today! It is really important for everyone to take a minute to think about the 2.5 billion people in the world who do not have a private, safe or healthy place to go to the loo. I can't believe how big this statistic is and I am definitely very grateful for my toilet!!

To find out 5 things you can do today to show your support go to the World Toilet Organisation website.

Brisbane's local design and artistic community have designed 100 toilets to be put on display in Queen Street Mall. Hopefully the rain hasn't disrupted the day! More information on insanitation and the 100 toilets Exhibition can be found here. We can't wait to see the photos!

bricks + cartwheels is going to be working with Practical Action to develop an appropriate water and sanitation plan for the secondary school for girls project in Katolo, Kenya.

Sand-bag Architects win top prize!

South African architects MMA have been awarded the inaugural Curry Stone Design prize of $100,000 for their ingenious solution to the Design Indaba 10x10 low-cost housing challenge.  established this year by the university of Kentucky College of Design through a very generous gift from architect Clifford Curry and his wife H. Delight Stone.  The prize recognises breakthrough design solutions with the power and potential to improve our lives and the world we live in.  The 10x10 housing project initiated by Design Indaba paired 10 teams of South African architects with international designers to pioneer new affordable housing systems.   The objective of the competition was to come up with affordable, attractive, innovative responses to the urgent need for housing the urban poor.  

MMA were awarded the Curry Stone Design prize for their pioneering design and innovative pilot project to build 10 affordable houses using a sand-bag construction system.  

Thanks to The Architects Newspaper for posting this great story with beautiful images and a great interview with the architects. 

Luyanda Mpahlwa, who shares the firm with Mpethi Morojele, s
aid that a key component of the house was to provide not only shelter but also social justice and pride.  The house was originally a house for 50,000 rand ($6,200), which required some unusual thinking.  In addition to utilizing inexpensive and locally accessible building materials, which required not even a single electrical outlet to put together, the designers turned to the community to build the houses.  Mpahlwa said that this approach saved not only the cost of labor but gave the community an added sense of ownership and provided work for the community riven with unemployment.   

It is great to hear that Mpahlwa is planning to use his prize money to build more 10x10 houses and sponsor underprivileged kids to attend architecture school.  These architects are fabulous inspiration!! 

gala dinner snaps

oh and check out some more of the great snaps taken by the lovely Zoe (mentioned here) from the special night. Thank you Zoe!

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

bricks + cartwheels gala dinner 2008

went off with a bang! We were amazed, excited and overwhelmed with how well the inaugural bricks + cartwheels gala dinner went last Saturday night.
After spending the day organising setting up and generally running around 260 guests arrived at the Red Box in Lilyfield to the sounds and beats of exotic african music. The evening kicked off with Drum Beats leading everyone in a group drumming sesison and conga line. The evening was hosted by the amazing Liz Jackson, 5 time Walkley award winner and ABC journalist.

The food was great, the wine flowed and the speeches by Sam Crawford and Linda Hume were inspiring. The bricks + cartwheels team updated everyone on the Katolo school project and Kimberly's little film was a heart breaker! There was even a special guest appearance by one of Australia's musical treasures..... Kamahl!

Throughout the evening guests bid on silent auction items, bought up big on raffle tickets and cleaned out the goody bag stash. The live auction was a HUGE success, and was excellent entertainment for all in the Red Box! The night ended with everyone having a big boogy on the dance floor!
The Gala Dinner raised $37,000.00 for the Katolo Secondary School for girls, which completes the fundraising for stage one of the project. The bricks + cartwheels helpers were amazing, a huge thank you goes out to all you lovely people! This is a major milestone for bricks + cartwheels and the community of Katolo!

green school

The world's first green school has just opened in the riverside jungles between Denpasar and Ubud. Constructed entirely of bamboo the Green School's goal is 'to prepare students to become responsible global citizens in a world offering challenges and opportunities that can not be imagined at this moment'. Most students are children from all over the world with some local Balinese students offered scholarships to attend.

And with classrooms that are as spectacular and beautiful as these, the journey from pre school onwards will surely be one to remembered.

It's enough to make me want to go back to school! If you're in Bali - the school is open for tours on Tuesdays and Thursdays at 10am sharp. Bookings are required.