National Geographic : 2009 Feb
INSIDE GEOGRAPHIC PHOTOS CLOCKWISE FROM TOP LEFT : JOSÉ AZEL; REBECCA HALE, NG STAFF BOTH PEOPLE BEHIND THE STORIES ■ Alexandra Fuller The writer of this issue's "Mustangs: Spirit of the Shrinking West" says it can be "a hard thing to have a powerful experience that won't fit into the confines of a story." Watching the workings of an innovative rehabilitation program--- in which prison inmates train captive wild horses---was one such thing for author Fuller. "The connection between the men and the horses was incredibly moving," she says, "as was the realization that they were both incarcerated. At sunset the men were back in their cells, the horses were back in their corrals, and the Arkansas River was weaving through cottonwood trees under a vivid red sky. I felt as if that moment was a story in and of itself." ■ Tom O'Neill While reporting "Escape From North Korea," Geographic staff writer O'Neill spent weeks interviewing defectors and learning how bad life was in their homeland. So he was unnerved when, in a Chinese town, he sat down with true believers in a restaurant set up by the North Korean government. "The waitresses were wearing pins of Kim Il Sung. The television was showing heroic workers from propaganda films. And our server, when she learned that I was an American, kept staring at my South Korean wife as if she wanted to blurt out: How can you stand being with that capitalist dog?" ON ASSIGNMENT High Point Staff writer Neil Shea (above, at left) and his brother Jon (at right) hadn't spoken for over a year when they set out to climb New Hampshire's Mount Washington. "It was a little awkward," Neil says, "but when we started talking, telling each other new things, that was a breakthrough. We filled in the gaps." While Jon makes his living as an outdoor guide and mountaineer, Neil hadn't done any serious climbing for years. Despite dangerously cold temperatures and a fierce storm, Neil enjoyed his return to the mountain. "It was great to be challenged physically, it was great to be thrown into an extreme environment, it was great to be with Jon," he says. But he adds, "Like a lot of climbers, I love coming down, sleeping in a warm bed, and eating pizza." Saltire Prize The Scottish government is offering a £10-million prize (more than $16 million) for innovation in marine renewable energy---and the National Geographic Society is playing a part. National Geographic Society President John Fahey was named one of four inaugural Friends of the Saltire Prize to help build awareness of the competition, officially launched in December. First Minister of Scotland Alex Salmond explains, "The Saltire Prize is the Scottish Government's way of playing its part in inspiring a revolution in clean, green energy as the world enters a new golden age in innovation prizes." Says Fahey, "The Saltire Prize holds great promise for all of us."