America’s Best Idea

I just wrapped up what I’d like to call my birthday week in which I spent most evenings watching the premiere of The National Parks documentary on PBS. Last Sunday, I recommended that people donate to the Park Service in place of gifts to me. After watching the final episode (the 6th, each 2hrs long), I couldn’t resist reminding you why the parks are “America’s Best Idea”.

Reworked Denali from McKinley Princess
Reworked Denali from McKinley Princess

The final episode does a great job of summing up the purpose and history of the parks. If you only have time to watch one episode, watch this one (and/or the first one). These are not just the sweeping landscapes of America; they also consist of historical monuments where Martin Luther King, Jr. gave his “I Have a Dream speech” and where Japanese-Americans were interned during WWII. The National Park System preserves America’s irreplacable links to the past.

This is where we were
This is what we’ve loved
And now it’s in your hands
– Terry Tempest Williams

All six parts will be available streaming online through Friday. The DVDs will be released on Tuesday, currently $64.99 on Amazon (35% off). If you’re feeling more philanthropic, consider replacing your next meal out with a donation to the parks instead. In addition to the link on my Facebook, you can also donate directly to the National Park Foundation.

PBS Video even more compelling

PBS.org greatly improved its online video content last month. Sure, Google Video, YouTube, and Hulu can keep you occupied, but you can always count on PBS Video to provide quality, relevant programming. I rarely watch primetime television, so my recent discovery (thanks to a good friend) of FRONTLINE, Nature, NOVA and several other shows on the website has been quite eye-opening.

Not only do they have reliable Flash streaming of most of their shows, PBS Video also provides a wealth of additional information about their episodes. I was particularly taken by the April 21st FRONTLINE episode, Poisoned Waters.  “More than three decades after the Clean Water Act, iconic American waterways like the Chesapeake Bay and Puget Sound are in perilous condition and facing new sources of contamination. With polluted runoff still flowing in from industry, agriculture and massive suburban development, scientists note that many new pollutants and toxins from modern everyday life are already being found in the drinking water of millions of people across the country and pose a threat to fish, wildlife and, potentially, human health.” Poisoned Waters is also one of the videos that can be embedded, as I’ve done here:

Why We Love Cats and Dogs is another recent favorite of mine – made me cry!