August 27, 2011

Pandas in the Capital

Cute picture of young pandas, not in DC. Had to have at least one photo of the real McCoy.

The National Zoo is one of four zoos (Atlanta, Memphis, San Diego being the other 3) that displays pandas on exhibit. Washington D.C. seems to take this as a point of pride, and capitalizes on the creature's appeal. PandaMania (2004) allowed artists to paint or decorate 150 pandas and display them citywide before auctioning them off. WWF had one in their building:

but the library near my house had one too:

This panda was painted on the wall behind the same library.

And of course, all the staff at WWF refer to themselves as pandas (mascot-like). Here we are, the 2011 summer intern pandas:

These pandas were statues at the zoo (I never saw more than a foot or an ear of the live versions when I went to visit them).

And I saw this bit of urban art on the bridge on my way to work.

After 50 years, the WWF panda symbol is one of the most widely recognized logos anywhere. If people don't know what "WWF" is, they are sure to recognize the environmental work that has been done by "that panda group". I was proud to call myself a panda this summer.

DC Nights

Most nights I'd get home around 9:30 or 10 after exercising and finding something to eat. I'd wind down, maybe read or watch something on hulu, and head to bed. My roommate, Pauline, a young French woman, would inevitably stay out late going to bars and hanging out with other interns, and making me feel old or at least stodgy.

One night, though, I was invited to a freestyle hip-hop/funk show at Althea's house. Althea works at WWF as a new hire, in the Coastal East Africa program, and is applying for a Fulbright: I was going to do that! (o: The show was rad: the band had their full sound system set-up in her living room. The house was full of cool people, and we had a blast encouraging the music, and dancing our funky hearts out. It was HOT. You could say sweltering, even. But totally worth the drenchedness, and accidentally getting pulled over by the cops when I tried to take a short cut biking through the zoo after hours that night (oops!). I excused myself around midnight "lest I turn into a pumpkin" I explained to the younger stay-up-all-night-Australians.
Another night, I talked Pauline into staying home with me. It was the night after the full moon, and we decided to go for a midnight walk to enjoy the lunar orb. We had a hilarious and fun time walking around our neighborhood, attempting to snap pictures of the moon with the poor functions on her camera and the camera I was borrowing.

Animals at WWF US

Several of WWF's environmental conservation efforts are centered on charismatic megafauna (yes, that is actually a technical term) to garner the support of its members and donors. People connect with rhinos, pandas, tigers, and lemurs more than they do with moles, small fishes, and insects, and are more likely to support endeavors related to big cuddly looking animals. Luckily, these large creatures are often great sentinels for the health of the rest of the ecosystem where they live. "If we save the tiger's habitat," the theory goes, "we'll be saving the habitat of hundreds of other species as well." Over the years, many of the staff have collected plush versions of our conservation efforts. It's kind of fun walking around and seeing so many smiling doll-eyed creatures in so many cubicles and offices. While the office is smack-dab in the middle of urban DC, these creatures/toys remind us of the important work we're doing.

long armed monkey blind-fold/riding rhino, some wolves, iguanas and a snake, birds and the regulars

luau white tiger, snowy owl, blue-footed booby, and friends

Okapi, snow leopard & prairie dog, whale shark & chickadee,
octopus & clownfish & seaturtle, some sculptural creatures

giant salamander, 3 toed sloth, some rhinos, primates, and more

August 26, 2011

Perks at WWF

One perk of working at WWF is "the junk mail" listserve. It's how I found my awesome apartment (offered at discount price to WWF interns by a regular staff member), it's where people posted "hey look at this awesome press WWF just got!" messages, and it's how you find out when there are extra cookies, sandwiches and snacks in the kitchens. You have to be quick responding to these sorts of things if you want to take advantage of them, but it's well worth it. My favorite fringe benefit from Junk Mail was getting 4 free opening night tickets to see the play Oklahoma! which I shared with Lisa, Dodon, and Leah (other MIIS students living in DC for the summer). It was rad! The theatre that it was in was really amazing from an architectural standpoint. The play itself was engaging and really freaking fun. It's amazing to me how good professional plays are after years of seeing amateur local plays. I'd go to another, absolutely. Thanks WWF for hooking us up with these rad free tickets!

Another perk is that every other friday at WWF is a day off! Why this is an excellent way to run an NGO:
-for only ~35 more minutes of work/day for the preceding 2 weeks, you get a 3 day weekend regularly!
-the NGO gets to cut down on electricity and cleaning by 10%
-commuter energy is cut down by 10%
-thus the environmental NGO practices what it preaches
-did I mention regular 3 day weekends?!


As promised, a couple photos of the ascot I bought at Ginger Root Designs. I love it. I'm even wearing it today (in realtime, in Portland).

SIT Rafiki and Indonesian Festival

One day, I (aka Amana) met up with Julie Narimatsu and Marjorie Mulhall (aka Jaribu and Macho)--two ladies who were in the same study abroad program with me in Tanzania ten years ago. It was so wonderful to see them. They're both working to make the world a better place, and I'm happy to know them still. Julie had a crazy year: she got married, pregnant, bought a house, a new car, and will have her baby. Major changes! Marjorie recently moved from a NYC law firm to DC to work at Earth Justice. Very cool.
We met up at an Ethiopian restaurant where the ceiling was painted like the sun, with a skylight in the center. Cool.

After our meal, I went to the Indonesian Festival where I was supposed to wear the WWF panda costume on stage (in 100 degree+ weather). I was looking forward to being the WWF mascot, but alas, the time for WWF's spot on stage changed and I was unwittingly about 40 minutes late. My friends were glad I didn't die of heatstroke inside the costume, though.

Black Squirrels in DC due to conservation efforts 100 years ago

Apparantly, in 1889 the grey squirrel was an endangered species in Washington DC, due to overhunting. They began a rehabilitation/breed/release program in the city, which has clearly done well. However, since the current population started from such a small population, the genepool is thickly filled with dark-fur genotypes. Hence, these normally rare black-colored Grey Squirrels, are in relative abundance in DC. Cute!

I am an artist.

This summer, for whatever reason, I settled on this sentence: "I am an artist". In my life, I have always valued creativity, and thought of myself as being creative. I did artistic things, but was never comfortable saying "I am an artist". Perhaps I needed to feel a bit more self-actualized in my professional/career life, or perhaps I've been wrestling with that potential moniker long enough (or both), but I woke up one day and was at peace with the thought. I realized that being artistic is not just something I schedule into my life as something to practice; it has become part of what I do/the way I interact with my world whether scheduled or not. If I see something beautiful, I pick it up to integrate into a collage later on. If I see a picture of a Mona Lisa that reminds me of a cat, I add the cat features to finish the look. I just do these things without calculating or planning anymore. I am an artist. Happy.
My cat for the summer.

Grinding pendant glass outside in the backyard.

I bought these homemade glitter buttons and replaced the boring ones on this jacket.
I added the double sleeve buttons for more appeal and glitz.

Me, surrounded by creative collaged mosaic/shell balls.

Pre-'creativized' phone picture formats are fun,
but it can be difficult to really express yourself in spite of the hipstery-vintage formulations.
I try, though!
This is supposed to be lightning bugs outside my apartment.
I loved the lightning bugs, crickets, and cicadas this summer.

This is my bedside table. The underwater scene came with the apartment, and I thought it was appropriate given my summer of working on aquaculture. The sash on top came from a jacket I bought in Lexington at an antique store--I tore the collar off (the sash), and plan to create a dance costume with it. Below is my mini travel 'altar'.
My mini travel 'altar' includes: Goofy's foot button (from childhood, represents silliness), jade fish (used to by my grandparents'--represents my dedication to marine conservation), pewter miniature castle (from my childhood, represents imagination), wax seal (the image is of a peace dove=peace. duh), 4 leaf clover bit (given to me in Lexington by Howie, my former boss. Good luck!), sparkly button (represents...sparkles?!!!), ceramic rabbit (my 'power animal' representing patience among other things). The doily was made by hand by a Japanese woman who was super thankful to me for offering uberfresh eggs to her daughter (whom I work with at Seafood Watch) last semester.

Eggs filling our fridge.

Independence Day in DC

What a place to spend Independence Day! The Fourth was really fun. I headed down to the Capitol where I met up with Lisa, Dodon, and their friend Josie. Thank goodness they had gotten there early--we had a great spot in front of the stage. We picnicked on pie, juice, veggies, cheese and crackers, waved our large american flag, and snoozed while we waited for the show to begin. The show included Steve Martin and his bluegrass band, the best rendition of the Star Spangled Banner I have ever heard (sung by Jordin Sparks), Little Richard, Naval big band (I'm sure it's called something else), and lots more. Steve Martin said, "it's always been a dream of mine to play banjo on the steps of our capitol on the 4th of July, and tonight I think I'm one step closer to that dream." Ha haha. It was fabulous, and after the sun set, fireworks exploded beyond the Washington Monument. Unfortunately our view was a bit obscured by the smoke from the live cannons that had been shot during the 1812 Overture, but the cheering and singing of all those around us was super invigorating. Yay, America!

Security in front of the Capitol

Crowds of Amurikins

Carvings around DC

I normally don't apologize for not keeping my blogs up to date: things happen, that's life, I'll get to it when I can. So here I am, I'm in Portland, OR, and have already been out of DC for 3 weeks, but it's time for me to update my blog, finally! So before I get to Monterey and Portland and the rest of my life, I'll catch you up to the rest of my time in DC!

DC has lots of animal carvings; on buildings, fences, bridges... It's fun to look up and see a buffalo running in marble above you on the bridge.
Those things that look like "H"s below the 2nd story windows are elephants.

Lion on a bridge, near the zoo.

George Washington and friends.

Ducks near the gym.