A Protected Space

The interview didn’t seem likely to happen.

We were scheduled to talk with David Gill, a faculty member at Duke University who investigates marine science and conservation. We wanted to talk with David because his work not only has direct implication for the health of our planet but also because his work intersects with human behavior. He considers ocean conservation policy and the effects of interventions. Arranging time to talk with researchers often can be challenging — the most successful researchers are typically busy with many commitments — and I’d had a busy couple of months myself with various talks and projects. We eventually found a time to talk with David, though, and were looking forward to the interview. Then, unfortunately, David learned about a death and a funeral he needed to attend in Barbados, where he grew up. That seemed to rule out our conversation, but David offered to try to talk by phone soon after he arrived in Barbados. The specter of grief and poor phone connections seemed to make our conversation unlikely to work well, but we agreed to try.


Once I sat down in the studio and we connected with David, I realized David was in a good spot to reflect on his work and his life growing up in Barbados, a life in which he’d witnessed the disappearance of sea urchins from beaches he walked on as a child and physical and economic changes from climate change that threatened the lives of people throughout the Caribbean region. His sense of urgency and even sense of hope was clear despite the bit of static on the line. We had a useful conversation — to which you can listen here — and reached the point in the show when I usually need to close. David then recounted one more story, a story we’d record and find a way to include. He told us about his recent flight into Barbados in which he spotted coral from the plane, not just any coral but coral that not too long ago had been mostly wiped out and was considered heavily threatened. In part through conservation and protection efforts, the coral seemed to be rebounding. Clearly, that mattered quite a bit to David, to know the type of work he has been doing is making a difference in the place he once called home.

We don’t have a large budget for The Measure of Everyday Life, even by the standard of public radio shows in cities like New York or LA. WNCU is a public radio station rooted in Durham, North Carolina, that depends on listener support. Much of what we do on the show is a matter of generosity and occasional good fortune in finding people willing to volunteer effort. We put in the time and effort, though, precisely so that we can offer a space for conversations like we had with David Gill, conversations that aren’t guaranteed but that return surprising insights about human impact and possibilities for hope in exchange for patience and protected space.

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