Berendina of WR3A, we salute you
Intern from Amersterdam, 2009-10
Spoke to us in Spanish, English, Dutch, French and German so fluently at 21 that I think she'll be inventing brand new languages by the time she's my age.
She was one of the favorite interns of Las Chicas Bravas in Mexico.
She studied Fair Trade Coffee and wrote a paper making comparisons between the history of the fairtrade coffee movement and the WR3A efforts we are embarking on. She noted that WR3A has not get gotten a certifying body, and could become self serving if commercial conflicts of interest prevail. But she also noted that historically, fairtrade coffee began the same way, with the coffee businesses who feared a boycott and began making improvements.
The people who do it know where the bodies area buried.
It reminded me of the discussions I had in high school, when I saved my money and travelled to Europe to work at an IBG Youth Workcamp. Kind of like a YCC for international students, about 20 of us lived in a Swiss hostel, from about 12 different countries. In the mornings we'd hike up the mountain behind Murren (Schilthorn, I think) in full view of Eiger, Monch and Jungfrau mountains, and we'd argue and debate Karl Marx etc. I had never been exposed to anything like it, intellectually or linguistically.
Brenda reminded me of those days on the mountain, my four friends crowded under a single yellow raincoat as the rain poured down. Gitte, Kirsten from Denmark, Alli from Germany, so close we could feel each others warm breath on our faces. And Alli started singing "Yellow Submarine", and we all joined in.
The point for me is that when my friends from High School in Arkansas were getting into drugs, I found that a real "trip" to somewhere was something I could be equally proud of. When my friends boasted of the lines they had crossed, or done, I could always talk about train trips through the Alps, discoing with friends from Morocco and Greece, etc., and I didn't feel ashamed or cowardly for taking a pass on the illegal drug of the day. Over time, spending more time overseas helped me to quietly establish a distance without disrespecting the high school chums, who slowly began turning up in cemetaries and prisons. Exposing yourself, and your kids, to excitement (like my kids back of the pickup ride through the desert in Mexico, or the camel rides with my business partner in Cairo) is a great antibody to the temptation to get high just out of boredom or peer pressure. None of this has anything at all to do with Brenda, except that she is from the same hometown, Appeldoorn, in the Netherlands where I spent the night with my high school hiking partner and Monty Python enthusiast Wim Roskam, who I have still stayed in touch with thanks to the internet. He does this spiritual jewelry stuff now, I want to get him some recycled content gold and get him into ethical mineralsmithing... Maybe Brenda can tell him about it.
Thanks for all the memories from then, and the new ones you created while working as an intern for WR3A, Berendina.
Here is a random person doing environmental research in Taipei. I have not read this but post it as a reminder just how crude and stereotypical the anti-export photographs are. WR3A is about making connections between people in the trenches and in the fields, making sue that the imaginary perfect does not remain an enemy of the good.