I'm a week away from starting a Scripps Fellowship at the Center for Environmental Journalism with the University of Colorado in Boulder.
The program lasts an academic year - from mid-August 2014 until mid-May 2015. I'll be auditing a full course load of any classes I'm interested in taking, be it poetry or physics or painting. There's a weekly two-hour seminar for me and the four other fellows, as well as several field trips and a trip to New Orleans for the Society of Environmental Journalists annual conference. And I'll be tackling at least one project of my choosing - currently, I'm planning to look at how a century of forest mismanagement and the current state of climate change have created the types of wildfires that are altering the landscape of the American west.
Now, one goal of the program is to take seasoned journalists and make them more aware of - and capable of reporting on - the environment; helping them develop the ability to translate complex ideas into concepts that are accessible to the general public. The founder of the program, Edward Scripps (grandson of the founder of Scripps Howard) was himself a journalist who cared deeply about the environment.
Personally, though, my goal is to also use this year to make some changes in my career. I've worked in radio for 8 years - I want to give writing a shot. And after 8 years of covering a wide variety of stories, following the daily ups and downs of whatever news is of the moment, I want to take some time to work with one subject that's really important to me - the natural world and the environment.
It's something that fills me with real joy - a golden sunrise, a hike along a rushing stream in the woods, a tromp through powdery, quiet snow - and here in Boulder, I get the chance to take advantage of some truly gorgeous wilderness. But the state of the environment and the treatment of the natural world also saddens me - the acidification of the oceans, the death of thousands of species, the altering of the landscape. I want to understand the effect humanity's actions have had on the planet and, while I don't think we will destroy it, I think we can do a better job of taking care of it.
So we'll see where this year takes me. I'm not a scientist - my background is in history and international relations - but I find the world to be a pretty fascinating place and I like sharing what I'm learning with other people (hopefully not in an obnoxious way). I plan to use this blog as a way to post information on stories I find interesting, little tidbits of knowledge I pick up from classes and my fellow fellows, and the ideas and thoughts that grow out of exploring the great outdoors.
Here we go... dear readers, please be gentle.