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

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