Wind + Energy

Wind is a powerful thing. Why not harness it? With luck and great joy I had the chance to visit the Kittitas Wind Farm in Eastern Washington.

The Honey Harvest is Near


With the nearing end of the the summer, a north hemisphere-wide honey harvest is about to begin, and I’m feeling pretty damn excited.  Longtime friend and fellow traveler Dennie P (aka D) stopped by and had the opportunity to check in on my hives.  I’m hoping he’s hooked!  He looks like it.

Location: BI, WA

Camera/Lens Specifics: Canon 5D MarkIII w/Canon EF 16-35mm 2.8L II USM Lens

35mm, 1/200 sec at ƒ/7.1, ISO 100, tripod.

Post: LR4 & Adobe PSCC

Photo Essay: Wood – A Story from the Olympic Peninsula (Pt. III)

Photo Essay: Wood – A Story from the Olympic Peninsula (Pt. II)

As I continue to drive out into the Olympic Peninsula, camera bags full and surf gear packed, I slowly observe the culture of a timber industry unfolding before my eyes.  It is a people’s livelihood, their subsistence within the forest, bringing shelters over families heads and food to their hungry tables.  And for the blue collar, it is not a wealthy industry.  They are the cutters, sawers, operators, drivers and haulers of a civilization taking over the wild places.

With video files and the numerous still images of the cold cloudy spring passing over the Northwest wilderness, this project is evolving into an unbiased perspective of Man vs. Nature, and how the two can equally subsist; prosper side by side and thrive within one another.

Below is the second essay of imagery and visual thoughts from a story of wood deep within the Olympic Peninsula.

Photo Essay: Wood – a Story from the Olympic Peninsula (Pt. I)

Wood; a precious commodity.  Cut, sawed, shaped, nailed, lacquered, stained.  Occasionally it’s replanted, and years later, generations gone, money is made again.  Wood is money.  The forests are for sale, for their resources, for their lands, for their habitat.  The following images are the start of a multimedia project telling the tale of wood, from origin to combustion, and the phases of transition in-between.  How does it effect us?  How does it feed us?  How is the life under our feet and that above our heads impacted today, tomorrow and those generations ahead?

Photo Essay – The Creeks Vs. Chevron (Location: The Creeks, Nigeria, Africa)

The Karmic Consequences of Wal-Mart (Location: Bainbridge Island, Washington)

I rose from the television, my evening’s indulgence, and walked through the crystal glare to the kitchen.

Flicking on the lights, I reached the pantry, opened its doors and pulled down two contents: a can of Equal Exchange Organic Hot Cocoa and a plastic bag of Western Family Marshmallows—jumbo-sized.

Outside, a layer of clouds blocked the night sky and a sheet of rain piddled on the patio.  As the teakettle came to a boil, I turned down the gas flame and filled my mug.

The powdered chocolate and white puffs of sugar stirred, and the marshmallows dissolved into sweet perfection.  I wondered: is true sustainability possible?

A Sickness At The Root

Back in the TV room, I continued watching the documentary Wal-Mart: The High Cost of Low Price.  Directed by Robert Greenwald, the film captures the stories of employees and those affected across the United States.

It’s a story of American capitalism gone askew.  Like David versus Goliath, the mega-store behemoth slams into a community and entices families with its cheap plastic products.  We hear from an employed mother forced to seek government-assisted healthcare to raise her children, and a family-owned hardware store crushed by the neighboring Wal-Mart superstructure.

The movie recalled my recent journey to Mazatlan, Mexico and the newly razed soils of tradition to accommodate the acres of asphalt and high ceilings of cheap Wal-Mart goods.  Not only has the corporation captured the minds and bodies of Americans, but now it extends across Mexico, Europe, and countless other countries.

Wal-Mart imports an outrageous amount of overseas products.  On November 29, 2004, Jiang Jingjing of China Daily reported, “The world’s largest retailer, Wal-Mart Stores Inc., says its inventory of stock produced in China is expected to hit US$18 billion this year, keeping the annual growth rate of over 20 per cent consistent over two years.”

That’s an estimated $18 billion pumped out of sweatshop factories employing the young, naïve women, men and children living in poor provinces.  According to Global Exchange, Wal-Mart employs 400,000 workers abroad.

It’s everywhere.  At the beginning of this year, just 15.59 miles from my doorstep, a Wal-Mart Supercenter opened its doors on January 31, 2007 in Poulsbo, WA.  Its 203,000 sq. ft. store provides 525 new jobs in 36 departments that remain open to customers 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

What’s more amazing, apart from the $35,000 donated to local organizations through its Good Works community involvement program, is the fact that twelve miles down the road is another Wal-Mart Supercenter in Silverdale.

The Accomplice In The Mirror

As always, my cocoa was delicious.  Let it be known hot cocoa without marshmallows is not the same.

Continuing with the film, I felt a pang of guilt.  Here I was, drinking organic hot cocoa fairly traded through the worldwide network of small farmers and co-ops, yet I topped the sustainability with gigantic, jumbo-puffed, falsified sugar marshmallows.

No, the marshmallows were not organic, fairly traded, or manufactured with conscious decisions.  They were packed, shipped, stacked and stored for months.  They were not sustainable; the plastic bag unsalvageable—America’s weak recycling programs will not help this time.

The movie ended.  I went to the kitchen sink and washed my brown, sugar-stained mug.  I opened the pantry and perused its contents.  I took note of the products: most were organic, purchased in bulk.  They were stored in containers able for reuse or recycling.

They were fresh and limited; only the necessities and few luxuries, not piled with the excesses of your average soccer-crazed Mom in an over-zealous fear of Judgment Day.  But still…those marshmallows.

Despite my reassurance about the impact I was making on the world, I felt I needed to do more (or less).  This yearning carries me into each and every experience.  It’s one of caring—for the world, for our family of brothers and sisters.

It’s a desire to look forward into the future and make sure we have preserved the beauty of the land and its resources for generations to come.

What more can I do?  What more can we do to better our minds and lifestyles?  And what more can we do to make a difference in the way economies run so economic tyrants like Wal-Mart return to their more modest roots.

Sam Walton, Wal-Mart’s founder, once said, “You can’t create a team spirit when the situation is so one-sided, when management gets so much and workers get so little of the pie.”  I wonder if today’s CEO Lee Scott remembers his words?

The Karmic Consequences

In Mexico, I overheard a woman who had been traveling to Mazatlán for twenty-five years.  She was grateful for the new Wal-Mart and Sam’s Club.  Now just a mere five-minute pulmonia ride, she buys all her groceries as if she were back home.  “We arrive. We shop at Sam’s Club.”

I found myself that night in the heart of Old Mazatlán, wandering the Centro Historic in Mercado Pino Suárez.  This was Mexico.

The large market holds vendors offering traditional foods of homebrewed recipes to clothing and appliances.  It felt real.  It was a culture supporting its people.  It was their livelihood mingling among their rich traditions of agriculture, textiles and cooking.

Purchase Made

Back home, the US continues to expand and dominate other regions from the Latin world, to China, India and Bangladesh, to Europe and beyond.

There are those among us who condemn this expansion, who believe in a higher standard, not of income or consumption, but something that far surpasses the physical world.  We’ve come to recognize Mother Earth’s life.  If some don’t take notice, it’s bound to fall into hands more omniscient.

On March 15, 2007 the Wal-Mart of Poulsbo saw a glimpse resistance.  The Seattle Times reported a suspicious fire that broke out in the women’s undergarment department causing one million dollars of damage.  Nobody was injured and officials are looking into suspected arson.

Would You Like Culture With That? (Location: Mazatlán, Mexico)

In a city engulfed by corporations and Americana, the essence of true culture is always changing.

Mazatlán, Mexico.  It conjures a precision of memories.  For many years my family met once a year to live, laugh, eat and drink, recounting memories beneath the Mexican sun.

We lounged like the afternoon’s iguanas, strolled and swam like leaves in the fall, shopped the Zona Dorada with red eyes, rode horses through the waves and parasailed as if we were birds.  For once a year, The Inn at Mazatlán became our home for two weeks, where we relished in relaxation as a family conglomerate stuck together by the sticky juices of squeezed limes and empty Margarita mixes.

But every once in a while, certain members would miss the reunion and due to my direction in various travels, I was one who often missed these annual Mexican fiestas.  After three consecutive absences, I was looking forward to the next year’s, which reintroduced me to a culture buried within the memories of youth.

As I sat in the back of a taxi outside General Rafael Buelna International Airport, located seventeen miles south of downtown Mazatlán, heat and dust drew in through the open windows and swirled around my head.  It smelled hot.  It smelled tropical.  I thought I caught a scent of a distant sea as a faded CD hanging from the rearview mirror flashed in my eyes.  On one side of the disc, Mother Mary gave me a reserved glance before rotating out of view.

An Unrecognizable Return

I watched out the window: a beloved Mexico and its culture, passing high-walled penitentiaries, catching drafts of burning trash and the odd pile of rubber.

The land was sparse to the city, impoverished with corrugated roofs and sheds, wiry fences enclosing pigs and cattle while chickens roamed freely.  Then, broken by an obtrusive power, gorging the expanse of the countryside, were paved lots of multinational corporations.  They found their way into a culture as Mexico fell to the global faces of Wal-Mart and Home Depot.

Noise and debris, rising dust-clouds of eternal heat, rapturous signals, stoplights and padded feet across cracked asphalt. Then the next race of unholy exhaust pipes flooded the streets.

I breathed in, and as tin and brick and corrugation turned to unfinished concrete harboring spikes of rebar, the city-center approached.

A culture, historic in its patternless flow of work, family and tradition.  Mix in nutritious rice, beans, corn tortillas and a few cooling cervezas.  And then birth the working-class as a mother interlinks her arms throughout five children before dodging traffic, and los federales rolling in their crisp black ’06 GMC pickup trucks and waxy Ford Mustangs, circling fat signs and stripped lands with their sweating asphalt and gymnasiums of cheap simplicities.

My heart skipped a beat at their infiltration.  But as I drew another inhale and observed the life surrounding, I continued witnessing a thriving Mexico.  The dust tickled my throat.  I coughed.

How unburdened can a culture remain?  I was about to find out.

Arrival at the Inn

The Inn dressed as usual.  Elegant in contrast with the streets beyond its whitewashed walls.  A new tower touched the sky with 215 luxury rooms crowned with one three-bedroom ten-person penthouse.   Larger pools.  Fully functional waterfalls.  Yoga classes in the morning and increased prajna after a night of drinks, chips, salsa and guacamole.

There were painting classes, weekly Bingo for the crowds accompanying time-shares in Branson, Missouri, as well as Mexican piñata fiestas for the kin Wednesday nights at seven.  With a restaurant on premise, The Inn was a self-sufficient community of lounge-chair tortillas here for a deep-fry.

I searched a meat menu for a vegetarian plate.

Culture? I ask:

¿La cultura? ¿ Dónde está la cultura?

Indeed, it wasn’t to be found within the walls of the large resorts and hotels fabricated for the broadening American and Canadian tourists, unless, say, you worked your Spanish with the maids and gardeners.

But outside, in the heat and noise, Mexico awaited.

Mazatlán Idol

One evening the family piled into two pulmonias (a crazed golf-cartesque taxi blaring an ungodly noise of music ranging from YMCA to CCR’s Bad Moon Rising). We drove north to La Costa Marinara.

Inside the seafood restaurant, I scanned for something traditional, simple, clean.  I came up empty.  Drink, talk, laughs of the previous evening, and then to eating.  After our meal, the American music toned down and the DJ slapped on a record of classic Mexican rhythms.

Suddenly, as if transformed into Mexico’s next “American Idol,” a waiter stepped onto the patio platform with microphone in hand.  He held it tight, not in nervousness, but passion.

With reverence, he sung his heart out, swooning the customers in love song.  One local, loaded with two of his buddies at a game table of empty beer bottles, joined and grumbled to the melody.  I cringed.

“Tom Jones!” my sister exclaimed.  Reborn and alive, south of the border in Mazatlán.

In all the years we had been coming to this restaurant by the sea, we never saw the bills paid and tables emptied as quickly as they had that night.

Visit From the Country

Señor Jones was not the only performance.  Directly afterwards, six blonde children dressed as Midwestern cowboys appeared.

Between the ages of five and fifteen years, they appeared out of place from the average Mexican; not only the pressed red-squared collared shirts, jeans and boots, with chaps, bandannas and dresses, but also their faces.

These six little children seemed to have come off the beaches of Santa Cruz with tanned white skin and sandy hair.  Let alone, it was nearing ten o’clock on a school night.

The DJ queued the music.  Georgia-born Alan Jackson, in thick accent, rolled with Chattahoochee.  In practiced timing, they kicked their boots’ heels in square dance.  Suddenly, I was transported on a stagecoach time machine to a backwoods Montana bar.

An American woman, apparently from a similar locale, clapped in dramatized exuberance.  “I love this song!  Love it!”  I didn’t dare look over, but from the far corner of my eye I spotted her Margarita bowl near bottom.

Signaling the end of the dance, the youngest three removed their plastic cowboy hats and bowed, before turning them upside down and requesting alms from each table.

Old Streets, Same Bathrooms

I walked back to The Inn that evening with my uncle on the main Avenue Cameron Sabalo.  We passed Japanese restaurants, American burger joints, tapas of Spain, and I thought of the real Mexican dishes in los pueblos y montañas: the simple rice and beans of the Latin world.

The previous day, my mother recalled the sole brilliance of the establishment known in more languages as simply: McDonalds.

“At least we can rely on a clean bathroom no matter where we might find ourselves in the world.”

Yes, Home Sweet Mickey D’s, along with other chains, soon to include Dairy Queen, Domino’s Pizza, Subway, Wal-Mart and Home Depot.

Culture.  Mazatlán.  The input of the West’s power, yet out on the streets, there was Mexico at its finest.

Yesterday’s Today

Blocks are now splashed with the primary colors of the restaurants’ and consumer stores’ façades, but the dust still rises, trash still burns, with the Chevy trucks and the workers down in the shades, mothers sprinting across traffic with young flailing and babies wailing.

Things and their monsters.  They let loose to dilute the beauty of this original culture. Yet cervezas y guacamole, no matter how diluted, still reinvigorate the Mexican culture of memory to the old and young.

Culture is life.  Life is change.  Change is Culture.

It is the beauty of the world, no matter how desperate, no matter how congested and overflowing, omnipresent like a McDo, in Mexico, India, China, France or across the street from your Ace Hardware chain.

Distinguished Guests: The Age of the Oil Drill (Location: Lagos, Nigeria, Africa)

Certainly out of our league.  When we entered the building, there was an air of leaving the world behind and indulging in the high-status frequency of world economics and infrastructure.  I passed a sign, or more a mural embedded within a wall like thick corrosive sludge in the shore’s seagrass.  It was iridescent, out of place, colorful within the drab building of white walls, symmetric hallways, and black electronics blinking, beeping, interrupting and heeding.   It stated:

Integral to everything we do is a commitment to valuing the uniqueness of the individual, harnessing the strengths of a diverse work force, and respecting and learning from the communities in which we operate.  As we succeed, so too should our partners in Nigeria, Kazakhstan, Venezuela, and other countries around the world.


I gave some thought worth pause.

My camera was in hand.  I snapped a photo.  A security guard approached.

“You take no photo.  No.  No photo.”  His head shook.  It was black as night.  It was black.  It was beautiful.

I pointed playing dumb, “This?”

“No photo.”

Too late.

Here we were, average citizens, turned global, now becoming diplomats.  We were inside the headquarters of Chevron Nigeria Limited.  We came for a meeting with the senior managerial staff to probe, to understand, and of course, to “respect and learn from the communities in which we were operating.”  We were twenty Americans about to sit down in a boardroom with the decision makers of Chevron’s involvement within Nigeria.  We left this exact country behind as we found ourselves within leather- and cotton-cushioned seats in a room outfitted with top-of-the-line conferencing technology.  Where was Nigeria?

“You are citizen diplomats in the inner sanctum of Chevron!” Susan shouted in a belligerence of excitement.

As we waited, prepared, and sat in anticipation, our penmanship doodled in quick fury.  It jittered with the unknown that was about to arrive.  What would we say?  What would happen?  What would come about with this meeting, and how could we all benefit from it, especially the people of the Niger Delta?  Together, we felt like we were a world apart from the streets of Nigeria in which we had just left.  The madness, the horns, the heat, the people and the bodies—crammed crushed beaten—the charred metals of slashing motors and their bikes.  It was a pure black ebony traffic jam on our way through the streets of the once-capital—Lagos. With an estimated population somewhere between 10 and 15.5 million people, making it the second largest city in Africa (Cairo being number one), we drove across town with the hoards of traffic in slow crawl.  Buses, vans, sleek black Mercedes with chrome wheels and tinted windows, along with clunking heaps of metal, motto-bikes and foot-traffic allowing time to pass slowly.  People moved in all directions, against all civil rules in what often looked like a rumble of rusted parts held together by bolts and the people themselves.  And despite the exodus of everyday Lagos, we reached our meeting with the precision of planning after the hours of simply crossing town, staring out the windows at the revolutions of Africa’s intensity.  Here we were, within white walls, within silence, putting back on the layers we had been stripped of as a stern, stubborn vent hissed a chilled air over our heads.  We had only spent one night and one morning in the country, and now we were gone.  We were in the corporate country of Nigeria; a Wonderland entirely different.

I sat back.  My leather chair responded; bounced, squished, squeaked, and reclined like a rocket launch.  The air filtered.  It hummed.  Mr. Denji Hastrup and Mr. Simon Winchester entered.

There were short introductions, which seemed wholly fruitless in the scope of their ripening money tree.  Hands were extended as we greeted the senior management of Chevron Nigeria Ltd., and our attentions spanned, as did the tailored wealth of their headquarter lawns.  Susan spoke with a leader’s determinacy; “We’re not tourists, we’re delegates.  We’re here to learn and bridge all sides.  We hope with our presences, with loving hearts and open minds, we can create more trust.”  She paused.  “We’re really here to listen.”

Listening.  This was Susan Partnow’s thing, as well as the other facilitators of The Compassionate Listening Project around the world.  And this was a part of our journey.  How else to learn, but listen?

Alright, indeed there is experience, but within the act and art of experience, you listen.  This is the essence.  Within experience, you don’t just listen with the ears, catching sounds, but you listen with it all.  Your body listens to the environment.  It feels the senses.  It absorbs them with the input they receive.  It immerses itself within the energy of the atmosphere.  It sucks from it—a nectar, the bee.  The body and the experience, when in a union of totality, are one.  They compliment each other.  They feed from one another.  And in order to accomplish this awareness, the body listens.

The Compassionate Listening Project, in an esoteric perspective, is this bodily listening.  It is an awareness of your body to that which is before you—whether a person communicating, whether more than one, or whether the environment you are within—to best understand it and open up to the potential for growth and healing, if necessary.  Deeper, you reach the level of the heart and soul, where your love innately resides; waiting, stirring, believing.  In its patience, your love lingers for your own initiative to release and fill others.

“We’re really here to listen.”  Susan’s phrase extended to a whole source of purpose.  As I sat there, I could see it written and pasted on a refrigerator, one of those magnets of wise sayings and quotes:

We’re really here

to listen

-Susan Partnow

I could look at it as a spiritual meaning.  We’re here to hear—to hear the inner voice of our guidance to direct us to the most beneficial, most safe, most loving home upon this planet where we could operate from the source of love and peace where this precise guidance emerges.  We’re here to listen to one another—something called respect, which could solve any and all problems, each catastrophic war and each domestic dispute among family, friends and strangers.  We’re here to listen.

As Susan spoke of our project within the Niger Delta, Denji and Simon indeed listened, but they often checked their watches, flipping their wrists, or allowed their eyes to wander round the room’s walls as if marveling at the technological masterpieces in which they had at their fingertips.  “Damn we’re good,” the eyes spoke.

The two execs were businessmen and this was the air within that hissing, humming, chilling boardroom.  They spoke to us with diligence and professionalism.

“It is not practically possible to have a full understanding of the complexity of the Niger Delta.  It is a region of tribes and peoples each with a distinct history and kinship to one another.  And for us to operate within it, we face daily trials dealing with the tribes who compete and survive based on their own and their neighbors’ performance.  There is jealousy and often hostility involved.  It is a very, very complex situation we have.  Once you know the problem, it is only half solved.”

We knew what Mr. Denji was speaking of.  We had had our history lessons of the region.  We were aware of the violence, the suffering, between the peoples of the Delta, and we were also aware of the turning of a blind eye in which companies such as Chevron, Shell, ConocoPhillips and Exxon ignored, even instigated.

But it was never all bad, that is…their participation and operations.  Back in the late ‘90s, Chevron funded the construction and operation of a hospital near a platform called Escravos, but relied on the Delta government to supply the doctors from the nearby industrial port of Warri.  This was the high point with the local ethnic peoples.  It was a time when relative stability settled over and under the oil-rich region and both multinationals and locals sought to work with one another.  Many projects such as these flourished.  Or maybe the word flourished used here is a little to ostentatious.  How ‘bout developed?  On top of the Delta’s development in the oil industry and its exportation and sales, the communities within and surrounding the oil platforms developed from the broad opportunities for employment.  Relatively speaking, most were happy, or that was the feeling within those communities reaping the benefits off their own land, as it should be.

This was the high point.  The two separate worlds, one of developed business fueling the rest of the world and one of primitive African fisherpersons, working with one another and both coming out on top—or so most thought.

The hospital near Escravos was up and running.  Local people had medicine.  Pregnant women had a source where they could be cared for, supported, and children could have the chance for survival with modern vaccines when they faced the struggle against disease and virus strains.  Working with one another.  Both coming out on top—or so we assume.

In 1999, the hospital, the drugs, the whole project burnt to the ground.  It was charred, seared, a place of modernity and community within the raw world of Africa’s tribes.  A local group, apparently due to the inter-conflicts between tribes, torched it, leading one to ask, “Was jealousy involved?”  “Why did they get a hospital and not us?”  “My water’s spoiled, as is theirs:  What do we get?”

Chevron returned and helped to rebuild the community’s hospital, one open to all peoples of the region, but the region is big, taking hours, maybe days to cover through the narrow alleyways of water in what is called The Creeks.  So others were not pleased.  They wanted theirs.  It burnt down again in 2003.

Simon looked around at us.  He wanted us to know the complexity.  He wanted us to know the frustration they all face within the business when the people help fuel this adversity of fairness and just responsibility.  “We have to find stability in the region.  It does not make sense to throw money where it will not benefit the people, where it will not care for the children and those who are ill.”

So the leaders at Chevron Nigeria Ltd. developed a new model for sustainable development within the communities, for the communities.  They would fund representatives from each community to create and develop the communications necessary.  It would be termed Regional Council Development, or RCD.  Within this board, representatives would meet and discuss funding options to get input and educate the locals about the prospects for development.  Likewise, a priority among responsible business management is the transparency of the company and its operations.  Therefore, RCD would discuss the costs of the project to create an open and indistinct development.  Simon put the mustard behind the bread; “When we know the cost of a project, when we know the cost of a gift, we are less likely to destroy it so quickly.”

RCD incorporates four basic principles:

  1. Participate with partnership
  2. Transparency and accountability
  3. Community empowerment and sustainable development
  4. Conflict resolution

With the first principle, Simon reiterated the success between partnerships when each member is involved and active in the developing process.  Open communication is key, involving as many perspectives with those present.  In regards to transparency and accountability, if the information and knowledge is not clear, it advocates the spread of rumors from a third party source.  When each participant and community individual is aware of the operation and aware of the contribution to operation, those opposing it in any way are less likely to react in retaliation since all honesty among the other participating member is open and on the board.

As I was listening, I was thinking: Smart man, right?.

And the third point Mr. Simon Winchester highlighted was on empowerment.  We all know empowerment; its strength, its force, its lifting qualities to make one believe and be believed.  Empower the people, Simon emphasized.  “Unleash their potential to develop community in order to create sustainability and stability.  If Chevron leaves, the project and creation will continue in the hands of its successors.”  I was beginning to see Simon as the next Zig Ziglar of the corporate world.

Empowerment is complete power shift.  It is a giving of power, or the potential for realization of power, back to someone.  But was that power ever taken?

Power is in one’s own beholding.  If one has power, conviction, belief, it is only taken from one if that person allows it to be.  Power is yours to keep, and it always is yours.  No one can ever take it; it is only yours to give.  And in the frame of empowerment, empowering people, especially the tribes of the Delta, would be allowing them the opportunity to reclaim their strength and participate in the development of their own land—something they have never had in this emerging world of business.  The new process, according to Simon, would involve the action of both woman and child—another foreign concept in the eyes of village elders.  This is the transparency process of RCD.

Our eyes were open; our ears receptacles from abroad in a world of distinguished differences.  But we listened through each capable orifices of reception.  We learned.

“This is community engagement 101,” Denji finished.  “And always be on alert.”  That last remark jumped out from the bush, and I wondered its relevance to the new model, but he summed up his feelings, whether business to business, or just straight person to person—an equal plane.  “You’re a bridge to us.  You’re a bridge to them.”

As we left the room, we all had the opportunity to ask more questions in a casual, wondering, cocktail-party ambiance.  I chose to wonder and be an observer.

My thoughts burrowed deep within a conscious questioning with every other diplomat, searching for an understanding of the issues facing the oil-rich region of the Niger Delta.  We heard Chevron’s proposed programs in order to meet the local’s needs, needs that have been ignored, trampled and despoiled among the multinational corporations’ greed for revenue and demand.  Yes, their words were professional, understood to be addressing a group of twenty philanthropic workers.  They were shakers of hands, and we met theirs, grateful for the time allotted to us humble seekers.  I wandered and approached a wall near the south exit and stood before a large plastic poster inscribed with the Codes of Conduct.  How professional.


Nigeria/Mid-Africa SBU

Operational Excellence

Safe, Reliable, Efficient and Environmentally Sound Operations

Do it safely or not at all

There is always time to do it right

Tenets of Operation


  • Operate within design or environmental limits.
  • Operate in a safe and controlled condition.
  • Ensure safety devices are in place and functioning.
  • Follow safe work practices and procedures.
  • Meet or exceed customer’s requirements.
  • Maintain integrity of dedicated systems.
  • Comply with all applicable rules and regulations.
  • Address abnormal conditions.
  • Follow written procedures for high risk or unusual situations.
  • Involve the right people in decisions that affect procedures and equipment.

Achieving World-Class Performance Through

Organizational Capability

Out the security borders and beyond the gated walls.  Out back into Nigeria, with Africa’s most populous nation at hand.