Wallace Stegner put it this way. “National Parks are the best idea we ever had.” This weekend, the National Park Service celebrates its birthday by making the parks free for a day. We're celebrating with an hour on the history and politics of national parks. And we'll meet some folks whose lives have been changed by experiences they had in the parks.
Ahhh, the sound of grizzly bears fighting over salmon in a tidal pool. Incredible! When you listen to those grizzly bears you are listening to one of the greatest, if not thee greatest, resource American has. It’s land. William Cronon says our land IS who we are. So it makes since, that in the 19th century a bold and visionary invention was created: the National Park. Cronon told Steve Paulson that National Parks are America's greatest invention.
So, National Parks are the greatest thing since sliced bread. And everyone loves them. Right? Well, not so fast. In the past couple years, a small group of Republicans have introduced bills that would seriously curtailing the creation of new National Parks and roll back protections of existing ones. These have been dubbed the “No More National Parks” bills. None of these bills have become law. Yet.Claire Moser works for the Public Lands Project for The Center for American Progress and she is trying to steop those bills.
A discssion about National Parks can be kind of abstract. But it doesn’t have to be. Part of the intention of National Parks is that we use them. Day hikes. Sightseeing. Camping. Or, walking over 1,000 miles. Alone. To say Cheryl Strayed’s memoir called “Wild” struck a nerve would be the understatement of the year. The best-seller turned major motion picture blew many Americans away. The core of “Wild” is about a journey. One foot in front of the other – literal and otherwise.
Hiking. Fishing. Camping. What about using the parks for, well, being a bad ass. The documentary “Valley Uprising” tells the story of the rock climbers who have dared El Capitan – the 3000 foot granite wall of Yosemite National Park. Nick Rosen is the film’s director. He told Steve Paulson that the story starts back in the 1950s. Before climbing wall gyms. Before it was even legal to climb in Yosemite.
One of the most amazing things about National Parks is what you can hear. Or as acoustic ecologist Gordon Hempton would put it, NOT hear. He's is the founder of the organization One Square Inch of Silence. The once square inch is an actual place located in the Hoh Rain Forest at Olympic National Park. The exact location is marked by a small red-colored stone placed on top of a moss-covered log. And after you hear (or don't hear) this piece you will want to go. So, here's a map.
National Parks are important to America. And not just for the environment. But for the well-being of those who visit. Yet a large portion of the US popular has never set foot in a National Park. Especially African Americans. Independent producer James Mills wanted to know why. And he went all the way back to the Buffalo Soldiers, exploring what he calls "The Adventure Gap
Rebecca Dopart was working as a Peace Corps volunteer in Poland, in the mid-90s. While there, she fell in love and got married. Just three weeks after her wedding, her father-in-law died. In this story, Dopart recalls how her husband tended to his father’s body.
When a loved one dies, most of us turn to a professional, someone like Caitlin Doughty. She's a licensed mortician, death activist, and creator of the popular webseries "Ask A Mortician". In this interview, she talks about what happens when a body is prepared for burial.
Seth Kane Kwei launched a revolution in Ghanaian funeral practices in the early 1950s, when he redesigned a chief's traditional palaquin into a coffin. His grandson, Eric Adjetey Anang, is now carrying on his grandfather's work, making coffins that reflect the trades, accomplishments and dreams of the deceased.
According to historian Thomas Laqueur, neither sanitation nor the soul fully explain the rang of rituals we've developed for caring for dead bodies. For him, there is a deeper anthropological truth at work: caring for the dead marks the human transition from nature into culture.
Sheri Booker was terrified when she first started working at the Wylie Funeral Home at the age of 15. She was still grieving the death of a beloved aunt, and took the job in the hope of finding a sense of closure. After preparing her first client — a suicide victim with a gunshot wound to the head — something changed. As morbid as it may sound, she was hooked.
In the fourth episode of the story of Dan Pierotti's death, friends and family stay with Dan's body in the days before the funeral. Dan's wife Judy talks about her experience of the funeral and burial.
"Then it's final," Judy says. "There's no coming back from any of it. But just the first shovel full of dirt that hits that coffin... that's very hard to hear, very hard to experience."
In 2011, as Hurricane Irene made landfall in New York City, poet Edward Hirsch learned that his 22-year old son Gabriel had died from a bad drug reaction and subsequent seizure. Later, Hirsch composed “Gabriel,” a book-length elegy poem about his relationship with his son, and his loss.