media workshop, training

X IS THE STORY: Introducing DSIL Creative Media Lab

Track X is here.

For those of you who may have been following our facebook posts, you’ve heard the stories, seen the videos, and may have read about this thing we do in SE Asia called “DSIL” — Designing for Social Innovation and Leadership.

This month, Studio DíLITT is excited to announce that we are teaming up with DSIL leadership to create a unique executive education course on media and storytelling for social change: Track X – Creative Media Lab.

Click here to read the full post on our Studio DíLITT website. 

development, Video

“A Mother’s Journey” | MamaBaby Haiti Video

Click on the photo above to view the video.

Click on the photo above to view the video.

In June 2015 we had the incredible opportunity to document the daily life of a birth center and clinic in the heart of Cap Haitien, Haiti. You can read more about that life-changing experience in our previous blogpost on the new Studio DíLITT blog (subscribe if you haven’t already!).

We’re proud to officially launch the promotional video we created for the organisation that took us there: MamaBaby Haiti. Their work helps save the lives of mothers and babies every day, and they do it by helping empower Haitians to take care of Haitians.

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Health, Non-profit, Women

Mothers + Midwives in Haiti

Earlier this spring, we were asked if we were interested in flying down to Haiti to film and photograph the work of MamaBaby Haiti, a midwife clinic in Haiti’s second-most populous city, Cap Haitien.

Within a few weeks, we found ourselves on the doorsteps of the clinic, gear in hand and ready to roll. Haiti is one of the poorest countries in the Western Hemisphere, with the highest fetal, maternal, and neonatal mortality rates on record. The work of the Haitian midwives and volunteers at MamaBaby Haiti is monumental, to say the least; a beautiful story of Haitians helping Haitians worth telling.

Nearly 12 babies were born during our stay. Of these, we filmed 6 live births – we saw SIX new healthy babies entering the world before our eyes and cameras. I could barely focus my lens when the first one entered our atmosphere as my tears came rushing.

Over the week, we learned more than we could have ever imagined or dreamed we would learn about midwifery and childbirth, and about Haitian women in childbirth. During the long, hot nights we became familiar with the songs and sounds of the women in labor – the beautiful, yearning cries of struggle that, in juxtaposition to many US-Americans, were not cries of protest but those of yielding to their body’s efforts to bring a child into the world.

As we saw the babies open their eyes and take their first gasps, I couldn’t help but reflect on how Haitian babies must be some of the most vulnerable beings in the world.

MBH Blog Post-1

But what will stay with us the most are the women: mothers and midwives. Strong, beautiful, unwavering. They are the heroes.

The women arrive by taxi, foot and even moto to give birth in the safe, clean and compassionate environment that MamaBaby offers. We filmed one woman, Alouse, who at 40 weeks pregnant mounted a moto to journey to MamaBaby from her village outside the city.

Several days later, we all met her baby boy. Thanks to the free prenatal care she had been receiving and the care of the midwives she and her newborn are in safe hands.

MamaBaby Haiti offers compassionate and respectful free prenatal, birth, postpartum and gynecological care for women at the hands of skilled Haitian midwives who are saving lives every day.

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It will take us awhile to unpack what this project has meant to us. True to fashion, Haiti has grabbed ahold of our hearts and won’t let go.

The Mundane

Adventures at Troublesome Gap

“I’m a Radical, French, Appalachian Hillbilly.” This is how Camille Shafer ⎯ the director, founder, and mastermind builder of Azule ⎯ describes herself. Azule is situated between the Blue Ridge and Great Smoky Mountains of North Carolina, just outside of Hot Springs (population: 350). It’s a center for artists, creatives and hippies alike who are eager to learn, share and create with little distraction except for the woodpeckers, hum of carpenter bees, and the incredible storytelling of Camille, who is undoubtedly one of the most inspiring individuals we have ever met (this won’t be the last time you hear about her from us, to be sure!). Below, she reflects with us in her mosaic workshop (her next project):

Camille in her workshop

We came to Azule for Troublesome Gap, a weeklong retreat for the flute, harp and percussion players in the Archaea Tree Ensemble and five up-and-coming composers from around the nation. They all gathered to collaborate on new chamber music written specifically for the trio.

At first blush, “Troublesome Gap” is a strange name for a musical retreat; however, it has a double meaning: it is both a mountain pass in view of Azule, and it describes the gap that often exists between artists and society, composers and performers, even the timbres amongst instruments. By spending a week together rehearsing, writing, recording and performing, participants aimed to confront this gap and foster the creation of new music, ideas and relationships together. Below, a view from our evening soirée on top of the gap:

The view from the top of Troublesome Gap

We were thrilled to document the pilot run of this retreat as Studio DíLITT and also as long-time friends of Andy Miller, the percussionist (whose wedding to the harpist, Erin, took place in Hot Springs one week later!). As flies on the walls and with cameras in our hands, we learned so much about how composers and performers can work together to perfect a piece, where experimental music is headed (playing symbals in water? Aztec death whistles?), and how to play percussion with all the multiple mallet options!

It was also extremely valuable to be joined by Rob Paterson, an award-winning composer from NYC whose piece “The Book of Goddesses” was performed midway through the week by the trio with a fabulous local audience. Rob also lended his expertise during rehearsals and in private lessons throughout the week and could not stop raving about the fresh air and mountain views. The week culminated in a final performance of Archaea Tree in which each new composition was premiered.

We look forward to putting all of these experiences together in a promo video for Troublesome Gap’s next iteration, and sifting through the hundreds of photos of our time in the coming weeks!

Next week, we’ll be heading to another phenomenal project and organization we can’t wait to share about: MamaBaby Haiti!

Quote, Thoughts

Solo Dios Sabe Si Volverá

Here's one of our 2015 "homes" which we will miss as much as we miss the always-effervescent baby Eli and our traveling friends, Olivia and Josh. Soon, we will be missing Rae + Kevin, and the beautiful miss Esther—our FL "kibbutz-kids. "

Here’s one of our 2015 “homes” in Durham, NC.  We will miss it as much as we miss the always-effervescent baby Eli and our traveling friends, Olivia and Josh. Soon, we will also be missing Rae + Kevin, and the beautiful-bumbly Esther. Altogether, our FL + NC “kibbutz-kids. “

“Solo Dios sabe si volverá.”

‘Henry David Thoreau schoolmarmed his ninenteenth-century countrymen with the assertion that one could not be a true traveler unless one left one’s gate with no certainty of return. The art of walking involves an ability to saunter—the word derives from the French expression for people who have no homeland (sans terre), or from the French word for Holy Land— Saint Terre— which became the noun used to identify religious pilgrims, saint-terres. They have no particular home, Thoreau writes, but they are “equally at home everywhere.”‘

‘Family trips of my childhood always began with a prayer. I suppose when one goes on vacation, one is courting death in some fashion, tying the morgue tags onto one’s suitcase. But then, too, vacations, are respites from death, from thoughts of death. I have sometimes wondered why friends under medical death sentences have undertaken arduous trips or undertaken ardous labors. To put some distance between themselves and death—the obvious answer.’


Photo, update, Video

New website + 3 New videos

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1 production photo above (i.e. Carrie doing sound on a film shoot aboard a tuk tuk in Cambodia) + 3 new videos + our newish website = Studio DíLITT is busy busy busy and loving it.

Check out the new videos on our new website here:

So far we’ve hit 13 cities in the new year and hitting up a few more before we leave the country. #followthestory, right?

More to come soon. Stay tuned, cadets. We wanted to at least give you a glimpse into the DíLITT happenings.

Much love,


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excerpt, literature

“Ojalá” and the god of the desert

Iceland, 2014

Iceland, 2014 —Díaz-Littauer

“I catch a glimpse of my mother through the doorway of our kitchen. I am just about to leave for school; it must be cold—I am zipping up my jacket, my binder between my knees. ‘See you later, Mama.’

  Ojalá, my mother calls.

My mother appended ojalá to every private leave-taking; my father never did. I heard the Spanish expression pristinely—I had heard it all my life. Ojalá meant ojalá. If I’d had the best friend I dreamed about, someone who would follow me about, who would want to know what everything meant, I would have told him that ojalá means something like I pray it may be so—an exclamation and a petition.

Growing up, I thought the American expression God willing and the creek don’t rise to be a variant of my mother’s ojalá, which it is. I learned only this year, however, that the expression, refers to the Creek Indians, rather than to a swollen waterway.

In fact, the name of Allah was enshrined in the second and third syllables of my mother’s ojalá. I doubt my mother knew that, though maybe she did. I didn’t. The expression is a Spanish borrowing from the Arabic commonplace prayer Insha’Allah—God willing.”

—from DARLING by Richard Rodriguez (p.11)