Defiance

A Note from the Editors

Life is hard, and the world is tough. So sometimes we go with the flow to get by. We join the herd. We maintain the status quo.

Until something happens, and we no longer can. Something changes for us, and then in us. So we rise up, stand tall, fight back.

In the summer 2022 issue of Hidden Compass, we celebrate defiance and defiers — people, places, and practices that are pushing back against conformity and complacency, stigmas and stereotypes, the power of inertia and the weight of expectation.

In northern Thailand, journalist Ana Norman Bermúdez explores the paradoxical relationship the Thai have with elephants, which are both deified and exploited. Though many places call themselves elephant sanctuaries, few actually provide a true haven. This Chasing Demons story shows us an exception: A Sanctuary for the Revered, the first Asian elephant hospital in the world. Bermudez brings us close to these wondrous, wounded creatures, and introduces us to the people who have dedicated their lives to helping them.

Half a world away, in the winemaking region of Beaujolais, France, the Revelry of the Conscripted (illustrated by Matthew Laznicka) is on display. For the past century and a half, villages here have staged les conscrits — conscription parties for those heading off to war. As journalist Anna Richards writes in this issue’s Time Travel story, mandatory military service in France was suspended decades ago, yet these last hurrahs have persisted, helping locals find joy in dark times.

Meanwhile, in the heart of cattle country, an appetite for adventurous eating is defying Western conceptions of sustenance. As the global search for sustainable protein intensifies, the annual Bug Buffet in Bozeman, Montana — chronicled in this issue’s Human & Nature story by journalist Emilie Filou — is leading the charge for an Insect Rebellion.

Defying cultural perceptions is also at the heart of this issue’s Profile. As journalist William Costa explains in The Fifth Element, much is at stake in the conflict between Paraguay’s two official languages, Spanish and Guaraní. Enter Tekovete, a rapper whose socially charged lyrics are harnessing the revolutionary power of hip-hop, the musical form that first emerged decades earlier in marginalized communities thousands of miles away.

Finally, we see a Quest for cultural change and athletic acceptance in Kenya’s budding sport of rock-climbing. Until recently it was mostly an activity for foreigners and expats. Photojournalist Kang-Chun Cheng takes us to the pristine crags and peaks of Kipwa, where change is afoot. Her Photo Feature not only documents a coterie of local and foreign climbers laying the groundwork for The New Ascensionists, it also reveals both the schisms and the sense of community that climbing can foster.

Until the next voyage,

Jeremy Berlin, Editorial Director

Sabine K. Bergmann and Sivani Babu, Hidden Compass Co-Founders