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Food in Italy, Interviews, Italy

Ring, Ring: The Italian TV Producers are Calling

October 26, 2015

It’s not every morning you wake in the darkness and wash your hair and get ready for an interview on Italian TV.

Two things: I’m shy. That’s why I write. It’s so much easier to type in silence than to chat out loud. (ON TV.) However, I’m also adventurous and willing to try just about anything, so when producers at Aria Pulita found our collection of stories from the Italian region of Emilia Romagna and asked me to join them for a conversation about travel in Italy (and Oregon!) on their local television show out of Bologna, Italy, I said yes. Continue Reading…

Destinations, Food, Interviews, Lebanon

Change is Brewing in the Middle East: 961 Beer

August 20, 2012

“Hezbollah is meeting with the President at noon; that’s why the trouble on the roads.”

The taxi driver scooted along as he could, keeping pace with lanes of beat up, horn-honking Mercedes all plowing eastward through Beirut traffic. The radio scratched Arabic news stories that we couldn’t understand.

Ted and I looked to our new friend, Wade, a thirty-something cool-as-a-cucumber history teacher with a baby strapped to his chest. He’d flagged down the taxi and mapped our way toward our destination. He’d lived in Beirut for a handful of years. If he was calm, we’d be calm.

He raised his eyebrows. “Never a dull moment. Who knows? The @#$% could hit the fan…”

And so it was, as Syrian violence escalated just across the border and as Hezbollah bent the ear of the Lebanese President, we four Americans carried on in a ramshackle taxi toward our field trip to the only microbrewery in the Middle East.

It was one of those days that makes a good story after the fact; in the present moment, we simply say prayers that our moms aren’t worried at home.

We pulled away from waterfront traffic and climbed a bit into suburb hills. The driver stopped at a side street next to a chicken restaurant, leaving us to find our final steps. Somewhere in the maze of warehouses and gravel drives, we spotted the tiny red, white, and black 961 sign perched on the balcony of a grey concrete building. We’d made it this far on an email exchange and an addresses, time to find the door.

Continue Reading…

Bolivia, Interviews, Musings, Social Work

A Man of the People: Bolivia’s Rolando Mendoza

March 4, 2012

Today, my thoughtful, easy going inspiration of a husband shares his write up of a recent interview with one of Bolivia’s finest leaders. Both men are humble and sincere, less the type to write for the world and more the type to be out living their convictions on local streets, day after day.
I’m grateful to share their story with you. -Bethany

A Man of the People: My Interview with Public Servant Rolando Mendoza
By Ted Rydmark

While in Bolivia, we spent a week on work-exchange with the Mendoza-Donlon Family.

Rolando Mendoza has extensive experience as a public servant. He is the former mayor of Mallasa (a suburb town of La Paz), the former Head of Social Services for the Municipality of La Paz (metro population 2.3 million), and is the current Person in Charge of Planning and Investment for the Ministry of Planning for the Bolivian Government.

When he was elected Mayor of Mallasa, he was the first non-party “man of the people” to serve in that office. His success as mayor resulted in his appointment a Head of Social Services for La Paz.

I took the opportunity sit down with Rolando and ask him about his experiences as a civic politician. Special thanks to Bethany for recording the conversation and to Rolando’s wife, Emma, for translating.

Ted: What was most challenging about working as head of Social Services in La Paz?
Rolando: It was most challenging to really know what was going on and to develop plans to transform the situation and make it better. Because we were working for the benefit of young people, children, and old people, I had this desperation to really make their lives better and make an impact – fast. I desired that my programs would become institutionalized and consolidated and would last over time.

Rolando’s position lasted four years, during which time he accomplished much. As the Head of Social Services for the Municipality of La Paz, Rolando’s responsibilities included five broad areas: Sports, Health (including infrastructure, equipment, and future planning), Education (including the planning and building of schools), Citizen Rights (equivalent to Civil Rights), and Citizen Security. During this time he was directly responsible for over 800 municipal staff. Continue Reading…