Friday, January 28, 2022

Podcast with Javier Folgar, founder, Toa Waters about how a small start-up company is disrupting stereotypes while giving back

Posted by Elena del Valle on November 15, 2021

Javier Folgar, founder, Toa Waters

Photo: Toa Waters

A podcast interview with Javier Folgar, founder, Toa Waters, is available in the Podcast Section of Hispanic Marketing and Public Relations, HispanicMPR.com. During the podcast, he discusses how a small start-up company is disrupting stereotypes while giving back with Elena del Valle, host of the HispanicMPR.com podcast.

Javier works in conservation during the day and runs a small start-up company after hours. Prior to his current job Javier was director of Marketing and Communications for the Appalachian Trail Conservancy. He was also an active member of the Partnership for the National Trail System.

He launched Toa Waters, a premium “bold scented” bubble bath product company, in the fall of 2020. The company supports the Florida Trail Association, Maryland Food Bank, and American Cancer Society.

To listen to the interview, scroll down and click on the play button below. You can listen by looking for “Podcast” then select “HMPR Javier Folgar” and download the MP3 file to your audio player. You can also find it on the RSS feed. To download it, click on the arrow of the recording you wish to copy and save it to disk. The podcast will remain listed in the November 2021 section of the podcast archive.

New political thriller miniseries provides a peek into life in Senegal

Posted by Elena del Valle on October 27, 2021


Wara poster

Photos: Mhz Choice

Wara, a 2020 eight part miniseries set in a future Senegal, recently became available on MhzChoice.com, an online streaming service. Starring Issaka Sawadogo as Moutari Wara, France Nancy Goulian as Aicha Diallo, Maimouna N’Diaye as Yasmin Diallo, Souleymane Seye Ndiaye as Ganka Barry the program, based on a story by Magagi Issoufou Sani, is in French with English subtitles.

Set in the “City of Tanasanga” the story explores university student and community activism to combat the pervasive corruption of elected officials. It shines a light on the lengths the politicians and their supporters go to in furtherance of their goals. Much revolves around Wara, a law professor, Miriam Shugger, another professor, their students and others in their circle, some forces for community good and others for personal gain. Despite a seemingly incomplete ending Wara is suspenseful and engaging. Goulian and Maimouna N’Diaye’s performances stood out.

From Wara

From Wara

The series was produced by M.J.P., Astharte & Compagnie, Raes Production, and TV5Monde (a French, Belgian and Swiss collaboration) with support from Organisation Internationale de la Francophonie, Agence Francaise de Developpment, and Centre National de la Cinematographie et de l’Image Animee among others listed in the series credits. A number of organizations in Senegal were listed in the end credits, including City of Saint Louis, Ministry of Interior, Ministry of Culture, Village Mbaye and University Gaston Berger.

Sawadogo, according to Imdb.com, is a Burkina Faso-born actor, dancer and musician fluent in French, English and Norwegian. Maimouna N’Diaye’s other film credits, according to Imdb.com include Eye of the Storm and Les Trois Lascars; and per the same source Goulian’s other film credit includes Cacao. Charli Beléteau is listed as the series creator on Imdb.com.

Political editor attempts to address social, economic inequities

Posted by Elena del Valle on October 13, 2021

The Aristocracy of Talent

The Aristocracy of Talent

Cover: Skyhorse/Simon & Schuster

New talent was one of the secrets of success for ancient Venice, Italy and great universities. That is one of the conclusions drawn by Adrian Wooldridge after dedicating 482 pages to the exploration of the history of meritocracy in his most recent non fiction book titled The Aristocracy of Talent How Meritocracy Made the Modern World (Skyhorse/Simon & Schuster, $24.99). The hardcover book was published in July 2021.

Venice thrived as long as it was open to new arrivals, the author says in the book. Once it became a closed society, denying opportunities to new voices and talent it decayed and never recovered, he says. A similar situation is to be found at higher centers of learning, he points out, where elites rule and exclude most newcomers; as a result economies are stagnating and political unrest is growing internationally. He concludes that in order to avoid the decline suffered by Venice and Chinese domination Western society must embrace merit as a key to education, economic and social advancement.

Wooldridge, who according to his biography, earned a doctorate in history from Oxford University is the political editor and a columnist at The Economist. He is the author of 10 previous books.

North Carolina academics explore flavor

Posted by Elena del Valle on September 29, 2021

Delicious
Delicious

 

Photos: Princeton University Press

Do humans and other animals prefer to eat foods that taste good when they have a choice? Rob Dunn, a professor of applied ecology at North Carolina State University, and Monica Sanchez, a medical anthropologist, think so. In Delicious The Evolution of Flavor and How It Made Us Human (Princeton University Press, $27.95) they explore the history of man, our ancestors and fellow primates and its relationship to flavor.

The authors, speaking in a single voice in the book, believe taste receptors have driven animals and humans toward their needs and kept them away from dangers such as poisonous plants and rotten foods. Flavor preferences may have driven the development of tools and the choice of foods that prompted evolutionary changes, they propose. Aromas sensed in the mouth by primates and humans may have been especially important in the evolution of our kind, they believe.

Rob Dunn and Monica Sanchez, authors, Delicious

Rob Dunn and Monica Sanchez, authors, Delicious

Some of those flavor preferences may have driven humans and neanderthals to hunt mega fauna to extinction. They also discuss the consumption of fruit, spices, meats and grains by our ancestors and their possible reliance on their noses and mouths in their choices and creation of spiced dishes and fermented foods. They delve into issues such as aroma, taste and mouthfeel and how they might have led to the development of popular foods such as curry, stinky tofus and cheeses.

In their book Dunn and Sanchez often refer to and quote the work of French lawyer Jean Anthelme Brillat-Savarin, famous for his love of food, dating back to 1825. The 279-page hardcover book published this year is divided into nine chapters: Tongue-Tied, The Flavor Seekers, A Nose For Flavor, Culinary Extinction, Forbidden Fruits, On the Origin of the Spices, Cheese Horse and Sour Beer, The Art of Cheese, and Dinner Makes Us Human.

According to their book biographies Dunn is in the Center for Evolutionary Hologenomics at the University of Copenhagen. Sanchez studies “the cultural aspects of health and well-being.” They live in North Carolina.

With video – Documentary showcases extreme athlete crossing desert on foot

Posted by Elena del Valle on September 15, 2021

The Lost Desert

Max Calderan in The Lost Desert

Photos: Empty Quarter Studio

The Lost Desert, Empty Quarter Studio’s first feature length documentary, was acquired by STX and released last month on ad supported TubiTV.com. Most of the story takes place in Saudi Arabia’s Rub’ al Khali desert, where Max Calderan, an Italian extreme athlete, sets out to fulfill his lifelong dream: to walk 700 miles from west to east in an inhospitable uninhabited terrain.

An all male on the ground support team follows him in a caravan of vehicles, monitoring his well-being and filming. From idea to release the 83-minute film required four years of work. The company founders funded the project’s $1.2 million costs, hoping the film will appeal “to anyone who has big dreams and goes to any length to accomplish them. It will appeal to the elite sports athletes and fans, as well as people interested in natural history, science, culture and travel.”

“I met Max Calderan in 2016 and was immediately taken by his charisma, passion, and mission to accomplish his lifelong dream,” said Billy Sprague, president, Empty Quarter Studios, in a press release for the documentary. “I wanted to tell Max’s story and document his last, greatest challenge – to cross the largest sand desert in the world. I’m very proud of our film crew, who captured this inspiring story in one of the world’s harshest, deadliest, and most remote deserts. This is an inspiring story about a man pursuing his lifelong dream. It’s a story about perseverance and passion. And it’s a story about one of the least traveled to, most inhospitable places on earth.”

Described as having spent years crossing deserts on foot Calderan, a driven self-effacing athlete in his fifties, braved punishing heat (averaging 117 degrees Fahrenheit, according to promotional materials), shifting sand dunes of up to 1,000 feet as well as “poisonous snakes, spiders, scorpions, and any number of life-threatening challenges” in the making of the documentary. According to promotional materials, among Calderan’s eleven world records in desert exploration, he has run 90 hours straight without stopping in Oman. He also once ran 225 miles in 75 hours across a Saudi Arabian desert in summer.

Billy Sprague, president, Empty Quarter Studios

Billy Sprague, president, Empty Quarter Studios

When asked about the greatest challenge the film presented Sprague said, “Transporting our crew and thousands of pounds of equipment and life-sustaining supplies in one of the most remote, dangerous, completely off-grid locations.” The greatest reward? “Successfully capturing the story and wrapping production in one of the most remote, dangerous, completely off-grid locations.”

The documentary was directed by Christopher Cassel. Michael Haertlein (Jane Goodall: The Hope) was director of photography, Marcelino Belizario (Bad Suns) handled Aerial Cinematography, Adriano Bravo (Human Weapon) was sound recordist, Benjamin Frank was assistant camera operator, and Rosie Walunas (But It Doesn’t Have Me) was editor.

Empty Quarter Studios, a New York and London based film and television production company, creates original non-fiction content “using moving images to tell epic, immersive and transformational stories borne out of exploration, travel, history, science and everyday life in the world’s most exotic and unreachable places” for global distribution.

Tubi, a division of Fox Entertainment, is an “ad-supported video-on-demand service with over 30,000 movies and TV shows, 65+ local and live news channels, and 250+ entertainment partners.” Stxfilms is a five year old division of Eros Stx Global Corporation, which “produces, acquires, distributes, and markets motion pictures at scale.”

Indian wholesaler of Chinese lab grown diamonds making initial inroads in US

Posted by Elena del Valle on September 1, 2021

A lab grown 1.21 carat D color, VVS2

A lab grown 1.21 carat, D color, VVS2 Keystar Gems manufactured diamond

 

Photos: Keystar Gems

There may be good news for anyone in the market for discount lab grown diamonds. Wholesaler Keystar Gems has begun selling their products in the United States. The company buys lab diamond rough grown in China has it cut in Surat, India and sells it for one quarter less than the wholesale price of natural diamonds of similar cut, clarity and color, according to a company spokesperson. The company plans to attend a trade only wholesale event in Las Vegas, Nevada for the first time this year.

When asked about the company’s primary target audience Aagna S. Ajmera, chief marketing officer, Keystar Gems, said by email via a New York publicist, “Ultimately Keystar Gems would love for everyone to own lab-cultivated diamonds, but as far as the company’s direct clientele, Keystar Gems is B2B, selling within the trade to jewelry design ateliers, large retailers, distributors, dealers, and to other lab-grown manufacturers.”

Aagna S. Ajmera, chief marketing officer, Keystar Gems

Aagna S. Ajmera, chief marketing officer, Keystar Gems

“On average it takes about 7-10 business days to go from rough to polish during the manufacturing process, which is very fast within the gem trade, and differentiates Keystar Gems from other lab grown manufacturers,” Ajmera said when asked what differentiates Keystar Gems from other lab grown diamond sellers. “This is entirely due to the expertise of Maheshbhai Radadiya, the Founder of Keystar Gems, who still personally studies every new rough diamond, along with the handling team, which has been trained by him. Keystar Gems is also known for having exceptional cutting, polish and symmetry, another distinguishing factor.”

“The colored diamonds are all custom orders,” said Ajmera when asked about color diamonds. “For Keystar Gems, the majority of the demand is for white diamonds.

An additional color treatment is required for most desired colors. Blue diamonds, however, don’t require a treatment. Colored diamonds need to be processed, so it isn’t more difficult to make them per say, it just takes more time to make a colored diamond.”

According to promotional materials provided by the company’s public relations agency, Keystar Gems is producing over 10,000 carats of High-Pressure High-Temperature (HPHT) lab grown diamonds a month. The diamonds range from 0.03 to 10 carats in size and are available in a variety of shapes and clarities. The company manufactures white, pink, blue and yellow manmade diamonds.

Although natural diamonds can take millions to billions of years to form, an HPHT diamond can be grown in under a week, according to information the agency provided. A company representative explained that “this kind of quantity is seen with Chemical Vapour Deposition (CVD) diamonds, but has not been seen before with HPHT.” The Surat-based company is owned by Radadiya, founder, and Shivang S. Rao, cofounder and director.