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A Fisherman’s Son Who Cannot Swim

Mayur, a young Koli fisherman’s son, never learned to swim because the beaches of Mumbai are too polluted. Few Koli youth want to follow their parent’s footsteps to be fishermen in Mumbai. The consumer demand for fish though is ever on the rise. Mayur teaches me to dig for clams and offers his perspective on Koli culture among shifting tides.

Side Gig: Canopy Tour Guide

One of the many safety precautions I take in my work is to never climb alone. Sometimes that just means bringing someone else into the forest to hang out on the ground while I battle the ropes, branches, string, ants, and any number of other hazards above. Whenever possible, however, I like to bring people…

Searching for Water in the World’s Biggest Refugee Crisis

The story behind a short documentary on the lives of South Sudanese refugees in Uganda. Can Africa’s greatest river provide relief to the world’s biggest refugee crisis? I went to northern Uganda to find out, and encountered a story of desperation and perseverance that opened my eyes and broke my heart. I’ll never look at a glass of water…

Karoo Stories: Narratives from Gariep and Van der Kloof dams

Farmworkers and farmers share their experiences of working and living near Gariep and Van der Kloof dams on the Orange River.

Chasing Away Winter with Slovenia’s Mythical Kurenti

Once a year, in Slovenia’s quiet northeastern corner, a rambunctious figure is invited to roam the streets and disrupt the peace. The Kurent, an unruly God from Slavic folklore, is the centerpiece of Slovenia’s carnival celebration before Ash Wednesday. This strange character has been reimagined through time, but continues to delight locals and tourists across the country each February.

The Last Climb in Borneo

Sometimes things are hardest right before you reach the finish line. Then you remember that it’s not actually the finish line, it’s just the halfway point. This is an account of my last climb in Malaysian Borneo, but I’ve got many more to come in the Ecuadorean Amazon. There are times when it feels like…

Storytelling in a Slum’s Silicon Valley

“We have a different kind of Silicon Valley here,” Nawneet Ranjan explains. Founder of the Dharavi Diary: Slum and Rural Innovation Project, Ranjan tells how his students use storytelling, technology, and the power of their diversity to raise awareness and develop solutions for issues facing the Dharavi slum community in Mumbai, India.

Borneo’s Gliding Giants

Just as the sun sets a whiskered nose pokes out of a hole 15 stories above the forest floor. As the light dims a furry head, body, and massive tail follow. Crawling on a branch it isn’t unstable, just a bit awkward and perhaps overburdened, like when you have to delicately shuffle your way over…

Older Slovaks Hold On to Fading Traditions in Serbia

For centuries, Slovaks in Vojvodina have proudly preserved their language and culture, handing them down across the generations. But things are shifting among the region’s young people. Could 81-year-old Marka Kukučka belong to the last identifiably-Slovak generation in Serbia?

Help Me Define (Bio)Diversity

What does diversity mean to you? Is it important?

After Alarmingly High Radiation Levels Detected, What Are the Facts in Fukushima?

Six years after three nuclear reactors were crippled in Fukushima, Japan, when a tsunami knocked out power to their cooling units, there is still conflicting information, real and fake, about the levels of radiation in the area. To find out more about what’s really happening, I contacted Safecast, a citizen science network that bills itself as neither pro-, nor anti-nuclear.

Karoo Stories: When it rains, it pours

An introduction to my travels following the Orange River into the Karoo, a huge semi-arid area in South Africa. Drought, and the sudden easing of it, is on everyone’s minds in these parts.

Forests Are Worthless Until Cut Down

Dasho Neten remembers a time when “people simply acted on their values informally,” while now the general sense of citizenship wanes. As a farmer and prominent activist in Bhutan, Dasho Neten challenges us not to depend on the government to build our societies. “We need to wake up! There is an inconvenient truth lingering, and we need to ask: are we really moving towards self-reliance? Sometimes we need reminders, no matter how uncomfortable they may be.”

Senses at Work in Danum Valley

I’ve been in Danum Valley, a protected forest in Malaysian Borneo, for just over two months. In addition to setting up camera traps in the canopy, I’ve also been setting a ground-level network of cameras, which have to be rotated every few weeks. Because of this, my field schedule involves a great deal of waiting,…

A Flaw in the Plan

What happens when progressive laws confront an industrial reality? This is a story of a small community coming to grips with an steel giant.