flickr

Documerica in Focus: Charles “Chuck” O’Rear

By Jeanethe Falvey

He set an older camera on the table so I would recognize him. In a quaint coffee shop in St. Helena, California, I finally had a chance to sit down with Chuck and meet him in person.

While he is the likely front-runner with the most photographs in the final Documerica collection, his images are not yet in Flickr. Only about 4,000 have been scanned into the National Archives Flickr account, but over 15,000 images actually exist and are available in NARA’s online Archival Research Catalog. It requires patience, but searching by Documerica photographer, state, or environmental topic is worth the digging.

I asked him how he took this photo, a favorite that I found:

Crop dusting near Calipatria in the Imperial Valley, 5/1972 by Charles O'Rear.

Crop dusting near Calipatria in the Imperial Valley, 5/1972 by Charles O'Rear.

How quickly did he have to duck and cover? No tripod, he confirmed. His memory of that exact photo was a little foggy, fair enough, but he said he was highly doubtful that the pilot pulled up in time. With a chuckle he said he was glad he’s still around, but that dosage of pesticides was just one of those moments that comes with the territory of being a photojournalist. Taking risks is living, he says.

His Documerica assignments took him throughout California, down along the Colorado River on the Mexican side of the border, Hawaii and more. He kept coming up with ideas and Gifford Hampshire kept sending him out.

I could have sat with him for hours and just about did. It was easy to zing from topic to topic, place to place around the world. Since Documerica, he photographed for National Geographic magazine for 25 years. It was going to be a challenge to name a place he hadn’t traveled to. So I tried.

“Been to Palau?”

Colorado River on the Mexican side of the border, 5/1972 by Charles O'Rear

Colorado River on the Mexican side of the border, 5/1972 by Charles O'Rear

Shockingly, my first attempt got him, but he has been to Yap! Yap is an island stopover on route to Palau. I saw it in the dark. During a story about currencies around the world, he photographed the Yapese Rai: large stone disks that were brought back by rafts and determination from Papua New Guinea and Palau. Today, islanders and visitors use the American dollar, but Rai are still ceremoniously exchanged.

His adventures continue; he just returned from Australia and can’t wait to get back. This weekend, take a look at Chuck’s recent work. You’ll want a glass of chardonnay and a ticket to Napa.

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 in Greenversations 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.

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.

Please share this post. However, please don't change the title or the content. If you do make changes, don't attribute the edited title or content to EPA or the author.

Greening the Apple’s First Reader Submitted Photo Contest

A Greener Apple Photo Contest—Call for Submissions

You are invited to participate in Greening the Apple’s first photography contest. The topic is, “What does sustainability look like in New York City?” Pick your best work, submit your photos easily online, and have a chance at some exposure and recognition on our blog. Photography is story-telling. Share your stories with the rest of us.  Your deadline is midnight, August 12, 2011 (EST).

You might ask, “What is sustainability?” For our purposes here, sustainability incorporates strategies, events, and procedures that meet society’s present needs without compromising the needs for future generations. Sustainable development can be facilitated by policies that integrate environmental, economic, and social values in decision making. This topic is meant to be broad—a way to link your life and what you see to your own definition of sustainability. In other words, how do you see New York City’s connection to the environment?

Who is eligible to enter?

Any citizen from any country, as long as you are 18. If you’re under 18, have a parent or guardian submit your work for you. EPA employees who are not on the contest selection committee are encouraged to submit photo entries.  Please read photo submission guidelines for theme requirements listed below. More

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.

Please share this post. However, please don't change the title or the content. If you do make changes, don't attribute the edited title or content to EPA or the author.

A Face Only A Newt Could Love?

By Jeanethe Falvey

Rather doubtful I’ve concluded. Honestly, look at them!

Excited “oh my goodness’s!” and in some cases squeals, were exchanged offices, halls and states apart. I haven’t been the only one to gasp over the tiny newt toes and the little orange (feet? my paleontology know how escapes me…).

Hugging newts has been just one of the many surprises we’ve seen since the State of the Environment call for photos began. If you think they aren’t hugging, well, to each their own opinion.

The first photo we chose to feature tells the other side of the story, that our environment needs help. A striking photo of an osprey in flight holds a black plastic bag securely in his or her talons. Speaks for itself doesn’t it? It’s our hope that these images will captivate and inspire all of us. If you’re reading this, you’ll probably agree that the environment isn’t isolated from any of our actions. It surrounds every one of us and the state of it is a responsibility shared by all.

We set up the Flickr group on April 1st and have enjoyed every entry. This is the really fun part. Not only do we get to see your best and favorite photos of the environment as you see it, but every photo is a window into the world of what you think is important, beautiful, troubling, in need of protection and deserving of widespread attention. It’s incredible to see what you see and we’ve only just begun this year long project.

As much as I loved the newts, the osprey, the breaching humpback, or the stunning artistic quality of the windmill against the Cincinnati skyline, my favorite photo so far is none of the above.

A little girl sits on a dock, with her sandals off and a notebook, backpack and water bottle handy for an afternoon of coloring. Swap out the cityscape in the distance and the swamp for evergreen trees in the deep woods of Maine and a few years ago that was me. After a double take and the conclusion that my parents did not learn Photoshop overnight, I just sat back and smiled. This, is what this project is all about.

About the author: Jeanethe Falvey, State of the Environment Project Lead U.S. EPA Office of External Affairs in Boston, Massachusetts

Editor’s Note: The opinions expressed in Greenversations 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.

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.

Please share this post. However, please don't change the title or the content. If you do make changes, don't attribute the edited title or content to EPA or the author.

Our Environment: Your View

By Jeanethe Falvey

I could not take my eyes off the jar of brown water and the woman’s face outside her home in Licking County Ohio, the scuttled Volkswagen in Jamaica Bay, New York, or the black smoke as discarded automobile batteries burned away in Texas. I had pored over and studied countless environmental case studies of the 1970s before coming to work at EPA. Perhaps that’s what hit me when Documerica came to my attention: I had read, but had never seen what people went through before there were environmental laws in place to protect the air we breathe and the water we drink. Imperfect and controversial as any regulations may be, they exist now. Every day they are providing a foundation for a better quality of life for all of us.

Documerica gave us photographs of the environment and primarily the state of American life from 1971-1977. What else the project inspired we may never know, but that decade marked the dawn of a new era. We would never again tolerate poisoned air and water. From 1970 to 1980, the United States Congress passed the Clean Air Act, the Clean Water Act, the Toxic Substances Control Act, and Superfund: a small laundry list for a brand new agency. There is no doubt that the awareness both from within our government, but also from the public, supported these monumental steps toward a safer environment. Maybe a few simple photographs helped out. 

As EPA heads through its 41st year of service, what’s your take on the State of the Environment? In this moment in time we’re asking you to capture photographs of your environment: where you live, work or play. From Earth Day 2011 to Earth Day 2012, we’re giving Documerica another go, challenging you to show your view, no matter how big or small.

Up for more? Follow our weekly challenge for a Documerica photo taken near you to get a current “after” photo in the same place.

Submit your photos and stay tuned as we feature weekly photos! Yours could be part of our Earth Day 2012 Exhibit in Washington D.C.

Hope to see you in Flickr-land.

About the author: Jeanethe Falvey, U.S. EPA Office of External Affairs, Boston, Massachusetts

Editor’s Note: The opinions expressed in Greenversations 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.

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.

Please share this post. However, please don't change the title or the content. If you do make changes, don't attribute the edited title or content to EPA or the author.

Celebrate Earth Day 2009

About the author: Lisa Jackson is the EPA Administrator

image of Administrator Jackspon standing next to a child on a bikeToday, we’re celebrating the biggest Earth Day in history. One billion people – almost one in every six people on the planet – will stand up to show that protecting the Earth and those who live on it is our responsibility. How amazing is that?

This Earth Day, EPA is on the job, and working hard to protect human health and the environment. But we need your help.

Our web folks have updated our EPA page with a special Earth Day Pick 5 for the Environment Project. We provide 10 activities. You pick 5 and commit to doing them.

Once you get started on your Pick 5, you can share your stories in Facebook, photos on Flickr, and videos on YouTube. We’ll also have special blog posts here in Greenversations where you can talk about how you’re doing and help each other.

This is a defining moment. Some of the best opportunities we’ll ever have to make a change and save our planet are happening right now. The actions we take – or don’t take – are going to affect what happens today and for generations to come. That is our reality right now. But, there is plenty we can do.

We really can show that environmental protection and economic growth work hand in hand. We don’t have to choose between a strong economy and a clean environment, we just have to be smart enough to work for both. That will open the way to millions of green jobs in a low-carbon economy.

We really can lead the world in clean, homegrown energy sources, cutting emissions in the air, lowering energy costs for families, businesses and government, and ending, once and for all, our dependence on foreign oil. It’s a way to make the world not only cleaner but safer.

And we really can stop the rapid advance of climate change. We should be responsible enough to leave the world a better place for our children and grandchildren. But it takes a commitment from all of us.

Grow the economy. Strengthen our national security. Save our planet in the bargain. It sounds ambitious – because it is. But it’s a future that’s within our sights.  All we have to do is help each other to get there.

Okay I have to plug our project one more time. Visit http://www.epa.gov/pick5 to join our Pick 5 for the Environment Project and be part of the one billion people taking action this Earth Day.

We can do more to protect our communities and our planet than ever before. It’s up to you.

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.

Please share this post. However, please don't change the title or the content. If you do make changes, don't attribute the edited title or content to EPA or the author.