Staff Profile: Tina Baldwin

Usually teeming with people, the Great Wall was pretty much deserted on June 2, 1989, except for Tina Baldwin. Tina had recently arrived in China on a tourist visa, wanting to experience the country. Standing on the Great Wall, Tina remembers having to set her camera’s timer to capture the moment because there was not another person around to help take a picture. On May 20, 1989, the Chinese government had declared martial law as a response to pro-democracy, mostly student-led protests in Beijing that had spread the pro-democracy sentiment throughout various different Chinese cities.

Tina says her view from the Wall was one that reflected the turbulent, revolutionary time: the troops that had been mobilized to deal with the perceived political threat of the protestors were stationed directly between the Wall and Beijing, filling the parking lots that were usually filled with tourists from around the world.

On June 4, the military swept into Tiananmen Square, filled with protestors, and began shooting. The number of civilian deaths has been estimated at anywhere between 300 and thousands. According to history.com, as many as 10,000 protestors were arrested.

Tina recognized that she was in the country during a momentous and dangerous time. Although many foreigners were choosing to leave and most foreign journalists were being forced to leave, she stayed. In fact, recognizing that there was a limited foreign press presence, Tina called National Public Radio to see if they wanted her to report on what was happening in the country. She offered to supply stories if NPR paid for the phone bills. NPR accepted.

Tina admits to being an avid traveler and says that her friends joked about not traveling with her again because of the revolutions that happened in China and other countries during and after Tina’s visits. And, although she has been on a few politically-charged, history-in-the-making trips, it is the Galapagos Islands that are her favorite destination. She says that the Galapagos Islands’ breathtaking natural beauty and amazing outdoor opportunities were just incredible. Her trip was filled with hiking, kayaking, scuba diving, and snorkeling. She saw land iguanas, sea lions, and birds. Because of the islands’ strictly enforced rules regarding respect for wildlife and flora and fauna, the animals seem to have little fear of humans, not perceiving them as threats. Walking down the trails on the islands, she says the birds would just stay in place as she walked around them.

The 18 main islands of the Galapagos archipelago chain are found in the eastern Pacific Ocean, and are part of Ecuador, with 97.5 percent of the archipelago’s land area a national park. According to Wikipedia, it’s also a World Heritage Site, a biosphere and marine reserve, and a whale sanctuary.

Although Tina loves to experience the world, she is very content here on the Palouse. She grew up in Mill Valley, California, studied geography at University of California, Berkeley, and has spent 45 years in the Northwest; this is her home. She finds she travels less now because of her personal commitment to limiting her own carbon footprint. Because of this philosophy, she also prioritizes buying local food and local or American-made clothes and other goods. She is a registered dietician, a yoga instructor, and a meditation practitioner. Her personal commitments and passions led her to the Moscow Food Co-op’s bakery. The Co-op’s commitment to local and sustainable foods and choices as well as their efforts to green and build community mirror her own perspective.

Tina says her super power is “contagious ahimsa.” She explains that ahimsa, a term used by both Gandhi and Martin Luther King, Jr., is a principle of nonviolence in word, deed, and thought; a peace in people’s hearts where they can act with fortitude and lovingkindness, addressing problems without violence and lies.