Portfolio: A selection of published articles

TransCultural Exchange


Networking following a conference panel. Photo: Don Motheman

By Meg Pier
Published in Jan / Feb 2016
Art New England ANE online

This February, a diverse gathering of more than 400 artists from around the world will brave Boston’s winter weather to convene for the fifth annual TransCultural Exchange Conference (TCE). Drawn together to explore synergies, collaborations and connections, attendees will include artists, artist-in-residency directors, critics, curators, engineers, gallery dealers, and scientists from more than 40 countries. Equal parts laboratory, think tank, marketplace and schmooze-fest, TCE has a devoted and growing following of artists from a range of disciplines seeking to expand their horizons creatively and professionally.

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In Cambodia, the Show Will Go On

4By Meg Pier
Published in October 2015
MIT Press’ Innovations Stories

Arn Chorn-Pond, the founder of Cambodian Living Arts (CLA), draws his motivation from his dark experiences as a survivor of Cambodia’s killing fields during the Khmer Rouge. “Without my ideas, I would be suicidal, insane, or dead,” he says.

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David Robinson Interview

Art N E Robinson interviewBy Meg Pier
Published in  May/June 2015
Art New England Magazine

Timing is everything and no one knows that more than a drummer. Relied on by fellow musicians to provide the rhythmic thread of a song as well as dramatic flair and nuanced texture, these beat-keepers of a band need to be both focused and sensitive. So perhaps David Robinson’s encore career as a Rockport, MA jewelry maker is not as surprising as it might at first seem.

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Mexico’s Parachico Festival is Antidote to January Blahs

Chiapa de Corzo's Dance of ParachicosBy Meg Pier
Published in Jan 2015
Huffington  Post

Arriving on the outskirts of Chiapa de Corzo, we spied a masked duo a block away and began to follow them, certain they would lead us to what we had come to witness.

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Blessing Easter Baskets on Easter Saturday at Slovenia’s Tustanj Castle

Blessing Easter Baskets on Easter Saturday at Slovenia's Tustanj CastleBy Meg Pier
Published in April  2014
Huffington  Post

I tentatively pushed opened the heavy wooden door of Tuštanj Castle and peeked inside. An open air courtyard lay in front of me, enclosed by a graceful portico of grey stone arches. While I was expected by the owners of Slovenia’s only non-nationalized castle, there was no one in sight and the only sound was the steady beat of the heavy rain.

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Treasure Island: The Legacy of Ireland’s Great Blasket

2013-10-23-IonadOileanweb-thumbBy Meg Pier
Published in Jan 2014
Huffington Post

Dáithí de Mórdha works as an archivist at Ireland’s Great Blasket Centre, located in Dún Chaoin, on the tip of the Dingle Peninsula, at the halfway point of the Slea Head Drive. The Centre is an interpretative facility and museum detailing the unique community who once lived on the Great Blasket Island, their traditional way of life as subsistence fishermen and farmers, as well as the extraordinary amount of literature which the islanders produced.

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The Keys to the Family Castle

DukeofArgyllBy Meg Pier
Published in July 2013
Huffington Post

I had the pleasure of speaking with His Grace the Duke of Argyll at his family ancestral home Inveraray Castle on the west coast of Scotland. Born Torquhil Ian Campbell, among the 29 titles His Grace holds, he particularly prizes his designation as 28th MacCailein Mor, the 35th Chief of Clan Campbell.

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Life Lessons from Slovenia’s Lipizzaner Stallions

Pesade_4157-new1By Meg Pier
Published in June 2013
Haute Ecole Magazine

Slovenia’s stallions gave me hope that even the most headstrong and high strung creatures can acquire grace under pressure. In fact Lipizzaner’ spirit and sensitivity are what make them so beloved and extraordinary at their work.

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Love of country and ‘Old Ironsides’ inspires former Marine’s nautical collection

G.-West-“Westy”-Saltonstall-nautical-collectionBy Meg Pier
Published By: Antique Trader News | August 1, 2012

A visitor to G. West “Westy” Saltonstall’s office could be forgiven for thinking he had mistakenly stumbled into a small gallery of maritime Americana. The glass-enclosed space overlooking a glittering Boston Harbor is a fitting home for the wealth management professional’s collection — which is nautical in nature.

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Estonia: from Soviet occupation to the wired now

Boston Sunday Globe, March 11, 2012
By Meg Pier, Globe Correspondent

TALLINN, Estonia – A day after landing here in the capital, I found myself in Patarei Prison. If I close my eyes, I am still assaulted by the nightmarish images seared in my memory: the rusted cast-iron cots crammed into cavernous rooms with moldy ceilings; the word “Pain” scrawled in red on the wall; the area labeled “SteriliseerimisRuum,” for which I needed no translation; the dimly lighted chamber marked “Hanging Room,” occupied by a lone ladder, below which a rectangle was cut into the faded linoleum.

Luckily for me, I was not living a future episode of “Locked Up Abroad” but roaming the halls of my own free will.

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Peer to Pier: Ecotourism & Birding in Tobago

img_9661web-300x200By Meg Pier
Published By: PeterGreenberg.com
February 3, 2011

Every eco-lodge has its own story and every proprietor a unique motivation, Meg Pier continues her Peer to Pier interview series in Tobago with Ean Mackay of Adventure Eco Villas.

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Cyprus: Crossroads of the Ancient World

Cyprus 2011 webBy Meg Pier
Published By: Ensemble Lifestyles
Winter / Spring  2011

On a recent visit, my husband and I time-traveled through the ages, meeting up with ghosts of centuries past on secluded beaches, majestic mountaintops, amidst dusty archaeological ruins and even on busy urban streets.



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Andalucia: Zesty Gazpacho of Cultural Diversity

andalucia webBy Meg Pier
Published By: Ensemble Lifestyles
Winter / Spring  2011

Long before fusion cuisine became the rage in the 1970’s, a zesty blend of cultural influences was simmering in the south of Spain. Like Andalucía’s traditional dish of gazpacho, this part of the Iberian Peninsula is a piquant potpourri for the senses.
Among the Andalucian arts I savored during a November visit was flamenco, a three- part ensemble of dance, song and guitar.

Read the full articleEnsemble Lifestyles 2011

WWOOF Founder Sue Coppard: Peer-to-Pier Interview

Sue-Coppard-planting-treesBy Meg Pier
Published By: Peter Greenberg.com
July 19, 2011

In 1971, a London secretary with a dream of a different kind of vacation launched a global movement called World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms (WWOOF).
It is now a network of over 50,000 volunteers working on 7,000-plus host farms in more than 100 countries. Meg Pier sits down with Sue Coppard.

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Isle shows Québec history around every turn

Boston Sunday Globe, May 22, 2011
By Meg Pier, Globe Correspondent

ÎLE D’ORLÉANS, Québec — Entering through the front door of Auberge La Goéliche, we were greeted with a festive crowd that burst into song, voices raised in sweet French cafe music featuring the nostalgic chords of an accordion. We quickly realized the serenade was not for us but the couple who had preceded us: According to a small placard, Robert and Jocelyn were celebrating their 40th wedding anniversary.

Family and tradition were hallmarks of the visit my husband, Tom, and I took to Île d’Orléans. This small island in the St. Lawrence Seaway, located a couple of miles downriver from Québec City, represents a microcosm of traditional Québecois culture, where the ancestral essence of its early residents and their way of life are preserved and celebrated.

In 1970, Île d’Orléans in its entirety was designated a National Historic District. Settlers from Normandy arrived here in 1651, establishing one of the first colonies of New France, naming it in honor of the second son of King Francis I, the Duke of Orléans. The road around the island’s 47-mile circumference is itself a piece of history: The Chemin Royal was built in 1744.

From the Pont d’Île that connects the island with the mainland, we had set off on this “Royal Road,’’ soon entering the smallest of Île d’Orléans’s six parishes, Sainte-Pétronille, situated at its western tip. Our stomachs growling for lunch, we had tucked into the long driveway of Auberge La Goéliche. The lodge’s name is a nod to its maritime heritage: Until the middle of the last century, small schooners called goéliches were used to transfer goods from the river’s banks to larger schooners offshore.

The sprawling white manse was located on a point jutting into the water and we sat in its glass-enclosed dining room. From our perch, we enjoyed a meal of scallops, shrimp, and mussels in a ginger cream sauce while mesmerized by what was probably an age-old drama here. A sailboat struggled against the fierce forces of the channel’s waters in an area known as bull’s point. Once beyond the island’s tip, the craft shot forward and sailed peacefully away.

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UNESCO’s Ten Best Intangible Cultural Heritage Sites

By Meg Pier
Cultural Travel, Featured — By Lost Girls on October 25, 2010 at 6:00 am

Most people are familiar with UNESCO’s “World Heritage Site” designation, but may not know that the organization also has identified cultural “intangibles”— traditions or living expressions that are deemed equally important to safeguard, such as traditional performing arts, social practices, festive events or traditional craftsmanship.

You can visit UNESCO’s site for a complete list and to understand why the traditions are being inventoried, but you can get a more in-depth view by seeking out these 10 dynamic cultural practices as you travel.

Read Meg Pier’s article at LostGirls.com


The humble cranberry gets dressed up for visitors and harvest time in the bogs

Boston Sunday Globe, September 26, 2010
By Meg Pier, Globe Correspondent

Picking, corralling, and loading are not in most leaf-peepers’ repertoires. Since nearly three-quarters of Americans reportedly have never heard of a cranberry bog, perhaps that’s not surprising. But to experience a new way to see fall’s colors — head for the southeastern Massachusetts cranberry harvest.

Nestled among the towns between Carver and Harwich are more than 14,000 acres of cranberry bogs. October brings a brilliant crimson carpet from which rises the better-known seasonal skyline of gold, orange, and yellow.

For more than 25 years the bogs have inspired Gail Marie Nauen, a Carver resident and painter (www.gailmarienauen.com).

“The tall pine trees provided the shade patterns on the floating pinks, reds, and peaches that make up the cranberry harvest,’’ Nauen said, recalling a recent scene. “Tomorrow, with another sunrise, the berries will take on a whole new look.’’

The harvest can often be seen from the side the road; the Cape Cod Cranberry Growers’ Association publishes a harvest route trail guide. But the bogs in their most vivid hues are a short-lived phenomenon.

Read article on-line at Boston.com

Alpacas, artisans flourish side by side in New Mexico

Boston Sunday Globe, September 19, 2010
By Meg Pier, Globe Correspondent

SANTA FE — Deep in a wide valley encircled by snow-capped mountains, I stood surrounded by dozens of creatures with soft brown eyes. A few nudged me gently, while others spat noisily on the ground.

The 1,100-acre Victory Ranch, home to 300 alpacas, is one stop on New Mexico’s recently blazed rural Fiber Arts Trails. Envisioned in 2005 at a gathering of the state’s cultural tourism advocates, the circuit features more than 200 artisans at 71 destinations.

From downtown Santa Fe, I had driven east to Las Vegas, a small railroad town, then veered north on a country road that took me into the southern Rockies. Arriving at the spectacular expanse that is Victory Ranch, I felt as though I had reached Patagonia, an illusion enhanced by the grazing herd of alpacas.

Alpacas, members of the camel family and native to the Andes, do well in the 7,000-foot-plus elevation of northern New Mexico with their enlarged hearts and lungs.

“Their fiber can be finer than cashmere,’’ said Darcy Weisner, ranch manager. “It’s very lightweight as it is a hollow hair, which gives it unique insulating qualities. We analyze every alpaca’s fiber every year when we shear. This helps us with our breeding program as well as with deciding whose fiber should be sent to a mill and whose will be handspun or sold as raw fiber in our store.’’

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 Tradition guides the lights in Oak Bluffs

Boston Sunday Globe, June 13, 2010
By Meg Pier, Globe Correspondent

OAK BLUFFS — The spotlight often shines on the Vineyard because of its visiting luminaries. But residents of the Camp Meeting Association here have long basked in the glow of bright lights. Since 1869, for at least one night a year, these campers take center stage.

The association first celebrated Illumination Night 141 years ago to welcome the governor of Massachusetts. Residents have continued the tradition every summer since, with owners adorning their pastel-painted cottages with Chinese and Japanese lanterns, many of them family heirlooms.

The camp, a collection of concentric circles of tiny Victorian gingerbread houses, is a National Historic Landmark. Still, one can forgive a visitor’s perception of the campground as a movie set, an open-air museum, or a seasonal dollhouse display.

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Nature is the connector on Vancouver Island

Vancouver IslandBoston Sunday Globe, April 4, 2010
By Meg Pier, Globe Correspondent

VANCOUVER ISLAND, British Columbia — We had driven for some time on Highway 4 without seeing another car, in a wilderness more vast than anything I had experienced. I checked my cellphone. No reception. A bank of clouds moved in above tall, densely packed trees and long shadows reached across our path. I envisioned grizzlies appearing from behind the trees.

My husband, Tom, and I were making a 100-mile trek to the west coast of Vancouver Island, through Pacific Rim National Park Reserve, traversing old logging roads that weren’t paved until the 1980s.

Suddenly, Tom slammed on the brakes.

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Global Heritage Fund Co-Founder Talks Sustainable Tourism

wat-phuBy Meg Pier
Published By: Peter Greenberg.com
March 15,2010

On recent travels to Guatemala’s Maya ruin of Tikal and to the Maya ruins of Chichen Itza, Coba and Tulum in Mexico, Meg Pier was impacted by seeing fresh paths being cleared for ancient archeological ruins—realizing how progress in developing sustainable tourism can make a real and meaningful difference in local communities.

Jeff Morgan is co-founder of the Global Heritage Fund, which seeks to save the Earth’s most significant and endangered cultural heritage sites in developing countries and regions, through scientific excellence and community development.

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Courting legends, inspiration in Lynn Woods

Boston Sunday Globe, January 24, 2010
By Meg Pier, Globe Correspondent

LYNN – I had lived in Nahant for more than a decade when a friend told me about the 2,200-acre park in neighboring Lynn.

“From the first day I went, I was hooked by its beauty and it’s been a sanctuary for me ever since,’’ Maria Manning said. “One of the most tranquil memories I have of winter was two years ago. My year-old son was asleep in the stroller and our dog Molly was on a leash. In the middle of our walk, it started to snow. It was so quiet we could hear a pin drop. Suddenly, Molly and I heard something off in the distance. It was
two beautiful white-tailed doe. They stared at us with their sweet brown eyes, and then quickly galloped off. That was right before Christmas. It certainly put me in the spirit.’’

The ninth biggest city in the state, Lynn is largely known as home to industries like General Electric and manufacturers ranging from those that have shod Revolutionary soldiers to putting marshmallow in your sandwiches. But perhaps its best-kept secret is Lynn Woods Reservation, a forested park encompassing one fifth of the city. Hiding in plain sight, the reserve is by some accounts the second-largest municipal park in the United States.

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 Fall Might Find You

. . . in an exotic place, Ybor City or Ann Arbor, Berlin or Bordeaux, savoring this sweet season

fallmightfindyouBoston Sunday Globe, Aug 30, 2009
By Meg Pier, Globe Correspondent

From film festivals and street parties to football games and balloon rides, our writers find there is more to celebrate in fall than pumpkins and foliage.

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 A Magnificent Island for Many an Odyssey

gozoBoston Sunday Globe, July 26, 2009

GOZO, Malta — Edward Lear, the Victorian-era nonsense poet, was a six-time visitor to Gozo. He termed the island “pomzkizillious and gromphiberous, being as no words can describe its magnificence.’’Today tourists and locals alike are taken with the tiny Mediterranean isle.

“I go every year to Gozo with friends; sometimes we hire a farmhouse or stay at a hotel. The sea in most places is fresher and cleaner, the air is cooler at nights, and the picturesque countryside and the beaches are a treat for us,’’ said Joe Pisani of Birkirkara. “We seek the tranquillity, an escape from the dense cities of Malta. All in all, Gozo is considered as a haven for Maltese, even in winter.’’

As for me, I had come in hopes of lightening a heart made heavy by the poor health of a family member. I was in the right place.

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Home values only grow in these exchanges.

Home Exchange ArticleBoston Sunday Globe, November 30, 2008

Condoleezza Rice and Bono grab the headlines for their diplomatic efforts, but there are others fanned out across the globe, everyday ambassadors quietly dispelling myths about their own  and other nationalities.

Their movement, at least 45,000 strong, began with a few people posing a new idea for the barter system: home exchanges.
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Looking for light and comfort with the Danes

denmarkBoston Sunday Globe, November 23, 2008

SKAGEN, Denmark — Disembarking from the 30-minute flight from Copenhagen to  alborg Airport in North Jutland province, I saw a wiry gent with white hair holding   sign with my name. I had splurged on the services of a driver for four hours on each of the two days I was to be at the northernmost tip of the country and Kaj  pronounced ‘‘ky’’) proved an able guide.

As we made our way to Skagen, about 50 miles north, I asked him about ‘‘hygge’’  (pronounced ‘‘hue-ga’’).

‘‘Well . . . it’s the family, around the table, having wonderful conversation,’’ Kaj said.
‘‘With a fire in the fireplace. And candles lit, lots of candles.’’
‘‘I see . . . so warmth is important in hygge?’’ I said.

‘‘Noooo . . .,’’ he replied. ‘‘A snowball fight can be hygge.’’  
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Guatemala treasures Maya ruins and their rich history

guatemalatreasuresBoston Sunday Globe, July 6, 2008
By Meg Pier
Globe Correspondent

TIKAL NATIONAL PARK, Guatemala – On the road to the Maya ruins we sat in our guide George Hernandez’s van, waiting for him to complete the paperwork in the concrete immigration building at the Guatemalan border. As he jumped in and shifted gears, he warned us it would be a long, bumpy ride with no facilities en route, suggesting we stop at the gas station just ahead. My heart raced as I watched my husband, Tom, get the men’s room key from a uniformed soldier with a rifle. A few miles down the dirt road, we passed an army barracks and saw armed men in camouflage fatigues looking out over the horizon.
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An exotic Portuguese garden in the ocean off Africa

Boston Sunday Globe, December18, 2005
By Meg Pier
Globe Correspondent

MADEIRA, Portugal — ”The floating flower pot” is how people sometimes refer to the Portuguese island of Madeira. Sitting 530 miles from the mainland and 378 miles off the coast of North Africa, it is a volcanic subtropical island, part of an archipelago in which only two islands are inhabited, with an alluring median year-round temperature of 68 degrees.

Everything grows here. Two-thirds of the 13-by-35-mile island is a national park, ornamental gardens abound, and someone with a green thumb resides in virtually every home.
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A Scenic Base for Touring Italy’s Ankle

italy2004Boston Sunday Globe, October 31, 2004
By Meg Pier Globe Correspondent

SORRENTO, Italy — Fall is lovely on the Cape and islands, but if its allure has
faded with the waning daylight and you’re willing to venture farther afield, you  might consider a peninsular community, on a different continent: the Amalfi  coast of Italy and the island of Capri.

The Amalfi Coast, in the Campania region, the ankle of Italy’s famous boot, stretches 43 miles from Sorrento on the Bay of Naples to Salerno on a gulf bearing its name. With a Greco-Roman heritage dating to 1000 BC, about 250 years before the founding of Rome, this stretch of shoreline abounds in rugged natural beauty and picturesque cliffside villages, with dwellings in shades of spice, sky, and sea, amid fragrant expanses of olive groves and lemon trees. Sorrento is an ideal scenic base from which to rest, relax, and explore.

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“If you do any digging in the Maltese islands, you’re bound to
find something—it’s all just one big museum,” said my guide,
Amy Pace of Sliema. “When the streets of M’dina were being
repaved about four years ago, they discovered they had hit a
buried column of an old Roman temple.”
Indeed, the list of artifacts found in this archipelago could be
longer than the Dead Sea Scrolls, and the variety of cultures
that have called the island home perhaps considered more
diverse than membership in the European Union. This island
nation lays claim to a treasure trove of history and mystery,
swashbuckling and secrecy.
Malta’s sister island of Goz
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