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Capt. Jake Owens knew the Afghans often communicated through parables, and he had inherited a favorite from a mentor. He holds up an apple and asks, “How many apples do you see?” Most people answer, “One.” “How many seeds are in the apple?” asks Owens. Say you guess eight. “What happens if you plant those eight seeds?” You get eight trees and, of course, all the apples they produce. “So how many apples am I holding in my hand?” Owens asks again.
“I practiced that parable over and over and over with my linguist,” Owens says. “Until I got it right.”

From “The World’s Hardest Consulting Gig,” part of Fast Company’s Startup: Afghanistan package.

Capt. Jake Owens knew the Afghans often communicated through parables, and he had inherited a favorite from a mentor. He holds up an apple and asks, “How many apples do you see?” Most people answer, “One.” “How many seeds are in the apple?” asks Owens. Say you guess eight. “What happens if you plant those eight seeds?” You get eight trees and, of course, all the apples they produce. “So how many apples am I holding in my hand?” Owens asks again.

“I practiced that parable over and over and over with my linguist,” Owens says. “Until I got it right.”

From “The World’s Hardest Consulting Gig,” part of Fast Company’s Startup: Afghanistan package.

LEADERSHIP IN THE FIELD: MARINES, ARMY, AFGHAN NATIONAL ARMY

E.B. Boyd, embedded reporter in Afghanistan, profiles the leadership transition from the Marines to the Afghan National Army, and the effort and innovation behind it.

LEAD OR DIE 

Lt. Col. Philip Treglia and photographer Teru Kuwayama will be featured speakers at tomorrow’s Innovation Uncensored SF conference. Join us.

thisistheverge:

Afghanistan truckers use their vehicles as a canvas for poetry
It’s not uncommon to see lavishly painted and decorated trucks while traveling the sandy roads of Afghanistan — but beyond the visual delights, there are often subtle literary messages to be discovered, as well. It’s common to see quick lines of poetry on the sides or backs of trucks; based on his time driving through the country, Borhan Osman discovered an unique mix of heartfelt messages mixed with a bit of humor by mixing in driving-related phrases alongside a declaration of love.

thisistheverge:

Afghanistan truckers use their vehicles as a canvas for poetry

It’s not uncommon to see lavishly painted and decorated trucks while traveling the sandy roads of Afghanistan — but beyond the visual delights, there are often subtle literary messages to be discovered, as well. It’s common to see quick lines of poetry on the sides or backs of trucks; based on his time driving through the country, Borhan Osman discovered an unique mix of heartfelt messages mixed with a bit of humor by mixing in driving-related phrases alongside a declaration of love.

After Afghanistan, A Vet Finds His Talent For Felted Animals

Here is the remarkable story of Kiyoshi Minoa farmer who needle-felts incredibly realistic small animals for fun. 

The Illinois native had no intention of being an artist—or a man of the land, for that matter—but two stints in Afghanistan gave him a new perspective on personal priorities, and significantly changed the course of his life.

That experience led Mino to question the quality-of-life standards that most Americans are often born-and-bred to hold dear.

“We’re raised with the idea that our way of life is better than those in less ‘developed countries’ and that progress is always good, so my preconceptions going in were that these people would be incredibly impoverished and kinda miserable. But talking to them and seeing how they went about their everyday lives I began to realize that they were happy living the way they were, with nothing to their names but a mud brick house, a wheat field and some goats.  They worked hard when there was work to be done in the fields, but when there wasn’t any they had all the free time in the world, and they spent it hanging out and drinking tea with their neighbors and family.” 

Mino went back to Afghanistan after his stretch in the military and spent an additional year in Tirin Kot, the provincial capital of Uruzgan, managing a USAID project called the Alternative Livelihoods Program.

“I came to realize that most of what is called ‘aid’ or ‘development’ is really just an excuse to use taxpayer money to make a bunch of U.S.-based companies rich; very little of the money reaches actual Afghans.”

Mino took the whole thing to heart.

“I increasingly felt that instead of trying to help these Pashtun tribesmen in the mountains of Afghanistan to live more like us Americans, we should be learning to live a bit more like them: cutting out the extraneous stuff and living simply while valuing our families and communities,” he says.

Read the full story here.

In 2005, Rebecca Tomsyck left her psychiatrist practice in Charlotte, North Carolina, and joined the Army. She was 53.
"In Iraq we were mortared an awful lot, but I wasn’t afraid because I came to realize that I had zero control over what happened. Once I recognized that, there was an element of peace that accompanied that. I got to that place pretty quickly in Iraq, and I recreated it pretty quickly in Afghanistan."

In 2005, Rebecca Tomsyck left her psychiatrist practice in Charlotte, North Carolina, and joined the Army. She was 53.

"In Iraq we were mortared an awful lot, but I wasn’t afraid because I came to realize that I had zero control over what happened. Once I recognized that, there was an element of peace that accompanied that. I got to that place pretty quickly in Iraq, and I recreated it pretty quickly in Afghanistan."

These are some of my favorite images from the new book Soldier Dogs. There are more pictures in our slideshow today.

Military Working Dogs play a crucial part in America’s armed services. The best known “Soldier Dog,” Cairo, put crucial canine skills to work in the SEAL Team Six operation that killed Osama Bin Laden. Other Military Working Dogs serve as everything from bomb sniffers to troop companions to search and rescue dogs (and also serve in darker roles, such as duty at Guantanamo Bay). Their handlers and trainers, devoted dog lovers down to a man, form an unusually close-knit fraternity within the military.

Soldier Dogs: The Four-Legged Heroes Of Iraq And Afghanistan

This video accompanies one of our April feature stories about Transforming Sustainable Energy in Afghanistan. It really makes you think about how living, literally off the grid for so long can be turned into an opportunity to bypass the step we are all trying to make now (in transforming our wasteful daily ways) and go straight to sustainable living and using renewable energy sources. Kudos to the team for putting this together!

There’s more where this came from.