Photos

The Best and the Brightest, #NewEnglandFall

Greetings from New England!Each Monday we write about the New England environment and way of life seen through our local perspective. Previous posts

By Jeanethe Falvey

Everything is starting to taste like pumpkin, the fancy squash are out on the streets, and the cool air is bringing on thoughts of apple crisp and pie. Summer wasn’t even over on the calendar before I overdid it on the maple sugar candy. Fall is simply glorious in New England, thank goodness. Summer’s end would be downright depressing if it weren’t for the vivid tones that will soon overtake our landscape and the scent of cinnamon and spice everywhere.

Photo of fall leaves by Jeanethe Falvey, Cannon Mountain, NH

Photo by Jeanethe Falvey, Cannon Mountain, NH

The summer bunches are already replaced with early “leaf peepers.” Contrary to popular thought, these are not tiny toads, but larger, two-legged beings. You can spot them donning elongated bifocals and the latest flannel fashions from our finest outdoors outfitters. Peak season for sightings is between September and November.

We’re proud of our leaves, it’s true. So, from the Boston office, we hope you’ll join us in celebrating and embracing this beautiful time of year by sharing your photos with State of the Environment. This has been an ongoing EPA documentary of our environment today, created by your photos. While the project is not just about what’s beautiful, rather about what’s real, they’re often the same thing.

We’ll share our favorite submissions here over the coming weeks, and we have a sneaking suspicion they’ll also be shared at www.epa.gov/stateoftheenvironment as well. We do, after all, have a homegrown advantage …

Join us to document the best and brightest of our #NewEnglandFall. Here’s how: _________________________________________________________________________________

  1. Take your camera or camera-phone next time you go apple-picking, pumpkin-patching, scenic-carpooling.
  2. Sign up for Flickr (it’s free) and go to www.flickr.com/groups/ourenvironment
  3. Click “Join Group.”
  4. Upload your photos and follow the guide below to share your favorites with us.
  5. Please put #NewEnglandFall in the title, description, or as a tag. This will help us locate it among the many other photos flying in from around the world. You can also tell us where the photo was taken.

Note: if you’re new to Flickr, it may take a few days for your friends to see the photo in the group. This is a normal, Flickr thing and it’s simply to verify that your account is sharing appropriate photos. _________________________________________________________________________________
In Flickr, your uploaded photos will look like this (below). The three-dot option to the right opens up the option to share further into the Flickr-sphere.

Photo of how to use Flickr.

We look forward to seeing your splendid shots. Please let us know here if you have questions or comments. In the meantime, enjoy the slideshow below: scenes from our world today, thanks to you.

State of the Environment is open to pictures of our lives and planet as you see it. Individual scenes, taken together, build the larger picture of our environment today. Photos taken from 2011 until the end of 2013 may be submitted on Flickr. All levels of photography experience and skill are welcome.

State of the Environment is open to pictures of our lives and planet as you see it. Individual scenes, taken together, build the larger picture of our environment today. Photos taken from 2011 until the end of 2013 may be submitted on Flickr. All levels of photography experience and skill are welcome.

About the author: Jeanethe Falvey, State of the Environment project lead, writes from EPA’s Office of External Affairs and Environmental Education, and is having her fill of pumpkin lattes in Boston, Massachusetts.

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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Wade In and Cast Your Vote for the 2012 Winners of the Rachel Carson Sense of Water Contest

By Kathy Sykes

“To stand at the edge of the sea, to sense the ebb and flow of the tides, to feel the breath of a mist moving over a great salt marsh, to watch the flight of shore birds that have swept up and down the surf lines of the continents for untold thousands of year, to see the running of the old eels and the young shad to the sea, is to have knowledge of things that are as nearly eternal as any earthly life can be.” Rachel Carson from “The Sea Around Us”

For the past six years, I have had the privilege of overseeing the Rachel Carson Sense of  Wonder contest. The purpose is to create artistic expressions through photography, poetry, essays and dance that capture the sense and appreciation of the environment. This year’s contest focused on water in recognition of the 40th Anniversary of the Clean Water Act. Teams of young persons and older have expressed appreciation for water through extraordinary and precious expressions of art. From raindrops on a blade of grass, to a gentle rain in a forest, to waves in the ocean as far as the eye can see, we see, taste and feel water.

I have been heartened to receive messages from grandparents and grandchildren, parents and children, teachers and students, and nature lovers of all ages, who appreciate the teaching of Rachel Carson.

Andre Gide, a French Nobel laureate for literature wrote, “Man cannot discover new oceans unless he has the courage to lose sight of the shore.” Many of our teams did just that, discovering and exploring water and nature with a new sense of wonder. And just as the pleasing as Handel’s water music was for King George, I too have been thrilled by the notes from participants:

  • “thanks for giving this opportunity to kids to rethink about environment and nature”
  • “we had a great time completing this contest.”
  • “such a wonderful project!!!”
  • “when will EPA announce the 2013 contest and what will the theme be?”

Our judges were also impressed by the imaginative entries from teams that worked across generations to discover and enjoy the beauty of water. It was a quite a challenge for them to select finalists from so many lovely works. Now it is your chance to help us select the 2012 winners of the Rachel Carson Sense of Water Contest here.

About the Author: Kathy Sykes is a Senior Advisor for Aging and Sustainability in the Office or Research and Development at the U.S. EPA.  She grew up in Madison, WI and has been working at the U.S. EPA since 1998. She believes the arts can serve as an environmental educational tool and foster appreciation and protection for the natural world.

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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Get Up Close and Personal With Your River – Sojourn!

By Nancy Grundahl

Merriam-Webster defines a sojourn as “a temporary stay,” like, “We enjoyed a week-long sojourn on the river.”

Never been?  Now is the right time of the year. River sojourns are usually May through September in the northeast. Many environmental and watershed groups around the country are sponsoring sojourns to help people connect with their rivers, to see them up close and personal, to appreciate their importance and  understand their challenges.

Go for a day. Go for a week. Start from the headwaters and kayak downstream. No experience necessary.

Participants pay a small fee.  Often meals and overnight camping are included. Here is a link to a list of sojourns for 2012 compiled by the Pennsylvania Organization for Watersheds and Rivers.

If you can’t make it to any of this year’s sojourns, you can do your own!  Here’s a description of the sojourn-worthy Potomac River Trail, and here are some ideas for sojourns in the Mid-Atlantic region and around the country

There are countless ways to recreate on, in, or near our waters this summer.  Have a great time rolling on the river!

And if you do, please send us some photos. Go to our State of the Environment Photography Project on Flickr.  Share your fun! And we’ll be sharing some of your photos on the blog during the summer months.

About the author: Nancy Grundahl has worked for the Philadelphia office of EPA since the mid-80’s. Nancy believes in looking at environmental problems in a holistic, multi-media way and is a strong advocate of preventing pollution instead of dealing with it after it has been created. Nancy likes to garden and during the growing season brings flowers into the office. Nancy also writes for the EPA “It’s Our Environment” 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.

Documerica in Focus: Gary Truman

“You’re capturing a slice of history, every time that shutter closes,” says Gary as our phone call comes to an end.

Documerica is full of stories; after all that was its intent. In my incredible opportunity to speak with some who were involved, I’m finding out a few stories behind the stories and that’s where the fun is.

Gary Truman was one of several graduate students who accompanied Flip Schulke to the quaint, German town of New Ulm, Minnesota in 1975. Flip knew Gifford Hampshire who was the life, energy, and vision behind Documerica. One of Flip’s contributions for the project was to head back and cover the life and environment; as Gary puts it, “in a town that adopted him.”

Documerica photo by Gary TrumanTaking his advanced students, some like Gary who were already working professionally, Flip asked for their ideas to cover this community. What resulted was a week of moments in a small American town; its births, its deaths, its churches and schools, its streets and its faces. Hundreds of photographs forever captured a slice of New Ulm’s history.

I mentioned to Gary that we’ve gotten questions about State of the Environment, “Can it really match up to Documerica?” Given that Documerica was often times so up close and personal. State of the Environment by name more easily evokes the idea that we’re looking for photos of landscapes, but it’s about everyday life too. That is the reality of how we’re interacting and living within our environment. So I asked, “Did you consider the environment during your work there?”

“The life there was absolutely about the environment. New Ulm could not have been the same town surrounded by mountains, or coal mines. The older couple I photographed, with their hybrid stove, you wouldn’t see that today. That’s a picture of history, the reality of their environment at the time.”

Growing up in West Virginia, he watched a nearby river go from “a place I wouldn’t enter unless it was to pull a friend out, with mutated and dead fish, to a clean place where you can now catch small mouth bass.”

Sometimes the connection isn’t obvious, the story of change isn’t as easy to see without a ‘then’ and ‘now.’ We took a moment to reflect on the potential power that State of the Environment holds.

“Yeah, there’s work to be done,” he says, “but boy we’ve come a long way.”

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.

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.

Before and After – Our Environment

By Jeanethe Falvey

Until you find yourself rummaging through half stuck drawers of old photos at your parents’ house, you never notice how much the world around you has changed. You find that the grand old tree you once spent hours swinging from is no longer there, or the once small saplings around the house have finally grown into their majestic canopies. The cars in the driveway are probably different, and maybe the newer four legged family members are looking up, rather than protectively over you.

But thank goodness for photographs. For most of us, our past isn’t constantly before our eyes, but when it is, what a moment. How else could we laugh at the fluorescent mistakes of the ‘80s burned forever into photo paper nationwide? Whether it’s a revelation of time past or a walk down memory lane, holding a photograph is the most powerful way to see how much is different.

Step outside, beyond your usual world, and look around. How has time touched the landscape near you? I’ll never forget an area of forest near my hometown that was replaced by an outlet mall. While I have that memory, how great would it be to have a picture to compare to now? Could it influence the course of development, stopping people in their tracks as they realize, “I’d rather have a park for my kids to play in than yet another place to buy a shirt.”

The increasing pace of life has brought so much “stuff” everywhere we go that it’s hard to push it aside and imagine what once was, let alone what the natural world underneath it all looked like at an even earlier time.

Every Monday the State of the Environment team is choosing a place in our environment that was documented four decades ago, challenging you to photograph it today. The best “after” entries will be displayed alongside the originals in our 2012 exhibit.

This week tell us where YOU want to go. Search locations and weigh in; yours could be next! Perhaps Documerica didn’t capture a place near you, but join in anyway. Take a photo of the environment today as you see it. Find that cherished place of yours. Take a picture today for all of us.

About the author: Jeanethe Falvey, a New Englander through and through and 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.

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.