And a close encounter with coffee in the Botanical Gardens
It’s decided: I am falling in love with Colombia. Took a cab this morning to the José Celestino Mutis Botanical Gardens, though taking a cab here can be a matter of some courage. The roads aren’t great and the driving is worse. I have seen two multi-vehicle collisions since arriving. But I arrived in good time and the driver kindly guided me into the Gardens.
I was taken around the Gardens in the early morning sun by Juanita Rico, from Semana magazine, and then María López Casteno came across to meet us. She is the daughter of the owner of the Semana Group and is in charge of sustainability-related activities there, among them Semana Sostenible. Great energy as the participants arrived at the conference centre: I met some wonderful people.
Then, as in anxiety dreams, one of those things happen that you really wish wouldn’t: given a small cup of espresso, I somehow managed to upend it over my tie and shirt. Retreating to the restroom, which had plenty of hot water, paper and dryers, I made the best of things. That said–as I mentioned later in the day–the aroma of good coffee was constantly with me.
The morning session was in effect a Breakthrough Lab, with some 60-70 people, and a ‘fishbowl’ session in the middle. María and Felipe (Arango) led the early part of the event and the discussion was wonderfully engaging. When it ended, a number of us headed off to the Semana offices for a lunch of some 20 people, hosted by María, including Wendy (Arena Wightman) and Felipe (Arango), but with a goodly mix of people I had not yet met.
Among those invited was Margarita Marino de Botero, the Colombian environmentalist who was one of the members of the Brundtland Commission. Very lively conversation around the table, after which some of us talked to Felipe López. He presented me with a signed copy of his autobiography, noting that I seemed to be the man who had persuaded his daughter to “save the world.” Initially, I was not entirely sure that he thought that this was a good thing, but it became clear that he was proud of her and of her mission. María recalled that she had read Cannibals With Forks six years ago and the lights had come on. It’s at moments like these that I struggle to see how the impact of some things we do can be capturing in any normal set of impact metrics.