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View Diary: Lessons for building an ecocity culture (40 comments)

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  •  Mercy Buckets. (6+ / 0-)

    Great diary. I didn't know you spoke French.

    Breathe in. Breathe out. Forget this, and attaining enlightenment will be the least of your problems.

    by rb137 on Thu Aug 22, 2013 at 04:52:31 PM PDT

    •  I had it for 3 years in high school (6+ / 0-)

      but the true test of how much I remember will come next month. The French have a reputation for being unforgiving with people butchering their language, but I will just try to charm myself into their merciful heart. :-)

      Ecology is the new Economy => Kosonomy

      by citisven on Thu Aug 22, 2013 at 04:59:18 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Well, you'll be fine... (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        citisven, Larsstephens

        I think many French are quite forgiving to those who make a genuine effort.  :)

        Why does a French man eat only one egg for breakfast?

        Because one egg is un oeuf.

        Breathe in. Breathe out. Forget this, and attaining enlightenment will be the least of your problems.

        by rb137 on Thu Aug 22, 2013 at 08:59:11 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  I didn't find the French unforgiving at all, (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        citisven, DawnN, annan

        but then I learned the quintessential phrase that got laughs and appreciation. A little background.

        My daughter and I staying with a French family whose son, Matthieu, had spent the previous 2 summers with us in SOCAL. Young nephew (6ish) also visiting and trying to get me and my daughter to correctly say the days of the week in French. After 5-8 attempts to say "Lundi" correctly, young nephew threw his hands in the air and said something that made everyone laugh hysterically. When I asked what he had said, Matthieu explained, "He said you are hopeless." After I finished laughing I requested Matthieu teach me the phrase, which is "Je suis sans espoir".

        So, for the remainder of our time in France whenever I needed something at a store, reservations at the train station, etc. I'd politely ask if they spoke English. As soon as I got a negative resoponse, I'd trot out "je suis sans espoir" and as soon as they got up off the floor, they'd help me in every way imaginable. Kid you not, it worked like a charm. They knew in advance I was going to butcher their language, but they loved me for trying. All over France people told me "you're not like other Americans we've met" and I knew what they meant. I had the BEST time in France and NOBODY was rude to me in Paris, NOBODY.

        “The genius of our ruling class is that it has kept a majority of the people from ever questioning the inequity of a system where most people drudge along paying heavy taxes for which they get nothing in return.” - Gore Vidal

        by Hanging Up My Tusks on Thu Aug 22, 2013 at 09:43:45 PM PDT

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        •  sweet story, HUMT (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          DawnN, annan

          The last time I was in Paris (probably over 10 years ago) I also had no bad experiences at all. I think it's all about what you put out there, and as your story shows, humor and humility are some of the best tools to warm up any awkward situations. A good friend of mine who is a painter and has been teaching in Paris the last two summers, has a similar approach: whenever he introduces himself to someone, he starts with "Je suis un stupide américain." People crack up immediately, it works every time. :-)

          Ecology is the new Economy => Kosonomy

          by citisven on Thu Aug 22, 2013 at 10:13:12 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  LOL - love your friend's approach. (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            citisven, annan

            Whilst in Paris we visited a smallish museum and I saw a tall American woman (she had what sounded like a Texas accent) stride across a room complaining that she couldn't find the bathroom and that there were no signs in English. "Why aren't there any damn signs in English?" I laughed to myself and thought she would be the very person who went back to the States complaining about rude Parisians. My observation was if you act like an Ugly American, they'll be happy to treat you like one.

            Have a fantastic trip, Sven. Lots of envy here. My daughter and I stopped briefly (an hour or so) in Nantes on our way to Pontorson where we hoped to spend the night in a hostel prior to an early morning trip to Mont St. Michel. If memory serves, we got off the train to get something to eat only to find most places closed for "siesta". When in Nantes I remember trying to connect with the hostel in Pontorson to make sure they had room for a couple more guests. Never were able to reach them (this was in 1992 and we didn't have cell phones), so I agreed to go to Pontorson only if my daughter and the young American boy we'd picked up somewhere along the way agreed not to complain if we had to sleep on park benches that night. Fortunately, there was room at the inn (an old ballet studio) and it was the first time we encountered coed hostel rooms. Pontorson was a charming little town and Mont St. Michel was awesome even though it was touristy to the max.

            “The genius of our ruling class is that it has kept a majority of the people from ever questioning the inequity of a system where most people drudge along paying heavy taxes for which they get nothing in return.” - Gore Vidal

            by Hanging Up My Tusks on Thu Aug 22, 2013 at 10:44:22 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  I think it'll be a good one (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              Hanging Up My Tusks

              I'll bring along my parents who live in Germany and we'll be at the Atlantic for a few days after the conference. We've got an Airbnb both in Nantes and on the coast, so we'll definitely be getting some nice local hospitality. If we have time we'll check out Ponterson, but my feeling is that between the conference and walking around downtown and the island there won't be much time for venturing outwards.

              Ecology is the new Economy => Kosonomy

              by citisven on Thu Aug 22, 2013 at 11:36:21 PM PDT

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