Whatever you’re doing right now: stop, grab your headphones, and watch this:
Now take a deep breath, and remember that nothing lasts forever—not even these f**ked-up times when our federal government is flailing, local economies are hemorrhaging millions of dollars daily, and the very members of Congress who caused this mess are berating National Park Service rangers who are—against every fiber of their being—simply following orders to keep the public out of public lands.
I’ve been pretty obsessed with the federal shutdown’s effect on “America’s Best Idea.” As director of National Park Experience: A Film Series (NPX) and former editor of nine years at National Parks Magazine, I live and breathe park stories.
As a result, I’ve gotten to know the parks, and the amazing people who work there, intimately. They’re family to me—so when the media started broadcasting stories about “Gestapo tactics” in Yellowstone (seriously? who writes this s**t?) and community leaders removing barricades at Lake Powell (um, good luck figuring out how to run a national park without any national park staff to help you), it was like someone taking bear spray to Winnie the Pooh.
I began feeling very, very defensive of the parks and the dedicated people who staff them.
Here’s the truth: No one’s heart is breaking over national park closings like the people who have dedicated their lives and careers to protecting them—yet, despite all the negative media and misdirected anger, they’ve been asked not to speak publicly about any of it.
I think there’s something wrong with that; so this week, the NPX team worked around the clock to connect with as many of these staff as possible. Let me tell you, their messages are among the most powerful and important I’ve heard in over a decade of telling stories like this.
Next week, in partnership with the National Parks Conservation Association, NPX will unveil a handful of their stories in a short video that sets the record straight: the staff protecting national park resources are as precious as the resources themselves, and fully deserving of our love, respect and patience in these difficult times.
In the meantime, I highly recommend watching that timelapse video again and again, because it’s about the closest we can get right now to the national park experience.
May we never ever forget what that experience feels like.
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Assistant Ed: Bronwyn Petry/Ed: Sara Crolick
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