{ Three of my favorite things are at True/False 2014 }

February 26, 2014 § 1 Comment

The True/False documentary film festival is a jubilant affair that erupts all over downtown Columbia, Missouri, at the close of each winter. It’s special for lots of reasons. Directors, producers and subjects answer questions at the end of every show. Buskers play onstage before films and fill the streets when they’re off duty (by the way – Did you know Lawrence, Kansas, has a busker festival?). Visual artists install quirky scenes in every corner of every venue. Speaking of which, we planted our last orange trees this evening, which means…

True/False is this weekend!  Here’s what I’m watching:

{ Documentary about Social Capital in the Rural Midwest }

Rich Hill, directed by Tracy Droz Tragos and Andrew Droz Palermo. One of the best interviews I’ve ever done was with these two cool cousins, whose family is anchored in Rich Hill, Missouri. (Actually, you can read that Q&A in Missouri Life on newsstands now.) Tracy and Andrew are compassionate, intelligent, talented people, very gracious with their time and very thoughtful in their responses. I am so excited to see their work on the big screen.

{ Documentary about One of My Favorite Musicians Ever }

20,000 Days on Earth, about Nick Cave. Done. I’m there. When Esquire put him on its list of weird men last month, Tom Junod said, “His songs might be classified as either ‘sacred or profane’ or ‘sacred and profane,’ and that tells you how indispensably weird he is.”

{ Documentary about Science and the Questions it Answers }

Particle Fever, directed by Mark Levinson. It follows six scientists at the launch of the Large Hadron Collider and promises to both excite a general audience and get really philosophical. Sounds perfect.

Anyone want to check the lineup and tell me what you’re seeing?

{ Climate Confidential: stories of promising fixers }

February 24, 2014 § 2 Comments

Let’s rally for a moment: Science is great! Positive thinking is great! Solid journalism is great, and good storytelling is even better. Community support? Totally great.

Now that we’re all on the same page, might I direct you to Climate Confidential? It’s a new environmental storytelling project run by six badass women (three are fellow SEJers). They promise weekly, in-depth stories about science and technology solving climate change problems. Very “Solutions Journalism,” no?

Climate Confidential will crowdfund through BEACON. The number of backers — not just sheer dollars — decide whether the project can go forward (CC needs 800 backers by March 6). Fortunately, poor freelancers like me can pay $5 a month just to say, “I believe in you!” and still get access to all of Beacon’s material.

So hey, Climate Confidential. I believe in you. Once I find my wallet.

Seriously, where is my wallet? « Read the rest of this entry »

{ February: Osage County }

February 23, 2014 § Leave a comment

The Flint Hills called me back.

I know, so soon? This time, I drove to Pawhuska, Oklahoma. More cow herds and oil derricks than Kansas, but still, gorgeous country.

Sidenote: Today I discovered that I’m not alone in my Flint Hill love: William Least Heat-Moon (another Missourian, of Blue Highways fame) wrote a book called PrairyErth (A Deep Map): An Epic History of the Tallgrass Prairie Country.

Angela, my extraordinary Couchsurfing host and Pawhuska tour guide.

Angela, my extraordinary Pawhuska host and tour guide. She made me walk across the scary swinging bridge.

This trip was mostly business, no buffalo. However, I was lucky to land an extraordinary Couchsurfing host named Angela. In addition to enlightening me on the town name’s pronunciation (mnemonic device: the high school mascot is the Husky — Pawhuskies!), she showed me cool things to do in Pawhuska and took me to a couple of her favorite spots in town. It felt like I was let in on a secret, so we’ll keep it that way for the most part. The one bummer was that so many businesses were closed on President’s Day. The bright side is that it’s an excuse to come back.

{ Things to Do in Pawhuska, Oklahoma }

  • Visit the Tallgrass Prairie Preserve. Bluestem and buffalo, a winning pair!
  • Go antiquing! My favorite was The Twisted Bronc, and I’m not just saying that because Angela runs it. It’s well curated, and her mother sells a lot of her own leatherwork. Two other shops, Comin’ Home Again Antiques and Sister’s Attic, were both pretty nice. I also wanted to check out Osage Outfitters and Clifton’s, which purports to carry a lot of local art.
  • Gawk at Ree Drummond’s new studio in downtown Pawhuska. I wish I had realized this was the same person who gave me the phrase, “whatever makes your skirt fly up” and whose chicken salad recipe I follow religiously. I might have paid more attention. At any rate, everyone I spoke to seemed very excited for the extra tourism her Food Network show might generate, and I’m excited about chicken salad.
  • Eat at The Prairie Dog, a gourmet hot dog shop. Which is fascinating.
  • Explore the Osage Nation Museum. A stunning array of photographs, sculptures and artifacts. Just don’t be a jerk like me and try to take pictures. (In my defense, I did not see the sign!)
  • Walk downtown to see beautiful murals, statues, and other fine details.  An oil boom in the 70s gave rise to beautiful, tall brick buildings, worked around much older stone structures that were early Osage governing sites. Boom became bust; the tall buildings emptied out. From what Angela and others say, there’s been a slow burn of businesses establishing themselves inside the town over the years. See also: the Catholic church, which has gorgeous stained glass filled with local history. Pawhuska is worth a day’s trip at least.
  • Visit Osage Hills State Park or Bluestem Lake. I didn’t see either one for much time, but it was lovely scenery.

I wish I had more time with Angela, because she seems like a really fun, deep-thinking lady. She told me, “I have more of a life in little Pawhuska than I did in Tulsa,” and I can believe it. Small towns bring people closer, especially if you have a group of outsiders intentionally living in a place like that. Same mindset, you know? They want to live there. They go to football games and benefit dinners and make hikes into adventures. A really inspiring bunch.

I’ll leave you with some wisdom from one of those secret spots:

Well if you insist...

{ Also }

Outside
Snow Geese!

Published
“Flying Green–we’re not there yet…” and “Driving Green-Running on algae?” in Global Business Travel magazine

{ True/False Orange Trees }

February 20, 2014 § 1 Comment

Prepping for True/False. Did this at least 200 times.

{ How to make flower petals out of paper for the coolest film festival in the Midwest } « Read the rest of this entry »

{ Flint Hills in Kansas }

February 19, 2014 § 1 Comment

I haven’t been genuinely surprised in a while. Then I saw the Flint Hills in Kansas.

Call me state-ist, or maybe suggest I go west of the 94th meridian west once in a while. That’s fine. Probably true, given how I’ve always conceptualized Kansas:

srsly

srsly. Original art © Tina Casagrand, all rights reserved.

Have you ever said or thought something so completely asinine that you deserved to be punched? That—the punch, that is—was this scene, driving to Wichita southwest from Kansas City a couple evenings ago:

Srsly gorgeous. Photo by Flickr user

Srsly gorgeous. Photo by Flickr user by TJ Morton.

WTF, Kansas? What are you hiding? This is funny because I say I love prairies. I’ve even planned trips out to Kansas with my boyfriend, who hails from more easterly origins, and is thus more deeply awed by such expansive landscapes. And I’ve heard  of the Flint Hills, sure. But that ultra-flat, sunflowers-and-corn idea was so ingrained, it blinded me to my very not-flat neighbor.

I started to notice a change in landscape right before a Flint Hills welcome sign. Knobby peaks, brittle chert, tall grass that’s ribboned like sandstone. This week, ponds and jagged creeks were frozen, and the last shreds of a late-winter snow hung onto north slopes. Only scribbled tree limbs broke those subtle striations.

Well, that, and one “Rock Chalk Jayhawk” billboard. Gag.

A good reminder that you can tell a person about beauty a million times, but there’s no substitute for seeing it first-hand. And that, if I’m going to advocate for “flyover country,” I, myself, need to hack away at those preconceived notions. Here’s an essay on that idea of nothing, told through the Flint Hills. « Read the rest of this entry »

{ Pipeline Creeping West }

February 14, 2014 § Leave a comment

Continuing my coverage of the Flanagan South Pipeline this week, I was told, “You’re almost too late. They’re nearly done.” (I was also told, “I thought you’d be driving a Prius.” How about that.) These photos are on Enbridge’s second spread northeast of Shelbina, Mo.

Pipeline sections lined up for welding. Welding equipment is at the far left, and they expected to be to the foreground within a few hours. Covers on the end were taken off at about noon.

Pipeline sections lined up for welding. Welding equipment is at the far left, and they expected to be to the foreground within a few hours. Covers on the end were taken off at about noon.

Inside the pipeline nautilus!

Inside the pipeline nautilus!

BMPs in place over a stream. "Bridges" of wooden slats were placed in lowland areas to try and not disturb the soil. I believe the pipeline in the background is the Spearhead line, but couldn't get that confirmed on site.

Best Management Practices in place over a stream. “Bridges” of wooden slats were placed in lowland areas to try and not disturb the soil. I believe the pipeline in the background is the Spearhead line, but couldn’t get that confirmed on site.

This pipe was made in Canada, and those zeros look pretty happy about that.

This pipe was made in Canada, and those zeros look pretty happy about that.

"You got it? Do I look cool? Do I look like I know what I'm doing?"

“You got it? Do I look cool? Do I look like I know what I’m doing?”

"Goalposts" meant to keep tall equipment from hitting electric and telephone lines.

“Goalposts” meant to keep tall equipment from hitting electric and telephone lines.

The "after." Not a ton going on, but underneath is seeded and layered with straw.

The “after” shot, near Cairo, Mo. Not a ton going on, but underneath is seeded and layered with straw.

Lining audio up for a KBIA piece. More to come!

{ Impinging on Chesapeake Bay }

February 11, 2014 § Leave a comment

How does a mentality of “not in my backyard” manifest itself as interference with another region’s cleanup efforts? From NoCoast to the East Coast, real sorry about this. « Read the rest of this entry »

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