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Can you imagine living in a storm drain or off-grid in the woods? Have you ever trespassed on a subway line for an unmissable photo? These are just a few of the stories touched upon in Discovery’s bold YouTube project, Seeker Stories.
From urban exploration to the pursuit of building your dream house in the woods, the films are profound, inspirational and at times poignant. Seeker Stories shines a light on alternative lifestyles, world cities, and some of the more unusual things you can get up to on a weekend.
Discovery, as a media company, doesn’t generally pay much attention to the web – shows like Mythbusters aren’t freely available online, for example. It’s fascinating to see them make a serious effort at web video, but the truly interesting thing here is the videos themselves. Here are some highlights.
Life In Las Vegas’ Hidden Tunnels
“I wouldn’t want to be homeless anywhere else I don’t think… out of sight, out of mind here in Vegas.”
Many people are aware of New York’s famous subway communities, but most do not realise that Las Vegas has a subterranean homeless culture of its own. The city is underscored by a network of what essentially amount to large storm drains — and a large number of the city’s transient population call it home. Despite the obvious dangers, the illusion of security comes fairly easily to the inhabitants of the Las Vegas tunnels.
Urbex In An Ice Rink
“Places like this just aren’t built any more. Empty lots are no longer replaced with drive-ins, roller rinks or arcades. These staples of different eras are not re-emerging.”
Shortly before being turned into a department store Seeker Stories took a tour of Berkeley Iceland, an abandoned Olympic sized ice skating rink situated in a residential area in the Californian town of Berkeley. What has been an important venue for training Olympic athletes, starry-eyed competitors and the local community simply isn’t seen as viable any more.
Thailand’s Bicycle Revolution
“I want to introduce that cycling can be a lifestyle choice, a way of living — I want to show everyone.”
Status in Thailand is often defined by the two wheels you ride — but those two wheels are normally attached to a motor. While cycling has never been more in vogue in western cities, with bike lanes and cycle lockups springing up to try and encourage us to be choose greener methods of transport, in Thailand the revolution is being led purely by those who love cycling. Meet Kan Kyi Curwen, pioneer of a community bike centre that encourages fellow cyclists to fix, talk and ride their bikes together.
One Snowboarder’s Tiny House
“I went for the American dream you know, I bought the big house and a fancy car. It didn’t do anything different for me, it just took up time.”
What do you really need in life? That’s the question professional snowboarder Mike Basich tried to answer when he turned his back on urbanised society in favour of an off-grid house in Soda Springs, California. Mike spent five years building his dream home, then he decided he needed his own stairlift for getting back up the mountain quickly — so he built one of those too.
The Challenges of Living Off-Grid
“At that point I considered trying to hang up the homestead idea as a failed experiment.”
Many people yearn for a life in the country, but far fewer take that bold step beyond suburbia and actually do it. Nick and Esther are two brave parents who picked up their comfortable urban life and exchanged it for the countryside. Though their journey started out as they had imagined, their first winter in the woods introduced numerous insurmountable challenges that have forced them to reconsider their approach to off-grid living.
Welcome to Impossible City
“Past the hiking trails and fences, beyond the accessible and familiar is this place.”
Not far from the former US military base of Fort Ord sits the eerily quiet greyness of Impossible City. Built in 1984, this is one settlement that has never been inhabited, and instead exists solely as a training ground for the ever-evolving game of war. As conflict spills beyond deserts and jungles into built-up urban environments, tactical units must be trained accordingly in this ghostly facility.
Urban Exploration & Instagram
“Nothing about the building specifically made me want to climb it. It was just tall, and it was there. It was our Everest.”
Urban exploration is the act of gaining access to restricted or hidden buildings, bridges, subway systems and anything considered “off limits” the average pedestrian. Urban explorers are far from average pedestrians, particularly in New York City with such a colourful urban landscape to explore, both above and below ground. This film takes a look at the role Instagram has played in connecting these fearless urbex enthusiasts.
The Insane Sport of Mountain Unicycling
“I learned later in life that the hardest thing is ten hours of failure, of falling on your face literally for ten hours. This is a challenge.”
Unicycling is traditionally seen as a circus act and more of a novelty than a genuine means of transport, but to some people it’s a serious off-road hobby. For many, mastering the art of balance on a flat, smooth surface is tricky enough, but others tire easily — that’s where mountain unicycling comes in. These aren’t your average unicycles either, they have hydraulic brakes, a big fat mountain bike tyre and like other unicycles (and the fixed wheel bicycle) they do not coast — when the wheel turns, so do the pedals.
More Seeker Stories
Seeker Stories is a Discovery project that focuses on individuals, stories and places in a bid to expand your perspective on life. The channel isn’t a month old yet but is already providing four uploads each week — so if you like what you see here, subscribe to Seeker Stories on Youtube.
If you enjoyed this, be sure to check out Vice for award-winning films and Vice News for more topical content. Britain’s Guardian newspaper is also making waves on YouTube for their investigative pieces.
What do you think of Discovery’s Seeker Stories?