A letter from the Schinkelstraats, 21 December 2018

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Photo Mark Charmer. The Wild West begins. On a Delta 757 heading East, out of California. 26 March 2018.

Some years ago, my friend Fiona, an environmental journalist of some note, described her sense of wonder as she stared from her aeroplane window, as she crossed the Sahara Desert, in a low sun. How she tried to take in its breathtaking scale, remoteness and beauty.

I had a related experience at the end of March, as I left America after some months in San Francisco. …


A letter from the Schinkelstraats, 7 December 2018.

I’ve loved many Americans in my life, but the first American I loved was a McDonnell-Douglas DC-10.

It was the most beautiful thing I’d ever seen. Parked right beside the wire fence, behind my Nanna’s house at Speke airport in Liverpool, Northwest England, one June summer day in 1980. With its massive third bypass engine hanging out back over the tail. And its huge Transamerica logo up top. I was nine, and it was just incredible.

Like a great migrating bird, for its chosen reason it had landed at our little air field, normally the quiet home to screeching antique Vickers Viscounts, trundling back and forth across the Irish Sea. Fresh from the factory at Long Beach, California, this DC-10 was a star from beyond. …


A letter from the Schinkelstraats, 7 December 2018.

Photo by Mark Charmer

For some years, my former colleague and good friend Alvaro de Salvo has been asking me to write him a reference letter. He likes to build a set of them over time, and the thinking is that it also gives helpful feedback on his work. Anyway, I’ve finally done it — here it is.

7 December 2018

Re: Alvaro de Salvo

Dear sir / madam,

Alvaro reported to me for a period of 15 months from September 2014, in the later phase of my time as co-founder and director of PR and Communications at akvo.org, in Amsterdam. He was able to take in and interpret my vision, bond rapidly with the team, and build ways to defend, sustain and iterate our strategy and processes. It’s always been a pleasure working with him, and our friendship and camaraderie — and laughter — has been an important pillar in my life ever since. …

Mark Charmer

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