Sunday, October 20, 2013

I'm Concerned About the Blueberries - Flint, MIchigan and São Paulo

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This morning I had planned to continue my South Africa/Brazil in my eyes series but an article in Adweek caught my eye and got me thinking. The pictured billboard about blueberries appeared mysteriously in Flint, Michigan. People guessed it had to do with drugs or some other commentary about life there. 

But the man who put it up there explained that it had to do with an experience he had while traveling in Alaska. A simple question to his young tour guide "how's it going?" came back with "I'm concerned about the blueberries" referring to the state's crop and the lack of rain. The man at first thought the response rather in, what a small worry to have. But to this young man the blueberries were the worry--not gun control, not the US economy in general, not world peace. 

And I started to think about this. When you travel or live in a foreign country or even your own, do you ask people how it's going? I mean REALLY ask, not that "howzitgoin'" that means "hello." Do you get a real answer? I don't think I've asked this question enough of the people I meet. 

My guess is that the concerns that would come up as answers to "how's it going?" here in São Paulo would be: security, school, health care, traffic, and all the daily items that affect us. That would be the answer in my socio-economic group. Maybe. I might be surprised by a "blueberry" answer though.

And what about the street guard? What does he worry about? What about the policia militar? The strawberry farmer who comes to sell out of crates at the end of our street? 

It's a simple question really: "how's it going?" Try it out. You might learn that your blueberries are not someone else's.

You can see more from Adweek here.

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