Last Updated on Friday, 20 April 2012 12:21 Written by Urban Zen Friday, 20 April 2012 12:19


If you’ve been following our Tweets, you know that we are enormously excited about the Discover Haiti Exhibition that is currently on display at the Urban Zen. It is a curation of inspiration from Haiti, a window into the visionary mind of our founder, and an opportunity to see a bourgeoning culture through the same lens as an iconic designer.

This week, we had the honor of sharing the exhibition with some very special guests. Donna welcomed peers from the design community along with representatives from both the political and business arenas to discover a world of inspiration uncovered during her frequent travels to Haiti. “Haiti has opened up the world and has changed my life,” she shared. “Anyone who has a desire to rebuild a nation should start with creativity. If you want to amplify the soul of a country, find the artists. That’s how you rebuild.”

We, of course, took the opportunity to chat with our online community about all of the happenings at the UZ Center. Here, we share some of the highlights:

RT @urban_zen: “Where there is creativity, there is hope.” – #DonnaKaran on the inspiration behind @Urban_Zen #Haiti – @GBGroupHaiti

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Yoga with Elena Brower: Witnessing Transformation

Last Updated on Tuesday, 20 March 2012 06:17 Written by Urban Zen Tuesday, 20 March 2012 06:12

collage elena2 Yoga with Elena Brower: Witnessing TransformationIt’s interesting to think about a cocoon and the unique role this little homespun home plays for its inhabitants. A cocoon is described as something that “envelops or surrounds in a protective or comforting way.” It is, quite literally, a space where profound transformation can occur.

Last night, the Urban Zen Center became a cocoon – a comforting, protective home for transformation to take place. The brilliant and beautiful yogi Elena Brower brought her healing energy into the studio space to lead a slow, meditative yoga practice devoted to helping students find moments of clarity. Adding an extra layer of meaning to the event was the knowing that proceeds of the class went to Haiti, spreading the healing energy to the country that has captured the heart of our founder, Donna Karan.

Elena, with her potent sense of presence, encouraged students to, “slowly, respectfully, gently, equally, and consistently open,” a request that created a ripple effect of expansive receptiveness. It was a beautiful thing to witness.

Midway through the class, with the peaceful music performed by double bassist Garth Stevenson lulling in the background, Elena reminded students that, “These are moments when energetically we are able to reach out to other people who need healing and offer it to them. These are moments when we are able to receive the healing that is being offered to us.”

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UZIT Nutrition Weekend: We Are Expressions of What We Eat

Last Updated on Wednesday, 29 February 2012 11:02 Written by Ali Schechter Monday, 27 February 2012 05:53

UZIT NUTRITION 1 UZIT Nutrition Weekend: We Are Expressions of What We Eat

Though there is no straight formula to getting and staying healthy, there is one principle that all speakers at this weekend’s Urban Zen Integrative Therapy program supported in their own way: food is medicine, and what we put into our bodies directly determines our health. There is no way around it: we are expressions of what we eat.

This may sound obvious, because it is. It is so obvious that one can’t help but drop a jaw at the current epidemic of nutritional ignorance in our country. Soaring rates of obesity, diabetes, heart disease, cancer, and more are all byproducts of this fundamental disconnect between us and our food. Our inbred agricultural system thrives on keeping people disempowered and under a spell of sugar and starch, while pharmaceutical companies swoop in to Band-Aid the aftermath. Instead of breaking down our food–our food is literally breaking down us.

Things need to change, and we have the power to speed up that process by how we spend our dollar. People all over the world are coming up with solutions to our current out-of-sync state, and we had the pleasure of hearing from a handful of luminaries this weekend, including Dr. Christiane Northrup, Dr. Dean Ornish, and Dr. Mark Hyman, among others. Perfectly setting the tone for the enlightening conversations were the beautiful nutrition images donated by Matt Armedariz, Helene Dujardin and Lindsay Moris that were projected throughout the Urban Zen Center.

First, though, we heard from incredible innovators Brooklyn Grange, an organization building commercial organic farms on New York City rooftops. Entering its third season, Brooklyn Grange will expand this spring to a second rooftop farm (45,000 square feet) in the Brooklyn Navy Yard. Yes, there will be a CSA. I get giddy imagining all the fresh (and seriously local!) produce made possible by these visionaries.

Next we learned from Brian Halweil, a senior fellow at the Worldwatch Institiute, co-Director of Nourishing the Planet and editor of East End Edible Magazine. Brian addressed current issues facing the food system on a global scale. Did you know that we produce more food today than ever on this planet? And yet still millions of people live in poverty and hunger. As Africa urbanizes more quickly than anywhere in the world, we will need sustainable urban farming models like Brooklyn Grange. Or cheap ways to fertilize the ground: like the Acacia tree in Kenya weaving Nitrogen into farm soil. Our interconnectedness became clearer and clearer as Brian spoke, outlining farming and food waste solutions from New York City (Check out Tri-State Biodiesel) to Nigeria (see the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation’s answer to Cowpea Storage). Most importantly, we need to educate our kids, creating models like Stephen Ritz’s “Green Bronx Machine.”

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