Our Environment, Then and Now
By Christina Catanese
Have you ever wondered what the places around you looked like 40 years ago? Like, how long has that building been there? Has there always been this much trash in this river? Did there used to be more open space in this area? We’ve asked these questions, too.
That’s why EPA is reviving Documerica, a photo documentary that captured American life and environmental conditions shortly after EPA’s creation in 1970. We’re not only bringing back the old photos, we’re giving you a chance to give it a modern twist.
In Documerica, photojournalists throughout the country photographed subjects of environmental concern, resulting in a collection of over 15,000 images that gave a snapshot of our environment in the 1970s.
Now, through a photo project called State of the Environment, you have an opportunity to get behind the lens and submit photos that document our lives and our planet today. You can try to match pictures taken 40 years ago with a current shot to mark the changes in your environment, or submit new photos that capture our current decade. Find out here how to participate in this challenge and submit your images through our Flickr page!
You can also check out a selection of the Documerica photos as well as some of the State of the Environment photos submitted so far in a traveling exhibit called Documerica Returns. There are a few places you can catch the exhibit in the southeastern Pennsylvania area in the next few weeks:
- Franklin & Marshall College, atrium of Steinman College Center, now through November 20th
- EPA Philadelphia Regional Office Public Information Center, 1650 Arch Street, November 26th-30th
- Amtrak’s 30th Street Station, December 3rd-14th
What places inspire you to grab your camera and capture the state of our world today? What did you find when you browsed the Documerica archives of photos near you 40 years ago – were there any surprises?
About the Author: Christina Catanese has worked at EPA since 2010, in the Water Protection Division’s Office of Program Support. Originally from Pittsburgh, Christina has lived in Philadelphia since attending the University of Pennsylvania, where she studied Environmental Studies, Political Science, and Hydrogeology. When not in the office, Christina enjoys performing, choreographing and teaching modern dance.
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