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Living with one traffic light - the island of Santa Maria

Living with one traffic light - the island of Santa Maria

We have just one traffic light on the island and it's only on sometimes. The island itself is just shy of 97km2. To give you an idea, the smallest U.S. state of Rhode Island is over 3,000km2, roughly 30x bigger. So what's it like? You get to know everyone and everyone pretty much knows where you live. They'll show up sometimes, to ask a question, to borrow something or to remind you to bring back something you've borrowed. 

It's one of those things, where you think, should I pick up the phone and call them, or just walk over and see if they are at home. We usually choose the latter; it's always more fun and the way of living slow. 

Back to the traffic light. We're not sure what it's for, accept to maybe slow us down on the way into the main town, though there are speed bumps just before. Perhaps it is to remind us that we all need to stop, even on a small island it's good to be reminded to slow down, to stop and to smell the palm trees...

 

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Summer days in January

Summer days in January

The days alternate between rainy, foggy, sweater weather days and bright summery, cool & breezy, no t-shirt required days. The locals have a saying, "four seasons in a day".

We go surfing every couple of days when the sea is less wild. Even when it is, we sometimes go, maybe not to surf, but just to look out, and try and catch the sunset, which often is hidden behind a long wall of clouds. Even now, I stare out the window and see light refracting through the clouds. 

Every day (pretty much) there is a rainbow. Some are small, others are quite large. Some are full, from one end to the other, others are double. I even saw yesterday a rainbow "spot" over the water. It was like a prism just hovering above the ocean. 

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Surfing at 39 PART II

Surfing at 39 PART II

Today we went surfing at our local spot. It's winter here, but on a good day the waves are pretty surf-able. 

We arrived at the cove, and pretty much like always, it was just us - my buddy and I. The waves were about 3-4mt, beautiful and strong. We put on our wetsuits near the truck, talking about this and that, watching the waves roll beneath us. The sun was behind, the day was clear (it had been foggy for about 3 days). We hurried on down to the beach, down the 40 stone steps barefoot. We hit the sand and stretched as fast as possible, then leapt into the cold water. 

We surfed some tough beach breaks for about an hour, then took a break, thought about going on to the next cove (for some smaller waves) and looked up to find a giant of a rainbow cutting across the horizon, ending in a cloud on one end and beautiful cliff at the other. A small fishing boat swayed beneath. I looked at my buddy and he at me, we both had that perma-smile thing going...

I kept thinking, what a gift - to be able to do something you've always wanted to do. I thought of the Japanese saying, "the best time to plant a tree is yesterday. The second best time to plant a tree is today". The same can be said of surfing, "the best time to start surfing was yesterday. The second best time is now." 

I'll be 40 any day now, so this is likely the last of surfing at 39. Next time I'll post it will be from over the hill...i wonder what the other side is like? Perhaps I'll be able to say, I've finally caught a left.  :  )

Namaste from the Middle of Nowhere! 

 

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Our Philosophy

Our Philosophy

Moving to an island of 5,000 people in the middle of the Atlantic forces you to look at life from another vantage point. You give up many comforts, but what you gain in return is something that’s difficult to put into words. There is one word in the Semitic languages, “nachat”. Perhaps it is this that describes the feeling best. It loosely means, "a peaceful repose of the soul". Peace, calmness, clarity, moving in slow motion. 

When we create, it's with care and a degree of measured slowness (at times it seems to take forever) - cleaning up the beaches, sometimes for a day, other times for 10min after a surf session. Then sorting the plastics we intend to use, carefully cleaning them with soap, water, an old brush. Looking at them, seeing their beauty juxtaposing the inherent problem of their existence. It becomes almost meditative. You see a piece of plastic and your mind goes from beauty of color and shape, to dying ocean reefs and affected sea life, then waste as a whole and the impossibility of solving the problem, to then thinking twice about buying yogurt (because it’s in a plastic container) to then learning how to make yogurt, then going out for some more surf and thinking about everything again backwards - it comes full circle.  

Deciding to make our jewelry pouches by upcycling t-shirts on our island is a natural progression of this way of thinking. It’s enriching our lives and community. From getting to know the local women at the co-op, to creating opportunity and doing so with zero footprint! It would have been so much easier to put our logo on existing pouches from a vendor off-island, but our slow-living philosophy and love for the planet challenged us to come up with a better solution. The end result is more than just cool, conscious packaging - it's good vibes spilling over...

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Lovin' Jean-Marc Barr & the Big Blue

Lovin' Jean-Marc Barr & the Big Blue

We love the ocean, old movies, music, and dolphins? who doesn't!

Jean-Marc Barr starred in one of our favourite films, The Big Blue by Luc Besson. It's a liberal depiction of the free-diving adventurer Jacques Mayol.

Mayol was French, but born in Shanghai and learned to free-dive in the oceans of Japan. (How cool is that??)

He would later write the book, Homo Delphinus: The Dolphin Within Man. For those uninitiated, freediving is the art of diving deep on a single breath of air. Divers say it's like being at one with the ocean. Mayol was the first to reach a depth of 100 meters (330 ft)

Jean-Marc, who portrays Mayol, is a French/American but born in West Germany (a country that no longer exists!). He studied philosophy at UCLA, The Conservatoire de Paris, and the Sorbonne, before moving onto acting in London, eschewing "big" roles to focus on work that inspired him.

What's not to love about these two: obscure & beautiful, bilingual & multicultural, AND they both...wait for it...dove with DOLPHINS!!! 💥

 

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Our Problem w/ Packaging & Our Effort to Close the Loop

Our Problem w/ Packaging & Our Effort to Close the Loop

Switching to a sustainable lifestyle and attempting to launch a near zero-waste project is full of challenges.

You may have heard of "slow" fashion vs "fast" fashion...the former is mindful of the resources it took to create, and is something which you keep almost forever, it's timeless, well made, etc. The latter takes from the planet and looks good for 5 seconds, then ends up in a donation pile or worse, the garbage. We believe in the former: quality, slowness, reusing, repurposing, upcycling, and closing the loop. 

Closing the loop simply means that a product's life has no end, but is part of a cycle. It also refers to a more earth-friendly circular economy where use of resources and production of waste are minimized. Designers can achieve this by longer lasting design, reusing, recycling, upcycling, and repurposing. Waste is seen as a potential input to product creation - and can even be used as a source of energy or raw material etc. versus a linear economy which is a 'take, make, dispose' model of production. 

So after spending hours if not days trying to source truly sustainable packaging for our jewelry, we realized in the end, the best way was to do it ourselves and ensure our packaging achieved a minimal footprint.

We find old t-shirts from local sources that would otherwise end up in the garbage and we reuse them (after washing them of course), to create our jewelry pouches. Doing everything locally at the Artisan Co-op in the village - cutting, sewing, and screening these old T's into something totally new! By doing so, we're investing in our community, sparing resources, minimizing waste, virtually a 0 footprint, and creating good vibes :). The pouches not only protect & store the jewelry, but they can be used as a polishing cloth; further they can be used as a marble bag or to store anything else precious to you. 

You see, truly zero waste packaging relies equally on the consumer. The choice to reuse, repurpose or recycle determines how sustainable something actually ends up being - if it ends up in the trash, it is not sustainable, because the loop was not closed.

For our mailers, we chose something as close to zero waste as possible - made out of recycled paper and designed to be used again. Once again, we rely on you for closing the loop! Here's an example: 

Your order comes to you in our recycled mailer. You then use the same mailer to send a birthday gift to your friend. Your friend loves your gift and has their children reuse the mailer as a canvas for an art project. Their child then sends that to Grandma for Mother's Day. She loves it so much, she hangs it up on the wall. Her friend comes over and instagram's it, blessing it with an everlasting life, albeit a virtual one. Grandma passes in some distant time, she had a great run, and the artwork ends up back in your possession. You give it to your now-grown up child and tell them the whole story...maybe they keep it or maybe they create a new project, the skies the limit! BAM!  Closing the loop is a lot like reincarnation! 🙏🏻

WOAH! That's AWESOME!

 PS. If that's all a little much for you - you can simply reuse & recycle :) 

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Nurdles - the daunting beach cleanup

Nurdles - the daunting beach cleanup

First, let's start with what is a "nurdle" -

A nurdle is a pre-production microplastic-pellet, a little smaller than the size of a pea. They make up the raw materials for the plastics industry. Unfortunately, millions (MILLIONS!!) find their way into the ocean. 

This morning I went down to the beach near our house, intending to surf and do a quick cleanup...only in the end, I didn't surf. 

 

We've been told that some of this debris hails from as far as the Caribbean, coming here via the currents. That's roughly 1,800 nautical miles away / 3,300 kilometers away.

 

The sun was out and the wind was cool, a perfect day for a light cleanup. The larger debris was the quick and easy of it. I spotted the sandal on a cliff within reach, everything else strewn down the beach.  Then I got down on my hands and knees and began the hunt for the smaller stuff - the nurdles and micro plastics. These aren't difficult to find for the most part. The waves come in and make a line of them  (when I was a boy, these lines running across the sand were crushed remnants of sea shells). So I follow these lines and it makes it easier, picking up one line at a time.

I finished the first line, then another, then moved up to a third. Tedious work, getting these little suckers, but gratifying, almost zen-like in contemplation. Then I turned around, and saw a brand new line of micro plastics in the area i just combed! I couldn't believe it!!

I can't explain how frustrated I felt. I had just spent an hour sifting the sand for these tiny-ass MF'S and now there was a whole new wave of them. Literally, with every wave came a new line of micro-f*king plastics! 

For a while, I just watched the waves, watched the new pieces of plastics wash up on our beaches. I was in a trance, and I thought about a future when not only the seashells, but the sand would be replaced by plastics.

I left with two large bags of debris and must have collected 200, 300 nurdles, who knows. It's easy to ignore something you can barely see, and most beach goers won't see them or even know to look. Fish don't either for that matter, and end up eating nurdles. And who eats the fish later? 

We really have to get rid of all plastics. ALL! That's my take away for today. That, and that I'll go surfing tomorrow, if the weather holds… 

 

For further reading, check this out: https://www.nurdlehunt.org.uk/whats-the-problem.html

 

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Dancin' on the Ceiling

Dancin' on the Ceiling

Whenever Lionel Richie's song comes on we can't help it but start to dance. But did you know where the idea came from?

It wasn't Breakin 2 but it certainly feels it (Breakin 2 came out 1 year before Richie's video)

Supposedly Richie and his producers got the idea from...Fred Astaire!

 

 

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Point Break - Why Bad Movies Are Sometimes The Best

Point Break - Why Bad Movies Are Sometimes The Best

So everyone has their guilty pleasure. Is it The Beach with Leo?

For me, Point Break is one of those movies I've watched a 100 times. Each time I notice more of that bad writing or some more of the awkward performances, but more importantly each time I notice something truly awesome about the film. For instance: only after a few times of viewing did I realize that Patrick Swayze actually jumped out of that airplane! If you remember the film, he does this triple flip acrobatic thing out of a real propeller plane at who knows what height. 

Bad movies are "bad" because the majority of people don't like them. But for some, they strike a chord. In Point Break, it was a surfing thing - that awkward outsider meets surf guru enlightened thing. In fact, if you watch carefully, Swayze is in top form. He IS Bodhi, the guru of surf. He's enlightened and badass + he can rip some waves and need I mention the hair! How could you not dig the movie? 

And what about Keanu you say? Well he would go and redeem himself as Neo a few years later. Coincidentally, he, would now be the Enlightened One. 

 

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Line Dried

Line Dried

The clothesline has become an insta worthy, almost romantic symbol of sustainability, ease, and slow living ... signifying times past, and recalling some other world altogether.

Having grown up in North America, with the comfort and convenience of electric dryers, it took our move to an island in the middle of nowhere to slow down enough to realize we were missing out on harnessing the natural power of the sun to routinely dry our clothes. That this romantic symbol of days gone by was actually relevant today, more than ever! 

There is so much beauty and zen in the simplicity and efficiency of line drying your laundry...the meditative ritual of hanging each piece, the art in curating a scene...the open intimacy of the items out on display - the smell of the laundry - the light as it shines through the clothes- the ocean breeze as it gives life to and freshens each article... even the articles themselves seem to tell a story as well - tiny socks tell of a home where children dwell...a row of jeans - a worker's wash.  

When we first arrived on Santa Maria, we found the charm of the clothesline novel- so much so that we began photographing them! It wasn’t something that we were used to seeing on a regular basis- and the backdrops of old broken rock walls, verdant green rolling pastures, volcanic hillsides and tiny stone houses framed by lush gardens or chicken coops brought on even more old world charm. But now, we've joined the locals in making line drying a routine, family affair- the kids help pin up and take down.

There are so many benefits to this practice - it forces us outside early on a beautiful day, saves natural resources, and cash! Not to mention the sun makes your whites whiter and the natural line hanging process extends the life of our clothes vs throwing them in a machine...sooo much more sustainable!

Reflecting on this- I began to wonder why we hadn't made line drying a part of our routine before? - to take advantage of the natural energy we can take freely and cleanly from the sky... 

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