Bust out your Poler gear, we're talking about millennials today.
Bust out your Poler gear, we're talking about millennials today. (Photo: Rob Bye)

The Only Things You Should Read, Watch, and Do This Week: Sep 19

The books, movies, music, podcasts, and other happenings on our radar

Bust out your Poler gear, we're talking about millennials today.

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Millennials. Corporations want to understand them, other generations want to write think pieces about them, actual millennials just want to stop talking about it. But here we are anyway, with a photo-heavy longread about twenty-somethings that's worth a look. Yes, even for those jaded on the generation debates.

Longread from Elsewhere

National Geographic on the Next Generation Outdoors

Admittedly, we were a little hesitant about National Geographic's October cover story titled, “Can the Selfie Generation Unplug and Get Into Parks?” But for the most part, writer Timothy Egan goes beyond the overplayed “tech-addicted and entitled” narrative, instead exploring how the Park Service will appeal to the next generation of outdoor enthusiasts—and how they're already using wild places.

The magazine also sent photographer Corey Arnold, best known for his images of the commercial fishing life, to document millennials at 15 national parks. “I went into this project with an ambitious task to try and get the big picture, an accurate picture of how the millennial generation is experiencing the National Parks,” he says. We loved the resulting images—a lot of them are silly, but never condescending, and every single one is set against a brilliant natural backdrop. We asked Arnold (a member of Gen X himself) a little more about his experience.

On finding millennials: My biggest task was, how do I make connections? Kids are out all the time on really exciting adventures, but how can I plan to meet them before, then go on that adventure and not just find out about it on Instagram after the fact? I ended up using Instagram as my key research tool to find millennials. 

I was posting stuff on NatGeo's Instagram account—it's amazing to have the keys to 60 million followers. I’d post a photo from a park I was in, say, “I’m heading to this park next, send me a direct message if you’re going there or have any big adventures coming up and you think I should join you.” The funny thing was I guess I wasn’t specific enough in how I worded it the first time—I just said, “I’m going to this park and if you have an adventure you’d like to share with me, let me know.” I had hundreds of people send me these long, amazing letters and photos of this journey they’d done in the past that they were hoping to get published in National Geographic. I was like, “Oh, nooo.”

On getting around: I bought an '87 Astro van camper conversion to do this assignment, so I did a lot of driving. On the road, I listened to a lot of WTF with Mark Maron, and a bit of Invisibilia. For music, I listened to a lot of Hurray for the Riff Raff, which has a nice singer-songwriter country twang to it that seemed fitting to road tripping around the Southwest. War on Drugs, Broken Social Scene, Explosions in the Sky.

On his influences: Some of my big influences for this journey were Martin Parr, whose iconic images of tourists at the beach in England inspired me to search for the absurd…. but in the end, I found so much beauty, that the photos often tilted that direction. I’d also say Alec Soth. Sometimes his stuff is really odd, shocking, or funny. I’m definitely more drawn to art photographers who shoot real people and situations, but there’s a bit of a twist to it, as opposed to straight documentary style. It’s hard to describe the crossover. I guess it’s about aesthetic. 

For my own personal inspiration, I'm inspired often by filmmakers such as Werner Herzog and Ben Knight, who created Damnation and Red Gold—he is an incredible visual storyteller and master of the documentary edit. 

On Instagrammers millennials love: Many of the people I met cited Instagram as a main driver of influence for what inspired them to get outside and visit a park. Accounts like @polerstuff [Poler], the Portland-based outdoor brand, has had a big impact getting city dwellers outside. Their gear appeals to the fashion-conscious, hipster types—skateboarders, snowboarders, motorcycle riders—as opposed to the normal hardcore outdoor brands such as Patagonia and The North Face. I really think that they singlehandedly jumpstarted a movement that is getting a lot more of the selfie generation outside, and other accounts have copied and followed suit.

On Instagrammers he loves: 

  • @chrisburkard for overwhelming landscape beauty inspiration.
  • @dguttenfelder for incredibly creative perspectives… a way of shooting that I would never think of.
  • @glaciernps—my favorite account from one of the national parks.  
  • @arnold_daniel captures the absurd in snapshots.

On “millennials”: What I didn’t realize going into this—a lot of people I talked to were like, “Who are milennials? What is that?” And some people are annoyed by it. It’s a derogatory term to some millennials. People associate it with laziness and entitlement somehow. I didn’t realize it because I’m not one. I'm Generation X, I guess. One thing we have in common, though—at one point we were the lost generation. Everyone thought we were fucked up and on the wrong path, and we were alright in the end.

Here's a sampling of Arnold's millennial photos:

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'The Hidden Life of Trees' by Peter Wohlleben

We thought we were imagining an abundance of talk around the network of the woods. Radiolab! The New Yorker! And now forester Peter Wohlleben's book, out this week. But (and we'll resist pointing out the obvious metaphor) there is indeed a robust network of researchers who are finding out some really fascinating things about the ways trees talk to each other. To wit: Forest ecology professor Suzanne Simard, who makes an appearance on that Radiolab episode, also contributes a good word to Wohlleben's work in The Hidden Life of Trees. If you've ever marveled at the fact that a colony of aspen trees emerges from one seedling—and you must have—it's well worth diving into Wohlleben's work.


'Full Moon'

The most accomplished women in snowboarding work hard to get to the top, and even then, as pro rider Marie-France Roy says, “Girls have always had to prove they were good enough to be part of a men’s [film] project.” Eleven of the sport's best got together and decided to do their own thing. The result? At long last, a fitting celebration of women's snowboarding—past, present, and future.

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Clare Gallagher on Ultrarunner Podcast

The 24-year-old seemingly came out of nowhere to win the Leadville 100. With the second-fastest time. Ever. Naturally, we were excited to see that Eric Schranz sat down with her for an hour to talk about how she did it. Spoiler: an entire jar of vanilla icing was involved. 

Listen here

Lead Photo: Rob Bye