Basketball, Happiness, and Gift Economies: the Latest from Story Untold

Whew! It’s been awhile. Not that it hasn’t been a… er… lively past few months. (But, well, you already know that.) Things have been chugging along.

In between writing and working in mental health care on a COVID-19 task force (a story for another day), I have had a good run of recent, fascinating guests on Story Untold. From basketball and prison reform to the “happiest man in the world,” from bead working to Buy Nothing and bestselling authors, the latest stories run the gamut and include some of my favourites from the 91 episodes produced thus far. Hope you’ll enjoy them.

Dr. Erynne Gilpin: “Knowledge is relational”

A co-founder of UATÊ // STORIED LEARNING, a vehicle for community-led knowledge mobilization through film and storytelling, Erynne Gilpin is a Victoria-based educator, birth doula, bead worker, and activist. The creator of Indigenous Womxn Climb, she is interested in Indigenous resurgence through “embodied governance, insurgent healing, and land/water-based wellness.”

Eternity Martis: “I had to survive”

Eternity Martis found that as a Black student at a mostly-white university, she learned more about “what someone like me brought out in other people than who I was.” From blackface to racial slurs, she chronicled it all in her debut memoir, They Said This Would Be Fun. A blend of personal stories and in-depth reporting, it pulls back the curtains on systemic issues–racism, sexism, intimate partner violence–plaguing students today.

Buy Nothing Project: “Build the world you want to live in”

Rebecca Rockefeller and Liesl Clark are the co-creators of the Buy Nothing Project, a global network of hyper-local gift economies aimed at building community and consuming less. What started as a small Facebook group in Bainbridge Island, Washington in 2013 — the first gift was a dozen eggs to a neighbour — has bloomed to over 1.2 million members in 25 countries, even spawning a global travellers’ network and disaster relief team.

David Roskelley: “Enjoy the grind”

The first American to climb the Seven Summits and Volcanic Seven Summits, the highest mountains and volcanoes on each continent, David Roskelley has survived on yak meat while summiting Mount Everest, and traveled as far afield as Papua New Guinea and Antarctica in search of peaks to climb. His next goal is more audacious than the last: to reach the high point of the Moon.

Meik Wiking: “The happiness of pursuit”

Meik Wiking has made a life out of studying happiness. The Copenhagen-based researcher and international bestselling author (The Little Book of HyggeThe Little Book of Lykke) has worked with countries around the world to explore what brings meaning and satisfaction to our lives. The Happiness Research Institute founder and CEO’s latest book, The Art of Making Memories, examines “how peak experiences are made, stored, and remembered” — and how we can become architects of our memories.

Pachi Ibarra: “You have to be prepared for everything [in Antarctica]”

Maria Paz ‘Pachi’ Ibarra may well be one of the most experienced alpinists in all of Antarctica. The Santiago, Chile-raised climber has over ten first ascents in the Ellsworth Mountains, more than anyone else. A guide for more than 15 years, she first arrived on the continent to survey peaks in the Sentinel Range. She has also summited some of the world’s tallest peaks, including Tibet and China’s Lhotse.

Alex Wong: “You’ve got to check your ego at the door”

A Toronto-based freelance writer and bestselling co-author of We The Champs: The Toronto Raptors’ Historic Run to the 2019 NBA Title, Alex Wong is among the most preeminent personalities in the NBA’s digital sphere. Now, Wong — whose work has appeared in The New York Times, The New Yorker, and The Atlantic — hopes to mentor the next generation of journalists of colour.

Lamont ‘Tory’ Stapleton: “If we want to make a change, we’ve got to start with prisons”

The co-founder of Between the Lines, a prison basketball program aimed at rehabilitation, Lamont ‘Tory’ Stapleton has always kept the game of basketball close. An Athletic Hall of Fame member at Gill St. Bernard’s School in New Jersey, Stapleton played for Southern New Hampshire University and finished with over 1,300 career points. A self-described “dot connector,” the Rahway, New Jersey native has forged friendships with many of the NBA’s current stars. Now, with Between the Lines, the Los Angeles-based Stapleton hopes to offer tools for inmates to reintegrate into their communities upon release.

Carl English: “[Basketball] was a way out”

Carl English’s basketball story is anything but ordinary. Long before he took the floor against Kobe Bryant for the Canadian National Team, the 37-year-old grew up in Patrick’s Cove, Newfoundland, shooting hoops on the side of the highway. The sport has also been an outlet in some of English’s most difficult life circumstances: at five years old, he lost his parents after a house fire, then lost his uncle while playing in the NCAA.

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