Category Archives: Writing samples

For Are We Europe: Sounds of Solidarity

Every Easter, Bach's St. Matthew Passion becomes the main occupation for classical musicians across the Netherlands. The monumental oratorio that immortalizes the last days of Jesus features in hundreds of concerts across the country.

But in March, it became clear there would be no Passion concerts this year, and no work for classical musicians. "I found it unsettling to suddenly be without a job, not knowing when I’ll be able to play concerts again,” said Eva Traa, a Dutch violinist based in Amsterdam…

Read the rest in Are We Europe

For Ensemble Travel: 10 Responsible Tourism Experiences in Uganda and Tanzania

East Africa is known for its incredible wildlife tourism, from trekking with mountain gorillas to sundowner safaris and photographing the Big Five. With a growing focus on responsible tourism in this unforgettable region, we look at some ways for visitors to support local communities and the environment through their travel in Uganda and Tanzania.

Kyambura Gorge Buffer Project, Kyambura Gorge, Uganda

The Volcanoes Safaris Partnership Trust has purchased a three-kilometer buffer area along the northern part of the Kyambura Gorge to protect this region neighboring Queen Elizabeth National Park. Approximately 3,000 indigenous trees have been planted in the buffer area, and Kyambura Lodge guests can plant their own seedling in the tree nursery. A three-hour guided walking tour through the buffer zone offers stunning views, world-class birdwatching, and the chance to spot elephants across the gorge.

Lion Research Safari, Queen Elizabeth National Park, Uganda

Small groups of visitors can join Uganda Wildlife Authority researchers as they track lions fitted with radio collars in the Kasyeni plains as part of the Uganda Carnivore Project. Learning how the lions breed, feed and move across the region helps researchers understand important health factors, like why lion viruses from Tanzania have not made it into the park. Their work also prevents community-wildlife conflict by alerting farmers when lions are close to their livestock.

Gorilla Health And Community Conservation Center, Buhoma, Uganda

Founded by the non-profit organization Conservation Through Public Health (CTPH) as a gorilla research clinic, this site is now open to visitors. Travelers who want a truly hands-on experience can help examine gorilla stool samples collected from Bwindi Impenetrable Forest, while the more squeamish can simply learn about CTPH’s gorilla health monitoring program and initiatives to improve public health in the community through sanitation and family planning resources and education.

Ride 4 A Woman, Buhoma Village, Uganda

Ride 4 A Woman initially started as a bike rental shop with proceeds going to job-training programs for local women. It has evolved into a cultural center where visitors can learn local skills like basket weaving, pedal sewing, cooking or dancing, or buy locally made products in the shop. More than 300 women from local villages now work at the center or are involved in skill development programs there.

Gorilla Conservation Café, Entebbe, Uganda

This friendly cafe exclusively serves Arabica coffee harvested from farms on the edge of Bwindi Impenetrable National Park and processed in Kampala. The farmers collective in Bwindi employs former subsistence poachers, minimizing gorilla-community conflict. For every kilo of Gorilla Conservation Coffee beans sold, $1.50 supports Conservation Through Public Health programs. Visitors who don’t have a chance to make it to the café can pick up the coffee beans at the Entebbe Airport Duty Free.

Maasai Clean Cookstoves, Monduli, Tanzania

The Planeterra Foundation works with the Maasai Stoves & Solar Project to generate tourism revenue to install clean cookstoves at local homesteads. Led by an all-woman engineer team, travelers visit a Maasai village to help build a stove and see how it improves air quality by removing 90 percent of indoor smoke pollution, which is linked to nearly half of pneumonia deaths among children under five. The revenue generated also pays for women’s training in stove and solar panel installation.

Moshi Mamas Women’s Cooperative, Moshi, Tanzania

The women who work at this shop near Mount Kilimanjaro are graduates of the Give a Heart to Africa business school, which offers free training to local women studying business management, accounting, and English. Proceeds from the local handicrafts sold at the shop, including beautiful fabrics and beadwork, in turn help fund the school, which trains 30 women every year.

KopeLion Project, Ngorongoro, Tanzania

KopeLion, short for the Korongoro People’s Lion Initiative, works to resolve human-wildlife conflict in the Ngorongoro Conservation Area and Serengeti regions. Guests of &Beyond Ngorongoro Crater Lodge can spend half a day with KopeLion conservationists to help check their camera traps and learn about their work to prevent lion hunting and create a “corridor of tolerance” that reconnects divided lion sub-populations.

Shanga, Arusha, Tanzania

Shanga is a for-profit social enterprise that offers supportive employment for local people with disabilities while diverting waste from landfills. In 2019, Shanga diverted nearly 150 tonnes of glass waste into their glass-blowing furnace, upcycling it into handmade jewelry and glassware. Located at Elewana Arusha Coffee Lodge, Shanga offers tours, workshops, and sign language lessons, as well as a shop.

Chumbe Island Coral Park, Tanzania

This small island off the coast of Zanzibar is the first privately managed marine protected area in the world. Completely funded through ecotourism, the island almost exclusively employs Tanzanians, most of them from nearby communities. The island’s research board facilitates scientific projects including monitoring sea grass and the coral reef, and logging sea surface temperature. Visitors stay in thatched-roof bungalows next to the beach and can explore the reefs, forests and mangroves with a ranger.


Originally published by Ensemble Travel

Cover story for Key Notes on Travel: Animal Allies – How the travel industry can support changing attitudes towards wildlife tourism

Playing and posing with dolphins was once considered the highlight of a family vacation to Mexico or Hawaii. An elephant ride was a must in Thailand. But as the conditions captive animals live in have become more widely understood, these and other tourism products involving wild animals have become socially unacceptable, and in some cases illegal.

Last June, Canada passed legislation banning the captivity of whales and dolphins. Air Canada and Transat followed this move by committing to stop selling and promoting captive dolphin entertainment. Air Canada will implement the change by August 2020, while Transat is phasing these activities out over the next two years…

Read the rest in the latest issue of Key Notes on Travel or on the Canadian Traveller web site.

For Ensemble Travel: Fabulous Family Meals in Isla Mujeres, Mexico

Photo by travel writer Christina NewberryA short ferry ride from the hustle and bustle of Cancun, you'll find lovely Isla Mujeres. At just over four miles long and only 2,100 feet wide, this friendly little island is a perfect family destination where you'll drive a golf cart instead of a rental car, and the kids can play on the beach while you feast on fresh-caught fish.

Whether you visit Isla Mujeres on a daytrip from Cancun or settle in for an extended holiday, these top family dining picks will give you a real taste of the island at any meal…

Read the rest at Ensemble Travel

For Vidyard: Video Thumbnail Guide: How to Inspire Clicks

You've put a ton of effort into planning, filming, and editing your video, and you're confident it's great content that viewers will love. But what if they never get a chance to see it?

Your video thumbnail is the gateway to your content. Like a movie poster, it should convey everything a potential viewer needs to know to compel them to watch.

Sure, your video platform will generate an automatic thumbnail for you. But would you go to see a movie if the poster was just a random (and possibly blurry) frame from the film?

Read the rest on the Vidyard blog

For Key Notes on Travel: Overtourism – Where Do We Go From Here?

You've seen it in the news. Tourists outnumbering locals in Venice. Anti-tourist protests and graffiti in Barcelona. As overtourism becomes an increasing concern for governments, travellers and residents of high-tourism areas, the travel industry must be part of the solution…

Read the rest in the latest issue of Key Notes on Travel or on the Canadian Traveller web site

For Inside Rotterdam: Getaway – Hamburg

It's early Sunday morning in Germany's largest port city. At the weekly fish market, early risers stroll among produce stalls while fishmongers call out bargain prices in singsong tones. But inside the historic fish auction hall, it's still Saturday night. The beer is flowing and a live band plays, soothing the clubbers who have wandered down from the gritty Reeperbahn, the nightclub strip where the Beatles played their first shows.

This is Hamburg, the "Gateway to the World,” where the maritime independent spirit has created a culture all its own…

Read the rest in the latest issue of Inside Rotterdam

For Unearth Women: The Ugandan Vet Saving Gorillas and Empowering Local Communities


At the Gorilla Conservation Café in Entebbe, Uganda, I order a latte while I wait for Dr. Gladys Kalema-Zikusoka. It's not just any coffee in my cup, and as the name of the locale implies, this is not just any coffee shop. Bothe the café and the coffee are part of Kalema-Zikusoka's collection of social enterprises that support her non-profit organization, Conservation Through Public Health (CTPH)…

Read the rest in Unearth Women