Heroes of 2020: Parks!

At least we could go to the park.

Hector Arguello/Unsplash; Mother Jones Illustration

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Do you remember the beginning? Early in the pandemic, measures to prevent the spread of COVID-19 were haphazard. The world felt newly terrifying. We understood we needed to flatten the curve. But how? What spread the virus? Should we wear masks? Could we go to the grocery store?

Many of us cloistered inside. But, as science learned more, we realized we had one respite: the outdoors. Studies seemed to be finding that outdoor activities were safe when exercised with caution. And as the science developed, so did the regulations. State and National Parks began to reopen. We realized we had parks to go to—from the massive ones of great majesty to the corners of grass we can sit in down the block.

Growing up in the mountains of California, minutes from the beach, gave me an appreciation for being outdoors. But for the last chunk of my life, I had been living between Chicago and NYC. Being outside became less of a natural outcome of existing. Instead, it was a deliberate planned, processed, and curated event. At first, I had to double-down on this approach. I had to figure out exactly how to leave my cave of work to go walk a mile or two around Prospect Park in Brooklyn. I was thankful for space, no matter how urban, where I could see the sky and hear the breeze. But it was still a process.

Sunrise over our campsite.

Sam Van Pykeren

Then, as the pandemic showed no signs of letting up, my lease was up and I was able to go back to my home in the mountains. Being outdoors has become less purposeful and more natural again.

Still, each time I walk out my front door and into the redwoods, they don’t pass by like they did growing up. The ocean’s roar isn’t as quiet as it was on my ears before. Watching the sunrise over a crystal clear lake in the mountains of California, for some reason, doesn’t quite have the same allure as a stroll in Prospect Park. Each lacking something, perhaps others or even community. But they both offered a type of magic that kept me alive this year.

Sam Van Pykeren

Heroes and Monsters 2020

The staff of Mother Jones is highlighting the year’s heroes and monsters. Find them all here.

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GREAT JOURNALISM, SLOW FUNDRAISING

Our team has been on fire lately—publishing sweeping, one-of-a-kind investigations, ambitious, groundbreaking projects, and even releasing “the holy shit documentary of the year.” And that’s on top of protecting free and fair elections and standing up to bullies and BS when others in the media don’t.

Yet, we just came up pretty short on our first big fundraising campaign since Mother Jones and the Center for Investigative Reporting joined forces.

So, two things:

1) If you value the journalism we do but haven’t pitched in over the last few months, please consider doing so now—we urgently need a lot of help to make up for lost ground.

2) If you’re not ready to donate but you’re interested enough in our work to be reading this, please consider signing up for our free Mother Jones Daily newsletter to get to know us and our reporting better. Maybe once you do, you’ll see it’s something worth supporting.

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