Editor-in-Chief Farewell: Hollis Belger

Hollis Belger

Days before my 13th birthday, I found myself in a San Francisco Giants dugout, cameras rolling as I interviewed Buster Posey about his family foundation supporting pediatric cancer causes. I held tightly to my list of questions, in case my excitement and inner fangirl got the best of me. I had applied to be a Sports Illustrated Kids “Kid Reporter” in hopes of telling stories about sports celebrities making use of their platforms for the greater good, and the Buster Posey interview was exactly what I’d envisioned. My early introduction to the world of journalism also happened through the unexpected newsworthiness of my own fundraiser for kids with cancer. I loved being interviewed and became curious about the questions reporters asked and the content they ended up publishing. Eventually, this led me to pursue a role in the Redwood Bark

I do a lot of public speaking about the importance of cultivating purpose in adolescence. Too often, I’ve witnessed teens’ passions take a backseat to what I call the “achievement hustle,” an overly eager pursuit of good grades and high test scores at the expense of personal meaning. Part of what I think makes being involved in the Bark special comes from each of us finding purpose in our work. We generate content to ignite change, to explore a genuine interest in a topic or to share a story that is so compelling it simply needs to be told.

We’ve interviewed narcotics detectives to investigate the severe consequences of fentanyl poisoning for local teenagers. We’ve asked questions of Olympians, health directors, politicians, NFL players and parents of suicide victims. We’ve celebrated accomplishments and mourned losses. Through Bark, I heard firsthand perspectives of anti-vaccine advocates and gained an appreciation for the hazing epidemic pervading college campuses nationwide. I consumed the breathtaking experiences of Marin resident Douglas Brown, who was in the Twin Towers when the fated plane hit on September 11. We can study second-hand sources depicting historical events, but nothing compares to the kinds of present-day investigation and human connections made through Bark. Through these experiences, my fellow Barkies and I have shared stories that need to be heard and perspectives that need to be recognized, and we’ve spoken out on issues that beg for reform. Our content—whether delivered by video, podcast or traditional written format—is driven by purpose. 

For me, writing for the Bark became yet another manifestation of finding meaning in however I chose to spend my time. If I could leave you all with a parting message as someone who has always strived to be a purposeful storyteller, participant and leader, it would be this: seek purpose and meaning in what you do, with the eventual goal of contributing in ways that move, inspire or benefit others. There’s a Buster Posey experience waiting for you. Go out and find it.