About Verena Radulovic

Verena is a Washington D.C.-based photographer and writer with a penchant for the color orange, home renovations and travel that regularly confronts her fear of turbulence, requiring her to cross large bodies of water in an airplane. Save for the wake of carbon emissions left by her trips, in her wheelhouse she often thinks about ways we can consume less stuff to live with a lighter footprint on the planet. You can view her work and blogposts at www.vraduphotography.com

The Day After Snowzilla

Six years ago, during Washington’s 2010 Snowmaggedon, the blizzard winds nearly knocked me horizontal as I trudged to a friend’s birthday dinner fully clad in ski gear, goggles and all. The storm dumped so much snow on a city unable to manage the slightest dusting, that most of its population stayed home from work as the government’s doors stayed shut. And we played, romping around the city. Dupont Circle’s epic snowball fight, with over 1,000 participants set the stage, and expectation, for snow events to come.
 
This weekend’s Snowzilla 2016 descended over the swampy banks of the nation’s capital at around 1:30pm, Friday January 22. Just in time to heed Ryan’s tips for surviving the snow, hour-long lines at the grocery store snaked around the aisles and ended at the produce section. Cheese, wine, hot cocoa and toilet paper were gone by the afternoon. Metro didn’t even bother to try. The city’s transit system closed its doors until Monday
Snowzilla 2016, Washington, D.C.

Snowzilla 2016, Washington, D.C.

Snowzilla 2016, Washington, D.C.

Snowzilla 2016, Washington, D.C.

By Saturday morning streets and cars disappeared under a heavy white blanket and a wonderland beckoned.

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Creative Impact: Empowerment Solar

In 2004, Jonathan Morgenstein had a very big problem on his hands. A civil affairs officer with the U.S. Marine Corps stationed in Iraq, he was responsible for rebuilding one-third of Ramadi, capital of Al-Anbar province, when insurgents destroyed the high voltage power lines that fed electricity into every home in the city. Watching the Iraqis struggle for weeks on end with no electricity he now faced escalating chaos as one swift act unleashed a chain reaction of black-market-driven violence, disproportionately affecting Iraqi civilians and U.S. military personnel. His experience profoundly changed the way he views how electricity gets delivered and how the design of electrical infrastructure impacts a community’s resilience when warfare comes knocking. Jonathan came home to the U.S. and learned how to install solar panels, as have many other veterans who deem America’s reliance on fossil fuels a national security liability. However, the former Senate foreign policy advisor went back to the Middle East, this time to create Empowerment Solar, a company that puts solar electricity generation in the hands of individuals as a form of economic self-empowerment, starting with businesses in the Palestinian West Bank. He sees solar electricity as a salve for the future, especially in the Middle East.  Here, he and his brother, a co-founder, talk about what happens when the lights go out in a war zone, why solar is poised to become the cheapest form of electricity, and what Palestinians think of Americans doing business there.

Jonathan Morgenstein (L) and his brother David Morgenstein (R) started Empowerment Solar to bring solar electricity to businesses in the Palestinian West Bank.

Jonathan Morgenstein (L) and his brother David Morgenstein (R) started Empowerment Solar to bring solar electricity to businesses in the Palestinian West Bank.

This interview has been edited for brevity. Continue reading

Favorite Things

This weekend marked the official start of the Great Holiday Shopping Frenzy (although I did notice that some stores began serenading customers with Christmas music around Halloween). Le sigh.

However, for those looking for gifts, below is a list of some of my favorite things, based on our five senses.
 
1) Touch. Cashmere fingerless gloves made from post-consumer recycled textiles from British company Turtle Doves:
 
2) Smell. Jo Malone perfumes, also British (notice a theme here?). Recently, my favorite combinations are Blackberry and Bay combined with Grapefruit colognes.
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3) Taste. Vosges chocolate bars: You can buy most of these (pricey but worth it!) bars at Whole Foods… though, I think they discontinued my favorite, the Naga bar, which combines curry and milk chocolate.
 
4) See. Caryn Cramer textiles: Whimsical and colorful, this textile delightress just released her new Egizio pillows collection and has created a stylish scarf collection, called Remarc, made with materials to keep you highly visible to, and safe from, vehicular traffic at night.

5) Hear. Wild Child. I recently learned about this band that creates a folk, indie, dance-inducing, infectious sounding music. They recently released a new album.

Finally, as you gear up, with either glee or trepidation, for the month-long office-party carb and sugar overload that follows from the Thanksgiving food coma, another path you can take during (ok, probably after) this holiday season is to embark on fitness pro Cheryl Davis’ Commit to Fit 12 week program. I can attest. It works. It really works. And there is joy in the transformation too boot. Commit To Fit

Observations on Transformations, Part 1

Young LIfe CapernaumIn January 2011, I traveled with Ken Prussner, President of the NGO STARS Children Africa (www.starschildren.org), to a remote corner in Kenya to chronicle the experiences of orphans that had graduated from high school.  STARS– Students Transforming and Renewing its Society– provides orphans in Africa with access to a secondary school education and seeks to break the cycle of poverty and despair and replace it with a reinforcing cycle of hope, renewal and growth.

STARS partners with St. Luke’s Ministries, nestled among rice paddies and potholed dirt roads near Kenya’s far western city of Kisumu. Led by Pastor Joshua and his wife Abigael, St. Luke’s runs a girls’ school and serves orphans and widows in the surrounding communities. The ministry provides young people with encouragement and a nurturing environment to develop confidence, self-respect and responsibility. Above all, STARS seeks to inspire these students to become compassionate leaders in their society.

The following series charts my impressions of the STARS students from 2011 when I first met them, when they set their sights on college, to the present day, where many have graduated and are stepping into the working world, their characters shaped by the experiences they have chosen and those they have endured. Continue reading