Jessica Crabtree

Tag: National Geographic

Wade Davis “River Notes”

by on Jan.21, 2013, under JOURNAL: Nature, art, cultural perspectives

Lake Mead (Wikimedia Commons/Public Domain)
Image: Wikimedia Commons / Public Domain

Aldo Leopold was a conservationist who made important natural surveys of the Colorado River region in the early 20th century. His observations, and the stark warnings he made about the wanton misuse of resources and interference in its well-established eco-systems are a relevant prophecy today:

“Do we not already sing our love for and obligation to the land of the free and the home of the brave?,” he asked. “Yes, but just what and whom do we love? Certainly not the soil, which we are sending helter-skelter down river. Certainly not the waters, which we assume have no function except to turn turbines, float barges, and carry off sewage. Certainly not the plants, of which we exterminate whole communities without batting an eye. Certainly not the animals, of which we have already extirpated many of the largest and most beautiful species. A land ethic of course cannot prevent the alteration, management, and use of these ‘resources,’ but it does affirm their right to continued existence, and, at least in spots, their continued existence in a natural state. In short, a land ethic changes the role of Homo sapiens from conqueror of the land-community to plain member and citizen of it.”

What would he say to the fact that the Colorado is now so vastly overdepleted from supplying some of the world’s fastest growing metropolitan & agricultural centers in regions that could never support such populations?

USA Today – Study: Shortages likely on Colorado River by 2050

Wherever natural crisis occurs, human disaster is not far behind. That’s the cycle that Leopold recognized. His investigations, and the development of engineering works on the Colorado, are detailed in a new book from anthropologist/ethnobotanist Wade Davis. It reminds me of Timothy Eagan’s excellent work on the Dust Bowl, “The Worst Hard Time,” in its bleak forecast of needlessly repetitive history.

Wade Davis is an author & National Geographic resident explorer, better known to many of us through his tv documetaries delving into the daily lives & traditional philosophies of indigenous peoples.

Read more:
National Geographic: Wade Davis on Loss in the Colorado River Delta

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NatGeo Traveler Photo Contest 2012

by on Aug.24, 2012, under JOURNAL: Nature, art, cultural perspectives

natgeo travelers photo contest

Traveler Photo Contest – Winners Gallery

The winning shots are divided into categories for Outdoors, Sense of Place, Travel Portraits, and Spontaneous Moments. Or, if you’re the kind of person who wants to have their cake and eat it too, see how your judging stacks up by viewing all the entries! My personal favorite was a great shot of Antelope Canyon under “Outdoor.” What would your choice have been?

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In the Shadow of Wounded Knee – National Geographic

by on Jul.22, 2012, under JOURNAL: Nature, art, cultural perspectives

In the Shadow of Wounded Knee - Photo Gallery - Pictures, More From National Geographic Magazine

In the Shadow of Wounded Knee – Photo Gallery – Pictures, More From National Geographic Magazine.

After 150 years of broken promises, the Oglala Lakota people of the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota are nurturing their tribal customs, language, and beliefs. A rare, intimate portrait shows their resilience in the face of hardship.

Pine Ridge Community Storytelling Project – INTERACTIVE

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NatGeo: Will Modern Phoenix Outlast the Prehistoric Hohokam?

by on Apr.11, 2012, under JOURNAL: Nature, art, cultural perspectives

This National Geographic news story caught my eye, since it resonates with a subject dear to my heart: modern technology vs. indigenous tradition.

It’s a little known fact that the desert oasis of Phoenix was built on an irrigation center constructed by the “millennial kingdom” of the Hohokam culture. Residents of today’s Phoenix, or San Diego, or Las Vegas can sit it climate-controlled homes and offices supplied with potable water diverted from entire river systems. But does the fact that our modern tech culture thrives on top of the remains of this and other hubs of ancient trade and infrastructure mean that our civilization is more advanced – or less vulnerable – than theirs? It’s a perennial question that is more pressing than ever now that we’re beginning to realize the serious sustainability issues faced by our own modern culture.

Will Modern Phoenix Outlast the Prehistoric Hohokam? by Sandra Postel

See also: Top Archaeological Discoveries of 2009: Ancient Irrigators of Tuscon

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Narrow-leaf campion

by on Feb.23, 2012, under JOURNAL: Nature, art, cultural perspectives

campionThis humble, inconspicuous little meadow flower doesn’t look like much – it’s a lot like a small plant that grows today in the Eurasian tundra. That is, except for the fact that it’s bloomed from a seed that’s been frozen since the last Ice Age.

Revived from the flesh of seeds found in prehistoric ground squirrel tunnels in the Siberian permafrost, it is the oldest plant ever to have been regenerated from dormant seed.

Image: National Geographic “32,000-Year-Old Plant Brought Back to Life—Oldest Yet”

This success has been hailed as a breakthrough in the understanding of seed preservation. For experts concerned with the storage of heritage seeds and endangered species (such as the Millennium Food Bank), being able to investigate the conditions under which viable seeds can be preserved can greatly expand our potential for saving the world’s plant diversity.

See also: NatGeo Special Feature “Food Ark

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National Geographic – In Praise of Winter

by on Dec.07, 2011, under JOURNAL: Nature, art, cultural perspectives

I consider myself fortunate to live in a region where I get a little taste of winter splendor each year. It’s not quite the Arctic here, but not quite the tropics – natgeo_banff_iceso I’ll gladly put up with a bit of chill and slush to get the best of both worlds in a humid-subtropical mountain climate.

Ice sculptures in Banff National Park, Alberta – Photo by Stacy Conaway

Of course there are some REAL winter junkies out there – and though you’re probably outnumbered by sun-loving snowbirds who migrate (at least in their dreams) to more southerly latitudes as the days get shorter, you know there’s little that can compare to the awesome sparkling splendor of a snowy landscape, urban or rural. Whether it’s the glitz and nostalgia of the holiday season, or the pristine cleanness of the crisp air and a soft blanket of snow, there’s a certain subtle magic that no other time of year can offer.

So here’s to lovers of winter; feast to your hearts’ content on snowy snapshots and festive photography from places in the world where folks know how to do winter up just right.

National Geographic: In Praise of Winter

Prestvannet Lake, Norway – Photo by Einar Nilsen
You’ve got to take winter seriously when it brings darkness much of the year, as it does in Norway. Be sure to see the gallery of Scandinavia photos.

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About Me

I am a freelance artist living in Arkansas, US, specializing in historical portraits of American Indians. I blog about the portrayal and influence of Native Americans in art, history, and the media.

I am fascinated by history and world cultures, ancient and modern, and particularly indigenous peoples. My other interests include wildlife ecology, environmental issues & sustainability, journalism, photography, web design & development. I enjoy music and reading (see my book list here).

You can see some of my pastel work, and my drawings in charcoal and graphite, by visiting my online Gallery.