Biologist David Scheel with the day octopus he raised in his living room. Photo courtesy Passion Planet Ltd/Ernie Kovacs. David Scheel is a professor of marine biology at Alaska Pacific University, and he’s been studying octopuses for more than 25 years. Recently, he put an aquarium in his living room and raised a pet octopus that the family named Heidi. In 2019, PBS released the documentary Octopus: Making Contact, which chronicled the interactions in the Scheel household as the family observed and bonded with Heidi. As told to and edited by Alexander Deedy How did you first get interested in octopuses and why are they a fascinating creature for you? Well, I’ve always liked octopuses. What’s not to like, right? They’re kind of inherently interesting creatures. I have also spent time studying African lions, bats, rodents, killer whales, seals, seabirds, and crabs, among other animals. They’ve all been interesting. Over…

Chuck Miller in episode 16 of the 14 Miles project. Courtesy 14 Miles. Despite how they might be labeled, people living in rural America lead complex lives and develop dynamic communities. The documentary project 14 Miles is a series of short three- to five-minute videos that aim to shine a light on some overlooked stories in the remote community of Sitka, which takes up a roughly 14-mile stretch of land in Southeast. The 37 videos in the project’s library include a profile of a young woman’s past trauma, a behind-the-scenes look at the town thrift store, and a snapshot of community gatherings. “It’s about what we celebrate and care about living in a small Alaska community, but it’s also about the challenges,” says Ellen Frankenstein, who led the project. The episodes are available on 14miles.org and through video streaming platforms including Vimeo and YouTube.