sustainableplay ...
Long-form storytelling at the confluence of people, planet, and play.
  • Derelictus in Flagrante

    “SURFING AFFECTS YOUR LIFESTYLE,” writes former pro surfer Mike Doyle in his autobiography Morning Glass, “like no other sport I know of…The surf is only good at certain times…If you’re a serious surfer, you have to design your life around it.” Vince had suggested the book, remembered Doyle as an interesting figure. So, I’d picked […]

    Daniel Duane November 12, 2018
  • The Public Ownership of Fred Beckey

    Immortality of narrative is dependent on the mortality of beings,” humorist and ecocritic Michael Branch told me one day when I described Beckey’s career. “I mean, that’s how our stories really fill the holes that our lives occupied. Physical death is the first day of the rest of your life if you’re a folk hero.

    Brad Rassler October 30, 2018
  • Will the Real Fake John Muir Please Stand Up?

    EVERY TIME Chautauqua season rolls around, I feel compelled to rant about this bizarre cultural practice, which Teddy Roosevelt once called “the most American thing in America”—never mind that this honor deserves instead to be shared by baseball, blues, and bourbon. Chautauqua is defined by its practitioners as “a public humanities educational event in which […]

    Michael P. Branch August 8, 2018
  • The Last Ride: One Hitchhiker’s Oral History

    I DON’T EVEN REMEMBER my first ride. When I was a young teenager, growing up in southern Oregon, my dad and I used to hitchhike back to our car after we’d boated down the Klamath, or the Rogue, or the Umpqua. I didn’t hitchhike by myself until I was 17 or 18, and it wasn’t […]

    Michelle Nijhuis July 18, 2018
  • Ticktock, The World Clock Never Stops

    From such a simple beginning the idea and measurement of time quickly becomes complex and vastly more complicated. Most people assume they are capable of grasping the concepts of a minute, hour, day, week, month, year, decade and even a century, and how their lives are lived and measured in those terms. But a millennium is more difficult and a galactic year (about 230 million terrestrial years) is beyond imagining…

    Dick Dorworth April 26, 2018
  • Riding into the Heart of Patagonia

    A calafate seed was growing inside me. The idea was simple: Return to Coyhaique, buy a horse, and head south. The reality was a bit more complicated. Secretly, I doubted my ability, as well as my sanity. Why is it that I insist on doing things that other people never even think about?

    Nancy Pfeiffer April 5, 2018
  • Snowmaking in the Time of Drought

    THAT THE SIERRA might not be so very nevada one day might have been inconceivable to the Spaniards who named the range, or to members of the Donner Party who struggled through house-high drifts, or to those World War II-era entrepreneurs who built ski lifts reaching to the tops of Mammoth Mountain, Tahoe’s Slide Mountain, Mount Lincoln, Heavenly Peak, and Squaw Peak. But Sierran snow seems to have become more fickle. Although there have been the hallelujah winters

    Brad Rassler February 17, 2018
  • Walking

    I WISH TO SPEAK A WORD for Nature, for absolute Freedom and Wildness, as contrasted with a freedom and culture merely civil,—to regard man as an inhabitant, or a part and parcel of Nature, rather than a member of society. I wish to make an extreme statement, if so I may make an emphatic one, […]

    Henry David Thoreau October 12, 2017
  • Ashes into the Shadow of Arrows

    “There is a Paiute proverb to the effect that no man should attempt the country east of the Sierras until he has learned to sleep in the shade of his arrows. This is a picturesque way of saying that he must be able to reduce his wants to the limit of necessity. Those who have […]

    Brad Rassler September 11, 2017
  • Hells Canyon Revival

    And always, in this search, a person might find that she is already there, at the center of the world. It may be a broken world, but it is glorious nonetheless. – Linda K. Hogan Our task is to enter the dream of Nature and interpret the symbols. – E.L. Grant Watson THIS CANYON does […]

    Cindy Fuhrman August 23, 2017
  • Winging it in the Russian Far East

    BEYOND THE WING of the Aeroflot twin-engine plane unfolds a tapestry of green tundra and mottled muskeg, the wetlands sliced into crescents by dark arcs of old river channels. Timbered strips of spruce and fir fringe these waterways. A village of perhaps a couple hundred ethnic Russian and native Udehe people looms in the crook […]

    Doug Peacock August 1, 2017
  • Time for a Tree House

    ACTUALLY, HANNAH AND CAROLINE never really asked me to build them a tree house. I came up with that idea myself, got them attached to it, and then pretended that my efforts were strictly for their benefit. But their spontaneous enthusiasm provided the necessary cover for me to do what every grown man secretly wants to […]

    Michael P. Branch May 10, 2017
  • Into the Gloaming

    The very word ‘gloaming’ reverberates, echoes—the gloaming, the glimmer, the glisten, the glamour—carrying in its consonants the images of houses shuttering, gardens darkening, grasslined rivers slipping through the shadows.—Joan Didion, Blue Nights, 2011 ON A WINTER’S EVENING, at the crest of an icefall, I stop climbing and look north: beyond the narrow, wooded cleft of […]

    Katie Ives October 27, 2016
  • The Ascent of the Riffelberg

    OUR GUIDES, HIRED ON THE GEMMI, were already at Zermatt when we reached there. So there was nothing to interfere with our getting up an adventure whenever we should choose the time and the object. I resolved to devote my first evening in Zermatt to studying up the subject of Alpine climbing, by way of […]

    Mark Twain August 26, 2016
  • The Science of Awe

    This story originally appeared in the November/December 2014 edition of SIERRA, the national publication of the Sierra Club. A FEW YEARS AGO, I RAN Utah’s Green River with a group of 13-year-olds. Our first day was a grueling, 26-mile slog through mostly flat water, with a few Class I and II rapids as our prize. […]

    Jake Abrahamson July 13, 2016
  • Finding Flow

    I CAME INTO FISH from my mother’s side of the family. Every Sunday the matrilineal clan would gather to nosh on lox, red as a California sunset, herring, both kippered and creamed, and whitefish. It was the whitefish that proved my undoing. The sight of those wrinkled silver corpses with dumb eyes dull as coal gave […]

    Brad Rassler June 19, 2016
  • Figures on a Landscape

    IN AN OBSCURE WASH in the high Mojave stand two domes, their north faces steeped in shadows. Four friends scrutinize the rune-like creases on the northeast face of the northernmost monolith, searching for a path up the steep wall. They are young, in that boggling interval between adolescence and manhood. Much later, they’ll remember the time as a golden age, […]

    Brad Rassler June 9, 2016
  • The Natural

    IN THE PREDAWN hours of a recent midsummer day, Peter Mayfield walked through the skeletal remains of the Manzanar National Historic Site, the mothballed World War II Japanese internment camp located hard by Highway 395, in California’s Eastern Sierra. Seven miles distant, in serpentine repose, lay Mayfield’s objective: the Himalayan-scaled northeast ridge of Mt. Williamson, its […]

    Brad Rassler June 3, 2016