Currently viewing the tag: "trade"

Ancient Greek legends tell of brazen sailors embarking on long and perilous voyages to the remote land of Cilicia, where they traveled to procure what they believed was the world’s most valuable saffron. The best-known Hellenic saffron legend is that of Crocus and Smilax: The handsome youth Crocus sets out in pursuit of the nymph Smilax in the woods near Athens; in a brief dallying interlude of idyllic love, Smilax is flattered by his amorous advances, but all too soon tires of his attentions. He continues his pursuit; she resists. She bewitches Crocus: he is transformed—into a saffron crocus. Its radiant orange stigmas were held as a relict glow of an undying and unrequited passion. The tragedy and the spice would be recalled later:

Crocus and Smilax may be turn’d to flow’rs,
And the Curetes spring from bounteous show’rs
I pass a hundred legends stale, as these,
And with sweet novelty your taste to please.
Ovid, Metamorphoses.

Fiction Writing Prompt: Write a story involving trade in a precious spice.

Journaling Prompt: Write about your favorite flower and what it means to you.

Art Prompt: Crocus and Smilax

Non-Fiction / Speechwriting Prompt: Tell your audience about the history of saffron.

Photo Credit: Chris Alban Hansen on Flickr

Six countries lay overlapping claims to the East and South China Seas, an area that is rich in hydrocarbons and natural gas and through which trillions of dollars of global trade flow. As it seeks to expand its maritime presence, China has been met by growing assertiveness from regional claimants like Japan, Vietnam, and the Philippines. The increasingly frequent standoffs span from the Diaoyu/Senkaku Islands, on China’s eastern flank, to the long stretch of archipelagos in the South China Sea that comprise hundreds of islets. The U.S. pivot to Asia, involving renewed diplomatic activity and military redeployment, could signal Washington’s heightened role in the disputes, which, if not managed wisely, could turn part of Asia’s maritime regions from thriving trade channels into arenas of conflict. -Council on Foreign Relations

Fiction Writing Prompt: Write a story using a trade dispute as your main conflict.

Journaling Prompt: If you could travel anywhere in Asia, where would you like to go and what would you like to see and do there?

Art Prompt: China Sea Trade War

Non-Fiction / Speechwriting Prompt: Tell your audience about geopolitics of trade in the China Sea and how it could impact their lives.

Photo Credit: *Nom & Malc on Flickr

Map of the Silk Road, by train, eastbound

Strictly speaking, the Silk Road refers to all the different overland routes leading west out of China through Central Asia to Syria and beyond. Nothing unusual in the landscape would catch the eye of someone flying overhead. The features delineating where the road went were not man-made but entirely natural – mountain passes, valleys, and springs of water in the desert. Not paved, the Silk Road was systematically mapped only in the twentieth century. No one living on these routes between 200 and 1000 CE, the peak period for the Chinese presence, ever said ‘the Silk Road.’ … The term ‘Silk Road’ did not exist before 1877, when the Baron Ferdinand von Richthofen first used it on a map. …

“Most of what we have learned from [recent historical] documents debunks the prevailing view of the Silk Road, in the sense that the ‘road’ was not an actual ‘road’ but a stretch of shifting, unmarked paths across massive expanses of deserts and mountains. In fact, the quantity of cargo transported along these treacherous routes was small. Yet the Silk Road did actually transform cultures both east and west. -Valerie Hansen, The Silk Road: A New History

Fiction Writing Prompt: Write a story or poem set along the Silk Road.

Journaling Prompt: Write about your favorite historical era and why it fascinates you.

Art Prompt: Caravans on the Silk Road

Non-Fiction / Speechwriting Prompt: Write about the transformation of culture through trade.

Photo Credit: Train Chartering & Private Rail Cars on Flickr