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APRIL 2016




tlas Obscura

aims to be “the

definitive guide to the world’s

wondrous and curious places.” But

as a living guide, it is more than just

definitive: the site gives the lie to the

old adage of the world-weary that

“there’s nothing new under the sun.”

In the words of

Atlas Obscura


“In an age where everything seems

to have been explored and there is

nothing new to be found, we cel-

ebrate a different way of looking at

the world.”

Founded in 2009 by Joshua Foer

and Dylan Thuras, and with journal-

ist David Plotz as current CEO,



is a collaborative website.

The site’s production team curates

pictures and stories of curious

places around the world submitted

by users—a growing “community of


It’s easy to add your own “undis-

covered” locations, whether it’s a

new find in your own hometown or

an exotic spot abroad. The collection

includes natural wonders, unique col-

lections, libraries, museums, places

associated with historical characters,

crypts, cemeteries, labs, research

facilities, abandoned places, ruins,

castles, art, architecture and more,

along with their fascinating back


You can also submit ideas for

Atlas Obscura

events or excur-

sions to interesting

places, which are

advertised on the

website and led

by Atlas Obscura

“field agents” and

members of the

Atlas Obscura societies in various


Some currently featured discov-

eries include a fascinating line of

60 18th-century mills preserved in

the mountains of Spain; the “Yard of

Lost Toys,” an informal museum of

forgotten playthings in Lviv, Ukraine;

the Othello Tunnels, a collection

of railroad tunnels that have been

converted into hiking paths in Hope,

Canada; and Tonto Natural Bridge,

the largest natural travertine bridge

in the world, which just happens to

be in Pine, Arizona.

Besides being a fun place to

spend an hour,

Atlas Obscura

is a

great resource to consult before

your next vacation or to get to know

your own city better. Dubbed the


National Geographic

by some,

the website endeavors to prove that

exploration and discovery are still

possible, even in your own backyard.

—Shannon Mizzi,

Editorial Assistant

SITE OF THE MONTH: Atlas Obscura:

“When we’re confronting an issue

like countering extremist ideologies and

messaging, we know that we need to work

with partners,” Ryan states. “These stu-

dents know how to do that better than I

do, and better than many of us in the State

Department may be able to.”

This is only the second year of the

P2P contest, but similar initiatives have

been launched in the recent past. In 2011,

Barack Obama announced the “Think

Again, Turn Away” initiative through the

newly created Center for Strategic Coun-

terterrorism Communications.

That online campaign, which released

confrontational videos and tweets poking

fun at the so-called Islamic State group

in an attempt to discredit it, proved inef-


The State Department hopes to

increase the amount of discussion around

alternatives to extremism

by getting young people

who are not affiliated with

the government involved in

creating online campaigns

tailored for youth at risk of


—Shannon Mizzi,

Editorial Assistant

Play Sheds Light on

Gender-Based Violence


or anyone with an interest in combat-

ting gender-based violence, promoting

human rights and providing humanitarian

assistance, there is a must-see play making

the rounds in international policy and

academic circles: “Neda Wants to Die.”

Since its debut in 2014, this poignant

production—commissioned by the World

Bank—has been raising awareness on the

epidemic of gender-based violence in

conflict settings.

The entire play is set in a remote field

office of the U.N. High Commissioner

for Refugees and features the testimo-

nies of three people who are trapped in

the middle of a violent civil war: a lone

UNHCR case officer, a female victim and

a male perpetrator.

Their stories are gripping, shedding

light on the secondary trauma experi-

enced by humanitarian response workers

and on the incredibly fine and often

blurred lines between fault, emotional

dependency, desperation and survival.

“I was blindfolded. They tied my hands