My passions are the relationships between humans and their environments, and the stories of the places that are meaningful to us. By stories I mean not only human stories, but also stories of the land – geological processes, the movements of water and wildlife, and the interactions between all of these and human activities. And all of the exquisite expressions we humans create in our search for meaning on this earth – expressions like music, art, and literature.
A friend recently described my interests as “history, with a weird mix of natural history and culture”. He might as well have said that I am interested in everything, but it sounds better this way. I appreciate precision where it is necessary and possible, and respect for the things that are too complex to nail down in neat sound bites.
I came to journalism by a loose chain of auspicious events, including a graduate school requirement and a listener project on Vermont Public Radio. I discovered that in addition to writing, I also love the research process, which for any given assignment can consist of digging into books or archives, poring over maps, interviewing people, or poking around the woods. And I discovered a deeper respect for the writing process, complete with false starts – which are rarely ever truly false – revising, and editing. I love language and I believe it deserves respect.
I live in two languages – English and German – and spend much of my time translating between two (or more) cultures. As part of my work in the world of travel, I try to make sense of Germany to Americans – and to myself. When I am in Germany, I try to make sense of the U.S. to Germans – and to myself.
I strive to do the same in my writing. In addition to my travels and the attendant adventures in group dynamics, I draw on other stations on my resume. I have worked as a naturalist, transportation manager, bus driver, and university lecturer, with briefer stints as a woodworker, factory worker, and airport security screener. My academic training is in anthropology (M.A.) and ecology (M.S.).
Ralph Waldo Emerson was right when he said that “in the woods, we return to reason and faith”. I would only add that this can also happen in a concert hall, a museum, or with a great book. Or, of course, with a good friend over Kaffeetrinken – that ancient German tradition of pastries, coffee (or tea), and good conversation.