Rane Cortez, who grew up up in Minnetonka and went to school at the University of Minnesota, is now a long way from home. She is living on the edge of the rain forest in northern Brazil and working for The Nature Conservancy on developing forest-friendly agricultural development for local farmers and landowners.
Some of her blogs for the Nature Conservancy are now posted on the National Geographic web site here. Below is an excerpt from her first post.
Rane Cortez is second from left. Photo courtesy of The Nature Conservancy.
"São Felix is a picturesque and tranquil town, nestled on the banks of the Xingu and Fresco rivers. The pace is “tropical-slow” and the people are invariably hospitable. The pastimes seem to revolve around soccer, fishing, church, and enjoying a cold beverage on the hot nights. But the tranquility is deceptive. São Felix is an active frontier town, with a history as dynamic and volatile as any in the Amazon.
People began to move to São Felix 30-40 years ago during a time when the Brazilian government’s strategy for Amazon was known as “integrar para não entregar,” meaning “occupy it in order not to hand it over.” It reminds me a little of the old American mantra, “Go west, young man.” This policy was based on the fear that, if Brazil did not develop the Amazon, someone else would move in and do it for them."
Not exactly Minnetonka.