Sunday, December 14, 2008

The Vanishing America Project

"What will our country be like 100 years from now? Will there even be wild horses, bears, and mountain lions that aren’t confined to a zoo? Will still there be vast tracts of undiscovered natural wilderness? Will there be such a thing as a small town? Will our descendants even care? If we continue to let Progress go unchecked, these, and other cherished aspects of our country and culture, will be lost to us forever.

Precious aspects of our country and culture are in danger of vanishing within the next 2-3 generations, and photographer/writer Holt Webb is using his artistic eye to show the world what is at stake when we let Progress run rampant.

Beginning in May of 2007, and continuing through the end of 2012, Artist and writer Holt Webb will be driving an ecologically-friendly motor coach, powered by Vegetable Oil and Solar Energy, around the United States documenting and publishing images and stories of American treasures that could be lost to us during our lifetimes.

Holt’s Vanishing America Project looks to enlighten Americans on the fragile nature of our wildlife, our landscapes, and our own ways of life. Subjects include the great, but vulnerable, Okefenokee Swamp, the dying shrimping industry of the Atlantic coast, the uncertain fate of the Wild Mustang, and the search for authentic small-town life. Visiting 49 states, and traveling only by back roads, Holt seeks to capture scenes of America and American life that are all too easily forgotten in this age of technology, reality shows, and global commercialization.

The images and stories he brings back are both beautiful and shocking as we are shown man’s encroachment on nature, nature’s changing ecosystems, and our own forgotten cultural icons.

“America is changing fast. And, often, change is good. But sometimes change destroys the things we love about our country. Hopefully these images, and the ones that will follow as I travel across the United States, will remind people how precious, how ephemeral, and how important these aspects of our country and our culture are.”
-- Holt Webb

Articles, presentations, photo essays, books, Fine Art gallery exhibitions, a documentary, and a TV show will be forthcoming. Holt’s progress can be followed at

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Veggie oil versus other fuels...

Want to know how vegetable oil compares to other types of fuels?

Popular mechanics put a great chart up on their website relating the costs of various types of fuels that we can run in our vehicles... Gasoline, Diesel, biodiesel, ethanol, hydrogen, electricity, etc.

Well, I added a third: Used Vegetable Oil!

Click on the chart for a larger version

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Land Rover Monthly Magazine

The Vanishing America Project is on the cover of Land Rover Monthly Magazine!

I promised I'd post the entire article once the issue came off the shelf, and I'm a man of my word, so here it is! The Vanishing America Veggie Rover (or what I like to call the Greasy Beast) profiled in the October 2008 issue of Land Rover Monthly Magazine

It's a great 5 page spread with photos and copy by some guy named Holt Webb. Who knew? :-)

If you want a copy of the entire magazine, you can order back issues online at the LRM website ( Also check out the Land Rover Monthly page on Facebook (

Click on any image to enlarge it so you can read the text.

Below are some additional images that didn't make it into the publication, but show a little bit more of the procedure and the details.

Monday, July 14, 2008


Back by popular demand!

I will once again be offering photography classes while I am in Georgia. The first of these classes, PHOTO 101, teaches novices and amateurs alike the basics of camera operation and photographic technique.

Please send me an email if you are interested. Space will be limited to 10 people on a "first come, first served" basis.

Details below:


Introduction to Photography

In this class, you will learn the following:

  1. What is a camera? (Types of cameras, parts of the camera.)
  2. How does it take pictures and how do I take pictures with it? (Camera functions and photographic technique)
  3. How can I control the camera to get what I want? (Camera controls, metering, lighting)
  4. Special bonus: Simple portrait lighting setup.

• You will learn the basic functions of cameras, how they “see” and how to change the way they see.

• You’ll become familiar with those strange-sounding photography terms: “aperture”, “f-stop”, “depth-of-field”, and “shutter”, and others, and you’ll learn how to use them.

• You’ll learn how to see light as it falls on your subject, and how to record it.

When you complete this class, you will feel more comfortable with your camera and with your ability to take photos – and it will show in the pictures you take.

This will be a two-evening class with time spent in the classroom and in the field.

Dates: TBA
Time: TBA
Price: $75

Send me an email at if you are interested in signing up!

Friday, July 11, 2008

New Website!

The new Vanishing America website is up and running!

It still has a lot of work to be done... images to be uploaded, stories to tell, videos to post... but the basics are there. And it looks great, if I do say so myself. It was designed and built by one of my best friends, Jim Evans. Jim is the guy you saw me getting muddy with in the go-kart in my "Rednecks" video.

With the new website activated, this blog site you are reading now will be put into a state of limbo. I haven't yet decided whether I want to maintain two blog sites (as the new website has its own built-in blog pages), but I'll weigh the options and let you all know.

In the meantime, all new entries will be posted on the blog at And, all the older blogs (at least until I get them transferred over) will still be here at

It is very easy to subscribe to the new blog pages, too. Just go to, click on the "Blogs" link, and then enter your email on the right-hand sidebar, click on the "subscribe" button, and you're in!

When you check out the new site, drop me a line through the "contact" page. I'd love to know what you think (good or bad)!

Monday, June 16, 2008

Big Fish

Life is best tasted in small bites...

Sometimes you want to just jump into something with everything you've got. Go for it 100%, no matter what the consequences are.

But, beware... you just might bite off more than you can chew.

Just like this bass I saw wriggling on the surface of Lake Chicamauga in Tennessee...

We were able to bring it on board the boat and remove the (still alive) fish from its mouth, but the poor bass was so exhausted from his attempts to either swallow or expel his potential meal that, despite our best efforts to get him swimming again, he didn't make it.

His plight reminded me that, although it can be tremendously beneficial to go for the "whole enchilada"... if you're not prepared to handle it, you'll wind up choking on it. Just like Mr. Bass here.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

WRCB-TV Chattanooga!

Another trip to Chattanooga!
Who would have guessed?

Actually, I enjoy going up there. I get to see my friends, my goddaughter, and some of the most beautiful scenery in the nation.

AND... I got to do an interview with Jed Mescon from WRCB-TV, Channel 3!

Here's the link:

(Just go to the bottom of the written story and click on the video link (it may have a tiny red video camera icon). I'll be embedding the video in the blog in the near future when I get the DVD from the studio.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Land Rover Vegetable Oil Conversion

You paid HOW MUCH!? Why bother?

That's what some folks say when I tell them how much it cost to convert the Land Rover Defender to run on vegetable oil.

While most people (mechanics, environmentalists, and laymen alike) are simply thrilled to know that this kind of conversion exists and stand in awe of such an ingenious and beautifully designed engineering feat, there are a few who simply can't justify the cost with the return. And, I understand their concerns.

Now, I'll admit, this conversion was expensive. We removed the gasoline engine and stock transmission and replaced them with a diesel engine and a better transmission. That added a tremendous cost to an already expensive conversion.

So, if saving money is your goal, don't do what I did. You could do it yourself and spend as little as $200 converting a car that already has a diesel engine. But, we were after bigger game. We sacrificed some fuel economy and horsepower for reliability, torque, and automation (I didn't want to spend half my day scrounging and filtering nasty oil.)

So, I didn't gain much in fuel economy; The Defender's lack of pep will make you cry; Used oil is getting harder to find; And, that diesel engine is pretty noisy. So, with all these drawbacks, why on earth did I do this conversion?

Well, we actually had two different goals in mind: One - free fuel. And, Two - an earth-friendly fuel source.

Now, keep in mind that going "green" fits very well into my Vanishing America project. I can't, with good conscience, go around documenting a Vanishing America and be a carbon-belching contributor to it at the same time. So, the decision was largely an environmental choice. But, let's talk specifics...

Reason Number one: Free Fuel.
The free fuel issue does seem to be changing due to the fact that waste oil is becoming a commodity. However, at this stage, it's still attainable, and at $5 per gallon for diesel, it's rapidly paying off. As a matter of fact, I just got back from two round trips to Chattanooga, TN (a total of 500 miles solely on used veggie oil). That means, at a 15mpg average, I saved over $160 in fuel. Multiply that over the course of a 10,000 mile year (with diesel prices continuing to climb), and we're talking about a conservative potential savings of $3500/year. Not much compared to a $30,000 conversion, but it adds up over time. But, money wasn't the only reason for the conversion. Which brings me to...

Reason Number Two: Earth-friendly fuel source.
Petroleum-based fuels are bad for the environment. We all agree on that. And, they come from a limited resource. (It may take a hundred years or more before all the oil is gone, but eventually it will be gone.) Waste oil, on the other hand, is completely renewable. And, since it comes from restaurants, it has already been used once. That means we don't have to pump oil from wells, we don't have to use crops that reduce the food supply, and, most importantly, we don't have to burn other fuels to process this waste into something that can be reused. It's a beautiful, efficient system.

Now, what about the waste oil becoming more difficult to get. Well, that's definitely the case. Every day, I see evidence that the cycle is progressing. It began with restaurants paying to have the oil hauled away. When renderers realized they could profit from the oil, they began to pick it up for free. Now, with more competition, some renderers are actually paying the restaurants for the oil. This cycle was expected. But, the good news is that the engineers responsible for creating new biofuels have not been sitting idly by. They have come up with ways to get fuel from waste wood, plant waste, tree bark, and even algae. And their progress is phenomenal. I expect that right about the time that everyone has to pay for waste oil, these engineers will have perfected these new ways of obtaining fresh oil, effectively collapsing the bubble created by the demand for waste oil. And, that puts guys like me back in the driver's seat. And, I see all of this happening within 5 years.

So, yes, the conversion was very expensive. And, on the surface, seems like a waste of money. But, I'll save at least $3500/year on fuel, there are still literally tens of thousands of places all over the US who will give me free oil, and my consumption of this product actually has a positive effect on the environment. And, that, to me, is priceless.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Vanishing America's First Ever Gallery Exhibition!

Due to the tremendous interest in attending Vanishing America's first ever Gallery Exhibition, we've added a second day for the Open House!

Saturday, June 28th, and now Sunday, June 29th, 2008 mark the opening of the First Ever Vanishing America Gallery Exhibition, which will be on display through the month of July at Roswell's Ann Jackson Gallery.

Saturday's VIP reception will run from 6pm to 9pm and will feature live music from the Breeze Kings, Atlanta's hottest blues band! (See www. myspace.

Sunday's reception will run from 12 to 5pm.

If you are in the Atlanta area, I expect you to come. This will be an historic event, with a guest list that will include local politicians, representatives from the Smithsonian Institution and the University of Georgia, local media, and possibly a celebrity or two.

RSVP to me as soon as you can.

Space is limited and going fast!

Please visit or for more information.

Monday, May 12, 2008

For Jay Nowak

I'd known Jay Nowak since I was a kid. He was my father's friend, and later, became my friend. When I was 15, he took me to the Road Atlanta racetrack to ride with him on a warm-up lap in his Datsun 260Z. (Unfortunately, he had to take the lap without me.) The officials said I had to be at least 16 to ride in such an event. But, my dad and I watched him race. It's one of those memories that will never fade.

Today I attended Jay's funeral. He was only 57.

It's still a bit surreal to me, for I had seen him just last week. Jay had had a heart attack about a month ago. I was with him when the pains began. He had been recovering well, and getting on with his life, but it had weakened his heart so much that the second time it failed completely. I'm going to miss him more than I thought I would.

Jay's death got me thinking about my own mortality (as friends' passings and funerals are likely to do). It got me thinking because Jay was a lot like me -- independent, still single (after all these years), a bit impatient, quick-tempered, and in love with the outdoors. He was also very kind. If anyone ever needed a hand, Jay was there -- no questions asked. And, it was these similarities that made me take his death very personally. I began to consider the short time we are here on this earth, and what each of us decides to do with that time. It made me think that I need to make more of my days than I have been. To love more, to play more, to enjoy my time and to share that enjoyment with the people I love. Situations like this usually have that effect on people.

But, more than that, Jay's funeral got me thinking about how we choose to remember, and choose to honor, those that pass before us. His funeral was held in a church, in the traditional, dignified, Christian fashion. And, that's what many people want.

But not me.

Those kinds of ceremonies make me sad. They depress me, make me cry, and do nothing for remembering how great that person was.

When I go, I want a party. Maybe a big bonfire on the beach with all my family and friends. I want my favorite band to play. I want everyone to tell stories to each other that all start with "Remember when...". I want people to get drunk and divulge secrets, get pissed off, then laugh about it. To me, it's a time to celebrate a life, not mourn a death.

In New Orleans, traditional funerals start with a parade that runs through the streets to the cemetery. Music plays, people dance, and a life is celebrated. It's like a congratulatory salute saying, "Hey man! You did it! You gave your all and we appreciate you for it!"

Send me off with a raucous "Yee Haw!" And, remember me fondly. Save the sadness for someone else.

Jay had requested to be cremated, which I admire. Everyone has their own idea of how to be laid to rest, but I agree with Jay. Set me aflame as in the days of kings. Let my spirit ascend into the heavens with the smoke and the flames. There is no need for a pillow-lined coffin -- I won't be sleeping. I'll be dead. Honor my death by returning me to the natural elements from which I was made. It was this decision that made me recall a poem I had seen many years ago...

When I was in college, taking art classes, one of the requirements was to take a figure drawing class. And, one of the requirements for the figure drawing class was to visit the morgue so we could see how the human body was actually put together. I remember a lot about those visits, but what stands out most in my memory is a sheet of paper tacked up on the wall. It was a poem by Robert N. Test and it sums up my feelings on what to do with me when I go...

"To Remember Me - I will live forever"
by Robert N. Test

The day will come when my body will lie upon a white sheet neatly tucked under four corners of a mattress located in a hospital; busily occupied with the living and the dying. At a certain moment a doctor will determine that my brain has ceased to function and that, for all intents and purposes, my life has stopped.

When that happens, do not attempt to instill artificial life into my body by the use of a machine. And don't call this my deathbed. Let it be called the bed of life, and let my body be taken from it to help others lead fuller lives.

Give my sight to the man who has never seen a sunrise, a baby's face or love in the eyes of a woman.

Give my heart to a person whose own heart has caused nothing but endless days of pain.

Give my blood to the teenager who was pulled from the wreckage of his car, so that he might live to see his grandchildren play.

Give my kidneys to the one who depends on a machine to exist from week to week.

Take my bones, every muscle, every fiber and nerve in my body and find a way to make a crippled child walk.

Explore every corner of my brain.

Take my cells, if necessary, and let them grow so that, someday a speechless boy will shout at the crack of a bat and a deaf girl will hear the sound of rain against her window.

Burn what is left of me and scatter the ashes to the winds to help the flowers grow.

If you must bury something, let it be my faults, my weakness and all prejudice against my fellow man.

Give my sins to the devil.

Give my soul to God.

If, by chance, you wish to remember me, do it with a kind deed or word to someone who needs you. If you do all I have asked, I will live forever.

That poem sums it up completely. Follow that poem to the letter, throw a party when I'm gone, and celebrate my life.

Thank you, Jay, for showing me the way to go. I'll miss you, buddy.

Thursday, May 08, 2008

Save the date!

Well, it's official!

Saturday, June 28th, 2008 marks the opening of the very first Vanishing America exhibit, which will be on display through July at Roswell's Ann Jackson Gallery!

This marks the first in a series of exhibitions of Fine Art photography from the Vanishing America project. Future exhibits will be held in cities all over the United States, each one showcasing new work as well as some original favorites, but this is the first!

All of the images are in signed, limited editions of 25 and vary in size from 8x10 inches to over 5 feet. And, once an edition sells out, there will be no more. What that means to the collector is that each image will not only retain its value, but that the value of each image will actually increase with time.

The opening night of the exhibit promises to be a blast, with music from Atlanta's best blues band, The Breeze Kings, a wine tasting from local vendors, and barbecue from Alpharetta's own Smokejack restaurant, all accompanying 25 of Vanishing America's best images to date.

If you are in the Atlanta area, and would like to attend... hell, if you're within 200 miles of Atlanta, you have to attend!... please RSVP to as soon as you can. This is an historic event. Space is limited and though this event is free, it will "sell out" very quickly.

Celebrity has its perks...

I'm ready for my closeup, Mr. DeMille...

I know. I know. I'm not even close to being a celebrity. Yet. But, the attention I get from fans of my project can sometimes give me a taste of what celebrity must be like.

About a month ago in Athens, Tennessee, I parked BABS in an empty lot near a busy highway. Mom was with me, and we had just decided to take a few moments to grab a quick lunch before we continued back to Atlanta.

As is usually the case, cars were cutting through the parking lot to get a closer look at BABS. But, this time one of the cars actually stopped. A nice lady got out, and knocked on my door. I came out to talk with her and found out that, even though she didn't have internet access, she was actually a big fan of what I was doing! She was so tickled to have met me that she kept giving me hugs and kisses, introduced me to her granddaughter, and even asked for my autograph. Me! Go figure. It was actually a great experience. Not only did it make me feel good, but it gave me a little affirmation (if that is the right word) that I was doing something that was as important to other people as it was to me. I got to meet one of my fans. (You know, that sounds funny... "my fans".) But, I think it's just a small example of things to come.

Tonight, while having dinner with a fellow artist at Pure in Alpharetta, a nice young woman named Heidi approached me. She asked if I was Holt Webb. And, once again, I felt that sense of "celebrity"... of being admired. That must sound conceited, but I mean it in the purest sense of appreciation. People are interested in (and in some cases proud of) what I am doing. And, that makes me feel good. It reinforces the idea that I am doing something worthwhile.

As it turns out, Heidi is actually friends with another friend of mine, Jenifer, a girl I grew up with. And, they wanted me to give a presentation to their school. Since school is almost out, that might not happen, but I am flattered nonetheless. They thought enough of what I'm doing to want to share it with their children and their school.

I suppose the point I'm trying to make is that celebrity doesn't have to be all about getting attention or being famous for the sake of being famous. Sometimes, celebrity can mean that you have a fan base that supports what you do and what you stand for. And, that's a real boost when you're alone, out on the road like I am, trying to make sense of the world around you. You realize that you're not the only one. You realize that there are other people who feel the same way you do, and who are grateful that you are out there telling their stories, and making sure that their voices can be heard.

Monday, May 05, 2008

Second Annual Pink Bandanna Ball

Fun with Fundraising!

I just got back from another wonderful weekend in Chattanooga promoting the Vanishing America project. And, it didn't cost me a dime. I drove all the way on used veggie oil! How's that for saving a buck?

This time I had BABS on display at Saturday's Second Annual Pink Bandanna Ball, helping raise money for Neuroblastoma. Check out their website at

It was a great time. BABS was parked inside the First Tennessee Pavilion for all to see, and one of the images from the Vanishing America series was donated to their silent auction. They had live music from Love, Peace and Happiness, fantastic BBQ from The Butt Stop (their brisket and cornbread casserole were amazing!), casino games, and a badass mechanical bull (which loved the Nancy, Wendy, and Melissa, the event's coordinators, but had no reservations about kicking my butt)!

Jennifer, who rode the bull with me, has ridden some feisty horses in her day, and managed to stay on for another three minutes, looking like she belonged at a real rodeo. I think she could have outlasted any of the guys there.

And, thanks to the efforts of Nancy, Wendy, and Melissa, and the wonderful sponsors who donated their time, money, and prizes for the auctions, this year's event raised over $116,000! Next year's event promises to be even bigger. Heck, if they keep up this pace, they'll be selling out the baseball stadium!

After cleaning up and sleeping in until 10am, I joined the Cromie family out on Tennessee's Lake Chicamauga. (Nancy Cromie is one of the angels who helped organize the Pink Bandanna Ball.) We even did a little fishing. However, I was the only one who caught anything...

Marc and Nancy wouldn't let me keep it, though. They said we had to throw it back. Something about "catch and release", or it being too little... whatever.

But, before I threw it back, I named it Will.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Look what I found!

In Search of... A Snack!

This little tidbit will likely resonate more with the guys than the girls, but I'll tell it anyway...

You ever had the munchies? You know, when you're not looking for a meal, just a nosh. Just a little snack to settle those taste bud crazies.

You walk over to the fridge, poke your head in, look around, can't find what you want, then close the door. Ten minutes later, you do it again. Ten minutes after that, you do it again. You never see what you're looking for. Hell, you don't even know what you're looking for. You just know you're hungry and that if you keep looking, you'll find something to snack on.

You keep poking your head in the fridge expecting that something will just jump out at you. But it never does.

Well, last night it did. I went into that fridge three times looking for something to take care of that craving. Each time I came up short. But, for some unknown reason, I went in a fourth time. And, as I was closing the door, something caught my eye. I opened the crisper drawer, and lo and behold! there it was. What I'd been looking for all my life. The snack that has eluded me since I was a teenager. After years of searching the refrigerator, poking my head in time after time, my efforts finally paid off. I was rewarded for my persistence. And DAMN! it felt great.

What did I find? To be honest, it really doesn't matter what I had found. What matters is that I found it. Have you ever found what you were looking for?

The world is full of small wonders like these. And, it's these little darlings that make life so special.

What? You really want to know what I found?

Oh, okay. It was a protein bar. Happy?

Earth Day

Happy Earth Day!

In honor of the 38th Anniversary of Earth Day, I'm offering up a new Green Tip of the Day...

Plastic! What would we do without that wonderful material? It can be formed into any shape and color we desire. It can be as supple as a raincoat or as solid as a railroad tie. And, it's recyclable (for the most part). Such a great invention.

But... (you knew this was coming, didn't you?)... Most consumer plastics don't get recycled, and many that do, get "recycled" in third world countries.

I was running stairs at my old high school stadium (Go Milton!) and counted 27 used plastic water/juice bottles scattered all over the bleachers. On a recent walk around town, I counted 4 plastic grocery bags, 10 plastic bottles, 3 CD cases and 3 plastic "blister" packs (you know, those damn hard-to-open packages everything seems to come in now).

In fact, the U.S. only recycles about 34% of its plastic bottles. Guess where the rest of those bottles wind up? Take a look around you.

And, it's not just the lack of recycling of these products that is the problem. According to National Geographic, in the U.S. we buy 29 million plastic bottles of water or soft drinks every year. 29 MILLION! And, it takes 17 million barrels of crude oil (yes, oil!) to make those bottles. That's one hell of a lot of energy!

Now, I'm not ALL gripe and groan... many companies are coming up with some very creative uses for the recycled plastic bottle, including fibers for jackets, new fabrics for upholstery, and new building materials. But, it's still not enough.

So, what's the answer? Do we stop drinking bottled water? Of course not. But, we don't need to run around all day with a new bottle of water in hand (unless you're refilling it each time you run out.) We're not as dehydrated a society as Madison Avenue would like us to believe. But, if you have to have your agua, use your own bottle. And, there are plenty of bottles available that won't impart that weird plastic taste to your beverage of choice.

I use my plastic bicycle bottles when I need to carry fluids with me on short jaunts. Of course, I occasionally buy a bottle at the store, but I take that bottle home and reuse it. And, when it wears out, I recycle it.

I also buy powdered drink mixes in paper pouches or cardboard canisters. I could easily go through about 20 2 litre bottles of juice or mixer in a year, but I don't (did I say mixer?). First of all, I simply don't have the room on BABS for even 3 or 4 bottles. Second, if I don't buy those 20 bottles, that's 20 fewer bottles coming from the manufacturer and 20 fewer bottles potentially finding their way into landfills or recycle centers.

I guess it comes down to consumption. Consumption, not of the beverage, but of the package. Anywhere you can reuse a package, or bring your own package, you're saving a little bit of energy. And, at 29 million bottles a year, we could use a little of that savings, don't you think?

Monday, April 21, 2008

Photo Talk Radio

Photo Talk Radio!

Last week I did an internet radio interview with the famous Howard Lipin and Michael Garcia from Photo Talk Radio. We had a great conversation. You can hear it at:

Vanishing America in San Diego Magazine

San Diego Magazine's May issue is out! The writeup about Vanishing America is in their Front Pages section. It's short, but sweet.

Here's the link:

If you live in San Diego, save me a hard copy.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Alive After Five

Remember, you can click on any image to view it full size!

Spring is here, and ART is in the air...

This past Thursday was the first Roswell Alive After Five street event for 2008.

It's a small street festival in the historic district that the City of Roswell puts on every third Thursday during the Spring/Summer. Live bands, booths, face painting for the kids, and the galleries and businesses are open late. It's kind of like San Diego's Ray at Night.

And, even though my first Vanishing America exhibit is two months away, we put a few of my images up in the Ann Jackson Gallery for the Alive After Five event, and parked BABS nearby to get a little exposure. The response was fantastic. Historic Roswell's art scene is primarily painting, and people were glad to see some artistic photography on display. We got a lot of interest in the wild horse images... especially this one.

It was very encouraging for both me and the gallery that so many people showed so much enthusiasm for this body of work. June promises to be a great month!

This weekend, I'm parked at Alpharetta's Art Street Fest. I'm not participating, just getting some visibility. The weather has been perfect, and it even rained a little Friday night to help wash away some of the pollen that's been wreaking havoc on people's allergies.

And, speaking of allergies...
I was out shooting with the historians from the City of Alpharetta last week. And, if you know me at all, I like to wander around and explore, even if it means getting dirty. Well, I didn't get dirty. I got poison ivy. I'd rather have gotten dirty. If you've ever had poison ivy, poison oak, or poison sumac, you know how frustrating it can be. Almost a year ago, in Southern California, I got poison oak while shooting out at a Wagon Wheel Park. You'd think I'd have learned my lesson and covered up a little better. No, not me. The thought never crossed my mind. I grew up playing in the woods, and as a kid, could have rolled around in poison ivy and never have any kind of reaction. But, I guess, as we get older, our bodies change, and now that wicked weed and I simply don't get along.

Stay tuned for more updates about Vanishing America's First Exhibit, coming this June!

Sunday, April 06, 2008

Spring Fever and Pink Bandanas

Dateline: Chattanooga, Tennessee
Sunday, April 4, 2008

I drove the Defender up to Tennessee this weekend to visit my friend Marc Cromie, his wife, Nancy, and their kids Hayden, Kali, and Wil.

Marc is a pediatric allergist who runs three Chattanooga Allergy Clinics throughout the Chattanooga area. Since Spring hit, and pollen season is in full force, Marc has been all over the local news providing advice for families on how to treat allergies in children.

Nancy is co-chair of the
Pink Bandana Ball, raising money for the fight against Neuroblastoma. Last year, I donated one of my Salton Sea images to their auction, which, combined with sponsorships, other donations, and ticket sales helped raise over $100,000 for the cause.

This year's Pink Bandana Ball is May 3rd.

The event is in honor of Emily Ransom who was diagnosed with Stage IV Neuroblastoma in October 2005. This beautiful, strong-willed little girl known as the Pink Power Ranger Princess fought with everything she had for four months to beat her cancer. On February 20, 2006 while undergoing surgery to remove her tumor, Emily won her battle and went to dance in heaven.

Her family wishes to continue her fight and find a cure for this disease. Emily’s Power for a Cure is her fight against cancer carrying on! While the goal of the foundation is to raise awareness and funds to find a cure for Neuroblastoma, there are more immediate needs for families and children fighting this disease. The foundation, Emily's namesake, was founded in 2006 by Emily's parents Jonathon and Wendy Ransom.

Anyone can Pink it Forward simply by doing a random act of kindness for someone and telling them about Emily and asking them to Pink it Forward. You can also visit the websites of children who are still fighting this terrible disease. The websites for children in the Chattanooga area are listed in the Pink it Forward section of the Emily's Power for a Cure website. Make a difference
in someone's life, just as Emily made a difference in ours. Don't forget to share your stories with us.

Pink it Forward!!!

If you're in the Chattanooga area, and can attend, visit their website for ticket information. If you are unable to attend, you can...
  • Purchase Princess Emily magnets ($5)
  • Purchase pink crystal Emily earrings ($20)
  • Purchase Power for A Cure necklaces ($15)
  • Sponsor one of the foundation's special events
  • Participate (and solicit donations) to walk or run in the Country Music Half or Full Marathon in April 2008 in Nashville, TN.
  • Participate (and solicit donations) for Cartwheels for A Cure, which will be held in June 2008
  • Purchase a ticket, sponsor, or donate an auction item to the Pink Bandana Ball
  • Donate blood in Emily's honor ($10 from every donation goes to Power For A Cure)
  • Gifts of cash or stocks can be sent to the following:

(Please make checks payable to Community Foundation of Greater Chattanooga and add Emily's Power for a Cure in the memo line).

Emily’s Power for a Cure
C/o Community Foundation of Greater Chattanooga
1270 Market Street
Chattanooga, TN 37402

Holt's Green Tip of the Day!

If at all possible, buy produce from local farmers. Local produce at stores and Farmers' Markets are not only a great way to get top quality produce and support the local community, but they're a great way to help the environment.

When you buy local, you are actually helping save energy and conserve fuel. The simple act of shipping fruits and vegetables across the United States, and from other countries, requires numerous trucks, planes and ships, each one requiring a significant amount of fuel to get from the farm to the store. If you buy local, you help reduce the need for all these vehicles, saving fuel and reducing carbon emissions.

So, if you can, support your local farmer. There is a great search engine put together by the USDA that can help you find a farmer's market in your area (click here). If you can't find locally grown produce in your area, try to make sure that the produce you buy comes from as close to home as possible.

Monday, March 31, 2008

Rednecks on their day off...

Playin' in the dirt again...

I had a rare opportunity to get away from my work for a day and join my friend Jim on a little redneck adventure. We hopped in his off-road go-cart and raced up and down a gnarly fire road on his property in Dawsonville, Georgia. It had just rained and everything was muddy... including us!

I have to give fair warning, though. This isn't exactly environmentally friendly driving. And, on the surface, may seem to contradict what I'm doing with my Vanishing America project. However, it was a closed course specifically designed for this kind of fun, and we didn't destroy anything in the process (except for one of Jim's daffodils). It was a blast, and an invigorating experience. We got to be kids again for a couple of hours.

I'm still scraping mud off my teeth.

I'm posting the video from my YouTube page. I hope it works here.

Monday, March 24, 2008

Time Out

It's been a tough day...

Although I was treated to a little 5 minute flurry of Atlanta's famous March snow, I had to watch it from the warmth of the RV while I recuperate from a bit of a bug. No coughing, sneezing, or aches and pains normally associated with a cold or the flu, but I'm dead tired, and weak. It hit me late last night with some dizziness and some spasms in my legs, and today I feel like I just ran a marathon. Very strange.

Aside from that, I've been spending my time submitting articles to magazines, working on the new website, and talking with potential sponsors. Haven't had time to do much shooting since I've been working on finding ways to keep the Vanishing America project moving forward, but I promise, I'll have some images of my hometown of Alpharetta very soon.

Media notes:
The newest article about the project will be in a signage trade magazine called Sign of the Times. They called me after one of their editors (a University of Georgia alum) saw the blurb about Vanishing America in UGA's alumni magazine Georgia. I just completed a phone interview with them this morning and am sending over some images of the vinyl wrap on BABS. I'll post up the link to the online issue when it comes out.

Friday, March 14, 2008

Team Vanishing America

Hey everyone. I'm sorry, I've been slack on updating the blog once again. Woe is me. Really, though, I've been busy contacting potential sponsors, giving presentations, submitting articles, and generally trying to find ways to keep Vanishing America moving forward. I gave a presentation to the Peachtree-Atlanta Kiwanis Club on Tuesday, and I just got articles accepted in Land Rover Monthly magazine (a UK mag with huge US distribution), Overland Journal (a high-end expedition magazine), and RV Life. I'll let you know when they go to press.

As some of you are aware, the Vanishing America Team (BABS, Reggie, Missy and I) just got back from a two-week trip to Washington D.C. where I was meeting with scientists and Department heads at the Smithsonian Institution. And, let me tell you, that was an exciting, and educational experience. I've even been invited to join some of them in their field work. Should prove to be a huge boost for the project!

Okay, updates are out of the way. Are you ready for a shocker?

While I was in DC, an accident almost ended my photography career. I almost lost the use of my shooting hand because I was trying to make my tow bar do something that it isn't really designed to do.

I was at a campground unhooking my Land Rover from the RV on what I thought was level ground. Well, apparently it wasn’t level enough. I’d released the parking brake on the Rover in order to give the vehicle enough freedom of movement so that I could release the coupler from the ball hitch. (Often, if there is too much pressure on the ball, the coupler won’t release.) That was my first mistake.

My second mistake was in thinking that I could stop a 6000lb truck from rolling downhill. I was able to release the coupling easily enough, but when I did, the Rover began to creep forward – with my right hand still on the tongue. Instinct told me to push back (silly instinct), but that was just too much weight. The tow bar pressed my right hand (my shooting hand) up against the rear engine panel of my motorhome and stopped, sandwiching my hand between the two.

After several seconds, I was able to wrench my hand free, and as I did so, the Rover continued forward, embedding the tow bar in the engine compartment. Were the compartment’s panels made of anything but fiberglass, the tow bar would have crushed my hand, severed three of my fingers, and rendered that hand all but useless. Fortunately, I walked away with a few lacerations, some bruising, swelling, and intense pain. Ice, pressure, and some ibuprofen reduced the swelling enough to allow me to gain about 80% of my movement back within a few hours, but I’ll never forget the lesson learned: Get a better tow bar!

Really, though, generic tow bars are a bear to use (especially alone). There are some really good ones on the market, but they cost upwards of $1000. Too much money (I thought). But what good is an extra $500 in your pocket when you prematurely end your career by using an inferior product? Bottom line: Buy the best product for the job. It may cost more in the beginning, but it will more than pay for itself over time.

On to other news...
  • San Diego Magazine is doing a story about the Vanishing America project in their May issue (so, those of you in San Diego, keep an eye out for it!)
  • Vanishing America recently added Adams Avenue Bicycles to sponsor list.
  • Since I've been back in Alpharetta, I've gotten my hair cut twice at the lovely Borrelli Salon on Main Street. Christine and, the shop owner, Kelli, both did a fantastic job on my noggin'. If you're in the Alpharetta area, and are in need of a great style or cut, drop in. Tell them I sent you. You'll love the place!
  • Galerie Boutique, also on Main Street, just had their VIP Celebration last night, with exquisite wines from Vino 100 and a great selection of cheeses, imported olives, and hors d'Oeuvres from Slice Cafe.

And, finally, Holt's Green Tip of the Day!

Let there Be Light...

Most of you know that Compact Fluorescent Lights (CFL) are more energy efficient than standard incandescent bulbs. But, did you know how much more efficient they are?

According to Popular Mechanics Magazine, all CFLs use approximately 70% less energy than incandescents. Based on an average household of 45 light bulbs, if you were to replace all the incandescent bulbs with CFLs, you would save over $180 per year!

That's great, but, arent' CFLs more expensive? Well, they used to be. But, that's changing fast. Now, you can find CFLs running only a few cents more than a standard incandescent. And, many cities have bulb exchange programs where you can bring in your standard bulbs and swap them out for CFLs. So, with the average CFL lasting about 6 times as long as an incandescent bulb, costing about the same, and using less electricity, you're looking at tremendous energy savings and a fatter wallet!

How's THAT for a green tip?