Thursday, July 23, 2009

Permaculture Update

Permaculture: an approach to designing human settlements and perennial agricultural systems that mimic the relationships found in the natural ecologies.

As you may remember, Grant is taking a Permaculture course this summer in California. Here are some of his reflections over his experience so far:

Hello from the farm! It has been an incredible journey so far. The days are filled with a mixture of classroom talks, on-site "practical" adventures, my work-trade chores (I am paying a small portion of the tuition through jobs like clearing campsites, harvesting juniper trees for fence posts for the tomato garden, fixing the classroom roof after hard winds, etc), amazing organic meals and equally amazing company. The information flow has been dense and captivating, but thankfully the philosophy of permaculture is more about seeing a situation from new eyes, than memorizing characteristics of plants and animals (research is still imperative). It is about looking deeper and observing the intelligent functions of all aspects of nature and trying to mimic those symbiotic relationships while working to restore all that we have destroyed, and maintain what we have left.

The principles of permaculture apply to all the movements we are a part of, and so many of the situations that occur in nature reflect the human drama. Diversity is a key component in permaculture - the more diverse a system is the more mutually beneficial relationships there will be to feed back to the system. But as we are learning, diversity only truly works when the system benefits all its participants. Another important principle is to "obtain a yield". This reminds us that any system we design should provide self-reliance at all levels - including ourselves. So take care of yourself!

Huge thanks for your help in getting me here!

LA Closing Party - Friday, July 24

Friday, July 24
8 PM - 12 AM
Phantom Galleries LA, 170 The Promenade North, Long Beach, CA

Project FOCUS and Phantom Galleries L.A. would like to invite you to our closing event, where we will be celebrating the connection between art and sustainable development. Join us in our efforts to rebuild Prince Primary School in Lyantonde, Uganda.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Common Threads - Boston

The month of June was an exciting one for Project FOCUS in Boston. Thanks to the fabulousness of Annie Newbold and David Craft at Gallery 263 ( we were able to open a show featuring our beautiful HIV/AIDS quilts from Lyantonde, Uganda. These quilts represent a culmination of our “Common Threads” project, which focused on AIDS education and dialoguing through group art-making. The opening of Common Threads on Thursday June 11th was attended by about 30-40 people. The intimacy of the gallery space provided opportunity for informal conversations/discussions about our work and I was able to form many positive relationships. The night ended with an audiovisual slideshow of images from Uganda and a brief explanation of why we chose to focus on one region (Lyantonde District).

A week later, on Saturday June 20th, I was joined by my cohorts Danny Yang and Gloria Bernard to host a “Meet Project Focus” event. Danny presented an articulate and professional powerpoint about the origins of Project Focus and the details of our upcoming project to create a solar-powered internet cafĂ© in Lyantonde. Danny’s words prompted a really thoughtful question and answer session afterwards and I was so grateful to have the support of my fellow PF friends!

During the process of planning, organizing and implementing the various events for this show, my mind was drawn again and again to the memories of my time spent in Uganda. Missing the smiles of familiar faces, the sights and sounds and cultural eccentricities I had come to love and even adopt as my own. I thought of my personal friendships from my time in Lyantonde and I hope I was able to somehow portray the reality and beauty of these people’s lives through this show.
- Madelene

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

PF Spotlighted on Synchronized Chaos Magazine

Sychronized Chaos, an interdisciplinary art, poetry, literary, science, nature, cultural issues, and travel writing webzine, has spotlighted Project FOCUS and our Los Angeles Exhibition.

"The brainchild of an international group of contributors and volunteer editors/creative facilitators. Inspired by the mathematical concept of chaos theory, the study of how to effectively model and predict the behavior of systems which seem random, but are in fact highly influenced by initial conditions not yet fully understood." More About Synchronized Chaos

Thank you to Syncronized Chaos and Creative Facilitator Christina Deptula for bringing more awareness to our projects and for the ongoing support!

Saturday, July 11, 2009

PF Featured by The Green Grocer

The Green Grocer, a small grocery store in West Town that is committed to selling both organic and local products, has recently committed to donating a percentage of their monthly profits to small non-profit organizations in the Chicago area who are working to make a difference in the world. The kind and cheerful owner, Cassiee Green, approached Project FOCUS (whose members shop there frequently) and offered to feature us as their month of July recipients.

If you buy your groceries at the Green Grocer in the month of July, the benefits are enormous! You'll get great quality food, you'll be supporting local farmers and food markets, you'll help the young Green Grocer's business boom in an economy that has made it difficult for the little guys to survive, AND your favorite organization, Project FOCUS, gets a cut. If that isn't enough incentive, you should know that they love to give out free samples of new products as you shop.

We hope to bump into you in the produce section!

Green Grocer
1402 W Grand Ave.
Chicago, IL 60622
(Corner of Grand and Noble) Phone: (312) 624-9508
Fax: (312) 624-9509

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Internet Cafe in Lyantonde - Global Giving

The Internet Cafe will offer the community in Lyantonde, Uganda affordable access to the internet. The proceeds from the cafe will provide financial support for a local, community-based primary school.

You can become a project donor through our page at global giving.

Access to current information in today's competitive world is imperative for community growth and development. More than 2.5 billion people live in rural areas of developing countries where access to communication is severely limited due to availability or affordability. In rural Uganda, most teachers, students, farmers, business owners, and health care providers work without access to technologies that can transform their lives and work in simple yet profound ways.

The internet cafe, consisting of 8 solar-powered computers, will be managed by a Ugandan community-based organization that will also offer classes to familiarize new users and students to information technology.

Project FOCUS Community Dinners: Fridays 6:30 - 9:30 PM


the community dinner provides a space to share food, ideas, conversations, stories, and passions.


because in light of our economic recession which has exposed us to the consequences of self-interest and individualism, we chose to build community.

because in contrast to the condo developments in pilsen and around chicago that have destroyed existing communities and replaced them with personal balconies and their grills, we chose to build community.

because we're tired of walking around the city with headphones on, closed to the diverse world around us, physically close but distant in every other way.


artists, writers, dancers, social activists, teachers, young professionals, and students.


an old theater converted into a Project FOCUS work and living space. 1618 W. 17th St. Chicago, IL - a few blocks from the 18th st. pink line stop.


friday's 6:30 - 9:30 PM.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Project FOCUS Los Angeles Exhibit, July 18th

Saturday, July 18th
6 PM - 10 PM
Phantom Galleries LA, 170 The Promenade North, Long Beach, CA

Project FOCUS + Phantom Galleries LA would like to invite you to our Los Angeles Premier where we will unveil the artwork generated by the people of Lyantonde and Project FOCUS artists in an effort to educate and inspire audiences. Project FOCUS will be fundraising for a sustainable development initiative in rural Lyantonde, Uganda.This multi media exhibit features photography, digital arts and video, writing, fabric collages, painting, interactive installation, reaction art, and more.

This multi media exhibit features photography, digital arts and video, writing, fabric collages, painting, interactive installation, reaction art, and more.