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Environmentalist Rockers Navicula, Bali's 'Green Grunge Gentlemen'

Thankfully, Indonesian band Navicula's nickname "the green grunge gentlemen" refers only to their environmental nature and not to a type of radioactive dirt.

They are one of Indonesia's most successful rock bands, having just returned home to their island of Bali after touring the U.S. and Australia. Their name "Navicula" refers to a type of sea algae that glows in the dark and is shaped like a boat.

It's a name that seems to have been carefully chosen to illustrate the band's goal to travel around the globe raising environmental awareness through music. Speaking to PortalKBR/Asia Calling, Navicula's drummer Gembul explains the symbolism. "With this small ship, we can maybe go around the world. And its color is golden, which is valuable, so that's our philosophy."

Explaining that the band's inspiration has always been social and political issues, he adds that "everything is hectic in the world today. You don't know what's a priority anymore. We think that even if you want do a small thing honestly and passionately to make the world better, just do it. Don't waste your time being a parasite."

Navicula, who was nominated Environmental Ambassadors of Bali by the local government, act according to their own maxim. Lead singer Robi teaches organic farming in school and says he likes bringing up those issues as inspiration for the band but also to do his part in changing the world. "It's kind of like being a journalist but using music as a media," he says.

Among the band's songs is "Metropolutan," about being trapped in the polluted air of the Indonesian capital Jakarta, a city that get less than 30 days of clean air per year, Asia Calling reports.

They also sing about the last 400 Sumatran tigers left in the wild in an angry "Harimau! Harimau!":

As for "Orangutan," which is available for free download, Navicula wrote the song "to encourage people to do more in orangutan conservation, to protect this endangered species," the band explains on YouTube. In English, the lyrics read, "The orangutan is crazy because man is crazy. Not at home in the city, he misses its habitat, in the jungle."

In 2012, Navicula, who also battled Indonesia's palm oil industry, successfully launched a Kickstarter campaign to help them tour over 2,000 kilometers from Bali to Kalimantan, on the Borneo Island, to join Greenpeace activists campaigning against logging. "It's kind of sad. Rainforests are not only for Indonesia or Borneo. The whole world depends on them," the band tells Asia Calling. Deforestation "is like a worldwide suicide," they add.

The band's latest album came out in November 2012. It is called Kami No Mori, which means "The Forest of Gods," and serves as the documentary soundtrack for their Greenpeace tour.

"We're not angels. We're just trying to do something that makes people realize what needs to be done so we can still live in this world."

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Indigenous Women Of Ecuador Set Example For Sustainable Agriculture

In southern Ecuador, a women-led agricultural program offers valuable lessons on sustainable farming methods, but also how to end violence.

Photo of women walking in Ecuador

Women walking in Guangaje Ecuador

Camila Albuja

SARAGURO — Here in this corner of southern Ecuador, life seems to be like a mandala — everything is cleverly used in this ancestral system of circular production. But the women of Saraguro had to fight and resist to make their way of life, protecting the local water and the seeds. When weaving, the women share and take care of each other, also weaving a sense of community.

With the wrinkled tips of her fingers, Mercedes Quizhpe, an indigenous woman from the Kichwa Saraguro people, washes one by one the freshly harvested vegetables from her garden. Standing on a small bench, with her hands plunged into the strong torrent of icy water and the bone-chilling early morning breeze, she checks that each one of her vegetables is ready for fair day. Her actions hold a life of historical resistance, one that prioritizes the care of life through the defense of territory and food sovereignty.

Mercedes' way of life is also one that holds many potential lessons for how to do agriculture and tourism better.

In the province of Loja, work begins before sunrise. At 5:00 a.m., the barking of dogs, the guardians of each house, starts. There is that characteristic smell of damp earth from the morning dew. Sheep bah uninterruptedly through the day. With all this life around, the crowing of early-rising roosters doesn't sound so lonely.

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