Seeing the Beauty within the “Bad”

Seeing the Beauty within the “Bad”

Kef Abed near Binzerte, Tunisia.

Most people don’t exactly consider Tunisia as “the place” to be these days. A decade of political struggle has cracked the bright and sunny Mediterranean beach facade, which once served as Tunisia’s profile picture. 

Now the image of a messy house comes to mind, leaving a bulk of its inhabitants with a strong desire to leave (50 percent of young people) and deterring many of its visitors from knocking on the door as tourism, a major source of income for the country, continues to fluctuate

However, not all Tunisians choose to view their country as a lost cause. Recently I’ve had the chance to catch up with environmentalist, painter, and my friend Camy Mathlouthi. Camy is the Founder of pour une tunisie propre et verte (For a Clean and Green Tunisia–PTPV), a Tunisian movement (previously an association) that strives to empower youth to protect oceans and seas by addressing plastic pollution through an artistic lens. 

Seeing Beauty within the “Bad”

If you visit PTPV’s Facebook page, you’ll notice a sharp contrast between the photos of documented plastic pollution and the pictures celebrating a clean beach, spring flowers, or trashart. This excellently demonstrates Camy’s wise approach to not only plastic pollution–but life–in Tunisia.

World Ocean Day
PTPV World Ocean Day event, 2019.

Camy refuses to ignore environmental issues faced by Tunisia. But rather than solely focusing on the problem of trash that can seem like never ending piles in our streets and on our beaches, she redirects the attention to possibilities through trash-to-art workshops, beach cleanups, and poetic performances carried out through PTPV.

In sum, when it comes to the trash problem and the more or less corrupted state of politics, Camy won’t sugar coat the problem, but she won’t spend too much time complaining either because she is committed to finding the beauty within the “bad”.

Adapting to Make the Difference

At the start, PTPV’s activities included more work at the political level hoping to influence local authorities. However, Camy realized early on, After many experiences, I understood that they will never enforce the law to end trash in the public spaces.” 

Instead she noted, “I am dwelling on my commitment because I am convinced that I can convince young people around me. And that’s enough for now.” In many ways, this signaled a return to the organization’s roots, as PTPV grew out of Camy’s work with her German students, which began in 2008 with an Environmental Awareness Week.

Permission granted by Camy Mathlouthi.

Between 2012 and 2019, PPTV has organized and implemented more than 23 awareness campaigns and beach clean-ups involving local youth, and has taken action with organizations like GreenPeace, The United Nations, and Break Free From Plastic to spread awareness in Tunisia. 

PTPV’s Digital Quarantine Events (April 20th- May 20th)

In line with the movement’s approach of finding beauty within the “bad”, PTPV is working to create community online for some nature therapy and appreciation during lockdown.

PTPV's event page
PTPV’s event page.

Through “Elle sont jolies les fleurs de mon pays” PTPV invites everyone around the world to get out, snap photos of the spring flowers, and share them on the event page. The event is daily and runs until May 20th so get out and post your pictures here!

Tunisia may not be “the place” to be, but it sure is one of my favorite places nonetheless. Public transportation might be slower than a pet turtle, customer service is humorously nonexistent, and the struggling economy makes the lives of many extremely difficult (especially with COVID19). But, a radically beautiful charm can be found if you look for the amazing beaches, spring flowers, and most of all the people who refuse to give-up on meeting the needs of the community while seeing this country’s full potential.

 A big thanks to all who are out there (like Camy!) actively working to see the beauty within the “bad”!

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We Need to Talk: Reade, Arbery Cases

We Need to Talk: Reade, Arbery Cases

weekly news

Warning: this post discusses sexual assault and racially motivated violence.

This past week Joe Biden responded to Tara Reade’s sexual assault allegations, and footage of the Ahmaud Arbery shooting was released (leaked). As if Covid-19 still isn’t enough to grapple with, these two deeply unsettling developments demand our attention.

This isn’t just for individuals, or for their families to process–not limited to local communities or offices. These cases represent the consequences of deeply ingrained power dynamics in America that are defined by gender and skin color. That’s right, we all need to talk. About how our political and cultural institutions fail to not only protect in the first place, but also… for lack of a better word… are trash at delivering justice to non-white non-wealthy non-male victims. Especially when the accused are white, wealthy, and male.

1. Joe Biden Responds to Tara Reade’s Sexual Assault Allegation

Former neighbor of Joe Biden accuser Tara Reade corroborates ...
P.C. goes to Business Insider.

His response in sum: I didn’t do it. Trust me.

He even used the word, “unequivocally”. By American standards, his white male-ness as evidence will go a long ways in proving his innocence as this case is surely to be judged through a political lens. As of now, Biden’s personal senate records, which might house details of the incident, are unavailable (the Senate rejected the requests for a search) and Reade hired the same firm that represented five of Weinstein’s victims to represent her going forward.

Reade has stated she would like Biden to drop out of the race. Considering that 25 different women have accused President Trump of sexual assault to date without any success of proper recognition or conviction, highly unlikely is an understated response to her wish.

Because, the American public and its leaders have accepted and continue to accept, “they weren’t attractive enough for assault“, as a good-enough answer from those accused.

Trump’s precedent of “Grab ’em by the pussy” then secures Biden’s political career regardless, not to mention paves the way for a subpar trial and lack of proper investigation promising to be reminiscent of Kavanaugh’s time in the hot seat— if the case even makes it that far.

Long story short, I don’t know if Biden is guilty or not. I’m not supposed to be the person to decide. I’m saying American rape culture is f$@*-ed up, and seeing it thrive at the top intensifies the pain.

2. Footage of Ahmaud Arbery’s Shooting Released

P.C. goes to @ohhappydani. Shoutout to Taylor who brought this to my attention on IG.

If simply reading the news reports describing how two white men chased down and then shot 25 year-old Arbery does not make you sick to your stomach, then you need to go on Netflix to catch up on “Dear White People”. What else is there to say? Not much, but nothing has changed so we must keep talking.

Former prosecutor George E. Barnhill claims Gregory and Travis McMichael (lets be clear: the white supremacists involved) actions were “perfectly legal”. Since then the case has been moved to Atlanta where Judicial Circuit District Attorney Tom Durden promises to send the case to a grand jury and has mentioned he will consider criminal charges.

The McMichael’s shot Arbery with a shotgun in broad daylight during his *verified* daily jog. Arbery’s record has been clear since high school, during which he has minor shoplifting offenses.

Record aside, who feels safe having two neighborhood men grab their shotguns to deliver justice? I sure as hell don’t.

And like the 9-1-1 dispatcher fielding the call, “I just need to know what he’s doing wrong.” And just like that: being black functions as the same type of evidence proving Arbery guilty while Trump and Biden’s white, male-ness guarantees their innocence.

On March 8th people all over the U.S. will run with Maud to demand justice. And if running isn’t your thing, find out how join the movement to support Maud and his family at

If you read this post as too emotional or biased, well remember we are talking about sexual assault and murder. And damn right I care. A person died (confirmed), and the other suffered psychological trauma (alleged). They belong to demographics routinely targeted for these types of crimes. And if anything, we should put a lot more care in to these discussions and our responses to them. #proudsnowflake

Stay informed, my friends!

For Reals

P.S. I only dropped the pseudo F-bomb two times. I’m thoroughly impressed by myself. Hi dad and mom.

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