We’re here in Buenos Aires, August and September 2014, after an absence of nearly 4 years. This will be an unusually short trip for us, but the brevity belies its importance, which is one of inquiry and discovery. Though we have tried to maintain contact with our colleagues on-the-ground, the flow of information has been sporadic, sometimes contradictory, never completely satisfying. We needed to see for ourselves what had become of our multiple interventions that began almost exactly 7 years ago in summer 2007.
How does one decide if an intervention has been useful, has had a net positive impact? One’s presence and activities over time can be measured against intended outputs and outcomes, but anyone who knows something about the type of work we do and has experience with the cohorts we work with, also knows that there are many soft sand traps, lurches, multiple shifting goalposts, and an endgame that, well, never really ends. Take the time to review our posts, which begin in June 2007 – the trajectory is all there. We entered into the turbulent maze of Buenos Aires waste armed with bad Spanish and a dose of hearsay about one or two of its players. After a six month immersion into what was an alternate world for us – on endless lost, long bus rides, lost, too, in language and in custom, but not in spirit or fervor or conviction – we brought together a small team of cartonero cooperatives, a university research, experimentation, and production unit, a national technology institute, and a specialized cooperative micro loan organization. Read the posts here http://wasteforlife.org/?p=51 and here http://wasteforlife.org/?p=52. We left before Christmas 2007 believing we had ‘handed over’ Waste for Life, not sure when we would return, but certain it was in good hands. This was premature.