23 September 2011

[ayiti] La Difference on camera

Watching this video almost made me cry - more out of delight than anything else.  This was our 'last stop' before flying out of Port-au-Prince last month, but it is also my strongest memory of Haiti.  (Ok,  I guess the hysterical moths that came out to mate during the rainstorm at GRU is also a pretty vivid memory.  Or any conversation with Harvey.)

La Difference also inspired me to consider how something as simple as paving can figuratively 'pave' the way for further clean up and community development.  Is there a way to go back?  J'espere que oui.  (And hopefully I'll sometime be able to translate that into Creole.)

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video via Citizen Haiti and The Haiti Independent

21 September 2011

Be serious or paranoid?

 from Times Online aerial photos

As we in Boston saw with Hurricane Irene, sometimes official predictions of natural hazards and preparations outweigh what actually ends up happening.  Girls in my dorm were decidedly underwhelmed by the winds and rain, leading to a general skepticism about "the boy who cried wolf."

But in other cases such as the L'Aquila earthquake in 2009, seismologists are being charged with manslaughter for NOT being serious enough about the data received before the quake.  An article in The Chronicle of Higher Education describes the start of the trial, leading to questions about the exactness of predictions and human attitudes towards hazards.

Is it paranoia or preparedness?

This semester I am taking a course with Prof. Jim Wescoat, Disaster Resilient Design, which lays out a theoretical and practical framework for thinking about and applying these issues.

The topic also fits in with my thesis and makes me consider the role and responsibility of professionals and academics is within the field, as well as what it really means to "build back better."  This last phrase is thrown around so much by NGOs, the government, and whoever else is involved in Haiti or elsewhere.  Is "better" an objective or subjective term?  If it's the latter, who determines it?  How can we know if one strategy is successful without 'testing' it in the next big quake/fire/hurricane/famine, etc.?

Although I can't address all (or even some) of these questions within the scope of a one-semester MArch thesis, it's worth mulling over in the back of my brain.

12 September 2011

GQ's delayed summer issue

Two of GQ's newest models pose for the 'Waiting for the Wedding reception to start' featurette in its delayed summer issue.

Behind the scenes, chatting with two of the high heel models before the next shoot.

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GQ Summer 2011 issue v.2.0
Event: Gerhard and Megan's summer wedding of architects
Location: Watertown, MA
Featuring: Marcus, Kunle (male models); Gao Yu and Runo (female models), and a spread of cheese (not pictured)
Clothing:  Versace, Calvin Klein, Clark Kent, and other fastidious European labels
Photographer: author of this blog

03 September 2011

[ayiti] Someone to watch over me

I've been going through my photos and picking out ones I want to print for thesis.  I was about to pass this one up before I stopped and took a closer look.

You first notice the woman carrying the basket of fruit on top of her head.  Everywhere you see extraordinary women (and sometimes boys) like that, who can confidently and deftly saunter down the street without so much of a teeter.  Most of the time, these are the 'traveling salespeople,' walking around with their wares and advertising them to passersby.  Marcus and I learned to pick up the sound of "sashay dlo," which means "bags of water" for the thirsty.  These are the most common and convenient ways to get clean water, although you still find water bottles all over the place - mostly tossed into road-side canals.

Then you have the man watching up in the corner.  This is a common sight, particularly along Boulevard Toussaint L'Ouverture - one of the major thoroughfares that runs by the airport, UN Logbase, and other MINUSTAH compounds.  Someone is constantly watching.  What I found funniest, though, was that Haitian merchants and artisans have been able to profit from this constant official presence.  Because most all of the peace keeping soldiers and other relief workers are foreign, they make for a bizarre class of tourist.  Want a souvenir to show family and friends that you went to Haiti and back?  Artisans have shrewdly set up their wares right outside compound walls for easy browsing.