In the early morning of April 17, 2020, I was walking my dog when I saw two wild dogs wandering in the middle of the road. Our eyes locked just long enough for me to know what was about to happen. I scooped my dog into my arms and went into a brace position.
A high-pitch screech brought me back into my body, and when I opened my eyes, I realised it was me reacting to the sets of teeth piercing my skin. “They are going to kill you,” the voice in my head alerted. Somehow, I started running, dog clenched in arms. I darted across the street with the two beasts relentlessly chasing me as blood dripped down my legs.
This was halfway through the first covid lockdown so there were few vehicles passing by at 5:30 am. One knowingly drove by me but the 4-door car behind stopped. I jumped into the back seat. The dogs leapt onto the car as the driver tried to scare them off by honking. Eventually, the two (as I later learned) Malinois trained guard dogs that escaped from their villa continued toward Monaco and the young couple in the car dropped me off at home where I called the Police (the driver had already contacted them) who patched me through to an ambulance.
A few days later, a neighbourhood friend called to say the couple in the car worked at our local grocery story, Casino in Roquebrune-Cap-Martin.
When I reunited with them to express my gratitude, the driver told me a remarkable story. That same morning of the dog attack his two-door car wouldn’t start so he borrowed his girlfriend’s sedan to get to work on time. He said it was fate because with his coworker as a passenger there would not have been room for me in his car.
From that moment on, I have been a loyal customer of Casino Roquebrune-Cap-Martin. And I would be remiss, then, if I did not address this week’s headline calling it “France’s most expensive supermarket.”
Yes, it is pricey. This is a secret to no one. The staff talk about it, locals talk about it. It’s like saying people live in Monaco to avoid paying income tax.
Yet the store bordering Monaco has its advantages. It opens weekdays at 7:30 am, so you can shop before going to work. For the budget sensitive like me, there is the CasinoMax app which gives you a 10% discount on each item. And unlike the super-sized Carrefour Monaco chockablock with shoppers, this Casino has manageable floor space with less people hogging up the aisles.
It is a store all about proximity for the Saint Roman community of all ages who shop without cars and prefer to haul their buggies and recycled bags with daily provisions rather than shop online.
The couple who run the place go out of their way to say hello to me; when my native Canada is in the news that ask about my family. I am in no way defending the owners or their retail pricing strategy. The survey (see video below) did not reveal the details of their operating expenses. Maybe they could reduce prices, I don’t know.
What I do know is that they have an exceptional staff. Every time I walk into the supermarket, there is a sense of family. I am greeted with a friendly hello, and some chit chat. These workers are mostly thirtysomethings trying to live their lives like anyone else. Some are single parents; others have had tragic loss. Some are fanatic about Christmas and baking; others have lost 20kg and are now passionate about sports. They are all accommodating in their roles and I am not always the most patient of customers.
These human connections matter to me more than the bottom line. And I think we forget that behind every headline there are lives impacted. I will continue to support France’s most expensive grocery store because someone who works there once did the right thing to help me. And doing the right thing is priceless.
I have come to the conclusion that Planetary Health is like the unpredictable relative no one wants to invite to a family gathering. You know what I’m talking about, that family member whose presence makes others feel uncomfortable because inevitably there will be drama. Instead, everyone pretends everything is normal, hoping the problem will magically go away. But it only gets worse. Year after year.
And I get it. Planetary Health is a monumentally complex and distressing topic and, on top of that, we are in a race against time. The reality is that the planet is facing a double environmental crisis – the climate crisis and the biodiversity crisis. We are on track to reach 1.5°C global warming as early as 2034. In parallel, we have seen a 69% decline in the world’s wildlife populations in the past 40 years.
Beyond the headlines, it is not all doom and gloom. There is hope to ensure a sustainable future for people and nature, but it will require a rapid and transformative shift across sectors to drastically reduce emissions and fundamentally change the way we produce, the way we consume, and the way we finance.
This is where Re.Generation comes in (See Videos Below). This latest initiative from the Prince Albert II of Monaco Foundation’s (PA2F) brought together six brilliant women and four outstanding men from around the world for its first Re.Generation Future Leadership Program, which rounded off two weeks of training on July 13.
Not to be confused with youth leadership for entry level skills, this group of Millennials is recognised already in helping to fight climate change and biodiversity loss in four areas – Startsups and Business, Storytelling, Communities and Finance. They are representatives of a generation who are convinced that another way of using Earth’s resources is possible, convinced that we must protect and regenerate nature.
These Re.Generation cohorts are carrying the weight of your future on their shoulders. They are not afraid to look Planetary Health in the eyes or call out others who fail to do so, offering solutions with a powerful sense of urgency. I know because I had the good fortune of spending the last two weeks watching them in action and listening to their concerns.
I encourage you to watch the videos below to put a face to their names and stories. These individuals are a reflection of how the Prince Albert Foundation is stepping up its drive to accelerate change by engaging Millennials and creatives in innovative ways to help spread the message. And I assure you, this Re.Generation group may have arrived in Monaco as leaders. But they leave as experts.
Startups(WATCH VIDEO) The world has set very ambitious targets for 2030 to protect 30% of land and sea, and to restore what has been degraded. But 2030 is tomorrow, some 78 months away. What is the role of startups and the business sector in this vision?
Colombian Federico Perez is the Founder and CEO of Selvitas, a company focusing on nature-based solutions and social equity in Latin America, particularly to tackle deforestation.
Sabrine Chennaoui is the co-founder and CEO of the Tunisian green start up, MONSAPO, which looks to revolutionise chemical products we use every day, and she is an advocate for empowerment of women in the workplace.
Finance(WATCH VIDEO) The Prince Albert II of Monaco Foundation launched this year its Re:Ocean Fund, a private equity fund dedicated to SDG 14 that will support startups focusing on marine pollution, blue food, ecosystem protection and restoration, and equipping ocean stakeholders with robust and transparent data. What role can these kinds of funds play to help scale up innovative solutions?
Storytellers(WATCH VIDEO) How to get the message out, both to policy makers and to the general public, to help instigate the transformative sectoral and societal change that we need to tackle the environmental crisis we are living?
Valy Phommachak is the founder of Econox Laos, a social enterprise for environmental protection strongly involving local communities. She also founded Econews Laos, the first and only environmental news platform in the country, and is an advocate for youth empowerment.
Imogen Napper – aka the “Plastics Detective” – is a British marine scientist and National Geographic Explorer who is researching plastic pollution and its sources. Her work influences policy change and was used as a basis for new legislation banning certain products.
Communities(WATCH VIDEO) To put solutions into place, transparency, inclusivity, and co-construction are crucial, making sure that no one is left behind. Local communities and indigenous peoples are often at the forefront of impacts of climate change and nature degradation.
Victoria Herrmann is a storyteller and geographer from the US works very close with communities on adaptation pathways to climate change, ensuring the empowerment of local communities in safeguarding their cultural heritage.
A 2021 Pew Research Center report showed that 69% of American adults surveyed say large businesses and corporations are “doing too little to address climate change” while two-thirds say “ordinary Americans are doing too little to help reduce the effects of climate change.”
The research also stated that 71% of Millennials (born 1981–1996) believed that climate should be top priority to ensure a sustainable planet for future generations compared to 67% for Gen Z (1997–2012), 63% for Gen X (1965–1980) and 57% for Baby Boomers (1946–1964).
Article first published July 16, 2023. Feature image: Re.Generation Program/Prince Albert II of Monaco Foundation.
The names Red Pear and Hilary King will no doubt transport some Riviera residents back 20 years.
In spring 1995, Hilary founded the non-profit Red Pear Theatre with her Heinz executive husband, Roy, and directed 150 performances in English in Antibes. “For ten years, the Red Pear performed professional English-language shows in Theatre Antibea once a month – except July and August, when you could have billed it as a weight loss program … just too hot!” Hilary recalls.
Following the Red Pear’s closure in 2005, the couple opened up their Cap d’Antibes villa, La Timonerie, to host fundraising cocktail dînatoires. “There were over 40 performances in my home, where the actors gave their services for free so we could send the ticket money to Cambodia, where we helped build three schools,” explains Hilary, who trained in theatre at Rose Bruford College in London.
When her beloved Roy “the Bear” died in 2010, Hilary continued the occasional soirée to raise money for Cambodia before moving to Avignon in 2015 and then returning to her native London in 2019. She has continued to use her theatrical talents. Last week, she organised a charity cabaret for St Martins in the Fields raising £45,000 towards funding 18 Keys, a sanctuary for homeless women in London.
The book was released in March 2023 (£35 UK; £37 for EU) and the official launch takes place June 15 at Theatre Antibea when Hilary brings the Red Pear back to Antibes for one night only. “I return with nostalgia for the old Red Pear audience and a theatrical fairy tale for anyone who arrived in the area after 2015!”
Starting at 7pm, Hilary will kick off the evening with a few anecdotes from the book before veteran film, TV and stage star Anne Reid takes to the stage for a specially-fashioned cabaret, accompanied by Stefan Bednarczyk, whom Nice-Matin called “Un Roi du Cabaret”.
After their performance, both Red Pear veteran Stefan and Anne – who just completed a sell-out run of Marjorie Prime at London’s Menier Chocolate Factory and is fondly remembered as Celia in TV’s Last Tango in Halifax with Derek Jacobi and for the film The Mother with Daniel Craig – will share some Red Pear memories over a glass of wine with guests. Limited tickets (€35) also include a welcome glass of wine and a copy of The Red Pear Theatre Storywith a chance of a book signing.
Hilary acknowledges the support of Theatre Antibea and its artistic director Dominique Czapski. For tickets, call 04 93 34 24 30. And hey, if there’s enough interest in Red Pear fare, perhaps Hilary could persuade Dominique to let her have the theatre again one of these days …
The Kate Powers Foundation (KPF) became an official Monaco registered non-profit in June 2022 and their first event honoured the loss of one of Monaco’s most respected and loved personalities by inviting the community to celebrate her birthday on July 16. (Kate died on on August 30, 2021.)
“It was community that Kate was most passionate about. She was always bringing people together,” says KPF vice-president Karen Bond.
On Tuesday, March 28, the KPF hosted its inauguration party to introduce their first project, Kate’s Fountains, which aims to have filtered water fountains at schools, existing locations and portable fountains at events. “Everyone knows that Kate was passionate about two things in Monaco – community and the environment,” shares Karen. “The water fountain project brings these two interests together by reducing single-use plastic in the community and the Principality.”
According to a 2022 Earthday.org fact sheet, humans use in total about 1.2 million plastic bottles a minute – that’s 20,000 a second – and an estimated 91% of plastic is not recycled. And the Ellen Macarthur Foundation reports that the 150 metric million tons of plastic rubbish in the ocean is estimated to reach 600 million by 2040.
350 people attended the cocktail at Twiga, which was in the presence of the Foundation’s honorary president, HSH Prince Albert, who spoke a few words about Kate’s dedication to the planetary health and th environment. Mike Powers read a letter Kate wrote in 2007 about the urgency of Monaco’s community cleaning up our planet and Didier Rubiolo read the letter in French.
The KPF also launched their partnership on Tuesday with the Water Smart Foundation to provide fountains offering free filtered water throughout the community.
The inaugural event was sponsored by Twiga, Twiga World, Water Smart Foundation, Pure Ionic Water, Mind Your Waste Foundation, Mon Eau, WET Environmental, IBD Monaco, Cap Gin, Lily Bui Finest wines, Silver Gecko vodka, Blue Coast Beer, Mc Performers, ED Wright Images, Nitin Sachania Photography, Shimmer Walls, Burgess and MDV.
“We are excited to work with the Principality of Monaco, its schools and businesses,” enthuses Karen. “The KPF initiative is designed to drive awareness, educate the community, and engage everyone interested by taking action to reduce the consumption of plastics and protect the earth and oceans, by valuing water as a precious resource.” The Foundation is hoping to work with the Ministry of Education and invite schools to take the #BigBillionBottleBattle plastic challenge.
Karen emphasises that creating community involvement in the use of filtered water fountains requires a multifaceted approach. “By educating the community, providing incentives, involving local businesses, and hosting events, we hope to encourage people to use filtered water fountains and promote sustainability.”
Kate’s Fountain sponsorship starts at €8,500 but a donation of any amount toward Kate’s Fountains would be appreciated. “We are accepting donations on our website to sponsor fountains and future projects for the Kate Powers Foundation.” Emily and Keith Chapman, Mike and Paola Powers and Murat Vargi are a few of the first names behind fountain sponsorship.
Through Kate’s Fountains, Monaco’s school community, local businesses and event organisations have a chance to empower each other by uniting to make a difference. Kate would be proud.
“Kate was Love in Action. Love for the community and the common good. She was always there to listen and provide pastoral care for anyone who needed it. And as one of her true loves in life was for the earth, that is why we KPF choose the water project,” smiles Karen.
Kate Powers Foundation Board: (R-L): president Rhonda Hudson; vice president Karen Bond; treasurer Ina McLaughlin; secretary Marina Jahlan Matkova; public relations Martina Rukus; sponsorship & events Melinda Nelson; business relations Donatella Campioni; youth coordinator Cecilia Faggionato; and marketing & creative director Natasha Girardi pictured with Lilou Mace.
“I’ve known of Kate Powers for 40 years, ever since I arrived in the Principality, and personally for the past 25 years. What a delightful human being she was! My culinary and metaphysical experiences with her in Stars ‘n Bars are too numerous to note, but my memories of meditating with Kate, eating with Kate and playing games with her and so many others who loved and admired her are written in my heart. I will always miss her…”John McLaughlin
“Kate was an amazing lady and the Foundation is such a fantastic way to ensure everything she stood for and supported in Monaco lives on in her memory and continues to make a difference within the community.”Paula Radcliffe
This article was first published March 21, 2023 and updated on March 30, 2023.
In my last interview with Kate Powers, in November 2020, the late cofounder of Stars’N’Bars told me, “Lockdown helped us to wake up to necessary ecological changes that were more important than economical ones. Stars’N’Bars is only getting started on their ecological journey.”
Although at the time she could not reveal details about the vision she and cofounder Didier Rubiolo had planned, she did say, “We realise how much people don’t like change but if we want to make a difference, we must change our habits. The planet can do without us but we can’t do without the planet. There will big changes in spring 2021.”
Kate’s death in August 2021 overshadowed the transformation of Stars’N’Bars but now it is official that Monaco’s go-to family-friendly restaurant for nearly 30 years – where Prince once played a secret concert, where Michael Schumacher drank victory beers with his racing team and where Prince Albert and his daughter Jazmin Grace took part in the annual Quiz Night – will close its doors permanently on January 27.
“It has been an honour to serve millions of guests from all over the world and we especially want to thank the Monaco community for its amazing support,” expresses Didier, who started Stars’N’Bars with Kate back in ’93 to provide regular people beyond the jet-setters “reasonably priced and quality dining outside the home.” The pair converted an abandoned warehouse into what is today an 1800-square-metre hospitality centre with over half a million customers served every year.
A classically-trained chef with experience in gastronomic restaurants in France and Monaco, Didier first met Kate at her family-run “Le Texan”, the first Tex-Mex restaurant in Monaco and a favourite of Prince Rainier (who gave it the name). Didier went on to revolutionise Monaco’s dining scene by upgrading American Tex-Mex fare at Stars’N’Bars to eventually incorporating an international selection of Asian, Indian and Middle Eastern dishes. Kate may have been more in the public eye over the years, but it was Didier who drove “the restaurant’s shift towards vegetarian and vegan options.
“When Kate and I opened Stars’N’Bars we wanted to give Monaco something new, original and exciting.” Didier recalls. “Our concept was a great success but eventually we realized that we wanted to make a bigger difference in the wellbeing of our community and the planet, especially for our children.”
Stars’N’Bars began developing a “healthier dining experience” and supporting Prince Albert’s environmental protection efforts, including adopting renewable energy sources, finding new ways to reducing waste and creating the first Monaco-based urban vegetable garden as a source of fresh produce and seasonings for restaurant use.
Kate and Didier joined other eco-conscious activists in Monaco to create MONACOLOGY, the week-long educational experience every June to help school children learn how to respect their planet. “We all need to accept that climate change threatens the planet and our children’s lives. Kate and I decided that we wanted to raise conscientiousness about that threat and help the community find solutions,” Didier highlights.
The avid cyclist adds, “It will be sad to say goodbye to Stars’N’Bars after 30 years but it’s time to create something even more special. We will be releasing details of a new project soon and we can’t wait to take the next step!”
Didier, Annette Anderson and the Stars’N’Bars team plan to make the most of the next two months by hosting special animations along with reintroducing popular “nostalgia” blast-from the-past dishes that are not on the current menu. Their social media feed will include throwback images and videos from “unforgettable events over the last three decades, including Halloween, the Fourth of July, Grand Prix, a concert by Prince and surprise visits by international celebrities.”
And you, the much-loved community who have helped make Stars’N’Bars the institution it has become, will be invited to post your favourite Stars’N’Bars memory to help create a permanent online “living history” of the restaurant. Photo opportunities will be staged for those who want to be “immortalised” as part of the famous restaurant décor and atmosphere before it disappears forever in January.
“Everyone wants to know about our new next step but we really want to focus the last two months of Stars’N’Bars on celebrating 30 years of amazing memories with our customers and staff,” shares Annette.
Stars’N’Bars has always been there for us. Let’s be there for them until January 27 when the doors close for the last time. As Kate always said, “Do what you love. Love what you do. And make a difference.”
There are people who fantasise about living in Monaco. For Rhonda Hudson, a physical dream came to her one night while attending chiropractic school in Atlanta Georgia. “The dream was strong and vivid. I was walking down an old small cobblestone road holding hands with two little girls and when I looked up, I saw a sign that read Niçoise Socca. As I had never visited Europe, it took me a few months to figure out what this meant. As soon as I did, I quit school and flew to Nice. Two suitcases, my dog and me,” recalls Rhonda, founder of the well-being centre of alignment, Bodyflow.mc.
About ten months after arriving in the Alpes-Maritimes in 2000, the native of California visited Monaco. “I gave myself the time to find out who I was, letting go of old belief systems, family stuff and data. I did a lot of deprogramming and went deeper inside.”
Rhonda says she was searching for a deeper meaning to life. “I began questioning everything. There had to more to this world and humanity then suffering and this longing to have more, be more, do more, which seemed like a never-ending road down the rabbit hole. Somewhere in all of this must be a deeper inner-peace where we find joy, happiness and bliss even in the challenging times.”
Shortly after coming to Monaco she met Kate Powers. “Kate and I shared a deep love of helping others, both in our own ways, and definitely sharing our experiences together so we could grow.”
Rhonda shares that her friendship with Kate was not instantaneous. “It took us a few years to build a deep connection from just being acquaintances at various events of interest. We first met through some well-being events around Monaco, yoga classes, the Fourth of July and Halloween at Stars’n’Bars. We built our deep friendship walking the No Finish Line sometime in 2002 or 2003. Over those several days of walking together it was as though we had been friends our entire lives, something clicked, and from that point forward we shared almost everything.”
After that, Rhonda and Kate planned wellness events together and went on many retreats, from detox retreats around the region to liver cleanses in Germany. The last one was in Malta with one of their favourite neuroscientists, Dr Joe Dispenza. “We planned how we could make a difference for Monaco and the environment, how we could have an impact on the community and how we could heal ourselves through our own personal struggles.”
The Monaco resident admits that while living in California she was not as focused on a healthy lifestyle. “My moto is balance. I feel extremely blessed that I have been around and influenced by some of the top leaders in the well-being industry worldwide.”
Bodyflow.mc offers people the opportunity to experience bodywork, breath work, kundalini yoga (chanting, singing, breathing exercises), meditation, sound therapy and transformational coaching. “Sometimes in life, we feel stuck, depressed and helpless. We experience the death of loved ones, divorce, financial struggles, anxiety, stress, being burnt out or overwhelmed. Through a variety of tools people can experience alternative ways for recovery, for healing, to create an experience of well-being from the inside. And developing these daily tools means they can use overcome their issues and feel well, healthy, joyful and strong mentally, physically and emotionally,” she explains.
Rhonda works with teenagers and adults using a variety of different techniques. She says a life balance, breathing and power practices are the three steps people can take to improve their wellness levels.
“Make sure you have balance between work, family, socialising, sleep and exercising. Try alternate nostril breathing helps reduce stress and settle the mind. And meditation, sound therapy and yoga allow you to master your thoughts and transform your life.”
With the one-year anniversary of Kate’s death approaching on August 30th, many of us still struggle with the loss. For her closest friend Rhonda, it remains especially raw.
“It is hard to believe it is the one-year anniversary of her passing. I have tears in my eyes at this moment as I miss her, our friendship, her smiling face, our numerous adventures and our deep chats over a glass of wine on how we could make a difference—one of her favourite sayings and a tag line on her emails.”
It is largely thanks to Rhonda and Kate’s family that the Kate Powers Foundation was officially formed in June. “I did get Kate’s permission after much deliberation. I am not sure how many people knew that Kate had a shy side to her. She was not a huge fan of public speaking even though she was great at it and when we first started discussing a foundation in her name she wasn’t convinced.
“After several weeks of discussions, I managed to help her see how much she had done for the community and the Principality, and how it was important that we kept her passions, dreams and desires moving forward. She then shared with me all the things she would love to see followed through and created through the Foundation. I remember her saying, ‘Are you sure we have to call it the Kate Powers Foundation?’ We both smiled and then laughed.”
The slogan for the Kate Powers Foundation (KPF) is “Together we shine Bright”. Rhonda reveals, “One of Kate’s deepest desires was to pull people together in the community. When anyone had a problem or needed help, they would walk through the doors of Stars’n’Bars looking for Kate. Parents would tell their kids, ‘If you get into trouble and can’t reach me, go to Kate.’ When someone had an idea for an event or project, they would go to Kate. If a person was in emotional pain, where did they go? Kate. She listened, she offered positive words and hugs, and she shared a moment with people that let them know everything would be okay, she was there to help. To Kate, everyone was special. To everyone, Kate as a beacon of light.”
The Foundation is in its early stages and, as president, Rhonda and the association’s board are pulling together all Kate’s ideas they would like to follow through with over the next few years that both unite the community and follow her lead of giving back. For example, linking the Eco Angels – the group Kate put together to pick up trash after the Grand Prix, The Jumping and the Yacht Show – with companies who are aligned with the Foundation’s efforts so together they can make a difference
“Kate loved the sea and wanted to make sure we kept all the trash left over from these events out of the water, so we could help heal the environment. She also had a big passion for children, so we are excited to work with and be inspired by kids and young adults of Monaco. Every project we participate in will give back to the community in various ways – education, scholarships, well-being, personal growth and sustainable means – giving everyone an opportunity to work together and give back.”
At the moment, the KPF website is under construction. (Update: www.katepowersfoundation.com is live.) Individuals and companies will soon be able to donate online globally or for specific projects, share ideas, sign up for events, participate as volunteers or partner with the Foundation, as well as receive a monthly newsletter. Donations can be made by cheque or wire transfer to the Kate Powers Foundation c/o BodyFlow, Palais de la Scala, 1 Henri Dunant, Monaco 98000.
On July 16th, the Foundation held a “super simple get together” in honour of Kate’s birthday at Stars’n’Bars. “We had a wonderful turnout with so many volunteers donating their time and goods, making this very first event something special for everyone that was able to attend. Kate touched the lives of so many people, I believe the community will join together to see her legacy live on. ‘Do what you love, love what you do and make a difference’ as she always said.”
As a tribute to mark August 30th, Rhonda graciously agreed to share a few of her favourite Kate stories. “I have so many, however, here is one that comes to mind. Every week, we would sit at the bar close to the kitchen of the fusion restaurant and discuss the various ways we could stop Kate’s mom Kelly from feeding popcorn to the pigeons at the front of Stars’n’Bars, which seemed to annoy customers. We came up with numerous plans to distract Kelly but I am not sure any of them worked!
“Another time we flew to London to go to a seminar ‘The Work’ by Byron Katie to find a deeper meaning to life and question what you believe. We spent two days in the seminar and were rushing to the airport late Sunday afternoon. It started to snow on the M25 highway, which meant we ended up in a huge traffic jam with nothing moving. So we built a snowman to pass the time. Kate always looked at making the best of the situations we found ourselves in … and there were many.”
On a more intimate note, Rhonda opens up: “The year leading to Kate’s passing, and I had to sit with this for a while to put it into words, was special. I know that may sound strange but let me share why … we laughed, we cried, we worked on so many things personally for healing, we discussed all the things we did together, everything she was feeling during this time, how much she loved what she did, how many special people she had relationships with and how they influenced her life in such a positive way.
“Overall, Kate felt enriched by all of her experiences, how much she loved her family and friends and staff at Stars. And lastly, she said how she loved the community in Monaco and this was her home.”