Saturday, March 09, 2013

Writing on interesting places, writing on nice stories and writing on mental health

There's been some excellent writing I've come across lately that seems to link together with two pieces being about interesting places, two about people with stories that can be described as exceptionally nice and two about the important subject of mental health.

In terms of interesting places, the March 2013 issue of Outside Magazine had a fascinating feature story written by Rowan Jacobsen. "Chef Blaine Wetzel's Quest to Become the Ultimate Locavore" was on the just-now-turning-27 Wetzel and his Willows Inn restaurant on Lummi Island near Bellingham, WA. It was one of those pieces of writing that stood out in part because I wouldn't have expected it to.

Another interesting place story recently was also from Outside, with the Outside website having a piece noted as originally appeared in the Spring 2013 issue of OnEarth Magazine. About the Chicago River, Matthew Power wrote "Is it Possible to Save the Waterway That Made Chicago Great?" Very similar to the feature on Wetzel and the Willows Inn, I wouldn't have expected to find this story that compelling, but it really was... and included Power describing the river by writing "levels of E. coli bacteria in non-disinfected wastewater sent from Stickney into the canal have registered 700 times above the legal limit for swimmable water."

In terms of nice, two stories that have stuck with me recently were on adoption of an abandoned child and a kayak journey. Of particular profundity was "We Found Our Son in the Subway", a first-person account from playwright and screenwriter Peter Mercurio posted to a New York Times blog. It's just heartwarming reading of a story that as Mercurio writes "began 12 years earlier."

It may not have the gravitas of the account by Mercurio, but another feel-good story written well was from Tampa Bay Times writer Ben Montgomery. "Kayak trip from Minnesota to Key West cuts through Tampa Bay" was about Daniel Alvarez and his solo kayak trip from Minnesota to Key West. The journey was financed by a $10,000 Outside Magazine (again with Outside Mag!) prize and Montgomery recounts how the 31 year old left behind his corporate law gig (which came out of a Yale law degree) to do... exactly what he wants to be doing.

The mental health writing was first a Chris Jones column for ESPN and then short interview with him about what he wrote. "Status update: A tennis player quits because the cost of a public life feeds her depression" is on 22 year old Rebecca Marino and then the Q&A piece "ESPN The Magazine columnist Chris Jones relates with young tennis star’s bouts with depression." In the interview, Jones references writing on the subject of his own depression a Nov 2011 Esquire piece (that I wrote about along with a similarly important Mike Sager piece) and his statement that "mental illness is something we should talk about" just seems to ring so true.