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Read narratives from journalists driven by the search for something deeper.

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Spring 2024

Hues of Inheritance

A Note From the Editors

How do we illustrate what the past has bestowed upon us? Can we capture the glimmers of whimsy, the shadows of conquest, the mirage of misconception? Or, in some cases, does the legacy live on within us, waiting for the right moment? In the spring 2024 issue of Hidden Compass, five inquisitive storytellers step...

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Silhouettes of beachgoers framed by the shimmering, calm waves of the sea.
Silhouettes of beachgoers framed by the shimmering, calm waves of the sea.
Spring 2024

Hues of Inheritance

A Note from the Editors

How do we illustrate what the past has bestowed upon us? Can we capture the glimmers of whimsy, the shadows of conquest, the mirage of misconception? Or, in some cases, does the legacy live on within us, waiting for the right moment?

In the spring 2024 issue of Hidden Compass, five inquisitive storytellers step headfirst into the varying “Hues of Inheritance” — bringing you stories of the dark, enchanting, hazy, and vivid manifestations of what we’ve received from the conquerors, artists, soldiers, travelers, and defiant civilians that came before us.

Below the transcendent and bedazzled golden architecture of the Gur-e-Amir in Samarkand, Uzbekistan, the crypt of Timur the Conqueror is said to possess an ancient curse. In his Chasing Demons feature, author Craig K. Collins ventures into the mausoleum complex alone, bringing to life the history and legend of “The Curse of Timur” — along with the brutal conquerors it so hauntingly connects.

After exploring a legacy of bloodshed, we turn to a different kind of inheritance. Time-worn images of a certain Caribbean island lure in millions of travelers annually — and have captivated writer and photographer Ella Calland for years. But beneath these vivid photographs of baby blue buildings and smoky cigars lies a more complicated truth. For our Portrait photo feature, Calland treads the path of Cuba’s tourists, pointing her lens at an often exoticized world. As she steps into “Postcards From Cuba,” she unearths what lies beneath the veneer of nostalgia. 

On the other side of the world, the past looms over the crowded dance floor of Lukiškės, a nightclub with a bloody history. These young Lithuanians, like their Baltic neighbors, stand once again in the shadow of Russian aggression. But in our second Chasing Demons story, journalist Tim Brinkhof finds it’s not only the horrors of the past that reemerge — so too do the many “Shades of Defiance.” 

While some hues of inheritance are dark, others are full of magic. In the frenzied workrooms where beloved characters first came to life, the pioneers of animation broke glass and lit fires in their Quest to capture the physical world on paper. Long after these innovators left their slanted desks, writer Heather M. Surls explores their legacy — in all its shapes and forms — and discovers the enduring strokes of obsession, enchantment, imagination, and family history that bloomed from the whimsical works of Disney’s “Hyperion” Studio.

Then, following the life and letters of Basil Hase Delaney Ankerson, a young man conscripted to fight in WWII at just 20 years old, journalist Tim Bird journeys to the sand-blown Egyptian desert and back in time. Adventure and peril converge across continents and generations as Bird’s Time Travel feature, The Time of His Life,” takes us into the haze of the legendary Battles of El Alamein — where questions abound, and one man’s story is tied to the fate of thousands.

For our readers and storytellers who appreciate all the shades of legacy,

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

Intrepid Interlude

Wintering on the White Continent

As a kid in the tropics, Pier Nirandara suffered an inextricable draw to the poles. As she sets off, her past follows her into Antarctica’s biting winds.

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Winter 2024

Turning Tides

A Note From the Editors

Larger than life forces are at work all around us, and they could change everything in a single moment — or a lifetime, or trillions of lifetimes. In the winter 2024 issue of Hidden Compass, we bring you five stories of Turning Tides. Some tides turn quickly, some slowly — but all have the...

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A five-toed, red and black amphibian leaves footprints in the mud. It is looking out at a towering canopy of trees, plants, and ferns.
A five-toed, red and black amphibian leaves footprints in the mud. It is looking out at a towering canopy of trees, plants, and ferns.
Winter 2024

Turning Tides

A Note from the Editors

Larger than life forces are at work all around us, and they could change everything in a single moment — or a lifetime, or trillions of lifetimes.

In the winter 2024 issue of Hidden Compass, we bring you five stories of Turning Tides. Some tides turn quickly, some slowly — but all have the power to alter our terrain.

Beyond the marquee of a grand vaudeville theater in Astoria, Oregon, “The Vaudevillian Ghosts of Liberty” beckon. Entertainers of old grace the stage, revealing a world of ghosts and glamor, insult and entertainment, bigotry and inclusivity. In this Chasing Demons feature, journalist Melissa Hart ventures into the shifting waters of show business and wrestles with the legacies of those who came before her.

Glimpses of the past also feature in journalist Robin Catalano’s Quest story, illustrated by Henry Sharpe. The piece follows a leading paleontologist off a New Brunswick cliff and into ancient worlds. But the very forces that reveal these hundreds of millions of years of history may also erase them forever — prompting fossil hunters to engage in a high-stakes “Race Against Tide.”

Amid Sea Rangers, scientists, and underwater spectacles, journalist Jayme Moye introduces us to a 600,000-year-old ecosystem. Our Human and Nature feature showcases the Reef Cooperative, a pioneering collaboration that seeks to correct our relationship with Earth’s largest living structure, “The Magnificent Mother of Sea Country.”

In the Aryan Valley of India’s Indus river, ancient villages hold onto their past, and a different battle for preservation is unfolding. The Brokpa culture has deep roots that reach across continents. But as photojournalist Sugato Mukherjee finds in his Time Travel feature, “How Pure Was the Valley,” all is not what it seems.

Along the beach seine fishing communities of Sri Lanka, change is in the air — and the water, the economy, the culture, and the religious landscape. From the shores of Negombo Lagoon to the surprisingly unconventional nature of tradition itself, photojournalist Kang-Chun Cheng’s photo feature is a Portrait of “A Sea Change in Sri Lanka.”

For the readers and storytellers who are turning tides around the world,

 

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

Autumn 2023

In Tété’s Footsteps: The 2023 Pathfinder Issue

A Note From the Editors

It began with a book, encountered in the 1950s by a teenager in a small village in Togo. That book’s descriptions of a frozen, distant land ignited an eight-year journey from the equator to the Arctic, where Tété-Michel Kpomassie became the first African to explore Greenland. About half a century later, Nigerian-born storyteller Lola...

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Photo courtesy of Tété-Michel Kpomassie
Photo courtesy of Tété-Michel Kpomassie
Autumn 2023

In Tété’s Footsteps: The 2023 Pathfinder Issue

A Note from the Editors

It began with a book, encountered in the 1950s by a teenager in a small village in Togo. That book’s descriptions of a frozen, distant land ignited an eight-year journey from the equator to the Arctic, where Tété-Michel Kpomassie became the first African to explore Greenland.

About half a century later, Nigerian-born storyteller Lola Akinmade Åkerström came across Tété’s own book, “An African in Greenland,” and saw herself in his story. She yearned to journey to Greenland to follow in his footsteps.

Then came the 2023 Pathfinder Prize, which Åkerström called “the opportunity of a lifetime.” She gathered her teammates — fellow Nigerian-born writer and photographer Noo Saro-Wiwa and Swedish videographer Erik Jaråker — and in April 2023 they set out on a cultural expedition in Greenland to answer the question: Who gets to tell the story of a place?

Welcome to In Tété’s Footsteps: The 2023 Pathfinder Issue of Hidden Compass — an issue dedicated entirely to stories from that expedition.

Venturing into new artistic territory, we begin with a movie trailer. The team’s short documentary, shot by videographer Erik Jaråker, premieres in December — but in our Quest department, you can find a sneak peek at “In Tété’s Footsteps.”

Then we turn to storyteller Noo Saro-Wiwa, who brings the team’s Quest to life in an image-rich feature narrative of Greenland’s landscapes, Tété’s travels, and her own inspiration to answer Tété’s Call

She then meditates on the effects of climate change by weaving together observations on modernization, hunter-gatherer culture, and even resource extraction in her home country of Nigeria for our Human & Nature story, When We Cannot Walk Across the Sea.

Meanwhile, amidst cross-genre soundstages, expedition leader Lola Akinmade Åkerström urges us to listen to The Sound of History in our Time Travel feature, showcasing a momentous collaboration of Inuit voices.

Then, through one woman’s evocative performance, Åkerström introduces us to a 4,000-year-old Greenlandic tradition that was almost lost. As we witness the beautiful and the unsettling in this Chasing Demons story, The Uneasy Allure of Uaajeerneq is revealed.

The team came home with an abundance of striking images — more than we could include in the photo-rich stories above. So, in our Portrait department, we present Character Encounters, a gallery of 20 captivating photos that continue to bring the expedition to life.

Tété is now 82 years old. His book inspired a generation of explorers. Now, who will they inspire with their own stories?

Yours in curious exploration,

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

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