It snowed overnight, and continued throughout the day Wednesday. The view out my window at the Yubileiny was what one might expect on the Steppes in winter.
Denis came to pick me up at 7:30 am for our first sojourn out of Minsk, and I had to hustle to pack up and get breakfast. We drove about two hours due north from Minsk along snow packed roads. I was very grateful to be in his Audi, and not in a 1970's Lada!
Myadel (English spelling) where I was to make a presentation to the local Executive Committee and a group of local farmers. Myadel is on the southeast shore of the largest lake in Belarus, and the municipal building and square abuts the shore, with a large statue of Lenin out front. About twenty people showed up for this workshop, which was very different than the earlier presentations in that the local farmers asked a lot of very specific production questions about organic methods.
Before the workshop we had tea with the mayor first, in a formal boardroom off his office. This was the first of many instant coffee or black tea breaks over the next week, exchanging pleasantries with bureaucrats, many of whom turned out to be quite progressive while some were just going through the motions.
I found it interesting that in those cases where the head person was uninterested, their subordinate was pushing the agenda that got me there. Not unlike home!continues to come up in various forms.
It is also home to 14 of what they call “sanitoria.” I have no idea what is actually meant by this term beyond the fact that describes institutional housing, and their idea is to grow organic food for the residents.
This, in the States, is what we are calling these days, “farm to school” or more generally, “farm to institution,” and it is all the rage because of a lower carbon footprint and decreased “food miles.” The second is that the town wants to integrate the development of this land with the growth of the town. This is so similar to what Charles Town and Ranson WV want to do that I want to try and put the two towns in touch so that they trade information about their developmental plans. (Disclaimer: I grew up in Charles Town.)
We left Myadel after another long lunch in a VIP dining room with the Vice Mayor, and drove three hours up to Vitebsk, in the northeast of Belarus. Vitebsk is known both as the birthplace of Marc Chagall and the cultural center of the republic of Belarus.
The Watchtower. The one’s interest in practicing her English and the fascination of the non-speaker in “the American” made for an interesting hour or so before Denis and I got back together for dinner at the Hotel Eridan. After dinner it was more work on the lectures to come in my (nice, but little) single room.