It’s 2009, and Vijay Viswanathan is fly-fishing on a remote river in Alaska’s Togiak National Wildlife Refuge.

This is grizzly country, where glacial peaks give way to an endless sea of green scrub valleys, through which weave streams where virgin trout that have never known the taste of a steel hook die of old age. Viswanathan embarked with a small team of professional athletes and biologists carrying all they needed to live and fish for a week. “Trips like that give me the same feeling I get when skiing through fresh powder,” he said. “These are memories that will stay with me forever.”

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After sailing through the night, the flash of a lighthouse signaled hope for a safe passage to the chartered destination. For centuries, lighthouses helped sailors reach safe harbor. 

In a world that at times can feel dark and uncertain, it is more important than ever that we know how to plot our own courses and navigate ourselves and our loved ones to safe ports. How do you overcome the daily stress imposed on you by an environment that is full of noise, chaos, hatred and anxiety?

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Where does your water come from? Not long ago, a vast freshwater aquifer stretching from South Carolina’s coast through Georgia and Florida supplied the wells that quenched the Lowcountry. But aquifers can be depleted by overuse, and many wells have become compromised as salt water has seeped in where fresh water used to be. Now much of the Lowcountry’s water is sourced from the Savannah River. Thankfully, Hilton Head Island boasts a budget large enough to afford supplemental water sources, and the means to purify them.

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When you decided to move here, you evaluated the weather, geographic distances to family or work, real estate pricing, taxes, schools, recreational amenities, health infrastructure, crime rates, job opportunities or things to keep you busy if you are retired.

But there was something else that drew you here and made you fall in love with the Lowcountry. It is the “local” feeling — the many intangibles that combined create a sense of place; the things that make us unique and give us a distinct flavor that makes living or visiting here a different experience than let’s say Melbourne, Florida.

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Paul VecchioneI caught up with Paul Vecchione straight off an Ironman finish in Coeur D’Alene, Idaho, a town whose name seems to say, “This isn’t Boise.”

Idaho may remind you of a giant potato, but this town, nestled upon an alpine lake near Spokane, is far from middle America. And as he tells me about the race in his downtown Manhattan apartment, Vecchione, whom I’ve known since high school — though not well — keeps impressing me.

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When your cousin Hermine came to visit, I was sitting on my porch and watched how she snapped large branches from our pine trees with her 40mph winds. I wondered to myself what twice the wind speed would do? Little did I know at the time that only a few weeks later much of the East Coast got a taste of that and then some. Your visit did not come unannounced and I kept my eye on you.

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When Hurricane Matthew hit the Lowcountry, Rose Hill resident Amy Harper kept in touch with her neighbors — both those who had stayed behind to weather the storm and those who were scattered across the country — by using an app on her iPhone called Nextdoor.

“At first, we communicated about which stores were open,” said Harper, who has lived in the Lowcountry for almost 30 years, 10 of them in Rose Hill. “Then the conversations turned to lost pets, water pressure issues, who had power and who did not. We’re now talking about roofing contractors and the best place to get hurricane shutters.”

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Ancient lore and modern research suggest early Polynesians migrated to North America following the seasonal flight patterns of the Golden Plover. One generation would row their boats as far as they could keep up with the birds. Then they noted their location and came home. The next year, they would row out to last year’s endpoint, waiting this time with a head start. Over hundreds of years and many generations, through birds and stars, the Polynesians found Hawaii.

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The recipe of how to ruin a great country starts with a political system that is broken and divided into two fractions that seem unable to produce any results for the people who elected them.

Unfortunately, that is happening in a time when decisive actions are crucial for the well-being of the U.S. and when the world needs our leadership to create a sustainable planet.

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More than 10,000 athletes from 206 countries gathered for the Summer Olympics in Rio to compete in 41 sports, and the world was watching. I’m using this global event as a mirror, curious about the image its sends back to us. Here is what I observed:

Rio got it done. If you believed any of the negative hype leading up to Rio 2016, you would have bet that the current state of affairs in Brazil would throw this event into complete chaos. But not so much.

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We are ONE species inhabiting one planet.

Globalization made it true that everybody and everything is connected in some ways, and nothing is going to put this genie back in the bottle. Whether we like it or not, trade, the internet, multinational corporations, people and ideas moving across all borders are simply forces that cannot be contained with walls or increased security measures.

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For a brief window of time on the B train, clanging over the Manhattan Bridge from Brooklyn, you emerge from underground.

If you’re lucky, the sun is hanging mellow, setting slowly in high summer, casting distant transformers in a copper tone, its light bouncing off the skyscraper windows and following you. I climb the stairs of the Grand Street station onto Chinatown’s northern edge, its assortment of fermented market offerings greeting my nose straight on.

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marcofrey1Since 1982, depending how you define them, there have been at least 81 public mass shootings across the country.1

What’s more, this style of shooting, perpetrated by an individual rather than a gang, political group, or criminal organization is largely American. From 1966 to 2012, a third of the world’s mass shootings took place here. What’s difficult to swallow is how random they seem, the motives blurry, and the shooter somewhat ordinary. That’s when you become jaded. But the deadliest mass shooting in the US at the Orlando gay nightclub on June 12 brought a sharp new pain to our hearts — and created a lot of incoherent noise.

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“Dad! I want to play on the trampoline!” yells one of his four kids. “No, not this second” replies Brandon Runyan, and then turns to me: “This is the chaos of my life.” A toddler’s shriek pierces through my computer speakers. We’re on video chat and Isla, age 7, reminds us, “You’ve been on this interview for minutes!” She wants dad to continue their bike-riding lessons. Runyan, still in his scrubs, calmly answers each question, even if delayed by constant, if cute, interruptions. Most mornings, he sneaks out at 5 a.m. for CrossFit. That’s before the kids wake up and must be shepherded through the morning’s tasks.

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