Regenerative agriculture Resilient in nature

The only future of Fisheries is Sustainable

podcast: “Red’s Best” founder & CEO joins Aaron Niederhelman

Food System Reform: the interconnected web of food, water & planet.

Climate | Water | Biodiversity: regenerative resources as basis for future economies

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Standing on the hoof: 

 – Food & Climate part 1 –

 The Savory Institute’s plan to remediate FOOD & CLIMATE CHANGE thrives with the soil

The key to mitigating climate change will be putting grasslands to work, and the conduit of success comes on the hoof of healthy pastoral livestock.  So says world renowned animal husbandry expert and founder of the Holistic Management production model Allan Savory.



A symbiotic relationship between all microbial living things has effectively resulted in a living sponge that surrounds the planet. Often referred to as the earth’s thin skin, this living soil is so more than that.  It’s in fact the entire digestive tract for any and all living matter that has existed over the last billion years since bacteria and fungi started playing nicely together.  A few hundred million years ago, those relationships began incorporating larger flora and fauna into the recipe, and through time a proper balance was struck amongst all shared ecosystems to cycle nutriment needed for every trophic level through the microbes teeming in soil.  Basically, our health and that of our environment is uniquely connected to this living soil.

Just in the past few centuries we’ve unknowingly begun to tweak the process again.  And, in the last 50 years – scale of this disruptive approach has begun catching-up with a stable environment and again changing a once thriving ecosystems for the worse. Today, as our growing footprint and modern agricultural practice has effectively lopped off a few key links in the chain throughout the world – the collective is proving incrementally detrimental to diversely connected biomes. Hard to believe that taking ruminants off pasture can disrupt our existence, but with the grand scale we’ve instituted change  in such a short time – the unintended consequences to systems that take millions of years to balance will prove immensely disruptive unless we begin appreciating how to define broader solutions and not remedy of symptoms. Through Allan Savory we’re learning that when properly managed –  the matter that constitutes the sponge of our soil can be reinstated back to an original purpose from which it evolved.  A system of unparalleled storage capacity which provides a fix to a water & carbon issue spiralling out of control.


It’s based on a concept called nutrient cycling – a process similar but much broader to what happens in our own bodies. In fact, the breakdown of materials by microbial life in soil is not that far removed from what happens in your gut. By removing the waste stream of grazing animals and the results of the actions of their predators (equally an essential part of the puzzle) from once thriving grasslands we’ve systematically changed the nutrient cycling programs of most of the world’s great grasslands.  From sub-saharan Africa, the Great Plains of North America, the Southwest of the US, many Northern parts of the Far east, and a good portion of Australia – we’ve disrupted the essential nutrient cycling and stopped the flow of recycled energy on a significant portion of ground cover around the world. Effectively, taking the animals who harvest, fertilize and aerate the soil has resulted in dormancy, compaction, loss of biodiversity on that land leading to a general lack of resilience especially when dealing with the impact of other natural elements like wind, storm, flood or drought.


(coined by Elaine Ingham, Soil Foodweb is the basis for nutrient cycling)

The organic matter and bugs in healthy topsoil hold 10X the volume of water as conventionally treated agricultural lands, never-mind dormant desert soils lacking thriving biology needed to maintain living plants that were once so important in feeding the pastoral animals. Collectively, and not unrelated – they no longer exist together. Removing animals, and categorical poor agricultural tilling & irrigation practice result in lesser ecological vigor in the once living soils of the global grasslands.  This has resulted in epic topsoil runoff, loss of fresh water storage, excessive carbon release and a lack of sequestering capacity.  A grand scale squeezing of the once massive grasslands sponge creates further dystopian scenarios for any of those animals that remain disconnected as a broken links in the chain. Representing 60% of the earth’s land cover, what we’re realizing is that grasslands are set to change all of our in-connected existence – including that of a stable environment for us all – unless we begin to give them their due.  Furthermore, as slash and burn practices destroy much of the ecologically sensitive tropical forests and forest land, and more folks enter the fossil fuel burning lifestyle – we’re going to need a broader solution with fast acting results.  The exciting part of Allan’s plan is the remediation to an unbalanced system is pretty straight-forward, and the unintended consequence leads to a cleaning a food system and improved human and animal health.


(transforming desertification through engaging working lands in Mexico)

All of that considered – the hypothesis of returning the highest trophic levels back to the ecosystem under proper guidance and practice in effort to jumpstart co-evolution and best recalibrate the system to once again thrive as it did before our meddling seems one of the most pragmatic plans we’ve got as it comes in tow with economic drivers correlated to evolving consumer demand for better quality foods. Simply, focused first on the single largest segment of food – animals – cleaning our food production models through pastoring hoofed ruminants and free-range fowl on grasslands and silvopasture (combined effort of forestry & grazing) we make significant strides in controlling our destiny through focus on Onehealth of animal, human, land & environment.  Allan and his teams around the world are set on changing many misnomers by introducing large scale herds of animals, wild and food alike, back into systems where the collaboration will benefit the wellness of all living matter through a progressive plan of adaptive nutrient cycling from the Soil-to-Table.


(a side-by-side comparison of holistic practice in Aberdeen South Africa)

The supply chain disruption of plant ready nutrients is driving many of the grasslands around the world to a point of desertification.  Allan, and now many others including myself, believe that integrating animals back into the equation begins a systemic evolution back – reinvigorating the nutrient cycling programs that will again give the living soil the ability to sequester the excessive amounts of carbon we’ve dumped into the environment over the past 100 years.  This is more than just common sense, there’s a great deal of evidence supporting Allan’s immersive Holistic Management biomimicry plan that uses systems-based resource management focused on raising and rearing healthy animals back into natural environments as the crux of change. With thirty years under their belt, and tooled with analysis and empirical evidence from thousands of years of agricultural practice used prior to modern CAFOs (concentrated animal feedlot operations), the Holistic Management Institute, and since 2009 the Savory Institute with its expanding global hubs, have been working diligently to change producer awareness to the broad reaching value of a regenerative agricultural approach.  

Today, as we the consumer have begun asking more questions relating to that of food’s value – more folks have begun speaking with their dollars.  This increasingly makes us more savvy and concerned with compromises incurred with conventional production vs. that of circular agriculture’s focus on an integrated outcome of Onehealth to all living things in the food chain (including us) and the environment we share.  To this, as more awareness and education come to bear – it seems prime opportunity for additional free-market influential companies (strategics) to jump on board in servicing growing consumer sentiment driving food as a pillar of human and planetary healthcare.  

Continued in Food & Climate Part 2Savory Institute Turkey Hub

Savory Institute Turkey Hub: 

 – Food & Climate part 2 –

 above: founders Volken (Left), Durukan (right) welcome Allan Savory & Jody Butterfield to Turkey

Prior to leaving for October’s Eisenhower fellowship program in Turkey – I reached out to Allan Savory for advice.  I explained my intent and program objectives that correlate the value of better quality food to human and planetary healthcare.  Supremely gracious, Allan invited me to their forthcoming global conference happening in San Francisco, which happened coincide with the same weekend I was leaving for Turkey.  Equally exciting, he informed of work of Durukan Dudu – the head and co-founder of The Savory Institute Turkey Hub. Allan suggested I make time to visit Durukan and team on the Anatolian Grasslands during the research program in October. The Savory Institute has established disciples throughout the world through the launch of international hubs to promote, teach and evolve best holistic practice through returning animals to working lands.  Allan has earmarked and invested in future leaders interested in progressing the previously described mindset, and I’ve come to learn that Durukan Dudu was one of these intelligent and passionate thought leaders evaluating anti-desertification methods in Biga Turkey.  Immediately enthralled, my program managers and I integrated a visit into the fellowship.  


(Allan and Durukan presenting food & climate plans & findings in Istanbul)

Fitting a visit in between Durukan’s return from the Savory national conference in San Francisco, and my traversing of the Turkish countryside – we orchestrated a time to meet and tour the Savory Institute Turkish hub in the middle of the month.  I must say, as I made the drive to Biga from Bursa I was very excited for this opportunity.  Despite the Anatolian Grasslands Savory Institute research-hub being off the beaten path – it was in a pretty epic location near where the mouth of the Sea of Marmara meets the Aegean sea. Somewhat strangely, driving through the terrain near Biga reminded me not of other parts of arid Turkish topography I saw earlier in the Northeastern part of the country, nor a mediterranean landscape as I witnessed down by Izmir & Ephesus, but the rolling pastoral hills looked a bit like parts of upstate NY & Vermont. Stopping a few times to look out over the many trees separating farmlands, most noticeably the beautiful local Oaks that were interspersed in the evergreens throughout this scenic undulating countryside I began to wonder if I was grasping for something that just wasn’t there. I wasn’t homesick yet!  I’d later make a few comments relating to what I saw, but I think my vision of some Northeastern roots was lost on this international troop deeply immersed in the task at hand  – how returning animals to open pasture in Turkey will benefit diverse ecosystems and biodiversity throughout the world.  Later, as I took a closer look at the soil tilth and makeup – I realized that despite the resilience of many of the same plants we share, the framework for which they thrive was so very different.  Further proof of the power and complexity living soil represents.


(Durukan & hardworking team of Anatolian watchdogs look over a portion of the flock)

Upon arriving at the research hub in Biga I was welcomed by Durukan and his co-founding partner and cousin Volkan Buyukgungor. We sat on their farmhouse porch at basin of their elevated pasture land and chatted for hours. It seemed we became immediate compatriots.  People from halfway around the world aligning on many aspects and sharing a similar vision for the future. They explained all of the hard work they’ve put-in over the past few years cobbling together resources to continue to buy or rent more land while increasing the size of their flock.  Turkey is going through an interesting period in agriculture. Unlike the States which has lost, but now finds rejuvenated interest in smaller scale farming, Turkey is in the middle of their own infrastructure discussion.  In fact, earlier while in capital city of Ankara I learned from the Agricultural Ministry their growth plan to consolidate many of the small farms that employ 3 Million Turkish farmers through large scale acquisition, or if needed – forced eminent domain.  In regions now gaining new water access through a large scale commitment to dams equally for hydro and irrigation purposes this is creating new socioeconomic and political issues. This will pan out with interesting results in the next few years especially in the Gap region in southern Turkey that borders much of Syria.  Heavily inhabited by Kurds, this brewing tinderbox will have to be closely watched especially with the AK party’s re-election and track-record in flexing their muscles when something is deemed to benefit the State.

Biga is different than the Gap region, and despite the aesthetic of a Update New York landscape –  it’s very different than the US.  For that matter, so is most of the current farming infrastructure in Turkey.  That said, our common ground is finding a happy medium in production scale, despite coming at it from completely opposite directions. The vast majority of Turkish farms are smaller farms, which actually continues to grow further splintered through succession plans of generations inheriting smaller and smaller parcels and further splitting working lands as each child gets a piece of the action.  We like to claim that in the US 97% of farms are family owned, but when you break down total production volume – that statistic is mostly fluff as the vast majority of production in the US is from very large farms, often leased from an entity (I will follow with further essays delving deeper).  In Turkey, total production volume and the number of small farms do correlate. As they try to figure out a new identity that will allow gross agricultural revenue to increase from current $50B to predicted $150B by 2023 – change seems inevitable despite domestic consumers not necessarily correlating to the Ministry’s plan to adopt a Western production model of producing volumes of cheaper food at the sacrifice of nourishment and employment.


(I join Volkan, Durukan and team for a quick photo shoot on the grasslands)

After a wonderful lunch of all farm-grown produce, homemade cured meats and pomegranates (something you won’t find in Vermont) picked from the tree in the backyard – we headed up into the pasture to explore, see the flock and learn more.  Visiting these animals is so important. A noble life indeed!  The holistic relationship of the soil, plant and animal mentioned in Part 1 – fixing the broken link in the chain by re-assimilating our ruminant friends back onto the farm is where this whole concept comes into play in Biga, and for every struggling grasslands across the world.  Simply, the mutually beneficial ecological evolution of these trophic relationships have built a closed loop feeding cycle that equally supports and affords resilience to each part of the food system no matter how grand or small. 

As detailed in the Soil Foodweb diagram presented in Part 1 of the Food & Climate essays – a mentor of mine, Elaine Ingham coined this concept that evaluates and bolsters how the relationship of billions of bugs colonizing healthy soil can work in unison to reform any type of waste stream into plant ready nutrients.  That needed starter kit for a successful nutrient cycling program is most perfect when it comes delivered not from synthetic shots of energy from petrochemicals and refined minerals, but instead by feeding the soil with what it has evolved to draw nutrients from – animals.   The constant moving and turning of those animals has also worked with natural selection just as we’ve witnessed with macro evolution to afford opportunity for only the strong and proficient to survive when dealing with their larger and now essential ruminant brethren.  Effectively, the digestion recycling energy in the belly of cows is just the first step in providing needed energy to the health of living soil.

In and around Biga, where the smaller farms of often authentic practice remain the mainstay, some of Durukan and Volkan’s plans seem in line with generations past.  But, as the allure and of the short-horizon gains of modern agriculture envelops their region – many of the farming methods they’ve implemented like no-till, and timed mob grazing – a practice that replicates having predators to keep grazing animals constantly moving appear old-school rather than revolutionary to other farmers in the region.  Gaining continued interest on circular farms in the US, this process of mob and pulse grazing moves animals from paddock to paddock in a quick enough period to prevent the animals from destroying too much of the grass (an effort to have the animal eat no more than ½ of the blade during a feeding period, and surely none of the roots) before they are moved onto a next strategically earmarked parcel. Successful examples like the reintroduction of wolves in Yellowstone further prove that it’s about the entire food chain evolution along with grazing animals. The process works especially well with the economics of production agriculture as integrating diversity of species which often prefer different grasses, forbes and seed types on the same fields – can improve stocking densities and revenue stream diversification on regenerative lands.  Durukan and Volkan have brought folks from all over Europe and the Middle East to learn from these practices on the Anatolian grasslands.  What I find so intriguing, along with the science these guys are implementing to make this work in the field and in the soil, they return to the idea that their methods produce a better tasting product. Which in the long-run I believe makes this concept scalable and desirable to a consumer-base in Turkey, in the States and globally as more consumers return to the fundamental value of food.  Taste, nutriment and wholesomeness.


(Durukan stands over the rolling hills of the Anatolian Grasslands in Biga Turkey)

Ecology has become supremely efficient in closing this energy loop – and if what remains left is only the living matter designed to recycle energy and the dander called petroleum – the system that created and stored this energy in the first place is hungry to return itself back to an equilibrium  As a systems thinkers – that is just common sense!  Although, the described conduit of remediation now get much of the blame through the reductionist mindset.  Food animals are now defined as a fundamental driver in climate change equal to human emissions?  Well,with current confinement practices – this may be very true. Methane is anywhere from 25 – 85 times more potent an adulterant as compared to carbon dioxide, but the fundamental problem is the nature of the question. The animals are in fact an essential and key part of the solution.  As author Judith Schwartz writes in “Cows save the Planet” – the disruptive forces of ruminants are actually the “crucible” of change in using soil to rectify climate change.   Conventional methodology and associated reductionist theories to the environment, and our health, fail to evaluate how we’re all part of much bigger system that rely on being part of the living nutrient recycling program. As Allan & Durukan will continue to prove, there will be unlikely heroes in solving global problems through the bettering methods for how we feed ourselves.


Who the hell wants to be preached to regarding what they eat, or that of their family’s diet. Coming tooled with  more & more knowledge of all these problems we’ve got going on and what the future will look like if we continue business as usual – I’ve had to learn how to be a much better dinner date.  So, for all that bad, there’s actually incredible hope in rectifying these problems through proven and tested models that utilize the same solution to solve many problems.  The best practices of circular agriculture can not only improve the health and welfare of the animal & farm worker, and source cleaner & healthier food but this same process can be our best remedy in healing a quickly warming and choking planet.   That is a crazy paradigm shift in evaluating broader scale change that will correlate to many vested interests.


(the value of livestock has never looked so good as on working grasslands)

Whether it’s relating to practice, provenance or benefit – collectively, we’ve long since been food ignorant in the United States.  Most times the truth is not what we want to hear, especially when dealing with something as intimate as the food we feed our families. But, the good news is that unlike any other time in history we can rectify a social wrong quickly.  Through sustained awareness, education and proper truths that best service collective interests and not that of greed and hubris of a few groups who struggle to see the forest amongst the trees with their repeated claims that conventional production of cheap food has nothing to do with climate change, modern plagues like obesity, heart disease, cancers and that of general poor well-being which has inflicted US populous over the past 30 years – change is brewing. Our natural defense mechanism of common sense has been so desensitized we’ve simply lost perspective on the fundamental purpose of food.  Without focus on well-being, cheap caloric energy is proving a killer to our health and that of our planet.  We seeing signs of change, and the basis for that change is actually how we came to be in the first place!  It’s an exciting time to be ruminant!

Externalized ‘true costs’ of Food

BLUE CHIP INNOVATORS: the future lies in these hands

 –  –  –   For Turkey, and for us all.

It’s a bit frustrating; I’ve yet to see just stories defining hope and potential to this current situation in the Middle East.  That may sound like an interesting perspective on the situation, but while in Turkey I witnessed a very different reality than being broadly portrayed to a global audience. I keep a keen eye looking for any storyline in the press defining leadership in this crisis, something I feel to be so essential in inspiring a generation next to learn from these repeatable mistakes, and cure a stronger foundation for future decisions.  Thus far, in this real-time commingling coverage of the Middle East and Europe – media seems only to be proponents of despair.  What’s even more asinine, at least from my point of view, the copycat reporting of keeping-up with the Turners is not vogue – it’s instead played out with every storyline on every news channel where volumes of noise and little sustenance are repeatedly dumped with little strategy and often less due diligence for purpose of throughput.  

Enough already!  

We need (some) narratives portraying alternative realities in the Middle East. An accurate reporting of stories where people are solving known problems and controlling their own destiny simply to act as a ray of hope for others. Throughout Turkey I witnessed these storylines of human spirit transcending the problem a hand, yet have not seen this presentation of that truth. I met folks of impeccable resolve and resilience that have revigorated my hope in the future, and counter much of this gluttonous noise spewed for nothing more than gross consumption of addictive fodder.  Waiting to tell of these leaders in a retrospective after the crisis mitigates is just too late.  Folks need accurate information in formulating an equitable opinion now.

I must reiterate from past essay – I know this exodus of refugees is an enormous humanitarian issue.  But, those stories are being told by others; by all, potentially the same storyline ad nauseam.  What remains untold in the short-term attention of the ratings-fueled press seems these essential stories of successful perseverance, chivalry and inspiration defining these areas of turmoil. One such story I’d like to share focuses on a very unexpected leader coming from a family who’ve already escaped the terrorism of the south, and despite what seems impossible odds to you and me, have begun to assimilate and integrate themselves into their new Turkish surroundings.  Fundamentally, and potentially more relatable to us all – I believe this story presents a distinct example of where forced innovation can cast a long shadow when cultivated with a mindset of required diplomacy in a shared future on a shrinking planet.

Meet Ahmet and his cousin Ozanpictured above

Two (very) young men who with near immediacy reinvigorated my enthusiasm for what tomorrow can bring when driven by the unbreakable spirit of motivated entrepreneurs. With a 2M populous, Bursa, Turkey sits due south of Istanbul on the Sea of Marmara.  It has a bit of a feel of a poorer version of a Northern California city, but at an order of magnitude higher population density.  What makes this city so unique is not just that it’s tucked throughout the foothills of the 8300 ft elevation Uludag mountain, but that those mountains are in fact – Mount Olympus.  Little did I know when I arrived that the most interesting folklore I’d stumble upon in this original capital of the Ottoman empire would not be of Gods or civilizations thousands of years old, but instead that of two boys collectively barely two decades old.


(600 yr old Sycamore in INKAYA village – a first Ottoman village of Bursa)

During an open afternoon after my organized meetings were completed, I was huffing it up one of the hills behind my hotel on my way to a coffee shop with better than adequate WiFi. The tight and undulating streets of Bursa’s valley basin are a challenge to navigate never-mind when you begin to tackle the mountain itself.  About a kilometer up, I stumbled across two young businessmen operating a pretty impressive logistics company.  Wheeling a modified chariot (as pictured atop) down the incredibly hilly terrain of Mount Olympus, older and bigger cousin Ozan helmed a plastics collections vehicle while younger and charismatic front-of-the-house cousin Ahmet would visit the plastic refuse sites of each house and business along the street.  I had witnessed grown-men doing something similar in Istanbul, but surely not with the same panache nor motivation.  Taking time to make small-talk with local shop-owners, Ahmet worked that street like a master salesman.  It was obvious he was well liked, as many along the way would smile, putting a hand on his little head and frail shoulders with touches of adoration, and respect.  Intrigued, I had to stop and watch these craftsmen operate.

Retracing my steps just to keep an eye on and learn from these two little buggers, in the 15-20 minutes I watched, they’d only stopped working once to satisfy their curiosity as a small pack of street dogs and feral cats interacted. You should’ve seen the proficiency and efficiency for which these two did their job; no supervisor, no teacher, no boss – just work. Not too much older my own kids at home in Boston, as I watched them operate these tight residential streets filled with cars, scooters, buses and more – my first thought was disdain for how their parents could let this happen!  Then, taking my tainted perspective out of their reality, I came to an overwhelming feeling of adulation for these two young entrepreneurs who’ve formulated a business of scrapping plastics as a unique form of forced innovation.  Supremely focused on the task at hand, these two entrepreneurs put a smirk, and then a smile on my face unlike any other engagement during the entire fellowship experience in Turkey or the Netherlands. I was struck with an epiphany – what I’d first thought as unbelievable risk to have two unaccompanied kids who should be in school at that point of the day moving heavy loads down the middle of fast moving traffic was instead one of the finest examples of forced innovation I’ve ever seen. Any feeling of disbelief quickly morphed to- intrigue -to- fascination -to- inspiration. I don’t know the story of their parents, nor of Ahmet and Ozan current living situation, but I know they’re doing what they must to do more than survive, but to learn and establishing a future to thrive in this world. It was truly amazing!

As they pressed on I finally stopped retracing my steps at a point to insure they’d pass on my side of the street.   Ahmet approached not asking for a flat-cash hand-out, he instead asked only for a few Turkish lira (exchange rate is about $1 = 3 lira) for bottled water for himself and his hardworking cousin.  In broken English far better than any second language I speak, 9 year old Ahmet asked “two lira for Su (water); Ozan and me”.  This experience was very different than what I’d recently encountered in the city of Izmir, a large coastal city of 5M south of Bursa. On the Aegean sea, Izmir has become the epicenter of Syrian refugees now receiving an estimated 6000 new inhabitants and/or transient population as day.  I did see plenty of refugee turned entrepreneurs selling everything from street food, wet-naps, balloons and shoe cleaning services while in Turkey, but in Izmir I mostly witnessed folks in need, stuck not knowing what to do, or how to do it. While in Izmir I was afforded a unique learner experience. In effort to help a few of these families in need, I handed 20 lira to each, and became flocked upon until my wallet was empty of all 20 and 50 lira bills. Never feeling threatened, I was followed and harassed by men and woman for not giving equal amounts.  A lesson learned for moving forward.


(Atatürk Monument to Turkish Independence welcomes refugees to Izmir)

But now, looking at this adorable face – this was different.  With Ahmet, I was dealing with businessman. Truth be told, I was awestruck by these two guys. I’ve always been inspired by entrepreneurs who’ve turned a bad circumstance into a positive situation through successful business, but these two cats were taking it to a whole new level.  It was an easy decision, how could I not become an investor in their triple-bottom line business dedicated to cleaning the streets, saving the environment and putting money in their family’s pockets through recycling plastics!  As I emptied my wallet to pick up the cost of a few months of their collections duties – I thought to myself, a few decades from now I might be workings for these businessmen, so I better get in now!

First, and I’ll be clear – this is not what I want for my little ones. Nor probably what Ahmet and Ozan’s folks want for their kids.  But, from a grander perspective – this is a much better reality than they knew in their hometown of Duma Syria, and a much different reality as being told with near singularity by western press. This may be an anomaly, or it could be more of a reality for many of the refugees who equally seek a future of freedom & opportunity. No matter, is presents an impeccable story of hope for a better tomorrow. To me, this also tells of different and more revealing Turkey which has been dealing with Syrian transplants for years.  During that quick chat with Ahmet and Ozan (I’d later learn Ozan spoke no English when he came to check-on his younger and smaller cousin wrapped in a conversation with this American), I realized chivalry and bravery in this world now comes from a very different kind of hero than I would’ve ever expected, and that is uniquely exciting for us all.


(young entrepreneurs are teeming throughout Turkey’s evolving population)

From my experience in the region, the repetitive coverage by Western media of the same stories of despair, cruelty and coercion seem somewhat disingenuous; if nothing else too singular in the depiction of the truth. I heard one prominent Turkish business leader explain it to me as a ‘chumming of the waters’ for news ratings.   This was further validated while staying in Istanbul and Ankara where the only English TV channels I had were CNN & BBC – which reported constantly on the crisis in Syria and throughout Europe.  In each and every report I saw, both media hubs promoted their expertise as immersive or investigative journalists, but the longer I stayed in the region, and the more I saw, I realized that hiding behind that cloak was just not delivering an accurate depiction of the reality I was witnessing.  Surely, that was a reality for many, and truly what I experienced may not be as sexy to report. That said, I began wondering where’s the objectivity, fairness and accuracy to future leaders like Ahmet and Ozan if the reporting of all despair was the only part of the story they heard, what influence would it have on the different storyline they lived?  

My claim of the corruption in mainstream media’s presentation of the truth may drive analogies of potential RNC candidacy for president. In my defense, the clear differential is having no proclamation of media’s equitable treatment of me, but for others. And for that matter, nor can I claim any righteous stance of protecting the victims – as that type of baiting is the premise of my contention with how the story is being told. I would define my claim of unjust representation to fall somewhere in between. In this case – those fighting for themselves are not getting a fair rap, nor a stage to positively influence others. 

As with anything – manipulating a storyline, or data, or for that matter biased scientific reporting (for all my food value compatriots) comes from tweaking the very question you seek to answer.  At a top level, that question asked to be answered can be supported through many means of confirmation bias which, as in this case of the Syrian refugee crisis, reflects only a single perspective to support a desired point of view that may be more captivating news?  Well, I think not, and the well earned bipartisan criticism of media becoming too business centric – looking for only advertising dollars through sex appeal or greater shock & awe seems further validated during these periods where there’s blood in the water.  

Yes, never has an exodus of this proportion been streamed to all corners of the globe with such immediacy and transparency as seen today from the Middle East into Europe. With word that the gates have swung wide open, more than just Syrians have entered this Northern patronage.  Once based on finding freedom and stability, the migration has turned quickly into others from many counties in search of greater opportunity & prosperity. Amongst some of the alternative stories selected to be covered by the press were again underpinned only by despair and turmoil.  Families who’ve finally broken oppression in Syria to just begin an arduous multi-month journey of unknown destination and result, other reported stories have now surfaced of able-bodied men leveraging these families for their own gain.  Claiming fictitious familial relationships with these children and elderly to expedite their positions in the queue to cross a next border, these candy-asses steal the press from true leaders like Ahmet and Ozan.  When afforded expedited access through checkpoints, the process is repeated where these men use a next family or person in need to ‘jump’ closer to the front of each and every line.  In the face of mass tyranny, as explained through media’s many human interest stories focused on those in dire need and peril, the alternative storylines chosen to be reported are now of cowardice & selfishness. 

I believe differently, and as Ahmet and Ozan present to me and hopefully you – our desire to believe in inspirational leaders no matter their age, to believe in those who’ve overcome what seem insurmountable odds, is as a basic a human need as food, water, and love.


(a teenage entrepreneur works hard in keeping us tourists looking good)

The truth is, many do need our help. But, what I find comforting and you should feel reassuring is that there are future leaders like Ahmet and Ozan living through situations likes these. So, no matter how far away you feel from this situation, or if you’ve politically alienated yourself from this or another situation similar on our southern borders – when you’re there and see it first-hand you realize these folks are not that much different than you and me.  And surely no different than my ancestors who a century back fought similar battles in seeking greater stability and opportunity for the future of our bloodline.  We all have the same desires, hopes and dreams and with that understanding and appreciation perspectives will change.  We realize that no matter what media wants to sell to us, we live in a shared tomorrow, and we better start evaluating it as such.