Blog 22: Buenos Aires – Through Adult Eyes
I hadn’t been to Buenos Aires since I was 13. Participating in SETAC-Latin America’s Biennial meeting a few weeks ago was a chance to go back and see the city through adult eyes. What I remember from my brief visit as a young teen is a bit of a blur. At that time I had been living in Santiago, Chile for nearly a year so language was not an issue and I was accustom to being in a large, metropolitan, South American city. What stuck in my memory were Plaza de Mayo and the federal buildings (and the giant parrot that sat on my arm for a photo). Going back for the SLA meeting I saw a vibrant, growing city. The mix of old and new architecture, refurbished parks, street markets, lots of people out and enjoying a Saturday of sunshine with their kids and friends. Runners, bicyclists, rollerbladers, picnickers, yoga practitioners, futbol (soccer) games, sight seers, nappers. The Plaza de Mayo, it was even prettier than I remember and the Casa Rosada (president’s palace) grander. I hadn’t been to the Cemetario de Recoleta last time, so it was new to me and amazing. I knew that it was a cemetery of above ground tombs, but I was expecting New Orleans where the graves, though impressive themselves, were above ground for the practical reasons of shallow groundwater; not an enclosed park of architectural art where each tomb was painstakingly designed and reflects the lives and accomplishments of the family it shelters.
The meeting venue itself was also new to me. A power plant built in 1917 and refurbished recently as a center and museum for the arts, the exterior was beautiful old brickwork. The interior was open and light with exposed brick and vaulted ceilings. The plenary auditorium had been softened with wood panels and lighting that made the huge two level room feel warm and very inviting. It was perfect and fortunately big – the SLA meeting has grown from 200 participants two years ago to 450+!
Gustavo and Pedro hosted a quality science meeting and Silvina, the event coordinator, made it possible for them to put on a first class event. Platforms and posters discussed environmental challenges and the science to solve them at the global, continental, national, and regional scale: pesticide impacts on native species, toxicology and omics, microplastics, PPCPs, pollutants in protected areas, HABs and phycotoxins, eco effects of petroleum extraction, stress ecology in bees. From opening plenary to closing Tango (which, by the way, was superb), if you weren’t there, you missed out!
Jason, Charlie, and I worked the SETAC booth and we talked to a lot of members and nonmembers, students and professors, business and government scientists. We answered questions about SETAC, about journals, about books, about focus topic meetings and workshops, about member services and the website. We asked them about local restaurants and pubs, site-seeing, how and where to get a cab, shopping. Students asked about careers and skills other than science that are needed to round out their competencies. Bryan and Jone chaired another successful Horizon Scanning Workshop that will feed the future.
The excitement about the science, the opportunities, the networks, and SETAC was palpable. Brazil in 2017 – Don’t miss it again. Be there!!