Monsanto, Go.

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Maybe this for dinner?

On the whole, Argentina is a well off country. Dissect the situation a bit more and you see that’s not the case for everyone, and there are huge inequality gaps and crippling poverty. Been looking at Argentina’s poverty and inequality in the urban areas in Buenos Aires, but there’s also unrest in the rural/agricultural sector. Since everything is interconnected, there’s no way to understand poverty unless you address all the different stakeholders, and that includes looking at agriculture. (Read Peter Timmerman’s article on structural transformation) The Argentinian government used the logic of  increasing the agricultural productivity as an anti-poverty policy, approving the introduction of GMO soybeans from the conglomerate Monsanto and its use of pesticides.

But the increase in agricultural productivity isn’t the only outcome of the introduction. In Córdoba, the rural northern province of Argentina, there is evidence of 40 times the normal cancer rate and childhood deformations where there has been aerial spraying. In Patagonia, land is being cleared and biodiversity is declining from the nearly 300 million liters of pesticides dumped annually. Campesinos and Amerindians have experienced violence and some tortured for refusing to allow land-grabbers to take their lands for these high-profit soya crops.  The government’s stance has been in support of Monsanto: “People that are against the pesticides are against the poor people.”- Gustavo Grobocopatel.

This past weekend on May 25, Mothers of Ituzaingó and others protested against Monsanto and the government’s support of the company in front of their headquarters in Buenos Aires. One of the leaders of the movement lost her child to cancer and vows to keep protesting until Monsanto leaves for good.

For more information, look at People and Power‘s story on Al Jazeera.


Design + Development = Confusion. For now.



The first couple days of Buenos Aires were filled with talks and workshops built around the idea of approaching complex issues from a design perspective, from a development perspective.. and boy do those things mix like oil and water. 

Best line from the frustrated social scientists: “El mapa es un instrumento de colonialismo.” (The map is an instrument of colonialism) – Rebecca in response to how the architects approached the issue of people living in “las villas” (slums). THAT got quite the reaction. 




During the process I found myself speaking Spanglish to get my point across.. a symbolic sign of the mezcla to come when disciplines and dialects mix and match? Hello hybridity =]



  During the military dictatorship of 1976-1983 untold number of Argentinians disappeared. To this day no one knows how many have disappeared, and no one knows what happened to them. These are the names that hang in the University of Buenos Aires, FADU (the architecture school). Faculty and students that disappeared, but are not forgotten […]

recycled air

“I watch/ the patchwork farms/ slowly fade/ into the oceans arms/ calm down/ release your cares/ the stale taste of recycled air” – the postal service

There is a woman. Small, she’s maybe 5’0″ at most, fragile; as old as my Bita. They wheeled her onto the plane, helped her to her seat and she’s sat and watched the passengers pass her to their seats. Antonio Banderas (just channel him for a minute) waltzes over to sit next to her and doesn’t stop as he readies his things. And oh the charm! White linen blazer, white Panamanian hat, fly suede shoes, beautiful hair, smooth Spanish that just feels like satin on your ears- and he’s attentive and curious, full on charmin’ on grandma. He pulls out all the stops on the woman to his other side, introducing himself “yo soy Colombiano, de Medellin”, with the half smile and the twinkle eyes.

But every time he turns to grandma… he jut charms. Like a pro mamas boy, he helps her to the bathroom at one point, really gentle and caring. Towards the end of the flight, he’s turned the row into his living room and for all intents and purposes, sitting around enjoying a nice afternoon with his family. And he never forgets grandma. When lady by the window offers her hand sanitizer, he takes the bottle and turns to abuela, giving her some before using it himself.

The captain announces the descent and Antonio grabs abuela’s hand and talks with her… asking her questions, making her laugh, letting her tell her stories. Her body language changes-she’s moving her hand excitedly, crossed her legs! jaja the chuckle! The shades are up and they’re looking out the window, and for all the world they are a mother and her son, in a plane coming home from their travels.

But she’s traveling alone, clinging to the hand of a handsome stranger who smelled of cologne and family.

We touch down. The man laughs. The plane explodes in applause. Not your ordinary flight.

Fly Copa. It apparently attracts the loveliest and rarest of people.



well, here I go again! thank you for helping in the sending off… for the phone calls, notes, hugs, backpacks, funds, encouragement and interest in what I’ll be doing. so blessed! chao NY, hola Panama y Argentina =]]


China Flag

I stand with Trayvon Martin

Trayvon Martin was murdered. But he’s not the only one who has died. Countless young black men have died, a whole community still denied recognition and rights not in words but in deeds. And response to Trayvon’s death is a public outcry that something is horribly wrong still with the way race is thought about and dealt with in America. People should not still be DYING because of this. And the least we can do is address these issues that are out there. Like the fact that a white man killed a black boy. Like the uneasiness of the black community to accept that the white man was acting in self defense. Like the police response in believing Zimmerman. Like racial profiling. Prejudices. history. you cannot merely sympathize!

Read this commentary on the case by bob bixby, a pastor trying to grapple with the issues of the case and what it means to him as a Christian and what he thinks it means for the christian community.

The plight of the black man is definitely getting better in this country. We have a black Attorney General. We have a black president. But the reality stands that blacks are still a minority and black men know that their whole destiny could be determined by the snap, adrenalin-fueled decision of a white man and protected by the knee-jerk analyses of men who have never had their sinful racism rooted from the deep of their hearts. Civil liberties do not change instincts. And black men know (as we all do) that when instincts take over, the real person steps forward.

It’s not just sympathize with the Martin family. It’s a call to stand. To stand with his family and the entire black community. To stand and demand justice. To continue to stand until its given.


lift me up love

the sun in shining, everybody is soaking up the sun and getting nicer by the minute. and i found myself day dreaming about tree houses.

and books.

books in tree houses.

either way, both feet are off the ground.

 Image     spiral staircases. 

a design inspired by the acacia tree (wood used for the ark of the covenant)Image

A light was upon it for which his language had no name. All that he saw was shapely, but the shapes seemed at once clear cut, as if they had been first conceived and drawn at the uncovering of his eyes, and ancient as if they had endured for ever. He saw no colour but those he knew, gold and white and blue and green, but they were fresh and poignant, as if he had at that moment first perceived them and made for them names new and wonderful. In winter here no heart could mourn for summer or for spring. No blemish or sickness or deformity could be seen in anything that grew upon the earth. On the land of Lórien, there was no stain.” 
― J.R.R. TolkienThe Fellowship of the Ring

We are the very confused

Life never really gives it to you straight. I registered for the Foreign Service Officer Exam just to see what would happen. As soon as I leave the test, I’m swept away by the throngs of the angry and fed-up on the already crowded streets of Wall St. Went from one moment wanting to be in the government to criticizing it in the next. ah well.

But as I tried to maneuver my way through the crowd, I heard SO many different messages. Wall St is to blame, healthcare is to blame, i’ve lost my house, i have no job, my children will have no future, cut work tomorrow and join us, give peace a chance… After a while I stood still somewhere and tried to ask what was going on. All I got was a list of grievances.

So I went in search of a reason.

Jon Stewart offered one: Why does Wall St. hate Obama?

But the most intriguing explanation and the one I can relate to the most, has come from Bob Greene, a CNN contributor. One of my friends had this link up and I would like to share this with you too: Helpless, as the world gambles your money away.

The prayer excerpted from the article:
“Lord, help them to comprehend the global repercussions of some poor decisions, and the irreversibility of some tragic consequences. Quicken their ears to hear, their eyes to see, their hearts to believe and their wills to obey you. Before it is too late.”


Courageous Men

Real Men.