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)