IAP Fellow 2020: Jack Reid Part III
Howdy, one last time! As I write this, I am finishing up packing before heading back to Boston. It’s been a tumultuous time the past few weeks to say the least, as I have reunited with old colleagues, met wonderful new people, and gotten a serious amount of work done, all under the growing specter of coronavirus both here in Brazil and back in the US.
As I discussed in my previous post, this has been a highly productive time for me. I’ve been able to get serious feedback on my model user interface and scope, as well as learned what data is available moving forward. In addition to a bunch of minor fixes, some major potential updates include expanding the scope beyond the Guaratiba mangroves, both geographically and to other environmental systems; adding transit and sewage systems to the model; and using the social development index that Rio de Janeiro already uses as an important metric. Part of why I was able to make such progress is that I had the opportunity to meet with new groups this trip, such as the federal environmental agency and a local association of fishermen. This helped give me perspective both “above” and “below” the level of the city government, thereby informing what aspects of the socio-environmental system that is Rio de Janeiro that I should focus on.
I could list many surprising or impressive things that I have learned here. To keep things at least somewhat brief, I will just mention one: several years ago, the local association of fisherman actually sent representatives to the European Union to protest the cutting down of mangroves by a German-owned industrial company that was negatively impacting shrimp-catching (the juvenile shrimp grow up among the roots of the mangroves). And they were successful in stopping additional loss of mangroves! Rio de Janeiro is full of stories like this, political engagement and resilience at all levels of society.
And as things get rather ominous all around the world, I must say it has been a delight to be here in Brazil. Cariocans have such an irrepressible sense of humor about even the most serious of topics, that it has been essentially impossible to be too freaked out by it all. Hopefully I will be able to take some of that sunshine (both literal and figurative) back home to Boston, a place that could surely need it. I will leave you with a photo of myself, some students and a professor from Espaço, and a representative of the local fishing association, as we go to take a look at the mangroves and fishing spots along the Restinga da Marambaia.