· The Out of Eden Walk, a National Geographic-sponsored retracing of our ancestor’s slow-motion exodus from Africa, through time and countless footsteps, is finally resuming after COVID-19 closed overland borders last year. The host Paul Salopek is a Pulitzer-winning journalist and photographer and has been traveling overland on foot since the middle-years of Barack Obama’s presidency, documenting his trip across the beltline of the world. His journey began in the rocky highlands of Ethiopia where the resting place of our earliest human ancestors lay. He then entered the Holy Land, crossed through Syria seeing during the worst refugee crisis of the generation, crossed the savannahs of the Central Asian Steppes, India, and then to the river valleys of Yunnan, China. His journey is only halfway done, and he must cross through China and Russia to then come down the Bering Strait to go to the Southern Tip of South America. Paul is making history come alive and now he is able to continue his long journey of our oldest ancestors.
· In Istanbul, a city of 15 million people that’s famous for its relaxed attitude towards stray cats, groups of volunteers build elaborate houses for their feline neighbors. There, cats can find donated food and toys, cushions and boxes to keep them out of harsh weather, and even a new owner if they’re lucky. It all started back in 2008, when, according to one source, an interior architect named Didem Gokgoz regularly passed through a park on her way to work in the district of Sisli—in which there were always stray cats trying to find places to keep warm in winter. Didem came to know others that would help the cats and they formed a volunteer group organization called Podo that is dedicated to building cat homes for strays. The group became extremely popular in Istanbul and even received requests for houses in the three surrounding cities of Alanya, Izmir, and Gaziantep. If one thing is for sure, the thousands of stray cats in Istanbul are happy to have more places to stay for the cold winter months.
· Alan Robinson, a retired banker, has paid a king’s ransom to create a storm-resistant living beach where animals and beachgoers can coexist in Tybee Island, Georgia. Involving nearly 50,000 cubic yards of sand, the rebuild was costly but necessary, as scientists hypothesize that climate change will cause stronger storm surges, which has already raised sea levels around the Earth by around one foot. Robertson’s restoration, which kindly included two parking lots offshore, is so successful, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration asked him to write a book of best practices for beach restoration, while some experts have said he’s 6-7 years “ahead of this country.” Robertson described himself as having entered “the Matrix,” after retiring to Tybee Island and buying a house, before immediately joining the local beach task force. He says, “Now I can’t look at this [sand] without seeing all the processes at work.”