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Greetings from Kathmandu

Happy New Year 2012 to all:

I am more of a grog rather than a blog type of guy, but here is the first missive from 2012. To celebrate and reflect on this time of endings and new beginnings, yesterday I went out to Pashupatinath temple east of the Kathmandu Airport on one of the clearest days on record. This is the birthplace of Lord Shiva and one of Nepal’s most sacred and powerful sites. It is a place where Hindu’s cremate their relatives, preparing them to pass from this life into the next one, surrounded by hashish smoking, ash-covered Hindu ascetics. From the cremation grounds along banks the sacred Bagmati, looking east one could the twin peaks of Guari Shankar, and nearly all the way to Mount Everest, nearly 90 miles away. I was reminded how dependent we are on these magnificent mountains, for their life giving waters, for their forests that clear the too often polluted air we breathe, for the herbs and forest plants that provide incomes for tens of thousands of the mountain farmers, for the myths and legends that help us interpret our lives, and for awe that these mountains inspire, even 90 miles away. At TMI, these conservation and development issues are at the heart of our mission and we try to address every day through protection and sustainable use of the mountain resources.

This is a time of ending and new beginning for me as well. In 10 days, I leave Nepal after almost 16 years and reinvent myself as Director of Himalayan Programs but from a base in Washington DC. With some fear and trembling, I look forward to this new incarnation, stepping back from the day to day management of our programs and gradually handing things over to the TMI Nepal team, as they take on new and increased duties. This will free me up somewhat to explore new and emerging program options that will help us complete our mission such as using carbon financing to support our conservation and livelihood programs, here in the Himalayas and perhaps in the Andes and North America as well. It is an exciting time to be going back for me and for TMI, to become part of the emerging TMI Headquarters team, working with our new Executive Director, Andrew Taber.  While we can rest a while and enjoy the view on this clear day, we still have much to do and future blogs will describe some of these efforts in more detail. In the meantime, wishing you, your families and all mountain people all the best for a healthy, prosperous and peaceful 2012.

Brian Peniston
Nepal Program Director
Contact Brian

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