Paris, France: 11 March 2019

Notes from UNESCO:

Another fantastic week at UNESCO. It started with His Excellency and ended with International Women’s Day.

On Monday and Tuesday, George Papagiannis conducted nine interviews for the podcasts Olivia and I helped produce, Many Voices, One World. The first podcast started with his Excellency Omar Bin Sultan Al Olama and the last podcast ended with the Havens Family.

Olivia and I ushered each interviewee to the studio and made sure George had all the fact sheets and questions we had prepared.  George’s pregame warm-up was so peaceful before the first interview began, he took a deep breath and meditated for around a minute. And then before you knew it, “Welcome to Many Voices, One World, I’m George Papagiannis…”. I felt as if I was watching Mia Hamm play soccer in the 1999 World Cup finals. Such a pro!

I really didn’t think our questions would be utilized but to my surprise, George used some of them! Of course with some wordplay to interweave the question into the conversation correctly, but he used some of our QUESTIONs!!! I must say, my favorite part of the day was watching one of the interviewee’s give Olivia the “I got my eyes on you,” sign when George opened up the interview by asking her about a twitter remark she’d made. She knew, from interacting with Olivia, that the question came from Olivia… I LOVED IT! The interviewee had a huge smile on her face as she pointed at Olivia.

UNESCO audio studio with Nicolas Miailhe, Bunmi Banjo, Emmanuel Rudowski, George Papagiannis

I was absolutely exhausted after the two days, I don’t know how George does it! I feel so fortunate to have had this experience. I had several internships before my last career and none of them had this kind of rich texture.

After taking Wednesday off to recover and go on a tour of the worlds largest tech startup F-Station I went back to UNESCO to help with International Women’s day and the Wiki4Women event. Both were wonderful events that had a lot of social media content attached. My colleague Jewel Goode conducted some wonderful interviews on FB live and put together some most excellent flyers and a great Wiki4Women video.

Notes from the Field:

My wife and I have been using Google bike routes to get around France. Normally the routes are pretty spot on. But 10 percent of the time we end up on bumpy dirt roads or trails. I think Google might be getting there data points from the 19th century when that route was a popular horse path. I also think Google might be interested in having me live through my own version of a Black Mirror episode. For those of you unaware of Black Mirror, it’s a show with an eerie futurist depiction of how technology plays out, always involving a sinister twist.

This weekend we decided to bike to Chevreuse to check out a medieval castle about 40 km outside of Paris. We followed Google bike routes which led us out of town on a lovely bike path for about 10 km. After that, we traversed some lazy back roads which were very nice. But then we landed in some sort of tech half developed suburb. Cranes creaked from the wind above our heads. Huge glass buildings surrounded us but not a person was in sight. We biked a couple of kilometers through this weird complex. Towards the end of the development, a bunch of personal trailers filled up a parking lot. A dog started barking at us, while people stared at us from the windows. A running washer and dryer sat independently on the cement parking lot outside.

After peddling a little farther we came upon an abandoned factory complex. A tall cement fence with barbed wire on top protected the cement graffiti buildings from being occupied. We quickly peddled past this complex into a tech school that was under construction with only a couple of lingering students walking through. There was this abandoned building from the 1960s that looked like an old radio station. The building right next door also looked abandoned but upon closer examination, it was a brewpub. Of course, like most things on Sunday in France, it was closed. The pub had two brightly colored, life-size bike statues adorning the roof line. This was just a weird mix of brand new and old that gave the tech school a feeling of struggle. Would it also be abandoned…

École Polytechnique

Google decided that our Black Mirror episode was complete and we would be now entering into the backwoods portion of our journey. It started relatively easy with a moderately bumpy road running through farm fields. A couple of rights and lefts later we were on a muddy horse path, peaceful enough but not city bike friendly. Someone has to be feeding the algorithm with some old data. Or maybe, Google bike routes should have a type of bike route selection. For example, I’m riding a 10-speed city bike, not a mountain bike. I do appreciate adventure, so maybe I should always be riding a mountain bike. We happily slogged our way through the dirt path for a couple of kilometers and before we know it we’re cruising down a low traffic paved road through a beautiful valley and into the town of Chevreuse.

Google bike route

Just as described the medieval castle is perched on the hill above the small hamlet.  There is a narrow stream that passes through town, with stone bridges arching over it. After a cafe, we decided to ride our bikes through the narrow street network. I could see my wife stopped ahead of me, she waved me over. Someone was playing the violin in one of the historic homes that filled the town. It was the perfect combination of sound, sun and beauty.

Chevreuse, France


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