October 28, 2020

Idaho’s Silver Valley: A Story of Wealth, Tragedy, and Transformation

KELLOGG, Idaho — Completed at a cost of $30 million and opened in 2004, the Trail of the Coeur d’Alenes cuts a paved path across Northern Idaho, from Mullan to Plummer, following the course of a long-abandoned Union Pacific line. One of the country’s magnificent rails-to-trails, it’s ordained by natural flourishes that exist in abundance in this part of the Mountain West — tall peaks, forests of fir and spruce, big farm fields, wetlands, clear …

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From The Global Garden of Embryonic Hope, Safeguarding Oceans

Sylvia Earle, the renowned marine biologist and oceanographer, once called oceans “the real world bank.” She cautioned that people were making many more withdrawals than deposits. On June 10, National Geographic and several more prominent science and conservation organizations convened EarthX Ocean to elaborate on that point. During the two-day virtual conference experts from around the world described the urgent and deteriorating conditions of the oceans and spotlighted a number of useful responses. I was asked …

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Singapore Knocked As A “Police State.” In This Era It’s A Virtue

SINGAPORE — Michael Fay was a 19-year-old American student in May 1994 when Singapore authorities delivered four strikes to his bare bottom with a rattan cane. Arrested nearly a year before for stealing road signs and vandalizing vehicles, Fay’s caning prompted an international debate about the fairness of Singapore’s justice system and an outcry about its “police state” tactics. I knew two facts about Singapore before I arrived here. First was the debate about Michael …

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Regina Lopez: Update From The Philippines

Gina Lopez, the former Philippines Environment Secretary, sent a message here this week that updates her activities following the Congress decision in May to remove her from office. “I’m now into this movement called ILOVE: Investments in Loving Organizations for Village Economies. The goal is to build the country from the bottom up. I am in the midst of collaborating with 20 million youth as a citizen’s lawsuit is filed against the government. Will send …

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Amid Global Pivot, Ghost Dancing in American Coal Fields

SOMERSET, KY — There are reasons to feel empathy for the ghost dancers in America’s coal fields. Like the Plains tribes of the late 19th century, the men and women that supply the nation’s steadily eroding demand for coal raise closed fists of anguish, dance in circles, and call on false prophets for help. An industrial culture is dying. Unyielding, era-altering market and technology trends are running coal’s usefulness for supplying electricity to the ground. …

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Cities Are Stronghold of Performance in Maelstrom of American Disarray

COLUMBUS, OH — In the year of Trump it’s plain that the United States is entering a new and reckless age. Our federal lawmakers neglect their constitutional duties to legislate in the public interest. Ideology and inflexibility, the gravest threats to a democracy, are elevated as virtues on the political right and political left. Random massacres occur with weekly frequency. Fear and distrust and racism and hate have been unleashed as mainstream attitudes. Where are …

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Parks and Promise in Emalahleni, South Africa

EMALAHLENI, South Africa — There’s enough disturbing news in the world. I’ve reported my share of it. So when a story crosses my path that is part of the global garden of embryonic hope, I relish telling it. One of those stories, about two young guys here in South Africa who turned trash dumps into a program to build neighborhood parks, was brought to my attention by environmental activists living in Mpumalanga province, the coal …

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Donghao Chung, Guangzhou’s Daylighted Refuge

GUANGZHOU, China — Can a polluted stormwater drain newly constructed as an urban park speak for a city? Can a place of refuge, where clear water slips past slick rocks and families gather near the sound and mist of fountains, be an extension of a nation? There’s always risk in heaping such rhapsody on a single example. Still, in the characteristically handsome Chinese design, and in the cooling embrace of its flowing water, the Donghao …

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This Is Panama — Ambitious, Gorgeous, And Independent At Last

PANAMA CITY, Panama — The Spanish explorer, Vasco Núñez de Balboa, was so inspired by Christopher Columbus’s four voyages to the new world, including Columbus’s last trip in 1502 to Central America, that Balboa undertook his own expedition. In 1510 Balboa and his men set ashore in the Caribbean rainforest near present day Colombia and established Santa María la Antigua del Darién, the first permanent European settlement in the Americas. Three years later Balboa, setting …

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9/11 Twelve Years Later – Cities Transformed

The day of the 9/11 attack I was in Manistee, Michigan, a 45-year-old journalist and non-profit executive focused on the usefulness of a new and greener development strategy called “Smart Growth.” My brother watched the attack from his office window in lower Manhattan. My cousin was inside the South Tower and escaped unharmed before it was hit. At the end of the month I toured the still-smouldering piles of rubble at Ground Zero with my …

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