GENEVA, SWITZERLAND – Cartoonists for Peace have a terrific display of posters along the shores of Lake Geneva, stretching from the Mont Blanc bridge area up to the World Trade Organization, that runs until 3 June. The display includes posters by four Iranian cartoonists who were awarded the first International Editorial Cartoon Prize 3 May in Geneva.
Ten days ago another Iranian cartoonist was sentenced by an Iranian court to 20 lashes, the first such sentence for a cartoonist.
Two of the international award winners were condemned to jail in Iran in the past.
The award and the poster display show cartoons that are in sharp contrast to a suggestion published 25 May in Zimbabwe’s The Herald newspaper, a call for a comic book or cartoons to depict the country’s Liberation in order to offset negative stories about it outside Zimbabwe. Zimbabwe is routinely the subject of accusations of repression and perhaps not surprisingly the newspaper points out that the country has few cartoonists and little tradition of cartooning.
“The Zimbabwean story still needs to be illustrated, particularly now that there is lots of interest in whatever is happening in the country and just as much unverifiable information on the web. Comics have an advantage over data presentations because they employ both text and images and the combination is so powerful that they have the ability to capture the imagination of a reader more than anything else.”
The article in the Herald unwittingly includes a tie to Geneva, for it mentions the father of modern editorial cartooning, Rudolf Topffer of Geneva. Geneva’s role in the cartooning business has remained strong: Patrick Chappatte, a member of the jury for the international cartooning award, in April won the Thomas Nast Award 2011, given by the Overseas Press Club of America. It is the first time the award was given to a non-US cartoonist since the prize was created in 1968.
GenevaLunch has been publishing Chappatte’s cartoons since 2006.
GENEVA, SWITZERLAND – Melissa Fleming, head of communications at the UNHCR, the refugee organization, has been given some just praise for her active approach to using social media, by Devex, an international development news site. The Geneva-based group is one of the easiest for journalists to work with because of the ease with which they can find photos and videos, thanks to Fleming’s support for using flickr and YouTube. She also tweets and is working with local UNHCR offices to encourage greater use of social media.
Devex focuses, in its interview, on how Fleming and her team use social media. For other organizations grappling with the issues, this is a great starting point. Having 100,000 “likes” on Facebook is no small feat and says much about the organization’s effective approach to social media.
GENEVA, SWITZERLAND – If the chemists can do it, so can the rest of us: the The Fifth Conference of the Parties to the Rotterdam Convention, which regulates the export of dangerous chemicals and pesticides, is meeting 20-24 June in Geneva and they are doing it paper-free. May we all sit up and take note!
Possibly even more beautiful than this decision is the brevity of their paperless instructions for how this can be done. Delegates, may it go well so the rest of us can learn by your example.
GENEVA, SWITZERLAND – Work for the US Mission in Geneva, settle down to a quiet retirement somewhere back in America and twiddle your thumbs? Not for Pete Jensen, who retired from the US foreign service three years ago and who is now spending his time as a pilot whose aerial photos of homes are very much in demand in upmarket Westchester County in New York.
Jensen has just been the subject of an article in The Daily Weston, talking about how he made aerial photos for 100 homeowners in 2010, extending a hobby that grew out of his first aerial home photo, the US ambassador’s residence in Geneva.
GENEVA, SWITZERLAND – The US Overseas Vote Foundation in Munich 15 June is launching a remarkable campaign to count, for the first time, US citizens who live abroad, using a “formalized methodology”. The project, which runs until 15 July, aims to fill a gap that has made the number of Americans abroad guesswork, with government and privates unofficial estimates ranging from 4 to 10 million citizens by asking people “to self-report simple demographic information”.
“Even at 4 million, this represents a larger community of Americans than the combined populations of Wyoming, the District of Columbia, Vermont, North Dakota, Alaska and South Dakota, according to 2010 US Census data,” the group points out.
“The US Census counts all American citizens in every state, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico every 10 years but has found it difficult to count non-federally-employed Americans living abroad,” the group says in a statement issued Wednesday. “OVF hopes to demonstrate that the Internet and social media can be used to accurately measure this population. Such demographic statistics can be used to support efforts to gain recognition for the needs of overseas citizens and better access to US services from overseas.
The report will be released at the end of 2011.
Geneva’s Patrick Chappatte, whose cartoons we publish on GenevaLunch, recently sent me a link to a Ted Talks speech he gave in July 2010. I thoroughly enjoyed hearing him talk about “The power of cartoons”, as did his international audience. His work, in English, French and German also appears in the International Herald Tribune, Le Temps and NZZ. Here’s the talk:
[correction, 7 March: music played for the encoreI have rarely been so blown away at a classical music concert as I was last night, 2 March, at Geneva's Victoria Hall. Mélodie Zhao turned composer Frédéric Chopin's complete 27 Etudes into something I didn't know the collection had the capacity to be: magnificently passionate. The romantic music, which in some pianists' hands verges on the saccharine, last night would have made the composer proud, I feel certain. It's easy to go into a Zhao concert being impressed by her technical skills and poise on stage as a 15-year-old, but Tuesday night it was impossible to come out even remembering her age, for her stage performance and the music that filled the hall were those of a mature artist. "She's a genius," said the woman next to me, coming out of the hall. "Unbelievable!" another exclaimed to her companion.
I've heard her practice and I have the excellent CDs with 24 Etudes, made when she was only 13, but seeing her perform live, and with two years more musical maturity, transformed the music. Happy 200th birthday, Mr Chopin!
Two strong ovations from the crowd brought her back to play Chopin's Andante spianato and Grand Polonaise Brillante op.22., where she displayed yet more of her dazzling talent.
We all looked drained as we flocked into the lobby, for watching Zhao in person is like being a privileged spectator as shifting winds and sunlight dance over an open sea. To my great surprise, the young pianist was already seated at a table and signing autographs for a large crowd, with an enthusiasm and energy that didn’t show any strain from what has to have been a physically daunting performance!
Background: GenevaLunch feature on Mélodie Zhao
Review in Le Temps (Fre)
Two notable writers with strong Swiss connections will be leading a four-day writing workshop in Geneva offered by UK publishers Faber & Faber 25-28 March. “Writing Other Lives” is a course “about writing across languages, cultures, countries and borders, writing while living other lives,” notes Gappah on her web site. The cost is £500/CHF830 and will take place at the Société de Lecture in Geneva.
Gappah, who lives in Geneva, was recently awarded the Guardian First Book Award 2009. Christopher Hope, who lives in France, is the author of Kruger’s Alp, among other works.
The course has room for 15 writers. Details
Best little cup of coffee in Geneva
It’s an entrepreneurs’ week, starting with the best little new coffee place in town – Geneva, that is – Boréal Coffee, in the financial district. Long live healthy competition! There’s finally a good Anglo-saxon-style independent alternative to Starbucks where you can get a great cup of coffee, have a sandwich or a salad and run back to the office with them or sit down and relax in a comfortable, tasteful setting. It just opened at 60, rue du Stand and my own experience is that it’s perfect for quick lunch meetings or slow novel reads, depending on your day.
The owners are two young men, Julian Caron Lys and Fabien Decroux, who met when they both worked as IT managers for Cross Systems, a large IT company in Geneva. The two caught the entrepreneurial bug and worked on one startup for a fruit smoothies company in central Europe, but they were short of financing and language problems got in the way, so they abandoned the venture.
Back in Switzerland he and Caron Lys decided in early 2008 that Geneva needed the Australian coffee touch. They spent several months learning the business, learning about barista coffees, touring coffee shops in the UK, Germany and elsewhere in Europe to get a good sense of what works and what doesn’t.
It took another few months to find the right location, knock out walls, and get set up, but they are definitely on the right track.
Webster offers entrepreneurship workshop 24 June
Webster University’s Hub for entrepreneurs is offering a workshop with contest for people who want to start their own businesses, 24 June. You need to present your idea to the public, which will discuss it under the leadership of a panel of judges and the winners that evening will be given mentors for their projects. Details
In fairness, he did it well ahead of the global financial crisis, in 2001, and mainly because of a long love affair with images. He set up his own company, creating calendars for Carouge and Geneva, but in 2005 he turned his hand to painting, taking his love of images to another level.
His work is both familiar because of its everyday Geneva area scenes and taunting, because the richness of the canvases makes you sense that this familiar world hides another, more emotionally coloured one.
Forty of his acrylics on canvas are on display until 13 June at the Espace.