Until next time, we’ll see you out there (Outdoor Diary)

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Humans Outside episode 391

Did you know I’m a journalist? I mean, you probably do because I mention it in the intro of many episodes of Humans Outside. But you probably didn’t know I’m launching a local nonprofit newspaper.

It’s an all-consuming project, and going outside has been key to helping me get it off the ground.

Going outside daily has also been key to helping me understand how to manage my time, how to prioritize what’s important to me, how to make all of it happen in one day.

But it’s also taught me that the world is full of natural beginnings and endings as a part of the seasons.

Listen now.


Some of the good stuff:

[:36] A fun fact about me

[:54] In which I wax reminiscent about days of yore

[1:52] Why local news is so, so important

[2:35] My new local news project

[3:14] What outdoors continues to mean to me

[4:05] But I can’t do everything

[5:23] And so it comes down to this

Connect with this episode:

Listen to this episode on Apple Podcasts or wherever you find your favorite podcasts.

The following is an edited transcript of this episode of Humans Outside.

Did you know I’m a journalist? I mean you probably did because I mention it in the beginning of many of the Humans Outside podcast episodes. I’ve been a journalist for more than 20 years, a number that makes me feel old until I remember that I started working at newspapers at the ripe age of 18. So I’m not that old.

People always say journalism has changed a lot since then, but they don’t mean the hard work or importance of — they mean the method and the appreciation. My first job included manually entering the movie times into the newspaper’s computer system. I called the movie theater on the phone, wrote down what they said for each movie, and typed it in. That task was obsolete within the year. And speaking of obsolete, the paper, which was a daily at the time, underwent some major changes and today is a weekly. Its newsroom became a car dealership.

These days people mix up news with commentary because they haven’t had a chance to experience the difference.

You’re not listening to this to hear about the importance of local news, but I promise I have a point that IS why you’re here, so hang with me. Newspapers covering local communities like where I live in Alaska and where I first worked in Watsonville California close down and the news they carried vanishes at a rate of about 2 a week according to some estimates. That matters because people need the facts of what’s going on in their community so they can participate and create the kind of place they want to live. The whole idea of democracy in America depends on people participating. But if no one knows facts about what’s going on, they can’t really do that well. If you don’t participate, stuff changes without your input and the people in charge don’t have any accountability.

So that’s what I do. I cover local news where I do my absolute best to just report facts. I don’t always get it right because I’m just a human, but I sure do try.

And since my local region lacks a source of news that clearly and consistently writes those facts about what our local governments are up to, I’ve been working to start something that does so. I’ve dubbed it the Mat-Su Sentinel, and I am its founder, editor, fundraiser and lone reporter. It’s a nonprofit that exists through donations, my hard work and faith that it’s needed and that it’s going to work out.

Every day is a roller coaster as I’ve been chasing this start-up since last August, with the really hard work starting this winter. I pour myself into it, and then I escape outside where I get to think, and move and breathe, and dream and be. I am exhausted and exhilarated, inspired and discouraged in turns — sometimes turns that happen moments apart. I guess that’s what dream chasing looks like sometimes.

I am grateful that heading outside is always there. It’s still where I do my best thinking. And prioritizing time there, just listening to birds or sitting in a hammock, skiing through the snow or gathering up my stubborn will to face the weather and do the thing in spite of it all keeps me going and reminds me of what’s important.

I know from practice that success in my inside life depends on faithfully keeping those touchstones in my outside life. I know that an hour outside dreaming and thinking is just as valuable as an hour inside doing the practical work.

That’s something I’ve learned because of my outdoor habit. It’s something I’ve learned by making this podcast.

I do so love this podcast, too. That’s how you feel when you make almost 400 iterations of something over years of work. Each of those episodes was a labor of love and creativity. Each was and is an investment into you and me and this idea that going outside matters, and that talking about it with people who chase it makes it easier to access for those of us who are just getting a little brave, just learning to stretch ourselves out and up like the trees and leaves from whom we find comfort.

As much as I wish I could, I cannot do everything. These snatches of time that I use these days to put together this podcast have seemed more and more unsustainable as my work on the Mat-Su Sentinel grows. What could I be doing with the time it takes to think through the podcast, to record it, to edit it, to produce it, to curate the social media feed? And how else could I be spending the dollars that go into all the tools that keep it running?

The more I looked at these questions, the more I realized it’s time for me to put this podcast aside, at least for now. And while in a perfect world I would have a way to do everything I love all the same time, that’s just not reality.

Other Humans Outside stuff is staying. Ill still post a photo a day of my outdoor time. If you have a membership to the Humans Outside 365 challenge, that will continue. And you can still listen to old episodes of Humans Outside wherever you get your podcasts. But for now, I won’t have any more new episodes.

Where can you find and support my other work? You can hear outdoor-related interviews focused on Alaska stuff as part of my gig as a rotating host on the Alaska Public Media show Outdoor Explorer, which is available as a podcast. You can read some of my writing in Alaska Magazine or check out the new Lonely Planet Alaska guide publishing in June 2024 where you can find the section on the Kenai Peninsula, an essay and some Alaska history written by me.

And of course you can check and support the Mat-Su Sentinel. That’s especially important if you live near me in Mat-Su. I’ll be publishing news there really soon, but even in the pre-launch phase I need your donation. You can give a one-time gift at Mat-Su Sentinel.com /donate or even better set up a monthly donation. Think of it as a news subscription. When I start publishing you’ll simply be paying for what you use.

While Humans Outside might no longer be publishing new episodes at least for now, what’s going on outside remains constantly new, constantly interesting and constantly there for you. You can see photos of all of my outdoor time on Humans Outside on Facebook and Instagram. Please continue to tag me in yours with #humansoutside365. And until next time always and forever, we’ll see you out there.

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