Soooooooooo I pushed a fundraiser for refugees fleeing to Greece (and thanks to my amazing friends WE DID IT), moved to Sweden, and then I started a new job at Viktoria Swedish ICT, and then I started learning Swedish, and began playing around with my new camera, and went to a Texan-French wedding in South France, watched America run headfirst into a brick wall because #whynot, and then hung out in Germany (twice), and saw zombies at Liseberg, and cooked a turkey for some Swedish and French people, and went to a conference in Brussels and then- oh hi here we are, four little months later.
Cool, so, like, what have you been up to?
I’ve never felt quite so busy as I have here. I thought life at Split was hard sometimes, with the amount of time I ended up logging on the daily at HQ, but somehow here it feels even busier. There is always someone to go see, something to keep writing, Athena to play with, Swedish classes to go to.
2016 is ending with so many things, but perhaps the most important is the happy discovery that I have found my career and philosophical calling. Urban sustainability, yes, but transportation planning. Innovating new services, business models, collaborations.
I need to go to bed, because among other things I am enduring my first Swedish cold, but I did want to share one thing. I posted today about how much I love my job, but when you see the kind of suffering that is happening “out there”, in the world, it sort of detracts from the fun of robot cars. Specifically, I said, “How can autonomous vehicles matter when a ten year old is asking us to kindly stop bombing her city so she can go outside?”
A friend and old classmate- who has always been incredibly wise and far-seeing -came up with the most perfect response.
“If human suffering were an impediment to innovation, we’d still be using flint weapons (to attack one another). Autonomous vehicles may not matter in the here and now of the atrocities of Aleppo; very little does if that is the only context which can give our work and our world meaning. But autonomous vehicles have greater fuel economy in general and are often designed to take advantage of renewable energies rather than fossil fuels.
The discovery of fossil fuels in the Middle East has led, directly and indirectly, to the instability of the region and the rise of authoritarian governments, foreign interventions, radicalism, rebellion, etc.. Public transit brings people together in odd ways and allows for development of diverse communities; it helps people experience a world larger than they might otherwise know if limited to their own means of transportation and puts them in contact with people unlike themselves. I have learned as much about different life experiences during idle chitchat on a crosstown bus as I ever did in a classroom, and it has allowed me to appreciate experiences different from my own.
Your work may do nothing to alleviate the suffering in Syria today, but that does not mean it cannot do its part to prevent another outcome like we are seeing unfold in Aleppo; it may play a role–perhaps not the most salient defining role, but one that contributes nonetheless–in preventing some future child from having to make a similar plea.”
Thank you, Chris, for reminding me that this newfound love and profession does matter. It might not stop the war today, but play our cards right, and it could stall the wars of tomorrow.