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June 1st 2012 | Independent Skies Magazine | 1

Second Issue

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Independent Skies Magazine


| Independent Skies Magazine | June 1st 2012

Earth in Brackets is a student led organization that focuses on environmental and sustainable development politics to convey an alternative view on the pressing issues at stake in the international community arena. We are environmentalist students whose fight is directed towards justice and equity, always taking into account that a social approach is key when it comes to explaining and understanding our relationship as humans with The delegation of students going to Rio+ nature. At College of the Atlantic, university located in Maine, USA, we study Human Ecology, an interdisciplinary approach which permits us to dive into the current environmental world problems, understanding their history, context and intrinsic struggles. Primarily our engagement takes place at the UN—in NYC, Nairobi, Curitiba, Bangkok, Copenhagen, Cancun, Montreal, Durban, Marseilles, Bonn, Hyderabad, and Qatar, and soon in Rio de Janeiro. A group of us has been preparing to attend the Earth Summit - the Rio+20 conference which will be negotiating around two main topics: “Green Economy” and “Institutional Framework for Sustainable Development.” We will be analyzing the politics straight from the halls of power as well as the alternatives given by the People. What is the Future We Really Want? What will it take to get it? One of our objectives is to talk to the population of the Northern Hemisphere who receive incomplete and distorted information about these negotiations from the mainstream media. We are an alternative source of information that aims to clarify the power differences between nations and the exploitative dynamics that are perpetuated by these nations’ interests; we do what the mainstream media does not. Likewise, we inspire those who do not have knowledge or accessible information about these political discussions, so that they, by themselves, develop and adopt and an active role within their international or national framework.

Follow us through our online space, through Facebook, or Twitter.

Anjali Ap COP17, D

+20 this coming june.

June 1st 2012 | Independent Skies Magazine | 3

We want to share our message with the youth involved in this scenario, and inspire them to raise their voices even higher than what they have done already and claim the rights we all deserve as the future generation. We want the youth to transform their soft discourse and weak petitions and fight for those more needed in the world. We have the privilege to express our opinions in this political space, thus we are obliged to speak for the silenced and the oppressed. We are aware that the UN has multiple flaws as a system which promote the prevailing structures that feed the unfairness and inequity in our planet. Furthermore, we understand that the UN is a framework which excludes the participation and the voice of great part of the civil society, in particular those who are most vulnerable and have more at stake in these discussions. We know that the UN is a space where few and privileged speak, and we are part of that group. But we also know that, currently, the UN is the only concrete platform where countries can discuss about finding answers to the present social, economic and environmental problems. We are taking our message to Rio+20 to call youth, civil society and the mainstream discourse to move towards justice and rights, in order to reach a harmonic relationship with nature. We belong to nature and owe it our respect. We know we are not going to change the course of the negotiations at this point, but we engage writing blogs, making official interventions and speeches and performing actions to challenge and question the mainstream discourse. We do this in an intent of driving the voice of the people to the rooms of power.

ppadurai from [EARTH] giving an intervention in Durban, South Africa

Earth is for the benefit of all, not for the profit of a few. Earth cannot stay in brackets anymore!


Be yourself

| Independent Skies Magazine | June 1st 2012

By Karolina Durdova

When I was asked to write an article for the Independent skies - a place to share inspirational stories of the youth to make a change-, I thought what a better place than this to share a short story that changed my life and served as one of the main sources of my motivation and persistence to go on in the past few years. A story from which not only the youth could learn something, and whose message could be summarized in a few words: Be yourself. It is a story of a girl from a small city. Since a child, she has had a big smile, bright mind and a nonstylish hairstyle. She grew up playing football and shooting a bow meanwhile her sibling was practicing ballet and reading books about how to become a second Naomi Campbell. She used to be told that she had more of a boy than of a girl in her personality, but she did not seem to care. She was a bright student, one of the smartest in her class. After a few years, when studying in a school in a bigger city, everyone still admired her smile, now improved with braces, and she still preferred to play football over spending her time in front of a mirror trying to do something with her still not very stylish hairstyle. After changing to another school, again to a bigger city, things changed. She found herself in an environment that did not seem to understand her. She started to get criticized and under pressure for things like treating the school and extracurricular activities seriously, something that never happened to her before. She did not seem to be successful in getting along with the people in her class, she felt like lacking any connection with the outside universe. Everything suddenly seemed to work without any logic and any of her attempts in getting out of this situation failed. She collapsed. She turned into herself and concluded the problem was her. Nonetheless, she was not willing to give up on studying or extracurricular activities, but she tried to attract the attention and recognition of others in a different way. She was 13 and thought that changing herself physically would be a great starting point for finding friends in an environment that was not tolerating the way she was. She promised herself to become more a girl, more of a prototype of a skinny supermodel from the magazines, which seemed to get the admiration from her schoolmates she was looking for. Such promise nearly killed her. She concentrated all the attention on her body trying to become one of the girls that she had never been in any point of her life. In the next couple of months, her academic performance did not worsen; her behavior stayed quite the same, so her parents and closest friends did not realize what was happening to her. The only thing that seemed to be undergoing drastic changes was her body. It was during those months when she partially succeeded in attracting the attention and recognition from her peers that she was lacking before. However, the rate at which her drastic diet and exhausting trainings were affected her weight was no longer

June 1st 2012 | Independent Skies Magazine | 5

harmless. It took her one year to damage to significant extents the digestive and endocrinal systems, lose half of her hair, worsen a genetic disease inherited after her grandmother and by depriving her young body from so needed nutrients, increase the probability of suffering from the problems with joints and bones in the future. It was the day when she fainted three times in a row that she realized something was wrong with her. After roughly twelve months she looked into the mirror and got freaked out because of what she saw there. The period which followed was one of the most difficult times of her life, particularly because her stubbornness did not allow her to ask anyone for help and because she was fighting an enemy inside her own body. She had to change completely her lifestyle, priorities and most importantly realize that being distinctly different from the others was not necessarily bad, but actually desirable. Perhaps it would have had been easier to overcome her problems with the help of an expert. On the other hand, by relying only on herself when overcoming anorexia, she felt she would never suffer from such problems again, since then she has been fully aware of all the consequences of her behavior. Consequently, she decided to maintain all the positive things making her different and to develop them as much as she possibly could. Instead of controlling her body weight, she dedicated her time and energy to master foreign languages, play the piano, visit flamenco and salsa lessons or photography and painting courses. Most importantly, she found a place where her distinctiveness would be appreciated when she joined a United World College, a spectacular place full of talented people celebrating the differences among them. She is doing well now. She managed to get good education, discover more about herself and define a new set of goals which she would like to achieve in the future. I feel proud of her, I feel proud of the girl that managed to overcome herself, and I remember her story every morning when I see her in the mirror trying to do something with her still not very stylish hairstyle. It has been six years now. It has been six years since I found myself destroying my body and the moment of painful realization will never be forgotten. The little thirteen year old girl is still somewhere in my mind reminding me not just of the importance of staying healthy physically, but most importantly about the fact that people should never force themselves to blend in with the crowd. And never give up on being themselves.


| Independent Skies Magazine | June 1st 2012


Hiba Arshad


iba is one of the young people that I found very promising; she wants to change the world, and we are all about dreaming big and doing our best to achieve it. I have found a lot of youth movements simply being against rich people without any legitimate solid reason. I personally think the problem is not having a lot of money; it is more of an awareness problem. Without reminders people tend to forget that there are others who are living way worse than they are. When I met Hiba and she told me all about ‘I AM CHALLENGE – Kuwait’ I was very impressed with the idea, because all she wants to do is remind consumers to share their wealth with people in bad need, she does not really want to say “rich is bad” she wants to say “Share” even if it is minimum. I asked her to write an article for independent skies and here it is. Please support her and her great initiative on facebook “I am challenge – Kuwait”. The movement is in a lot of places around the world right now, and at the moment we are working in a collaboration between independent skies and I am challenge to start the movement in Malaysia. Have a good read, Mustafa M. Khalid. Materialism and excessive brand consciousness have become embedded in today’s society, particularly amongst the youngsters. Our desire to have the newest, the latest and the most expensive of everything has taken precedence over all else, and is slowly resulting in chronic self obsession.

June 1st 2012 | Independent Skies Magazine | 7

Each year, we easily spend $1000- $1500 on solely ourselves for luxury items. Now, don’t get me wrong, there’s nothing wrong with spending money on yourself and giving yourself a little treat. However, taking into consideration the countless conflicts going on around the world and the unprecedented poverty that gnaws away at more than half the world, I can’t help but feel this over indulgence is a bit wrong. Keeping in mind that youngsters my same age, in countries not very far away, don’t have enough money to buy their next meal, I can’t help but feel this over indulgence might even be a bit immoral. As the youth of today, I believe it is our responsibility to break away from this insidious cycle of materialism, and instead of simply thinking about ourselves, start thinking about issues larger than ourselves. The ‘I AM’ Challenge is an international youth movement which embodies just these principles. Having originated in New Zealand, the ‘I AM’ Challenge dares youngsters to wear a t-shirt that says ‘I AM (their name)’ for one whole year, everywhere they go. This way, youngsters are encouraged to not fuss over what they wear or their appearance, but instead think of more important issues. This movement also encourages the youth who take up this challenge, to come together and raise awareness or fundraisers about issues that they are passionate about. Currently this movement has branches in New Zealand, Kuwait, India, Germany, Thailand, Belgium and the network keeps growing!


| Independent Skies Magazine | June 1st 2012

Interview with Mary Hui Tip!

Mary is a Great athlete that Independent Skies team all thought of interviewing her…… read what she wrote and what we asked her and you’ll know why. Please visit her Blog:

I am a runner, and I want to be the best runner I can possibly be. I’ve always been self-motivated, always itching to push myself harder. The desire to test my limits - to see if I can go just a bit further - propels me forwards. This mindset has always been there, I think. But a life-changing event seven winters ago helped to ingrain this philosophy permanently into my mind, giving the abstract concept a realistic, down-to-earth foundation. It was Boxing Day, December 2004. My family and I were on vacation in Thailand. After breakfast I had decided to head back to my room to fetch my beachwear. The route was straightforward enough: down a flight of stairs, then a right turn to the seaside, where our room was. I had walked this route multiple times before – no problem. And yet for reasons which I do not think I will ever know, I subconsciously and unknowingly made a wrong turn. Instead of turning right, I turned left: away from my room, away from the sea. Minutes later, while I wandered around hopelessly lost, the devastating waves of a tsunami came crashing down on the resort – waves which would have engulfed me, knocked me out and killed me with ruthless force. Miraculously, though, I was safe. I was safe because I had turned left, away from the beach. I was safe because I had made a wrong turn. This is the philosophy that spurs me now. I know that there can be no failures - only opportunities in disguise. I had made a wrong turn, technically a failure, and yet it had saved my life. If anything, the only failure is the failure to recognize opportunities. So I never hesitate to push myself, to go beyond my comfort zone, to push those physical and mental boundaries. I know that nothing can go wrong. The worst that can happen is failure: opportunity in disguise. Right now, my immediate goal is to become the best runner I can be. I will be taking a gap year, during which I will work in the day and train in the evenings. It will be a rejuvenating change of pace - no more academic pressure, just a chance to breath, to do something completely different, to develop myself as a learner and as a runner. My hope is that as I progress towards my goal, I will become increasingly motivated and fall increasingly in love with what I do. For now, I will be competing against myself, trying to be my own champion. But as for the future - national record,

June 1st 2012 | Independent Skies Magazine | 9 Asian Games, maybe even the Olympics. Who knows? All I can say is that I will never let the prospect of failure deter me. The rest I will leave to hard work, determination, perseverance and most importantly, passion.

ISM: great article Mary….. what do you think could be the motivator for young people who have not experienced that “wrong turn”? We have all got to find our own motivational force. It’s only a motivator if you own it, if it is yours and yours alone. The ‘wrong turn’ could have been totally meaningless for me, but I thought about it and made it my own motivator. We all have stories, we all have unique experiences - that’s what we should draw motivation from.

ISM: Mary, if you don’t mind us asking what the long term plans are? My long term plans! I really don’t know...for now I am focusing on my running. I want to be the best runner I can be. At the same time, I also want to gain work experience - social media, journalism and sports in particular. I fancy seeing myself as a journalist or a photographer, or better still, a photojournalist. Something sports related would also be very cool. Asian Games? Olympic Games, even? I really don’t have any concrete plans.

ISM: last question, would you like to collaborate with independent skies one day to organize events to motivate and help the youth in various ways? I would love to.

Thank you Mary

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| Independent Skies Magazine | June 1st 2012

Camille Meloto, along with her sister, Anna Meloto-Wilk, founded Human Nature in November 2008. Now 26 years old, Camille Meloto is at the head of a multinational company that can be called a social business. Indeed, just like her father before them, Anna and Camille have been named Ernst&Young’s Social Entrepreneurs of the Year 2011. How did she get there? This is her story.”

ISM: You might be all be from the same family, but you have different profiles. One is an education major with a passion for cosmetics, the other in a communications graduate. And now, you’re both now leading a major cosmetics company at the young age of 32 and 26. How did it all come together?

ing everyday in the library about the toxic chemicals to our health and to the environment. As our knowledge expanded, it made us decide to change all our conventional personal care products to natural ones. From there, we thought of how we will be able to sustain such a lifestyle that we’ve grown accustomed to in terms of the food we eat and the products that we use (because we were in America then and on our way back to the Philippines). We know that natural products are expensive in the Philippines so I guess that’s where the dream started. Natural products in the Philippines, since all the leading natural products are imported, they cost an arm and a leg and we found it immoral that 3-week’s supply of shampoo would cost more than the average daily minimum wage of a Filipino.

Personally, it all started when I was in the States with my sister because she and her family was assigned there. I was there to help her out because she just gave birth to her 2nd child. When I was there, I was also doing some bridal makeup artist gigs and one of the brides that I serviced gave me a package of natural cosmetics. It was my first time seeing such cosmetics that are 100% natural. Prior to that, I didn’t think it was possible. It got me very interested and I showed it to my sister. I know that my sister and her husband has made a conscious effort to be more environmental which started with the food they ate and their decision to use washable diapers vs disposable ones because they know that one of the biggest % As we were doing further rein the world’s landfills. search and as we tried to check out the attributes of natural prodSince then, we started research- ucts in America, we soon noticed

that most of the ingredients in these products are grown or can be grown in the Philippines, and this is what caught Dylan’s (Anna’s husband) attention. At that time, my sister and Dylan were full-time volunteers for Gawad Kalinga and when Dylan heard this, he got inspired that this will be the next phase of GK which is generating livelihood for the communities because the GK communities can be the ones to grow and farm these ingredients such as lemongrass, citronella, coconut oil, mango, aloe vera, sunflower, etc. ISM: Starting a company is no easy task. However, you not only did that, but also developed your company into a dominant player in the Filipino market, with over 2 million sold products, 16000 distributors, and soon in the US. All of this in a

June 1st 2012 | Independent Skies Magazine | 11

ISM: The values that drive your company are “Pro-Philippines, Propoor, pro-environment”. We can see it in the all natural products you sell, in the way both of you live your day to day lives. I even noticed the slogan in the email you sent me! How would you describe these values, and how important do you think they are for your company?

short time and at a young age. Did you encounter any difficulties? What was the key to your success? There were a lot of difficulties, sleepless nights, and buckets of tears. Difficult because we did everything when we started from answering the phones, populating the computer system, bottling the products, delivering them, stocking the warehouse shelves, etc. However, there’s no regret in doing that. We understood every aspect there is in starting the business and it was excellent training for me and my sister learning it all. It’s a collaborative effort among the three of us. Dylan is such an inspiration because he’s very gifted in entrepreneurship and in business. I can say a lot of the things that I’ve learned and the training and discipline that I have in the enterprise are mostly taught by him together with the values that our parents, especially my dad has instilled in us.

in Gawad Kalinga or how the Enchanted Farm is shaping up. Saying this, I guess it’s only natural for us to integrate Gawad Kalinga communities in our goals and dreams for the company. Its an elemental part of the business because at one point in our life, all 3 of us (my sis and Dylan) were all volunteers for Gawad Kalinga.

In terms of how different we are, I guess every single person is different, even among me, my sister and Dylan, we’re also different in our own unique way but what is important that it all blends toI can say they’re extreme- gether harmoniously in this enly important because it’s terprise. what keeps me grounded and it’s what reminds ISM: With the expansion of your me everyday why I’m doing what activities to the US, we, at ISM, I’m doing. it prevents me from are sure you will continue sucgiving up whenever I experience ceeding and inspiring us, the difficulties and struggles which youth, to accomplish similar we do everyday. It reminds me of achievements. Do you have a the purpose and how I should still message or any advice for our, keep on pushing myself because mostly young and ambitious, I’m not working for myself but for readers? a whole nation together with the goal of creating a positive impact in the environment on a global- Follow your dreams and your passions. It’s the only way that you’ll scale. have the willpower to continue what you’re doing through all the ISM: You have been named Social expected and unexpected diffiEntrepreneurs of the Year 2011 by culties you’ll be facing. Be true to Ernst&Young, just like your fayourself and stick to your values ther had been before you. Social because those are the things that business is obviously part of the will set you apart from other busifamily legacy. To what degree nesses around. Another thing has your father inspired and is to experience everything for influenced you? And, in what way yourself. Experience all possible do you think you are different? aspects of the business as it will help you understand where your He’s an inspiration because we people are coming from when grew up with the values that he’s conflicts and difficulties arise. I instilled in us eversince we were think I’ve said too much. born. Our usual conversations over lunch or dinners would be the progress of the communities


| Independent Skies Magazine | June 1st 2012

Me, myself andbytime Kevin Lal


like to travel but not to Paris or Rio. Yet I claim I totally crave traveling because to travel, for me, is just as much to get from point A to point B in space as to do the same in time. I often hear people talk about how much they want to meet Bill Gates or Stephen Hawking or any other famous personality. But at the very top of my wish list is me. Yes, me! I want to meet me. This will definitely seem paradoxical to most people. But this makes all the sense in the world to me because here the “I” is my present self while the “me” is my future self. After all who exactly can stop me in my imagination from grabbing a time machine and racing through the years to visit my old buddy who lives in the 2080s? Were this fantasy of mine to come true, I cannot imagine how intense, and perhaps emotional too, the moment would be when my eyes first look straight at his and his back at mine. I can almost feel it now -- the connection between the two of us would transcend any that man has ever known. We wouldn’t be two best friends meeting after a long gap. We wouldn’t be mere brothers reunited after some 50 years. We would in fact be two physical forms, although one older than the other, taken by one soul and only one. My relationship with him would be so pure and so deep that language has no word for it. People often claim to have been so close to a place. My friend was boasting the other day that he was only meters from Napoleon’s corpse at Les Invalides when he visited Paris. But I boast about being so close not to any place in space but to an era in time. Born in 1993, I cannot believe I was once only four years away from the 80s, which I think was the most exciting decade in recent times. When in 1996 I began preschool, I was less than a decade away from a time when Bon Jovi and Def Leppard marched straight to the top of the charts with “Livin’ on a Prayer” and “Pour Some Sugar on Me”. By the time the 90s ended, I was less than 15 years away from a world that went crazy for the “Material Girl” and the “Terminator”. But now I feel sad that with each passing second I am drifting away from the era I most want to live in. I can also bet that I am the only one in class to bury a time capsule in his front yard. I did it last year. Inside the capsule are my personal note book, my class photograph, my old iPod with full battery and all songs intact, and most importantly, a letter from me to my future self. The contents of the box will unveil themselves before me only on December 31, 2024, exactly fifteen years after their burial. My experience when I read that letter in 2024 will be nothing short of magical. People often become enthused by a personal letter from a close relation. But “enthused” will be an understatement for me because with the letter’s sender, my relation will be higher and purer than that with any close relation. The letter will be from my “younger self”, from someone with whom I parted ways 15 years ago after sharing with him for 17 years, every second of my life. I guess passions such as these arise from a fundamental aspect of my personality, not from a mere interest in sci-fi topics like time travel. I am a person to whom the sense of flow of time has an extremely important place in his life. I do not take for granted the facts that yesterday’s “today” is today’s “yesterday” and that today’s “tomorrow” will be tomorrow’s “today”. “Yesterday”, “Today” and “Tomorrow” appear, at least to my eyes, to blissfully mingle and intermingle with one another so much so that I do not see any reason in aggrandizing the present with a status higher than that of the past or the future, that is, the non-present. In fact, the old chap from the 2080s that I want to meet means more to me today than I myself do and the letter I read on New Year’s Eve 2025 will have a far profounder impact on me than the letter I wrote on New Year’s Eve 2010, although the two letters are one. In a word, I am completely enamored with the non-present and my love for time travel merely stems from this truth.

June 1st 2012 | Independent Skies Magazine | 13

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