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Posts from the ‘Sustainability’ Category

Earth Day and the March for Science

Congressman Jim McGovern and colleagues did a nice job of nurturing hope and resistance at today’s March for Science held in Elm Park, Worcester, Massachusetts.  I have studiously tried to avoid launching into rants on this blog in recent years, largely on doctor’s orders.  But, as McGovern said, and I have to paraphrase rather than quote, if you asked me twenty years ago if I would have to help stage a march in favor of science some day, I’d say, ‘what are you, nuts?’  But here we are.Hunt_170422_1004176It is worth reminding ourselves that the E.P.A. was created during the Nixon Presidency. You remember Nixon, the well loved republican.  Oh, wait….  Even that guy, expletive deleted that he was, couldn’t hold a candle to our current expletive deleted.  Trump’s efforts to lower the collective IQ and fire up the coal industry have left me feeling a sense of deja vu and I have finally figured out why.  He’s building up an industry for which there is little or no market.  It reminds me of the golden days of the U.S.S.R., which is probably no coincidence.  In that centrally planned economy, they would crank out concrete that wasn’t ever going to be shipped anywhere.  No customers.  So we mine coal and further screw up an already vulnerable planet while the UK celebrates their first day of using no coal, anywhere, for anything.  I would not call the UK a bastion of liberal thought.  Perhaps they just know how to do business.  But, here we are.

It was encouraging to join the assembly today.  The weather was dreadful.  There is a far bigger march taking place in Boston.  No matter.  Sometimes you just need to rant.  Sorry doc.Hunt_170422_1004177

 

Photoessay: The Blackstone River and Route 146

I’ve mentioned here that my current project focus is on the Blackstone River.  For those who don’t know, the Blackstone flows from Worcester, Massachusetts to Providence, Rhode Island.  It’s strategic importance as a source of power led to rather extreme levels of both entrepreneurship and exploitation spanning nearly two hundred years.  It remains in content with humanity even as interest in its natural potential grows.  That tension is most acutely visible, to me at least, along a two mile stretch of the river in Millbury and Worcester, Massachusetts. There the River contents with a super highway and a very active freight railroad line.  Being in the city, it also contends with city life and the best and worst that the city existence has to offer.  Here’s a portfolio of images from my travels there over the past year.

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Guest Blog on Landscape Photography Blogger

I wanted to pass along that I’ve had the honor of having been asked by David Leland Hyde to do a guest blog about the Quabbin Reservoir on his site, Landscape Photography Blogger.  If you’re interested, just click on the hot link associated with the name.  David is a terrific photographer in his own right, but really came into the field in part as a steward to the library of work of his Father, Philip Hyde.  Philip Hyde, who passed away in 2006, left behind a body of work easily on a par with that of the other great names of landscape photography such as Ansel Adams and Elliot Porter.  He created magnificent art that stood on its own for its ability to capture something of the spirit of place in the west.  In addition though, his art was also in the service of education and conservation.  He was closely aligned with the Sierra Club among other groups in that effort and perhaps best known for his work in the area behind Glen Canyon Dam in Colorado, locations now submerged by the Reservoir there.  He was a relentless defender of the natural world in part because he felt that the experience of participating in that world was essential for all of us.  As a photographer he was also one of the first large landscape photographers to use color film.  Now we take color for granted, and hardly ever use film!  At the time, that was a major technological leap. David Leland Hyde has I think invigorated Phillip Hyde’s legacy, as both an artist and an environmentalist, in a way that is so important.  This story goes on, thankfully.

I was thrilled then when David contacted me and expressed a real interest in our Massachusetts wilderness, the Quabbin Reservoir area.  As my wife and I joke sometimes, it’s not Yosemite, but it’s pretty darn interesting.  As I tried to capture in the piece on Landscape Photography Blogger, anyone who cares to go there can experience that sense of being in the wild that Philip Hyde rightfully drew to our attention.  Thanks to David for helping spread that story.

A while back, I posted the video you see below that presents some of Philip Hyde’s work.  I titled the post, Images that Changed the World.  Have a look.  The imagery is stunning.  David Leland Hyde is the narrator.  And yes, Philip and his colleagues had to fight to keep dams out of the Grand Canyon, if you can believe that. It seems to me that we have come a long way, but that alas, we have a long way to go. Those of you reading this blog who are interested in landscape photography should make a visit to Landscape Photography Blogger a routine part of your week.  It’s always worth the time.

Happy July 4th at Elm Park

Happy July Fourth to those from the United States.  It’s a day to relax but also remember.  I wanted to take this occasion to provide a brief update on one of my most memorable places, Elm Park in downtown Worcester, Massachusetts.  It is one of the oldest Park’s in the United States. I’ve blogged about the park many times, most recently about the experience of being forgotten there, as illustrated by the state of some of the more contemplative locations at the Park.  It made for interesting photography but poor park upkeep.  Then, low and behold, in the middle of that project, the City, State and Feds came to the rescue and began a significant restoration of the park.  I’ve continued to photograph the changing nature of Elm Park as the reconstruction, in the north-east corner at this point, continues.  I have to admit, it has taken some getting used to.  I had grown quite fond of the shabbiness of the old dowager, but that won’t make for a viable and livable inner city.

The process has created a number of interesting visual opportunities, in and of itself.  Rebuilding is co-existing with on-going use of the Park where that can be done safely.  (Click on the images for a better view.)

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There are significant signs of progress.

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Those familiar with the Park will know this scene.  The stones along the shoreline are new.  Children used to feed geese on the sand here, there was no clearly demarcation of the Pond.  That may seem kind of nice and wonderful on the surface except it’s bad for the geese and the Park.  It always used to bug me that such behavior would take place right under a big sign that says “Feeding Wildlife is Harmful to the Wildlife and the Park.”  But I digress.  The construction has also provided an opportunity to see the detail that goes into making a park work.  Did you ever wonder why all those trash cans are never stolen?  Here’s the reason…

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That is one big base.  Invest in trashcan stability in major urban parks.  You cannot go wrong.  The lighting is also changing.  Previously, there had been rather attractive lighting in the Park.  It was sparse and rarely turned on.  Now lights are being added throughout.  With the exception of some very tall structures around the north pond, most will I think fit right in with the history of the park.  Some are up now, but not turned on yet and as such, not particularly good photographic subjects.  This will give you an idea, however.

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So the work continues and I’ll try to provide more imagery in the future.  It is difficult to document a project like this with a fine art eye.  It may be that only the final product will do justice to the intangible experience of the Park, an experience that those of us who love it will always value.

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It is so easy to think that “common” areas such as parks have no place in our individualized society. It’s also easy to dis the government for nearly everything.  These commons, such as Elm Park though provide the touch points for a society.  That remains as important as it always has been.  So thanks to those who are maintaining this particular touch point.

Things are Looking Up at Elm Park

Over the past few months we’ve been heading out to Elm Park, in Worcester, MA, to photograph the state of the park benches and other aspects of the “contemplative infrastructure” there.  Their state of decay seemed to provoke the imagination with thoughts of age, and loss, and what seems like the inevitable link between the two of them.  Elm Park, initially created in 1854 along with Central Park in New York provided an excellent background for such a metaphor, given it’s age, significance and apparent decay.

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While this work was very personal, the implied criticism is hard to miss.  I’ve been photographing in Elm Park for a decade and for the most part, have found it to be a compelling if not wonderful spot. Well, as we were about to leave on the 13th, we noted a construction fencing company putting down their wares around a substantial chunk of the north side of the Park, near Highland St.  Indeed, work was about to begin on the renovations of the Park.

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You can read about the work, and the challenging of fund raising for the work, here.  The City doesn’t have all the money they’d like to for the project, but they are going ahead.  If there is one thing I’ve learned from my entrepreneurship colleagues at Babson College it is begin with the resources you have, take action. Makes sense to me.

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Elm Park is a regional if not a national treasure.  Age and decay are not inevitably linked.  Though the broken benches certainly provide artistic stimulation, we’ll be far better off with a Park that serves the next generation.  I’m reminded of the recent findings from the Mars rover, Curiosity.  It seems very likely that Mars once had an atmosphere and surface that would actually support life.  That is not the case today.  They’re now looking for signs that could explain what happened that resulted in the decay of the atmosphere.  (Do you suppose the signs might say, “Filling Station?”:)  Thanks to the City and the private donors who are taking action to preserve the future.