Tania Hadjithomas Mehanna knows that wonderful things happen in the resilient and energetic Lebanon – and that they deserve to be heard of. So she’s helping the whole nation to look on the bright side.
Through Tamyras, her publishing house in Beirut, she started a project that empowers and encourages action within Lebanese civil society, instead of passively waiting for a flailing government to solve problems. ‘Positive Lebanon’ believes good news should be circulated more. And that’s what the 400 pages of its self-titled book are about.
In a country where negativity is king, the spotlight is rarely on positive concrete initiatives. However, flicking through this book (released in December 2014), the ‘love letters to Lebanon’ transport you through the many initiatives that work towards a better future. They showcase the many facets of a beloved, and traumatised, country – from photographs of street libraries and cotton candy sellers on Beirut’s favourite promenade spot, the Corniche, to urban activist group Dihzahyners painting the city’s old staircases, to local landscapes of mountains and beaches, graffiti and food. Because everybody loves a good food photo.
Written in parts in English, some in French and a few entries in Arabic, profiles of charities and NGOs sit alongside essays, letters and blogs reflecting on what makes Lebanon so unique and special. But the project is not limited to a book. After spreading the word about positive initiatives to the public through conferences, events and campaigns, Positive Lebanon are shifting focus toward individuals who believe in their country and want to do good by it. The idea is to build a nationwide movement in which anyone and everyone can contribute to create a policy of positive exchange.
“Defeat, discouragement, a feeling of emptiness; these are common to a lot of people around the world,” Tania explains. “We are trying to go beyond these obstacles, to show that we are still working as individuals to better our country. Each little step taken by every one of us adds up to a positive collective result.” Ultimately, she wants to lengthen the lifespan of this joyous butterfly effect.
Fancy some Lebanese positivity in your life? Buy the Positive Lebanon book here.
Tania Hadjithomas Mehanna, Manager of Tamyras