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Inside Yankee: March/April 2010

Inside Yankee: March/April 2010
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For most of his 54 years, Richard Phillips has lived his life without the glare of celebrity. He did his job–in his case, sailing with the U.S. Merchant Marine (“We’re the truck drivers of the seas,” he says)–and raised his family (in rural Vermont). Outside of his family, friends, and shipmates, few knew his name. That changed a year ago when, as captain of the Maersk Alabama, he was taken hostage by pirates. His remarkable story is now part of modern American history.

Phillips talks about his ordeal in “Captain Courageous“, and I think when you read his words you’ll agree that the same qualities that helped him endure–tenacity, stubbornness, ingenuity, and stoic courage–would have put him on sound footing with the early settlers of this unforgiving land, people who could have given up when faced with tough odds so many times yet who refused to buckle.

Alas, even the most iconic monuments may buckle eventually to Mother Nature. When New Hampshire’s Old Man of the Mountain tumbled down in May 2003 (“Whatever Happened to the Old Man?”, nature took not only one of the most famous geological wonders of the world but thousands of memories from so many visitors who once stopped along the highway to gaze in wonder. Nearly seven years later, two questions still hang over the state: How much is a symbol worth? And should man re-create what nature made and then reclaimed?

Sometimes, man intervenes on nature’s behalf, in the role of steward, or protector. “Keepers of Beautiful Places” will take you into the world of The Trustees of Reservations. For over a century, this group, bolstered by thousands of volunteers, has ensured that more than 25,000 acres of some of the loveliest landscapes and properties in Massachusetts will remain as natural as possible for all of us to enjoy “forever.” And our story asks simply: How long is forever?

Bill McKibben’s second article for our series on “How New England Can Change the World” (“Making Good Neighbors“) spotlights an enterprising group of Vermonters who have turned the power of the Internet into (surprise!) a way to bring people together face to face, not in distant rooms, via electronic wizardry. At a time when we bemoan the loss of community, it’s refreshing to think what can happen when imagination meshes with technology.

And speaking of how the Web can bring us together, remember to check out our special 75th anniversary section at Presenting stories once cherished by past readers, it’s one way to connect to what we all share: an appreciation and love of this region, a place that can give us a Richard Phillips, an Old Man of the Mountain, and The Trustees of Reservations–all of them our neighbors, all a part of the web we call New England.

Updated Friday, February 19th, 2010

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