Barnaul, Tomsk – to the office

The weather report here from Russia (to be more specific, central Siberia) is wishy-washy. After leaving Vladivostok (sunny, low 70s), I reached Barnaul where it is mid/late fall, cold and unsettled, but with lovely color on the birch trees. Yesterday, I went 1000 km round trip (overnight bus and overnight train!) to Tomsk for a daytime reconnaissance mission. Upon departure, it was hovering at freezing and snowing steadily.

Most of this work week was spent in Barnaul and Tomsk. Highlights:

  • Great meeting with Mikhail Shishin etal at the Fund for 21st Century Altai regarding their knowledge of the state of the Katun Dam project and their work on the Alternative Energy Center (Oak grant project). They have agreed to commission (and direct) a report on the development of alternative energy (and energy needs in general) across the Republic of Altai as a whole.
  • Spent an afternoon drinking tea and chattering with Ecoclub-Altai about eco-education, eco-tourism, state of Tigireksky Zapovednik and its nearby lands, planning for a larger strategy meeting with the whole local coalition early next week.
  • Drank a lot of tea, ate a lot of cookies
  • Arrived at Tomsk at 6am, met by Sergey Aushev, who took me on a whirlwind tour of various government kingpins (MinNatRes, Forestry Service, city NatProCommittee) as well as a useful meeting with TESI, our current primary partner in Tomsk. Need a longer report to do this justice, but in sum, I can say Tomsk (400 yrs old this year) is a lovely city, but poor and desperately thin on $$$. Oh, and the stuffed bird collection at Tomsk State University is impressive.
  • Night train “home” to Barnaul, platzkart, 12 hours.

Upcoming week:

  • Monday…preparations for Tuesday meeting
  • Tuesday…meet with Ecoclub, ISAR-Sib, SibEcoCenter, and Fund to discuss 1) upcoming Weeden grant year, 2) strategize for Katun Dam opposition campaign. Should be a good meeting. Timely if nothing else. Meet with #2 dude to Vladimir Ryzhkov, one of very few Duma reps to oppose the Katun Dam project.
  • *Wednesday…fly to Moscow, overnight, souvenir shop and meet with Igor Mikhno
  • Thursday…fly home
  • Friday…recover…see you all on Monday, Oct 4.

PS. These weather reports, especially with the fun details, are a great antidote to “long trip in Russia blues”. Thanks everyone, for keeping it interesting and light!