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Our Staff Shares the Podcasts, Books, TV Shows, and Tunes That have Kept Us Inspired During Quarantine

When we weren’t able to visit our favorite trails or go on our planned trips, the BRO staff turned to creators, artists, and entertainers to bring the best of the outdoors to our screens as we stayed safe through social distancing. Here are some of our favorite listens, watches, and reads that gave us hope and inspired future adventures.

The Unlikely Thru-Hiker: An Appalachian Trail Journey by Derick Lugo

Walk the Appalachian Trail with Derick “Mr. Fabulous” Lugo as he details going from never hiking to a 2,100+ mile thru-hike in his debut memoir. At its core, The Unlikely Thru-Hiker is about a first-time hiker figuring out the ways of the trail and connecting with other hikers. 

For more A.T. adventures, you can find chapters that didn’t make the book at dericklugo.com, and in lieu of a canceled book tour, you can catch Lugo talking about his thru-hike and the book with Jennifer Pharr Davis as part of her Armchair Adventure Book Club series on YouTube. 

The Food We Eat, the Stories We Tell, edited by Elizabeth S. D. Engelhardt and Lora E. Smith

The Food We Eat, the Stories We Tell is a collection of essays and poems on food and tradition that offers enlightening perspectives on the contemporary Appalachian table. Elizabeth Engelhardt writes, “What can be grown, what can be raised, what can be preserved, and how, all is determined in some relation to mountains and hills. What tastes good, what is emblematic, what is avoided, and who gets a voice in deciding, all to develop with mountains in the discussion.” 

The book explores themes of “identity, power, injustice, and privilege” woven in with accounts of family gatherings, terrain, and, of course, food.  

Host Claudine Ebeid McElwain of the Broken Ground

Broken Ground
from the Southern Environmental Law Center

This podcast from the SELC uncovers the heart of environmental issues facing the South with the people on the front lines of disaster and innovation. In season one, host Claudine Ebeid McElwain and the Broken Ground team explore the legacy of energy in the South, from coal ash pollution and pipeline development to the current state of solar power. Season two, just released June 30, explores the direct impacts sea level rise and climate change are having on daily life, focusing on the communities of Charleston, S.C., and Norfolk, Va. You can also catch interviews with leaders of the Southern environmental movement, including Drew Lanham, Dr. Robert Bullard, and Margaret Renkl.

Ghosts of West Virginia
from Steve Earle

Editor Jedd Ferris recommends the latest album from country-rock bard Steve Earle. “Earle’s latest album pays tribute to the 29 coal miners who died in a 2010 explosion at West Virginia’s Upper Big Branch mine,” he said. “Through a riveting set of hardscrabble folk tunes and twangy ballads, Earle remembers the lost while also illuminating the bigger issue of blue-collar Appalachians being marginalized for profit.” 

And who can forget The Last Dance? “ESPN’s 10-part documentary series about Michael Jordan’s final title run with the Bulls has been a comforting throwback to my youth, especially with the absence of professional sports,” Ferris said.

Why Fish Don’t Exist: A Story of Loss, Love, and the Hidden Order of Life
by Lulu Miller 

“It was an amazing book about resilience and finding order in chaos,” said Hannah Cooper, BRO account executive. “It’s part memoir about Lulu’s life and part biography of David Starr Jordan, a taxonomist who helped categorize like a full fifth of all known fish species.”

The Damsel 
from Erin Lunsford

Shannon McGowan, Blue Ridge Outdoors’ digital content coordinator, has been enjoying Virginia-based singer-songwriter Erin Lunsford’s new album “The Damsel.” As part of the album’s release, Lunsford collaborated with Richmond artists to create a visual collection interpreting the 13 tracks on the album. Proceeds from print sales will help support Culture Works RVA’s Artist Relief Fund in response to COVID-19.

This spring McGowan spearheaded BRO’s new Trail Mix Live series, bringing music to our readers virtually through live streaming concerts every week. “One of my favorite parts of this time of year is getting ready for music festivals and live shows,” she said. “Listening to the artists that are a part of our region’s music festivals flooded my mind with some really enjoyable memories of past year’s festivals, like LOCKN’ and Red Wing. I’ve also been listening to a lot of Fruit Bats, Alabama Shakes, Josh Ritter, and other great acts from our region. Plus making some time to practice guitar more has been nice. Long story short, music has been my main inspiration.” 

High Crimes: The Fate of Everest in an Age of Greed
by Michael Kodas

High Crimes digs into the Everest boom and a new breed of mountaineers attempting to summit the mountain. BRO account executive Taylor Leal recommends this, “quick read that exposes the happenings above Everest Base Camp where more factors besides Mother Nature and physical fitness enter the picture.” 

Although he doesn’t usually watch a ton of television, Leal has also been enjoying Alone on Hulu. “[It] appeals to the Survivorman/Les Stroud-lover that involves minimal interaction from the outside,” he said. “A great dive into the human psyche as it evolves when exposed to extended isolation. I binged all 6 seasons quicker than I’d like to admit when COVID hit.” 

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