I posted the second Medellin podcast about the HiperBarrio project. It is sincerely amazing what they’ve been able to achieve in such little time. And, they haven’t even received their grant money yet. I hope you all give it a listen.

Equally amazing is that just minutes after I published the post, Claire Ulrich had already translated it into French on the French Lingua version of Global Voices.

I love checking out the Translation page of the GV site and watch the global conversation bounce from language to language. We’ve still got a lot of work to do (to make sure, for example, that commenters of all languages can dialog with each other), but the Lingua team is off to an amazing start.

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I already feel a strong connection with Medellín even though I’ve never been. And I think that’s the whole point of all of this.

I’ve been on a reading tear lately. I finished Alma Guillermoprieto’s The Heart that Bleeds and now I’m working through Edmund Wilson‘s biography of Beethoven (interesting guy).

Here’s one last excerpt from Guillermoprieto’s The Heart that Bleeds. It’s from the same chapter on Medellín and it seems especially relevant to HiperBarrio:

Alonso Salazar, a slight mustachioed young man who has about him an air of almost preternatural alertness, is one of the most original of the new violentológos. He drifted through the faculties of veterinary and journalism schools until someone urged him to collect a series of oral histories he had been taking and turn it into a book. It is called No Nacimos Pa’ Semilla (“We weren’t Born to Bear Seed”), and it is selling out all over the country, because the oral histories were provided by the comuna youths known, variously, as pistolocos (crazy guns), los muchachos de las bandas (gang members), and simply sicarios (hired assassins). Salazar started collecting the boys’ stories in 1988, when the extraordinary amount of criminal activity going on in the comunas brought them sharply to the “real” city’s attention. One series of interviews, with someone he has called Toño, was recorded as the boy was dying of gunshot wounds in a bed at the Policlínica. “he was so bad, so evil,” Salazar said to me one afternoon when he and I were sitting in a dusty, garbarge-strewn plaza in the northeast comuna. “You could almost see him salivate when he told the stories about all the people he’d killed.” Still, it makes Salazar sad to think of him, because the boy came to depend on his visits, and was grateful and proud that anyone would think he was important enough to be listened to. It was the same with all the interviews. “To have their lives become a word, a line of text, thrilled them,” Salazar said. “They all wanted so badly to find a place in the world.”

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