Posts Tagged ‘PBS’

Ken Burns and National Parks Volunteering

Statue of Liberty on Liberty Island looking to the harborEverybody is going gaga over the newest Ken Burns series, The Roosevelts, An Intimate History, on PBS. I’ve yet to see it but will carve out the 14 hours, perhaps in bits and pieces, to get caught up–I have never been sorry to get into a Burns piece of work.

One of my favorites of his in-depth studies is the 2009 film on our wild lands, The National Parks, America’s Best Idea.

I forget, in my hurried day-to-day life, that the wondrous wild places I so fondly remember visiting (and look forward to many more visits) on family vacations and cross-country driving trips, are more than just stunning vacation spots–they are smoothly run enterprises of commitment to community and culture and the environment…AND…they have extensive volunteer programs.

As a National Parks volunteer, you can pop in for a one-shot deal to help with a program, or if you’re lucky enough to live near such sacred spots, there are ongoing opportunities. Kids, families, individuals…all will find rewarding service work in the parks. If you’re super motivated, and volunteer 250 hours of service to the parks and/or other federal agencies that participate, you can be eligible for the Annual Volunteer Pass. This pass is your ticket to more than 2,000 federal recreation sites. Each pass covers entrance fees at national parks and national wildlife refuges as well as standard amenity fees at national forests and grasslands, and at lands managed by the Bureau of Land Management and Bureau of Reclamation.

To find your V.I.P. (Volunteers in Parks) opportunity, from Yellowstone to the Statue of Liberty, the Everglades to Mount Rainier, you can search by park, state, or zip code. Many of the needs are seasonal, but some are year-round, and while a certain level of fitness or endurance may be required for some gigs, there is plenty to volunteer for that requires less energy as well. Visit the Park Service website and look around a bit, get re-inspired for some next visit plans, and find a way to be the boots on the ground folks who keep the parks the treasures that they are.

Cringe-Inducing, Crazy Partisanship

These two stories are but a couple of too many as this mid-term election cycle gets nasty. Both sides of this 2-party nation (while I don’t feel well-represented by either of the main parties, it is still the system we live with) tend to shout from the rooftops about what the founding fathers intended…but only when it is convenient and supports a particular argument (often stretched and twisted beyond the recognition of any of the founding folks). One thing I know for certain is that when this country’s political future was being planned–this was not how it looked in the dreams of a new free nation out from under the tyranny and oppression of the former homeland. We have been working so very hard to instill a whole bunch more tyranny and oppression of late, and we vote for these jokers. Or by being too lazy/busy/disinterested, we vote for the opposition simply by NOT voting. That qualifies as reprehensible in my book. There are so many oppressed people in our larger, global community, that would lop off their left arms for a chance to vote, and we can’t drag our SUVs to the local middle school or community center polling place because we have too much to do.


A fringe, radical conservative group hiding behind the benign name “Latinos for Change” bought advertising time on Univision in Nevada, to encourage Latino voters NOT TO VOTE. Univision is the #1 Spanish-language network in this country, and they thought if they reached in through the back door to viewers, they could convince them to stay home to “punish” the current administration for not enacting immigration reform quickly enough. I’m sorry–that is sick. Voting is the only power we have, and I hope Nevada voters saw through this hypocrisy and idiocy and will show up in record numbers at the polls. I don’t care how they vote, but I care that they participate.



NPR (National Public Radio) is under attack from Sara Palin, perky cheerleader for not thinking things through. I recognize Sarah is only a mouthpiece, and honestly think she’d be a blast to go out for beers with–I genuinely like who she seems to be as a woman, but the scripts she is given to recite are so very absurd. So a recent piping up of the chatter has been about NPR and other Public Broadcasting Services (PBS). Publicly-funded media. The US has one of the lowest funded public media programs in the world–we pay less dollars into public broadcasting than almost every other developed nation, less than a buck and a half per person per year, but the cry of outrage is that we are wasting our precious money on propaganda. You know, propaganda like Sesame Street, and Reading Rainbow, and Nova, and dangerous mind-control like Antiques Roadshow. C’mon–I swear if I look closely I can almost see you laughing, Sarah (and Bill O’Reilly who has also jumped on the harpie bandwagon, and South Carolina Senator Jim DeMint, who plans to introduce legislation that would slash all funds). I know you have better things to do than gut culture. I know the teabagger gang of thugs that advocates so stridently against government interference isn’t really asking government to pull the plug on people who think differently. You have the plug to pull in your own home—DON’T WATCH. I don’t watch FOX News, I don’t watch SoapNet or Game Show Network…why would you watch something that angers you? I love the inspiration–sometimes I can make a full-blown sport out of arguing with the TV, and it energizes me–but I don’t love the next-step course of action, by trying to convince Congress to become a censorship organization. There’s a FreePress Action petition here to ask Congress not to defund our nation’s only public media resources, NPR and PBS.

…and don’t forget to VOTE

Mustang: Journey of Transformation

This 30-minute PBS presentation is a small commitment of time to open your eyes wide and shine some light on a little known corner of the world. Mustang (pronounced Moo-Stahng) is variously known as the last kingdom and the lost kingdom of Tibet. Once part of Tibet and later taken by Nepal, this tiny, isolated kingdom is, in many ways, the last, best hope for keeping Tibetan spiritual culture and traditions alive.

In only a half-hour you are immersed in this world of intense color and music, like an island of saturated intensity amid the arid, bleak surroundings. Mustang is isolated in place (it takes five days by horse to get to the capital city, crossing windy, open plains and high mountain passes, some above 15,000 feet), and isolated in culture. It is a sanctuary of authentic Tibetan Buddhist tradition, Nepal first opened it’s southern border to outsiders in 1991, but traditions have lain fallow and neglect has taken hold. The once-glorious 15th-century monasteries began to collapse, the numbers of spiritually dedicated monks and caretakers dwindled, and sacred art and activity seemed poised to fall into dust.

This documentary, in addition to sharing the people and place, also follows the efforts of restoration of the monasteries. The freshly uncovered glory of the art that had been obscured by time is beautiful, as is the commitment of the King of Mustang who asserts that without cultural identity, there is nothing.

The show wraps up right at the time you’d expect a commercial break (or pledge break, as the case may be…by the way, when was the last time you donated to support the absolutely necessary and vital work of PBS? Donate here.) It is narrated by Richard Gere, and is an appetizer-sized tease, stoking the fire of your desire to travel. The DVD includes a special feature with video of the Tiji Dance Festival of Mustang.

Mustang: Journey of Transformation (–your purchase supports public broadcasting)