People constantly ask me: "Do you ever run out of story ideas?" Actually I don't. There's always something to write about. The hard part is keeping it fresh and interesting. Typically I write about people I meet who do good in the world, selfless individuals who work tirelessly to improve the lives of those around them. Over the last few weeks in fact I've been inundated with dozens of amazing stories about people doing great things on behalf of the environment or for the benefit of others. The hard part as journalist is to pick the stories that are most engaging and compelling.
Unfortunately what happens is that when so many people are doing so much good the cynic in me becomes a bit jaded and I'm left to wonder which stories are truly worth exploring further, to write about and share with a broader audience. Even Everest climbers and ultra-distance runners raising money to cure cancer or end hunger are becoming cliché. We’ve been there, done that, another tired phrase. Suddenly I understand why the nightly news is always full of murder and mayhem. These are exciting isolated events that draw a person's interest because they're unusual. Deeds of common good are, well...boring.
The truths discovered in documentary films often reveal far more than meet the eye. In his Oscar winning movie "the Cove" photojournalist Louie Psihoyos takes us on an adventure that perhaps shows us more than we want to see.
“I lead an elite team of activists to penetrate a secret cove in Japan to reveal a dark secret,” Psihoyos said.
The Cove, part action thriller, part nature film is the exciting story behind a covert operation to document one of the most horrific atrocities of the 21st century, the systematic slaughter of dolphins.
“They kill more dolphins than anywhere on the planet right there at this cove, which incidentally is in a Japanese national park, a marine sanctuary,” Psihoyos said. That’s the irony of this whole thing. But it’s also the scene of the captive dolphin trade. Most of the captive dolphins in the world come from this little cove.”
For millennia, water has spread across the broad expanse of the Florida Everglades. But in the last 100 years or so man has blocked its path with roads and dug canals to drain and reroute its course. Now some parts of the Everglades have too much water and some have too little.
"The problem is the Everglades are our water supply." said Eric Buermann of the Southern Florida Water Management District. "And there's only 40 percent of the natural Everglades left after man's drainage and decimation of the natural environment."
Investing almost $1 billion the state for Florida has instituted a research program to correct the growing problem. Engineers hope to apply what scientists learn to get water running again where there's too much of it and let it flow into places where there's much too little of it, like the Everglades National Park.
My good friend adventure filmmaker Dominic Gill is in a tight spot and he needs your help. Just when he was about to embark upon another epic transcontinental bicycle trip his partner Ernie Greenwald has taken ill. The 76-year-old cancer patient suffered a bout of pneumonia after a round of chemotherapy and simply can not peddle along the 4,000-mile journey as planned from California to New York. But Dom still hopes to make the ride. And in the classic fashion of his award-winning film of the same title he hopes to find a few people across America to "Take A Seat" and cycle their way across the country in Ernie's place. There's only one catch. You have to be disabled.
One of the great pleasure of putting together this podcast every week is finding those amazing individuals whose work bring art and culture together to tell the story of adventure. Unfortunately it’s not often that I can make a more direct connection to the active lifestyle through the performing art of music. But more two years ago I became acquainted with the work of climber and rap artist Kris Hampton, a singer known as O-Dub. His name was derived while a blending his love for music with his passion for climbing wide cracks on rock walls commonly called off-widths.
“I was recording songs in a studio in a bad neighborhood in Cincinnati. I was the only white that recorded in the studio,” O-Dub said. “And I came out of the booth one day to record a song…the song “Off-Widths.” And these thugged-out guys with white T-Shirts down to their knees are all staring at me like I’m an idiot. Like what is this guy talking about?
“They understood the spirit of the song, but they didn’t have a clue what I was talking about. So they caught onto the word off-width and started using it like ‘off the hook’ or ‘off the chain’ like ‘Man! That was off-width.’ So they used it all week while I was in there recording. And they started calling me off-width and then someone shortened it to O-Dub and it just went from there.”
With topical lyrics and bouncy jams authentic to his own experience Kris O-Dub Hampton brings the art of song writing to the sport of climbing. Through his rap songs he’s creating new anthems to both inspire and chronicle the life of adventure but with a modern twist that still’s reminiscent of the poets and ballad writers in the classic style of the mountaineering tradition.