Inside the murky world of Nairobi’s smoking zones

The Kenyan government has cracked down on cigarettes with a ban on advertising and smoking in public, driving the habit into the shadows

There is a wooden shed in the middle of Nairobi city centre, dark, full of fumes, crowded and deliberately built beside the public toilets. It feels like a place of shame.

Jairus Masumba, Nairobi countys deputy director of public health, calls it in jest the gazebo. Its the public smoking place, created by his department. It is claustrophobic and filled with smoke, some of which drifts out through slats, but most of which hangs heavily in the fugged air inside.

Those who enter have to be desperate and theyre usually men. A 27-year-old woman, who comes from the south of Kenya, is a rarity. She is heavily made-up and stands in the doorway. She smokes seven to 10 cigarettes a day. Its bad for you, no? she says several times, though she knows the answer.

The men inside, barely visible as you enter because of the darkness and the fug, are smoking hard, standing up like a football crowd, all facing the same way though there is nothing to look at except the wooden slats of the far side of the shed. Music blares but nobody is dancing. They are grim faced, doing what they have to do. A young man, high probably on khat and cigarette in hand, chases some of the butts and the ash out with a broom, seeking money from the other smokers for cleaning up. He says he has a diploma in business marketing and another diploma in substance abuse counselling.

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A woman stands at a smoking zone in Nairobi, Kenya. Smoking openly on the street can incur a hefty fine. Photograph: David Levene for the Guardian

At the door are two cigarette sellers, doing a busy trade. Its rare for anyone to buy whole packets. Packs of cigarettes in Kenya are broken up and sold by vendors as single sticks. That makes them cheap for women, children and the poor, despite manufacturers being banned from producing packets of less than 10. One of the two sellers sitting passively inhaling smoke is a woman who taps a packet of 20 and shakes them deftly out, one at a time, exchanging them for small coins. Men buy one, sometimes a couple, sometimes three. They will not all be smoked here. The sellers sit at the large red wooden boxes, with open lids that become the display cabinet. Most popular and cheapest is Sportsman at 100 shillings a pack (75p, 97 cents) or 5 shillings (less than 4p, 5 cents) for a single. Smokers buy sweets too, to take away the smell of tobacco when the worker goes back to the office.

Tobacco: a deadly business

The shed is vile, but few dare smoke even on the pavement outside in the cleaner air in the knowledge that the plain clothed official public health enforcers will be circling, ready to impose fines on anyone they catch. Nairobi city has got tough on smoking. The Kenyan government has banned advertising and marketing and smoking in public places, but it is up to the individual counties to interpret and enforce that and they all do it differently. Nairobi county has cracked down hard. Lighting up on the open street in the city centre can result in a stiff fine of 50,000 shillings (374, $485) or even arrest. But its not so everywhere, or even outside of the city centre.

deaths

Yusef, 58 and from Kenyas second city Mombasa on the Indian Ocean coast, says people smoke openly in Mombasa. He has been smoking since the 1970s. His 28 year-old daughter died recently from colon cancer. That gives him a different perspective. Im more worried about GM foods, he says.

Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/world/2017/jul/12/nairobi-kenya-smoking-zones-cigarette-crackdown

How to live without plastic bottles…

Our dependence on plastic has to end as we contribute to an estimated 12m tonnes entering our oceans, polluting marine life, every year

Staying hydrated is good for our health. But contributing to the ever growing mound of waste plastic is not only bad for the planet, but for our wellbeing too.

The global demand for plastic bottles, spurred on by the drinks industry, is wreaking havoc on the environment. Every year, about half a trillion new bottles are produced, and many billions end up in landfill, the sea or the environment.

Plastic is now present in every corner of the earth and in the food we eat. As the Guardian considers the extent of this crisis, we look at six simple things you can do to stop contributing to the issue, starting today.

Find the one

The simplest thing you can do to reduce your contribution to the plastic mountain is to find a water bottle that you like enough to use more than once. There are multiple options to suit every taste. From stainless steel, bamboo or glass, to bottles with an option to add fruit to flavour the water, or flasks with filters that promise extra purity. Find the one that works for you.

Orb it

Earlier this year UK scientists unveiled the Ooho, a fully biodegradable water-filled orb made of two layers of seaweed-based packaging. The biodegradable outside layer can be recycled, while the inside is edible and can be eaten as you drink the water (or discarded, as you wish).

Watch the explanational video for Ooho

The orbs are made using a culinary process that shapes and holds liquids in to spheres and are able to hold up to a litre of water. Ooho orbs are not on the market yet but the makers claim they could be cheaper to produce than plastic bottles.

Be anti-fashion

Since the early noughties, staying hydrated has become a status symbol. A commodity that is free from the tap is now shipped from Fiji and sold for up to 5 a bottle. The marketing suggests that those clutching a bottle of water both look and feel healthier.

Public health guidelines recommend drinking eight glasses a day. Some scientists have suggested that drinking to thirst is enough to keep us ticking over, even when we are doing strenuous exercise.

Either way, nowhere does it say that you will be better hydrated if your water is sourced from a tropical rainforest or that constantly hydrating as you travel from A to B is necessary. Perhaps a glass at home and then one when you get to work will suffice?

Get over your embarrassment

Pluck up the courage to ask for the free refill to which you are legally entitled in the UK. In a recent study, 71% of consumers admitted to feeling uncomfortable when asking for free tap water from an establishment if they hadnt purchased anything. And 30% of people said they would still feel awkward asking for a free refill even if they had bought other food or drinks.

RefillBristol (@RefillBristol)

Fantastic to see the #refilldorset drinking taps on #Weymouth beach today.
Healthy hydration in the sunshine! pic.twitter.com/YxCgMQBAUq

May 14, 2017

This might be daunting, but there is a whole movement dedicated to helping you. The refill campaign has been handing out water drop stickers to businesses to show people they are happy to offer them water for free. There is even an app that tells you which nearby business are participating in the scheme before you leave the house.

Make your own shampoo

According to Beth Terry, who blogs about being a reformed plastic addict, one route to a plastic-free life is to make the toiletries you would usually buy in plastic containers. Baking soda combined with salt can be used to make toothpaste, she says, or added to apple cider vinegar to make shampoo. Other environmental blogs suggest forgoing shampoo altogether: the theory goes that while the first few weeks will be greasy and horrible your hair and scalp gradually adjust to self-cleaning. If that sounds too extreme a shampoo bar could be a good compromise. At the very least you can buy in bulk to reduce plastic packaging waste.

Indeed, inventive shopping can have an instant impact on your plastic bottle consumption. Paperboard packaging is a better way to buy soups and juices. Soda drinks come in cans as well as bottles.And fizzy water makers are a good alternative to buying bottles of mineral water.

Recycle, recycle, recycle

Even with the best intentions, there will probably be times when you have no choice but to drink from a plastic bottle. If this happens, the key is to make sure you recycle the bottle correctly so that it can be repurposed.

There are some ingenious examples of bottle reuse around the world. In Brazil plastic bottles have been bound together and transformed into solar heaters. In Algeria they have been filled with sand and used to clad walls in houses for refugees; and in India, a local enterprise recently made a bus shelter out of 1,000 old bottles.

Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2017/jun/29/how-to-live-without-plastic-bottles

‘The Madoff of millennials? Fyre Festival investors eye a court fight with organizer

Investor believes that until detailed accounts emerge, suspicions will mount that festival was an elaborate Ponzi scheme and buried in debt before it even began

Investors in the ill-fated Fyre Festival in the Bahamas will begin to assert legal claims against organizer William Billy McFarland this week in what is likely to be a protracted effort to recover assets from the supermodel-fronted luxury private-island music festival that collapsed in spectacular discord last month, stranding hundreds.

The first petition to freeze festival assets to get a court hearing comes from Oleg Itkin, a Manhattan investor who says he handed over a $700,000 loan from January to April to fund a Fyre-branded app designed to streamline the process of booking entertainers for private and corporate events.

Itkin claims McFarland showed him a projected income statement showing $932m in proceeds from the festival and the app. Lawyers for Itkin provided documents showing organizers claimed $31m in assets in January, including land in Grand Exuma valued at $8.4m.

Itkin claims organizers told him the festival had secured $4.2m in bookings from acts including Drake, Kendrick Lamar, Iggy Azalea, and Ja Rule, one of the founders of Fyre Media. The app is no longer available, as the festivals legal woes mount.

While many investors tied their stakes to Fyre Festival, Itkin tied his investment to the Fyre Media app. They made Fyre appear to be a good investment, says Itkins lawyer, Michael Quinn. But McFarland defaulted on the loan, and other investors, ticket holders, employees and vendors have been unable to recoup their money. No one is seeing what theyre owed.

Quinn believes that until organizers produce detailed accounts for the festival, suspicions will mount that it was an elaborate Ponzi scheme doomed to leave investors disappointed. McFarland will potentially be seen as the Madoff of the millennials, Quinn says, referring to convicted fraudster Bernie Madoff.

Recent reports suggest the festival, which appeared to promise ticket holders a luxury experience weekend, potentially cavorting with models and social media stars including Kendall Jenner, Bella Hadid and Emily Ratajkowski, was buried in debt before it even began.

As it unfolded, hundreds of ticket holders found themselves stranded on Grand Exuma with little accommodation, poor food and no live music. The celebrity models were apparently warned off before the event got under way. Some who attended likened conditions to a refugee camp.

The organizers used Instagram and Snapchat to garner interest, and Billy McFarland was going to follow in the footsteps of Bill Gates and Mark Zuckerberg, Quinn says. It was going to be models and yachts. But the luxury experience turned into a disaster. Everything hed promised to investors, ticket holders, and everyone else, he couldnt come up with.

Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/culture/2017/may/17/fyre-festival-lawsuit-billy-mcfarland-bahamas

Crazy dream: the former Delhi IT worker in the race to land on the moon

TeamIndus is one of four teams competing to win Googles Lunar XPrize for the first ever private moon landing, worth $20m

To this day, Rahul Narayan doesnt know why he said yes, except that it was the very last day to sign up, and if he didnt agree to it, then there would be no Indian teams in the running. He threw together a proposal and clicked submit.

Perhaps it was the dullness of his day job in IT services, or a last-ditch effort to recapture some adolescent Star Trek-themed fantasy; but once the idea got into his head, it stuck.

And so it was decided Rahul Narayan would send a spacecraft to the moon.

Sitting in his office now, three years since his moon mission started, Narayan talks through the complexities of lunar expeditions. Sometimes, people ask him why he, a software engineer from Delhi, and a complete outsider to the space industry would attempt a lunar landing, a feat that only three countries have successfully achieved so far.

The real answer to that, Narayan says, is that if you were an insider youd never attempt something like this.

If he succeeds, Narayan and his company TeamIndus will be the first private company ever to land on the moon.

But competition is stiff. Three other teams are competing to win Googles Lunar XPrize for the first ever private moon landing, worth $20m. When Narayan signed up, at the end of 2011, there were 30 teams in the running. The competitions elimination rounds have whittled it down to four.

TeamIndus is now racing against MoonExpress, led by Indian-American dot-com billionaire Naveen Jain; SpaceIL, set up by three Israeli engineers, and an international team called Synergy Moon, all planning to launch their spacecrafts in December this year. A fifth team, Japan-based Hakuto will send a rover on TeamIndus spacecraft which will be launched on a government-owned rocket in Chennai, and reach a top speed of 10.3km a second.

After landing at Mare Imbrium, the Sea of Showers, a four-wheeled, solar-powered, aluminium rover, one of the lightest ever to roam the moons surface will beam HD images back to earth as it makes a 500m journey.

If it completes all this successfully and before the other teams, TeamIndus will have done enough to win the Xprize. Money however, is tight. The project has raised only $16m of the $70m it will need. Private investment from friends, family members and Indian entrepreneurs make up part of the pot, selling payload on the spacecraft, corporate sponsorship and crowdfunding, the company hopes, will make up the rest of it.

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A model of the moon lander to be used by Indian company TeamIndus.

Narayan started working on the moon mission in 2012, mostly in the evenings and on weekends in Delhi. After a year of juggling between his IT company and his new obsession with the moon, he decided it had to be one or the other, and so left the company, and moved his family to Bangalore, Indias tech capital, and the headquarters of Indias space industry. His wife didnt object. She knows what Im like, he says.

TeamIndus is the only company from a developing country to attempt the moon landing. If we could pick this as a problem statement and solve it, I think we could solve any complex engineering problem, says Narayan.

The company has vague plans to start a satellite programme or develop solar powered drones after the moon mission. But the real ambition, says Narayan was to prove the impossible can be done. I dont think anybody starts something to inspire people, but because what were doing is exceptionally difficult, I think the impact is very clearly cultural and social, he says.

The new space race

Narayans mission appears a long way from the heady days of the 60s and 70s when the US and then USSR spared no expense to explore space. The last few decades have seen some of those dreams die amid severe cuts.

But now, with the rise of China and India in the past two decades a new race for technological ascendancy began. The 37-year hiatus in lunar landings was broken by the China National Space Administration in 2013, when the Change 3 sent back soil samples to earth after successfully performing the first soft landing on the moon in decades.

The Indian Space Research Organisation (Isro) plans its own first lunar landing with the launch of Chandarayaan II planned in the next few years. The Indian companys landing however, if successful, could beat its own government to the punch, and make India the fourth nation ever to land on the moon.

Vishesh Vatsal, an aerospace engineering graduate joined TeamIndus when the company only had a handful of employees. He was hired as an intern by Narayan, despite failing technical interviews, and is now responsible for the team working on the spacecrafts lunar descent system, one of the trickiest parts of the entire journey.

Were not the most elite group of Indian engineers that have come together. A lot of people used to laugh at us, he says, recalling one of his first weeks on the job, when Narayan pushed him in front of some executives during a company review. I gave the silliest answers possible. We got ridiculed in subtle ways, he says.

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A diagram of the moon lander to be used by Indian company TeamIndus Photograph: TeamIndus

The criticism didnt deter them. In January 2015, TeamIndus became the last of four teams to qualify for the XPrize award.

After that, Indias space scientists started taking them seriously. A number of veteran Isro engineers signed up to help the moon landing. Some like 72-year old PS Nair had even worked on Isros first satellite launch in 1975, and shaped the national space mission from its infancy.

[The] goal is not going to the moon, he says. The goal is to empower industry and the country to do what big, giant organisations have done earlier, and thats the goal of the XPrize too, to popularise hi-tech activity and take it out of the control of big organisations like Nasa or Isro. Thats the real motivation for many of us.

Indias space programme is hugely controversial, especially in the west, with some campaigners arguing millions of pounds of British aid money was being misspent in India.For many, the space mission is a symbol of neglect towards Indias most impoverished citizens, while its delusional elites reach for superpower status.

Sheelika Ravishankar, head of marketing and outreach, argues the countrys ventures are a huge source of national pride. Different parts of India care about what were doing in different ways, she says, recalling an auto rickshaw driver who donated a part of his salary to TeamIndus after one of the companys employees told him about the moon mission on his way to work, or a man who left a board meeting to donate 2m rupees (23,800) when the cash-strapped company urgently needed to test its spacecraft.

Folks are coming forward to say this is architecting a new India, which is technologically advanced, which is bright, which is not the last stop of IT services where you backend to the cheapest country. This is the front of technology.

As the launch deadline draws closer, teams are working faster than ever to test and enhance their models. A misplaced particle of dust or a simple electronic malfunction could derail the whole mission.

Many see TeamIndus as underdogs in the moon race, up against teams with vast resources.

But Ravishankarsays being in the race, and in it to win, puts India on the map.

This proves that you can get state of the art technology coming out of India. It is proof, that you dont have you be a huge team of rocket scientists with the deepest pockets to do research. Its also for the rest of the world to see that anybody can put together a crazy dream. I mean, how much crazier can you be than to look at the moon and say, hey, Im going there?

Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/world/2017/mar/20/lunar-xprize-moon-landing-former-delhi-it-worker-crazy-dream

Got it covered: fashion wakes up to Muslim womens style

With the Islamic economy growing at double the global rate, mainstream designers are jumping on the modest wear bandwagon

A year or so ago the term modest wear would have drawn puzzled looks. But what a difference a year or, in fact, a few weeks makes.

This month, Vogue Arabia launched its first ever print issue, with Saudi Arabian princess Deena Aljuhani Abdulaziz as its editor in chief. Days later, Nike pioneered a hi-tech hijab for Muslim female athletes. London has seen its first modest fashion week. Big brands such as DKNY, Mango, Dolce & Gabbana, Oscar de la Renta and Uniqlo have all offered modest fashion lines to women, and Debenhams has just become the first department store to sell hijabs on the high street.

Yet the latest talking point in fashion circles has been the appearance of The Modist, a luxury e-commerce venture which launched, quite intentionally, on international womens day. Fashion that caters to women who want to combine their faith or modesty with contemporary style has emphatically arrived.

The founder and CEO of The Modist is 38-year-old Ghizlan Guenez, of Algerian background, who presents her new company more as a philosophy than a fashion destination. And of course Guenez, who has a private-equity background, knows this is where the big money lies. Global Muslim expenditure on fashion is set to rise to $484bn (398bn) by 2019, according to Reuters and DinarStandard, a research and advisory firm.

The Modist could not have launched at a better time, says Guenez. The stars were aligning for us. We saw Halima Aden, the first Muslim model in a hijab on the catwalk at New York fashion week, modelling for Yeezy, Kanye Wests fashion line; were seeing big brands reaching out to Muslim audiences even more, and we had the womens march, which was incredibly empowering for women all over the globe.

Halima
Halima Aden wore a hijab during New York fashion week. Photograph: Luca Bruno/AP

Guenez sees social media as pivotal to the modest fashion industry. Social media has played a significant role in bringing women together so a Malaysian fashionista can be inspired by a student in London. Theyre informed by an online community of women who want to combine faith values with fashion.

The Modist curates outfits that range from around 200 to 2,000, from coloured maxi dresses to wide-leg trousers, and dynamic-cut tops. Yet when it comes to gauging what modesty really means, Guenez is measured. Modesty is a wide spectrum that involves personal choice, she says. But we do respect certain parameters, through lowering hemlines, avoiding sheerness and low necklines. We want to provide something that is inspiring, fashionable and relevant.

Yet modest fashion, particularly when it comes to Muslims, has not been without controversy. Vogue Arabias front cover caused a Twitter backlash for depicting 21-year-model Gigi Hadid in a jewel-encrusted veil. She was criticised for giving religious offence, for cultural appropriation and for using her Palestinian roots as a fashion gimmick.

And of course there was the global outcry when burkinis, the full-piece Islamic swimsuits, were banned last summer from a string of French coastal towns and bizarrely linked to terrorism.

Reina Lewis, professor of cultural studies at the London College of Fashion, observes that when modest fashion mixes with major brands and Muslims, it can prompt controversy. The fashion industry is broadly secular and there is an anxiety associated with Muslims and Islam in particular, she says. Muslims are often seen to be outside western-perceived cultural production.

But that negative attitude is shifting, says Lewis. When she started researching her book Muslim Fashion: Contemporary Style Cultures, she found the Muslim female designers, bloggers and entrepreneurs she spoke to could not get the attention of the big brands. Now modest wear is seen as an asset because of Muslim spending power, she says.

According to Reuters and DinarStandard, the Islamic economy is growing at nearly double the global rate. Muslim consumer spending on food and lifestyle reached $1.8tn in 2014 and is projected to reach $2.6tn in 2020.

And so modest wear continues to draw major brands: Dolce & Gabbana created a luxury hijab and abaya range in 2016; DKNY and Mango launched exclusive modest wear lines for Ramadan and Eid targeting the UAE; H&M featured its first Muslim model in a hijab, Mariah Idrissi, and Uniqlo joined forces with British-Japanese designer Hana Tajima to create their LifeWear collection. Debenhams is collaborating with a Muslim-run company, Aab, to sell kimono wraps, silky jumpsuits and elegant hijabs.

Deena
Deena Aljuhani Abdulaziz, Vogue Arabias new editor. Photograph: Edward Berthelot/Getty Images

Just weeks before the release of Nikes Pro Hijab, aimed at Muslim athletes, the company launched a video for Middle Eastern audiences. It featured a diversity of Muslim women ice-skating, boxing, horse-riding, and fencing. The voiceover, in Arabic, says: What will they say about you? Maybe theyll say you exceeded all expectations.

Its long overdue, according to Rimla Akhtar, the first Muslim woman on the Football Association council, and chair of the UKs Muslim Womens Sports Foundation. Modest sports gear and sports hijabs are nothing new, but to have something from such a giant as Nike is significant.

Akhtar, who has been competing since her teens, finds the sharp spotlight on Muslim women over the past few years to be both positive and negative. Its encouraging to see Muslim women recognised, but much of this advertising pushes the narrative of breaking stereotypes, she says. I look forward to a time when we can normalise Muslim women in sports, not constantly make them a political or social statement.

Nabiilabee has been a blogger for seven years, and is among the pioneers of modest fashion. She started her eponymous clothing brand for anyone looking for something modest, but still fun and quirky. The 21-year-old belongs to the Mipster generation (Muslim hipster), which comprises urban, tech-savvy millennials who are confident in their faith and fashion choices.

Hijabi bloggers and influencers werent really being seen by advertisers or companies, so we had to create a platform which united other Muslim women who were facing fashion dilemmas, she says. The problem still exists today; however, there is a lot more choice and those women who were once isolated by the high street have launched their own collections, like Arabian Nites, Aab and Verona Collection and my own Nabiilabee.

So does this mean women who want stylish modest wear are finally being catered for? The answer, for Nabiilabee, is mixed. She feels that while recent moves are encouraging, there is still a long way to go in penetrating the high street and treating Muslim female shoppers as a sought-after commodity.

Its important that brands and marketing campaigns try to have an authentic conversation with this audience rather than simply sticking a modest sticker on everything and hoping it will sell, she says.

Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/fashion/2017/mar/11/got-it-covered-fashion-wakes-up-to-muslim-womens-style

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie: ‘Can people please stop telling me feminism is hot?’

The novelist has been accused of making equality mainstream: isnt that the point? Plus an extract from her new Feminist Manifesto In Fifteen Suggestions

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie was in Lagos last summer, teaching a writing workshop as part of an annual schedule that sees her time divided between Nigeria and the US. For much of the year, Adichie lives in a town 30 minutes west of Baltimore, where her Nigerian-American husband works as a medic and the 39-year-old writes in the quiet of a suburban home. When Adichie is in Nigeria, where her parents and extended family still live, she has a house in the vast city she regards with the complicated love and condescension of the part-time expat.

Its an ambivalence with which many Nigerians regard her, too; last year, the workshop ended in a question-and-answer session, during which a young man rose to ask the famous novelist a question. I used to love you, she recalls him saying. Ive read all your books. But since you started this whole feminism thing, and since you started to talk about this gay thing, Im just not sure about you any more. How do you intend to keep the love of people like me?

Adichie and I are in a coffee shop near her home in the Baltimore suburbs. We have met before, a few years ago, when her third novel Americanah was published, a book that examines what it is to be a Nigerian woman living in the US, and that went on to win a National Book Critics Circle award. A lot has happened since then. Half Of A Yellow Sun, Adichies second and most famous novel, about the Biafran war, has been made into a film starring Chiwetel Ejiofor and Thandie Newton. Her essay, We Should All Be Feminists, adapted from her 2013 TEDx talk, has remained on the bestseller lists, particularly in Sweden, where in 2015 it was distributed to every 16-year-old high-school student in the land. The talk was sampled by Beyonc in her song Flawless. Adichie has become the face of Boots No7 makeup. And she has had a baby, a daughter, now 15 months old.

Adichie is still somewhat in the blast zone, not entirely caught up on sleep, but has published a short book, Dear Ijeawele, Or A Feminist Manifesto In Fifteen Suggestions, an extended version of a letter to a friend who, after having her own baby girl, asked Adichies advice on how to raise her to be feminist. I have had twin girls myself since our last meeting, so I am curious about her approach, not least because one of my two-year-olds currently identifies as Bob the Builder and the other as Penelope Pitstop. I would like to equip them to be themselves, while resisting whatever projections might be foisted upon them. We show each other baby photos and smile. Welcome to the world of anxiety, Adichie says.

The success of We Should All Be Feminists has made Adichie as prominent for her feminism as for her novels, to the extent that now I get invited to every damned feminist thing in the whole world. She has always been an agony aunt of sorts, the unpaid therapist for my family and friends, but having the feminist label attached has changed things, and not just among her intimates. I was opened to a certain level of hostility that I hadnt experienced before as a writer and public figure.

This is partly why she has written the new book, to reclaim the word feminism from its abusers and misusers, a category within which she would include certain other progressives, and to lay down in plain, elegant English her beliefs about child-raising.

Dear Ijeawele is, in some ways, a very basic set of appeals; to be careful with language (never say because you are a girl), avoid gendered toys, encourage reading, dont treat marriage as an achievement, reject likability. Her job is not to make herself likable, her job is to be her full self, she writes in reference to her friends daughter, a choice Adichie has come to elevate almost above any other.

That day in Lagos last summer, her friends were furious at the cheek of the young mans question, but she rather liked his bravery and honesty in asking it. She replied in the same spirit. Keep your love, Adichie said. Because, sadly, while I love to be loved, I will not accept your love if it comes with these conditions.

Having a baby has made Adichie think differently about her own parents, particularly her mother. Grace Adichie, who had six children and worked her way up from being a university administrator to the registrar, taught her daughter to love fashion as well as books, and was a very cool mum whom she idolised as a child. Nonetheless, and in the manner of most snotty young adults, young Chimamanda went through a phase of being very superior to her mother. Now, the novelist looks at her daughter and gulps.

Adichie recently came across her own kindergarten reports. My father keeps them all. You know what the teacher wrote? She is brilliant, but she refuses to do any work when shes annoyed. I was five years old. She laughs. I couldnt believe it. My husband couldnt believe it. I must have been an annoying child.

Its not as if she comes from a family of radicals. My parents are not like that. Theyre conventional, reasonable, responsible, good, kind people. Im the crazy. But their love and support made that crazy thrive.

Unlike Adichie, who was raised exclusively in Nigeria, her daughter will be raised in two cultures and subject to slightly diverging social expectations. Already, Adichie says with a laugh, friends and relatives from home are concerned that her mothering is insufficiently stern.

A friend was just visiting and she said to me, Your parenting is not very Nigerian. In Nigeria and, I think, in many cultures you control children. And I feel like, my daughter is 15 months, she doesnt have a sense of consequences. And I enjoy watching her. So she tears a page of a book? Whatever. She throws my shoes down. So? Its fun. I love that shes quite strong-willed. The joke between Adichie and her husband whom, to her intense annoyance, their daughter looks much more like is that her character cleaves to the maternal side. He says to me, Well, at least we know where she got her personality from. Shes quite fierce.

In the new book, Adichies advice is not only to provide children with alternatives to empower boys and girls to understand there is no single way to be but also to understand that the only universal in this world is difference. In terms of the evolution of feminism, these are not new lessons, but that is rather Adichies point. She is not writing for other feminist writers, and shows some frustration at what she sees as the solipsism of much feminist debate.

That morning, on the way to see her, I had read a review of a new book by Jessa Crispin, entitled Why I Am Not A Feminist: A Feminist Manifesto, a critique of everything that is wrong with feminism today. If one can get over the eye-rolling aspect of books by feminists decrying the feminism of other feminists for degrading the word feminist by being insufficiently feminist, the book does raise questions about where one should be focusing ones efforts.

Chiara
Fashion blogger Chiara Ferragni wears Adichies Dior T-shirt during Paris fashion week, January 2017. Photograph: Edward Berthelot/Getty Images

The proposition is that feminism has become so mainstream as to be an empty marketing tool, a mere slogan on a bag or a T-shirt. Without being named, Adichie is implicated in this critique, given that last year she collaborated with Christian Dior on a T-shirt bearing the line We Should All Be Feminists; depending on ones view, this is either a perfect example of pointless sloganeering or a brilliant piece of preaching to the unconverted.

Im already irritated, Adichie says. This idea of feminism as a party to which only a select few people get to come: this is why so many women, particularly women of colour, feel alienated from mainstream western academic feminism. Because, dont we want it to be mainstream? For me, feminism is a movement for which the end goal is to make itself no longer needed. I think academic feminism is interesting in that it can give a language to things, but Im not terribly interested in debating terms. I want peoples marriages to change for the better. I want women to walk into job interviews and be treated the same way as somebody who has a penis.

Still, one can see a theoretical obscenity about the Dior collaboration: the words of a movement that should be concerned with helping low-income women, used to promote and make money for a wealthy company. On the other hand: what is the damage?

Yes: whats the damage? Adichie says. I would even argue about the theoretically obscene. Theres a kind of self-righteousness to the ultra-left that is hard for me to stomach. Its approach to poverty can sometimes border on condescension. I often think that people who write a lot about poverty need to go and spend more time with poor people. I think about Nigerian women who can hardly afford anything but who love fashion. They have no money, but they work it.

Adichie mentions a TV soap opera that used to run in Nigeria called The Rich Also Cry, a terrible drama series, she says, that was very popular. But sometimes I think about that title. So, the creative director of Christian Dior is obviously a woman of some privilege. But does it then mean that she doesnt have gender-based problems in her life? Because she does. Does it mean she doesnt have this magnificent rage about gender injustice? Because she does. Wanting to use that slogan was it going to make the world a better place? No. But I think theres a level of consciousness-raising and a level of subversion that I like.

She doesnt believe it was a cynical marketing ploy? No. Sorry. Feminism is not that hot. I can tell you I would sell more books in Nigeria if I stopped and said Im no longer a feminist. I would have a stronger following, I would make more money. So when people say, Oh, feminisms a marketing ploy, it makes me laugh.

The bigger issue here is one of range. Adichies irritation with aspects of what she thinks of as professional feminism is that it runs counter to her ideas as a writer: that people contain multitudes. She is a brilliant novelist and a serious thinker, and she is also someone who makes no apology for her own trivial interests. Life doesnt always follow ideology, she says. You might believe in certain things and life gets in and things just become messy. You know? I think thats the space that fiction, and having a bit more of an imaginative approach, makes. And that the feminist speaking circuit doesnt really make room for.

There is much in the new book about double standards, including those governing the images of motherhood and fatherhood. I think we need to stop giving men cookies for doing what they should do, she says, and goes on to explain that her husband, who needs less sleep than her, tends to get up in the night to tend to the baby. On the one hand, I realise that my husband is unusual; on the other, I feel resentful when hes overpraised by my family and friends. Hes like Jesus.

He probably senses shes about to go off the deep end, I suggest, and Adichie smiles to acknowledge how impossible she is. I did all the physical work to produce her! Theres something fundamentally wrong with the way weve constructed what it means to be female in the world.

Chimamanda
Photograph: Stephen Voss for the Guardian

This is something she writes about in a lovely passage of the new book about hair. As a child, Adichie and her sisters and every other girl she knew were routinely tortured with a metal comb to subdue their hair, something her brothers were spared. Im glad I wrote that, Adichie says. We had just come back from Lagos and my sister, God bless her, had already had a talk with me about my daughters hair. She said, You need to do something about it. With my family, theres an eye-roll and a here-we-go-again with her, and she said to me, Do you want me to send you a set of combs? And I was like, No, thank you. And I know its going to keep happening. But, no, Im not going to conform in that way. Im not going to have my child go through pain because society expects a certain neatness. It happened to me, its not going to happen to her. And Im ready to have all the battles I need to have.

The original letter on which Dear Ijeawele is based has been shared on Facebook, and while Adichie was in Lagos, a woman whod read it approached her in a shop and said, Heres my daughter, look at her hair. She had very loose cornrows that were not neat according to Nigerians. And she said, You inspired that. My daughter is happier, Im happier. And do you know, it was the highlight of my month.

This is not just a question of image. It is also about time. Women have less time than men, in almost every arena, because their responsibilities to look or act a certain way are more onerous.

It is one of Adichies bugbears that as someone who loves fashion, she is by default not taken seriously. When Boots approached her to be the face of its No7 makeup range, she said yes, because she thought it might be fun; in the end, she says, it became vaguely alarming. I have no regrets, but you wake up one day and think, what the hell have I done? There were too many of these pictures everywhere. Her point, however, is that its not that Im a feminist and made a strategic choice to speak about makeup and fashion. Its that I was raised by Grace Adichie in a culture in which you care about how you look. Its a part of me I once hid, because I felt that I had to to be serious. Now, Im just being who I am.

Recently, Adichies identity has been tested in new ways. I wonder if she is less affected by President Trump than an American, on the basis that she is less invested in the American story. Quite the opposite, she says. Because theres a part of me that needs a country I can think of as being one that largely works. Which is not a luxury that Nigeria can have. She laughs.

Someone said to me, Now that this is happening in the US, do you think of moving back to Nigeria? And I thought, no, because its not any better there. I admire America. I dont think of myself as American Im not. So its not mine. But I admire it, and so theres a sense that this thing I built in my head, its been destroyed.

There is also, she says, something familiar about it all. American democracy has never been tested. You might have disagreed ideologically with George W Bush, but he still kind of followed the rules. Here, it feels like Nigeria. It really does. Its that feeling of political uncertainty that Im very familiar with, but not a feeling I like. Its ugly. But even worse, because America is so powerful, and so much at the centre of the world, these things have consequences for everyone. Nigeria doesnt have that kind of reach, so our problems remain our problems.

In January, Adichie and her husband joined the Womens March in DC. It was fleeting, and symbolic, she says, but it gave me the smallest slice of hope. There are all of these people who seem to realise that America has changed by electing an unhinged person. On the other hand, theres a part of me thats very sceptical of too much sentimentality. I hope it translates into people organising and going out to vote.

Long before talk about piercing the filter bubble, Adichie instinctively subscribed to rightwing blogs and newsletters. She was an early watcher of Fox News, until it became too unhinged and ridiculous. But she has carried on, because Im interested in ideological concerns and how people differ, and how we should build a society. Whats a welfare state? People who have less, are we responsible for them? I think we are. And I think I can make a selfish case, which is apparently what appeals to people on the right. People on the left say we should do it because we should be kind. And people on the right think, Excuse me? But if you say to them, If these people dont get healthcare, they will go to the ER and your tax dollars will pay for it, suddenly they sit up.

Chimamanda
Adichie with her husband, Ivara Esege. Photograph: DDAA/ZOB/Daniel Deme/WENN

As a result of her reading, rightwing ideology is not something I think is evil, she says. Some. A bit. But, in general, I dont. I have friends who are good, kind people who are on the right. But Donald Trump is an exception. Its not an objection to a conservative, because I dont even think hes a conservative. My objection is an objection to chaos. Each time I turn on the news, Im holding my breath.

Trumps erosion of language is one of the most frightening things about him, but even progressives, Adichie says, can be sloppy on this front. In response to her new book, a reporter emailed her the question: Why not humanism? (instead of feminism). To which, she says, I thought, what part of the fucking book did this person not read?

Its like the people who go around saying All Lives Matter, I say, in response to the Black Lives Matter movement. Right, which I find deeply offensive and very dishonest. Because we have to name something in order to fix it, which is why I insist on the word feminist or feminism.

This, she says, in spite of the fact that many of her friends, particularly black women, resist that word, because the history of feminism has been very white and has assumed women meant white women. Political discussion in this country still does that. Theyll say, Women voted for… and then, Black people voted for… And I think: Im black and a woman, so where do I fit in here?

As a result, Many of my friends who are not white will say, Im an intersectional feminist, or Im a womanist. And I have trouble with that word, because it has undertones of femininity as this mystical goddess-mother thing, which makes me uncomfortable. So we need a word. And my hope is we use feminism often enough that it starts to lose all the stigma and becomes this inclusive, diverse thing.

This is her goal and her defence, although she still doesnt see why she needs one. Her understanding of feminism is intertwined with her understanding that we all want to be more than one thing. And anyway, she repeats, Can people please stop telling me that feminism is hot? Because its not. Adichie looks magnificently annoyed. Honestly.

Beware feminism lite: an extract from Chimamanda Ngozi Adichies letter-turned-book, Dear Ijeawele

Be a full person. Motherhood is a glorious gift, but do not define yourself solely by it. You dont even have to love your job; you can merely love the confidence and self-fulfilment that come with doing and earning. Please reject the idea that motherhood and work are mutually exclusive. Our mothers worked full-time while we were growing up, and we turned out well at least you did; the jury is still out on me.

In these coming weeks of early motherhood, be kind to yourself. Ask for help. Expect to be helped. There is no such thing as a Superwoman. Parenting is about practice and love.

Give yourself room to fail. A new mother does not necessarily know how to calm a crying baby. Read books, look things up on the internet, ask older parents, or just use trial and error. But, above all, take time for yourself. Nurture your own needs.

I have no interest in the debate about women doing it all, because it is a debate that assumes that caregiving and domestic work are singularly female domains, an idea that I strongly reject. Domestic work and caregiving should be gender-neutral, and we should be asking not whether a woman can do it all, but how best to support parents in their dual duties at work and at home.

Chimamanda
Photograph: Stephen Voss for the Guardian

Beware the danger of what I call Feminism Lite; the idea of conditional female equality. Being a feminist is like being pregnant. You either are or you are not. You either believe in the full equality of men and women, or you do not.

Teach your daughter to question language. A friend of mine says she will never call her daughter princess. The word is loaded with assumptions, of a girls delicacy, of the prince who will come to save her. This friend prefers angel and star. So decide the things you will not say to your child. You know that Igbo joke, used to tease girls who are being childish What are you doing? Dont you know you are old enough to find a husband? I used to say that often. But now I choose not to. I say, You are old enough to find a job. Because I do not believe that marriage is something we should teach young girls to aspire to.

Try not to use words like misogyny and patriarchy. We feminists can sometimes be too jargony. Teach her that if you criticise X in women but do not criticise X in men, you do not have a problem with X, you have a problem with women. For X please insert words like anger, ambition, loudness, stubbornness, coldness, ruthlessness.

Do you remember how we laughed and laughed at an atrociously written piece about me some years ago? The writer had accused me of being angry, as though being angry were something to be ashamed of. Of course I am angry. I am angry about racism. I am angry about sexism. But I recently came to the realisation that I am angrier about sexism than I am about racism. Because in my anger about sexism, I often feel lonely. Because I love, and live among, many people who easily acknowledge race injustice but not gender injustice.

Teach your daughter to question men who can have empathy for women only if they see them as relational rather than as individual equal humans. Men who, when discussing rape, will say something like, If it were my daughter or wife or sister. Yet such men do not need to imagine a male victim of crime as a brother or son in order to feel empathy.

Teach her, too, to question the idea of women as a special species. I once heard an American politician, in his bid to show his support for women, speak of how women should be revered and championed a sentiment that is all too common. Tell her that women dont need to be championed and revered; they just need to be treated as equal human beings.

This is a condensed and edited extract from Dear Ijeawele, Or A Feminist Manifesto In Fifteen Suggestions, by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, published on Tuesday by Fourth Estate at 10. To order a copy for 8.50, go to bookshop.theguardian.com

This article was amended on 4 March 2017. It originally referred to Lagos as Nigerias capital. This has now been corrected.

Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/books/2017/mar/04/chimamanda-ngozi-adichie-stop-telling-me-feminism-hot

History, harmony, and the only Muslim island in Australia | Ben Stubbs

There is something positive about the isolated existence of the Cocos (Keeling) Islands, 2,000km from the West Australian coast and shielded from anti-Islam rhetoric

We pull up to the front of the mosque in Nek Sus golf cart. Through the open window I see him join thirty men in bright robes and embroidered Taqiyah head coverings as they kneel to face the Kaaba cube in Mecca. The soft call to prayer fills the street. Everything else is silent. Two girls in hijabs walk past as a young, robed man pulls up to the mosque and shuffles inside, late.

Hayya ala Salahhhhh, drifts from the speakers.

The call to prayer is normally something Australians associate with travelling and the exotic: being in a rooftop cafe in Marrakesh sipping mint tea, in a hotel in Agra looking at the Taj Mahal before sunrise, or walking the shores of the Bosphorus during an Istanbul winter. It is always something I have experienced as an outsider.

I look across the lagoon, past the school and the jetty to the twinkling lights on the water and Im reminded that I havent travelled far at all. This is still Australia; its just a part that many people dont get to see. I am a guest of Nek Su, the builder, fisherman, grandfather, imam and elder of Home Island, the only Muslim island in Australia.

The Cocos (Keeling) Islands are an iridescent tropical atoll 2,000km from the West Australian coast, yet they are still part of Australia as one of the Indian Ocean Territories (along with Christmas Island). Interestingly the Muslim population here outnumbers the other inhabitants four to one.

The islands have a strange relationship with Islam. They were discovered by Captain William Keeling of the East India Company in 1609 and werent properly settled until Scottish trader John Clunies-Ross and merchant Alexander Hare both arrived in the early 19th century. Clunies-Ross was an empire builder and brought in Malay, Chinese, Papuan and Indian workers to harvest copra they were the first Muslims on the islands. Hare wasnt quite as pragmatic. He was accompanied by slaves and a harem of 23 women from the East Indies, New Guinea and Mozambique to populate his desert island fantasy.

Nek
Nek Su on Turtle Beach. The islands imam grew up collecting coconuts for fo husking for the Clunies-Ross family. Photograph: Ben Stubbs for the Guardian

Hares harem didnt work out, so he left and Clunies-Ross assumed control as the self-appointed king of the islands. The islands operated as the familys fiefdom until they were passed over to Australian control in 1955 and the people voted for proper integration in 1984. As the colonialist leanings of the Clunies-Ross clan loosened, the former indentured population, who were nearly exclusively Sunni Muslims, settled on Home Island and the predominantly expat population set up on West Island across the water.

I take the ferry across the aqua lagoon to Home Island. Waiting for me on the jetty is a tall man wearing a brown fedora. He has an open and friendly face; he looks fit and slim for a 73-year-old man. Call me Nek Su, he smiles in reply. It means grandpa, and it is what all the Home Islanders know him as.

We drive from the jetty towards his house. The paved lanes are populated by bikes and golf carts sitting under coconut palms. There is an identical layout to the houses, with big breezy rooms and outdoor kitchens. They are all connected by narrow laneways that wouldnt look out of place in Kuala Lumpur or Java. The afternoon air smells of spices and samosas.

Nek Su points to the elevated cyclone shelter as we drive: I built that.

We continue along the narrow lanes and he points to the luminescent yellow school: That too.

Nek Su isnt much of a conversationalist, at least not in English. His first language, like most of the Home Islanders, is Malay. Their language is unique and has evolved since it came across the water with the first indentured workers.

Nek
Nek Su on Home Island. I met Queen Elizabeth; I didnt say anything though. I was too shy, he says. Photograph: Ben Stubbs for the Guardian

We pull in at the enormous mosque. Its dome is silver and its floorboards are still unpainted. It will house the entire Home Island population of 400 eventually, a step up from the modest fibro buildings used previously. Everyone who lives on the island is Muslim, Nek Su tells me.

He also tells me that many of the young children are actively part of Islam here on the island something he never saw on the mainland. Nek Su lived in Western Australia in the 1970s and he regularly goes back to Perth, Port Hedland and Jurien Bay. The link with their faith is a central part of life on Home Island, for young and old. On Wednesday afternoons Nek Su and other elder statesmen teach the boys on the island the ways of their Cocos Malay culture, sailing, dancing and building Jukong traditional boats to maintain a link with their past. Nek Su also tells me that 85% of Home Islanders have been to Mecca.

We continue driving around the go-kart like tracks of the island. At the edge of the lapping water Nek Su greets a group of young men with their children playing in the shallows. Later we pull in at one of the houses to meet Nek Sus family. Nek Sus brother Omar and his wife, who wears a bright orange hijab, are sitting out the back as she fries some afternoon snacks in the wok. Salam is offered as a greeting when we enter the outdoor kitchen. When Omar sees that Im an outsider, he smiles and says, How ya going mate? Take a seat. The clove smell of kretek cigarettes wafts through the air, mixing with the frying spices spitting from the wok, highlighting the mash of cultures here.

Our path home takes us along the edges of Oceania House, the former colonial mansion of the Clunies-Ross family. It is a big, white two-storey place overlooking the water. Vines push through the crumbled windows; salt has blown a film of rust across it all, yet it remains as a decaying reminder of Home Islands past.

Later that evening Nek Su and I eat dinner together in his modest kitchen a meal of sweet lip fish, samosas and vegetables. Looking at the snow peas and carrots on my plate I mention that I didnt see much planted on Home Island. Its difficult to grow anything because of the soil mostly its just sand, says Nek Su. There isnt much here other than bananas, sugar cane and tubers. They all rely on the six-weekly shipments from the mainland to supplement what they can grow and catch. While we eat, Nek Su tells me stories of meeting the Queen in 1955 when she visited the islands, I met Queen Elizabeth; I didnt say anything though. I was too shy, he says with a smile.

Nek Su is the image of a self-sufficient man. He cant read or write but he can build a house, a boat, weld, fish and his faith is at the centre of it all. As we pack up the meal he hurries us along as the nighttime prayer is coming, just one of the five prayer times all recognise on the island.

We head out in Nek Sus boat early the next morning with his nephew Ossie to experience something of this self-sufficiency. Fishing, quite understandably, is an activity that binds the two communities on the Cocos Islands and helps them all survive. Within minutes I notice black floating shapes the size of dinner tables below us.

Turtles! exclaims Ossie. There are hundreds of sea turtles in the lagoon, along with an abundance of fish, sharks, rays and dugongs.

Two
There are hundreds of sea turtles in the lagoon, along with an abundance of fish, sharks, rays and dugongs. Photograph: Norbert Probst/Alamy Stock Photo

Nek Su stretches his stiff knees ever so slightly as we ride the swells in the deeper water. When he was growing up he would work, along with the other Malay speakers, on South Island collecting coconuts for the Clunies-Ross family to be husked and sold to the mainland.

Id collect 100 in a bag. Wed carry 5,000 coconuts on our shoulders every week.

The sun is directly above us and our Esky is full of fish to be shared between the families on Home Island, so Ossie and Nek Su cross the lagoon to drop me at West Island to meet the rest of the locals. Many Home Islanders work on West Island, in the visitors centre, the school, medical centre and the cafes. There are also West Islanders on the ferry every morning going to work for the day at Home Island.

Afternoons are for golf across the international runway, evenings are for tennis or a quiet drink at the pub, and there seems to be a community event every second day. To me, it seems religion is at the centre of things on Home Island and on West Island the community is the driving force. It doesnt seem to matter if it is organising a new mosque or a raffle for the golf club, these places exist together because of their sense of community.

Home
Home Island school. Photograph: Ben Stubbs for the Guardian

At the visitors centre, Jules, the marketing manager, tells me that the interaction on the islands is something they embrace, Our girls all look forward to Hari Raya when we all go to Home Island to celebrate together.

Hari Raya is the celebration and reflection at the end of Ramadan. The two communities get together to enjoy the breaking of the fast and the associated rituals as they anticipate the new year. Homes are strung with fairy lights, people eat together in open houses and those who have passed away are remembered. Even if the two communities arent as close as they were twenty years ago, as long time resident Terry Washer suggests, because of the influence of the mainland, there is something hopeful about this place.

Its isolation has shielded the community, somewhat, from the rhetoric of Ray Hadley and Pauline Hanson and the rest. If more people observed the history and coexistence of the Home islanders and the West islanders without the outside noise and media peer pressure, it might give them hope.

LaTrobe University anthropologist Nicholas Herriman calls the Cocos Malay, Australias oldest continuously Islamic and South Asian community and on the islands this is a position greeted with respect.

The next day I wait at the Cocos Malay cafe at the airport on West Island as a batch of samosas are fried by the lady in a headscarf for the electricians who are finishing up a shift on the islands. I reflect on my initial thought that the isolation here might have bred fear and mistrust. This fishbowl existence has, if anything, allowed them to preserve a sense of community and coexist in a way that many Australians dont experience anymore.

Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/travel/2017/jan/29/history-harmony-and-the-only-muslim-island-in-australia

Call of the wild: can Americas national parks survive? | Lucy Rock

Americas national parks are facing multiple threats, despite being central to the frontier nations sense of itself, says Lucy Rock

Autumn in the North Cascades National Park and soggy clouds cling to the peaks of the mountains that inspired the musings of Beat poets such as Jack Kerouac and Alan Ginsberg 60 years ago. Sitting on a carpet of pine needles in the forest below, protected from the rain by a canopy of vine maple leaves, is a group of 10-year-olds listening to a naturalist hoping to spark a similar love of the outdoors in a new generation.

This is one of 59 national parks which range across the United States, from the depths of the Grand Canyon in Arizona to the turrets of the Rocky Mountains in Colorado. All plus hundreds of monuments and historic sites are run by the National Park Service (NPS), which celebrated its centenary last year. The parks were created so that Americas natural wonders would be accessible to everyone, rather than sold off to the highest bidder. Writer Wallace Stegner called them Americas best idea: Absolutely democratic, they reflect us at our best rather than our worst.

Its easy to agree. Nicknamed Americas Alps, Washington States North Cascades is an area of soaring beauty, a wilderness of fire and ice thanks to hundreds of glaciers and dense forest where trees burn in summer blazes. The Pacific Crest Trail made famous by Cheryl Strayeds memoir, Wild, and the subsequent film starring Reese Witherspoon runs through the park. Walking along Thunder Creek one midweek morning, the only sound is rushing water and birdsong. The view is a nature-layered cake of teal water, forested mountain slopes and snowy summits. But it is here that you can also observe the threats facing the parks in their next 100 years. They are fighting a war on three fronts: severe underfunding, climate change and a lack of diversity and youth among their visitors.

Jack Kerouac spent the summer of 1956 as a fire lookout atop Desolation Peak in the North Cascades, surrounded by silence and rocky spires, far from the drink, drugs and distractions of his San Francisco life. He drew on his Cascades experiences in Dharma Bums, Lonesome Traveler and Desolation Angels, in which he wrote: Those lazy afternoons, when I used to sit, or lie down, on Desolation Peak, sometimes on the alpine grass, hundreds of miles of snow-covered rock all around Those views look different today. Climate change is causing the glaciers to melt: their square footage shrank by 20% between 1959 and 2009.

Running
Running with the herd: bison on the prairie below the Grand Teton mountains in Yellowstone. Photograph: Matt Anderson/Getty Images

Saul Weisberg, executive director of the North Cascades Institute, an environmental educational organisation, said that the difference between photos from September when the seasonal snow is gone in the 1950s and today was, Incredibly dramatic. Snow is melting back more and more and now you see a lot more rock when you look at the mountains.

Climate change is killing trees, threatening birds and mammals, and leading to devastating wildfires across the 85m acres run by the NPS. Patrick Gonzalez, the principal climate-change scientist at the NPS, told me about rising sea levels (theres been a 22cm rise across the bay at Golden Gate National Recreation Area, California, since 1954); high ocean temperatures bleaching and killing coral in Virgin Islands National Park; and major vegetation types and wildlife moving upwards.

Yosemite saw subalpine forests moving up into subalpine meadows over the last century and small mammals, including mice and ground squirrels, shifting 500m uphill. As temperatures warm, he said, things on higher elevations get warmer and things on lower elevations move up. Bark beetles, once killed by cold winters, are now surviving and wreaking havoc with trees. You go to Rocky Mountains, Yellowstone hillsides formerly covered in a green canopy of trees are now just rust-coloured areas.

If no action is taken, the glaciers of Glacier National Park may melt away; Joshua trees could die out in the park that bears their name; bison may disappear from Yellowstone; and the ancient cliff dwellings in Mesa Verde in Colorado could crumble away.

The NPS is tackling the issue in two ways, said Gonzalez, first by cutting emissions from its own operations by 35% by 2020; and secondly, by adapting its management of the parks to cope with how things might look under climate change rather than trying to maintain them as pictures of the past. With full implementation of the Paris climate agreement and further improvements in energy efficiency and sustainability we can avoid the most drastic effects of climate change, he said.

Digging
Digging deep: the Grand Canyon, one of 59 national parks in America. Photograph: Michele Falzone/Getty Images

However, Donald Trump has called climate change a hoax. After the election, he conceded there was some connectivity between human activity and climate change and wavered on a previous vow to cancel the Paris agreement. Yet several of his picks for key posts in his administration are climate science sceptics, including Scott Pruitt and Ryan Zinke.

The ravages of climate change exacerbate another peril facing the parks: lack of money. There is an $11.9bn maintenance backlog and the system is understaffed, with 10% fewer employees than five years ago. Roads and bridges are crumbling, trails need repairing and campgrounds are neglected.

The 140-mile Yellowstone loop road was designed a century ago for horse-drawn carriages and requires a $1bn rebuild. The adobe Old Santa Fe Trail building needs $2m-worth of repairs to walls damaged by water and pests.

The North Cascades, which became a National Park in 1968, has a $21.8m to-do list. All of it needs attention, said Denise Shultz, of the NPS. National parks are like mini cities with water-treatment plants, electrical grids to take care of and bridges. There are over 300 miles of trails in the park. Its like housekeeping. It never gets finished.

Although wear and tear is visible at the amphitheatre at Newhalem campground in the North Cascades, you can see the wooden stage is rotting and the asphalt is buckling visitors are shielded from much of it.

Largely, the parks service prioritises projects that improve and maintain the visitor experience and ensures the safety of visitors, said John Garder, the budget director at the National Parks Conservation Association that lobbies on behalf of the parks. But there are safety concerns, such as old wiring that has to be replaced. There are major multi-million dollar issues with water and waste water. If those ageing systems arent dealt with then it will raise questions about whether the parks are still able to accommodate visitors.

The bulk of the parks $3.1bn budget comes from Congress with the rest from entrance charges, philanthropy and fees paid by hotels, restaurants and other businesses operating on the land. But Congresss embracement of austerity after the recession saw the NPSs purse strings pulled ever tighter, the annual amount received falling 8% from 2005 to 2014 after adjusting for inflation.

Sunrise
Setting sun: climate change means the Joshua trees that gave the national park its name could die out. Photograph: James O’Neil/Getty Images

Half of the $11.9bn repair list is transportation infrastructure roads, bridges, car parks and the like. Money for this is earmarked for the NPS in a transportation bill passed by Congress and has stood at $240m annually for the past few years. Congress has approved an increase totalling $220m over the next five years. That investment should be hundreds of millions more, said Garder.

The non-transportation part of the backlog is funded by Congress through the park operations account (for smaller projects and day-to-day maintenance) and the construction account (for major repairs).

Garder said both had been insufficient for years and the construction account, after controlling for inflation, was scarcely half of what it was 10 years ago.

His verdict on a 9% increase given to the NPS by Congress to mark the centenary? A considerable increase, yet much more needs to be done. He hopes that Trumps promise to invest in infrastructure will cover the parks repairs, too. This would create construction jobs and help tourism, he said. The parks are vital to local economies: for every $1 invested, $10 in economic activity is generated and they fund 300,000 private sector jobs in terms of hotels, restaurants, souvenir shops and more.

What the national parks are not short of is visitors a record 307m in 2015, 14m up on the previous year, meaning more wear and tear that stretches funds further. The top draws were Great Smoky Mountain National Park on the Tennessee/North Carolina border, with 10.7m visitors; Arizonas Grand Canyon, with 5.5m; and Colorados Rocky Mountain National Park and Californias Yosemite, both with 4.15m.

But while the national parks belong to everyone, not everyone is going. Those who do are mainly white, middle-class and well into middle-age. The challenge is how to attract a younger crowd to ensure support for protection and funding of the parks in the future.

The NPS is trying to tell a more inclusive story of America by increasing the number of sites and monuments honouring African- American, Latino, Asian-American, Pacific Islander, LGBTQ and womens history.

Rust
Rust belt: pine trees in the Helena National Forest devastated by bark beetles, once killed by cold winters. Photograph: William Campbell/Corbis via Getty Images

To tear millennials away from indoor digital distractions, the Find Your Park campaign is marketing the parks, ironically, via social media. Meanwhile, Every Kid in a Park gives all 10-year-olds a free family pass (many parks charge an entrance fee).

Nor do the parks staff reflect the visitors they want to attract in terms of gender, age or race. Around 80% are white, 63% male and 50% over the age of 46. Recent revelations of sexual harassment and bullying in the workforce havent helped its image. Internships and volunteer opportunities are being offered to encourage those who might not have thought of working for the NPS to apply for jobs.

In the North Cascades, rangers work with local Hispanic communities. We bring school kids out into the parks and give them experience of doing things that are fun, said Denise Shultz, but which many of us take for granted, like camping and hiking, and learning how to identify birds and plants.

Some people fear the outdoors, she said, and it was about finding out how to make them comfortable. She recalled taking a group of urban Latino female bloggers to the Grand Canyon to kayak and hike. She asked what had worried them most. One said: I am a full- figured Latino woman and the thing that scared me the most was shopping at REI [an outdoor-gear retailer]. Shed thought it was a store for skinny white people and was afraid nothing would fit and she wouldnt know what all the equipment was for. It can be a whole different language and culture for people. She said she had a great experience in the store when she actually went.

The NPS boosts its efforts by providing a ranger to help with Mountain School at the non-profit North Cascades Institute.

At the institutes learning centre on the shores of Lake Diablo, the children who were listening to the naturalist in the forest in the afternoon join 70 classmates in the evening to inspect the skulls of wolves and black bears with ranger Anna Mateljak, before singing around a campfire.

Saul Weisberg is passionate about the power of education to effect change, and gave up being a ranger to co-found the institute 30 years ago. It was at the height of fights over the spotted owl [environmentalists blamed logging for destroying their habitat] and timber wars. There were demonstrations, court fights, direct action, tree sit-ins. It seemed like no one was using education as a tool of conservation.

As well as adult and graduate courses, and weekend getaways for families, it runs leadership camps for high school pupils with no experience of the outdoors, and the Mountain School where children stay for three days of hands-on activities.

Weisberg, also a poet, was drawn to the Cascades after reading Kerouac at high school in Ohio. He still indulges his passion by running a Beats on the Peaks course, which includes a hike up Desolation Peak to the lookout. Hes not sure the Beat poets have the same pull for todays teenagers, yet at a time when the national parks future is unpredictable, perhaps Kerouacs advice is still relevant: Because in the end, you wont remember the time you spent working in the office or mowing the lawn. Climb that goddamn mountain!

Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2017/jan/15/call-of-the-wild-can-americas-national-parks-survive

Is America developing a crack-like addiction to Botox beauty?

How a culture hooked on body image is fuelling a dangerous trend

A remarkable new study of the use of Botox in America has revealed that some women suffer a crack-like addiction to the process, as they attempt to top up previous treatments.

The number of women aged between 19 and 34 having the cosmetic procedure has risen by 41% since 2011, according to the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery. Men are also increasingly turning to Botox they now make up 10% of all users, leading to it being dubbed Brotox.

Many younger female users are persuaded by dermatologists that the drug derived from botulinum toxin, the worlds most lethal neurotoxic agent will stop wrinkles forming. But Dana Berkowitz, a 38-year-old gender studies professor at Louisiana State University, who has herself used Botox, argues in her book Botox Nation: Changing the Face of America that this expectation is based on a flawed idea of what Botox can do, leading to frequent return visits to the plastic surgeon.

She told the Observer: It is and it isnt preventative: its complicated. Youre injecting this neurotoxin into your facial muscles to prevent them from being able to move. If you cant express an emotion for long periods of time, you dont get certain lines.

However, the problem is that Botox only lasts for between four and six months, so once you start seeing those lines form again you go back. Women I interviewed talked about it in terms of it being addictive. One said she was crack-like about it. Berkowitz added: The problem for me is that in targeting younger women the doctors are trying to create this lifetime consumer.

While researching her book, she read many magazine articles that quoted dermatologists, cosmetic surgeons and beauty experts talking about the preventative properties of Botox and the notion of starting early. These included statements such as: You want to clean up your room before it gets too dirty.

Berkowitz said: Its not the advertisements that are doing this marketing; it is happening in a much more insidious way.

Botox was approved for cosmetic use in 2002 and 11 million Americans have since paid for it, at between $300 and $400 a session. Berkowitz interviewed women in their 20s and 30s and learned that many believe the claims about prevention. I heard things like, I use Botox because its a pre-emptive strike, or my friend is really smart: shes started using Botox at 22 that way wrinkles dont even form.

Berkowitz explores the way the multibillion-dollar beauty and anti-ageing industry in the US boosts sales by cultivating feelings of inadequacy.

Many of the women she spoke to first chose to undergo the injections after hearing about a clinic offering it at a discount or going to a Botox party. More women between the ages of 22 and 40 use Botox than do women over 60, according to the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery.

Nicole Garcia, a beautician, first tried it when she was 26. She told Berkowitz: I started using it because my mom actually told me I needed it. I always make this confused face when I am watching TV, and she is the one who noticed it and always pointed it out.

Myka Williamson, a yoga instructor in New Orleans, was interviewed for the book when she was 31 and had just had her first child. She tried Botox when she was 29 at a friends house: It was a Botox party, so that kind of was a little risky not doing it at a doctors office but at someones house. But I was kind of feeling like I had nothing to lose and, you know, it was experimental, and I wanted to try it.

Williamson had used it once since the party and was planning to have more sessions once she stopped breastfeeding.

While the drug was for the most part safe, said Berkowitz, there had been reports of side-effects, including blurred vision and drooping eyelids, and some of the women she spoke to had suffered headaches. Botox can also be a gateway to other, more invasive cosmetic procedures, such as dermal fillers.

Rachel McAvoy, a 30-year-old meteorologist from Minnesota, told Berkowitz: I love Botox, but the only problem is that now the attention is taken away from my forehead and Im starting to notice my parentheses around my mouth. I feel like I want fillers there.

Berkowitz said that when she began researching her book she was 31 and strongly opposed to Botox. But she changed her mind over the years and had injections herself when she was 34.

She explained: It was partly because I grew older. Also, as part of the book project, I read hundreds of articles on Botox in womens magazines, which was the worst thing I could have done for my sense of self-worth.

I was an active feminist and had stayed away from those. Then I interviewed women my age who told me I was stupid not to have it and dermatologists, one of whom said I was being negligent.

It was a very strange feeling to have something foreign taking over your face. The ability to move the top of your face is gone. Then people started complimenting me. It was like having a little secret.

She said she has experienced both the appeal of Botox and the shame of using it not just for being vain but also for what I perceive as a personal failure in adhering to the core ethics of feminism.

She had it again two years later and decided to tell her students: I was giving a lecture on bodies and beauty culture and I remember thinking, Im such a fraud. Here I was navigating very complicated tensions as a feminist, and so I wrote an essay and had them read it. It opened the door to a wonderful conversation about feminism and body culture. I am really happy that I came out to them.

Berkowitz, who last had Botox before her wedding six months ago, thinks better role models are needed for women. The body work that celebrities engage in is so public, for all the world to see like in the Real Housewives shows and the Kardashians. How do we make ageing become cool?

Asked to comment on Berkowitzs argument that the preventative theory of having Botox is flawed, Dr Dan Mills, the president of the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery, who has a practice in Laguna Beach, California, told the Observer: It is true that the more you wrinkle the skin in one particular way, the more likely you are to get creases there, so Im not going to say that it isnt preventive.

If you started in your twenties and did it your whole life, you wouldnt have any wrinkles where your elevens [lines between the eyebrows] are. The more you use the muscles, the more you will see the wrinkles, so there is truth to both sides of this argument.

Allergan, the company that owns the Botox brand name, did not respond to a request for comment.

Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2017/jan/08/botox-nation-america-addiction-crack-like-cosmetic-procedures

Costa little more: Spain questions its tourism strategy

Its sun and beaches attract millions, but what they spend is falling, prompting a push for wealthier visitors attracted by its food and culture

For more than half a century, Spains tourist fame has rested mainly on its sandy beaches, warm waters and dependable weather. But despite record-breaking visitor numbers over the past 12 months, there are fears the sun could slowly be setting on the countrys traditional approach to attracting foreign holidaymakers.

Although Spain is predicted to have welcomed 75 million tourists by the end of this month up from 68 million last year the surge is not quite what it seems.

The increased numbers are due less to any particular Spanish strategy than to the fact that terrorism and instability have driven millions of holidaymakers from Egypt, Tunisia, Turkey and France.

According to the Confederation of Spanish Travel Agencies (CEAV), almost 10% of this years tourists are borrowed from competing destinations around the Mediterranean.

The other problem is that although the overall tourist numbers are up, the average amount they are spending is down, falling 2.2% among European visitors between January and July this year.

Add to that fears that some popular destinations are becoming saturated with low-spending tourists whose numbers and behaviour are raising local hackles, and questions are once again being asked about the efficacy of Spains decades-old sol y playa (sun and beach) tourism model.

A recent report from Ernst & Young noted the declining average spend and recommended that Spain reorientate its strategy to attract higher spending premium tourists from Europe and beyond rather than continuing to rely on those looking for a cheap break.

Philip Moscoso of Spains IESE business school discerns a few shadows lurking among the good news and says it is time to rethink Spains approach to tourism.

In some places, such as the Balearics and Barcelona, were starting to see a saturation point where the parts of society begin to feel a little overrun by the tourist hordes.

Although we all know that tourism is our number one industry and that we owe it considerable thanks economically over the past few years a lot of people are fed up with so much tourism, especially in summer.

He points to anger at tourists who cram into tiny rented apartments and spend little money on anything but alcohol and going out, or those who head to Ibiza and stay up for three days without booking into hotels.

Its not all black-and-white, but in places like Barcelona, things will definitely change because in some neighbourhoods, people are taking to the streets to protest, he said. When voters do that, [politicians] tend to react.

Moscoso argues that although Spain is working to attract higher spending visitors by sprucing up some of its more dilapidated destinations, it also needs to invest more in promoting its interior and culture.

Obviously, theres the kilometres of coastline, but theres also an artistic heritage that needs to be valued and promoted more. Lots of Chinese people visit Paris, Rome and London; they need to know that there are things to visit in Spain, too, and that its not just sun and beaches. We need to push that.

Josep Valls, a professor in the marketing department of the Esade business school in Barcelona, said that moves to overhaul the Spanish tourism sector should have begun two decades ago, but were stymied by the influx of holidaymakers abandoning the former Yugoslavia for Spain during the 1990s, and further thwarted by terror attacks on tourist resorts and the uncertainty brought by the Arab spring.

However, he said that the concept of innovation is now working its way into the DNA of the Spanish tourist industry as it increasingly embraces gastronomy, sport, culture and wine to draw overseas visitors.

People are now realising that the Spanish coast isnt just useful for two or three months a year: it can be a far less seasonal business, he said. Its about looking beyond beaches as the only places for Europeans on holidays; its about using land and heritage in different ways.

Rafael Gallego, president of the CEAV, agrees that more needs to be done to attract tourists with deeper pockets and to promote the countrys wider charms, but insists that the costas will remain the engine of the Spanish tourist economy for a long time.

I dont think that the sol y playa model is obsolete. Its obvious that this kind of [holiday] isnt going to go away, he said. Spains been growing in borrowed tourism since the Arab spring. But weve been missing a great opportunity to take advantage of this by selling everything that Spain has to offer in terms of culture and gastronomy and the countryside of the interior.

Moscoso says that Spain simply cannot afford to take its sunny, sandy allure for granted. With so many guests borrowed from other destinations and Brexit raising questions about the future of Spains single greatest source of foreign visitors, urgent thought needs to be given to the tourist sector, which accounted for more than 11% of Spains GDP in 2015 and which is predicted to grow by 4.4% this year.

Its a bit like the situation is with peoples health. As long as you dont notice any symptoms, you dont go to the doctor. You know that you should stop smoking, take more exercise and eat more healthily but you only go to the doctor when the problems start.

As long as the numbers look good and the problems arent obvious, people wont react. But when the spend per tourist goes down and the number of tourists also goes down and the sector starts to contract, the big players will start to worry and thats when the real work will begin.

Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/world/2016/dec/25/costa-little-more-spain-questions-its-tourism-strategy