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Wednesday, October 21, 2020

An Evolutionary Call-to-ACTION

REFUGE, America's Wildest Places, Exploring the National Wildlife Refuge System (REFUGE) is slated for formal release on October 27, 2020. REFUGE 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.

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. 

To comprehend the magnitude of REFUGE  it is necessary to understand the significance of the NWRS and how it relates to national parks and monuments.

National Wildlife Refuge System (NWRS)
Whereas the National Park Service (NPS) was founded to protect America's national wonders for human enjoyment, the NWRS was formed as a vehicle for wildlife conservation. Per the NWRS website: 

Each refuge is established to serve a statutory purpose that targets the conservation of native species dependent on its lands and waters. All activities on those acres are reviewed for compatibility with this statutory purpose.

The NWRS is managed by the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service (FWS); depending on their location and purpose, some refuges are co-managed with other U.S. government entities. 

National Parks
A federal bureau within the Department of Interior, the NPS manages 421 individual units covering more than 85 million acres in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, and U.S. territories. Congress designates national park status.

Merced River beneath El Capitan in
Yosemite National Park
Photo: @IanShivePhoto
In 1872, Yellowstone was declared the world's first national park created for the enjoyment and benefit of the people. President Woodrow Wilson established the NPS via the Organic Act of 1916 with the stated mission:

....to conserve the scenery and the natural and historic objects and the wild life therein and to provide for the enjoyment of the same in such manner and by such means as will leave them unimpaired for the enjoyment of future generations.

The NPS welcomed 327.5 million recreational visitors in 2019, which represented a 2.9% (9 million visitors) increase over 2018.

Monuments*
Though similar to national parks, national monuments are created by presidential proclamations. While national parks protect their scenic, inspirational, education, and recreational value, national monuments are of historical, cultural, and/or scientific interest. 

Depending on their location and object of interest, national monuments are managed by one of the following: the U.S. Forest Service, FWS, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA,) the Department of Defense, and the Bureau of Land Management. Monuments are generally smaller than national parks. The NPS manages 84 of the total nearly 130 national monuments.

* Information on national monuments was derived from the May 2019 Outside article, The Difference Between National Parks and Monuments, Size has something to do with it, but it is more about why the land is being preserved.

NWRS History*
The world's largest network of protected land and water ecosystems has humble, yet important, beginnings. Pelican Island, a 5-acre site within the Indian River Lagoon on the east coast of Florida, was officially designated as a refuge in 1903 by President Theodore Roosevelt. Thus, the NWRS was formed. 

Pelican Island National Wildlife Refuge, Florida
Photo: @IanShivePhoto
In his presidency, Roosevelt designated 50 additional federal bird reserves and four national game reserves within the newly formed NWRS. Novel for the time, refuges were established for the benefit of wildlife without concern for human enjoyment and/or profit.

During the Great Depression, the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC,) established by President Franklin D. Roosevelt and supported by Congress, was instrumental in creating the infrastructure in newly acquired refuge lands. Simultaneous with the CCC formation, the federal government purchased 8 million acres of mid-American land and distributed it within 257 wildlife refuges. Via the CCC, necessary infrastructure was built for functioning refuges. **

In 1940, the Department of Interior combined the Bureau of Biological Survey and the Bureau of Fisheries to create the FWS, the eventual NWRS custodian. Notably, Silent Spring author Rachel Carson was a FWS marine biologist and lead editor of the Conservation in Action newsletter.

The 1966 National Wildlife Refuge System Administration Act formally established the NWRS.

By the passing of the 1973 Endangered Species Act, the NWRS was home to over 280 endangered or threatened species. Additionally, more than 50 national wildlife refuges were established to specifically protect and nurture endangered species.

In 1980, the Alaska National Interest Lands Conservation Act (ANILC) tripled the NWRS size by adding 54 million acres in Alaska; the ANILC established nine new refuges (including the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge), expanded seven existing refuges, and designated numerous wilderness areas.

Between 2006 and 2009, President George W. Bush significantly enhanced the NWRS in the Pacific Ocean by protecting over 700 million acres of fragile marine ecosystems:

  • Palmyra Atoll National Wildlife Refuge is part of the larger
    Pacific Remote Islands Marine National Monument.
    Photo: @IanShivePhoto
    2006:
    the Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument was established as part of the Refuge System in the Northwest Hawaiian Islands. The deep water at the far end of Papahānaumokuākea is home to scores of species found nowhere else on Earth. Additionally, Papahānaumokuākea is a place of spiritual and cultural significance to the Hawaiian people. Management is shared between the FWS and NOAA.
  • 2007: seven U.S. remote national wildlife refuges - Kingman Reef, Palmyra Atoll, Howland Island, Baker Island, Jarvis Island, Johnston Atoll and Wake Island - were designated as part of the NWRS via the newly established Pacific Remote Islands Marine National Monument.
  • 2009: the Mariana Trench Marine National Monument was established as part of the NWRS in the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands. The new monument supports some of the most unusual marine life on Earth.
  • 2009: the Rose Atoll Marine National Monument in American Samoa was established as part of the NWRS. One of the smallest atolls in the world, the Rose Atoll supports dozens of species of rare birds as well as turtles, fish, and crabs. It is the only part of the NWRS south of the equator.
In 2016 President Barack Obama established the Northeast Canyons and Seamounts Marine National Monument in the Atlantic Ocean off New England. Its waters are home to numerous species of deep-sea corals, fish, whales and other marine mammals. Three submarine canyons and, beyond them, four undersea mountains lie in the waters approximately 130 miles southeast of Cape Cod.

Between 2019 - 2020, the Department of the Interior revoked protection of 363 wildlife refuges and 36 wetland-management districts and permitted hunting within specified limitations. Fishing is now permitted on 296 wildlife refuges and 35 wetland-management districts.

John Heinz National Wildlife Refuge, Philadelphia, PA
Photo:  © 2014 Axel Brunst
 
.

According to former FWS deputy director Jim Kurth in his Introduction to the National Wildlife Refuge System essay in REFUGE, the NWRS includes more than one hundred refuges within fifty miles of cities with populations of 250,000 or more. In 1963 the John Heinz National Wildlife Refuge at Tinicum, the first urban refuge, was established in the shadow of the Philadelphia Airport.

The 2014 FWS six-minute plus film America's Gateway to Nature: Our Place of Refuge produced  by Tandem Stills + Motion showcased the urban refuges with their immediate and long-term benefits. Then top government officials were active in the film, especially in educational sequences with local children at the refuges.

From the 1903 designation of the first 5-acre refuge, the NWRS grew organically over the next century plus into a 150 million-acre system, spanning 560+ wildlife refuges and nearly 40 wetlands-management districts. 

*   Information on the NWRC Historical Timeline page was instrumental to the NWRS article section with significant direct copy utilized.
** Information in this paragraph was derived from the FWS The CCC: A Brief History document.

An Evolution
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."

As quoted by Scott Kirkwood, Editor in Chief, National Parks Magazine

Few photographers can capture portraits, wildlife, landscapes, and those perfect little detail shots, but Ian does it all. When we need someone to visit a national park and create images that illustrate iconic places in new ways, we call Ian.

Ultimately, Ian's exceptional relationship with the National Parks expanded into opportunities with other prominent organizations and publications including: Outside, National Geographic, Sunset, Travel + Leisure, the New York Times, and many other well-known media outlets. 

A Conservationist

Ian Shive, with his cinematography camera, in the
Alaska Maritime National Wildlife Refuge,
Photo: Tandem Stills + Motion
In 2010 Ian received the prestigious Ansel Adams Award for Conservation Photography, a perfect complement to his underlying photography intentions.

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.

As well as "clicking" the talk, Ian lobbied Congress numerous times in his role as a conservationist. Additionally, Ian presented twice to capacity crowds at the Smithsonian Institute in Washington, D.C.

Tandem Stills + Motion
An astute businessman, Ian utilized his innate creativity and talent to develop innovative business models; Ian's businesses are designed to support and invigorate photography, film. and other interactive media. Founded in 2009 by Ian, Tandem Stills + Motion evolved into a multi-faceted operation:

  • Tandem Stills + Motion - a leading visual media company that provides premium photographs, film footage, and digital-asset management for the nature, outdoor-adventure, healthy-living, and travel industries. 
  • Tandem Film - full-service video and post-production arm, producing content that visually engages and brings clients’ visions to life.
  • Tandem Vault - a cloud-based service for clients and companies seeking to house their assets in a modern environment. 
In 2014, Ian added short films to his impressive stills repertoire. 

Short Films
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

Shark tagging efforts in Cuba
Photo: @IanShivePhoto
Beyond first-ever for the Discovery Channel, the Tiburones team was the first American film crew to enter Cuba since the embargo 70 years earlier; it took a laborious year of negotiations, permit applications as well as flowing with other surprises and challenges to finalize necessary preparations for the milestone short film. 

In Discovery's June 2015 press release, the SHARK WEEK episode is described as:
an expedition in Cuba that unites American and Cuban scientists in an attempt to answer the question: do large sharks still exist in this relatively unexplored area of the world? Filmmaker Ian Shive and a team of shark researchers headed to Havana earlier this year in an attempt to unravel the mystery surrounding El Monstruo while simultaneously conducting a massive expedition to the north and south coasts of Cuba, including areas previously unexplored. Shive and his team for the first time ever satellite tag sharks in Cuba including a rare species of shark.

El Monstruo is a 21-foot great white shark caught off the Cuba coast 70 plus years ago. Photos of the captured shark keep the legendary shark within a factual, historical account.

The prior year (2014,) Tandem Stills + Motion produced a Nature Conservancy three-minute plus film Conserving Cuba's Coral Reefs that set the stage for Ian's pitch to the Discovery Channel

Later in 2015, the Sierra Club contracted with Tandem Film to produce The Land We Defend: A story of seven military veterans, strangers before connecting in the wilderness, an eight-minute plus film.

Cinema Films
In 2016, Tandem Stills + Motion segued  into cinema films with four-minute plus 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.

Battle of Midway: 75th Anniversary Commemoration Film
The 2017 Battle of Midway: 75th Anniversary Commemoration Film (Battle of Midway) produced by Tandem Stills + Motion in cooperation with the FWS honors the two fierce World War II (WWII) battles on the atoll. The second battle marked the turning point in the war, eventually leading to Japan's defeat. The film's release timed with the first battle's 75th anniversary.

A Laysan albatross tending to her chick
serves as the Midway promo image.
Photo: @IanShivePhoto
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 a few tears rolled down their weathered cheeks.

Additionally, Ian and his team used superb editing skills to intertwine historic-film footage with current film clips, whether from the military-base ruins or the restoration of the atoll's wildlife refuge.

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 photos are prominent in REFUGE and showcase the importance of the Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument's protected status.

Midway is available on iTunes, Google Play, and Amazon Prime.

Hidden Pacific
Produced by Tandem Stills + Motion 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 masterpiece especially when viewed on the big screen.

Aerial view of Rose Atoll
Photo: @IanShivePhoto
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.

As with Midway, the Palmyra Atoll has WWII history with remnants of the wartime occupation. Currently, Palmyra is home to 12 temporary residents, including volunteers on several-month tours, conducting research.

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.

In her The Making of a Refuge essay near the REFUGE closure, author Kate Siber emphasizes the physical stamina and intricate travel required to remote national monuments such as the Rose Atoll. Additionally, it is an arduous process to gain approval to access these areas:

Many of the refuges are so ecologically sensitive that they are closed to the public, or they are simply inaccessible by virtue of their isolation. To mitigate the risk of a medical emergency in these distant locales, Shive had to prove he was in good physical condition. He undertook a physical checkup, mental-health check, and tests for colorblindness, lung capacity, dive expertise, and lifeguard skills. He also took a course on aviation safety and secured certifications as an emergency first responder, CPR practitioner, and commercial-drone pilot. Before setting foot on one remote atoll in the Pacific Ocean, he had to decontaminate, freeze, and quarantine his clothing. 

Convict tang and bluefin trevally in a vibrant coral reef
at Palmyra Atoll National Wildlife Refuge
Photo: @IanShivePhoto
Many of the exquisite stills captured while filming Hidden Pacific are included in REFUGE.

Then 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; human figurative wings are in formation within the chrysalis; the wings are designed to regenerate the Earth and will carry Hidden Pacific's intentions and messages into a newfound reality. Thus, the timing is impeccable!

Nature in Focus
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.

A Life of its Own
Though the images selected for inclusion span an eight-year period, REFUGE is the culmination of a lifetime devoted to photography, inner Truth, and living a chosen Soul Path. Though the selected images are exclusively from the NWRS, these images are courtesy of the reputation Ian developed more than a decade ago photographing the NPS.

Photos showcased in REFUGE are from around 50 refuges with 14 located in urban settings. Though many featured refuges are accessible to the public, the focus is on the wilder, harder-to-visit (or impossible) refuges in Alaska and the series of Pacific Ocean monuments.

Ian conceptualized REFUGE in January 2020 with an anticipated spring 2021 publishing. Yet REFUGE gained a life of its own and flowed through publication during a global pandemic six months ahead of schedule.

Making an Impact
Beyond sharing stunning captures of the Earth's remote, and often not so remote, pristine vistas, Ian intentions are to inspire individuals into action to conserve and restore the planet's precious resources. 

An effective strategy: once the viewer falls in love, Ian slips in human-created scenarios impacting the vitality of the wildlife and corresponding ecosystem. Viewers are then inspired to take action.

Laysan Albatross (Phoebastria immutabilis)

Laysan albatross mate for life and perform intricate
mating/courting dances. Taken on the Midway Atoll
Photo: @IanShivePhoto
More than 70% of the Laysan albatross (Laysan) breeding population nest on the three coral islands comprising the Midway Atoll. Monogamous, Laysan mate for life and raise one chick per year. Parents feed their chick by regurgitating food gathered via skimming the ocean waters. Common food includes squid, fish, crustaceans, and flying fish eggs.

Wisdom, the oldest know living bird in the wild at 60+ years old, resides on Midway and continues raise chicks with her long-term mate.

In the Midway film Ian draws the viewer in with the Laysan courtship then continues with images of a parent warming an egg in a nest followed by a mother with her chick; the Layson mother and chick is a Midway promo photo. Once the viewer is in love, an image of a dead Laysan on the beach with a gut filled with plastic reveals the stark reality of the current plastic-pollution scenario.

Via ocean currents, tremendous plastic pollution is deposited on Midway's once pristine beaches. As parents skim the ocean surface for food, Laysan often collect more plastic than marine food. The collected plastic is then regurgitated to the chicks who often subsequently die of starvation.

A dead Laysan albatross on the Midway
Atoll reveals a stomach full of plastic.
Photo: @IanShivePhoto
In Hidden Pacific a Midway scientist states that approximately five million pounds of plastic pollution per year arrive on the atoll via the stomachs of albatross.

Initial intentions were not to make a film on plastic pollution yet the current situation was inescapable during filming. Ian expertly balanced the spectacular scenery along with military-base ruins with an interjection of the plastic-pollution scenario. 

The Plastic Pollution Coalition (PPC) published a series of blog posts on what Ian calls the "The Next Battle of Midway;" posts include stills and film clips from Midway. Thus, the PPC posts are an example of Ian's work making an impact related to the preservation and conservation of the Pacific atolls.

In the Family

The "Big Man" Clarence Clemons with
"The Boss" Bruce Springsteen during
an East Street Band concert circa 1976
Photo: James Shive
For Ian, photography is literally in his DNA. Ian's father James Shive is a world-recognized rock 'n roll photographer with a vast collection of iconic images from 1974 - 1987. As a New Jersey native, James is known for his early captures of Bruce Springsteen and the East Street Band before the release of Born to Run. Additionally, James captured the now infamous string of six sold-out shows at the Palladium Theater, New York City. 

When East Street Band saxophonist Clarence Clemons died in 2011, James' concert photo was featured on the Rolling Stones cover story Farewell to the Big Man as well as at a later private memorial service.

Beyond Bruce Springsteen, James vast catalogue includes nearly every major rock 'n roll star from the late 70's to mid 80's. Around 550 of James' photos are housed at the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame Library & Archives in Cleveland, Ohio.

Growing up, Ian served as James' assistant on photo shoots and in the dark room. By this time, James shifted to architectural photography. Thus, Ian missed the thrill of assisting his father at live concerts.

Like son, like father: James is a generous being who gives back to his community. In 2012, along with 12 other high-profile photographers, James donated signed iconic prints for Photographers for Sandy Relief  to aid those devastated by the hurricane.

Nature Prevails
The REFUGE publishing is impeccably timed with Ei's Nature Prevails platform launch. The existing Soil Health | Regenerative Agriculture and Water Use | Toxicity platforms complement and augment Nature Prevails.

Nature Prevails: green plants rise from the remains 
of the California Lake Fire. Photo: @IanShivePhoto
With a commitment to align with Nature, Ei defined The Principles of Nature with three broad categories:

  • Diversity
  • Dynamic Balance & Nutrition Systems
  • Necessity of Cover & Ability to Roam
The Principles of Nature are inherent within an ecosystem's ability to survive and thrive on the planet. When one or more of the principles are absent or compromised, an ecosystem's fragile balance suffers and a potentially destructive spiral may ensue. In future articles, the principles will be further defined and explored.

In the Nature in Focus episode, California Wildfires: The Aftermath, aired on October 5, 2020, Ian and his team explore the seemingly still smoldering California landscape decimated by recent wildfires. Within the charred landscape, Ian discovered several-foot high bright green plants, symbolic of a modern-day green phoenix rising from the ashes. Indeed, Nature Prevails and the landscape reconstruction begins.

A Call-to-ACTION
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.

REFUGE, America's Wildest Places, Exploring the National Wildlife Refuge System 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.

_______________________________________

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, October 14, 2020

The Photo Ark: a gift from the heart

On May 15, 2020 a press release announced the National Geographic (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.

In honor of the 10,000-image milestone, Nat Geo WILD premiers a two-part special, PHOTO ARK, Saving Species Through the Power of Photography, on October 17 and 24 at 10/9c. Over the course of the two-hour special viewers will travel to the Amazon rainforest, Colorado Rockies, and Islands of Indonesia for Photo Ark photo shoots.

As of this article publishing, the Photo Ark boasts 10,819 formal portraits. In addition to the portrait gallery, a comprehensive 35,879-photo Photo Ark Gallery, including in-the-field images, is available for viewing. An excellent search function accompanies the gallery.

The Photo Ark
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 engaging portraits are designed to personalize the species, showcase their intelligence, and ignite a deep caring within the viewer. Additionally, Photo Ark portraits often utilized by non-profits and institutions when lobbying governments and other entities to instill measures that prevent a species extinction.

An award-winning photographer, Joel is a Nat Geo fellow, speaker, and educator as well as the 2018 Nat Geo Explorer of the Year. To date, 12+ Nat Geo covers and 35+ stories are credited to Joel. 

Columbus, OH - After a photo shoot at the Columbus
Zoo in Ohio, a clouded leopard cub climbs on Joel's head. The 
leopards, which live in tropical Asian forests, are illegally
hunted for their pelts. (Joel Sartore / Nat Geo Photo Ark)
Photo by Joel Sartore / Nat Geo Photo Ark
Outside of his Nat Geo work, Joel has contributed to Audubon magazine, TIME, Life, Sports Illustrated, and CBS Sunday Morning. Additionally, Joel's work was featured on 60 Minutes, NBC Nightly News, PBS Newshour, Fresh Air with Terry Gross, NBC’s Today, and many more prominent broadcasts. 

Joel's books include Photo Ark: A World Worth Saving, RARE: Portraits of America’s Endangered Species, The Photo Ark: One Man’s Quest to Document the World’s Animals, The Photo Ark: Vanishing, Birds of the Photo ArkPhoto Ark: Celebrating Our World in Poetry and PicturesNebraska: Under a Big Red Sky, and Let's Be Reasonable

Edging towards extinction
According to the Center for Biological Diversity: Scientists predict that more than 1 million species (in all Earth Kingdoms) are on track for extinction in the coming decades.

In the Regeneration in ACTION article, Nature Prevails, a section documents how current conditions indicate that the Earth's Holocene extinction, or sixth mass extinction, is well underway.

The National Museum of Natural History Extinction Over Time article states:

Recent studies estimate about eight million species on Earth, of which at least 15,000 are threatened with extinction. ... Scientists agree that today’s extinction rate is hundreds, or even thousands, of times higher than the natural baseline rate. Judging from the fossil record, the baseline extinction rate is about one species per every one million species per year.

 In Joel's words, "It’s folly to think that we can destroy one species and ecosystem after another and not affect humanity. When we save species, we're actually saving ourselves."

According to Joel, "We won't save what we do not love. We will not fall in love if we do not connect." To establish the love connection, Photo Ark portraits focus on the eyes where the viewer may gaze deeply into the Being's soul and fall intrinsically in love.

In the beginning
In 2005 Joel returned from a lengthy and demanding assignment in Alaska to tragic news: his beloved wife Kathy was diagnosed with advanced breast cancer. Immediately, Joel was grounded in his hometown Lincoln, Nebraska to care for Kathy during her chemotherapy treatment and tend to their three children. It was a life-changing time for Joel.

A naked mole rat, Heterocephalus glaber, at the
Lincoln Children’s Zoo. The naked mole rat is the first
image in the Nat Geo Photo Ark.
© Photo by Joel Sartore/Nat Geo Photo Ark
When Kathy was feeling well enough to be alone for a few hours, Joel visited the Lincoln Children's Zoo, a mile plus from their home, where he gained permission to photograph their captive animals. According to the website, the Lincoln Children's Zoo is home to over 400 animals with more than 40 endangered animals including the Sumatran tiger, Humboldt penguin, snow leopard & Matchie's tree kangaroo.

Thus, the Photo Ark was born! The naked mole rat captured on a black background holds the status of the Photo Ark's first portrait. Blind, the naked mole rat is one of the few animals that does not get cancer and may hold secrets to cancer prevention and cures.

Funded primarily by Nat Geo grants along with other support, the Photo Ark evolved into a profound virtual educational exhibit that is available for physical installation.

Though he is supported on photo shoots by a stellar team including his children Ellen and Cole, Joel is the sole photographer to the now nearly 11,000 Photo Ark portraits.

Final portraits
The Photo Ark contains at least three portraits that capture the final whispers of life as the species segues into extinction. Though incredibly sad, the portraits make a profound impact on the necessity for immediate action to curtail the mass extinction in process.

Columbia Basin pygmy rabbit, the smallest North American rabbit - according to the fossil evidence the rabbit became genetically isolated at least 10,000 years ago within a single Columbia Basin area of Washington state. Bryn's, the last surviving pure-bred Columbia Basin pygmy rabbit, 2008 Photo Ark portrait was taken approximately six months prior to her death at the Oregon Zoo.

The last known Rabbs’ fringe limbed tree frog, Ecnomiohyla rabborum,
at the Atlanta Botanical Garden, photographed in 2013.
© Photo by Joel Sartore/Nat Geo Photo Ark
Rabb's fringe-limb treefrog (Ecnomiohyla rabborum) - in 2005 a team of frog scientists from the Atlanta Botanical Garden (ABG) and Zoo Atlanta embarked on a rescue mission to collect frogs as the deadly chytrid fungus closed in on central Panama. Toughie, the final specimen of his species, lived for 12 years at the ABG biosecure FrogPOD. During his photo shoot, Toughie jumped onto Joel's camera. On September 30, 2016 Toughie died and his species was officially extinct.

Northern white rhinoceros, the third largest African animal (after the elephant and hippo) - once an abundant grazing animal across Central Africa, the northern white rhinoceros was essentially hunted to extinction simply for its horn. A week after the Photo Ark portrait was captured, the northern white rhinoceros at the Dvur Kralove Zoo in the Czech Republic died; today there are two remaining northern white rhinoceros, a mother | daughter duo, at the Peta Conservancy in Nanyuki, Kenya. HOPE: sperm is saved from the last male and the younger rhino is within child-bearing years.

Recovering species
At least two endangered species are in solid recovery thanks to publicity inspired by their respective Photo Ark portraits.

Florida grasshopper sparrow - in spring 2012 Joel accompanied writer Ted Williams and biologist Paul Miller to Kissimmee Prairie Preserve State Park to document the sparrows' recent catastrophic population decline in the remnant prairies of central Florida. The sparrow population was down to several hundred birds in their native territory.

Washington DC - Joel stands surrounded by his images
from the Photo Ark. (WGBH Educational
Foundation/Chun-Wei Yi)
WGBH Educational Foundation

A year later Audubon Magazine ran one of Joel's images on the cover with the words, End of the line? along with Ted's feature article, The Most Endangered Bird in the Continental U.S., The fight to save the Florida Grasshopper Sparrow inspires all who love wildlife. The pursuing social media campaigns along with the Audubon Magazine feature triggered interest in saving the sparrow. In 2014, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service dedicated $1.29 million to restoring the Florida grasshopper sparrow species. 

In May 2020 the Washington Post reported that captive Florida grasshopper sparrows are rearing chicks in captivity. Intentions are to restore the native population via the captive-bred sparrows.

Salt Creek tiger beetle - according to the Xerces Society for Invertebrate Conservation, the Salt Creek tiger beetle received endangered species status on October 6, 2005; population decreases are the result of significant and consistent habitat loss since Nebraska's human development began in the 1800's. The tiger beetle is considered an indicator species of the overall ecosystem health.

On April 6, 2010, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service designated 1,933 acres of critical habitat for the Salt Creek tiger beetle. The Xerces Society used Photo Ark images in their quest to secure critical habitat for the tiger beetle as well as its ecosystem cohabitants.

Additionally, the following four Photo Ark North American species recovered from endangered to reasonably stable status:

  • Black-footed ferret
  • California condor
  • Mexican grey wolf
  • Whooping crane
RARE: Creatures of the Photo Ark
In 2017 Public Broadcasting Service (PBS) aired an excellent three-episode series RARE: Creatures of the Photo Ark featuring the great lengths required by Joel, as well as his family, to build the Photo Ark portrait portfolio. Though no longer available for view on PBS, the series is available for purchase on Amazon Prime Video.

A güiña, Leopardus guigna, at Fauna Andina in Chile. 
The güiña is the 10,000th species in the Nat Geo Photo Ark.
© Photo by Joel Sartore/Nat Geo Photo Ark

The third episode reveals how the Photo Ark is truly a Sartore family affair. In his quest to capture the 5,000th Photo Ark portrait, Joel "kidnapped" the family's European vacation. Joel's eldest son Cole was a superb lighting assistant during the shoots. According to Joel, Cole "works for food."

With a healthy sense of humor, the series portrays the incredible commitment by Joel and his family to the Photo Ark. In addition to captive-animal images, there are ample species found in the wild within Photo Ark portraits. For example, the colorful dung beetles Joel dug out of a large mound of manure made beautiful portraits.

According to Joel in each episode's introduction, one third of all species face extinction and one half of everything photographed will be extinct by 2100. 

Episode three chronicles the capture of the 5,000th Photo Ark portrait, the Persian leopard, in Budapest. It took ten years to capture the first 5,000 Photo Ark portraits. With rhythm and momentum in place, the next 5,000 animals were photographed in five years.

A Master Communicator
A story teller and educator at heart, Joel is a master communicator in written, oral, and visual vernaculars. Whether narrating a documentary, speaking at a prominent event, or hosting school children at a Photo Ark exhibit, Joel speaks in the voice the audience may hear and comprehend.

Let's Be Reasonable cover image
Used by permission of the University of Nebraska Press.

The 2011 Let's Be Reasonable book, a collage of essays written for CBS Sunday morning, pairs Joel’s award-winning photography with commentary on a variety of subjects. Joel's wit adds humor to lighten otherwise intense subjects, such as cancer, holiday trash or oil-soaked birds on the Gulf Coast. Within the essays are clear protocol for living a more authentic life.

As an educator, Joel is generous and unapparelled. Elemental Impact (Ei) Founder Holly Elmore experienced Joel's effective, down-to-earth style in the Fundamental of Photography series in partnership with The Great Courses and Nat Geo. Now a seasoned photojournalist, Holly credits her solid photography-skills foundation to Joel's tutelage. Holly was beyond honored to interview Joel for this article.

Eagle Scout
The About page on Joel's personal site includes the following self-description:

Joel Sartore is an award-winning photographer, speaker, author, conservationist, and the 2018 National Geographic Explorer of the Year. He is a regular contributor to National Geographic Magazine, and an Eagle Scout.

Achieving Eagle Scout status is a high honor that requires incredible discipline and tenacity of spirit during formative years. Leadership skills and high moral standards attuned while earning the Boy Scouts of America's highest rank benefit Eagle Scouts throughout their life. The public holds Eagle Scout status in high esteem, even if the actual designation is not well understood.

Eagle Scout Pledge

I reaffirm my allegiance To the three promises of the Scout Oath. I thoughtfully recognize And take upon myself The obligations and responsibilities Of an Eagle Scout. On my honor I will do my best To make my training and example, My rank and my influence Count strongly for better Scouting And for better citizenship In my troop, In my community, And in my contacts with other people. To this I pledge my sacred honor.

As every Eagle Scout takes the above pledge, there is a common bond filled with respect and trust between ALL Eagle Scouts. By including the status in his bio-page description, Joel confirms achieving the coveted Eagle Scout status is a lifetime milestone and achievement.

Nature Prevails
The Nat Geo WILD premier of PHOTO ARKSaving Species Through the Power of Photography, on October 17 and 24 at 10/9c, is impeccably timed with Ei's Nature Prevails platform launch. The existing Soil Health | Regenerative Agriculture and Water Use | Toxicity platforms complement and augment Nature Prevails.

The feet of photographer Joel Sartore were covered in mosquitoes
 within five minutes of removing his boots. Small insects may
be a nuisance, but are critical in anchoring the bottom of the
food chain during the short summer season on the North Slope
Photo by Joel Sartore. 

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

  • Diversity
  • Dynamic Balance & Nutrition Systems
  • Necessity of Cover & Ability to Roam
The Principles of Nature are inherent within a species ability to survive and thrive on the planet. When one or more of the principles is absent or compromised, a species begins the spiral to extinction. In future articles, the principles will be further defined and explored.

The Future
The Photo Ark is a masterful pictorial collection of the Earth's Animal Kingdom as humanity enters the 21st millennium. Will the Photo Ark simply serve as an historic relic for future civilizations of "the way it was" on the Earth? Or will humanity fall in love with the Animal Kingdom and take the necessary action to reverse the current Holocene extinction in process?

Due to Joel Sartore's tireless dedication and ability to capture an animal's heart essence, the Photo Ark has the propensity to shift humanity's current destructive path. As Joel says "We won't save what we do not love. We will not fall if in love if we do not connect." The Photo Ark is a perfect vehicle for humans to fall in love with the Animal Kingdom - Thank you, Joel, for the profound gift from your beautiful heart!
________________________________

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 Prevails, Soil 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

Sunday, September 20, 2020

Nature Prevails, a new Elemental Impact platform

Bigger than Us podcast 
promo graphic

Since inception in 2010 as the home for the Zero Waste Zones, Elemental Impact (Ei) embraced the "nature knows best" concept. Using a holistic approach, Ei assesses the broad ramifications of action taken including the impact on the essential microbial communities.

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.

Food-Waste Collection for Compost
During the Ei Era of Recycling Refinement, from inception through June 2017, commercial collection of food waste for compost was a primary focus. In 2014, Ei announced post-consumer food-waste collection for compost or a state-permitted destination other than landfill was the prime Sustainable Food Court Initiative focus.

The "Nature Knows Best" slide in the
World Chef's Sustainability Course
In 2015 Ei prepared the waste & recycling curriculum for the World Chef's Feed the Planet Sustainability Education for Culinary Professionals, a course currently taught in culinary schools across the globe. For the food-waste composting section, a "Nature Knows Best!" slide discussed nature's perfect decomposition system and the role it plays in soil and plant health. For example, a tree’s decaying leaves contain up to 80% of the nutrition required for the tree to thrive.

Though they can emulate nature's system, humans often do not duplicate it. As human-created food-waste destinations stray further from natural parameters, the end product contains fewer nutrients required by the soil’s microbial community. Thus, Ei embraced outdoor windrow-compost operations as it emulates natural decomposition; Ei opposed anaerobic digestion of food waste as the system strays from natural decomposition. Ei's perspective was based on the implications for the soil and water microbial communities related to food-waste destination options.

In July 2017, the RiA Magazine article, Soil Health: regenerating the foundation of life, announced the Ei Soil Health platform. Within the announcement, Ei evolved from a focus on recycling refinement and food-waste collection for compost to Soil Health and Water Use | Toxicity. Inherent within the Soil Health platform are focuses on Regenerative Agriculture, Carbon Sequestration, and Urban Carbon Sinks. Thus, Ei segued from the Era of Recycling Refinement and into the Era of Regeneration.

Carbon Crisis: simply a matter of balance
Within the Era of Regeneration, Ei's underlying premise is restoring balance to the Earth's five carbon pools: atmosphere, oceans, soils, biosphere, and fossil. Ei Strategic Ally Kiss the Ground's The Soil Story video explains the Earth’s carbon cycles in an easy-to-understand format where soil is the hero for regaining balance.

The RiA Magazine article, Carbon Crisis; simply a matter of balance, establishes carbon-crisis solutions that are grounded with two simple tactics: 1> align systems within Nature’s proven cycles and 2> rely on basic supply | demand economics. Regenerative-agriculture practices align with these two tactics and are integral to balancing the carbon cycles. 

In the November 2017 RiA Magazine article, Beyond Sustainability: Regenerative Solutions, Ei coined the term Urban Carbon Sinks where regenerative landscape and grounds maintenance practices are the protocol. Ei's Urban Carbon Sink Pilot $100,000 grant proposal was a finalist in the Ray C. Anderson 2020 NextGen Grant process. Due to COVID-related challenges, the 2020 final grant proposal was not submitted. An impressive Urban Carbon Sinks team is excited for the 2021 NextGen Grant request for proposals.

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

Abandoned farmstead in the
American Dust Bowl, Oklahoma
photo courtesy of Britannica.com 
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.

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 alarming rates due to ocean acidification and warmer water temperatures. 

Though life as we know it on planet Earth is endangered, Nature always prevails and will simply nurture and embrace new life forms if the existing species perish.

Nature Prevails

An elder tree thrives within a 
building in Old Havana
photo credit: Holly Elmore Images
Ei announces the Nature Prevails 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.

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

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

Beyond the environment-related activity within in each category, societal systems including economic structures, financial markets, urban design to name a few also align within and are impacted by The Principles of Nature. 

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.
Within the current definition, forest-protection by an indigenous tribe would not be included in the country's GNP. Yet, clear-cutting of the forest for timber sales would be included in the GNP.

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.

Future articles as well as Ei website content will further delve into The Principles of Nature and how they apply to environmental as well as societal phenomena.

The opening slide in the RWG intro PPT
photo credit: Holly Elmore Images


Activities within Ei’s Nature Prevails platform are in partnership with the RWG.

On April 6, 2020 Ei Founder Holly Elmore hosted the inaugural RWG call to announce the initiative formation. With approximately thirty prominent land-economics professionals on the call, it was a milestone day!

The RiA Magazine article, Global Thought Leaders Embrace Regenerative Land Economics, launches the initiative and announces the prominent RWG Executive Team:

  • Holly Elmore, RWG Chair (Ei Founder)
  • Bernadette Austin, RWG Focus Area Lead (Acting Director of the Center for Regional Change at the University of California at Davis)
  • Brad Bass, RWG Advisor & Industry Expert (30-year veteran at Environment and Climate Change Canada as well as a Status Professor at the University of Toronto (UT))
  • Ronald Thomas, FAICP, RWG Adviser & Industry Expert (Ron Thomas & Co. President)
Many of the Ei Advisors are enthusiastic to serve as RWG Advisors in their respective areas of expertise.

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.

RWG Tagline:

Global thought leaders supporting complete and equitable communities.

RWG 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. These 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.
With utmost generosity, Brad offered eight hours of student time from his UT research platform to assist with developing the RWG communication vehicles and researching content.

Beginning the week of May 25, Jahin Khan, a UT research student within Brad’s COBWEB platform, worked closely with Holly on crafting a RWG PPT presentation to support the introductory magazine article. Later in the summer, Ridhi Gopalakrishnan joined the UT-affiliated research team to study Urban Carbon Sinks and the impact of glyphosate on the soil ecosystem.

One of the initial Nature Prevails tasks is to classify each of the identified Focus Area Topics within The Principles of Nature's three broad categories.

Launching the Nature Prevails platform is an Ei Milestone and is destined to catapult Ei's important work into new dimensions of influence and impact.

____________________________________

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