It's hard to find a cool job that Mainer Nick Callanan hasn't held down at one point. In no particular order, he's worked as a snowmaker, bread bagger, bartender, basketball and soccer ref, raft guide, journalist, editor and publisher. He's worked on a mussel farm, banged nails, and installed high-end A/V equipment.
Currently he holds down the fort as founder and director at No Umbrella Media, the small but growing media firm he started that maintains a content-rich website, produces events like Stach Pag — the yearly mustache-aficionado party (and fundraiser for the Maine Volunteer Lawyers for the Arts) — and publishes an annual honest-to-FSM print magazine. He spends his days working deep within the Railroad Dungeon Media Center, a suite of office space he runs and subleases to other creative professionals and the odd lawyer or therapist in a restored train station here in the small city of Portland, Maine.
I also live in Portland and got to know Callanan through the local Ultimate Frisbee scene, where he's known as a fierce competitor and tenacious defender while still being one of the nicest guys on the field.
No Umbrella keeps Callanan busy, and he's currently working on a DVD series about life in rural Waldo country, Maine, (scroll to the bottom for a preview) a music video for singer/songwriter Emilia Dahlin, and a video for Portland eco-fashion designer Madgirl, aka Meredith Alex.
He has a passion for the outdoors and for the environment born of countless hours spent hiking, rafting, kayaking Maine's backwoods and waterways. He raises veggies in his backyard urban plot and composts the harvest trimmings.
Here are seven questions to Nick Callanan.
MNN: Does the world need saving?
Nick Callanan: The earth will be fine. It's the humans that are in trouble. I live in Portland, Maine, and life here is fine — right now. Yes there is unemployment, obesity, almost uniform indebtedness, mass spiritual disconnectedness and absolute dependence on cheap energy to maintain our privileged lifestyles; but for the most part, people here are happy. The sun rises, people go to work, help out their neighbors, buy some cheap crap from China, watch some football, drink some local ale and go to bed. Life is good.
However, lots of indicators scare the sh*t out of me: Global weirding, our insufferable political theater (when will it end!?!), reeling financial systems, and a general dishonesty between corporations and regular folks. But even setting all that aside, the simple math is this: population is growing exponentially while natural resources are ... not. Any raft guide worth her salt can see that we will be out of cheap energy very soon; and it is quite clear the mass affluent classes throughout the world are not prepared to handle a paradigm in which they can't throw money at problems to make them go away. But, on the bright side, if we kill ourselves off, the earth will surely begin to regenerate herself in rapid fashion. So, from the earth's perspective at least, that's a win-win right?
Nick in the trees, shredding some pow.
What's the difference between green and greener?
I talk to a lot of trendy people who say green is so in right now. I find that characterization obtuse; for, If green goes out of style, then what? Please not pastels again!?
"Greener" is actually a new term for me, but I do like the idea that people might be framing their responsibility to the earth in degrees. It's not just "I drive a Prius, so now I have earned the right to sleep with a clear conscience." On this scale, I suppose, it would be real good if a vast majority of humans arose from bed tomorrow and cranked their personal green dial all the way to maximum green.
However, I have to say, we lose a lot of collective energy when people frame it as a personal issue. We're all in this together, and the sooner people wake up and embrace the fact that we are all welcome members of a community which depends on a healthy earth for its survival and success, the better off we all will be.
Who is one person doing good in the world (besides yourself) who we should know about and why?
My friend, G.W. Martin. G.W. is a farmer, philospoher, organizer and publisher in Montville, Maine. I think more people should know about G.W. because he has made a life habit of viewing himself in the context of the myriad consciousnesses he is a member of. Because he has practiced this habit most of his life, he understands how strongly he can effect each of these consciousnesses and is currently in a period in his life where he has collected enough skills to really go for it. And because I have known him for going on 10 years, I am confident vouching for the purity of his intentions and the high level of his skill. With that said, I can feel in my gut and see with my eyes a lot of G.W.'s just hitting their stride in the world right now. The organizers of the Arab populist uprisings are a wonderful and inspiring example. Check out G.W. at www.SapPailDVD.com.
(Shea's note: I invited Nick to create and answer his own question here) What's for supper?
If your answer includes only local foods purchased directly from, or at most three degrees removed from, the grower, you are on the leading edge of the revolution.
You have your hands in a lot of projects. Do you sleep?
Yea, (insert mom joke here) Ha! Sorry. Well, I am lucky enough to live close enough to walk or bike to my workplace, local food suppliers, beautiful sites for recreation and a robust creative economy. So the time I save on commuting, I deposit in the sleep bank.
What's the best thing about being outside?
Outside is everything! I can find stillness and spiritual fulfillment on a long outing. I can find a source for never-ending adrenaline and thrill on a standing river-wave. My vegetables get the nutrients they need to grow and thrive outside. I guess if I had to choose one though, the best thing about being outside is the calming influence of the earth's beautiful places on me. These holy locales usher a centering process for myself, allowing me to come back to myself from stressful unhealthy mental places which rob my productivity and compassion.
Have you always been a content creator? What was your first creation?
As a youngster I used to enjoy getting all my friends together for group projects. Even if it was just a video game tournament, a pickup basketball game or a huge neighborhood apple fight. Since then organizing parties and/or group activities has been a habit of mine. As far as content itself goes, I have always loved to write. Though, in the past few years I have done less writing for our company as I have noticed less people are reading. Video seems to be the medium of the day.
Shea's note: Speaking of videos, here are a couple from No Umbrella Media. Swing over to their YouTube page to see more. Enjoy!
If you dig this video, you can buy the Sap Pail DVD series here.
Are you on Twitter? Follow me (@sheagunther) there, I give good tweets.
And if you really like my writing, you can join my Facebook page.