By Ryan Lenora Brown and Vincent Lali

Nonzwakazi Nkunzi built her house when no one was watching.

She did it one night in August 2020, five months into South Africa’s COVID-19 lockdown and the dead of Southern Hemisphere winter. She and her family had heard about a group of people who were planning to occupy a vacant lot wedged between the local magistrate’s court, a police station, and a mall in Khayelitsha, the township where they lived. By that time, it had been months since she, her husband, and their four children had seen a paycheck. …

By Stav Dimitropoulos

Like a typical teenager, Kik De Rijke goes to school and soccer practice and does her homework. Sometimes she fishes plastic out of the water near her home, but “it’s not like I’m hugging trees all day,” she says. She really loves her neighborhood, because she knows all the children and the adults. She particularly admires her neighbors who are brave enough to swim in the Johan van Hasselt Canal in Amsterdam at 7 or 8 a.m. every winter morning. “I jump from our small floating garden into the canal, but in the summer!” she exclaims. …

By Ezra Haber Glenn

I am sitting in the dark, in a crowded room of strangers, watching black and white images of the city of Los Angeles, circa 1940, flicker past on a screen. The film has no traceable plot, and the city itself is the only character — other than the people in the audience, who, I come to realize, are the real performers.

As the movie unfolds and the room warms up, people start calling out the names of buildings and events they recognize, asking questions, and engaging in lighthearted debates across the dark aisles. …

By Matt Crossman

Images by Matt Crossman

Seven vultures squawked from atop trees lining the shore. Their black bodies stood stark against the deep blue sky. As my guide, Ryan Fagan, and I paddled our canoe toward them, they loped from treetop to treetop, vying for the best seats, an avian version of musical chairs.

I dug my paddle into Boze Lake and pulled. The sheathed machete latched to my belt rustled against my hip. We were deep in Minnesota’s Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness. The slightest misstep — a flipped canoe, a twisted ankle, a kidney stone — would turn this exciting adventure…

The benefits — and stomach-twisting challenges — of nature in a headset

By Hannah Thomasy

The benefits — and stomach-twisting challenges — of nature in a headset

Recently, I took a trip to the Hoh Rainforest in western Washington state, which I last visited with my parents as a child. It was much as I remembered it. The sun filtered delicately through the dense canopy, curtains of moss dripped from the tree branches, and the ground under my feet was covered with a thick carpet of ferns and leaf litter. Familiar birdsongs filled my ears. …

By Tony Rehagen

Of all the deadly ramifications of climate change, wildfires might be the most immediate. Though humans start most fires, hotter and drier conditions have led to longer “fire seasons” and a higher number of blazes that spread farther and faster. The area affected by wildfires in the U.S. has doubled over the last three decades, swallowing billions of dollars in property damage and more than 3,000 lives each year.

It’s impossible to predict when and where a brushfire will break out. But what if there were a way to use technology and monitoring to predict where a…

By Tony Rehagen

Bernie Krause has spent more than half a century capturing and preserving the music of nature. From the groans of glaciers shifting in the Arctic to the screams of gorillas in the mountains of Rwanda, he has compiled more than 5,000 hours of field recordings. But there is one sound that Krause will never need to have played back, an alarm that is cut into his brain. It’s the blare of climate change arriving at his front door.

On October 9, 2017, Krause and his wife, Kat, were awake at 2:30 a.m. waiting to see if the…

By Andrew Collins

Well into the pandemic, many people are seeking solitude in nature. What could be lovelier, after months of isolation at home, than setting out along a rugged conifer-shaded trail, breathing in the fresh alpine air, and listening to a chorus of songbirds?

There’s just one catch: if everybody’s getting outside, it’s hard to find a spot all to yourself. That’s true even at many of the 419 destinations in the U.S. National Park System, which continues to grapple with how to manage growing crowds.

Even before this year, many of the country’s most famous parks, such as…

By Matt Crossman

I paddled out to catch my third wave of the day and found my surfing instructor, Rocky Canon, sitting on his board, staring off into the great blue infinity. He rose and fell with each wave, lost in an oceanic reverie, and he didn’t realize I had returned until I asked what he was doing.

Canon, a former pro and long-time instructor, has spent much of his life on Hawaii’s beaches. He is well-known as a surfing commentator and personality, a surfing expert among experts. And yet here he was, studying the waves in a spare few…

By Stav Dimitropoulos

In the past week, I have floated inside the International Space Station, kept calm on glass suspension bridges in China, looked three-feet-tall Mini Lili in the eye onstage at Cirque du Soleil, and swum with sharks off the coast of Hawaii. By the laws of nature, it’d be impossible to squeeze all these trips into one week. But not by the laws of the virtual reality headset I’ve used, from my couch, to explore the great outdoors and beyond.

I am fairly convinced that, should there be life after death, future VR technology that taps all five…

Experience Magazine

The world is changing. Experience guides you through. Published by Northeastern University at

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