27 May 2016
The Redwood Trails
When we planned this journey we hoped to discover places unknown , learn a little and listen a lot … 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 nature woven into a State that is facing the worst drought it has ever known … a tale of yesterday and of tomorrow.
Since I was a little girl I have wanted to see those trees … tales brought back from wondrous stories I admired ... adventures from across the pond … poetry that had stood in awe of these forest giants.
Sacred … these are a compass in our ever changing, ever growing ecosystem … these have braved our wildest winds and our fiercest climates … they are Nature’s Elders … watching over us since the beginning of time … one even living to the ripe old age of 3500 years young.
The foundations of this journey started with this … these sacred Redwoods.
Our lives seem to find their own way occasionally … elements connect … inspiration introducing itself at the very moment you may draw from it most …
A few years ago I fell in rapture with the writings and letters of John Muir … a life dedicated to the sharing and celebration of truths he has found to be fundamental in his life’s journey … a dedication to the bounty within nature… 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 … the beauty and eloquence in the character of this particular soul is nothing short of magic … 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.
So it was that we set out … with the positive movement of Earth Day in New York, for the Ocean and Redwoods of California … armed with a camera or two … playlists from friends on the mountain, clean socks and bag of smiles … we set sail for the Pacific West coast in search of a car … some exploring and a date with those forest giants.
It will be a journey that stays with me … for its moments of joy and humility ... of surprise and of duality … mostly though … i will remember that moment we set afoot the Northern California forest … a valley of trees, ferns and clover … moss, birds and waterfalls … A valley of infinite stories bathed in poetry and adventure.
In contrast to this immense bounty, as we travelled through back country almost every farm was on water rationing … more than once… a beautiful painted structure read “pray for rain”.
A place of natural beauty accompanied by 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 the brightest and often the kindest of individuals creating and innovating for tomorrow’s child…a culture leading the conversation in design thinking ... pioneering science and creativity ... building the foundations to a sustainable future that we may all one day ... be proud of.
Duality to be certain … inspiring to be sure … discovering these shores ...walking these woods as we breathed in that misty air... it is a journey that we shall treasure.
California it has been our honour and our privilege.
We return hopeful and inspired by your bounty and your discipline … home to so much innovation and awe-inspiring conservation.
Muir woods see you very soon
22 April 2016
Discovering the United Nations Food Gardens for Earth Day
A garden … A space … A biodiversity portrait … An example.
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 believe and embody the message of environmental stewardship in its essence … A collective whom have created this Garden at the epicentre of the UN 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 invitation come to life in a symbolic ceremony… A beautiful Dogwood blossom Tree was planted yesterday in Honour of Earth Day and the Historical Paris Agreement , which saw the Largest number of signatories for the opening day of any international Treaty in human history …175 signatures … Marked this 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 Stewards and World leaders in the effort towards climate action … We left with these words singing in our minds … encompassing the nature of this act and the importance of this moment in time and 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 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
Thank you UN food Garden … it has been an inspiration and an honour.
20 March 2016
Voice for nature. Jon Waterhouse. The healing journey
In honour of the United Nations Climate Change Conference... Cop21 in Paris... the idea of connecting ... of a gathering floated up the river seine along its banks... through the gardens... to a place ... a project called Noma blue...
This was a special time... the opportunity to come together as one through policy making and global impact decision making... the fortuity to restore the kind of legacy our generation wants to leave behind.
This gathering... was to be a celebration of nature... curated 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 special people ... 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.
We have and always will be reliant on our natural habitat for survival... physically and spiritually... if our oceans and lands are not healthy then neither 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 must be celebrated in our lives and in our work... 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"
That night... during the gathering... I met a man... we said hello... exchanged a few words and continued on...
It was a special night accompanied by unique and fundamental pioneers in conservation and preservation... whom have serendipitously and somewhat organically become the voice of nature
It was a moment that I will cherish... memories were shared... music played and stories told.
Some days later I sent a letter... I spoke of tribe... of collaboration... of the inspiring kindness and humility that permeates the way in which guardians of land and sea work and the nature in which they communicate...
The replies made me smile... one truly inspired... It was a reply to my favourite word in the letter... tribe. the reply was from a man named Jon Waterhouse.
A man whom I had spoken to so very briefly and of whom i remembered few details... lest one... kindness.
Yes... Water house... sometimes the stars align that way... and the gods smile with us... magic that this be the man to accompany and encourage our understanding of the indigenous voice and its intrinsic relationship to water... his story... "the healing journey"... 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... 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 story-telling - as various cultures have expressed their desire to share their own cultural history and life stories.”
Jon Waterhouse and Mary Marshall have given the indigenous people of this river 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... of environmental shifts... Shifts that effect their heritage... their future... our future.
They are collaborating and working to giving the indigenous people a seat... at a table... where policy decisions that effect them as communities are made.
This is a wealth of knowledge... 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 make 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 us... in his efforts to protecting these lands and most importantly the indigenous and humanitarian right to clean water...
Tribe is a powerful word... may we endeavor to honour the tribes that have come before us and the tribes that continue to defend this magical place we call home.
Until we meet again... may the wind be at your back... the sun shine warm upon your face and the rain fall softly upon your fields. x Jessy