Yvon Chouinard, rock climber and founder of the brand Patagonia, announced he has given away his company, worth about $3 billion. He gave it to a non-profit called Holdfast Collective that will ensure all profits (about $100 million per year) are used to combat climate change and protect undeveloped land. Patagonia will continue to exist but Chouinard will no longer own it. Patagonia has given $50 million to Holdfast Collective and plans to give $100 million more this year.
Chouinard’s best friend was Doug Tompkins. They used to go rock climbing and adventuring together and in 1968, they drove from Southern California to Patagonia together to climb Mt FitzRoy on the Chile/Argentina border. They made a film about it called Mountain of Storms.
A later film (2010) recreates their journey and highlights some of the conservation work Tompkins was doing — 180 Degrees South: Conquerors of the Useless.
Tompkins died in 2015. He was the founder of the North Face and then of Esprit. He sold them both and in 1991, he established the Foundation for Deep Ecology. He had always loved spending time in Chile and he eventually moved there and bought a rundown farm. He spent his time climbing and kayaking and considering how he might preserve the area. Over time he bought up land in Patagonia that was still wild and undeveloped. When he died he left over a million acres of land to the Chilean government to create a national park. In 2017, the president of Chile accepted the one million acres and added another 10 million to create the largest protected area in South America.
After watching these documentaries, I became enthralled with Chile. It is definitely on my list and I hope to be able to spend some time there exploring its many diverse landscapes.
By the way, Mount FitzRoy was named after the Captain Robert FitzRoy of the Beagle, Charles Darwin’s ship.
The Queen’s Queue
Not only is Queen Elizabeth II lying in state for close to a week, but there is a “queue tracker” where you can keep tabs on the long line winding its way across London. Last time I checked the wait was 9 hours but this changes constantly. People seem happy to do it. I might even do it if I was in London. After all, it’s a one-time thing (click on image it see it live).
We watched this documentary last night. It is about a guy in Detroit who put out two records that didn’t sell at all. He was a flop. But somehow his music made its way to South Africa and it spoke to them. They loved it. But nobody knew who he was. The film follows two guys who went looking for him. I enjoyed the film, it held my interest. It won a Bafta award if that means anything to you. But I really liked the music.
I wonder how many times you’ve been had
And I wonder how many plans have gone bad
I wonder how many times you had sex
I wonder do you know who’ll be next
I wonder l wonder wonder I do
I wonder about the love you can’t find
And I wonder about the loneliness that’s mine
I wonder how much going have you got
And I wonder about your friends that are not
I wonder I wonder I wonder I do
I wonder about the tears in children’s eyes
And I wonder about the soldier that dies
I wonder will this hatred ever end
I wonder and worry my friend
I wonder I wonder wonder don’t you?
I wonder how many times you been had
And I wonder how many dreams have gone bad
I wonder how many times you’ve had sex
And I wonder do you care who’ll be next
I wonder I wonder wonder I do
In 1975, I volunteered for an organization called Migrants in Action. It was an advocacy group for the Mexican migrant workers who worked in the fields from Texas to Minnesota and all across the USA. This got me interested in learning more about these migrant workers. I was in college at the time and decided to apply for an independent study to write a research paper on migrant workers in the USA. It was approved and I spent six weeks doing research and writing the paper.
Part of my research took me to the LBJ Library in Austin, Texas. I don’t remember the details, there was a lot of legal jargon in my paper but it boiled down to: Things were not Good for the Mexican Migrant Worker. Here is a timeline:
1920: The Bracero Program is born. This was a contract that allowed for workers to bring their families with them, stated the pay rate, work schedule, where they would work and their legal status. Of course this contract was written in English.
1924: The US Border Patrol was created and the “Illegal Alien” is born
1942: World War II creates job vacancies. The Bracero Treaty was signed and this opened the door again to Mexican laborers. Between 1942 and 1964 four million Mexican farm workers came to the USA. Again the contracts were written in English and many braceros would sign them without knowing what their rights were or were not. At the end of their contract they had to return to Mexico. As World War II ended, the jobs were taken over by returning veterans or workers displaced from wartime industries. The program ended in 1964.
1966: Cesar Chavez leads a 250-mile march to Sacramento, California, to bring attention to the mistreatment of farm workers.
1975: The California Labor Relations Act was passed; it was the first law that protected the rights of organizations of farm workers.
Today many of migrant workers are second or third generation families who have their US citizenship. It is also possible to enter the country legally through the Guest Worker program. Sometimes people will stay after their contract ends hoping for additional work and a better life. In this way they open themselves up to all kinds of abuse and injustice because technically they do not exist. But even people with citizenship are living in poverty under horrible conditions.
There is a new documentary film called The Harvest/ La Cosecha which follows three children in a migrant worker family. There are 400,000 children in the USA who work long hours seven days a week picking the food that ends up on your table. The film in and of itself is an advocacy for this group of undervalued and mostly “invisible” people.