Go Bigger

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Rule #1 when you’re planning a hike through Glacier National Park: Let your ambition match the scenery. See larger version

My first long piece for BACKPACKER offers a simple recipe: Mix an off-his-meds bipolar II friend with some of North America’s deepest, most scenic, and megafauna-packed wilderness, add a dusting of snow, and let it marinate for 10 days. This ran in the June 2011 National Parks issue.

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Am I Dying?

Sometimes you’re screwed. And sometime it just feels that way. Learn which symptoms should scare you–and how to treat them–with this diagnostic chart. See larger version

Cramps and coughing? Rashy and short of breath? Follow this flow chart to diagnose yourself from 12 common backcountry illnesses and learn whether to evacuate immediately, or simply stop complaining. In this Aug. 2010 piece for BACKPACKER,  I interviewed experts and crunched Center for Disease Control data to find out which diseases and care about and how to tell them apart on the fly.

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Thank God for the Rock

These armed pioneers are reclaiming Christ’s kingdom one jacked-up block at a time. Read full story

Junkies with metal-piled shopping carts pace past rows of boarded-up houses, trash collecting in the chain-link fences. Many have already abandoned this neighborhood in Kansas City to entropy. But where others see blight, a group of white boys from the suburbs sees the Kingdom of God. In Nov. 2009, I joined a well-armed faction of Christian warriors as they colonize street-by-street in the city’s valley of darkness. Read online version here

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Historian in Chief

Forget his football career. Professor Pellom McDaniels has a goal of reshaping Kansas City’s racial history. Read full story

To this day, Troost Avenue defines the race line in Kansas City, and still, few people cross the grid to see what the other side is up to. The result: Rampant ignorance and crosstown perceptions that are limited to the point of absurd. In this Oct. 2009 feature for the Kansas City Pitch, I followed former Kansas City Chief Pellom McDaniels to cross the imaginary line, build a more nuanced version of the city’s racial fault lines, and bring to life a Kansas City that remained below the surface since the 1920’s. Read online version here

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The Oldest Professional

Photo by Michael McClure

As the Northeast Neighborhood residents try to solve their prostitution problem, here’s one woman’s cautionary tale. Read full story

This story ran in Kansas City’s Pitch, a Village Voice Media-owned alt weekly, in Sept., 2009. I spent two months befriending and hearing the battle tales of one of the city’s most unrepentant prostitutes. Impossibly heartbreaking highlight: Seeing Darlene’s tough exterior shatter as she recounted being beaten, tied to a tree, and set on fire over an embankment on one of the city’s loneliest roads. This story won an honorable mention for profile writing from the Kansas City Press Club’s Heart of America Awards in 2010. The story caused a bit of a dust-up. Click here for the online version.


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Hike Forever

The secret to long-term health and fitness? Reap backpacking’s many benefits—a strong heart, lean muscle, superior endurance—through every stage of your life. Here’s how. Read full story

After months of reporting and hounding experts from the University of California to Johns Hopkins University, I wrote this story for BACKPACKER magazine’s June 2009 issue (I’m now assistant editor there). This 10-page guide explains the body’s physiologic changes in four different life stages, as well as common injuries and how to avoid them through a mix of nutrition and exercise. Click here for the online version.

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Left Holding the (Plastic) Bag

 

Image by Craig Abraham via thingbeautifula.tumblr.com

In theory, plastic bags can be recycled. The reality is a lot messier. Read full story

This story, which ran in the May/June 2009 issue of Mother Jones, was the product of my masters project at Columbia University’s Graduate School of Journalism. I booted up and slogged through New York City’s recycling center, and the Trex recycling facility in Virginia that combines old plastic with sawdust to create a durable material used in decking. The full piece received Columbia’s prestigious 2008 Weschler Award for Local Reporting.

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The Cheetah at Twilight

What do you do with the world’s fastest mammal when it is too old to run? Or with an ancient fox that walks in circles? If you are a zoo veterinarian, you have some difficult decisions to make. Read full story

This story ran in Tufts Magazine Winter ’09. It later received a bronze Circle of Excellence Award from the Council for Advancement and Support of Education in its 2010 judging of The Best Articles of the Year: Higher Education. Comment from judges: “A finely crafted story on an important topic that receives little attention in other media.”

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