Five years ago today, I began a journey. I went to China, an enchanting nation I'd not visited before. Or since. I traveled with a group of 40 people - predominantly Americans and Canadians, with a light sprinkling of other nationalities. We were going to visit some of the facilities and relevant examples of an economic engine overtaking an industry previously dominated by North American interests. It was for me one helluva fascinating way to begin work on a much larger project than I'd envisioned at the outset.
As I will begin to unpack herein through the upcoming months, I'd done plenty of work prior to heading to China five years ago. I was then trying to wrapping my head around an idea I had for a book. I still am, admittedly. In the nuttiest of nutshells, I wanted to explore the "global fur trade" from a new perspective. I needed to see it firsthand, as much as possible. I wanted to keep my eyes, ears and heart open. In the process, I hoped to fill in the massive gaps in my own understanding of the subject. Did I have a set of biases that would close off certain conclusions? Certainly. Take any complex narrative layered over with generations of shared and lived experience, and perceived and unseen biases will be uncovered. Yet I had a unique chance at hand as I boarded that flight from Seattle to Beijing. I would come to see things firsthand within the trade and, eventually, from a fascinating mix of outside perspectives. Along the way, I met, interviewed and connected with people who showed me kindness and, in some cases, anger and distrust. As I survey my current perspective and begin to share my narrative, I wish I occupied a position to say that I've got it all figured out. This, however, will not be that sort of story.
What began as an "investigative memoir" has out of necessity evolved into something much broader. I firmly believe, however, that I've found that a surprising and (hopefully) entertaining story of humans endeavoring in league with animals. No matter your take on the question of whether there should even be a trade involving fur-bearing animals...and I acknowledge right off the bat that the opinions on both sides of that debate are vociferously intractable...I think there's something I can tell you about what I found that will be of interest. Even if only the very real, entirely true stories of the people involved...or for that matter animals...appeals to you.
I'm somewhat astonished to see...even though I knew it all along...that it has been just over two years since I stepped away from this blog. Regardless, I'm pleased to announce...to almost no one aside from you...that I'm back. To share. To entertain. To ask and answer questions. To step into the line of fire. Today. And tomorrow. Please check back. Thanks for showing an interest, no matter where you stand.