July – August 2009, no. 3: Nurture Your World

Aileen Mioko Smith
Between Photography and Protest

A Voice of Reason
The Death of Print
If print dies, do we as well?

In the Spirit of Spirits
Kirin Beer
A company on the move

Fukuoka Spotlight
Hakata Gion Yamakasa
Fukuoka’s greatest festival

Also in this issue:

Minor Press: Outdoor Japan
Borderless Reading: Dogs and Demons

Learn & Be Useful
Fair Trade Product Review: Beer

Off the Beaten Track

Performing Arts
Ikuo and Kiyono

Hayashi Kenji

Lyrical Partings

I have been working for bridge design and oil & gas companies over the last seven years. During this period, I ended up spending seven months in Azerbaijan in 2006, working for ENI (Italian National Oil Company). I am now working as a technical manager on the design for a bridge between Qatar and Bahrain until the end of 2009. Thereafter, I intend to abandon my engineering career and travel the world by bicycle for an undefined period of time.

My account of Azerbaijan is only relevant when taken as the story of a European who went to an “oil-rich country” to work for an oil & gas company. From my individual point of view, I can say that it has changed my system of values, in its own way, as any journey that I have undertaken. There, I witnessed the unique landscape and beauty of a country (like Besh Barmag mountain for instance) that used to be an important stop in the Silk Road crossing Middle Asia. I also got a feel for how forests and green fields (still found in the north of the country) can be replaced by dusty, ghostly deserts, as witnessed in the area surrounding Baku, after a few decades of oil and gas exploitation (first by the USSR and now being carried out by international corporations. Exxon, Total, BP, ENI are all based in the region). This experience has opened my eyes; as with many commodities that have become essential to Western societies, a link has been severed between consumers and the countries in which the goods are being produced or extracted. It has shown me on a larger scale how man’s impact on the planet with regard to industrial endeavor can be devastating.

June, 2009

Some of my photos can be seen here: www.flickr.com/photos/icrw.

The accompanying photo-spread to the text above is in Koe Magazine, #3.