Tuesday, April 28, 2009


This morning as I walked along the lakeshore,
I fell in love with a wren
and later in the day with a mouse
the cat had dropped under the dining room table.
Aimless Love - Billy Collins

It's 95.3% true I'm not one to keep a list of desirable characteristics one looks for in a partner. Put me in the camp that suggests it's better to remain open and celebrate the moment when one finds something spectacular. And oh how I swooned last Sunday evening. What beauty, what grace, what substance! These shelves have no equal; the wood is dusky, worn and textured, and the strong rope pops with a spring-sky blue. Each slab rests slightly from two nails facing a window where light reflects on its uncomplicated strength. What conversations to be had, so much beyond the surface. Titles like 
Cradle to Cradle, Food Politics, A Tree Grows in Brooklyn offer the beginning of a long, delightful journey of discovery. 

The most devout love is not possessive: I do not own these shelves. 
The deepest love is shared: I offer you the elements, but not the splendor of the shelves. 

GoodReads is an online booksharing network where I have posted a "shelf" or category called shelves of danli.  It seemed shameless to write all the titles down upon first meeting, so the GoodReads list is only a start from memory and will grow with time. 

I can only hope the shelves didn't see me blush. 

Friday, April 24, 2009

Thursday evening::Yuscarán

Many months ago (more than I care to admit have passed) I wrote an email to people who inspire courage-accountability-inquiry-confidence-resistance. Honduras in January felt to be unfamiliar territory. What’s familiar tonight: a cat named “Tito” rests a chin on my thigh ignoring music from the neighbor’s place. Anna, my roommate, is gone for a few days and the men who run a metal shop permit their tools a little rest. Sporadic water is a great excuse for skipping showers, though my feet would be confused for a welcome mat worn with serious dust stains.

It’s neither a personal narrative nor an exposition of my work that I intend for this blog, but maybe it helps to contextualize the person in the place. I arrived to news that my host project dissolved due to funding issues, forcing a reconsideration of my research proposal. Over the following weeks I visited communities and accompanied an extension agent working on family gardens and a transitional cash crop called maracuya. I moved to Yuscarán, a beautiful town that sits on ridges surrounded by 19 aldeas and close to the University of  Zamorano where I keep an office. Time ran away and everything felt unsettled against the backdrop of a very structured grant proposal laden with mountains of data collection that wasn’t being collected. But it took that time for my priorities and purpose to focus.

Honduras, by identity and survival, is a farming country. Where the U.S. is experiencing a burgeoning local food movement (maybe an idealistic characterization), supermarkets and food imports owned by Wal-Mart are increasingly indispensable in the Honduran diet. Let’s not ignore that Honduras is a historical marker for the agro-industrial sector credited to American companies' export of bananas from the north coast to U.S. homes starting in the 1880’s with dependable service to present-day U.S. consumers even during winter blizzards. The majority of rural workers who do not migrate to free-trade zones (that are also “free” of paying their employees the recently increased minimum wage), depend on the land for basic staples like beans and corn.  Sometimes I put my head against the wall thinking about all the factors involved in making farming a sustainable livelihood here (oh what a list), and then I tell my head to be quiet for a minute and get to work. 

It may never be simple, but we move along: over the course of the next eight months I’ll provide more detail on the livelihood research I’m conducting in an aldea called Tablones, the community garden at the school, the food cycle project in Yuscaran, and CIAL farmer groups who were the disappeared program that recently reappeared (yay!).

You are kind beyond measure to read such a long blog entry. To solve this problem I promise to secure an editor (with a dark red pen) and post more pictures. Hold me to that promise.

Woman’s labor movement in banana plantations

Media source on activism in Latin America

Livelihood study in Honduras

News via photography