If you're smart, you've made the choice to stay at home the past few weeks…
It has been a whirlwind since the kids and I returned from our two-week road trip to the Oregon coast and back in July. And there really is no end in site. I’m off to Havana, Cuba tomorrow morning.
Havana Imagined! This Year and Next
I’m leading a small group on an 8-day photography tour to Havana for Espiritu Travel. With great grand avenues lined in a rainbow of colorful buildings, vintage cars cruising crumbling alleyways, Che Guevara’s face staring at your every turn and a sea-soaked ocean walkway full of lovers, Havana is an audacious dream. Cuba stretches over 42,000 square miles but without a doubt, the city of Havana is the heart of this island nation. Both the political and cultural capital of Cuba, Havana is an unparalleled living museum.
Our “focus” so to speak will be street photography. We will be roaming the rooftops and back alleys of this amazing city, visiting a boxing school, a ballet school and a number of great restaurants. We will also spend a day with some of the best Cuban photographers and learn about the work of Fototeca, the Cuban photography society. All along we will build our photography skills and learning how to interact with people on the street as photographers. After the tour I will stay on for a week to report on several stories in Havana for the BBC and others.
Good news! This isn’t the only time I will do this tour. Our next Havana Imagined tour is March 17-24, 2018. Contact me if you’re interested. The tour is limited to ten people.
Chaos of Hard Clay
My latest short story Hanging, Just Outside the World will be published in just two weeks in an anthology of Post-Apocalyptic fiction entitled “Chaos of Hard Clay”. I will of course make a big announcement when the book is published and let you know how you can purchase a copy but if you want to order ahead of time, go here and let the editor know!
The Collapse of Mountains
Speaking of fiction, I’m now 14,000 words into what I expect to be a 90,000-word novel entitled “The Collapse of Mountains“. I only work on this in the early morning before I wake the kids for school so it has been slow – but it is moving forward and I plan to have the draft complete before I leave for Cuba in March 2018. Right now, I’m looking for four Beta readers to help me move this along. If you’re interested, please drop me an email.
How Vulnerable Are We To Collapse?
Along the cottonwood-lined rivers of southwestern New Mexico and southeastern Arizona, the Mimbres people did something unique: By the year 1000, these farmers were producing stunning ceramics decorated with naturalistic images of fish, people, and rabbits, as well as magical creatures and elaborate geometric patterns. And then, rather abruptly, they stopped.
After roughly a century of higher than normal rainfall, the area the Mimbres inhabited suffered a powerful drought, as indicated by the archaeological record. Big game—already scarce—became even less abundant, and it became harder to grow the beans, corn, and squash that the Mimbres relied on. By about 1150 the Mimbres were no longer making their signature pottery.
This abrupt change in pottery styles has long been considered a sign of a complete societal collapse and disappearance: Many scholars have interpreted it as evidence that when the climate shifted the society fell apart. But Michelle Hegmon, an archaeologist at Arizona State University’s School of Human Evolution and Social Change, disagrees with that narrative: “They didn’t disappear—they reorganized.”
This is the start of my second in-depth article for SAPIENS. This one looks at how different cultures in the ancient U.S. Southwest adapted, or didn’t, to climate change and what lessons it might have for us. Read the whole thing here.
One note. I did not define “collapse” in the article. On reflection I think this might prove helpful. Joseph Tainter, an American anthologist and author of “The Collapse of Complex Societies” defines collapse as a rapid simplification. Think of both the Maya and the Roman Empire. Within just 100-200 years these went from highly sophisticated and stable societies to simple, violent and crumbling nations.
Will Piñon Pine Forests Survive Climate Change?
Another of my articles on the impact of climate change appeared recently in Ensia. The article focuses on the piñon pine, a keystone species in the U.S. Southwest. As climate change looms large heat, drought, wildfire and insects threaten the iconic tree — and potentially an entire ecosystem. Read the whole thing here.
Weathering the Apocalypse – Seeking your help
Both of these articles are part of an ongoing reporting project I’ve been building through the year and that I plan to have really take off in 2018. That is Weathering the Apocalypse: Re-imagining Climate Change. How are people are adapting to climate change? How are they preparing? What changes are they making? How are they reacting? How are they changing their communication? How are they preparing communities? How are they dealing with the stress of an existential threat? What happens when people are forced to move due to climate change?
Here are the stories I’ll be reporting on in the coming 12 months:
- Planning for climate refugees. We know that over the next 100 years millions of people will need to move away from the coasts. Where will they go and are those communities planning for the influx of new people?
- Photo essay on Puerto Rican climate refugees on the mainland.
- Planning and zoning to deal with cataclysmic forest fires in the American West, such as the ones we recently saw in northern California.
- How should cities create urban forests to deal with increased heat?
- Is climate change forcing an urban planning crisis?
- How are cities in the American Southwest planning and dealing with urban forests?
- How do weather forecasters communicate climate change?
- Citizen Science and climate change
- King tide mapping in Florida
The main challenge, as with all journalism these days, is funding. Simply put, I need money to go and report these stories. Freelance journalists like myself don’t get paid upfront, only on publication – which can take anywhere from 3-9 months between starting the work and publishing it. That makes doing the actual investigation and reporting difficult. So I need your help. If you’d like to support this project please join my 25 other supporters with anything you can afford. Even $5/month is a huge help to me. I’m aiming for $1000/month and right now I’m at $200/month.
This fall I wrapped up my conservation photography work on the Wetland Jewels project for the non-profit environmental groups Amigos Bravos and the Western Environmental Law Center. I photographed and documented more than twenty of the rare high-altitude wetlands on the Carson and Santa Fe National Forests of New Mexico. I wrote about some of this work in-depth here. Now we are pushing the Carson National Forest to adopt our proposed protections for these areas. You can help by contacting the Carson in support of our work by going here.
New Website and Fine Art Photography for Sale
Finally, I’ve also completely overhauled my photography website. Check out the redesign here. Along with the redesign of the site I’m building out a section of limited-edition fine art prints of my work that are for sale. Check out what is currently available here. Your purchase will be hand printed in Taos, New Mexico, USA by Taos Print and Photography Services using archival inks and fine art paper. They will be signed and numbered by hand and then sent your way. Take a look!
Thanks for coming by and be on the lookout for some photo essays from Cuba coming up later in the month!