Monika (31) , Portland
Interview conducted near Fajã dos Cubres, São Jorge Island, Azores
The hike from Fajã dos Cubres to Fajã da Caldeira de Santo Cristo is like stepping back through time. The village in Calderia can only be access by trail, a reminder of simpler times, not so long ago here when people here travels and moved good by a pair of working steers and cart.
Early today I was lucky enough to stumble upon a parade celebrating this heritage. The path to the village, once rutted by wagon wheels is now tracked by 4 wheelers, but due to the lack of auto access the town retains an old world charm. Kids in the village were hanging out with the cows in front of the church and not at a Starbucks. While returning to the R Hertitage Too I met Monika, who needed a lift from fajã Cubres to Calheta after a hike. Her words follow.
What is your favorite part of living in Poland?
Poland is a very diverse country. We have mountains, rivers, beautiful forests, beaches and the sea. I like visiting the all. Poland is also in the center of Europe. Between the eastern and western Europe. We have access to many interesting places to visit and cultures.
What is your least favorite part of living in Poland?
Our location between eastern and western Europe is also a bit of a curse. Poland has a pawn of wars between the east and west for all of our history. I think this history has caused Polish people to be a bit cautious, less hopeful than other countries. I think Polish people are a bit pessimistic.
Do you see the changes in the natural world where you live?
Oh Yes. When I was young I used to play in the snow. As I got older, somewhat selfishly, I wished Poland would be warmer. Now I miss the snow. I can’t remember the last time it snowed where I live in Poland. I thought that the weather would change and that maybe my grand children would not see snow, but I did not think it would change so fast.
Do you think these changes are from caused by humans?
It is hard for me to say. I think there are natural cycles and that we are coming out of an ice age. The earth has warmed very fast in the past. Humankind’s activities may also play a role but I do not know.
Are you doing anything to minimize your impact?
Yes, I started a few years ago, although not for the planet. I was eating less and less meat and then I stopped. I still eat some fish, so now I’m a pescatarian. I learned about the impacts of livestock on the planet and have started doing other things. I have a water bottle with a filter that I bring everywhere. The water in Poland is very good so it isn’t necessary but I still use it everywhere I go. I also sort my garbage. My girlfriends and I also have clothes swaps. I love doing that, ya know, girl stuff. When I am done with my clothes I donate them. If we all did a better job to eating local foods that are in season, that would be a big help.
Is there anything you would like to ask or tell me?
What are you plans with this information?
I want to get kids and classrooms involved. I used to be an educator and not all young people can be like Greta and have the liberty to travel the world and get people thinking about climate change. Many young people seem to want to but do not have a mechanism. The goal is to teach them website skills, editing, how to track trends in responses and working in teams remotely. I’d like to travel this same route again in 10 years by sailboat and ask these same questions and see how perceptions change.
Monika is one of many people I have interviewed that see changes in the natural world but are unsure of the cause. There have been a few people who don’t believe man is playing a role. One goal of the site is to collect data objectively and never judge. Listening to and hearing all opinions is the first step to working together on a solution.
I like that Monika first step towards minimizing her impact on the planet done out of personal preference and then triggered other more conscious decisions. Pollution and plastics and minimizing consumption by reusing seem to be a common strategy of that many are employing. It is an easy for Monika to clothes swap and is a fun solution for her and her friends.
I fret about the questions I am asking and how I approach people for interviews. Questions began asking about climate change, then the weather, and now I ask about the natural world. I am trying not to lead or suggests but the questions will evolve as the project matures.