The Redwood Trails
When we were given the opportunity to plan this journey, we simply hoped to stand under trees, to walk among them, to learn and to listen.
We hoped for images that may tell a story of wonder and discovery, what we found was a story of duality and change, a world of waterfalls and singing nature woven into a State that is facing the worst drought it has ever known, a tale of yesterday and of tomorrow.
These trees, the source of wondrous stories, adventures from across the pond and poetry that has stood in awe of these forest giants.
Sacred, these Redwoods are a compass in our evolving and ever growing ecosystems, they have braved our wildest winds and our fiercest climates, they are Nature’s Elders, watching over us since the beginning of time. One celebrated 3200 years this year.
The foundations of this voyage started with this, storytelling trees.
Our lives seem to find their own way occasionally, elements connect, and inspiration comes along at the very moment one may learn from it most.
Most Americans know of John Muir, across the pond this is one of life’s unexpected treasures, beautiful writings, a man from Scotland and later of these shores, an explorer, a naturalist, a poet, sharing the truths he has found to be fundamental in his life’s journey, a dedication to the bounty within nature, in short, a noble voyage accompanied and led by the unwavering belief and conviction that we are part of a large, biodiverse and infinitely beautiful cycle, that without Nature … man is lost.
All these years later, his writings, his awe and his eloquence, are nothing short of wondrous, his words seem to find new meaning in our modern world.
We also have this gentlemen to thank for the creation of Yosemite National Park.
( Inviting Teddy Roosevelt for a talk and a walk )
And so it was that we set out, with Earth Day in New York behind us, for the ocean and woods of California, accompanied by the kindest of Irishmen, photographer Tom, a camera or two and a bag of smiles, we set sail for the Pacific west coast.
These were to be moments of joy and humility, of walking and of duality, mostly though, what we remembered most vividly, was the moment we set afoot the Northern Californian forest, a valley of trees, ferns and clover, of moss and birds and waterfalls. A valley of infinite history bathed in light and poetry.
In harsh contrast to this bounty, as we travelled through back country, almost every farm was on water rationing, and many more than once, a beautiful painted structure read “pray for rain”.
It was a land of beauty accompanied by very inconvenient truths.
A land much like the rest of the world, looking for water, struggling against the current of climate change, all the while blessed with abundant nature and the brightest and often kindest of individuals creating and innovating for tomorrow’s world, one that would live in collaboration with Nature, a culture leading the conversation in design thinking, pioneering science and creativity while hopefully helping to build the foundations to a sustainable future we may all one day, be proud of.
Duality to be certain, inspiring to be sure, walking these woods as we breathed in that misty air, we return hopeful in the face of collaborative science, transparent governance and collaboration.
California, it has been our honour, Muir woods, see you soon.
Discover | Save the Redwoods
The United Nations. Earth Day
A garden, a space, a biodiversity portrait, an example of will and perseverance.
This symbolic initiative and first ever food Garden on international territory welcomed its first admirer the 24th July 2015.
It is the vision of a man named Arif Khan, partnered by a group of passionate UN colleagues and inspiring friends such as the projects Architect, William Gates.
A collective who embody the message of environmental collaboration in its essence.
A collective of colleagues whom have created this garden at the epicentre of the United Nations from the ground up, voluntarily and philanthropically. Subversively encouraging the UN community to connect on the most basic of human practises and experiences, away from scheduling and conferences, in the great outdoors.
We witnessed this initiative come to life in a symbolic event, a beautiful dogwood blossom tree was planted yesterday in Honour of Earth Day and the Historical Paris Agreement, an agreement that saw the largest number of signatories for the opening day of any international Treaty in human history.
175 Nations marked a positive and decisive beginning to ensuring a safe and liveable future for our planet.
This Garden gives one very important gift to the United Nations, the opportunity to lead by example, as environmental patrons and world leaders in the effort towards climate action.
We left with these words singing in our minds, beautifully encompassing the nature of this act and the importance of this moment in time, as well as this garden.
“On this wonderful spring day, to see this dogwood blossom in front of us and the relatively blue water we see.
It is a reminder that we have a reality to deal with, on this historic day, the signing of the Paris Agreement, which reached the largest number of signatures in history, today on Earth day … now is the time for us to turn in a different direction, this is not an exaggeration, if we do not change the course of the next five years, we will fail our children and our grandchildren and we need no stronger reminder than these.
Martin Luther King Jr said once, and don’t be scared by the first part, if the world would go under tomorrow, I would still plant my apple tree today!
This is a highly symbolic act which sends a highly powerful signal and I thank the UN Food garden and the volunteers, for not only providing the beautiful blossom tree, you are also reminding us of the importance of food … fresh … good healthy food for people of the world.
Let us now do like this tree, strengthen the roots, get onto growing and always aim for the sky !
I hope we look back in 2030, to what we did in 2015, which lay the foundation for a new way of looking at development and that we may be proud of this time, and also remember this moment when we walked out of the meeting rooms to see the fresh earth and the flowers, standing together as friends committed to a better future.
Lets go to work. Thank you.
Deputy Secretary-General Jan Eliasson
Mission Blue + A voice for nature | Cop21 | Paris.
In honour of the United Nations Climate Change Conference, Cop21 in Paris, we were launching Nomablue, a project that started as a story, of the good, for my sons, Noah and Matteo, aka Noma. Blue is for water in all its wonder.
As time passed, the aim was that we may endeavour to support the missions and individuals we admire, encouraging design thinking and collaboration that would connect back to these, starting with conversations.
So many of the wonderful friends and people we know, had not yet heard of the pioneers and scientists we are in awe of. To begin, the idea was to curate a conservation family dinner, inviting these, to sit, break bread and share their stories. The challenge would be time, if they could find any, between meetings, trying to save the natural world. Then a family friend connected, bringing life and a smile to this idea.
The evening was to be a celebration of nature, hosted by a man who believes nature should have a voice. A seat of the highest order at the table of negotiations, a seat that would give this voice, to the missions, scientists and visionaries intent on defending and implementing the preservation and conservation of our planet, this man is known to many as The lost Explorer.
It seems we are living at a crucial and important moment in time, the opportunity to come together as one through policy making and global impact decision making, with we hoped, the fortuity to restore the kind of legacy our generation wants to leave behind.
Cop21 was the first conference of parties to establish and sign a global and environmental plan of action.
We have and always will be reliant on our natural habitat for survival, physically and spiritually, if our oceans and lands are healthy then so can we be, we come from these, it is who we are, what makes us beautiful, what grounds us and grows us. This connection and partnership with nature was asking to be celebrated and respected in our lives as in our work, more than ever before.
In the words of Stephen Jay Gould..
"We cannot win this battle to save species and environments without forging and emotional bond between ourselves and nature as well - for we will not fight to save what we do not love"
It was a special night, accompanied by unique minds, filmmakers, explorers, scientists, musicians and surfers. Adventures were shared, music played and stories were told.
That night, I met a man, we said hello, exchanged a few words and continued on. Some days later I sent a letter, thanking these last for the honour and for also confirming our hopes, there is an inspiring kindness and humility that seems to permeate the way in which guardians of land and sea work and the nature with which they communicate.
One reply was from a man named Jon Waterhouse. Yes, Waterhouse, sometimes the stars align that way and the gods smile with us, that this be the man, to accompany and encourage our understanding of the indigenous voice and its intrinsic relationship to water. His story, could not be told with enough awe or detail, but it goes a little something like this ..
One day, a few years ago, in 2007, an adventure in a canoe, along the Yukon River began.
A request by the Native elders to "take the pulse of the river", it was to become a great story of exploration, of science, of collaboration and of hope, christened The healing journey.
This Journey was one of water, and of what that element means to the indigenous communities of this river and beyond.
These explorers set out with a purpose, one of documenting the health and quality of the river, and more inspiring than simply compiling the data, this evolved into a very special project, they offered the indigenous communities along its banks the skills and tools required to gather the data themselves, collecting water samples and creating the opportunity to monitor their own water health.
“Their ownership of a baseline water study as development moves closer to their traditional lands has proven to be invaluable, a collaboration with the oceans/estuary related Science and Technology Center - CMOP (Coastal Margins, Observations & Predictions) is bringing us downriver, into the estuaries, to study changes in the relationship between the rivers and the seas, and the ways in which those changes are impacting traditional lifestyles of the people and animals that live in these regions. Pretty soon after the beginning of this journey we expanded our scope to teaching videography and storytelling, as various cultures had expressed their desire to share their own cultural history and life stories.”
Jon Waterhouse and Mary Marshall have given the indigenous people a voice and the tools with which to defend that voice.
They are connecting cultures through science, empowering them not only to be heard as indigenous people but also to gain knowledge from other cultures who are effected by similar issues, of land, of water, and of environmental shifts. Shifts that effect their heritage, their future, our future.
Jon and Mary are collaborating and working to giving the indigenous people a seat, at a table, where policy decisions that effect them as communities are made.
These communities and elders are vital to nature, sharing not only a wealth of knowledge, but also a library of sacred traditions and natural medicines, carnal and scientific data of the environment that surrounds them. The opportunity to learn from these self serving communities who have lived in harmony with nature for in some cases more than 4000 years is invaluable.
“But, to me, the most important aspect of this work is connecting the indigenous groups with one another. My dream is to hear the indigenous voice leading us all in the efforts of environmental stewardship and in the protections of our precious environment”
This Journey has stretched far beyond the Yukon and led Jon, a Native American himself, down rivers and through cultures in distant parts of South America, Russia, Greenland, Africa, New Zealand and now Siberia.
Jon is a National Geographic Explorer and Environmental steward, in their words ...
“Waterhouse now oversees the Healing Journey as a worldwide river event that brings people who are continents apart much closer together, fuelling Waterhouse's belief that our shared experiences and concerns enhance the effort to making wise decisions for the future.
Some 12 million pounds of trash and pollutants have been removed from the 335,000-square-mile Yukon under Waterhouse’s leadership, an accomplishment that has garnered global attention and inspired similar hands-on accomplishments wherever Healing Journeys are held.
Jon started his life in a difficult way, finding solace in Nature, living on the banks of Washington states Deschutes River during the early 1970s, sometimes running outside of the Law.
In 1975 a far-sighted judge gave Waterhouse a choice: prison or the U.S. military. The chance turned his life around. Twenty years later, in 1995, he retired as a decorated chief petty officer schooled in a variety of subjects, including antisubmarine warfare, air warfare, oceanography, and aviation electronics. Waterhouse moved to Alaska that same year in search of new adventures and opportunities in the natural world.
In 1997 he began working with the people of the Yukon watershed and grew increasingly aware that the environment and its people were intimately tied, as evidenced by the river itself."
In 2010 Waterhouse was appointed by President Barack Obama to the 15 member Joint public advisory Committee, advising the Commission for Environmental cooperation. He guides educational programs in collaboration with the American Museum of Natural History, Center for Biodiversity, Goddard Research Institute, USGS, and NASA. Such programs enable Waterhouse to reach those who, like him, came from what he calls that "forgotten place."
Jon Waterhouse’s journey continues to inspire, in his collaborative efforts to protecting these lands, its people and most importantly, the indigenous and humanitarian right to clean water.
Tribe is a powerful word, may we endeavor to honour those that have come before us and those that continue to defend this magical place we call home.
Discover | The lost Explorer