The Trinity Test Site , where Robert Oppenheimer famously became "Death, destroyer of worlds" is open to the public only twice a year, so it's pretty tough to get a first-hand look at this rather important historical location.
Enter Joshua Ellis, an independent journalist who went to Trinity this year to compile a story on the site, the people, and its history. Josh's trip was funded by small donations from various people, and he promised to publish an in-depth story with a ton of pictures, and video if he was able.
Josh's story Dark Miracle is live today, and boy is it amazing:
When I told my friends where I was going, a few of them blinked at me. "Be careful," they said. "That's, like, The Hills Have Eyes territory." I promised to pack at least a machete, somewhere in the car.
[. . .]
Many of the houses date from the original Manhattan Project -- prefab duplexes and quad-plexes that have been extensively retrofitted by various owners over the years. It is easy, looking at some of these houses, to imagine physicists such as Oppenheimer and Hans Bethe or Edward Teller or Leo Szilard sitting on their porches, discussing different approaches to building the Gadget, as they called it.
It is an odd little place -- beautiful, to be sure, but it seems devoid of the sort of small-town closeness that other small American cities like it possess, where everybody knows everybody else. There seem to be a lot of strangers living next to one another in Los Alamos.
It is part history lesson and part travelogue; Josh paints vivid pictures that put the reader right next to him on every step of the journey, whether it's talking to Ed Grothus, the excentric owner of the Black Hole Museum of Nuclear Waste, driving up to the test site, or looking at what's left of ground zero. There are pictures and video, as well as entries in his blog that give additional details and perspective to his story. It is really a remarkable project.
As a reader, I count myself lucky that I got to read this piece; as a writer, I am absolutely thrilled at the idea of freelancing stories that are funded through small contributions from many different people. Josh brilliantly released his story under a creative commons license, so more people can see the benefits of distributed journalism.