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GoodPlanet Foundation

February 18, 2018

The foundation GoodPlanet opened in 2005 at the Domaine de Longchamp, Paris: this is a huge place lost in the woods where everybody can enjoy a pretty garden, with a lot of work of art.

We visited this foundation a few months ago and were completely moved by this huge testimony of mankind.

“When you enter the foundation, you feel like you’re in a private mansion” Kim said.

Trees as far as the eye can see which hide a huge and bushy forest, white gravel path, and at the end, a beautiful white castle few stairs. Next to the house, a little café, a clearing and at high tower; still another way to be dive in Middle Age. In a word, this area is a true paradise : the architecture and the garden are splendid. And for good reasons, this castle was the house of  Hausmann few centuries ago.

The owner of the place: Yann Arthus Bertrand, a famous ecologist and French reporter who decided to devote his life to ecology and humanism. All his life he has traveled all around the world, with his camera to film the Earth seen from the sky for example. Moreover, he is interested in gardening, animal treatment, recycling, music (a place is dedicated to the musical instruments of the world) and meditation.

In 2005, he decided to dedicate this place to his work as ecologist, reporter and humanist: the entrance is free, you give what you want to help the foundation.Thanks to the creation of the foundation, Bertrand could materialize his project and make them known to everyone.

The aim of the foundation is to raise awareness of  how the humans destroy the Earth and how we can fix it by being more responsible and sensitive to the ecologist action.

Indeed, inside the foundation, you can see some worrying statistics about the education in the world, deforestation, women cause, dictatorship, access to drinkable water and so on.

Recently, he exposed his “behind the scenes” or cut scenes of his recent movie HUMANa movie that you can watch freely on Youtube.

HUMAN is a documentary which deals with people’s lives from every place in the world. Journalists traveled more than 2 years to collect testimonies from women, men, but also mothers, children, criminals, taxi drivers etc. They are talking about their life experience and touchy subjects such as homophobia, poverty, women conditions, global warming, war… Everybody is interviewed against a black backdrop so everybody is on an equal footing; the only thing that we know about people are their name, age and nationality.

The aim of this project is to show the diversity of the world, cultures, religions, people, by talking about environment, justice, science and also agriculture. 

(Here is a link to see a short interview about Yann Arthus Betrand’s project : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tlOz0Eh4f2Y&t=323s)

A construction was created to illustrate this huge testimony : the Bing Bang is made of pieces of wood to symbolically represent the diversity of the population.

This piece of wood, made by Étienne KRÄHENBÜHL is also a musical instrument. People can touch it, shake it, compress it in order to make this piece of art breathe. The suspencion enlarges itself, shrinks itself to create everytime a different sound, a different melody.

Jeanne and Kimberley

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The sign language in France

February 16, 2018

Sign language is a popular language but it was recognized only a few decades ago. Thanks to the linguist William Stokoe, the sign language is now considered as an official language; knowing that, a sign language belongs to each country.

In France, there are between 45 and 60 sign languages. Indeed this language was created unofficially. That’s why people all around the country, who suffered from deafness, created by themselves, a language. Through the 18th century, religious people taught to deaf kids sign language. Pedro Ponce de Leon was the major teacher of this particular language. In 1880, the Milano Congress decided to abandon the sign language at school. This is how the Verb pervaded everything at the expense of the Deaf Community. However, sign language didn’t disappear : people continued to learn it ‘’illegaly’’. Thus, we quickly unsderstand that there are as many sign languages as deaf communities.

In 1960, the American scientist Stokoe wrote the first sign language dictionary. Since May 68, the condition of the deaf community has changed:  Congress and an Association have been created such as the UNISDA (Union Nationale pour l’Intégration Sociale des Déficients Auditifs). Moreover in 1992 the International Visual Theater was founded to teach the sign language. Thus, the political question of the deaf community is little by little making progress. French deaf understand quickly that in other countries, such as in the USA, deaf people have more rights and all the country is open-minded and aware of deafness. In France, as all around the world, peolple have started to talk about it through movies, documentary, articles… :

Among the movies or documentaries leading to the awakening of the population to  the Deaf Community, we can quote:

The documentary Le Pays des sourds, by Nicolas Phillibertin 1982

More rencently the movie La famille Belier by Éric Lartigau in 2014

Or the American series Switched at Birth which deals with social inequalities and handicap

All around the world, the situation of deaf  improves. We talk about the community through books, series …

In 1991,Henri Wittmann decided to classify the sign language.

Between 1980 and 1995, a dozen of countries recognized the sign language as an official language. Among them the USA, Portugal, Brazil, Algeria, Spain…
Since 2008, you can take the option sign language for the bac in France. In 2014, this option seduced more than 1300 people.

Through this article, I have spoken about the sign language but it’s not the only way to communicate with a deaf. You have also the LCP aka the Cued Speech which is used originally for babies. It’s a labial reading of the language, you sign the consonant of the word.

Little by little, step by step, the deaf community and the sign language is recognized not only as a handicap but also as a community and a culture.

I hope I have taught you a bit about this unknown culture.

Kimberley

Black Mirror

February 14, 2018

Black Mirror is a TV series which was released in 2011 by Charlies Brooker by Netflix.

You don’t have main characters because each episod focuses on one problem of our society. More precisely it unveils the link that Mankind has with the technology of nowadays.

The series falls into two categories: Science fiction(sci-fi) and drama. Like its name, sci-fi is a genre which defines  a new world mostly futuristic where technology is advanced. The aim of sci-fi is to raise people’s awareness of the danger of, not technology itself, but the way which mankind uses it in society.

The drama part deals with  the human behaviour which in most cases is led by technology.  I chose one episode of the series that I liked when I watched it because it is really close to our contemporary society.

It is the first episode of season 3 called  “Nosedive”.

The main character Lacie Pound lives to please others. People are rated from 0 to 5 according to the population. The better you are rated, the better you have benefits. To set an example every district is ranked among your rate. A disctrict can be  reserved for people who have  a rate higher than 3.5.  Lacie has 4.2 out of 5.  For Lacie, it isn’t enough she wants to have 5. Her brother on the contrary scorns this system. Lacie is in admiration in front of  her friend Naomi who got 4.6.  She hires a consultant to coach her to get there,  in order to make sure that every interaction with another person is good enough to earn their 5.0 rating.

Lacie is searching a new appartment because she doesn’t want  to share it with her brother anymore due to his indignation. Unfortunately, she has  to get more than  4.5 to have a reduction of rent. When Naomi called her to be her maid of honor she sees here the perfect opportunity to soaring her rate. However on the way she makes mistakes that plummeting her rate to 2.8 and when she manages to arrive at the reception, Naomi doesn’t want her here anymore. The only reason for Naomi was to improve her own rate. Lacie, despite  Naomi’s warnings, comes into the place; she is totally drank and starts to speak freely, she is arrested and she sent to jail.

I have been completely shocked when I saw this episode because this situation could be closer to reality than we think. Indeed we have already all this system of likes and followers on social networks with Instagram and Facebook. People are mostly  interested in how much people  suscribe to them. This phenomenon could become a reality in a few years.

Manoa

Sexism in Hollywood

February 4, 2018

On October 5, 2017, Hollywood was struck by the Harvey Weinstein’s scandal. Indeed, the famous movie producer was accused of allegations of harassment and sexual assaults. The case was related in The New York Times : he is said to have sexually harassed actresses, employees, models and interns.

In the wake of this revelation, some famous women opened up about their experiences. Ashley Judd, a famous actress, was harassed for 20 years ago  by Harvey Weinstein. He invited her to a hotel in Beverly Hills for what she thought was a breakfast meeting. When she arrived, he was wearing a bathrobe, and he asked her to give him a massage.

His defense message about what happened shocked the opinion. Indeed Harvey Weinstein said “ I came of age in the 60s and 70s, when all the rules about behaviour and workplaces were different. That was the culture then…I appreciate the way I’ve behaved with colleagues in the past has caused a lot of pain, and I sincerely apologize for it”.

Other actresses expressed themselves about this thorny situation. Tessa Thompson who plays the character of Valkyrie in the latest Thor said “It is time for us to excavate those things. Not just in Hollywood – to me, Hollywood is just a microcosm of what happens (in the world). In every workplace, women need to feel like they’re respected”.

She wants to expose that sexism is everywhere even in the Hollywood field, women suffer from being discriminated against because of their sex. They are for example less paid than men. For example, if we combine the salary of the 10 best paid men, the result is 415 million dollars. Yet, the result of the salary of the 10 best paid women is “only” 224 million dollars.

The scandal had an effect on the entire world. Indeed, before, most of the time the victims gave up their complaints because of a lack of evidence or being too afraid of the consequences. They used to feel like it is their fault and felt ashamed. That is why the guilt was not incriminated and could act again.

On social media, there are now some hashtags like #balancetonporc and #metoo. It highlights the fact taht women are no longer afraid to talk about this situation. It is not only a way to show that they shouldn’t feel ashamed, but also to say that they are not alone, in other words they are not an isolated case. Women can talk about daily sexism from harassment to sexual aggressions. Yet, these movements have also a seamy side. Indeed social media became a place for women to expose some sexist acts , which sometimes are not. Then it turns into men’s trials, and it is not a real justice. By contrast, women should go to the police in order to expose men in front of a court and not in front of every person on the web.

However some figures cannot be ignored, for example a test has been made on the Belgian population :

  • 13% of women asked have been victims of a rape
  • 25% of women asked have seen their partner imposed them sexual relations
  • 46% of people asked have been victims of at least one grave sexual violence such as rape or harassment.
  • 7% of women asked have been forced to have sexual relations with their superior.
  • 23% of women asked have been touched in public places

 

 

 

We can also talk about crimes against women in India:

  • there is a rape every 29 minutes
  • there is a molestation every 15 minutes
  • there is sexual harassment every 53 minutes
  • there is a murder every 16 minutes
  • there is a cruelty act every 9 minutes
  • there is a dowry death every 77 minutes

Some advertising campaigns are made nowadays to make people aware of sexual issues. Women have to realize that the consent is paramount in any situation and that they are not obliged to do anything if they do not want to. Their body belongs to them and no one, even someone they know and love, should force them. Men should respect women’s wish otherwise it turns into a rape.

Camille M.

Champion Paris!

February 2, 2018

Double Victory for the Paris Saint Germain on December 9th with their success against Lille (3-1) thanks to Di Maria, Pastore and Mbappe which means that they win the title of Autumn Champions.

This status is not a real trophee but it marks the break of the season before the winter rest and allows teams to make an assessment of this first part of the season, check their position in the ranking and define the objective of the second part. With this match, the Paris Saint-Germain team finally took the win up again after losing their two previous matches against Strasbourg and Bayern which is a good thing for the mental and cohesion of the team.

So what is the appraisal of PSG in this first part? It’s a positive one. About the championship, they made a killing, they have 47 points after 18 games (15 victories, 2 draws and 1 lost), a point less in comparison to their phenomenal season two years ago. Actually, it’s not really surprising because of the arrival of Alves, Neymar and Mbappe that allow the team to progress, and furthermore since last year, the PSG team can rely on a great Cavani, who is now 1 goal away from Ibrahimovic’s record. That’s why the team is so monstruous this year and offers us beautiful games (PSG/Guiguamp 6-2; Metz/PSG 1-5) in its lively stadium, the Parc des Princes, which has seen the return of the Ultras.

Now about the Champions League : they were in Group B with the Celtic, Anderlecht and The Bayern Munich, a worthy opponent, which permitted the PSG to confirm its good results in League1 and test if they could pretend winning  the Champions League. And again, the team did not disappoint. They played big games, showed their power even if they only lost one match against the Bayern in Germany but this didn’t prevent from finishing first in the group. But of course, all of this was a kind of preparation because the real competition will start on February 14th with their match against Real Madrid so they have to take heed because even if they had good results and their opponent know difficulties (they are 4th in the Liga and are 16 points behind Barcelona).

Then a word about the mercato: indeed the Paris Saint-Germain knew troubles about the financial fair play with their spending and the fact that they did not reduce their payroll. So they have 1 month to try to seal the future of some of their players like Ben Arfa (he has not played since the beginning of the season), Di Maria or Jese and Krychowiak who are lent.

To conclude, we can say that the PSG is one of the most powerful team in Europe thanks to their recruits and results and it’s interseting to see how they will start this second period of the year, in the same mood or not.

Bettina

Yukio Mishima and the Golden Pavilion

January 31, 2018

I ‘ve read my first book by Mishima called The Golden Pavilion, which was published in 1956 and translated in French by Marc Mécréant in 1961. It is based on a real story, when in 1950 a young buddhist monk called Mizoguchi burned the golden pavilion constructed in 1400 in Kyoto. This event shocked a lot of Japanese people at the time. In the novel, the narrator is the incendiary himself, and the author describes his situation and why he did that. He was in fact afflicted by ugliness and stuttering, which prevented him from feeling well in his body and with others. The author also explains the madness of this boy, because of his obsession with beauty.

Mizoguchi was educated by his father, who was a famous buddhist priest, with the idea that the Golden Pavilion was the paroxysm of beauty on earth, and these images became little by little an obsession for Mizoguchi and a reference for his perception of aesthetic.
Because he was poor and stuttered, he didn’t have any friends at school and so he took refuge in fantasies of revenge. After the death of his father, he became a novice at the Golden Pavilion. And so with time, he developed and exacerbated fascination for this monument. During the novel, Mizoguchi develops the ambition of being the master of the Golden Pavilion (because the the current master needs a successor), and of being its destroyer.

The quest for ultimate communion by committing the irreparable, constitutes its secret destiny. Reaching  the very heart of evil and annihilating the sacred among the sacred by an act of “pure abolition”, constitutes his ultimate goal.

Now let’s talk about the author of the novel, Yukio Mishima. He is a Japanese writer, born in 1925, and he died in 1970 by committing suicide by the harakiri, which is a traditional form of suicide in Japan (but I will develop it in another article).

During his childhood, he spent his time with his grandmother who was sick and would spend all her time in her bed, but she could also be very violent with him, so it developed in Mishima a fascination for death and exaggeration. She wanted to preserve him and so she would forbid him from seeing the sun, playing sports and seeing his friends. Mishima would spend all his time in her bedroom reading his grandmother’s books of  French and Dutch literature.
But she would also bring her sometimes to the theatre Kabuki, which is an epic form of traditional Japanese theatre, where the actors have a lot of makeup on and a lot of accessories in order to show the paroxysms and reversal of the play. It was at the time something quite avant garde. And the young Mishima really loved to go there, he believed that life was like a theatre :  everyone is playing a role and is hiding his face behind a mask. She also wanted him to be the best, so she put him in the most prestigious high school.

When the Second World War started, Mishima was summoned to go to the Japanese army, but he pretended to have a tuberculosis and didn’t go. He was relieved to have escaped the war, but he was also feeling ashamed and guilty because he lost a chance to die in a heroic way.
He started to write books in secret, because his father didn’t want him to.
Then he graduated at the prestigious Tokyo University, and entered the Ministry of Finance where he was promised to have a great career. But he decided instead to write books and his father accepted that he did so, only if he did that to become the greatest writer.
He published his first novel Tozoku in 1946. In 1948 he published Confessions of a mask, an autobiographical book about a little boy who is hiding his homosexual desires; he knew thanks to this book a very big success, he started to have an international fame. He was tipped three times that he would get the Nobel Prize of Literature.

He had a rather excessive life with his wife, he frequented a lot the Japanese homosexual environment, he did a lot of parties at his house, and he made photographies where he showed off his body, with an avant garde homosexual aesthetic, that made him become a real icon.
Then until the end of his life, he wrote his most important work, that is a a cycle of four novels called The Sea of Fertility.

In the 1960s he expressed his highly nationalist ideas, he joined the Japanese self-help forces and then created his own private militia intended to protect the emperor.
On 25th November 1970, he would tempt to do a coup, so  he came to the Japanese Ministry of Defence, he summoned his troops, and made a big speech in favor of traditional Japan, and he praised the emperor, and then in front of them, he committed suicide by the seppuku (traditional form of suicide in Japan where you die like a samurai: you slice your belly with a sword).

Some people say that this attempt of a coup was only a symbolic pretext intended to accomplish this ritual suicide that Mishima had always fantasized about and that he had premeditated and staged long ago.
Marguerite Yourcenar wrote a book about him called Mishima: La vision du vide, and she says that his death was his most prepared artwork.

Diane.

Christmas markets tradition

January 25, 2018

Since my childhood, during Christmas season, I have liked strolling though Christmas market streets, smelling the hot red wine and the cheese, hearing the bells, and feeling the freezing air in my neck.

In Paris, the snow is not always there, so to get a little bit of the Christmas atmosphere, the Christmas market is a good compromise.
This passion followed me all my chilhood and my teenagehood. So imagine my happiness when my mother told me that we would spend holidays in Strasbourg, the city of Christmas.
In this city there are more than 15 Christmas markets with bretzels, hot red wine, flammenkuche and bredeles (typical cookies) everywhere… What a paradise!


Strasbourg was the first French city to welcome the tradition of the Christmas market in 1570. But the idea first came from Germany. First, in the Late Middle Age, winter markets and December markets were put in place in Europe. In those markets, we found food, toys, … The first Christmas market was created in 1434 in the city of Dresden, Germany and was approved by Frederick II, Elector of Saxony. The event only lasted one day. In Germany, Christmas markets are called Striezelmarkt. In those markets, the meat is the main food you can find. But the unforgettable thing in this market is the 14-meter Christmas pyramid.
It was in Nuremberg that  the “Lebkuchen” (gingerbread cookies) was born.
According to German people, Martin Luther boosted the popularity of Christmas markets by bringing gifts on Christmas Eve, rather than on St. Nicholas Day (December 6).
Little by little, Christmas market developed in Europe and then all around the world. What is interesting is the fact that each Christmas market has a particularity, a typical monument, a tradition.
A site even gathers the best Christmas markets of the world : https://www.insidethetravellab.com/trip-advice/christmas-markets-traditions/


Since my trip to Strasbourg and Colmar, I just want to discover as many Christmas markets as possible, taste the traditional food of each country, and always feel this Christmas atmosphere that I like so much!

I hope that I brought back a little bit of the Christmas fever that went by so fast!

Kimberley