They say the journey of a thousand miles begins with a single footstep, and the time to take that step is upon us. I’m very proud to be able to introduce Pasqual, our new organization. But before I elaborate on what Pasqual is, I have to raise a question… what is an organization? Why do we have them, what purpose do they serve? I’m not going to play the role of interweb dictionary, but instead I’ll offer my own interpretation of what organizations are and why we have them.
As humans, we have many talents, strengths, and weaknesses. Usually we are well aware of them; our own, those of others, and those of society. Individually we can tap into them to achieve a positive outcome or goal, but sometimes those goals are too large for one person to achieve. The word “organize” comes from the Greek word organon, surprisingly meaning “organ”. The dictionary emphasizes that the nature of the word “organize” is rooted in an organic structure; we tend to understand that organic means natural. It is natural that we, as people, come together in an organic way to achieve those things which elude us as individuals. Thus it is no surprise to me that the concept for Pasqual arose, naturally.
One day I was performing my usual habit of cruising the internet, looking up this thing and that thing. While reading about rocket stoves and how handy they are for camping, I was drawn into their history. Lo and behold, they weren’t designed for luxuriating in the woods it seemed, but for relieving the burden of smoke induced illnesses in the developing world. I consider myself to be relatively well informed, and I have more than a passing interest in international issues. But I was taken completely by surprise when I discovered the scope of this issue, and even more surprised when I came to the realization that it’s resolution was staring us in the face.
This question is going to sound ridiculous, but have you ever sat around a campfire? Ever had that lingering feeling that the campfire knew where YOU were sitting, and it’s goal was to smoke you out no matter what form of evasive maneuver you employed? Well, I’m sure you are not alone in that. Have you ever thought what it would be like if that happened to you every day, every time you cooked your food? The thought had never crossed my mind, I was too busy bobbing and weaving. Do you want a taste of what it’s like to cook in a developing world kitchen? Grill burgers three times a day and keep your face in the fumes the entire time. I’m gonna go out on a limb here and posit that none of us plan on doing that.
As many of you may know, I work in the firefighting business. I get paid to put on protective gear and work in the smoke environment. If I fail to use my gear, I will get injured, and I risk the safety of my crew and those we serve in the process. I have been trained on how to work in this environment and stay safe, training which takes months to achieve and years to master. This is the risk we assume, but as firefighters we are educated on the hazards and voluntarily choose this line of work. Here’s another assumption I’m going to make, but I believe it is a safe one… Not one single person in the developing world volunteered to live and work in a home filled with smoke.
So, where does this leave us? I’ll take you back a few paragraphs to my musings about the word organic. As I became more educated on the issues, my human nature kicked in and I wanted to do something. Is this problem one than can be solved single-handedly? Don’t be silly, the thought never crossed my mind. I understood that it would take a community to solve these problems, in more ways than one. Enter Pasqual, our new organization.
Wait, not so fast! What is a Pasqual? Better yet, who is Pasqual? Paschal Baylon, aka San Pasqual , was a 16th century Franciscan friar/folk saint who’s calling was to serve in the kitchen. Charity and self-sacrifice were his hallmarks, and he is known throughout New Mexico as the patron saint of the kitchen. So much so that you’d be hard pressed to find a New Mexico kitchen without a San Pasqual retablo. We certainly have one… Okay, he’s a saint, so what? Who better to help in the fight against kitchen smoke than the very Patron Saint of the Kitchen himself! To be clear, we are not Catholic, but the historicity and poignancy of Paschal Baylon remains. Something tells me he’d be delighted to be invoked for our cause.
Alright, where were we… We have a cause, we have a name; now we need people to complete our organization. This is where YOU come in, because I sure don’t want to do this alone. Our journey begins today, and over the next three months I want to invite you to participate in this journey. Neither you or I are alone on this planet, and I want those who suffer in smoke filled kitchens to know that they aren’t alone either. I never go into a fire without my crew, that would be dangerous and stupid, and right now I need a crew badly. Join my crew by following our blog, enter the perilous world of simply cooking your daily meals with me, and help us put an end to this deadly problem.
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