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Sunday, May 9, 2021

The Last Unknown, an epic documentary

The Last Unknown (TLU,) is an acclaimed discovery+ documentary by award-winning photographer, author, film and television producer, conservationist, and educator Ian Shive; TLU engages the audience on an epic adventure in the Aleutian Islands (AI). Located in the freezing sea between Siberia and Alaska, the AI are one of the wildest, most pristine, and remote places on Earth. The AI showcase natural wonders, treacherous existence, and astounding beauty, mostly untouched by human interference.

Ian and his four-person crew joined the United States (U.S.) Fish & Wildlife Service's (FWS) on board the Tiglax research vessel as they traversed one of the wildest places on the planet. Most of the remote islands are completely devoid of human intrusion with no docks, trails, or services; access is challenging and weather may prohibit a safe landing. TLU offers a glimpse of Nature in her untamed state and leaves the viewer in a state of awe.

Discovery Executive Vice President of Multiplatform Programming, Factual & Head of Content, Science Scott Lewers validates Discovery's investment in TLU:

“Ian’s journey takes viewers to a part of the world that few people will ever get to see in real life. Showcasing the vital work being done to protect our diverse wildlife and ecosystem is an important part of Discovery’s heritage and we are thrilled to share this latest addition to the vast collection of natural history documentaries available on discovery+.” 

The FWS research assesses the overall ecosystem health via evaluating the marine-mammal and bird-population status. When it feeds at sea, a bird essentially captures thousands of ocean samples with each bite. By studying the bird populations, scientists examine huge swatches of ocean health. Vibrant predator populations are indicators of strong prey populations and ocean-marine life.

During their three-week voyage, Ian and his crew face perilous elements as they visit five of the AI and tell the story of untamed places where no one, or at least only a few, have ventured.

Auklet swarm at sea
Photo: Tandem Stills + Motion
Island Explorations
The first stop is Akutan Island where the crew witnesses an endangered Steller sea lion colony. Beginning in the 1970's and accelerating in the 1980's and 1990's, the rapid decline of the Steller sea lion population is most likely due to depleted food sources from over fishing.

On Kiska Island, Ian and his crew find an exceptionally healthy auklet population. According to the Audubon Kiska Island Colonies page, Kiska Island is home to seven seabird colonies consisting of fourteen seabird species and an estimated 3,333,961 birds. In TLU, the footage of the huge auklet swarm undulating in the sky within geometric patterns was breathtaking and a phenomena few humans will ever experience.

Cynthia Martinez, Chief of the National Wildlife Refuge System (NWRS) for the FWS, confirms the amazing experience:

"Watching swirling clouds of tiny seabirds at Kiska Island is one of the most awe-inspiring wildlife spectacles I have ever seen. The thousands of islands that are home to millions of birds and marine mammals make the Alaska Maritime National Wildlife Refuge an iconic example of our National Wildlife Refuge System. I’m excited that viewers will get to experience the beauty of the Aleutian Chain, the traditional homelands of the Unangax̂ people."

Though generally devoid of human activity, remnants of World War II (WWII) occupation by the Japanese survive in the harsh conditions on East Kiska Islandthe crash-landing site of a B24 in December 1942 is one of the WWII relics. Additionally, Ian explores one of the Japanese underground bunkers dug into the hillside.

FWS field techs Sarah Youngren and Dan Rapp welcome the film crew to Aiktak Island where they completed their 500th day on the island this season. The island is home to an active puffin colony. While the parents feed at sea during the day, the pufflings remain in the security of the burrow among the island's rocky landscape. Weekly, Sarah and Dan weigh and measure select pufflings to monitor their progress and assess the overall ocean-health status. The featured puffling did not gain weight over the past week, signaling potential ecosystem-health challenges.

Active volcano
Photo: Tandem Stills + Motion
Tanaga Island, the highest point in the Western AI, is an active volcano with a constantly changing landscape filled with magnificent waterfalls and connected shoreline caves. The drone footage of the spectacular island is masterful. According to Ian, the landscape is surreal and reminds him of an amusement park.

On Bogoslof Island, the final island visit, an estimated 100,000 -140,000 fur seals occupy the island as their annual breeding grounds. Once nearly extinct, the fur seals thrive on the island, which is the top of enormous volcano. Orca (killer whales) patrol the fur seal-abundant waters for their next meal. 

The first to arrive at the breeding grounds from as far away as Los Angeles, over 3,000 miles to the south, male fur seas return to the territory claimed in years past. Once on the island, the males oversee their harem and do not leave for two months, not even to feed. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) estimates that 36,015 pups were born on the island in 2019. The excellent TLU fur seal footage captures the magnitude of the island population along with showcasing the aggressive, often simply grouchy, male behavior.

Active since the late 1700's, the Bogoslof Island volcano erupted seventeen times in the last 70 years; the last major eruption was in 2017. Ian gives an up-close tour of the volcano heart complete with steaming thermal vents and bubbling water pools. Using a laser thermometer, Ian records temperatures as high as 199 degrees Fahrenheit. It is fascinating to witness Ian traverse the steaming and gurgling volcano!

TLU provides viewers a glimpse of thriving ecosystems in one of the most remote, treacherous, and inaccessible places on earth. Via masterful cinemaphotography, TLU is a rare opportunity to witness Nature's raw magnificence 

AI Topography and History*
Comprised of 80 large volcanoes, the AI is one of the of the most volcanic places in the world and is the northern anchor of the Pacific Rim of Fire, a zone of frequent earthquakes and volcanic eruptions. Though immediately disruptive, volcano eruptions are essential to the AI ecosystem; eruptions carry minerals from the Earth's core to the surface, create nutrient-rich land and seas, and support food sources for the predator and prey populations.

Stunning AI landscape
Photo: Tandem Stills + Motion


A rugged, wild network of 2,500+ islands that stretch into the middle of the Bering Sea, the AI span 6,821 square miles. Though the majority of the islands were devoid of land mammals, including humans, the eastern islands closest to the Alaskan mainland were inhabited by native Unangax̂. When they arrived on the AI in the mid-1700's, the Russians wreaked havoc on native human, marine mammals and avian species.

In 1750, the Russians released captured artic blue foxes on some of the islands to support the lucrative fur exploitation. As they lived in an habitat with no land-roaming predators, the AI birds evolved as ground nesters. The foxes, and later the introduced rats, feasted on the avian eggs devastating the island-bird populations. By 1768, the Russians drove the 25-foot-long Steller’s sea cow (Hydrodamalis gigas) to extinction in a mere 27 years; later the flightless spectacled cormorant was also extinct.

Between 1786 - 1787, Russians decimated the Unangax̂ population from an estimated 16,000 to 1,900 due to relocation, slaughter, and enslavement. 

By 1800, Russian fur traders exported a total of more than 400,000 fur seals, 96,000 sea otters, and 102,000 fox pelts from the Pribilof and Aleutian islands and the Kodiak Archipelago.

Slow-moving, docile bowhead whales, who yield around 100 barrels of oil per whale, were hunted to near extinction. In 1852 alone, 2682 bowhead whales were harvested by New England whaling ships. 

After the American Civil War in 1867, the U.S. purchased the AI from Russia for $7,200,000. In 1869, Congress created the Pribilof Islands Reservation to protect fur seals on their main breeding grounds. Yet, the American government continued to use fur seals as a cash crop until 1983.

Auklets are one of the many AI
ground-nesting avian species.
Photo: Tandem Stills + Motion
By 1892, Americans released artic blue foxes on 450 of the AI and left them to feed off the ground-nesting birds, whose populations were annihilated. Later fur farmers purposely released mice onto the islands to serve as winter food for the foxes.

The turn of the century brought wildlife protection to the AI. In 1900, the Lacey Act prohibited the commercial sale or hunting of birds and animals to sell as meat, feathers, or skins. President Theodore Roosevelt established a series of refuges in 1909 to protect AI native wildlife and restore diminished populations.

By 1932, sea otter populations expand under the wildlife-protection acts. In the mid 1930's, warnings arose of native ecosystem disruption caused by the introduced foxes and other land-based mammals to the islands. By 1940, regulations prohibited fox farming on some of the islands.

Post WWII, underground atomic bomb tests were detonated on Amchitka Island. The final five-megaton atomic bomb test - the largest underground atomic bomb blast in U.S. history - was in 1971. Though underground, the atomic blasts wreaked havoc on the island's tundra and streams.

Healthy fur seal population on
Bogoslof Island
Photo: Tandem Stills & Motion
President Jimmy Carter signed the Alaska National Interest Lands Conservation Act in 1980 and created the Alaska Maritime National Wildlife Refuge (AMNWR). Totaling 4.9 million acres, the AMNWR combined eleven existing refuges as well as other land to create the world's largest seabird refuge. The RiA article, An Evolutionary Call-to-ACTION, gives the NWRS history, purpose, and how it relates to National Parks and National Monuments.

With the formation of the AMNWR, the AI are doubly protected via its remote location as well as a national wildlife refuge. Under this new-found protection, assistance arrives to let nature prevail with restoration of the ecosystem.

* Information from the AMNWR Historical Timeline document substantiated the copy in the AI Topography and History section.

Nature Prevails
The AI natural-ecosystem destruction caused by human activities and the subsequent restoration once activities were ceased or reversed substantiate the Elemental Impact (Ei) Nature Prevails platform. Within the Nature Prevails premise, the Earth heals herself and nurtures renewed life forms, no matter the calamity caused by humans or extraterrestrial activities.

Nature Prevails: green plants rise from the remains
of the California Lake Fire. Photo: @IanShivePhoto
Tragic, human-caused outcomes may be avoided by aligning human-created systems with The Principles of Nature. Ei defines The Principles of Nature are defined as:

  • Diversity
  • Dynamic Balance & Nutrition Cycles
  • Necessity of Cover & Ability to Roam

The RiA article, Nature Prevails; an action plan, defines The Principles of Nature and explains how human-made systems are ruled by the principles.

Within the AMNWR protection, the AI ecosystems realigned with The Principles of Nature and restoration of damaged maritime populations flourished.

Ian Shive: a man with a mission
After almost ten years in media and publicity at Sony Pictures Entertainment working on over 60 motion pictures including the Spider-Man franchise, Ian left the corporate world in 2007; Ian's photography career was already thriving. An amazing photographer who follows his inner calling, Ian built a well-earned reputation as the “leading chronicler of America's national parks."

Over the next decade plus, Ian segued from an accomplished nature photographer into a respected multi-media artist incorporating author, film and television producer, conservationist, and educator into his professional repertoire. 

An Evolution with Impact
In 2014, Tandem Stills + Motion (TSM,) Ian's company founded in 2009, segued into short-film production via a Nature Conservancy three-minute plus film Conserving Cuba's Coral Reef. Via a pitch to the Discovery Channel, Ian and his team organized logistics, filmed (on land & underwater,) and produced the Tiburones: The Sharks of Cuba, a first-ever Cuba adventure for SHARK WEEK. 

TSM segued into cinema films in 2016 with the four-minute plus film, Rob Krar: Chasing the Distance, which explored the lives of husband and wife ultra-running team Rob Krar and Christina Bauer. Ian's stunning drone photography, along with stellar time-lapse sky clips, augmented the story as well as showcased the Grand Canyon landscape.

A Laysan albatross tending to her chick
serves as the Midway promo image.
Photo: @IanShivePhoto
The 2017 Battle of Midway: 75th Anniversary Commemoration Film (Battle of Midway) produced by TSM in cooperation with the FWS honors the two fierce World War II (WWII) battles on the atoll. 

Until the Battle of Midway, Ian's proven expertise was in documenting natural phenomena in stills and motion. With the Battle of Midway, Ian exhibited compassionate interviewing and filming skills as he coaxed the surviving veterans to share their traumatic, emotional battle experiences. Close-up images captured the lingering pain in the veterans' eyes as  tears rolled down their weathered cheeks.

Inspired, Ian used the extensive motion clips and stills captured during the two-week Midway Atoll visit to create the 40-minute film Midway: Edge of Tomorrow (Midway.) Though the World War II significance is prominent, the film's prime focus is on the regeneration of the atoll's ecosystem; the Laysan albatross are stars of the film!

Midway is available on iTunesGoogle Play, and Amazon Prime.

Hidden Pacific
Produced by TSM and directed by Ian, Hidden Pacific was distributed by Giant Screen Films in 44 cities in late 2019 | early 2020. Designed for IMAX theatres, Hidden Pacific is a cinema phenomena, especially when viewed on the big screen.

Hidden Pacific transports the viewer to the magical world of three atolls hidden within the massive Pacific Ocean volcanic seascape: Palmyra Atoll within the Pacific Remote Islands Marine National Monument, the Rose Atoll Marine National Monument in American Samoa, and the Midway Atoll within the Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument.

Aerial view of Rose Atoll
Photo: @IanShivePhoto


On the Rose Atoll, Ian and his team are the first photographers (and probably the only ever) permitted to make the extensive travels necessary to visit the pristine atoll, devoid of direct human activity. Thus, the stills and film captured are literally a global treasure.

As with TLU, Hidden Pacific gifts viewers with a virtual visit to remote, inaccessible destinations that showcase nature's magnificence when undisturbed by human activity.

In mid-film promotion the COVID-19 pandemic engulfed the globe; Hidden Pacific screenings were cancelled as theatres closed their doors and the film promotion went dormant.

Yet Hidden Pacific's storyline is timeless. Its imperative narrative will gain exceptional traction once the global community emerges from the pandemic cocoon.

A printed masterpiece
REFUGE, America's Wildest Places, Exploring the National Wildlife Refuge System (REFUGE) published in October, 2020 features Ian's stunning photography. As with Ian's prior books, films, and other mediums, REFUGE is a masterpiece and serves as a portal to explore our planet's intrinsic beauty.

REFUGE  is a glimpse into the magnificence and sacred nature of the NWRS, one of the largest protected land and water networks in the world. The NWRS encompasses land and water ecosystems coast-to-coast within the continental U.S. as well as the Hawaiian Islands, Alaska, and U.S. territories.

An impressive series of essays augment Ian's images and showcase the book's importance and far-reaching impact. Additionally, REFUGE is an excellent resource with the 560+ refuges listed with those open to the public earmarked. Additionally, a two-page-spread map of refuge locations is included. 

Many of the featured refuges are difficult, if not impossible, for the public to visit due to intricate travel requirements and/or NWRS restrictions. Thus, REFUGE is one of the few, if not the only, vehicles to travel vicariously through the expansive system of connected refuges. Though most are not contiguous, many refuges are connected by migratory bird routes, other natural phenomena, or simply via intention. 

Many still images captured during the TLU filming are included in REFUGE.

The previously mentioned RiA article, An Evolutionary Call-to-ACTION, showcases and applauds REFUGE.

From behind the camera to host and on-air talent
In January 2019 Ian's evolution continued at Discovery Channel's Nature in Focus where he moved from behind the camera to the front. As the Nature in Focus host, on-air talent, and executive producer, Ian transports viewers around the globe for short photography and education adventures within natural paradigms.

TLU is a major milestone in Ian's illustrious professional career. Ian pitched, coordinated with FWS for the two-week ALI visit, wrote the script, and directed, produced, and hosted the incredible film. In addition to his front-of-the-camera presence, Ian contributed to the film's still and motion images.

Ian Shive in the AMNWR
Photo: Tandem Stills + Motion
A Personal Driver
For Ian, a personal driver is the responsibility to give back to the Earth; humans take so much from nature and it is important to gift back from the heart. As an educator, Ian's intentions are to inspire others to take individual and collective action to protect and restore the fragile land and marine ecosystems.


In Ian's words:

"I am a photographer and a filmmaker, that much is obvious, but I see my actual role very differently. The camera is just a tool, like a bridge that gets you across a river to the other side, the camera is a bridge to places that people may otherwise never have the opportunity to visit or appreciate. I'm motivated by the idea that I can be more than just the maker of pretty pictures and films, but also be an educator and connector to the ecosystems and places that are so important, so valuable to our planet and to the tens of millions of wildlife that rely on our action to keep them protected. How can we care if we have no idea what is at stake?"

Ian encompasses an effective strategy: the viewer falls in love with the amazing images, whether stills or motion. Then, Ian slips in human-created scenarios impacting the vitality of the wildlife and corresponding ecosystem. Viewers are then inspired to take action.

Tremendous Impact
With his profound commitment as a conservationist and educator, Ian is destined to make a tremendous impact with his past, current, and future timeless masterpieces. Ian's evolution from stills to motion to cinema to on-air persona expands his audience, reach, and potential influence.

The Last Unknown is simply Ian's first step into new dimensions of impact - stay tuned!

____________________________________

About Elemental Impact:
Elemental Impact (Ei) is a 501(c)3 non-profit founded in 2010 as the home to the Zero Waste Zones, the forerunner in the nation for the commercial collection of food waste for compost. In June 2017, Ei announced the Era of Recycling Refinement was Mission Accomplished and entered the Era of Regeneration. Current focus areas include Nature PrevailsSoil Health | Regenerative Agriculture, and Water Use | Toxicity.

MISSION:
To work with industry leaders to create best regenerative operating practices where the entire value-chain benefits, including corporate bottom lines, communities, and the environment. Through education and collaboration, establish best practices as standard practices.

Ei’s tagline – Regeneration in ACTION – is the foundation for Ei endeavors.

The following mantra is at the core of Ei work:

Ei is a creator, an incubator.
Ei determines what could be done that is not being done and gets it done.
Ei brings the possible out of impossible.
Ei identifies pioneers and creates heroes.

For additional information, contact Holly Elmore at 404-261-4690 | holly@elementalimpact.org

Monday, March 8, 2021

Urban Carbon Sinks: Rewilding Urban Landscapes

Community gardens are integral to
creating an Urban Carbon Sink
photo credit: Holly Elmore Images
Over the past decade, sustainability moved from a buzz word to a movement to a culture within leading communities, universities, and businesses. Significant strides were made in zero-waste practices, renewable energy technology, and reduced carbon | water footprints. Yet the glaciers continue to melt, the ocean acidification levels are increasing, and desertification is escalating.

The Regeneration in ACTION (RiA) article, Beyond Sustainability: Regenerative Solutions, proposes regenerative solutions in the form of Urban Carbon Sinks to restore the carbon cycles and pending crises. The RiA article, Carbon Crisis: simply a matter of balance, introduces carbon cycles and explains how their out-of-balance state creates alarming scenarios.

A Building Crisis: diminishing food and oxygen supply
The previously referenced Beyond Sustainability: Regenerative Solutions article establishes the building crisis of the diminishing food and oxygen supply.

According to a Global Agriculture Soil Fertility & Erosion Report:

Our most significant non-renewable geo-resource is productive land and fertile soil. Each year, an estimated 24 billion tonnes of fertile soil are lost due to erosion. That's 3.4 tonnes lost every year for every person on the planet. Soils store more than 4000 billion tonnes of carbon.

A dangerous dilemma is brewing with an increasing global population and a diminishing ability to produce food. Healthy soil is necessary to generate nutritious food, whether plant- or animal-based. 

According to a National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association (NOAA) June 2020 How much oxygen comes from the ocean? fact sheet:

Scientists estimate that 50-80% of the oxygen production on Earth comes from the ocean. The majority of this production is from oceanic plankton — drifting plants, algae, and some bacteria that can photosynthesize. One particular species, Prochlorococcus, is the smallest photosynthetic organism on Earth. But this little bacteria produces up to 20% of the oxygen in our entire biosphere. That’s a higher percentage than all of the tropical rainforests on land combined.

Yet plankton is perishing at astonishing rates due to ocean acidification and warmer water temperatures. Thus, the atmospheric oxygen supply is diminishing and may eventually lead to potential asphyxiation for land-based animals and eventual species extinction.

Holocene Extinction (sixth mass extinction)
According to the November 2019 Science Alert article, Are We Really in a 6th Mass Extinction? Here's The Science, current conditions indicate that the Earth's Holocene extinction, or sixth mass extinction, is well underway. From the article:

A mass extinction is usually defined as a loss of about three quarters of all species in existence across the entire Earth over a "short" geological period of time. Given the vast amount of time since life first evolved on the planet, "short" is defined as anything less than 2.8 million years. 

... The Earth is currently experiencing an extinction crisis largely due to the exploitation of the planet by people. 

The World Wildlife Fund 2020 Living Planet Report states:

A 68% average decline of birds, amphibians, mammals, fish, and reptiles since 1970.

The findings are clear: Our relationship with nature is broken.

Biodiversity – the rich diversity of life on Earth – is being lost at an alarming rate. This loss effects our own health and well-being. Today, catastrophic impacts for people and the planet loom closer than ever.

Though the Holocene Extinction is well underway, a tragic outcome may be avoided by aligning human-created systems with The Principles of Nature. Within Elemental Impact 's (Ei) Nature Prevails platform, The Principles of Nature are defined as:

  • Diversity
  • Dynamic Balance & Nutrition Cycles
  • Necessity of Cover & Ability to Roam
The RiA article, Nature Prevails; an action plan, defines The Principles of Nature and explains how human-made systems are ruled by the principles.

Insect Apocalypse
Insects are integral to the natural ecosystem foundation and essential to supporting the Earth’s life web. At the base of the prey hierarchy, insects are food for fish, mammals, and birds. In addition to recycling soil-system nutrients, insects play an essential role in the decomposition portion of nature’s circular-life cycle.

Multi-generations of milkweed
beetles at a rewilded urban garden
Photo credit: Holly Elmore Images
Since the 1970’s the Earth’s insect population suffered from severe population declines as well as loss of diversity.

The NY Times 2018 article, The Insect Apocalypse Is Here. What does it mean for the rest of life on Earth?, reported: The German study found that, measured simply by weight, the overall abundance of flying insects in German nature reserves had decreased by 75 percent over just 27 years. If you looked at midsummer population peaks, the drop was 82 percent.

According to the November 2019 Somerset Wildlife Trust Insect Declines and Why They Matter Report by Professor Dave Goulson, 41% of insect species are threatened with extinction.

Contributing factors to the demise of insect populations include:

  • Prolific use of pesticides in commercial and residential landscapes, corporate and municipal grounds maintenance, and industrial agriculture.
  • Loss of habitat due to urbanization, transportation systems, farming, and landscape-maintenance practices.
  • Infiltration of non-native plants; insects evolved to thrive on native plants and non-native plants are often not food sources for local populations.
  • Intangible pollution, including artificial light, noise (leaf blowers,) and electromagnetic fields.

Carbon Sinks
Simply, a carbon sink is an area of land where plants drawdown more carbon via photosynthesis - the process plants use to convert carbon dioxide and sunlight into sugars for energy - from the atmosphere than is released from the soil into the atmosphere. The oceans are technically carbon sinks as they currently absorb more atmospheric carbon than is released. 

By re-establishing abundant land-based carbon sinks, the carbon cycles may return to balance via atmospheric carbon returning to the soils. Once a threshold of lowered atmospheric carbon is reached, the oceans will release their stored excess carbon into the atmosphere. Thus, ocean acidification will reverse, and marine plant life may revive back into healthy oxygen-producing states.

Urban Carbon Sinks
As well documented in the previously mentioned article, Beyond Sustainability: Regenerative Solutions, regenerative agriculture is a viable solution for restoring weakened soil ecosystems and drawing significant carbon from the atmosphere back into the soil. Thus, regenerative agriculture creates carbon sinks. 

Cover crops on a certified organic farm that uses
regenerative agriculture practices.
Photo credit: Holly Elmore Images
Regenerative agriculture practices include no-till farming, diverse crops, and use of cover crops and are void of “cides” usage (herbicides, pesticides, insecticides, and fungicides.) For livestock farming, herds are rotated among fields allowing the animals’ excrements to serve as natural fertilizer instead of potentially toxic waste. The 2018 RiA article, Regenerating a Bright Future for Planet Earth, delves deeper in the regenerative agriculture principles and showcases several regenerative farms.

Regenerative landscape and grounds-maintenance practices incorporate applicable farming practices into urban environments.

In 2017 Ei announced intentions to create urban carbon sinks via integrating regenerative landscape and grounds maintenance practices on corporate complexes, college | university campuses, highway medians | shoulders, airport land surrounding runways, parks, and other available urban lands. Collectively, the regenerative landscaped areas are destined to serve as urban carbon sinks and aid in restoring the carbon-cycle balance.

Rewilding Urban Landscapes

Nature Prevails: rewilding is a natural process 
Photo credit: Holly Elmore Images
Beyond regenerative landscape practices, rewilding urban land restores the natural ecosystem that evolved over thousands of years. Rewilding land requires the restoration of native plants and cultivates food for indigenous insects. Strong insect populations are the foundation for restoring healthy predator/prey hierarchies that once thrived prior to urban development.

Inherent within rewilding urban landscapes are three primary benefits: 

  1. Restoration of vibrant soil ecosystems.
  2. Drawdown of carbon from the atmosphere into the soils via plant photosynthesis.
  3. Establishment of food-secure neighborhoods within a community.

In his New York Times bestseller, Nature’s Best Hope: A New Approach to Conservation that Starts in your Yard, Doug Tallamy encourages citizens to rewild their yards via replacing toxic lawns with native plants that support local insect populations. Caterpillars are a primary food source for many birds and other wildlife. According to Doug, Carolina chickadees must catch 6,240 – 9,120 caterpillars to raise one clutch.

With more than 40 million acres of lawn nationwide, there is tremendous potential to reverse the diminishing food and oxygen deficiency crisis simply by rewilding lawns!

Rewilding Lawn Pilot

A vacant lot naturally rewilds.
Photo credit: Holly Elmore Images
A first step in the Urban Carbon Sink-Development Template is the rewilding of a private-home lawn. With private ownership, controlled documentation of the soil-health baseline as well as pilot challenges, lessons learned, and success is easily facilitated. The intention is to partner with the state agriculture university along with local government, a seed co-op, gardening clubs, schools, and other engaged organizations.

Below is an outline draft of the various pilot stages:

  • Stage One – establish the yard base line & begin soil restoration.
  • Stage Two – create a “wild” garden.
  • Stage Three – prepare a template for rewilding lawns, parks, and other common areas.
  • Stage Four – apply the rewilding lawns template.

Individual Action is Key
If each individual takes regenerative action that works within their life, the collective impact will prove staggering and alter the current destructive path humanity created over the past millenniums. 

According to Nature's Best Hope, there are 599-million acres available in the nation via public utility and transportation ROWs (right-of-way,) golf courses, airport grounds, residential developments, and urban centers available for potential rewilding. Rewilding urban landscapes is a simple, inexpensive solution available to individuals, governments, educational institutions, and the business community. Rewilding urban landscapes may avert the diminishing food- and oxygen-supply crisis. 

The time to take individual action is NOW!

____________________________________

About Elemental Impact:
Elemental Impact (Ei) is a 501(c)3 non-profit founded in 2010 as the home to the Zero Waste Zones, the forerunner in the nation for the commercial collection of food waste for compost. In June 2017, Ei announced the Era of Recycling Refinement was Mission Accomplished and entered the Era of Regeneration. Current focus areas include Nature PrevailsSoil Health | Regenerative Agriculture, and Water Use | Toxicity.

MISSION:
To work with industry leaders to create best regenerative operating practices where the entire value-chain benefits, including corporate bottom lines, communities, and the environment. Through education and collaboration, establish best practices as standard practices.

Ei’s tagline – Regeneration in ACTION – is the foundation for Ei endeavors.

The following mantra is at the core of Ei work:

Ei is a creator, an incubator.
Ei determines what could be done that is not being done and gets it done.
Ei brings the possible out of impossible.
Ei identifies pioneers and creates heroes.

For additional information, contact Holly Elmore at 404-261-4690 | holly@elementalimpact.org

Wednesday, January 27, 2021

Nature Prevails: an action plan

In alignment with the Elemental Impact (Ei) tagline, Regeneration in ACTION, the Ei Regenerative Working Group (RWG) Executive Team crafted a Nature Prevails Action Plan. 

Tree grows through a wall in Old San Juan,
Photo credit: Holly Elmore Images
The September 2020 Regeneration in ACTION (RiA) Magazine article, Nature Prevails: a new Ei Platform, announces the new platform to complement the Soil Health and Water Use | Toxicity platforms. Within the Nature Prevails premise, the Earth heals herself and nurtures renewed life forms, no matter the calamity caused by humans, natural disasters, or extraterrestrial activities.

During the 2020 COVID-19 global-pandemic quarantines, citizens witnessed an immediate impact of reduced human activity via clearer skies, orchestras of bird songs, and the roaming of wild animals in urban and rural parks. The experiences were a glimpse of how quickly the natural world resumes when human activity subsides.

In addition, the article states Nature Prevails is in partnership with the RWG and defines the Principles of Nature.

Regenerative Working Group
Global thought leaders supporting complete and equitable communities.

A first task was designation of a powerful RWG Executive Team. Focused on guiding the RWG's segue from a vision into a viable initiative, the team commits to making a difference in global arenas. The RWG Executive Team consists of the following individuals:

With the Executive Team in place, the next task was crafting the RWG Vision and defining the Focus Areas and Commitment as follows:

RWG Vision: to explore challenges related to stated focus areas from a holistic approach where the community, environment, and local economies benefit from commentary, discussions, and proposed projects.

The RWG seeks to be a thought leader in supporting complete and equitable communities.

Focus Areas:

  • The FA slide in the RWG intro PPT
    photo credit: Holly Elmore Images
    Infrastructure
    – explores the built environment including a city’s water & sewer systems, water-treatment plants, public utilities, as well as corporate, government, and educational districts | campuses. Additionally, focus is on the availability of and access to affordable housing within a community.
  • Environmental Resources – explores the impact of existing and proposed projects and infrastructure within urban and rural communities on energy sources, soil health, local greenways, open spaces, waterways, and resident access.
  • Social Equity – explores ways to promote complete communities that include equitable access to housing, transportation and transit, education, employment, human services such as healthcare and safety, and other amenities such as parks. Complete communities balance land uses focused on people, (such as commercial- and residential-land uses), with natural- and working-land uses such as open space, waterways, farms, and ranches.

Commitment: the RWG is committed to action, whether in the form of drafting educational documentation (articles, white papers, website copy), global webinars, and/or projects designed for community impact. RWG members must actively participate.

Within each Focus Area, the team identified a series of Topics designed for member engagement within the commitment to action. Many of the Topics overlap within several Focus Areas. For example, affordable housing relates to the Infrastructure and Social Equity Focus Areas. The Topics are detailed on the respective linked Focus Area pages listed above.

Biosolid Management Systems, Broadband Communication Access, and Soil Erosion are the first Topics earmarked for member engagement.

Principles of Nature
With a commitment to align work with Nature, Ei defined The Principles of Nature with three broad categories:

  • Diversity
  • Dynamic Balance & Nutrition Systems
  • Necessity of Cover & Ability to Roam

Fallen trees provide cover and 
nutrition for insects & small animals.
Photo credit: Holly Elmore Images
Beyond the environment-related activity within in each category, societal systems including economic structures, financial markets, urban design, and others also align within and are impacted by The Principles of Nature. 

Ei Advisory Council member Simon Lamb's groundbreaking book Junglenomics published in late 2019 presents Nature's clear blueprint for reorganizing the current economic domain; the blueprint's intentions are to protect and benignly coexist with natural environments, halt species decline, and benefit the poorest. The result of 25 years of research and insight, Junglenomics provides a new vision for a future world rescued from decline, gained through an understanding of the profound forces at work in modern economies.

The RWG team classified each Focus Area Topic with one or more of the Principles of Nature. For example, Affordable Housing relates to Necessity of Cover and Broadband Communication aligns with Ability to Roam.

Action Plan - Step #1
In the three-step Nature Prevails Action Plan, the Step #1 is: apply the Principles of Nature to natural ecosystems. Research is underway in the following categories:

  • Address the role of keystone species (predator, prey, habitat engineers, etc.) in natural ecosystems. 
  • Identify examples of disrupted natural systems caused by population eradication.
Wildlife Eradication
By the mid 1900's wolves were eradicated from Yellowstone National Park. With the loss of a keystone predator, the natural ecosystem was disrupted and unbalanced. In 1995, the wolves were reintroduced in Yellowstone and the ecosystem began the restoration process.

Giant pile of buffalo skulls
Photo compliments of businessinsider.com
Prior to colonization of the western prairies, it is estimated 25 - 30 million buffalo roamed North America in massive herds. Due to the buffalo massacre during colonization of the land, there were less than 100 wild buffalo in the prairies by the late 1800's. Depriving Native Americans of their primary food, shelter, and clothing resource was a driver for the tragic buffalo massacre.

Due to the buffalo massacre coupled with the introduction of mono-crop farming, the lush prairies segued into the devastating Dust Bowl from 1930 to 1936. Though not technically "wild," ranches are restoring a portion of the buffalo population.

Future articles will correlate how the eradication and eventual return of keystone species demonstrate the Principles of Nature within natural ecosystems. Wolves and buffalo are keystone species. Ei research intern Jahin Kahn is dedicated to the underlying necessary research.

Action Plan - Step #2
Once Step 1 is complete, the RWG team shifts focus to Step 2: apply the Principles of Nature to human-created systems. As previously mentioned, the RWF Focus Area Topics were correlated to one or more of the principles.

Research will substantiate the necessity for human-created systems to align with the Principles of Nature to survive and thrive.

Economic Markets

In the recently published The Nature of Nature, Why We Need the Wild, author Enric Sala explains the fallacies inherent within using a country's Gross National Product (GNP) as the standard indicator for a country's economic growth and stability. According to The Economic Times, GNP is defined as follows:

GNP measures the monetary value of all the finished goods and services produced by the country’s factors of production irrespective of their location. Only the finished or final goods are considered as factoring intermediate goods used for manufacturing would amount to double counting. It includes taxes but does not include subsidies.

In Enric's perspective, the GNP is one of the worst indicators of human prosperity for three reasons:

  1. It does not factor in the destruction of the natural world and externalizes devastating consequences in favor of manufacturing capabilities.
  2. It assumes that the only value of a society is what can be measured as part of an official, organized market.
  3. It does not measure well-being and happiness.

Simon's and Enric's referenced books are excellent research-starting points for correlating the Principles to Nature to economic markets and beyond.

Societal Structure

A duet of worker honey bees
Photo credit: Holly Elmore Images
Within Step #2, the RWG Team will explore the societal hierarchies within bee and ant colonies, wolf packs, elephant herds, bird flocks, and other eusocial colonies. Anticipated discovery: the workforce population is treated well, as long as the workers tend to their designated tasks.

Next the team will compare societal-hierarchy principles explored to the treatment of the human workforce across civilization boundaries. Recommendations for human co-existence that emulates natural communities are forthcoming. Human and environmental health implications are integral within the research and analysis.

Action Plan - Step #3
Following completion of Step #2, the team embarks on Step #3: e
stablish the importance of ecosystem foundations. As featured in her May 2020 Bigger than Us podcast interview, Ei Founder Holly Elmore is known for the following quote:

In order for life as we know it to survive and thrive on planet earth, we must - absolutely must - get our soil and water microbial communities back to a healthy, balanced state.

Building from the eusocial-colonies research in Step #2, the Step #3 goal is to establish the importance of ecosystem foundations and how they align with the Principles of Nature. Research begins with the importance of balanced, healthy water and soil microbial communities and extends to the base species within the prey hierarchies; insects often establish the foundation of prey hierarchies

A fish who succumbed to red tide provides a feast for
for the flies; initial steps in regenerating
the prey hierarchy begins
Photo credit: Holly Elmore Images
Research on the implications of the insect apocalypse underway is integral to Step #3. Intangible pollution, including light and noise pollution, impact the entire natural ecosystem spectrum. Yet the insect species are often more dramatically impacted. Indirect impact from destroyed insect populations flows through the entire prey hierarchy to the keystone prey species.

The importance of base species in prey hierarchies correlates to balanced microbial communities as well as worker populations in eusocial colonies and human civilizations. Overall community health and strength is dependent upon the effectiveness of worker populations. Thus, those at the hierarchy top tier are incentivized to care for worker populations, whether insects, animals, or humans.

With an established plan, the RWG Team is staged for action mode. Stay tuned!

___________________________________


About Elemental Impact:
Elemental Impact (Ei) is a 501(c)3 non-profit founded in 2010 as the home to the Zero Waste Zones, the forerunner in the nation for the commercial collection of food waste for compost. In June 2017, Ei announced the Era of Recycling Refinement was Mission Accomplished and entered the Era of Regeneration. Current focus areas include Nature PrevailsSoil Health | Regenerative Agriculture, and Water Use | Toxicity.

MISSION:
To work with industry leaders to create best regenerative operating practices where the entire value-chain benefits, including corporate bottom lines, communities, and the environment. Through education and collaboration, establish best practices as standard practices.

Ei’s tagline – Regeneration in ACTION – is the foundation for Ei endeavors.

The following mantra is at the core of Ei work:

Ei is a creator, an incubator.
Ei determines what could be done that is not being done and gets it done.
Ei brings the possible out of impossible.
Ei identifies pioneers and creates heroes.

For additional information, contact Holly Elmore at 404-261-4690 | holly@elementalimpact.org


Wednesday, January 13, 2021

Ei: invigorated impact and influence

On November 25, 2020, the Regeneration in ACTION (RiA) Magazine surpassed the 475,000 pageviews milestone! The coveted 500,000 pageviews achievement is mere months away!

Launched in 2009 as the Zero Waste Zones Blog, the original premise was to document the Zero Waste Zones (ZWZ) successes and later the Recycling Refinement and Sustainable Food Court Initiative accomplishments. When the ZWZ were sold to the National Restaurant Association in 2012, the ZWZ Blog evolved into the Zero Waste in ACTION (ZWA) Blog. 

The June 2018 RiA Magazine article, New Era, New Name: Regeneration in ACTION!, announced the ZWA Blog evolved into the RiA Magazine. Additionally, the article stated the Elemental Impact (Ei) tagline segued from Sustainability in ACTION to Regeneration in ACTION.

Respected Journalism
Over the past decade, the RiA Magazine, along with sister Ei magazine, The IMPACT, grew into valuable industry-media resources. In 2016 Ei catapulted into respected environmental journalism when the below prominent invitation arrived in early November:

The U.S. State Department invited Ei to join the invitation-only COP22-preview press conference call. Journalists from the Wall Street Journal and the New York Times were among the respected, mainstream media on the call.

The IMPACT Blog article, Ei: Respected Journalism, chronicles Ei's segue from a valuable industry-media resource to respected environmental journalism. In addition to the magazines' contributions, Ei Founder Holly Elmore authored a plethora of industry-trade-journal articles and documents, which are detailed on the HollyEmore.com Fingertip Press page.

Below is a quick magazine-stats overview:

The IMPACT Magazine

  • 184,000 pageviews
  • 137 published articles
  • Average 1,340 pageviews per article
  • Most popular article: Ei New Mission Statement (12/12) 3,080 views
RiA Magazine:
Photojournalism
In late 2017, Holly expanded her journalism to photojournalism with a series of articles published in nationally distributed Southern Farm & Garden (SF&G). The articles showcased Ei's important work as well as Ei Strategic Ally accomplishments. Article images were courtesy of Holly Elmore Images (HEI.)

Ei Digital Books
Additionally, the SF&G articles were published as Ei Digital Books available for view as page-turning-pdf documents on the Issuu platform. 

The following SF&G articles were published as digital books:
  • Regenerative Agriculture Revives Soils & Local Ecosystems
    - SF&G fall 2017 issue - the seven-page, multiple-article feature gives an overview of Kennesaw State University’s (KSU) stellar sustainability commitment at the Michael A. Leven School of Culinary Sustainability & Hospitality, The Commons (KSU’s Gold LEED-certified dining hall), and Hickory Grove Farm. 
  • Restoring Pollinator Populations - SF&G spring 2018 issue - the six-page feature article gives an overview of challenges facing pollinator populations along with tips for pollinator-friendly gardens. 
  • Bee Swarms: Nature’s Way to Grow Strong Bee Populations - SF&G summer 2018 -  the two-page photo essay educates on the important role bee swarms play in propagating bee populations, both from the size of and the number of colonies. 
Ei Article Books
In September 2020, the Fingertip Press published the first Ei Article Book: From Macro to Micro to Nanoplastics, an excerpt from the RiA article, Plastics: a double-edged sword

From Plastics: a double-edged sword:
The seemingly magical gift of plastic came with a double-edged sword filled with the potential to destroy life as it is currently known on Earth.

In less than seventy years, humans managed to infiltrate the Earth with micro and nanoplastics from discarded single-use and durable products in literally every nook and cranny, ranging from the arctic snow caps to the depths of the oceans and everywhere in between.

It is time to shift perspectives from human-focused to life-focused and let the Earth show us how to heal the damage inflicted. Answers will come to those who live and take action from the heart.
Additionally, the Nanoplastics article includes the following new sections:
  • Plastics at the beach - showcases how readily available durable and single-use plastic items are common place during beach enjoyment.
  • Beyond litter, cigarette butts are plastic pollution - explains how cigarette filters are made of cellulose acetate, a plastic.
  • Ei Exploration of Fungi, Soil Health, & World Hunger - gives an overview of the empowering October 2018 exploration.
  • COVID-19 plastic pollution - explains how the recent pandemic resulted in a new surge in plastic pollution.
Soft cover, magazine-style books are available for purchase at $11.99 each plus delivery; volume-purchase discounts are given. Additionally, a pdf version of the book is available for $8.99. Here is the link to purchase the book: https://bit.ly/3bl2Zxs.

A portion of the book proceeds is donated to Ei, a 501(c)3 non-profit dedicated to Soil Health | Regenerative AgricultureWater Use | Toxicity, and Nature Prevails platforms.

The Fingertip Press is a division of Holly Elmore Enterprises and the nomenclature for Holly's published articles, documents, and other written communication. Photos in the Nanoplastics book are courtesy of HEI.

Environmental Journalism
In 2015, the National Geographic (NatGeo) Channel invited Ei to join a virtual discussion on the exciting progress in the field of alternative energy. The conversation tied into the soon-to-air Breakthrough: Energy on the Edge episode. Rather than craft a single article, Ei published the following two articles in a point-counterpoint fashion:
With each article, the common thread is a recommended focus on harnessing energy versus creating energy.

Since 2016, Ei was included on environmental press-media lists with regular invitations for interviews and advance-book copies. In fall 2020, Ei received interview invitations from two prominent environmental and conservation photographers. Holly was honored to research, interview, and write articles featuring her heroes. Back in the 2014 - 2016 timeframe, Holly took on-line photography classes from the photographers and holds them in high esteem

The articles catapulted Holly from documentation of Ei's important work into respected mainstream environmental journalism. 

The Photo Ark: a gift from the heart
On May 15, 2020, a press release announced the Nat Geo Photo Ark added the 10,000th image to the impressive collection of species portraits from animals in human care around the globe. Each portrait is captured on a white or black background, and published images are the same dimension; thus, a tiny mouse is literally the same size as an elephant in the Photo Ark.

Currently, the Photo Ark boasts 11,230 formal portraits. In addition to the portrait gallery, a comprehensive nearly 40,000-photo Photo Ark Gallery, including in-the-field images, is available for viewing. An excellent search function accompanies the gallery.

Renowned Nat Geo photographer Joel Sartore created the Photo Ark as a vehicle to showcase the Earth's tremendous biodiversity within the Animal Kingdom along with the mass extinction in process.

The RiA Magazine article, Photo Ark: a gift from the heart, chronicles the Photo Ark's history and gives accolades to Joel Sartore for his tremendous commitment to endangered species.

An Evolutionary Call-to-ACTION
REFUGE, America's Wildest Places, Exploring the National Wildlife Refuge System
(REFUGE,) published on October 27, 2020 as an extraordinary coffee-table book; photography is by renowned photographer, author, educator, and filmmaker Ian Shive. As with Ian's prior books, films, and other mediums, REFUGE is a masterpiece and serves as a portal to explore our planet's intrinsic beauty.

REFUGE is a glimpse into the magnificence and sacred nature of the National Wildlife Refuge System (NWRS), one of the largest protected land and water networks in the world. The NWRS encompasses land and water ecosystems coast-to-coast within the continental United States (U.S.) as well as the Hawaiian Islands, Alaska, and U.S. territories.

Ian's profound commitment as a conservationist and educator are destined to make a tremendous impact with his past, current, and future timeless masterpieces. Ian's evolution from stills to motion to cinema to on-air persona expands his audience, reach, and potential influence.

Photo credit: James Shive
REFUGE is an evolutionary call-to-action for the collective community to preserve and restore the Earth's fragile ecosystems. The Earth will only tolerate a certain quota of human devastation; once the quota is reached the Earth will simply heal herself, most likely to the detriment of the human species.

The RiA Magazine article, An Evolutionary Call-to-ACTION, is an in-depth chronicle of Ian's adventures culminating in the profound book along with overviews of his amazing short films.

FUN: read the article to learn how a 1976 in-concert photo of "The Boss" Bruce Springsteen and the "Big Man" Clarence Clemons flows within the article!!!!

Invigorated Communication Realms
A tree grows in unison with an 
Havana, Cuba building
Photo credit: Holly Elmore Images
With the 2020 Nature Prevails platform launch, Ei catapulted into expanded realms of influence and impact. The RiA article, Nature Prevails, a new Ei Platform, announces the platform launch in partnership with the Ei Regenerative Working Group (RWG.) 

Within the Nature Prevails premise, the Earth heals herself and nurtures renewed life forms, no matter the calamity caused by humans, natural disasters, or extraterrestrial activities.

The IMPACT article, Ei Welcomes New Advisors, announces the impressive new Ei Advisory Council members who are committed to RWG projects and task forces. Additionally, two University of Toronto-affiliated Ei interns researched the Nature Prevails premises necessary for the RWG's important forthcoming work. Future Nature Prevails articles are on the Fingertip Press docket.

During the 2020 pandemic, Holly focused on expanding her technical-design skills to embellish the Ei communication platform. The Nanoplastics book was the inaugural project where Holly designed the book layout.

With a new platform, a stellar RWG Team, and new-found design skills, Ei is staged to soar with invigorated energy in the global environmental network and beyond.

__________________________________________

About Elemental Impact:
Elemental Impact (Ei) is a 501(c)3 non-profit founded in 2010 as the home to the Zero Waste Zones, the forerunner in the nation for the commercial collection of food waste for compost. In June 2017, Ei announced the Era of Recycling Refinement was Mission Accomplished and entered the Era of Regeneration. Current focus areas include Nature PrevailsSoil Health | Regenerative Agriculture, and Water Use | Toxicity.

MISSION:
To work with industry leaders to create best regenerative operating practices where the entire value-chain benefits, including corporate bottom lines, communities, and the environment. Through education and collaboration, establish best practices as standard practices.

Ei’s tagline – Regeneration in ACTION – is the foundation for Ei endeavors.

The following mantra is at the core of Ei work:

Ei is a creator, an incubator.
Ei determines what could be done that is not being done and gets it done.
Ei brings the possible out of impossible.
Ei identifies pioneers and creates heroes.

For additional information, contact Holly Elmore at 404-261-4690 | holly@elementalimpact.org