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April 16 – April 29, 2015

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Zen for Spring

zen bedroomUnlike what most people think, introducing a Zen sensibility to your space is quite easy. Zen interiors mean living a simple lifestyle and having a design aesthetics that lend a calming effect to your home. It does not require extensive remodeling of your home; a few quick changes can create a huge impact.

Here are four quick and easy ways to Zen your space this Spring:

Live a Clutter Free Life

The first and probably the most important rule of Zen decorating is getting rid of clutter. The Japanese art of home decoration believes that clutter creates chaos and will not let your mind be at ease. Clear everything that disturbs your line of sight. Find décor pieces on your mantel and pictures on the walls a new home. Open spaces enhance the free flow of Chi-energy and it will instantly have a positive effect. You will quickly realize the importance of a clutter free home.

Spare the Bright Colors

Zen decorating emphasizes on the use of earthy tones. Your Zen home should be like a retreat where you can relax and feel at ease. Bright colors disturb the balance. Look for invigorating and fresh earthy tones like greens, browns, and blues. These are subtle and soft thus making your home feel close to nature. Painting is the easiest and a cheapest solution to bringing in a Zen effect.

Use Natural Materials for Décor

Zen decorating does not mean having a sparsely decorated, boring home. In fact, decorating with details is an interesting aspect of Zen principles. Use the five elements of nature – earth, water, fire, metal, and wood in your décor. Bring in potted house plants that will add vibrancy and cheerfulness to your space. Consider a mix of metal and wood for furniture which is modern, yet clean and simple. Decorate your bare walls with serene paintings and pictures. Limit your décor to one color per room. Use objects found in nature like rocks, shells, and twigs to creatively decorate your space. You can fill a glass bowl with shells for display on the mantel.

Organization and Storage

Organization is another important aspect of Zen design. An organized home will help you keep calm and peace. Take time to organize your closets, the kids’ room, drawers, refrigerator, and the pantry. These are some places where clutter tends to build up quicker than you think. Make use of storage bins and boxes, label them neatly, and create a place in the house for them. When everything is neatly stacked and labeled, it will free your mind from small issues like finding birthday candles at the nick of time and will give you the opportunity to be at ease.

New Caribbean US Embassies?

 caribbean map
Rep. Eliot L. Engel (D-NY) has introduced the U.S.-Caribbean Partnership Act, a bill that would establish new embassies in five English-speaking island nations:  Antigua & Barbuda, Dominica, St. Kitts & Nevis, St. Lucia, and St. Vincent & the Grenadines.  At present, the U.S. Embassy in Bridgetown, Barbados, handles all diplomatic and consular affairs with the five countries.

“At times, we feel excluded from the thrust of U.S. diplomatic outreach,” said Charles Hubert Charles, Dominica’s ambassador in Washington, in the Washington Diplomat's Diplomatic Pouch.  “Other countries like Brazil and Canada have found it possible to establish facilities in our small Eastern Caribbean states. The bottom line is, we’re sure the U.S. can find cost-effective options to do so as well,” he continued. Interestingly, Venezuela and Cuba also have embassies in all five countries.

By any measure, the five countries in question are tiny. The largest of them, St. Lucia, has a population of 172,000 — about the size of Newport News, Virginia. And only 46,000 people live on St. Kitts & Nevis, making the twin-island republic the smallest independent nation in the Western Hemisphere.

Altogether, the five countries comprise just over 1 percent of the Caribbean’s total population of 43 million. The cost per-capita would be prohibitive,” said one critic.

Book Review: Trinity High

trinity high book reviewTrinity High: Back to School by CNN Lokko presents a remarkable portrait of life among high school girl residents in a fictional boarding house in Ghana.  The holidays are over and the atmosphere at the school is undeniably euphoric as students return to their dormitories and the junior girls catch up on gossip and slang among their cliques.  They are also wary about the senior students and their penchant for sending junior students on errands and unending tasks.

Trinity High: Back to School, the sequel to Trinity High: Students-in-Crime, follows the friendship of two girls, Naa Atswei Richter and her friend, Sandra.  It charts their adventures, conflicts, and most importantly their quest for justice and fairness in some established practices of Trinity High seniors. For example, seniors impose fines for seized items. They also cut corners at the tap, when it’s not their turn to fetch water. The two friends detest these impositions, but sometimes, use unethical means to assert their rights or pay back for wrongdoing.

Click Here for More of the Review

Note:  This is the latest review provided by Africa Access, an organization that promotes the availability of books about Africa the organization has reviewed and deemed as being more accurate, more balanced.

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DC Celebrates Emancipation Day

dc emancipation day logo 
In 1864, Abraham Lincoln commissioned a Civil War Naval Hospital near the Marine Barracks on Capitol Hill in the nation’s capital. As a result, The Old Naval Hospital opened its doors in 1866 and Benjamin Drummond, an African American seaman, was the hospital's first patient. The series of lectures at the renovated Old Naval Hospital is named in his honor.

Participants include scholars Dr. Daryl M. Scott, Dr. Kate Masur, Dr. Edna Greene-Medford, Dr. James Downs; journalists, Scott Stossel, Yoni Appelbaum, Krissah Thompson; celebrity chef Carla Hall, and poets Nikki Giovanni and Kyle Dargan.

Topics include African American Foodways during the Civil War, Reparations, Emancipation and the Struggle Over Equality in the District of Columbia, and Poems of the Anglo-African and Anti-Slavery Standard.

For full event details visit: BenjaminDrummondDC.org.

Gambia Clothes Drives

gambia clothes drive 
Your Spring cleaning can be gold to the groups the Port Of Harlem Gambian Education Partnership (POHGEP)  is working with in The Gambia.  Our goal is to send Secca Memorial School and the Baobab Youth Development Association each a barrel of second hand clothing. 

They will use the clothing to set up a market to resell the clothing at very reasonable prices.  They will use the small profits to fund scholarships for children in need.  While there is not much profit in the reselling of clothes, largely due to shipping costs, POHGEP supports the group’s efforts to help themselves.

POHGEP is a 501 (c) charity.  Your hand in the effort is fully tax deductible.

Clothing for a rural, warm weather setting is best, this includes:  shoes, sports shoes, and light children’s, men’s, and women’s wear. They have limited use of coats, sweaters, and ties. To make a donation, call or text Wayne at POHGEP, 202-378-8905 or send a message to president@pohgep.net

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port of harlem gambian education partnership

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Obama Improves Relations
with Cuba

our cuban cousinsAt the Summit of the Americas in Panama City, Cuban President Raúl Castro scorned America's historical relationship with Latin America, but praised President Obama as “an honest man.” Obama formally moved Tuesday to remove Cuba from the list of countries supporting terrorism, which opens new opportunities for cooperation between the U.S. and Cuba.

From our Archives:

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south african craft fair in ny
1st Annual South African Craft Show - New York

Washington, DC
DC Government  Emancipation Day Events
Thu, Apr 16, free

Benjamin Drummond Emancipation Day Celebration
(Explores African American Life & Culture During the Civil War)
Hill Center at the Old Naval Hospital
921 Pennsylvania Ave SE
Thu, Apr 16 – Sun, Apr 19, free

Intergenerational Health Fair
Howard Community Center
4400 Shell Street
Capitol Heights, MD
Sat, Apr 18, 10a-2p, free

Leonard, Coleman & Blunt
Carlyle Club
2050 Ballenger Avenue
Alexandria, VA
Sun, Apr 19, 6:30p, $35

New Carrollton:
New modes for a new destination
Smart Growth Walking Tour
Sat, Apr 25 10a-noon, free, RSVP

Baltimore, MD
Columbia Festival of the Arts 2015 Spring Festival
Thu, Apr 16 -  Sun, Apr 19, $

Wurtzburger African Art Gallery
Baltimore Museum of Art (BMA)
Reopening Sun, Apr 26
(The gallery expanded to more than three times its former size)

Houston, TX
An Intimate Evening with Lee Daniels
Houston Art Alliance benefit
Hotel ZaZa
5701 Main St
Thu, Apr 23, 7:30p, $

New York, NY
Jacob Lawrence’ Migration Series
(all 60 panels)
Museum of Modern Art
Through Mon, Sep 7, $14-$25

1st Annual South African Craft Show 
St. Mark's Church in-the-Bowery
131 E. 10th Street
(Use the 11th Street Entrance)
Sat, Apr 18, 10a – 5p, $

Philadelphia, PA
Horace Pippin: The Way I See It
Brandywine River Museum of Art
U.S. Route 1
Chadds Ford, PA
Sat, Apr 25 through Sun, Jul 19, $

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al sharpton on shootings

Breaking: NBC's Lester Holt talks to the man who shot the video of the confrontation between Walter Scott and Police Officer Michael Slager

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