Notes From Anna: 'Do You Ever Wonder...'
E-mail! We're all addicted to e-mail! Especially me.
It is not the case that my life off-line is uneventful. But there's a pleasant quality to a conversation, in comparison to a monologue. And so again, I gladly resort to quoting from your e-mails. The title of today's column comes from the subject line of an e-mail sent to me by Jean Paul Surette:
"Have you ever wondered, how many people read your column and how far your words reach? I imagine you cannot help but feel a little isolated. Anyway, I'm from Ottawa, Canada, and have read a few of your columns... Perhaps you will trek up here sometime... unless you have already? The destruction of our wetlands, and the fact that we are one of the only countries in the world that still allows clear-cut logging to occur, would make for interesting reading."
Jean Paul, thank you for bringing up the logging problem. Northern Ontario Business recently ran an article that adds another log to the fire, so to speak, in regard to this controversy. But in reference to the your first question, probably like any writer, I do wonder whether the people who tend to write back in response to the column are representative of ENN's readership, or whether they're a particular slice of it. So far, the e-mails I've been receiving have been my only gauge as to who's reading.
After the publication of the January 17 piece, "Brazil: Migration, Nature, and the Documenting Lens," I received a fascinating message from Roberto Luiz do Carmo, a researcher from the University of Campinas in Brazil.
"I'm a researcher at Universidade Estadual de Campinas, in the state of São Paulo. You may have heard about UNICAMP. I'm a sociologist and a demographer, and work on problems of population and its relationship with the environment. For 6 years we have been working on a research project called Núcleo de Estudos de População (NEPO) -- a study of migration and environment in Brazil's Center West, comparing that region with the state of São Paulo. And the complexity of this process is amazing. We have published four books as part of this project.
I can say that you got the fundamental point: 'the economic division.' We are a rich country, but the distribution of the economic resources is unequal. I think we will have to spend a long time before we get to decrease the differential between the rich and the poor. But, I think that we are on the way. The democracy is something that we are learning, step by step. And this is an important aspect of our social process.
The 'economic division' is possible to observe even in the migration process. On the one hand there are the "gauchos," and the expansion of agricultural frontier, soybeans mostly. The amount of capital mobilized in this process is very large, and it connects the country to the international commodities market.
On the other hand, this same process makes the survival of small farmers practically impossible. The concentration of land ownership is tremendous. The way of escape for the small farmers is migration to urban areas. This is the origin and continuation of our 'urbanization process....' There are many aspects to consider."
In writing this column a couple of times a week, there's always the moment when all the Googling and fact-checking must stop, simply because of time constraints. I am grateful, therefore, for your e-mails, and for the unique expertise and passions that you share to bring life and dimension to the content on this page.
As always, I look forward to hearing your thoughts about the countries and regions you live in, and on how culture engages nature in your lives. Please be in touch.