Storytelling in Algeria: We are more alike than unalike

You think we are all different. You think our struggles are unique. Then you travel the world and you are reminded of the beautiful and powerful poem, Human Family, by Maya Angelou. In that poem, she teaches us that we are all people, and we are so much more alike than different. This has been made even more apparent this week during my trip to Algeria.

I was invited to be a part of the Legacy International Professional Fellows Program U.S. Delegation to Algeria.

“The Professional Fellows Program brings together emerging leaders from around the world who are working in the legislative process and governance, civic engagement, NGO management, economic empowerment and entrepreneurship, and journalism arenas with American counterparts from across the country. The Professional Fellows Program establishes structured interaction among American and international participants aimed at developing sustained professional ties and lasting partnerships” – US State Department.

Legacy International is dedicated to promoting peace by strengthening civil society and fostering a culture of participation worldwide and have been an excellent client and partner in my role as a social entrepreneur.

I worked with the Legacy Algerian Pro Fellows when they were in America on their inbound exchange program. We did workshops on storytelling pitching story ideas. Now, I am part of the Legacy International outbound cultural exchange program to learn from and share with NGOs in Algiers and Oran. The week concludes with the delegates conducting workshops and roundtable discussions to provide skills to continue to build their civil society and to help them grow their NGO or Association. However, before the week wraps up I wanted to share today’s experiences. It proved to be an amazing day of storytelling and cultural exchange.

We started the day meeting with two Oran “Associations” or what we would call in the U.S. nonprofit organizations. Our first stop was to Les NOMADES Algériens where we learned about the challenges and strategies of a newly formed Association in Oran.

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It was interesting to learn how the group used art and visual storytelling – amazing photos and compelling video – to communicate complex issues around their mission to help disenfranchised children in Oran. They found that when you are trying to raise awareness and promote advocacy in the fight for children’s mental health, education or to improve their living conditions, using visuals helps tell the story. While they are still a new Association, NOMADES has compelling content that is sure to catch the eye of funders, grantors, volunteers and participants. I always encourage nonprofits in America to approach their storytelling the same way – to use compelling visuals to tell your story and mission in a provocative and heart – warming way. It appears good, visual storytelling is a universal concept.

The other organization, Femmes Algériennes Revendiquant leurs Droits, is a well established NGO/Association in Oran. They are doing impressive and impactful work in the fight for women’s rights.


They not only use special events and medical and legal assistance to help the women of Oran – sometimes at great risk to themselves – they too use visual storytelling to communicate their mission and outreach services. While they use traditional communication tactics to include flyers, posters, banners and printed material, it is their visual storytelling that is making the most impact. With an all female crew and production team, FARD is producing a series of documentaries to raise awareness about the specific and unique challenges in the fight for women’s human rights in Oran. These rights include everything from stopping violence against women, equality in employment and education, to the type of clothing women should be required to wear or the places women should go in public. We also spoke to a young woman who felt grateful but removed from FARD. This is not unlike the many young women in the U.S. who say they feel removed from the feminist movement or NOW organization.

Fighting for women and children rights are causes of great concern in Algeria and the also in America. This is not surprising. Women’s rights are human rights. When you empower women, you empower the world. While the nuances of women’s rights advocacy may change from region to region, we are all still in the same human rights fight together. Children are our future. Making sure youth are well cared for is the concern of everyone across the globe.

Through all of this, great storytelling remains a powerful communication tool that can play on the heart strings of the public and call about the real change needed in communities across the globe.

As a professional storyteller, this has been an enlightening and empowering day of learning and sharing. I am only half-way through my Legacy International U.S. Delegation to Algeria but what I know for sure is:

“We are more alike, my friends, than we are unalike.” – Maya Angelou

How an iPad can Improve Your Dining Experience

The next time you walk into your favorite restaurant you may be handed an iPad rather than a menu. Just think about the possibilities. You’ll be able to see what your dish will look like ahead of time, get the calorie count of your order, have a wine pairing picked out for you and send any modifications you may want directly to the server’s iPad.

For some restaurants, when it comes to wine orders, having the iPad act as a virtual sommelier is proving to be a great business tool. Digital wine lists have reported a significant increase in profits from wine sales. I see this as a win-win. It combines two of my favorite things… mobile technology and wine. Now, if only they could develop a scratch and smell app!

Amplify’d from www.travelandleisure.com

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With the release of the iPad nearly one year ago, the device is changing the way we do business. And while it might seem an unlikely combination, even restaurants have hopped on the bandwagon. Yes, a handful are loading their menus onto iPads for customers to peruse—a costly and wasteful business practice, all in the name of flashiness, as far as I’m concerned. But that’s not exactly what I’m talking about; there are more and more turning iPads into useful (and yes, flashy) tools that actually improve the dining experience.

What I’ve been seeing are restaurants digitizing their extensive wine offerings specifically for the iPad. Why am I inclined to value this more than a simple digital food menu? Because besides just listing out the wines, these apps, like the one implemented at Hotel Casa del Mar’s Catch Restaurant in Santa Monica, also offer a wealth of information to help you decide on the perfect wine…that is, without the assistance of an on-site sommelier. (Which, let’s be honest, you’re hard-pressed to find at most restaurants.) Catch’s iPad wine list lets diners browse wines by year, price, tasting notes, high-res images, where it was made, and even dish selection. And with more than 200 wines in their cellar, a little help is more than welcome!

But Catch isn’t the first, nor will it be the last, to put this technological twist on the age-old drink. In Atlanta, Bone’s has a similar app for its 1,300 plus wines, with extensive details, year, region and price. Here in NYC, South Gate has a similar app for its 600 plus bottle collection; Naples Tomato, in—you guessed it—Naples, FL has one for its 500 plus bottles; and Chicago Cut Steakhouse recently debuted its digital 800 plus bottle list.

Oh, and did I mention? In case you’re wondering just how useful this is, most of the restaurants with digital wine lists have reported a significant increase in profits from wine sales.

Read more at www.travelandleisure.com

How an iPad can Improve Your Dining Experience

The next time you walk into your favorite restaurant you may be handed an iPad rather than a menu. Just think about the possibilities. You’ll be able to see what your dish will look like ahead of time, get the calorie count of your order, have a wine pairing picked out for you and send any modifications you may want directly to the server’s iPad.

For some restaurants, when it comes to wine orders, having the iPad act as a virtual sommelier is proving to be a great business tool. Digital wine lists have reported a significant increase in profits from wine sales. I see this as a win-win. It combines two of my favorite things… mobile technology and wine. Now, if only they could develop a scratch and smell app!

Amplify’d from www.travelandleisure.com

201102-b-ipadjpgWith the release of the iPad nearly one year ago, the device is changing the way we do business. And while it might seem an unlikely combination, even restaurants have hopped on the bandwagon. Yes, a handful are loading their menus onto iPads for customers to peruse—a costly and wasteful business practice, all in the name of flashiness, as far as I’m concerned. But that’s not exactly what I’m talking about; there are more and more turning iPads into useful (and yes, flashy) tools that actually improve the dining experience.

What I’ve been seeing are restaurants digitizing their extensive wine offerings specifically for the iPad. Why am I inclined to value this more than a simple digital food menu? Because besides just listing out the wines, these apps, like the one implemented at Hotel Casa del Mar’s Catch Restaurant in Santa Monica, also offer a wealth of information to help you decide on the perfect wine…that is, without the assistance of an on-site sommelier. (Which, let’s be honest, you’re hard-pressed to find at most restaurants.) Catch’s iPad wine list lets diners browse wines by year, price, tasting notes, high-res images, where it was made, and even dish selection. And with more than 200 wines in their cellar, a little help is more than welcome!

But Catch isn’t the first, nor will it be the last, to put this technological twist on the age-old drink. In Atlanta, Bone’s has a similar app for its 1,300 plus wines, with extensive details, year, region and price. Here in NYC, South Gate has a similar app for its 600 plus bottle collection; Naples Tomato, in—you guessed it—Naples, FL has one for its 500 plus bottles; and Chicago Cut Steakhouse recently debuted its digital 800 plus bottle list.

Oh, and did I mention? In case you’re wondering just how useful this is, most of the restaurants with digital wine lists have reported a significant increase in profits from wine sales.

Read more at www.travelandleisure.com