Letter from Blacksburg by Way of Nairobi

By Anne Giles

Excerpt from a letter I received yesterday from my father, Robert Giles. Shared with his permission.

I was just in Nairobi four weeks ago!

Dr. Robert Giles of Rural System in Nairobi

From my home office in Blacksburg, Virginia where I work on starting Rural System, Nairobi is 8,000 miles away, the length of the earth’s diameter.

I was just there with Risa and our small group as we flew into the Nairobi airport, temporarily restored after a recent fire. Now I imagine the uncertainties and horrors of the people beset by the crises related to the attacks of September 21.

Nairobi is a volcano-crater distance away from our destination, Uganda, where we traveled to consider whether the Rural System startup might have a role there and to assist Kissito with its poverty and health projects in southeast Uganda.

I returned with more information and ideas than I can process. Now, even the beginning shapes of my conclusions have to be recast.

I’ve spent most of my life studying and teaching ecology and thought that my studies of a systems approach might lend assistance in relating improved land use and rural environmental functions to needs that seemed clear in the stressful conditions of the people of the region.

Those relations I carefully studied and noted are now changed. New and complex political, social and economic relations resulting from the Nairobi attack – as usual for such “events” – will be many and probably go very far, ricocheting throughout the countries of the region, cutting already slack tourism significantly, impacting aid organizations, safari businesses, transportation, food services, and health and emergency services.

Everything is related!

I have little knowledge of the full intent of the attacks but I suspect they were more harmful to the people of the region, more regressive in gaining support and encouragement for their missions, and more intense in building security and retribution than intended. Personally discouraged by the gigantic problems of the region and my miniscule list of solutions, I now return to appeals for teams of combined wisdom, clusters of lands and waters managed as new time-space units of lasting production, new uses of equator-sun energy, computer aids to socio-economic and environmental decision-making, and profoundly comprehensive near-total concern for parents and parenting for our near-future.

Photograph taken August, 2013 in Uganda of Robert Giles, teacher, by Risa Pesapane

Robert H. Giles, Jr. is the founder of Rural System, Inc. Rural System, Inc. is a client of Handshake Media, Incorporated, the parent company of Handshake 2.0.

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