Saturday, December 25, 2010
If you haven't done so already, please take a couple of minutes to complete the short, 10 question survey about The Vanishing America Project. Your feedback is very important! Thank you.
Wednesday, December 15, 2010
I'll mail the print to you in a protective tube as soon as the payment is received. You can make payments through my secure Vanishing America PayPal account by logging into PayPal, choosing the "Send Money" tab, and entering the following email address into the appropriate field: firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you have any questions, post them here.
Offer expires at midnight tonight - Eastern time (that's 9pm Pacific).
**The total (including shipping) is $35.
Monday, November 01, 2010
RESPONSIBILITY OF OWNERSHIP
As I sit pondering the current state of our economy and the upcoming elections, I find myself uncertain about the future of this great nation. I don’t know if our economy will recover and I don’t know if I can trust our elected officials to “do the right thing” . One thing I do know, however, is that we are the stewards of this planet, like it or not. And, as stewards, it is our responsibility to take care of the world in which we live.
People have often asked me if I’m an environmentalist. I’m not sure how to answer that. I love Nature. I love to see the massive forests, the wide-open plains, the tree-lined and snow-capped mountains, the swamps and wetlands, the sweeping deserts, and the diversity of the seashore. I love seeing such a vast array of wildlife in their natural habitats, from the tiniest shrew burrowing into the warm earth, and the herds of elk grazing the highlands, to the largest grizzly catching its lunch in a run of spawning salmon. And, I adore the idea of this land as it was two hundred years ago, teeming with uncountable forms of life.
But, that bountiful landscape is only a memory. When humans began to significantly populate this country, Nature was forced to take a back seat while we shaped the land into something more suitable to the way we wished to live. And, it will always be that way. As a very dear friend of mine noted, "Human beings have to come first. Otherwise, we'll become extinct." That may be an oversimplification, but I believe the intent is correct. We put ourselves at the top of the food chain in order to survive. But being at the top of the food chain comes with responsibility.
For, as long as we’re kings of this mountain, as long as we're in charge, we’re changing the face of our nation to meet our needs -- for good or bad, right or wrong. We continue to grow, and we have to continue to unabashedly accommodate that growth.
In my travels to big cities and small towns, I've talked with people from all walks of life, and have gotten opinions as varied as the species on this earth. But, regardless of who a person was, or where they lived, one common thread ran through the pattern: Management. More specifically, management of the natural environment. In essence, we can continue to grow as a nation, without destroying the planet or restricting our personal freedoms, by managing this land we call our own.
It's very difficult to do, but there has to be balance in order for both man and nature to thrive. And, since we’re the ones taking over, we must be the ones to take that responsibility. We must be the ones to manage the forests so they don’t go up in uncontrollable wildfires. We must be the ones to manage the herds and their range so they don’t overpopulate and destroy their lands and themselves. We must be the caretakers. Not zookeepers, but caretakers.
Long ago, we decided we wanted this country as our own. Now we must take Responsibility of Ownership.
Monday, October 25, 2010
Saturday, October 09, 2010
The Vanishing America Project needs your help to keep bringing images, stories, videos and education to the public. And your contribution can be tax-deductible. Please visit www.DonateVanAm.blogspot.com to find out how you can make a difference.
Wednesday, September 22, 2010
Go National Geographic!
Much Gulf Oil Remains, Deeply Hidden and Under Beaches
Thursday, September 09, 2010
Special thanks go out to the following people who made this video possible:
Drew Landry, Kindra Arnesen, Gregg Hall, Patrick Shay, Drew Wheelan, Cherri Foytlin, Denise Rednour, Lorrie Williams and her husband Bubba, The United States Coast Guard, Brian Zito, AJ Varner, Leanne Sarco, Jeffery Frederick, Alycia Daumas, Jake Barlow, and all the wonderful people of the Gulf Coast.
Tuesday, September 07, 2010
The Vanishing America Project documents things in our country and our culture that may not be around for future generations to enjoy. And, when I heard about the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill disaster, I knew that there was a subject that fit my parameters perfectly, for it was clear that the coastline of the Gulf of Mexico would never be the same.
But my goal wasn't to be just another journalist documenting bad news. I wanted to create Art out of a terrible situation -- hence the name of the series Beautiful Images from a Disturbing Place. The images in this book are from that series. Beautiful images of disturbing places stir up a different kind of emotion than straightforward images of those same places. They force the mind to do a double-take and bypass the shock factor. And when the Art does that, the mind is free to process logically and emotionally together, making for a much clearer and effective response, allowing the viewer to stay long enough to absorb the message. And that's the point, isn't it?
This series of portraits shows some of the people involved with the spill – the fishermen, the cleanup workers, the wives, the business owners, the scientists, the volunteers... the people who call the Gulf of Mexico their home. More effective than mere words, their expressions show best how they feel about what is happening to them. Their faces show the sadness, anger, desperation, exhaustion and hope of regular human beings trying to cope with an uncertain future.
They are the People of the Spill.
Order your book here: http://www.blurb.com/bookstore/detail/1579833
Two versions are available. A vertically formatted version and a horizontally formatted version.
Monday, September 06, 2010
Tuesday, August 31, 2010
The single is only $1.29! I know you can ALL afford $1.29. Every one of you should buy this song. Not only does it support a good cause, but it's a GREAT song!
Get it on iTunes here: http://itunes.apple.com/us/album/bp-blues/id389899419?i=389899426&ign-mpt=uo%3D4
Get it on Amazon.com here: http://www.amazon.com/BP-Blues/dp/B0041BTZM8/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=dmusic&qid=1283270271&sr=8-1-catcorr
Friday, August 27, 2010
Keep the Project Alive
It’s no easy task to travel the country, shoot and edit photos and video and write stories about this land we call home. And it’s especially tough to do it by one’s self. That’s why I need your help. The Vanishing America Project survives solely on the occasional image/article sale and the generous donations from companies and individuals like you.
To keep these amazing images and stories coming, please help by visiting www.DonateVanAm.blogspot.com and providing any support you can.
Tuesday, August 24, 2010
I really didn't want to get this deep into the problems here on the Gulf Coast. I wanted to document the troubles, the solutions, Americans pulling together and a vanishing coastline and then move on to my next destination.
But things have changed. I'm beginning to take it personally now.
In my many journeys out on boats, helicopters, ATVs, and on foot to see the damage done, the cleanup efforts and the areas yet to be hit by the oil spill; in my many conversations with residents whose lives have been affected by the oil spill; in my own personal direct observations of how clean a place can LOOK without really being clean I've come to the conclusion that we are in a serious mess indeed.
I've walked along beautiful beaches with fresh sand and soaring gulls only to stumble upon tidal pools bubbling with buried oil. I've gone swimming in the "safe" waters off the coast of Mississippi only to find that I'm swimming in dispersant and emulsified oil. And I've watched with utter disbelief while the media and the government that is supposed to protect us tells the nation that everything is okay.
Everything is not okay.
As I stated before, I didn't want to get this deep into the situation here, but I have no choice. The waterways, coastlines and wildlife all look normal, but they aren't. They aren't. And I can't sit idly by while we're told that they are. I'm not an activist... I'm an artist. But I've seen things here that make me sick. If this isn't Vanishing America, then I don't know what is.
In that vein, I've started a new series of images to parallel my portrait series, People of the Spill. This series is called Accountability. What you see in the hands of these people is a plaque that every boat over 26 feet is supposed to display. The statement is issued by the US Coast Guard and reads as follows:
DISCHARGE OF OIL PROHIBITED -- THE FEDERAL WATER POLLUTION CONTROL ACT PROHIBITS THE DISCHARGE OF OIL OR OILY WASTE INTO OR UPON THE NAVIGABLE WATERS OF THE UNITED STATES, OR THE WATERS OF THE CONTIGUOUS ZONE, OR WHICH MAY AFFECT NATURAL RESOURCES BELONGING TO, APPERTAINING TO, OR UNDER THE EXCLUSIVE MANAGEMENT AUTHORITY OF THE UNITED STATES, IF SUCH DISCHARGE CAUSES A FILM OR DISCOLORATION OF THE SURFACE OF THE WATER OR CAUSES A SLUDGE OR EMULSION BENEATH THE SURFACE OF THE WATER. VIOLATORS ARE SUBJECT TO SUBSTANTIAL CIVIL PENALTIES AND/OR CRIMINAL SANCTIONS INCLUDING FINES AND IMPRISONMENT.
The water, the marshes and the beaches are not clean yet. They may look clean, but they are not. And until someone is held accountable for the cleanup -- the ENTIRE cleanup -- our coastline and our wildlife will continue to disappear.
Sunday, August 15, 2010
Drew is one of the people I've photographed for my "People of the Spill" series, and is one talented songwriter. (I didn't shoot this clip, so I apologize for the beginning being a little jacked-up).
Wednesday, August 11, 2010
Share this video. Drew Wheelan is a friend of mine who came out to Grand Isle with me yesterday. What he's showing you is the oil that is still on the beaches in southern Louisiana. These images are proof that this isn't over.
check out his Gulf Oil Spill coverage at
Tuesday, August 10, 2010
Many of you may have been seeing on the news that the worst of the oil spill is over and the beaches are clean, the water is clean, and everything will be back to normal soon. I understand the point of view from where many of the reports are coming. The journalists are only reporting what they see. But that's exactly the problem. You can't judge a book just by looking at the cover. The Ocean is a tremendously varied system. The winds, the waves, the currents, etc. all do different things in different places.
Here in Louisiana there are stretches of clean beach, but there are also stretches of nasty beach. There are sections of clean marsh, but there are also sections of oily marsh. It just depends on where you look. I was out on the beaches today and found oil that wasn't there yesterday. I also found oil a foot under the sand that was deposited by the latest high tide.
Low tide, high tide... the beach is always changing. So, yeah, of course there are clean places. The entire Gulf isn't a pool of oil. It just has oil IN IT. And that oil will wash up in some places, settle to the seafloor in other places and not show up at all in still other places. That's just the way it is. It depends on where you look.
But you can be sure that the oil is out there, it IS still washing up, and it WILL continue to do so for quite some time. It's naive to think that it won't. If you are brave enough to want to see the TRUTH, go to www.pcolagregg.com. He's tied in with everyone who is trying to tell the truth. Yeah, there are a few eco-nazis that go over the top, but it's easy to separate them from the real storytellers. Gregg is the real deal. Visit his website. You will be treated with a very clear picture of what's really happening. Don't turn your backs on this. It ain't over.
Monday, August 09, 2010
Tuesday, August 03, 2010
of a Disturbing Place
Images from the Gulf of Mexico Oil Spill Disaster - Part 1
Fine Art collector's edition images from the Gulf of Mexico Oil Spill Disaster. Series of Six.
Sunday, August 01, 2010
The above are abstract images of the patterns formed in the oil that has been washing up on the beaches here in southern Louisiana. And, if you look closely, you can see hermit crab trails cutting through the surface skin.
Here is the link: http://www.weather.com/outlook/videos/tropical-update-6584#17889
Saturday, July 31, 2010
This second shot is a portrait of local fisherman Brian Zito who, despite his best efforts (and the efforts of the community around him), has somehow been left off the list of fishing vessels available for helping with the oil cleanup. Because of the oil spill, Brian can't fish for a living... and now he can't even help clean the places he calls home.
I've been looking for some good to come out of this -- maybe communities pulling together, millions of dollars being raised to help clean up the mess... but I'm afraid there is little good to be found. People are trying, they are pushing, they are calling out to their leaders for help, but help is slow in coming... if it comes at all.
Elmers Island, Louisiana --
What follows is a series of three images... so you can feel the same sense of disbelief that I felt when I came upon this scene. It's so subtle that I was dumbfounded. I've been at the site of the oil spill, I've seen the slicks, but I was still dumbfounded. The first image is a wide shot of the beautiful beach, lush with sand, framed by a gentle surf and strewn with tiny shells and pebbles.
The second image is a closer view of those pebbles, so round and perfect. Just like any beach might have.
This third image is a closeup of the pebbles. But, wait. Those aren't pebbles. I picked one up. It broke apart in my hand like a warm m&m. Those little "pebbles" are tar balls. Yes, tar balls. Little semi-solid nuggets of oil washing up on our beaches by the millions. They wash up every single day. The workers are dutifully cleaning the beaches, yet these little pellets of petroleum keep sweeping ashore like some bizarre kind of D-Day invasion.
Is this the kind of sand we want squishing between our toes?
Monday, July 26, 2010
Sunday, July 25, 2010
Saturday, July 17, 2010
Friday, July 16, 2010
Wednesday, July 14, 2010
For a list of helpful charities, visit:
Tuesday, July 13, 2010
For a list of helpful charities, visit:
Yesterday I got my first glimpse into the wildlife recovery effort here in Louisiana -- set up at Fort Jackson just off Highway 23. This is just one of the many stations around the Gulf Coast that takes in rescued birds (Pelicans, terns, spoonbills, gulls, etc.), cleans the oil from their delicate feathers, provides a brief rehabilitation and then releases them into protected (and clean) wetlands.
They routinely give the media access to see the operation, and I was lucky enough to be included in the latest group. And on my way in, I met Jean-Michel Cousteau and his crew from Ocean Futures Society. Talk about timing!
The folks at this station were very friendly... and not just "PR-friendly." They were genuine people like you and me, from all over the country (Tennessee, Louisiana, Wisconsin...), here to help protect this fragile ecosystem we call The Gulf.
My timing was a little off, though, as most of the rescued and cleaned birds had recently been shipped out. But I did get a feel for the cleanup effort and got to meet some very interesting (and proud) pelicans waiting to go back home.
Unfortunately, for these birds, home doesn't exist anymore. But, Mother Nature has built quite a bit of resilience into her creatures and new wetlands are being created and set aside specifically for their recovery, so I'm certain these birds will thrive wherever they go.
For statistical details and more information about the rescue efforts, please visit http://www.deepwaterhorizonresponse.com/go/doctype/2931/55963
If you would like to help The Vanishing America Project's efforts in the Gulf, please visit www.donatevanam.blogspot.com
Sunday, July 11, 2010
The sign says it’s the Southernmost Point in Louisiana, and that’s no joke. In fact, the only way to get farther south is by boat.
We may look at the emptiness out here with no fast food restaurants, no Walmart, no condos... and never give it a second thought, but the Mississippi River Delta is a true American paradise. The locals even call this area “God’s Country”... and rightfully so. There is such an abundance of life here in these marshes that the air swarms with waterfowl and the waters teem with crab, fish, alligators and (this time of the year) locusts.
As I take the Land Rover out for a drive, the birds are reluctant to get out of the way, lest I interrupt their dinner. As a matter of fact, I saw one bird desperately trying to haul away a crab half it’s own size before dropping it back in the water to meet its fate under my tire. They are so used to humans and vehicles around here that they literally won’t move unless they absolutely have to. And their behavior is understandable. After all, we’re trespassing on their feeding grounds. The natural rhythm of the tide through these marshes brings an onrush of water across the grasses and the roads providing a shallow smorgasbord of aquatic life easily visible to the multitude of wading birds.
Oil, oil everywhere...
But it looks as though this winged paradise is about to meet its fate. With the help of chemical dispersants, the oil gushing from the Deepwater Horizon rig in the Gulf of Mexico is rapidly making its way to these pristine shores. And, once it hits, no form of life will survive. Every link in the food chain will be affected, from the smallest form of algae to the largest alligator and everything in between. That’s how it works -- one thing eats another, then something bigger eats that, and on up it goes, multiplying its deadly effect the entire way.
Some progress is being made in the effort to contain the spill, but it’s not enough. The reasons are many, and I won’t get into them here, but suffice it to say that it looks like “God’s Country” doesn’t stand a chance. Many of the locals are leaving -- locals who fought their way back here to rebuild after losing everything to Hurricane Katrina -- because they know all too well the lasting damage that this oil spill will cause. There will be no recovering from it in our lifetimes.
I wanted to try to make my trip to the Gulf a positive one -- I was hoping to show how America is pulling together to fight this disaster and protect our shores from one of the largest man-made catastrophes in history. I wanted to show that. But I can't. It's unfortunate, but I haven't seen much progress being made to stem this black tide. Maybe in the upcoming weeks that will change. I hope with all my heart that it will. And I will show it to you when I find it. But, until then, know that just because these stories have fallen off the front pages of the news, it doesn't mean that this disaster is over.
No... far from it. Even if the leak is capped today, it will take many generations before the Gulf, and all the life within it will be able to recover. If it ever does.
So, take a good look at the most beautiful and varied coastline North America has to offer. Once the oil reaches these shores, you can kiss this bayou paradise goodbye.
If you would like to help bring these stories from the Gulf to the American public, please visit www.donatevanam.blogspot.com and make a donation today. Be part of the solution.
When regular topical ointments wouldn't relieve the itching, I took a closer look at the bites. Turns out they aren't your garden variety mosquito or no-see-um. I don't know what it was, but I do know that it is bad. As you can see from the photo, the little red lines radiating from the swollen red bite mark on my sole indicate that whatever is in there is spreading through my bloodstream. Not good.
So, I'm on antibiotics and taking it easy until the infection goes away -- which it already seems to be doing. (Don't worry, I feel fine.)
And, while I'm laid-up, I will be editing my interview with Kindra Arnesen -- local activist and rising star in the fight to protect Louisiana's precious coastal wetlands.
And, if you haven't already, you can help me bring you images and stories from the gulf by donating to the project at www.donatevanam.blogspot.com.
Saturday, July 10, 2010
What I saw was absolutely beautiful. It's Nature Primeval. Life exploding in abundance... water, sunlight, trees, grasses, birds, alligators, fish jumping, crabs, frogs... it's all there creating a primordial paradise that, to me, stands up to any tropical island for its rarity and its beauty.
Take a good look at it folks. Once that oil reaches these shores, you can kiss this bayou paradise goodbye...
Wednesday, July 07, 2010
Tuesday, July 06, 2010
Just click on this link to find out how you can make a difference:
We all know it's bad out there, but it's a lot worse than the mainstream media is letting on. And, for as little as $5, YOU can help bring the truth out of the Gulf and play an active role in saving our country's precious coastal wetlands and beautiful gulf waters.
Don't just sit back and complain. Become part of the solution!
Saturday, July 03, 2010
The video says it all...
To help support the Vanishing America Project, please visit:
Wednesday, June 30, 2010
Monday, June 28, 2010
Sunday, June 27, 2010
I've listed myself and the project with all the states' volunteer websites, I've been in contact with the Deepwater Horizon Response and various states' tourism boards, and am woking hard to get you the information you need without the standard media spin we've come to distrust so much.
I've been doing a lot of research about what beaches have been affected, who is in charge of what programs and where the volunteer efforts are being concentrated. Any information or contacts you can send my way would be greatly appreciated.
In the meantime, if you would like to help with a monetary donation, please click on this link:
Whether you can afford $5 or $5000, any help is appreciated and goes directly to The Vanishing America Projects efforts in the Gulf. And... it's tax deductible!
The Vanishing America Project is a sponsored project of Fractured Atlas, a non-profit arts service organization. Contributions in behalf of this project may be made payable to Fractured Atlas and are tax-deductible to the extent permitted by law.
So, please help out. Remember... if we want ownership of this land, we must take responsibility!
Friday, June 25, 2010
Speaking of West Texas, I spent the night parked in a tiny little town called Van Horn. In the morning I had lunch at a great local joint called Papa's Pantry. I asked them for an avacado as an appetizer and they gave me a plate of the biggest, tastiest, butteriest (is that a word?) slices of avacado I've ever eaten. They sliced it and peeled it and delivered it to me while I awaited my "to go" order. Now THAT'S what I call service! :-)
After the avacado, I drove around the corner to the Veteran's Park -- a cute little playground and ballfield not half a mile away. Though it looked clean and well-kept at first glance, it was obvious on closer inspection that it probably wasn't a place that little kids visited very often. The usual playground devices were there (see-saws, slides, etc.), but they were missing pieces and looked like they hadn't been played on in years. There was also a LOT of broken glass scattered around... as if the place got a little rowdy on the weekends. Not exactly the kind of place you want your kids to be running around in (especially if the kids are like I was and ran around in bare feet all summer!)
I don't mean to paint a poor picture of the place. It was actually pretty interesting. And, as I stated before, it did look fairly well kept. The grass was mowed, the landscaping was tidy, and the ball field was in great shape. I guess it's just the broken beer bottles that threw me.
And it's that bit of information that got me thinking... is this playground a symbol of our times? Is it a symbol of a changing America? I asked myself, "Why don't kids play here anymore? Has this place become the local hangout to drink away one's troubles? If so, why?
Best not to think too deeply on these kinds of things. After all, I am an outsider looking in, and I only caught it in a singular moment in time. I'd actually love to see a ball game there some weekend...