Georgianne Nienaber is an investigative and political writer. She lives in rural northern Minnesota and South Florida. Currently doing special reports for the Teton Times, a weekly tab, serving the Standing Rock and Cheyenne River Reservations. Her articles have appeared in The Society of Professional Journalists' Online Quill Magazine, LA Progressive, The Ugandan Independent, Rwanda's New Times, India's TerraGreen, Lake Country Journal, ZNET, OpEdNews, Glide Magazine, The Journal of the International Primate Protection League, Africa Front, The United Nations Publication, A Civil Society Observer, Bitch Magazine, and Zimbabwe's The Daily Mirror. Her fiction exposé of insurance fraud in the horse industry, Horse Sense, was re-released in early 2006. Gorilla Dreams: The Legacy of Dian Fossey was also released in 2006. She spent much of 2007-2009 doing research in South Africa, Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of Congo. Georgianne was in DRC as a MONUC-accredited journalist, and worked in Southern Louisiana investigating hurricane reconstruction post Katrina. She is a member of the Society of Professional Journalists, Independent Reporters and Editors, Former member of the Memphis Chapter of the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences and the International Folk Alliance. Georgianne is currently developing a short story collection set in Louisiana, and is continuing "to explore the magic of the Deep South. "Bold-Faced Lies, Tall Tales, and Delta Diaries" is now available as a Kindle Short, published by Imari Press, and available on Amazon. Current work includes research in Haiti, Rwanda, Congo, and the American Great Plains. Currently doing special reports for the Teton Times, a weekly tab, serving the Standing Rock and Cheyenne River Reservations.
What do I do best?
A mentor once told me, “People like to talk. All you have to do is listen.” I enjoy people and I enjoy listening. That is the most important aspect of “getting the story.” It is critical that the journalist be a journal-ist. Don’t create the story. Allow the people involved to tell the story. We are there to record the moment and not to color it with expectations or bias. In the aftermath of the 2010 Haiti earthquake, I learned the most by going out at night and into the tent camps. Sit on the flooded floor of a tent made of plastic tarps, while rain drips through every opening, and learn more than talking to a government official. A woman who has lost everything, including family members, will have the real story.
What makes me the best version of myself?
Allowing empathy to take hold. I have a vivid memory of a small boy who was flying a kite made out of tattered clear plastic in a Congolese refugee camp. He was happy with that kite, even though he was living in squalor that is impossible to describe in this small space. Sometimes I worry that I never cry in these situations, feeling that I float above it all because I must. I did not cry about that boy, but the one and only time I cried occurred when my translator, my husband, and I buried the bones of a child we found on a bulldozer path at a mass grave after the Haiti earthquake. We were also not afraid to pray over the makeshift grave. I worried about the child’s mother. Was she alive? Was she looking for him? I am a mother also. How would I feel if I lost my child?
What are my aspirations?
Retirement is looming and it is not an easy transition. I feel myself slowing down and realize that passion for work is waning. When I have completely lost that passion, I hope I have to good sense to quit. Without my wanting it to happen, I notice that my attention is turning inward and not outward toward the world. Aches and pains, foggy thinking and plain old fatigue are starting to set in. I am hoping another window opens to be of service.
My Biggest Success?
This one is easy. My interview with General Laurent Nkunda in eastern Congo. It was the last interview with him in world media. The story is too long to relate here, but I will say that for three years I was convinced that Nkunda had a story to tell that was not being heard. He had read my book on Dian Fossey and the mountain gorillas. That was my entre into his encampment and a recorded interview that I agreed to post on YOUTUBE with no editing. If I ever write another book (unlikely) it will be about the journey to the encounter with him. I still remember the guards with Kalashnikovs standing behind him during our conversation. I also remember Nkunda offering me his coat as the Virunga thunderstorm began to soak me. No one has heard from the General since.
My Most Challenging Moment?
This one is also easy to relate. I was one of the first journalists to spend considerable time at Standing Rock when the protests began against the Dakota Access pipeline in North Dakota. Spending weeks there, I accumulated interviews, video, and still photos that tell the story of a movement that began as a spiritual quest by elders and children and was gradually taken over by radical, disruptive and corrupt entities. As the corruption became hard to ignore, I had a very difficult decision to make. It should not have been so difficult, but it involved personal losses. The result was a story written with Avis Little Eagle of the Teton Times. If you are interested, look up “Legitimizing Plunder at Standing Rock.”
“Who am I and why am I here?”
My Favorite People/Role Models?
My daughter, who has all of the creative abilities (music, poetry) that I wish I had. Avis Little Eagle, owner and publisher of the Teton Times. Rob Kall, Publisher of OEN News. Coleen Rowley (a friend), former FBI agent, and Time Magazine’s Person of the Year for her efforts to tell the truth about 9/11. Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard of Hawaii. Ezili Danto of the Haitian Lawyers Leadership Network. There are many more and I am lucky to have encountered these people along the way. I must add the rocker Patti Smith (whom I have never met) but who reintroduced me to Joan of Arc. But that is another story.
My Favorite Places/Destinations?
Visiting the Mountain Gorillas in Rwanda. Kruger Park in South Africa. Visiting friends in Haiti. Hood River, Oregon. St. Michael’s Church in Waialua, Hawaii.
My Favorite Products/Objects?
My Current Passions?
Reinvigorating my faith and spending more time on the triad of mind, body and soul.