6 Life Lessons from a Disaster Response Worker

A road sign sits almost completely submerged from a flood.
A road sign sits almost completely submerged from a flood.
Photo by Kelly Sikkema on Unsplash

The first disaster I responded to was actually in my hometown. This isn’t typical for the type of response I was doing — but I guess I’m just lucky that way.

On a cold and wet December 26th, at 5:00 am, I showed up in a town where I had once attended a marching band competition. Only this time, I was there to sandbag. The water levels were quickly approaching the levee breaking point. Reports of massive upriver flooding were coming in. The River Des Perez sits in the middle of a very populated Saint Louis suburb, surrounded by homes…

MSRs could be the future of energy if we could reign in our fear.

Photo by Johannes Plenio on Unsplash

In 2019, I was about as deep into sustainability nerd-dom as you could get. I spent my days pursuing a degree in Sustainable Ecology, thinking I knew it all and having quite a few opinions on lofty ideas like energy policy, wildlife conservation, and world agriculture.

Then much to my own shock, I wrote a policy brief on Thorium-fueled Nuclear as an option for cheap and clean energy. After slaving over this bad boy for a month or so, I shamefully discarded it. No self-respecting environmentalist endorses nuclear power…right?

What follows here is that policy brief, edited. Any of you…

A new study suggests the Earth's seasons are in turmoil.

A study recently published in Geophysical Research Letters warns humanity of a dire future if we continue the “business as usual” scenario we’re currently playing out. Changing Lengths of the Four Seasons by Global Warming points out that the Earth’s seasonal patterns have already changed. We need to curb and reverse this reality because the consequences don’t look good.

Photo by Marcus Kauffman on Unsplash

The oncoming of summer used to be a good thing. As a child, the longer days and lack of school only signaled one thing to me: fun. Hours lounging around the pool and warm, hazy bike rides to the nearby corner…

I've had two lower back surgeries, and after my last surgery my physical therapist made me start planking. Two minutes a day, no exceptions is what he told me. I thought that was hard! This author is a beast.

Westerners need to switch to the meat alternatives, says the billionaire — but maybe not in the way you think.

A well-dressed man holds a hamburger, about to chew. He is smiling. The burger is probably not synthetic meat.
A well-dressed man holds a hamburger, about to chew. He is smiling. The burger is probably not synthetic meat.
Photo by Sander Dalhuisen on Unsplash

The first time I ate an Impossible Burger, I spat it out. I asked my waitress to confirm with the chef that I was eating a fake meat product.

At that point, I had been a vegetarian for 5 years. For about a decade prior, I was a “flexitarian” — I went back and forth on my commitment to avoiding animal products, but I wasn’t too rigorous. If someone handed me a burger, I ate it gladly.

I felt a lot of guilt about eating meat, though. I am an environmentalist with a Sustainability degree; I came to a point…

The times when I was the most mentally exhausted, I became stronger. The days when I physically could not lift one more sandbag or remove one more burned tree — I became stronger. Human beings can take a beating — emotionally, physically, and mentally. We have the beautiful ability to bounce back.

However, you must learn how to care for yourself. This isn’t negotiable. You cannot pour from an empty cup. If you are at your limit, I promise that you cannot help another soul.

If the overworked and the heroes among us can carve out time for themselves to…

The ancient volcanoes of Petroglyph National Monument sit dormant as the setting sun paints the surrounding desert golden.
The ancient volcanoes of Petroglyph National Monument sit dormant as the setting sun paints the surrounding desert golden.
Photo by Ethan Wright-Magoon on Unsplash


New Mexico’s petroglyphs have been with us for centuries.

The preteen aspiring photographer bounced along about 20 feet down the trail from me. She had slung her small camera around her neck; dirty blonde hair pulled back in a testament to the February desert heat.

She was with a group of around 12 other people — family members, I guessed, of varying ages. One small human waddled along behind her, picking his way precariously down the steep Mesa slope.

The young girl’s precociousness was evident even from far away, as she click-click-clicked away with her shutter. Clearly, she was in her element.

The girls' mother nudged her, pointing to…

A vision of sustainable travel trends for 2021 (and beyond)

Photo by Abyan Athif on Unsplash

Many of us globe-trotting individuals had to cancel travel plans during 2020. The pandemic left us all feeling out of sorts and completely discombobulated. Now I know that in 2020 not being able to travel was honestly a privileged issue to have. Some people lost loved ones. Some people were homeless and broke as hell (me, for one). We all have had a shifting perspective, and canceling travel plans does sit at the “Least Concern” end of the “Crap Storm of Things That Went Wrong in 2020” spectrum.

However, vacations…

So you’re broke. Guess what? In this day and age, most of us are. That doesn’t stop some of us from traveling.

If you think you can’t travel while on a budget (even an extreme budget), think again. I’m going to teach you how to create a travel budget and actually stick to it. Together, we’ll get you traveling, my friends.

First off, let me introduce you to the budget travel meaning, or what it means to travel on a budget: a budget traveler reduces travel expenses in every way possible to travel as cheaply as possible. …

How Traveling Slow Is Taking Off.

It can seem to many with the travel bug that the golden days of wanderlust are all but gone. 2020 made the idea of, say, island hopping or “30 Countries Under 30” seem a little ludicrous. “Island hopping? I can’t even bar hop anymore.” Crazy to make plans to visit Hawaii when your state doesn’t even allow you to visit the local movie theatre, huh?

Some travelers with maybe a bit of skewed ethics are still — apparently — making the most out of the pandemic and partying it up in Tulum. The rest of us spent the last year…

Brittany Kathleen

Founder of BonVoyageBrittany.org, a lifestyle and travel blog for adventurous women looking to make ethical choices. A multi-niche freelance writer for hire.

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