exploring the intersections of sustainability, style & social change

cambodia lessons

The Clutch Chronicles: Lessons from Developing Ethical and Sustainable Fashion Accessories in Cambodia (Part 3)


It’s been nearly a month since I left Cambodia, and I finally feel ready to wrap up the final installment of the Clutch Chronicles, my series on developing a small line of clutches and wallets with a cooperative in Phnom Penh. In part one, I decided to tackle the project after being enamored by Goel’s Read More

The Clutch Chronicles: Lessons from Developing Ethical and Sustainable Fashion Accessories in Cambodia (Part 2)


In my last post, I told you about an exciting project I was tackling in Phnom Penh — a small line of travel accessories, created with naturally dyed handwoven cotton from the Goel project and constructed by Watthan Artisans, a sewing cooperative founded and operated by disabled Cambodians. I picked up a few lessons: being Read More

To You, Cambodia, I Bequeath My iPod Touch


Today is my last day in Cambodia. The bittersweet emotions are swirling, along with stress about my mile-long to-do list, excitement for Christmas on Guam with my family and New Years in New York with my friends, and regret that I only discovered Chinese Noodle House a week ago. The past few months have been a nutty experience. When friends Read More

The Clutch Chronicles: Lessons from Developing Ethical and Sustainable Fashion Accessories in Cambodia (Part 1)


For the past month or so, I’ve been pursuing a little side project here in Cambodia. Really, the project found me. I was at Goel, the amazing natural dye project I’ve written about on this blog, and I was browsing through their collection of naturally grown cotton. I was so enamored with the fabrics and Read More

The Danger of a Single Story


Several afternoons ago, an iPod Touch full of TED Talks saved me from a counterfeited version of Rambo showing on the bus from Siem Reap back to Phnom Penh. Among the talks that inspired and got me thinking was this one from Nigerian novelist Chimamanda Adichie on the danger of a single story. As I Read More

Half The Sky, Cambodia & Fate


About a month ago, I shared the story of some of the events that led me here to Cambodia. One chapter involved a pivotal book called Half the Sky: Turning Oppression into Opportunity for Women Worldwide, written by Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn. The book shares stories of women who face extreme oppression in communities across the developing Read More

Escape from Phnom Penh


After three weeks in Phnom Penh, I began to feel the very urgent need to flee the city’s constant cacophony of horns, the choking pollution, the routine of research/write/Tweet/repeat. A friend had recommended a stay at The Vine Retreat, an eco-lodge tucked away in the rice paddies of calm, coastal Kep province. Coincidentally, a $10/night Read More

Charity and NGOs in Cambodia


Typically, the giving is one-way: those of us with the resources give to those with a lack of resources. One-way giving tends to make the poor objects of pity, which harms their dignity. It also erodes their work ethic and produces a dependency that is unhealthy both for the giver and the recipient. — Robert Read More

Cambodia: The Kingdom of Wonder


Phnom Penh. At the Phnom Penh Airport, a sign on the jetway reads “Welcome to the Kingdom of Wonder” — a tourism ministry branding campaign that pretty adequately sums up my first few days here. I wonder how it’s possible that tuktuks, motorbikes, luxury SUVs, tour buses, pushcarts, and humans share narrow unpaved streets, moving Read More