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Pictures Can Save a Thousand Worlds

2012 June 8

by Jeanethe Falvey

Not many can say they’ve been to the Serengeti countless times, much less been there to save it. One of the first photographers chosen for Documerica, Boyd Norton, has dedicated his life to protecting some of our planet’s most incredible places.

If you’ve opened up an outdoors magazine over the last few decades and been taken away by images of Lake Baikal, Siberia (home to the only freshwater seal species), or been inspired to climb the Tetons in Wyoming, his work has reached you. If you ever wondered what it would be like to come across a Komodo dragon in Indonesia, a gorilla in Rwanda, he’s touched you.  If you’ve ever paused, for just a moment, to imagine life as one of the islanders that couldn’t see their fate in time as they ravaged their natural resources on Rapa Nui (Easter Island), Chile, then you have been a part of it.

What if those places had never been photographed?

What if their struggles to survive had never been shown to a broader public?

What if the beginnings had never been documented, letting the devastating changes occur in silence?

That’s the power of a photograph.

Boyd participated with Documerica from 1972 to 1975, covering the original and forgotten solar energy boom, strip mining in Wyoming, and ranching families in Montana .  Like many whom the project touched, he never let it go. For years, he has tried to bring it back to life to no official avail. I spoke to him recently, and I’ve been working to contain my excitement ever since. There is everything to be gained by once again having his enthusiasm and insight involved. If we pull off a fraction of what we brainstormed, it will help see through the original intent of Documerica, which will be a lasting achievement for all of us.

As Boyd put it, “you get personally involved with these things.  I would love to go back and see 40 years later today.”

I’m so grateful I had a chance to speak with Boyd, although I’m not sure that grateful does it justice. Just like meeting Michael and Chuck, and speaking to David, Gary, Tom, Bill and more to come, I will always carry deeper gratitude that these incredible places, animals, and ecosystems still exist, in part because of their dedication and talent.

About the author: Jeanethe Falvey writes from EPA’s Office of External Affairs and Environmental Education, as the project-lead for Pick 5 and the State of the Environment, two projects geared towards learning, sharing and gaining a greater collective connection to our environment.

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed here are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

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14 Responses leave one →
  1. Felipe Cervantes permalink
    June 8, 2012

    I´m glad that someone cares about nature and its delicate environment…

  2. June 9, 2012

    The Good Force be with you!

    Excellent, Jeanethe! Many thanks, I agree with you!

    Live forever and prosper!

  3. Arman.- permalink
    June 9, 2012

    Documerica : Unity of Save a Thousand Worlds.-

    More than two years I have paid attentions about this “Documerica” : Analytic, Photogenic, Futuritic, Antagonistic, and Contemplatic. Our planet have similarities : Environmental Problems. So, wherever we live, we find the same conditions : Oversaturated Environment……! We hope the next generations should to be ones : Unionize.-

  4. June 9, 2012

    no brasil este mes temos a rio mais 20 reunião sobre o meio ambiente no rio de janeiro com com delegações de varios paizes espero que o que dicutiram como sauvar a natureza o meio ambiente a falna de todo o paiz ou seja o mundo inteiro não fique soemnte no papel pois temos muitos muitos governantes que só prometem mesmo sabendo o que esta cauzando no meio ambiente pensando somente em mais e mais riquesas para si mesmo ,pois tudo que e ótimo para este mundo que deus nos confiou cuidar eu apoio mas promeças que não podem cumprir já mais receberam o apoio do mundo inteiro pois pesso que juntemos para cuidar de nossas falnas e floras deste nosso maravilhoso mundo .

  5. June 9, 2012

    this is good

  6. June 9, 2012

    Yup,I agree.The picture you took is great.

  7. June 11, 2012

    i may jump off and would get Unconscious, if i see komodo in front of me. I may get freeze at that time if i touched by a gorilla. But yes i want to enjoy the photographs of such incredible places where i can’t go.

  8. June 12, 2012

    awesome picture! thanks

  9. Jeanethe permalink
    June 12, 2012

    Thank you all for your kind words, I’m so very glad you enjoyed reading this!

  10. June 13, 2012

    Hey Jeanethe, this is the first time that I am commenting on this blog. I think I would not have been much more excited visiting these wild places in the photographs of Boyd than if I were myself present there! But these photos have encouraged in me the love of the wildness in nature and I am feeling like packing my bags and running to these places!

  11. June 16, 2012

    Great title and great story.

  12. Alex Thompson permalink
    November 20, 2012

    This articles has been gained good views, i hope everyone liked this article. I like this article too. Good to know about these facts. Thank you. :)

  13. lion-mag permalink
    July 19, 2013

    Pictures Can Save a Thousand Worlds – a very nice title, that definitely was.
    that’s why most of magazine share the great pic all over the world, and that will be always be a unforgettable memories :)

  14. victoriabrown permalink
    February 18, 2014

    It is my great pleasure to visit your website and to enjoy your excellent post here. I like it very much. I can feel that you have paid much attention for those articles, as all of them make sense and are very useful. Thanks so much for sharing.

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