Story Preservation Initiative®

Preserving the Stories of Our Lives by capturing the voices, words, and meanderings of artists, scientists, writers, poets, musicians, and eyewitnesses to history. Listen, learn, and be amazed! WEB: www.storypreservation.org

Posts from the ‘Naturalists / Environment’ category

Make Way for Sy!

AUDIO UP! on this fabulous recording.   It’s impossible to not love and be inspired by Sy!  

Photo by Paula Gordon

Photo by Paula Gordon.  Used with permission.

To research books, films and articles, Sy Montgomery has been chased by an angry silverback gorilla in Zaire and bitten by a vampire bat in Costa Rica, worked in a pit crawling with 18,000 snakes in Manitoba and handled a wild tarantula in French Guiana.

She has been deftly undressed by an orangutan in Borneo, hunted by a tiger in India, and swum with piranhas, electric eels and dolphins in the Amazon. She has searched the Altai Mountains of Mongolia’s Gobi for snow leopards, hiked into the trackless cloud forest of Papua New Guinea to radiocollar tree kangaroos, and learned to SCUBA dive in order to commune with octopuses.

smontgomery_soulofanoctopusSy’s 20 books for both adults and children have garnered many honors. The Soul of an Octopus was a 2015 Finalist for the National Book Awards. The Good Good Pig, her memoir of life with her pig, Christopher Hogwood, is an international bestseller. She is the winner of the 2009 New England Independent Booksellers Association Nonfiction Award, the 2010 Children’s Book Guild Nonfiction Award, the Henry Bergh Award for Nonfiction (given by the ASPCA for Humane Education) and dozens of other honors. Her work with the man-eating tigers, the subject of her book Spell Of The Tiger, was made into in a National Geographic television documentary she scripted and narrated. Also for National Geographic TV she developed and scripted Mother Bear Man, about her friend, Ben Kilham, who raises and releases orphaned bear cubs, which won a Chris award.

Sy writes for adults and children, for print and broadcast, in America and overseas in an effort to reach as wide an audience as possible at what she considers a critical turning point in human history.

“We are on the cusp of either destroying this sweet, green Earth—or revolutionizing the way we understand the rest of animate creation,” she says. “It’s an important time to be writing about the connections we share with our fellow creatures. It’s a great time to be alive.”

She speaks frequently at schools and museums, libraries and universities.

She is a 1979 graduate of Syracuse University, a triple major with dual degrees in Magazine Journalism from the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications and in French Language and Literature and in Psychology from the College of Arts and Sciences. She was awarded an Honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters from Keene State College in 2004, and an Honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters from Franklin Pierce University and also from Southern New Hampshire University in 2011.

Copy taken from Sy’s website: http://symontgomery.com

 

 

Deepika Kurup

UPDATE!  AUDIO UP!!

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With Deepika Kurup one of Forbes 2015 30 Under 30,  2014 Stockholm Junior Water Prize Winner, and a Google Science Fair award winner (along with much else), Deepika is working on a prototype to quickly, easily, and safely purify drinking water for use in developing countries.

 

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From an earlier post:

First up in the New Year!

Here’s 17-year old Deepika’s story (so far)  ~

On family trips to India as a child, Deepika Kurup often saw kids like herself forced to drink dirty water — as a result, at age 14, she became determined to find to a way to ensure that everyone has access to safe drinking water. For an 8th grade project, the Nashua, New Hampshire teen invented a water purification system that uses a photocatalytic composite and sunlight to clean water — an invention which earned her recognition as America’s Top Young Scientist in 2012.  And that’s just the beginning.

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Deepika at the 2013 White House Science Fair

Access to clean water is a global crisis. “One-ninth of the global population lacks access to clean water,” she explains “and 500,000 children die every year because of water related diseases.” On the trips to India, her immigrant parents’ native land, Deepika saw the struggle for clean water first hand: “[My parents] would have to boil the water before we drank it. I also saw children on the streets of India… take these little plastic bottles and they’re forced to fill it up with the dirty water they see on the street. And they’re forced to drink that water, because they don’t have another choice. And then I go back to America and I can instantly get tap water.”

Her early investigations into water purification methods found that many of them were expensive and potentially hazardous. “Traditionally, to purify waste water, they use chlorine, and chlorine can create harmful byproducts,” she points out. “Also, you have to keep replenishing the chlorine, you have to keep putting chlorine into the waste water to purify it.” She wanted to invent a new way to clean water that would be both cheap and sustainable.

Deepika came up with the idea of using a photocatalyst — a substance that reacts with water’s impurities when energized by the sun — that also filters the water. The combination of the reaction and the filtration can remove most contaminants for a fraction of the cost of chlorine purification. She determined that her system reduces the presence of coliform bacteria by 98% immediately after filtration and by 100% within 15 minutes. Another advantage is that her catalyst is reusable: “a catalyst doesn’t get used up in the reaction,” she says. “Theoretically you can keep using my composite forever.”

Deepika’s efforts have already by widely recognized — in addition to being named America’s Top Young Scientist in the Discovery Education 3M Young Scientist Challenge, she was also the recipient of the 2013 President’s Environmental Youth Award and the 2014 U.S. Stockholm Junior Water Prize.  In 2015, she was named one of Forbes Magazine’s 2015 “30 Under 30 in Energy” and received the National Geographic Explorer Award.

Deepika is looking forward to taking her research from the lab to real life: “It’s one thing to be working in a lab, doing this, and another thing to actually deploy it and see it working in the real world. So that’s one of my steps in the future.” ~ excerpted from A Mighty Girl

To listen to Deepika’s story, click on links below:

Stories Matter

Citizen Activist ⎥ American Landscape Painter Susan Swartz

Susan with Louis Psihoyos, Director of The Cove and Racing Extinction

Susan with Louis Psihoyos, Director of The Cove and Racing Extinction

RACING EXTINCTION

As taken from Susan’s website:  Environmental activist and landscape painter Susan Swartz explores the landscape through potent colors and richly layered abstract paintings. With her evocation of coastal splendor and mountain drama, Swartz follows in the tradition of the great German painters, 19th century Romantic sage Caspar David Friedrich, and 20th century icon Gerhard Richter. She is inspired by the intersection of art, nature and spirituality.

Swartz’s distinctive style has been recognized with solo exhibitions at the Kollegienkirche in Salzburg, Austria; the Museum for Women in the Arts in Washington, D.C in 2011; the Springville Museum of Art in Springville, Utah in 2010; and the Utah Museum of Fine Arts in Salt Lake City, Utah in 2008. Her works are in the permanent collections of the National Museum of Women in the Arts; the Springville Museum of Art; Utah Museum of Fine Arts; and the International Olympic Museum in Lausanne, Switzerland.

In 2005, Swartz was published in the Gibbs Smith collectors book Painters of the Wasatch Mountains alongside Wasatch Mountain School artists Maynard Dixon, Albert Bierstadt and Thomas Moran. The same year she was honored by the Harvard Divinity School for a career that continues to blend artistry and faith. Swartz was the Official Olympic Environmental Artist for the 2002 Olympic Winter Games.

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The underlying energy and tension to Swartz’s work hints of her complex relationship with the natural world. Her decade long struggle with mercury poisoning and Lyme disease transformed her as an artist and as a citizen. She now works from a place of impassioned reverence for the earth, and of fierce determination to inform and educate.

Partnering with Robert F. Kennedy, Jr., Louie Psihoyos and Dr. Jane Goodall on a number of their environmental campaigns, Swartz also supports the vision and production of documentary films  that seek to shed light on social and environmental injustice.

Films touched by her include Academy Award-winners and nominees, as well as Sundance Film Festival award winners.

Swartz serves on the National Advisory Board of the National Museum of Women in the Arts, the Dean’s Council of the Harvard Divinity School and is the co-founder of charity-based The Christian Center of Park City  She is on the board of the Utah Film Center and a founding member of the documentary film organization Impact Partners.

Mary Evelyn Tucker ⎥ Religion and Ecology

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Image from Religion and Ecology, Island Press, 2014

This is a talk that spans 13.8 billion years – from our cosmic origins to our place in the Earth’s ecosystem. Happy to say audio is up!

The relatively new alliance between religion and ecology is based on the belief that religions are a primary source of values in any culture and the environmental crisis that we face is fundamentally a crisis of values.

Mary Evelyn Tucker is a Senior Lecturer and Research Scholar at Yale University, where she teaches in a joint master’s degree program between the Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies and the Divinity School and the Department of Religious Studies.  She directs the Forum on Religion and Ecology at Yale with her husband, John Grim.

While environmental issues are most frequently viewed through the lens of science, policy, law, and economics, in recent years the moral and spiritual dimensions of this crisis are becoming more visible.

“Our current ecological challenges are such that they require the insights of the world’s religions to awaken moral passion and concern,” Tucker says. “And these voices are needed now.”

Her concern for the growing environmental crisis, especially in Asia, led her to organize with John Grim a series of ten conferences on World Religions and Ecology at the Center for the Study of World Religions at Harvard (1995-1998). Together they are series editors for the ten volumes from the conferences distributed by Harvard University Press. In this series she co-edited Buddhism and Ecology (Harvard, 1997), Confucianism and Ecology (Harvard, 1998), and Hinduism and Ecology (Harvard, 2000).

After the conference series she and Grim founded the Forum on Religion and Ecology at a culminating conference at the United Nations in 1998.

Books include: Ecology and Religion, John Grim and Mary Evelyn Tucker, Island Press, 2014 /  The Emerging Alliance of Religion and Ecology, University of Utah Press, 2014 / Worldly Wonder, Open Court, 2013

For Mary Evelyn’s full bio and additional information on projects and publications, go to: http://www.emergingearthcommunity.org/mary-evelyn-tucker

Information for this post was taken from numerous sources, including the Emerging Earth Community website.

To listen to Mary Evelyn talk about the alliance between religion and ecology, click on links below (run time 34:00):

American Author and Naturalist ⎥John Hay

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A rare interview made available to us through a Friend of Story.  

Kearsarge Valley Magazine’s Library of videotaped interviews, stretching back some 25 years,  has been made available to Story Preservation thanks to the generosity of Friend and Supporter, Gail Matthews. 

Gail is the former producer and host of the Yankee Cable Network program, Kearsarge Valley Magazine.  Segments were filmed by Will James, the founder of YCN. In ways similar to Story Preservation, Kearsarge Valley Magazine featured interviews of people from all walks of life with interesting stories to tell. Many of Gail’s stories complement those in our collection.  We’re in the process of transferring the videos from VHS format to DVD.

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First up, American author, naturalist, and conservation activist, John Hay.

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Here’s some background, taken from the Brown University Special Collections Library where his papers are archived, as is the photo of one of his journals, below.  The journal is, what one would call, the real deal!

Screen Shot 2015-10-07 at 6.00.30 AMJohn Hay was born in 1915, ten years after the death of his famous grandfather and namesake, John Milton Hay (1838-1905), a Brown alumnus (Class of 1858), poet and diplomat. Clarence L. Hay, father of the younger John Hay, was an archaeologist who, after doing some exploration in Mexico, served as curator of Aztec and Mayan civilizations at The American Museum of Natural History in New York. He was also an amateur botanist.

Clarence L. Hay married Alice Appleton, and the younger John Hay was born at the Appleton family estate in Ipswich, Massachusetts. The younger Hay was raised in New York City , attended St. Paul’s School in Concord, New Hampshire and had the privilege of spending his summers at The Fells, his late grandfather’s estate on Lake Sunapee.

Hay attended Harvard, and on graduation worked as Washington correspondent for The Charleston News and Courier. Just before going into the army, Hay apprenticed himself to Conrad Aiken, the poet, who was then living in Brewster, Massachusetts, on Cape Cod. Hay divided his time in Brewster between clearing land and writing poetry. Before leaving for the service, Hay bought what he thought was 10 acres of land on the top of a nearly treeless hill, close to Aiken’s home called “41 Doors.” He spent some of his tour of duty in the Army as an associate editor of Yank, the army newspaper.

After his discharge, he and his new wife, Kristi Aresvik Putnam, settled on what turned out to be Hay’s 18 acre lot to raise their family, which eventually numbered four, on Cape Cod. Hay worked as a freelance writer and reviewer, and privately published a book of his poetry. His love of the Cape and of his grandfather’s land in New Hampshire led him to combine observation of nature with his writing skills. This resulted in a 1959 publication entitled The Run, almost immediately recognized as a classic in the field of nature writing. John Hay continued to observe and to write, but he was also an activist and an educator. He taught at Dartmouth from the early 1970’s into the 1980’s. He had previously co-founded the Cape Cod Museum of Natural History with other local educators in 1954 and helped to establish its many outreach programs. He served as the Museum’s second president and held that post for 25 years. He joined the Brewster Conservation Committee, persuading the town to take over 200 acres of salt marsh by eminent domain, to ensure that some land on the rapidly developing Cape remained in public hands. His many honors include selection as Phi Beta Kappa poet at Harvard in 1963, and the John Burroughs Medal in 1964, garnered for his book The Great Beach. He was named conservationist of the year by the Massachusetts Wildlife Federation in 1970. In 1991, the Orion Society established the John Hay Award, given annually to an author who excels in addressing the relationship between man and nature, environmental education and conservation, in his honor. The Society for the Protection of New Hampshire Forests named him Conservationist of the Year for the second time in 1993.

John Hay's Grandfather's Summer Home / The Fells, Sunapee, NH

John Hay’s Grandfather’s Home / The Fells, Sunapee, NH

Through his books, his poetry, his college lectures, the museum and his life, John Hay has spread the message that man is only part of nature, not in control of nature. He died in Bremen, Maine on February 26, 2011.

Other upcoming videos made available to Story Preservation by Gail Matthews / Yankee Cable Network:  Naturalist / Writer, David Carroll; Poet, Maxine Kumin; and New Hampshire’s forever favorite, Babe Sargent.  And that’s just the beginning!

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Tech transfer underway.  Check back soon for video upload!

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Support of our work comes in many forms and …

Support Matters

What a Plant Knows

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Audio is up on this fascinating look into the inner life of plants.  On the last track, Danny makes an impassioned and educated argument for genetically modified food.  You may agree / you may disagree, but worth listening to!

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This recording, like so many, has been a long time in coming – and worth the wait!

I first became aware of the work of plant biologist (and so much more, read on for his complete bio) Daniel Chamovitz in 2012 and contacted him then to try to arrange a meeting. Unfortunately, my timing was off as he was just leaving the States and returning to his home in Tel Aviv.

Fast-forward three years and – finally –  I will have the pleasure of meeting and recording Danny this summer.

And here is what we’ll be talking about:

Danny will share with us an intriguing and scrupulous look at how plants themselves experience the world–from the colors they see to the schedules they keep. Highlighting the latest research in genetics and more, he takes us into the inner lives of plants and draws parallels with the human senses to reveal that we have much more in common with sunflowers and oak trees than we may realize.

Chamovitz shows how plants know up from down, how they know when a neighbor has been infested by a group of hungry beetles, and whether they appreciate the Led Zeppelin you’ve been playing for them or if they’re more partial to the melodic riffs of Bach.

Covering touch, sound, smell, sight, and even memory, Chamovitz encourages us all to consider whether plants might even be aware of their surroundings.

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He studied at both Columbia University and the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, where he received his Ph.D. in Genetics. From 1993 to 1996 he carried out postdoctoral research at Yale University before accepting a faculty position at Tel Aviv University where he recently served as Chair of the Department of Plant Sciences. In 2002, Prof. Chamovitz was a visiting scientist at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle. He is currently the Dean of the George S. Wise Faculty of Life Sciences at Tel Aviv University.

Audio is a production of Story Preservation Initiative.  All rights reserved. 

Stories Matter

Up Close and Personal | You’re Only as Good as the Company You Keep

Meet Story Preservation Advisory Board Members Tom Wessels and David Grant – and check out a couple of recent books that they have written.

51XHwtWynAL._UY250_Story Preservation is absolutely delighted to announce the addition of Tom Wessels to our Advisory Board. He will be an invaluable resource as we work to strengthen the part of our collection that focuses on the environment and environmental education.

As taken from his bio on the Antioch University New England website:  Tom is an ecologist and the founding director of the master’s degree program in Conservation Biology at Antioch University New England. Previous involvements include serving as the chair of The Center for Whole Communities (www.wholecommunities.org) that fosters inclusive communities that are strongly rooted in place and where all people regardless of income, race, or background have access to and a healthy relationship with land. He is former chair of the Robert and Patricia Switzer Foundation that fosters environmental leadership through graduate fellowships and organizational grants. Currently, Tom serves as an ecological consultant to the Rain Forest Alliance’s SmartWood Green Certification Program. In that capacity Tom helped draft green certification assessment guidelines for forest operations in the northeastern United States and adjacent Canada. He has conducted landscape level workshops throughout the United States for over 30 years. His books include: Reading the Forested Landscape, The Granite Landscape, Untamed Vermont, The Myth of Progress: Toward a Sustainable Future, and Forest Forensics: A Field Guide to reading the Forested Landscape.

Here is an earlier blog post that references Tom’s work: The Story of New England is Written in Stone

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static1.squarespaceAs taken from his biography on The Social Profit Handbook website: David Grant is the former president and CEO of the Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation in Morristown, New Jersey, where he was responsible for development and evaluation of programs in the foundation’s major areas of giving (Arts, Education, and Environment), as well as the foundation’s major initiatives (Poetry and Nonprofit Capacity Building). David now consults with people and organizations that have a social or educational mission, specializing in strategic planning, design of assessment systems, and board development. During his years at the Dodge Foundation, David delivered over a hundred keynote addresses on a range of topics, led workshops titled Measuring What Matters for over two hundred nonprofit organizations, and received numerous awards.

David’s career has centered on innovative teaching and learning. In 1983, he and his wife, Nancy Boyd Grant, cofounded The Mountain School of Milton Academy, a highly regarded, semester-long, interdisciplinary environmental studies program in Vermont for high school juniors from throughout the country. Previously, David was a national consultant to schools and leader of workshops on topics of curriculum and program design, professional development, assessment practices, and school climate.

His book The Social Profit Handbook was released in 2015 by Chelsea Green Publishing.

This post is one in an upcoming Up Close and Personal / Meet the Folks! series.

How ‘Silent Spring’ Ignited the Environmental Movement

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From the New York Times, September 21, 2012 –  On June 4, 1963, less than a year after the controversial environmental classic “Silent Spring” was published, its author, Rachel Carson, testified before a Senate subcommittee on pesticides. She was 56 and dying of breast cancer. She told almost no one. She’d already survived a radical mastectomy. Her pelvis was so riddled with fractures that it was nearly impossible for her to walk to her seat at the wooden table before the Congressional panel. To hide her baldness, she wore a dark brown wig.

“Every once in a while in the history of mankind, a book has appeared which has substantially altered the course of history,” Senator Ernest Gruen­ing, a Democrat from Alaska, told Carson at the time.

“Silent Spring” was published 50 years ago this month. Though she did not set out to do so, Carson influenced the environmental movement as no one had since the 19th century’s most celebrated hermit, Henry David Thoreau, wrote about Walden Pond. “Silent Spring” presents a view of nature compromised by synthetic pesticides, especially DDT. Once these pesticides entered the biosphere, Carson argued, they not only killed bugs but also made their way up the food chain to threaten bird and fish populations and could eventually sicken children. Much of the data and case studies that Carson drew from weren’t new; the scientific community had known of these findings for some time, but Carson was the first to put them all together for the general public and to draw stark and far-reaching conclusions. In doing so, Carson, the citizen-scientist, spawned a revolution.  To continue reading, click here.

Here are links to SPI audio where you can listen to first person narratives from today’s environmental leaders.  Click the name and listen.

Gus Speth

Terry Tempest Williams

George Schaller

Tom Wessels

Bernd Heinrich

David Carroll

James Prosek

Natural History Dioramas  Bringing the Outside In

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Guess what? They’re as much about math as they are about art and science!

The art created by natural history diorama painters is so good, you may never even notice it. In 2013 Story recorded Ruth Morrill who worked with master diorama painter James Perry Wilson at the Peabody Museum at Yale. Few would argue that the highest standard in the creation of natural history dioramas was achieved by James Perry Wilson.  

To listen to the recording, go to:
https://storypreservation.wordpress.com/2013/07/22/the-art-and-science-of-james-perry-wilson-and-ralph-morrill/

In late 2013, NPR did a segment on Fred Scherer, who learned from James Perry Wilson.
Here is link: http://www.npr.org/2013/12/14/250797697/in-the-background-art-you-may-never-notice

The Snow Leopard

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Photo courtesy of George Schaller. Used with permission.

Wildlife preservationist George Schaller shared over 100 of his personal photographs with Story Preservation for our Learning Lab project. All I can say is they’re lucky students to have these available as learning tools!

Here is a RARE photograph of a snow leopard, taken by George. Be sure to CLICK!!

For those of you who have read THE SNOW LEOPARD by Peter Matthiessen, you’ll know that it is an account of Matthiessen and Schaller’s two-month search for the elusive animal on the Tibetan Plateau in the Himalayas.

To listen to George’s audio, go to: https://storypreservation.wordpress.com/2014/01/28/wildlife-conservationist-%E2%8E%A2-george-schaller/