Tuesday, August 21, 2012


I will miss the energy of public spaces in this small city. And my morning walks, among other things. (Click title to see more.)

Monday, August 20, 2012

A Few More City Views

CEPCO coffee collaborative. Think real latte no Nescafe no sugar. Amy Winehouse and white leather couch. (Excuse the upper left corner.)
(Click title to see more.)

Circa 3000 Meters

This short hike off El Mirador on Mexico 175, past the turn-off to Comaltepec and opposite their new sawmill spans three forest types due to elevation changes on a climb that starts at 3000 meters. There was plenty of strategic stopping to take photos, hiding gasping. Views to either side of the ridge, to the Pacific and the Gulf of Mexico. Striking the lack of sporting and tourist infrastructure given the landscape but maybe not given other context. (Click title to see more.)

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Adaptation in Comaltepec

View of the Sierra over a roof primed for future construction
We descended 40 minutes down a winding dirt road off Mexico 175 to the Chinantec community of Comaltepec, population around 2000. We joined the last day of a conference on adaptation to climate change in indigenous communities held by COMET LA, Community Based Management of Environmental Challenges in Latin America. As I understand it, COMET LA is an EU-funded research initiative based in Cordoba Spain and involving collaboration with academics, NGOs, and practitioners in Mexico, Argentina, and Colombia. Comaltepec was hosting as a sort of model for participatory and successful community decision making enabling effective natural resource development and economic gains. (Click title to read and see more.)

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Timber in the Sierra Juarez

The mill in Ixtapeji
Wednesday I traveled with the Rainforest Alliance crew into the Sierra Norte, home to many indigenous ejidos and communities (Mexico's two forms of communal land ownership), some examplars in community forestry. Winding up into the mountains 1000 meters or more from Oaxaca City's 1500m, green precipices on one side or another, signs note obviously "dangerous curve" and "winding road." A sign states, "Welcome to the best managed forests in Mexico," one that's evidently drawn the ire of the rest of Mexico. The brutally simplify, the community forest model holds that forestry provides the key for combined economic development and cultural preservation within Mexico's rural indigenous communities. (Click to read and see more.)

Hot and Cold, Water

A friend writes that Las Vegas is hot, so hot it almost feels like extreme cold, the way it dries out the mucous membranes. There are some interesting parallels between hot and cold, such as a competition one year between my archaeologist friend in Tucson and my brother in Fairbanks about which “icebreaker” would occur first – Tucson hitting 100 degrees or the ice on the Tanana River thawing. There are some parallels too with regard to water between Oaxaca and Fairbanks, as I pump water from the ubiquitous blue jug to make coffee in the morning on a burner. Many hours later, Stefan, water procured from an essential "water station," does the same in his Fairbanks cabin. Only I have running water… (Click title to read and see more.)

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Mercados and More Street

Diving might not have been her favorite Olympic event.
Oaxaca is famous for its crafts and food markets. I find them overwhelming - so much stuff, so many people - buying and selling and consuming day after day after day. (Click title to see more.)


Not sure what - the point may be that this dome is not even noteworthy.
My museum life is a bit unrealized, a casualty perhaps of too-long visits as a child. I'd like to visit a museum 20 minutes per day, in my ideal world. But being here, especially in the absence of sporting distractions and on a rainy day, I'm hard-pressed to make excuses. And so, the Museo de Arte Prehispanico Rufino Tamayo, showcasing the painter's private collection of pre-Columbian (I'm slowly learning bits of language and history) art. Way too much for a private holding- and people worry about art in Arkansas?! - and once again sort of overwhelming. (Click title to read and see more.)

And More

On my walk to work.
I've shown you Oaxaca as architectural paradise, cradle of early civilization, pinnacle of artisan culture, incubator of nouveau Mexican cuisine, explosion of light and color. At risk of appearing a TED groupie, there's danger to a single story, in the words of novelist Chimamanda Adichie, her talk hyped to fatigue among my colleagues. The city is stunningly beautiful, and more. (Click title to see more.)

Monday, August 6, 2012

The Spaces Between

Monte Alban, elevation 1900m
Tourist bonanza yesterday, eight-hour combined sight-seeing / shopping racket worth every minute: Monte Alban, black pottery, seven-mole showcase, Cuilapam monastery, and alibrijes. Most interesting of course the spaces between: scenes from the van, snippets of conversation, the people. Guide Clemente went to high school in Pasendena, right near when I lived one winter training, prefers it here. And such light, air, and color! (Click title to see more.)

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Oaxaca Journal

I plagiarized that title from Oliver Sacks. Now I’ll proceed with some reductionist explanation of complex reality of a location buzzing for millennia and understood through a language I speak terribly. At least I’m not a staff writer at the New Yorker. In Oaxaca for three weeks working on a project with Rainforest Alliance, which works in the region in community forestry (don't you tell me your country did it first!) and forest certification under FSC. (Click title to read more.)

Saturday, August 4, 2012


Click title for more images.


Reichenau, Prague, MASS Moca Sol LeWitt, Chile, Hawaii, Hancock Shaker Village, Alaska, Chiquita Costa Rica, Helsinki, Rio, Amazon, Highline, Alaskan tundra and Wasilla, Oaxaca. (Click title for more.)


         Fusing destinations with perspective: Prague; Sol LeWitt at MASS MoCA;  Helsinki; Uberlandia, Brazil; Burlington H-Mart, Rockport, Kennbunkport, Frankfurt, Arctic Alaska, and Fitchburg. (Click title for more images.)

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

The Highline!

Sometimes I really don't pay attention. Good thing Shauna tipped me off! (Click title for images.)

(Someone's) Family History in New York

My grandfather helped arrange the Polish pavillion. How did these photos and stuff get to the Hell's Kitchen Flea Market? Or to Ellis Island, for that matter? (Click title for more images.)

Friday, July 20, 2012

While in Brazil...

my brother Stefan was hiking and pack-rafting in
the Brooks Range of Alaska with his friend Toby. (Click title for more images.)

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Day 8: Datera to Sao Paolo

These coffee plants date to 1973! And still produce good coffee. After a morning tour, we played hearts back to Uberlandia and flew to Sao Paolo, into the regional airport amid skyscrapers downtown in this believably-third-largest global city. (click title to see more)

Day 7: Brasilia to Datera Coffee

From Brazilia we headed to Daterra Coffee, a large family-run business near Uberlandia (embarrassing to realize I don't actually know where I was, a definite peril of group travel...). Greening the economy, markets as part of the solution, green bottom line, triple bottom line, power of consumers, you heard it before but this place really seems to do great work. They were the first certified coffee farm in Brazil, with over 10,000 hectares of coffee, and sell globally to roasters. Business practice involves significant social responsibility, with foundation work in public education and public service, and 50% of the farm acreage set aside as natural conservation areas, above the mandate of 25% plus riparian buffers. Not to mention the acclaim for their high quality coffee (though I'll acknowledge mixed results of our cupping exercise and discriminating coffee noses...) Fire from cigarettes thrown from the road (not so much land clearing anymore) post a threat, as does erosion. I wracked my brain trying to remember everything I knew about nutrient pollution and waste-waste treatment, resolving some google searches upon return. (click to see more)

Day 6: Xapuri School to Brasilia

With many of us teachers, and the school a great pride of the 88-family community, we visited the local school on the way out of town. What to note except the pride and effort, our respect for these kids, that Friere was in the library, that kids were texting or playing games on cell phones in class, that I wished they were learning English not Spanish but maybe that's my issue, and that everyone wears flip-flops. We told them the story of the student from Rio Branco at Andover, invited questions. One girl asked "how long did it take you to get here?" And then as if to challenge the nervous system, we went to Brasilia... (click to read more)

Day 5: Xapuri and Chico Mendes

A pause for translation
Two things I find challenging about elite education are its apparent opposition to practical knowledge learned by experience and opposition to connection to place. I've seen again and again (and surely have been) that one who waltzes and in and wrongly thinks she knows the answer. Sure insularity breeds blindness and growing up in my somewhat blighted hometown of New Lebanon, NY is enough of a lesson about distrust of outsiders, but its also true that understanding and trust take time. And sometimes the moral of fancy education seems to be that your home is your professional cohort, not any physical place, known over time. Enter the story of Nilson and Duda and Chico Mendes... (click title to read more)

Day 4: Xapuri

Duda demonstrates the cut

First let me say naively that "Amazon" doesn't mean you're going to be on some giant lazy brown river with anacondas. For that you start in Manaus I think. We were 700 kilometers from the Amazon! Staying outside Xapuri in a lodge run by the cousins of Chico Mendes, Nilson and Duda Mendes. Both men show encylopedic knowledge of the forest and have little formal education. Nilson spent a year living outdoors in the Amazon at age 17 to learn, finding most experts hesitant to share the knowledge they'd learned experientially. Nilson's starred in no fewer than four movies, was invited to manage the tropical nursery at a university in Florida, but passed. (click title to see more)

Day 3: Rio to the Amazon!

Early morning Rio
Now we would travel from  Rio +20 to the Amazon, so many juxtapositions: urban to jungle, international city and the remaking of identity to family land and familial legend shaping identity, book learning to experiential learning, talking to doing... (click title for more)

Day 2: Rio +20

The question remains: are these big conferences worth the effort in this age of political inaction? By most accounts Rio +20 was a huge failure that might signal the end to such huge-scale endeavors, or at least the death of optimism about them. The positive spin holds that for the first time, each of the three huge and geographically disparate conference venues hosted representatives from government, private, and non-profit sectors, signaling new collaborations... (click title to read more)

Day 1: Rio de Janiero

Air after a long flight
I traveled to Brazil last week with a dynamite group including staff from the non-profit Rainforest Alliance, which works globally on certification programs in sustainable forestry (FSC), agriculture, and tourism, a few change agents, and other teachers at Andover and elsewhere working to integrate sustainability into teaching. So so exciting, especially after all this foot drama. In town for Rio +20, but straight off the plane to Ipanema Leblon. Famed too for its violence, Rio seems repeatedly heralded by locals as the best city in the world... (click title for more)

Blog Relaunched!

Yikes, it's been almost two years since I wrote on this blog, but I balk at Facebook, Picassa is full and I might have some things to say. Since the goal here is to re-purpose this endeavor in the post-bike-racing age as some sort of quasi-serious enviro- travel- punditry- site, I can spare you the details of some recent adventures and the ongoing saga of this winter's ruptured Achilles tendon, excepting a few photos. Starting with winter 2011... (click title to see more)