As part of coming home to New Jersey for the holidays, I spend lots of time going through old photos. Scanning most of them and putting them up my flickr site.
In these photos I see faces and I see places that are sometimes overwhelming.. times when I was so happy, or unhappy as the case may be. People who meant alot to me, some of whom have disappeared from my life. I also spend time reading old letters. Letters from friends to me when I was living in France. Letters from myself that I never sent. Love letters that almost seem silly or naive all these years later.
It makes me appreciate what an amazing life I’ve lived up to now and all that I’ve done and admittedly, frequently take for granted or forget. That is one reason I blog and I post so much of my life online. I don’t want to forget and I have a hard time remembering all these adventures and all these people.. they seem to spill out of my memory and get lost in boxes and envelopes.
Naturally when I’m done looking at these photos and reading these words, I’ll put them away again, and get back to my life and my work that are so interesting and important to me. In the mean time… here are just a few places and faces that I’ve been remembering.
First of all welcome to all the new people who have probably met me at this conference here in Paris. Many of you probably aren’t into the world of blogs and podcasts, so the fact that you clicked over to my website is a major milestone… maybe.
It was day two of the transport strikes, and officially day 1 of the TBLI conference. I did my best not to go around handing people cards to explain who I am, I also avoided explaining myself too often. I’ve worked too dam hard and have too many issues on my mind to take the constant trouble of explaining what I do to strangers at conferences.
At one point I ran into some very laid back new friends who work in the world of press releases. They liked my flickr cards, the ones that I made purposely almost too small to read, with photos of my adventures on the back. In their case, I described what I do on this site, and the topic came up of what would I say if I were having a drink with one of the big corporate representatives at this conference. The thought was fairly disturbing.. to have a drink with the likes of Suez, Shell, Coca-Cola (ha!).. they’re all here.
As much as I might want to challenge them with questions about their human rights records and the human suffering their actions have caused in the world, I must admit I don’t think – in the moment – I would have the nerve. I bet they would even be polite, or charming in some way, so that I’d almost forget who they worked for. Thats the worst part, potentially, of attending too many of these events… you rub elbows with individuals working for some of the most notoriously inhumane companies in the world, and you might find – as if probably often the case- they are actually nice people. But then what happens to everything you know about their companies actions? You put it to the side maybe.. separate the person from the corporation, perhaps.
For my part I’ve steered clear of them. Instead I’ve enjoyed the company of people who work for organizations dedicated to making real change in the world, respecting the rights and health of humans everywhere. And let me tell you, there are some very inspiring individuals here. In the coming days I will feature some of these stories in both text and podcasts, so stay tuned.
Greetings from Paris, where I’m spending a few days to have a few meetings and mainly, to attend a conference dedicated to sustainable investment and corporate social responsibility. Ha.. some people are thinking “those are buzzwords!”… you might be right, which is part of why I came down to see for myself.
Travelling down here by hitching a ride with friends and co-workers, I’m once again exposed to the huge elephant in the room for Europe (among the other elephants): automobiles. Everywhere I look, from the Netherlands through Belgium, and into France.. it is so painfully obvious that this part of the world is living beyond its means… it cannot sustain this many cars, and yet people keep right on driving. Some of the best train systems in the world, and they keep driving. Traffic jams everywhere, and yet they keep driving.
They love to point to the United States and say, “Americans and their cars.. ha!”… but when one looks around Central Europe.. especially this region… it is the pot calling the kettle black. And symbolic carbon trading, token political speeches, or pointing a finger and holding a nose towards the US… that isn’t going to solve what has become a cultural problem.. the culture of the car.
Of course I will try and bring this topic up as part of a few podcasts I intend to record from the conference. Many attendees are so-called experts, which might be interesting to talk to but as a podcaster, I’m as interested in the regular conference go-er working to make companies act responsibly as I am to speak with some CSI rockstars.
As an added bonus, I happen to have arrived in Paris during the largest labor struggle in a decade, *film at 11.
*=old American TV expression.
The French government, under the guidance of its new president, passed a bill to require the use of DNA testing in certain immigration cases. Is this the will of the French people and what are the implications if more of these types of policies are put into effect?
John Mason, Prof. of Political Science at William Paterson University (NJ)
Jessica Reed, blogger; OpenDemocracy.net
– The state of the state
– Who supports Sarkozy?
– His policies and his background
– Where the French public falls in all this
– Eastern Europe
– Africa and former colonies
– Labor and birth rates
– How do fight back against xenophobia