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Brian's Beat: Haiti - Context is Key

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Ward 11 official website

Today was a day off. What that means is that everyone on the team pretty much relaxed around the hotel and the pool at the hotel, and talked about the project!

One of the things that was drilled into me from the outset was that context is important, context is key. I was going over my notebook and on the first page I have "Contexte Contexte Contexte" written and underlined. And boy, does context ever reach out and hit you over the head, over and over! I was given a lot of material to read ahead of time: five year goals for the Program, the different players in Haiti, short term goals as well as the history of the first Program. I read it all, out of context. So, I reviewed it all today, in context. And what a difference. What I initially looked at and wondered why it might take five years, I now wonder if it is doable in five years. Context, reaching out and tapping me on the shoulder.

The rest of the day off was taken up with a spontaneous trip in the late afternoon to the mountains. One of the locals insisted that it was worth it. He was right! It is spectacular up there. We basically drove upwards for about an hour and a half, passing through the most beautiful valleys. The temperature dropped, where we left Port-Au-Prince at about 35 degrees, we were at about 18 - 20 degrees in the mountains. One of the things the driver laughed about was that people wore jackets up here! He also loved the silence. It is quiet in the mountains, compared to the constant caucophony of PaP.

The mountains are steep and agricultural. Everything is terraced and planted. Mostly small plots growing potato, cabbage, and peppers. For as far as the eye can see, it is all under crop. Occasionally, you hit a small section that appears to be more forest, but they are very small and usually like that because they can't be planted. This is where it really hits you that there aren't many trees left in the country. Mountainside after mountainside have been planted with crops, with a few trees left. And you begin to understand why they have flooding problems.

This week, I hope to get out to another area of Haiti, I hope to get to Leogane, the epicenter of the earthquake. And context will once again hit me over the head. That one is really going to hurt.

This content represents the personal views and opinions of the Ward Councillor and should not be taken as a statement of policy of The City of Calgary. The inclusion of any external content does not imply endorsement by The City of Calgary.

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