Saturday, January 29, 2005


wsf 3: wishful thinking

Two problems, briefly treated, one serious.

The first problem is that someone decided that there would be compost and recycling bins everywhere, but not normal old trash bins. The problem with this is that everyone, lacking regular trash bins, simply throws all their regular trash in the compost and recycling. The result of course is that the recycling can't be recycled, nor the compost composted. By succumbing to wishful thinking, namely that everyone would somehow produce waste in the earth-friendly proportions mandated by the wastebaskets, the planners have ensured that virtually nothing will be composted or recycled.

The second problem is more serious. According to an English-speaking acquaintance who was here two years ago and is back now, the translation two years ago was stellar. Everything was done simultaneously by radio in several languages. But this year, according to on translator I spoke with, they wanted to democratize the translation process. Instead of hiring a cadre of professionals, they left it to bi- and tri-lingual volunteers to do the job. And while there are certainly many good translators here, the overall effect has been horrendous. Translation is often of extremely poor quality, and many workshops go without them altogether. Every single English-speaking-only attendee I have spoken with has complained about it, and some have questioned the utility of coming at all to a conference they cannot really understand. Furthermore, seeing this problem I thought I'd at least volunteer myself, but was told by the office they already had enough (obviously not true). Organization is not the strong suit here.

They did send me to work at an information desk which, in addition to not making great use of my English skills (almost all my interactions were in Portuguese) was also derailed because I didn't know any of the information anyone needed. However, I made some friends and it was still really fun.

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