The Riverkeeper

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North Florida’s estuarine Matanzas River at dusk

This article first appeared in the Flagler College Gargoyle. You can view the original here.

By Jared Olson, photos by Walter Coker

For conservationist Jen Lomberk, the Matanzas River is both a blessing and a curse.

“We have something very beautiful that a lot of people are passionate about protecting,” she says, contemplating the estuary she’s spent the last year fighting to protect. “But I’ve also noticed it’s very hard to get people to care and pay attention when things aren’t catastrophic.”

As the “Matanzas Riverkeeper,” Lomberk, 28, is a legal expert-turned-conservationist who’s ingratiated herself into a web of local volunteers agitating to protect the waterways around St. Augustine, the majority of which lay within the beautiful but threatened Matanzas River watershed.

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“The Great War for Civilization,” by Robert Fisk

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Robert Fisk is a journalistic genius—though not because he’s discovered anything new.

The brilliance of Fisk, in his monstrously large The Great War for Civilization, lies in his unparalleled ability to animate swaths of history that could otherwise seem static, doing so with such emotional immediacy that this book—whose raw material could easily serve as a dossier of injustices—is transformed into a vast, compulsively readable human drama. The result is a story that’s by turns intimate, tragic, heartbreaking and epic.

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What Americans don’t understand about Illegal Immigration

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The author Jared Olson in the rural mountains of the south Mexican state of Chiapas, near the Guatemalan border

This article originally appeared in the Flagler College Gargoyle. You can view the original here

The Equation

IT WAS IN THE SOUTH MEXICAN town of Comitán, Chiapas that I first caught wind of the shootout. I had been taking a taxi to the edge of town when the driver, hearing I was a journalist, first offhandedly mentioned it to me. Three days before, he said, two rival gangs broke into a bloody territorial dispute in a local market, and the firefight that followed was dispersed only when a local faction of the army arrived. Twenty had been shot in the melee, many of them innocent bystanders. Five more people had died.

“Were you scared?” I asked the taxi driver.

He smiled. “It’s normal around here,” he said, shrugging. The lightheartedness of his response seemed to suggest that he thought the whole scene to be little more than an absurd cosmic joke.

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