North Carolina Critters up Close

Ian Hill

At the foundation of my work is a respect for nature and the playground it affords us. This respect was instilled at a young age. I grew up in the sticks – a handful of wooded acres rolling along a stream, surrounded by bleak Wisconsin farmland. My upbringing was largely unsupervised, with three older siblings and busy parents whose favourite response was ‘go outside’. It was there I discovered how much joy, spontaneity, and innovation nature contributes when approached with an ounce of creativity. Games like submarines (put a stick on thin ice and alternatively lob rocks to see who can sink it first), snoopy spy (hide-and-go-seek across acres of wooded hills with ramshackle forts, treehouses, and tunnels (takes all day)), and tree bending (climb maple saplings about 6 inches in diameter and lean off of one side at the top (~40 ft. tall), bending them until you reach the ground peacefully – then let go (the trees spring back unharmed)) instilled a love for nature and unconventional ways to enjoy it.

I’m now 28 and spend most of my time as cofounder and chief technology officer of a medical device startup. Being indoors behind a screen for my job has only increased the relief, joy, and inspiration I get from time spent outside. Whenever the opportunity presents itself, I’m in the middle-of-nowhere, climbing, mountain biking, or snowboarding, camera in hand. Without that release, my effectiveness (creativity, attention span, and execution) at work and in other parts of my life would extinguish. As life inevitably picks up steam and adventures become more infrequent, I find solace in my videography and photography. They allow a similar release – not quite as potent, but nevertheless freeing – a way to experience a place from the point of view of a warped observer. You are able to stand in your office and look through the lens of someone hanging off the end of a rope, thousands of feet above the Yosemite Valley floor. It may only be a moment’s gaze, but the feeling of wind on your cheek and open air beneath your feet yields clarity, creativity, ambition, and a burning desire to explore nature’s playground in new ways.

Ian Hill

is a

Guest Contributor for Panorama.

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