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2012 FTW


Acorn & Chestnut

Few people affect me more than the likes of Ralph Waldo Emerson, Henry David Thoreau, and John Muir. Of these three I've been reading excerpts from Meditations of Henry David Thoreau: A Light in the Woods and I am constantly surprised at how relevant their words are to now. So much that it only furthers my belief that everything is connected, no matter who you are or what you believe.

On that note I bring to you Acorn & Chestnut by Thoreau, a meditation that especially stood out to me:

I was not born to be forced. I will breathe after my own fashion. Let us see who is the strongest. What force has multitude? They only can force me to become like themselves. I do not hear of men being forced to live this way or that by masses of men. What sort of life were that to live? When I meet a government which says to me, "Your money or your life," why should I be in haste to give it my money? It may be in a great strait, and not know what to do: I cannot help that. It must help itself; do as I do. It is not worth the while to snivel about it. I am not responsible for the successful working of the machinery of society. I am not the son of the engineer. I perceive that, when an acorn and a chestnut fall side by side, the one does not remain inert to make way for the other, but both obey their own laws, and spring and grow and flourish as best they can, till one, perchance, overshadows and destroys the other. If a plant cannot live according to it's nature, it dies; and so a man.

No Impact Challenge

Credit: D'Arcy Norman under the Creative Commons License
How does it seem that a year can go by in the blink of an eye; as just one tiny suspension of time? It really puts into perspective just how tiny we are in this universe, and yet our impact is huge. I recently watched No Impact Man, a story about Colin Beavan and his family's journey through a year of living with as little carbon footprint as possible. I was moved by his endeavor and the very real conflicts that arose throughout the year. Colin sought to cut down his family's impact through various means like making walking and cycling their only mode of transportation, vermicomposting, shopping at farmer's markets and even cutting the electricity. Sound unimaginable? Beavan and his wife were criticized numerously by many, including environmentalists because of their 'extremism.' Many thought that going no impact was unfeasible and just something else for stressed out American's to add to their plates. But what Beavan was looking for was could he go no impact but still be happy? What he found was that even living minimally, he and his family were happy and healthy.

With the rapidly approaching new year it got me thinking about my impact and my hopes and dreams for 2010 (call it a New Year's resolution if you will). If I could go full 'no impact' I would but alas my lifestyle is too non-permanent to make it so. But I would like to devote next year to lessening my impact on this lovely planet, as close to no impact as possible. In fact, many people have already started their lessening with experiments such as No Impact Week hosted by Playing largely off of Colin Beavan's story, Huffpost set out to help guide people through trying a no impact lifestyle. Though I do wish it were more open to those who can't make drastic changes like switching to non-carbon producing transportation, nevertheless, it is still a good insight into what 'no impact' is all about. It's not about buying the things we think make us happy or that we assume we need but about simplifying our lives and making the most important aspects of our lives -- family and friends -- a priority. And at the same time we're treating the planet with respect. Think of it as a golden rule between us and Mother Nature.

As a matter of fact the average American throws out about 4lbs of trash on a daily basis. We're the highest trash makers in the world. And half the crap isn't recycled, adding to the tons and tons of trash in our landfills.  Everything we do today will affect tomorrow, be it good or bad. This is a reminder we should carry with us on a daily basis. The good thing is that 4,000 people have participated in No Impact Week and who knows how many more were already doing it. The smallest change can and will make a big difference.

With the holidays upon us we should also remember to keep our Christmas impact to a minimum, even if it means no gift giving. I know, it sounds terrible right? But is that truly what makes Christmas so joyous? The presents? Maybe it's the food and the time spent with family. At least that's what Beavan believes. He recently wrote an article on just that, a low impact Christmas, for Yes! magazine. Imagine the stress and money that would be saved by adopting this type of  mentality. It shouldn't be so out of the ordinary to give gifts whenever we feel like it.

The decision to go "no impact" is life changing. One that many people are not willing to make, but sometimes doing is believing. And you never know; one spark could cause a domino effect of change. The question is: Are you willing to try it?

Just something to think about.

(update: I just found started by Colin Beavan. Check it out!)


Starfish and Sea monsters

I would embed the video if I could but the user disabled the code for this video. Nevertheless, here is the link to a BBC time-lapse video of some fantastic sea creatures and how they do things down under.

Check it out!


Check out the skill in this video Derek found.We collectively agreed that the people who created this are geniuses...

Atelic from duckeyejey on Vimeo.

I wasn't sure what Atelic meant until I googled it. It's basically a word that describes an action or event as being incomplete. Makes sense, no?

Teachin' for the Teach-in

I recently visited Gateway High School in Kissimmee, FL for a teach-in. It was a district-wide day for professionals and hobbyists to come in and teach the students about their art. I was invited by Derek's mom (who is a teacher at Gateway) to cover photography and blogging, two things they had somewhat covered in class. From the first invitation the opportunity sounded fun. But after a few days of thinking about it and reminiscing of past nerve-wracking school presentations I started to regret accepting. Suddenly the image of me sweating and trembling, tripping over my words or blanking out completely made me feel as if I were about to get on stage for a tap dancing performance. The accelerated heart beat, the shortness of breath, the butterflies in my stomach. Bad feelings. Of course none of my past experiences speaking in public were ever that bad. My 'memory' just serves as a way to justify those unsure feelings (a horrible habit of mine).

Anyway, weeks passed and the date crept closer. I almost told Derek's mom I couldn't accept but Derek wouldn't let me give in. He said I would be fine and I made him pinky swear that fact. And so the day arrived. Dawn appeared; we woke up earlier than usual, and disgruntled we drove to the school.  On a side note, you should know that I have the biggest fear of my dreaded "shaky voice" when I'm speaking. Ever since 7th grade when this kid asked the teacher if I was about to cry while I was giving my book report. Traumatic I tell you. And much to my dismay I heard the shakiness begin as I introduced myself to the class. Darn it! I wondered why I couldn't seem cool and collected like Derek. I felt unprepared and uncollected because of my nerves. But after a few minutes of talking to the kids, (and finding the comfort of computer desks proximity) I felt much more at ease and the shakiness soon disappeared (at least I think). And though I still felt nervous every time a new class came in, I was less stressed about it. In all honesty the students were really fun to talk to. It felt good to hear such positive reactions to my photos and Derek's videos and stories. In hindsight all of the stress I gave myself seemed unwarranted. Derek was right. What did I have to lose?

Nothing. If anything I gained a lot from it. And for that experience I have Beth (Derek's mom) to thank for thinking of me to come in. As well as Derek for not letting me chicken out. Derek and I took it upon ourselves to inspire the students to think for themselves and work for something they'd love to do forever. I never expected to be inspired in return. But that's what happened. I've got a new zest for my hobby-to-professional endeavors that has me thinking of all sorts of neat ideas that I can work on.

So thank you to Beth, and the three New Media classes we spoke to as well as the thoroughly outgoing IB class. I had a lot of fun.

Peace & Love

Face off with a leopard seal: an amazing National Geographic video

I found this video on YouTube as I was searching for moving photography videos. What I found was perfect. Check out the incredible situation this National Geographic photographer experiences when he comes face to face with a huge leopard seal.

Aren't those images amazing?? I can only imagine how moving an experience like this would be. Hell, it would be amazing just to visit Antarctica! For real.

I think if I ever encountered a leopard seal in the wild I would be much more terrified and hesitant than this guy. Just saying. Overall: amazing video. *dreamsofbeinganationalgeographicphotographer*

North Carolina Camping

Derek, Jeff and I (along with Remy and Kirra) just got back from an almost week in North Carolina where we did some mingling with old friends for Halloween and camping. We decided to camp out in various NC state parks before heading back to Florida. Let me just say that if camping was a full time job I'd be on that SO fast. This was my first camping trip and I can't ever imagine getting sick of such wonder and beauty. No matter how many deer I see (especially where I live) I'm always in awe at seeing such raw wildness wherever we go. The weather was a much desired break from the Florida heat. Temperatures lingered in the 50's and 60's and at night dropped to the 30's and 40's. Needless to say I woke up more than once during the night in an attempt to burrow more into my sleeping bag or convince Remy that he should curl up with me. After each day we learned more and more about what we need to do to keep warm/comfortable for future hikes. And with aspirations to hike the Appalachian Trail and the Pacific Crest Trail we need all the experience we can get…

Our first night was spent at Eno River State Park after a mad dash to pick up Remy and Kirra from boarding. A few complications caused us to get a late start but after things went wrong some other things went right and we took a moonlit (with the occasional aid of a flashlight) 1 mile hike to our site. We were the only ones in the park that night which felt awesome with a side of uncertainty (and maybe some creepiness?). I fell asleep early on while the guys attempted to start a fire. We left relatively fast the next morning after some tasty soup because Jeff still had goop (liquid latex) in his hair from Halloween and he required the aid of a barber. After another late start we headed west toward Stone Mountain State Park (STSP).  We then detoured to another park, Pilot Mountain State Park (PMSP) when it became apparent that we weren't going to make it before the gates closed. At this point I learned the difference between I-40 and I-40 BUS. To say the least we ended up driving a lot more than was needed much to my frustration. Fortunately though most parks allow you to self-register (for that I love them all the more) so it was alright when we showed up 10 minutes before the gates were set to close. We stayed at a campground at PMSP and there was only room for 1 tent so that night we all squeezed in together, Remy and Kirra included. It wasn't so bad…until Kirra decided a morning run was in order the next day. She darted out of the tent as I was getting out with Remy and took off without even a backwards glance. Earlier Derek had found Remy's backpack some feet away from our site. Something small (with 5 fingers I'm sure) ripped a tiny hole in the side which was just big enough to eat the remainder of Remy’s food. This was my WTF moment. So we spent a stressful morning searching for Kirra and after three hours she returned limping and panting. Thus our Pilot Mountain experience came to an end.

After Kirra returned we finally made it to SMSP, surrounded by miles and miles of…no cell phone signal. This did not bode well for Derek (he had some work to take care of) but fortunately their picnic area had cell signal. Yay! 

After restroom breaks, phone calls, and essential backpack organizing we set out on our trek. I’d been studying the map of our supposed campsite on the drive to Pilot Mountain and I’d noticed all of the hikes in SMSP were either considered “moderate” or “strenuous” in difficulty. Fortunately for us the trail to our campsite was in fact labeled “strenuous”. And yes, strenuous applied to that trail if only for all of the tiring...up...hill...climbing. Even Remy seemed to be straining. My pack felt as if the straps were indefinitely engraving themselves into my shoulders as well. Gah. Here too we were the only ones camping. It felt strangely liberating, having such an expanse of nature to ourselves. We hiked maybe 1.5 to 2 miles to our isolated little site and raced the setting sun to set up the tents. That night we enjoyed some tasty buffalo burgers and baked beans and fell asleep to the rushing sounds of the neighboring creek. The next morning we did a little exploring and got a little lost on the road back to civilization.

An here our journey came to a sad end. It was time to return to Orlando, bah. SMSP was by far my favorite park and I wish we’d had more time to explore the area and see Stone Mountain up close. Actually, I wish we’d had more time to explore every place we’d visited. Nevertheless, we had an amazing time and I can’t wait to go back…maybe…forever? 

Until we meet again North Carolina <3

Hope carries around the world

Photo from Flickr user Ashting

This Saturday is the International Day of Climate Action and is hoping to make a statement about their cause. is a movement started in large part by writer Bill McKibben and aims to bring CO2 output levels down to 350ppm (parts per million), which is considered by some scientists to be the safest level for long-term human survival. Check out their mission in video form:

There's a whole bunch of cool stuff surrounding this event worldwide. It's inspiring to see so many countries preparing to take part that I can't help but feel affected by it. The joining of people for a common goal is always uplifting, especially when their aim is carried out through positivity and hope. You can check out some of the things that'll be taking place this Saturday around the world here.  And if you're interested in finding some events near you check out

Another awesome site to check out is This movement, like, is aiming to affect the outcome of the United Nations Climate Change Conference in December by bringing people together to demand positive change. Let them know what gives you hope.

Nature's beauty gives me hope.