The fourth edition of our summer reading series borrows its title from a blockbuster 90s Sandra Bullock flick in which a woman falls in love with a man in a coma only to later fall for his non-comatose brother. Which has very little to do with this week’s feature stories, except that they all involve events that are happening in other places in our world, perhaps while we were sleeping.
In this week’s edition have three award-winning stories curated under this basic theme: one about the two-decade struggle of a Canadian mining giant to extract billions in ore from the Andean highlands; a second about the efforts to design the world’s most perfect toilet to address the problem of sanitation in developing countries; and a third that, well, is actually about the world of dreams and a novel attempt to categorize them.
All three stories won Gold Medals at the 2015 National Magazine Awards.
Author: Stephanie Nolen
Magazine: Report on Business
You have to wonder—how could Barrick spend so much money here and still end up without a friend?
Synopsis: At 5200 metres above sea level, along Chile’s serrated, glacier-carved border with Argentina, sits Pascua-Lama, one of the world’s highest, most remote mining operations, controlled by the Canadian multinational Barrick Gold. 15 million ounces of gold await extraction, along with significant deposits of silver and copper. After nearly two decades of negotiations to resolve environmental, taxation, infrastructure and other concerns with the Chilean government, Barrick finally prepared to start mining, only to have a Chilean regulator halt operations over health and safety concerns of the 3000 Diaguita indigenous people who would comprise part of the labour force, and whose requests of the company include CSR investment in local education and agriculture, and respect for the integrity of the land.
National Magazine Award winner Stephanie Nolen brings us the complete story of the battle to re-start the mine, illuminating the social, legal and political landscape, alongside wonderful photographs by NMA winner Roger LeMoyne. In addition to winning the Gold award for Business, this story was also a National Magazine Awards finalist in the categories Investigative Reporting, Politics & Public Interest and Science, Technology & Environment. Read the story.
The drought has been bad everywhere, but it was critical for the farmers such as Maglene Campillay, who says she has seen her production drop by four-fifths. She and her neighbours came to believe the mine was destroying the glaciers, and with them, their livelihoods. “This time, in the middle of the drought, it seemed that the glaciers didn’t have [their] power any more,” she says. They released no water from their frozen hearts. “The rivers are like the veins in our body. If one dries out, other places dry out too.”
Bonus read: The silver medallist in Business is Marc-André Sabourin‘s “Place au Cannabiz!” (L’actualité), a story about Canadian entrepreneurs who are preparing for the (possible) future legalization of marijuana.
“Toilet,” Cheng stressed, “was a misnomer at this stage. It doesn’t look like a toilet.”
Synopsis: The challenge is at once simple and dauntingly complex: invent an affordable, ecological, scalable toilet system that embodies sensitivity to the requirements of gender, social culture, environment and economy to resolve the problem of the 2.5 billion people who lack access to safe sanitation, including the 800,000 children under 5 who die each year of diarrheal diseases.
National Magazine Award winner Jeremy Keehn insightfully catalogs the efforts of Canadian engineers, academics, aid organizations, government agencies and others who are taking up the toilet challenge, while probing the concerns of the global poor and criticisms of international aid that combine to demonstrate that the solution to one of humanity’s greatest challenges can’t just be flushed out from a tank. Read the story.
I assumed that the moment of tension was precipitated by the mother confessing that the family had no household toilet. In fact, McHale corrected me, she was thanking the doctor for telling them about the pan, and the doctor was admonishing her for whispering. “Everybody must know about the SaTo,” she exclaimed. The spot aimed not just to sell the pan, in other words, but to de-stigmatize talk of the shit it would contain.
Bonus read: The silver medallist in Science, Technology & Environment is Marine Corniou’s “Le futur fait bonne impression” (Québec Science), which investigates the next technological revolution afforded by advances in 3D printing.
A well-executed flying dream is always a great way to start out the night, and this one did not disappoint.
Synopsis: Somnolent writer creates a taxonomy of seven types of dreams in the style of film reviews.
True story: At the 2015 National Magazine Awards gala, Feathertale Review editor Brett Popplewell came to the stage to collect this award on behalf of his absent humour writer, telling the audience that he’s never actually met or seen Richard Light, but he’s a fantastic writer who will be honoured to know he’s won this award. Here’s hoping the aptly named Richard Light has finally awoken from the darkness of dreamland to celebrate his success. Read the story.
If you’re not familiar with False Awakening, it’s where the dreamer “wakes up” and goes about his or her normal morning routine: getting dressed, preparing breakfast, and even taking a pee that feels so disturbingly lifelike it can actually wake the dreamer. Sure, I found it a bit boring and unremarkable — but my life is boring and unremarkable.
Bonus read: The silver medallist in Humour, Jon Paul Fiorentino’s “It Seems Like Sex is a Weird Thing That Used to Happen to Me Sometimes” (sub-Terrain), really needs no further introduction.
Did you know? You can download and read all of the National Magazine Awards finalists and winners for FREE in our online archive, at magazine-awards.com/archive.
Stay tuned for another Summer Magazine Reading Series edition next Thursday. Click here for previous summer reading editions.