Archive for August, 2011

Celebrating Sylvia Earle


-KQED’s video profile of Sylvia Earle

Sylvia Earle is an oceanographer, undersea explorer and conservationist. She has lead more than 60 marine expeditions, is an Explorer in Residence at National Geographic, was Time magazine’s first Hero of the Planet and was among the first marine scientists to use scuba gear in her research.

Two of her most recent accomplishments are Google Ocean and Hope Spots:

Earle wrote: “[In 2005], “I met Google Earth and Maps, Director John Hanke at a conference in Spain, and had a chance to publicly say how much I love Google Earth. ‘My children, my grandchildren think it is great to see their backyard, fly through the Grand Canyon, visit other countries,’ I said. ‘But John, when are you going to finish it? You should call Google Earth “Google Dirt.” What about the ¾ of the planet that is blue?”

Today, thanks to Earle’s prodding, we can now visit Google Ocean. Earle narrates a highlight tour of the ocean section of Google Earth.

Hope Spots are a series of Marine Sanctuaries that are being established around the planet. “Hope Spots are pristine places in the sea that, if protected, can serve as sources of renewal for depleted species and systems, while contributing to overall planetary stability and health. They also include seriously traumatized areas such as the Chesapeake Bay, the Gulf of Mexico and the Mediterranean Sea, because with care, they can be restored to better condition – a cause for hope. As far as I’m concerned, there is just one big blue hope spot – the ocean, there is hope not only for dolphins, fish and coral reefs – there is hope for humankind as well.”

For more information:

KQED’s video profile of Sylvia Earle
The Academy of Achievement’s in-depth interview with Earle surveys her amazing career: Ambassador for the World’s Oceans

Sylvia Earle’s TED Prize talk How to Protect the Oceans.


This is another in an occasional series of posts celebrating the birthdays of environmentalists, ecologists, travelers, adventurers, thinkers, artists, writers, and scientists who have inspired us to a greater appreciation of and participation in life on planet Earth. Who has inspired you? Please let us know, so we can add them to our celebration list.

Celebrating Henri Cartier-Bresson


Henri Cartier-Bresson was one of the finest photographers of the Twentieth Century.

Originally trained as an artist, he became a photojournalist known for capturing, as he called it, the “decisive moment.”   Using an unobtrusive 35 millimeter camera, he disappeared into a scene allowing his subjects to be natural rather than posed and created the possibility for capturing an extraordinary moment on film.

He described his role as a photographer as “I was there and this is how life appeared to me at that moment.” Looking through a portfolio of Cartier-Bresson’s work, it becomes obvious that life as it appeared to him was full of mystery and surprise.   His remarkable images of fleeting moments in time, often framed within the geometry of streets and buildings, can show the marvelous that hides in plain sight in our everyday world.

How did he catch these moments on film?  “I’m not responsible for my photographs.  Photography is not documentary, but intuition, a poetic experience.  It’s drowning yourself, and then sniff, sniff, sniff – being sensitive to coincidence.  You can’t go looking for it; you can’t want it, or you won’t get it.  First you must lose your self.  Then it happens.”

More simply said, “You just have to live and life will give you pictures.”

For more information:
Cartier-Bresson was a founding member of Magnum Photos which has a portfolio of his work on their website.  

Charlie Rose interviewed Henri Cartier-Bresson on July 6, 2000.

Celebrating E.F. Schumacher

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Editor’s Note: Several months ago we received a pallet of boxes from storage filled with paper, pictures and books from Whole Earth Provision Company’s past. Among the books was a well-read copy of E.F. Schumacher’sSmall is Beautiful: Economics as if People Mattered. First published in 1973, the book quickly became an icon for the generation that embraced the Whole Earth Catalogand Be Here Now.

Today, August 16, 2011, is the hundredth anniversary of E.F. Schumacher’s birth in Bonn, Germany. He was educated at Oxford and Columbia universities as an economist and worked as a farmer, a businessman and a journalist to gain first-hand experience of how the economy actually impacts individuals and businesses.

In 1955, he traveled to Burma as an economic consultant and came face to face with what he later called Buddhist Economics. Schumacher saw a three-fold function in the Buddhist understanding of work:
To give people a chance to utilize and develop their faculties
To enable people to overcome an egocentric view by joining with others in a common task
To bring forth goods and services needed for a becoming existence.

Buddhist Economics focused on the worker rather than the product and on production from local resources for local needs. In his paper “Buddhist Economics,” Schumacher wrote “the marvel of the Buddhist way of life is the utter rationality of its pattern – amazingly small means leading to extraordinarily satisfactory results.” In the end, he saw Buddhist Economics as the systematic study of how to attain given ends with the minimum means.

In the following years, Schumacher looked at the world with an eye to small scale and human-centered economic activity. In 1973 he published a collection of his essays on the topic – Small is Beautiful. The book struck a chord with intellectuals, hippies and the general public and is still in print today.

The 25th anniversary edition of Small is Beautiful included an introduction by Paul Hawken where he assessed Schumacher’s accomplishments:

If we conclude that good ideas are those easily taken up by mainstream society, then Small is Beautiful is an outdated shibboleth. But there is another possibility – that Schumacher articulated truths that are fundamentally true regardless of time, culture, or prevailing economic system. One of the important ideas, synonymous with the title, is that there is an optimal human scale, size, or relationship inherent in economic activity, a geometry of life that is independent of economic theory, even his own. Schumacher was not suggesting a return to an earlier age as he was sometimes accused. …He made an observation that was both heretical and edifying: There are inherent thresholds in the scale of human activity that, when surpassed, produce second and third order effects that subtract if not destroy the quality of all life.

For more information:

The article “Buddhist Economics” by E.F. Schumacher

Fritjof Capra, author of The Tao of Physics, remembers his meeting with E.F. Schumacher


This is another in an occasional series of posts celebrating the birthdays of environmentalists, ecologists, travelers, adventurers, thinkers, artists, writers, and scientists who have inspired us to a greater appreciation of and participation in life on planet Earth. Who has inspired you? Please let us know, so we can add them to our celebration list.

Celebrating Isaak Walton

Isaak Walton

In 1653, Isaak Walton published The Compleat Angler or The Contemplative Man’s Recreation, the book that gave birth to the Anglo-American style of fishing.  It is a record of, as Howell Raines says in his introduction to the Modern Library edition, ‘a happy decade of enforced retirement’ during the English Civil War.  It has joined the Bible, Shakespeare and Pilgrim’s Progress as one of the most reprinted works in the English language.

Raines considers it a ‘foundation document of all fishing literature.’  Cast as a dialogue between an angler, a hunter and a falconer, it harkens back to a time where reading was leisurely and language, Shakespearean.  For the modern reader it may be slow going until one adapts to the rhythms of Walton’s prose.  And the readers reward?  Time spent with a genial angler and the knowledge that while so much has changed in the intervening 350 years, some things have not:

“He that hopes to be a good Angler must not only bring an inquiring, searching, observing wit, but he must bring a large measure of hope and patience, and a love and propensity to the Art it self; but having once got and practis’d it, then doubt not but Angling will prove to be so pleasant, that it will prove like Vertue, a reward to it self.”

Tom McGuane, the American writer and outdoorsman, in his essay on Walton in The Longest Silence: A Life in Fishing points out that today many more fisherman own copies of The Compleat Angler than have actually read it.  But this is a mistake.  “Today’s faithless reader will be somewhat baffled by the long shelf life of this unreliable fishing manual, until he realizes that it’s not about how to fish but how to be.”

For more information:

James Prosek, an artist, writer and co-founder with Patagonia founder Yvon Chouinard of the World Trout Initiative, won a Peabody award for his documentary The Complete Angler: A Connecticut Yankee follows in the Footsteps of Walton.

 

This is another in an occasional series of posts celebrating the birthdays of environmentalists, ecologists, travelers, adventurers, thinkers, artists, writers, and scientists who have inspired us to a greater appreciation of and participation in life on planet Earth. Who has inspired you? Please let us know, so we can add them to our celebration list.

Big Bend Ultra Workshops

Celebrating John Graves, Texas author

John Graves, Texas Author

John Graves, Texas Author

In November 1957, John Graves put in his canoe at Possum Creek Dam in Palo Pinto County and began a three week journey down the Brazos River to Lake Whitney.  At the time, the Brazos was threatened by plans for thirteen new dams.  Graves wanted to follow the river one last time before it was ravaged by construction and drowned beneath recreational lakes.  His three week journey yielded a Texas classic, Goodbye to a River: A Narrative.   Published in 1960, and continuously in print now for fifty years, the book was nominated for a National Book Award and cited as playing a part in reducing the number of dams on the Brazos from thirteen to three.

Goodbye to a River has a campfire voice.  The ghosts of The People, the early explorers and the settlers of North Central Texas are raised up as Graves wends his way down the river.  Like all good storytellers, he weaves the past and present firmly together with his personal reflections. He is a man who left home for the wider world and has returned with a new appreciation for all he left behind.  Bill Wittliff sums it up: “John’s a treasure, our most civilized writer, our very own wise man.  He’s the one who understands how everything fits together to form the fabric of our lives and culture here in Texas.  Nowhere is this more evident than in his journey that became Goodbye to a River.”

Learn More about John Graves:

You can hear John Graves read the first chapter of Goodbye to a River on a Texas Monthly podcast.

Catch a glimpse of John Graves at Hardscrabble Ranch.

Read a brief biographical sketch of John Graves from the Wittliff Collection at Texas State.

This is another in an occasional series of posts celebrating the birthdays of environmentalists, ecologists, travelers, adventurers, thinkers, artists, writers, and scientists who have inspired us to a greater appreciation of and participation in life on planet Earth. Who has inspired you? Please let us know, so we can add them to our celebration list.