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About this Episode
Hi there friends, it's Erik.
I became aware of Gordon “The Soundtracker” Hempton three decades ago when the Lindbergh Foundation technical review board and staff kept talking about a grant recipient who was doing groundbreaking work documenting increasingly endangered natural soundscapes. Soundscapes that were unaltered by human caused noise. I found it fascinating and disturbing that natural sounds were endangered, but intuitively it made sense.
Humans make a lot of noise. Hell, I make a lot of noise. Not only do I sometimes yell like Tarzan, but I am a woodworker who uses all kinds of noisy tools and equipment. Perhaps even more poignantly, is my career in the aviation industry, which to escape from gravity, makes tremendous noise - at altitude, and broadcasts that noise over large areas.
Accordingly, I was somewhat conflicted and mildly threatened by Hempton and his research thinking that it could curtail both my livelihood and my passion. Such perceived threats often tend to polarize people into opposite camps with the livelihoods at stake determining the specific camp.
Ripple Effect: But meeting Gordon Hempton in person and experiencing his work firsthand, made me realize not only how important his work is but that he really seeks a balanced middle ground that protects natural sounds and still allows for human activities like air travel. In fact, he explains that he uses air travel to go to exotic and remote places to record vanishing soundscapes. Gordons’s work affected me in such a way that I started applying myself to tackling aircraft noise issues and drove me further and with more urgency into the development of the electric aircraft industry. As Peter Diamandis is fond of saying - problems are often the biggest opportunities waiting to be solved.
Second Chances: In 2003, Gordon was suffering substantial hearing loss in both ears that immediately put him out of business. The doctors told him that any operation or treatment would never allow him to return to normal hearing again. So instead of treatment he settled in and waited. After 18 months his hearing gradually returned. He was so filled with Gratitude and renewed purpose that he immediately created “One Square Inch of Silence” (OSI) in Olympic National Park. This effort is what drew me in to reach to reach out to Gordon and experience OSI in person.
The Sound tracker’s 32-year path from seed grant to successful career is gaining even more momentum as Quiet Parks International is establishing quiet parks globally, and people begin to understand and advocate for how important quiet is for human health. I am so proud that The Lindbergh Foundation invested a $10,580 (the cost of the Spirit of St. Louis in 1927) grant on a bike messenger with an idea and passion. That tiny amount of support has been leveraged into a global movement reminiscent of my Grandparents efforts to conserve endangered wildlife and establish parks and refuges.
Gordon Hempton is the epitome of why we continue to enthusiastically embrace and support entrepreneurs and innovators today because they give us hope. Hope is also endangered in today’s social media world. But many problems can be solved if you give people the gift of hope.
Hope, and a chesty Tarzan yell… Enjoy this amazing journey!
Our Favorite Quotes from this Episode
The Pioneers comfort and happiness was never part of the reasons they came to Washington state. It's because they wanted a chance at a better way of life, especially for their children.
Lewis and Clark heard the pounding surf when they were eight miles from the ocean. Some modern scientists argue they were lost, but I knew from my experience that you can hear the ocean from that far away. You can even tell that it's the Pacific Ocean. I've heard it from twelve miles away.
Our ears are more sensitive to hear bird song than the human voice.
In nature's soundscape, each animal is not only communicating, but they are also listening and gathering the sound data.
Every sound has a feeling.
Don't listen for the sound. The faint sounds turn out to be the most important sounds. Instead, listen to the place. Simply listen to where you are.
Our natural way of listening, being, and hearing is outdoors where you are listening many miles around you.
All animals have the ability to hear.
We keep trying to look for answers when we should be listening to answer.
I knew I was the sound tracker, but I was the only one who knew I was the sound tracker.
Charles Lindbergh was my father's greatest hero.
When I got off the phone I looked at my son, jumped up and down, and said "Daddy doesn't have to be a bike messenger anymore!"
The WHO has calculated the number of human life years lost in Western Europe just because of the stress caused in our life by [noise that gives us the feeling of] an insecure situation.
Quiet is quieting. It's not just a luxury, it's a necessity. You'll perform better at work, you'll be a better father and friend. I like to drag my 13 page todo list to the Hoh and find that feeling of stillness and being happy to be alive. There's no pessimism, the trees of the forest are clearly a miracle. Then I go through my todo list and I come out with usually a page and a half. It becomes a great time saver.
The average ambiance in the Hoh One Square Inch of Silence is quieter than the average bedroom at night.
I've learned to use silence to ask my deepest most important questions. Questions where I need to not just hear the answer, but feel the answer.
The amazing fact that emerges when we start to study the few quiet places that are left on earth and can hopefully safe them. They are the healthiest places for the planet. When you save quiet, you actually save everything else. But not only that, when you are in quiet, it can save you.
Find a truly quiet place. Take your questions there and the quiet will answer.
Mentioned in this Episode
1989 Lindbergh Grant
Japanese happiness bell
Washington State Pioneers
Losing your sense of sight vs. hearing.
Bike messenger in Seattle, WA
Gordon's wife, Julie
Rolex Awards for Enterprise
Emmy Award, Gordon Hempton
Vanishing natural soundscapes
National Park air tours
About Gordon Hempton
Acoustic ecologist Gordon Hempton has circled the globe three times in pursuit of the Earth’s rarest sounds. His sound portraits which record quickly vanishing natural soundscapes have been featured in People magazine and a national PBS television documentary, Vanishing Dawn Chorus, which earned him an Emmy. Hempton provides professional audio services to media producers, including Microsoft, Smithsonian, National Geographic and Discovery Channel. Recipient of awards from the National Endowment for the Arts and the Rolex Awards for Enterprise he is co-author of One Square Inch of Silence: One Man’s Quest to Preserve Quiet (Free Press/Simon & Schuster, 2010) and Founding Partner of Quiet Parks International. Gordon Hempton speaks widely about the importance of listening.
About Erik and Lyn Lindbergh
Erik and Lyn are the co-hosts of The Lindberghs Podcast. Learn more about Erik at: https://www.eriklindbergh.com and Lyn at: https://www.couchtoactive.com
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