Friends of Redtail succeed in protecting forest

December 13, 2010   3:24 am

Filed under: Blog,Radio — Tags: , , , — Phil @ 3:24 am

In the fall of 2009, I spent some time with  The Friends of Redtail.They are a citizens’ group who were fighting to save several hundred acres of forest in Pictou County, Nova Scotia from being clearcut. The Friends of Redtail had a vision that went beyond simply buying this land in order to protect it. People I interviewed repeatedly referred to “a new ethic” of land ownership.

My half-hour radio documentary on the Friends of Redtail aired as the deadline for purchasing the land was looming — with them far short of their financial target. Eventually, they gained an extension from the company, and this week announced in an email that their efforts have paid off:

Today Friends of Redtail Society has officially become guardian—and student—of 313 acres of forestland, waterway and life giving habitat. This is a momentous day in a journey that began one August day in 2006. This is a day of reflecting, a day worthy of marking and celebrating.

You can listen to my documentary here. It first aired on CBC Radio’s Maritime Magazine in December 2009.

Pot-bellied pigs

December 12, 2010   11:44 pm

Filed under: Blog,Magazines — Tags: , , — Phil @ 11:44 pm

Despite what you may have heard, they won’t fit into a teacup when they’re fully grown, and they’re not just like dogs.

I’m talking about pot-bellied pigs, which have been in and out of fashion as pets ever since they were first imported to North America from Vietnam back in the 1980s.

I’ve got a piece about keeping pot-bellied pigs in the November 2010 issue of Reader’s Digest. You can read it here.

I wound up with lots of great research I couldn’t use in the piece, because the word count was so low. But one of my favourite moments came from an interview with a woman who runs a sanctuary for abandoned pot-bellied pigs. She told me she spoke to a disappointed pig owner who told her that her pet wouldn’t fetch when she threw a ball. The owner had read that pot-bellied pigs were just like dogs — and it sounds like she took that literally. My source said, “They’re food motivated. If you want her to chase after something, throw an apple. Just don’t expect her to bring it back.”

Contemplative Photography

December 3, 2010   9:07 pm

Filed under: Blog,Photos — Phil @ 9:07 pm

Several years ago, I took a course with photographer Michael Wood, who was living in Halifax at the time. It was called Miksang — “good eye” in Tibetan — and was based on contemplative principles. Here are a few of the photos that came out of the class. I later did a radio documentary about my experience with contemplative photography.

Grasses Paints Container Autumn leaves

Daisy Dreamer

   7:45 pm

Filed under: Magazines,Portfolio — Tags: , , , — Phil @ 7:45 pm
Daisy Dreamer is a 9-year-old girl with a magic ballcap that lets her turn into any animal she wants! I’ve been writing her adventures for Chickadee magazine for the last decade. Here is one of my favourite stories, courtesy Owlkids. Artwork is by Gabriel Morrissette.

Young Lego Programmers

   7:40 pm

Filed under: Blog,Portfolio — Phil @ 7:40 pm

Young Lego programmers

A short radio piece on a group of elementary school students preparing to head to the First Lego League world championships. I loved these kids.

Christmas for a Crowd

   7:37 pm

Filed under: Blog,Portfolio — Phil @ 7:37 pm
Story from the December, 2010 issue of Reader’s Digest on how the Nova Scotia village of Tatamagouche celebrates Christmas: with a huge dinner for 400. Read it here.

About me

   6:18 pm

Filed under: About — Phil @ 6:18 pm

I am a freelance writer and broadcaster in Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada. My work has appeared in publications including Reader’s Digest, the Globe and Mail, Chickadee, Canadian Screenwriter, Rural Delivery and the FCC Express – a roundup of the week’s top Canadian agriculture stories.I am also a frequent contributor to CBC Radio One, producing documentary and interview segments for Information Morning in mainland Nova Scotia, Maritime Noon, and Maritime Magazine,

Some writers specialize. I prefer to be constantly meeting new people, learning about new subjects and covering an array of stories. A typical week might find me interviewing owners of pot-bellied pigs for a magazine, visiting an old-school wooden paddle maker for a radio piece, and talking to farmers about the state of their crops.

But there are certain subjects I seem to return to regularly, including technology, agriculture and rural life, film and television, mental health and animals. I also have a particular interest in stories about people with passions and occupations beyond the ordinary (Lego robotics programmers, pet rat owners) and about the varied ways people in communities form bonds and thrive.

In addition to my work in journalism, I am a writer and consultant in the film industry – particularly in documentaries. I am a past marketing manager for the National Film Board of Canada in Quebec and the Atlantic region, and continue to work as a story consultant, marketing writer/consultant and web content creator.

For more than a decade, I have been writing the popular “Daisy Dreamer” children’s comic for Chickadee magazine. I also occasionally contribute fiction for children, most recently in the Jan/Feb 2011 issue. I enjoy connecting with students and am available for school workshops with young writers and for  readings.  If you are interested in having me visit your school for a workshop you can book me through the Writers in the Schools program (scroll down to find my bio), or contact me directly.

I also offer workshops for writers who are all grown up – on topics such as effective interview techniques and working with editors – as well as media training sessions for executives, board members and senior staff who may have to deal with the public.

I am fluently bilingual, and have provided French-English translation services to clients including the National Film Board of Canada, the McGill University Health Centre, the Cirque du Soleil,TVA and Astral Media.

You can contact me using this handy form. I also invite you to connect with me on Twitter or Facebook.