Roman posted on Monday, May 18th, 2009 |
This week we’re playing a series of specials about the intersection of people and the natural world.
Stories from the Heart of the Land” is a 6-part series featuring intimate stories from around the world about the human connection to land and landscape. Host Jay Allison asked dozens of public radio’s best producers to do something different. He asked, “If you could tell any story about people and the natural world, what would it be?” …and off they went:
- Elizabeth Arnold went to the woods with grizzly bears.
- Dan Collison and Elizabeth Meister stalked coqui frogs in Hawaii.
- The Kitchen Sisters went to the river’s edge.
- Barrett Golding jumped on his bike.
- Scott Carrier walked with pilgrims around a mountain in Tibet.
- Jonathan Goldstein packed a tent and went camping, reluctantly.
- Sean Cole turned on his TV. Don’t worry, it was a nature show.
The result is an eclectic mix of personal narratives from all over the US and Canada, Papua New Guinea, Mongolia, Australia, Great Britain, Mexico, and the North Pole. The overall effect is a mix of the quirky, solemn, lyrical, humorous, unexpected and philosophical.
We’re premiering a new episode throughout each day this week (starting Monday 5/18) and then we’ll run them all in order on Sunday (5/24).
To hear any of them right now (no waiting!), click on the title of each episode, sign in to PRX, sit back, and listen.
Here’s the breakdown..
You may have noticed that every time you print from your computer, you are faced with a choice: Portrait or Landscape. That can represent a way of looking at the world. One or the other: The head and shoulders of the human form vs. the broad spread of the world we occupy. Or maybe not. Maybe we actually find ourselves, each of us, as portraits within landscapes.
Pieces by Elizabeth Arnold, Jonathan Goldstein, The Kitchen Sisters (Davia Nelson and Nikki Silva), Chris Brookes, Kelly McEvers, Jesikah Maria Ross
1. Out in the Great Bear Rainforest, Elizabeth Arnold discovers that, though she may be ready for the “Great”, and for the “Rainforest”, she is not so ready for the “Bear.”
2. Armed only with a tent, a pack of hot dogs, and a twelve-year old, Jonathan Goldstein confronts his fear of the woods.
3. The Kitchen Sisters’ portrait of activist Mark DuBois and his dramatic effort to save a wild river in the west.
4. What is it like to be exiled from a landscape that you can see from your window? When his legs fail him, Chris Brookes finds out.
5. The story of one man’s prairie, and his work to let it flourish, even after he dies. Kelly McEvers visits Bob’s Prairie in Illinois.
6. Through every season, 97-year-old rancher Attilio Genasci tends to his cattle and his alpine valley in California. A portrait of a man in his landscape by Jesikah Maria Ross.
All of us – even those who never leave the backyard – can clearly picture distant locales. (Quick! Imagine the Amazon!) Why is that? In this hour we try to answer. We peer into habitats frozen in time at the American Museum of Natural History. We watch nature documentaries with David Attenborough. We travel to the North Pole – really – to see what there is to see. And, finally, we visit a place where imagination will just have to do: Mt. Kailash in Western Tibet, whose summit is home to the gods and – naturally – off-limits to humans.
Pieces by Elizabeth Arnold, Sean Cole, Ann Hepperman and Kara Oehler, Scott Carrier.
1. At the top of the planet, unmoored ice speeds over the North Pole. Elizabeth Arnold heads north to try and set foot on it.
2. Seeing nature is a need, like eating or sleeping. But a lot of people can’t go out and sit in the woods once a week. No time. No woods nearby. So what do you do? Ariel has 75 wildlife documentaries in her Netflix queue. Dave and Melissa unwind with Animal Planet. Donal visits far flung jungles in Hi Def from his family room. The revolution will not be televised. But nature will be. And it’s a big hit, as Sean Cole found out.
3. For a century, while their living counterparts have grown, mated, died and – sometimes – vanished, the meticulously taxidermied animals at the American Museum of Natural History have held their heads just so. For many visitors, this is as close as they ever get to nature.
4. Mt. Kailash is one of the world’s most venerated – and least visited – holy sites. Walking its circuit alongside pilgrims, yaks and yogis, Scott Carrier finds out why.
“Finding yourself”: isn’t that the thing that kids do with backpacks in Europe? Not always. In this hour, we send a few brave radio producers out into nature on a mission of discovery. James Spring goes to Mexico in search of old-growth trees – and his youthful idealism. Jon Miller travels a trail he built in his twenties, and ponders what it means to leave his mark. And Sherre Delys discovers how hard it is to leave herself behind when she follows an aboriginal friend into the Australian outback. Also: when barrio boy Luis Urrea travels to his father’s home state in Mexico, his world becomes – literally – clear to him.
Pieces by Sherre Delys, Barrett Golding, James Spring, Luis Urrea, and Jon Miller.
1. What does a journalist do when she can’t ask questions? Yingiya Guyulu takes Sherre Delys to his homeland and teaches her a thing or two about the proper time and place for a story.
2. Biking the western back roads past rivers, reservations, and road kill, Barrett Golding finds the time to see how it all connects.
3. Take a motorcycle trip into a hidden corner of the Mexican economy – the Sierra Madre, where the forests are coming down and the marijuana is cropping up.
4. For fourteen years, Luis Urrea was a clumsy barrio boy. Then, while on a trip to Mexico’s Sinaloa State, he got his first pair of glasses – and discovered a new kind of grace.
5. As a young trail builder, Jon Miller decided to “take only pictures, leave only footprints”. Twenty years later, he returns to discover what a big footprint he’s left.
On some corner of the vast Earth, each one of us has a place – real or remembered – to call home. In this hour we are invited onto other people’s sacred ground. Teresa Goff follows a trail of grease into the history of the Namgis Nation; Jeff Rice braves three-digit temperatures to find Charles Bowden’s home in the Sonoran Desert; and Sandy Tolan treads lightly at the monastic home of Barry Lopez. Also: in a story from the Kitchen Sisters, we meet two river guides who fell for Arizona’s Glen Canyon in the years before it was dammed – and learn what happens once the place you love is gone.
Pieces by Sandy Tolan, Teresa Goff, Jeff Rice, the Kitchen Sisters (Davia Nelson and Nikki Silva).
1. Writer Barry Lopez has traveled the world. We visit his homeground in Oregon, where he writes, still using an IBM Selectric.
2. The Grease Trails, a centuries-old network of paths through Northwestern Canada, are the cultural arteries of First Nations peoples. Once on the brink of vanishing, Teresa Goff finds that the trails are being resurrected by a new generation.
3. The Sonoran desert, with its three-digit temperatures and miles between water, is an unlikely place to sustain life. But for Charles Bowden it is an oasis.
4. A portrait of pioneering river activists Ken Sleight and Katie Lee, which explores their dramatic efforts to save wild rivers, the rise of the environmental movement and the power of individuals to make a difference.
In this hour we hear stories of people living out dreams of paradise… and sometimes waking up to a nightmare. Sam Hurst and Dean Olsher discover the pain of loving land that gives you nothing but trouble. Natalie Edwards faces a personal chamber of horrors at Brooklyn’s Prospect Park. And a few sleepless Hawaiians plot the extinction of a noisy nocturnal nuisance: the Coqui Frog.
Pieces by Long Haul Productions (Dan Collison and Elizabeth Meister), Dean Olsher, Natalie Edwards, Bill McKibben and Carmen Delzell.
1. Worldwide frog populations are dropping at an alarming rate – but not fast enough, say some sleepless Hawaiians.
2. Up in the Berkshires, there is an old house on a little plot of wetlands. Dean Olsher took one look at it and knew it was home. Unfortunately, so did the beavers.
3. Natalie Edwards likes cement. And she hates grass, bugs, dirt, and trees. Listen in as Natalie attempts her own self-described “intervention” in Brooklyn’s Prospect Park.
4. Walking home after a storm, through the “hemlock woods on the edge of Otter Creek”, writer Bill McKibben finds paradise in his own landscape, close to home.
5. Sam Hurst wanted to bring the Buffalo back to the Great Plains. But, as it turned out, the Great Plains didn’t welcome Sam Hurst.
6. Carmen Delzell, a U.S. expatriate based in rural Mexico, reflects on what sent her “back to the land” and what keeps her there.
We’re all dependent on the land, although some people feel that connection more keenly than others. Those are the people we’ll hear from in the next hour. We hear from people planting stones for posterity and gathering peace from emptiness, people who commit to a patch of land, invest their energy, and hope for a harvest but not necessarily in any way you’d expect.
1. Wild Crafting, Vermont- For more than 25 years, Nova Kim and Les Hook have made a living by foraging the woods of Northern Vermont. Produced by Emily Botein.
2. Graun em i Laif , Papua New Guinea- After a rootless childhood and a hopscotch youth, Skye Rohde settles down in Papua New Guinea and discovers what it’s like to belong to the land.
3. Stone by Stone, Lake District, United Kingdom- For twenty years, rain or shine, Andrew Loudon has been building stone walls in the Lake District. Produced by Kim Normanton.
4. Faith in Fishermen, Stonington, Maine- These things are clear about Maine fishermen: They keep secrets. And they distrust scientists. Unless, of course, you’re Ted Ames, who is both fisherman and scientist. Produced by Neenah Ellis.
5. Desert Blooms, Arizona- Charles Bowden on the ecstasy of Selenicereus plerantus, which offers its bloom on just one night – the hottest and blackest of the year. Produced by Jeff Rice.
6. Elbow Room, Alaska, China and Mongolia- How much land does a person need? Elizabeth Arnold, who lives in Alaska, goes in search of even more wide-open space and ends up with a case of claustrophobia in Outer Mongolia.