Thursday, March 06, 2008

Smithsonian Institution

Where in the world is Holt!?

I've been out of touch for the past couple of weeks. I apologize. I'm at a campground in Virginia and take the Metro into town to visit with scientists at the Smithsonian Institution in DC. The reason I've been out of touch isn't because I've been so busy (though that is certainly the case), but because the trees surrounding BABS block my satellite signal. The lesson here: have a backup. In this case, I have a wireless USB card for my laptop. It uses my cel phone account to provide "broadband" service. So far, so good.

So, why am I in DC with Smithsonian scientists? Well, that's a good question. I wondered that myself at first.

I have a great contact there who has been helping me set up interviews with some of the biggest names in the scientific community. These are the people who do the research that provides the theories and statistics that paint the pictures of our world and our universe, from the tiniest microbe to the largest galaxy. And, somewhere in there, somebody has to have something valuable to tell me about what is vanishing in America.

And, they do! So far, I've met with Marine Biologists, Anthropologists, Iceberg divers, grant writers, and department directors. I've heard wonderful stories of adventure, success, and disappointment, and have seen specimens and artifacts that the general public will never know existed. Each meeting has opened doors to other meetings, and each person has opened my eyes to new ideas for my project.

This summer, I may be traveling to New Mexico to photograph a herd of bison. Not because they are vanishing, but because they were vanishing, and are being brought back. In the Spring, I may be allowed to join a respected paleoanthropologist on a dig in the Chesapeake Bay to see how archaeological sites are being washed away by storms, development, and changing shorelines.

And, that's just scratching the surface. I still have over 40 scientists to talk with!

It's been a tremendous experience, and promises great things for the future of Vanishing America.

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