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On August 29th, I will leave Sarasota on a three-month expedition across the country, including stops in the Florida Panhandle, Mississippi, Louisiana, Texas, New Mexico, Colorado, Utah, Wyoming, Montana (to see Glacier National Park while there are still some glaciers), and Nevada, before arriving in the Eastern Sierras and Mono Lake. From there, I will travel to the Pacific Northwest, via Yosemite and Big Sur, where I will attend a personal writing workshop at Esalen, before ending up in Pacific Northwest. The return trip is still in the process of being planned and will be more flexible. However, as I will not be heading back until early November, my route will take me down the coast California and then across the Southern half of the United States in order to avoid wintry conditions.
This will be both a personal journey of spiritual and artistic discovery, and a voyage to record the effects of climate change on our rivers and the environment. During my trip, I will attend several photography workshops in addition to photographing the wilderness with guides and on my own. I will also interview river and water keepers, and anyone else I can arrange to speak with who is dedicating their life to helping preserve this beautiful earth. I will endeavor to post a photograph and my thoughts and impressions each day on my Lynne Buchanan Facebook page, as long as I have Internet access. My interviews with river and water keepers will be posted on my Lynne Buchanan Climate Leader FB page.
The interactive map shown here outlines my anticipated route. As I travel, my wonderful assistant Tania will update the pins with my actual location, where I visited, and whom I have met with. I encourage everyone to track me on my voyage and to post comments on my blog and my Lynne Buchanan Photography Facebook page. I welcome recommendations of places not to miss and/or people I should try and meet up with to hear their stories. There are so many champions of preservation who work diligently and quietly for no glory of their own, whose stories are inspirational and worthy of being shared. Please check my blog on my website or at lynnebuchanan.blogspot.com for the most up-to-date longer posts, which I hope to write at least once a week.
For the past year, as the empty nest loomed on the horizon with the last of my children going off to college this fall, I have felt an increasing desire to see as much of our beautiful country as I can. At first, my objective was to find myself and improve my art, as I enter this new chapter of my life. I began preparing myself by working on an exhibition of the rivers in Florida, while my daughter was in her last year of High School. This show became a turning point in my life. Visiting rivers and contemplating their beauty and meaning from artistic, philosophical, spiritual, and social points of view helped me understand how valuable it is to spend time in nature and how essential it is for our psychological health in this technologically driven fast-paced, disconnected world we live in now.
When the South Florida Museum asked me to present a two-hour lecture on my work, I realized that given the threats facing our natural environment from development and climate change, there would be no nature for me to spend time in and photograph without the dedication of preservationists and river keepers. I asked Justin Bloom, the Suncoast Waterkeeper, to join me and help educate the audience about these threats and what we can do to keep our waterways safer. For me, water is the biggest issue of all, since without pure, drinkable water there will be no life at all. If we think the energy wars have been bad, just imagine the violence that will erupt when there is not enough water…
Justin observed that bringing the beauty of rivers to people through photography and quotations from writers and thinkers throughout history was a way to motivate people to care that transcended pure facts and statistics and touched their hearts. He said I should take my message on the road and consider traveling to more rivers outside of Florida. In turn, after listening to Justin, I realized how much more I had to learn. I was so impressed with Justin’s call to action and his dedication to spreading the truth about what is happening to our environment and protecting the area he has become a caretaker for. Justin started his environmental work in New York, where the river keeper organization began under the auspices of Pete Seeger, and then spent several years working in New Orleans following Katrina. Now the residents of Southwest Florida are fortunate to have him keeping watch over our waterways. His valuable work made me want to learn what river keepers are doing across the country and contribute to the telling of their story through my writing and photography.
The more I learn about what is happening to our waterways, the more I understand many of these threats are directly related to climate change. I no longer feel right about living in denial. This is why I have become a Climate Leader and have committed to help spread the truth about climate change, so we can influence politicians in our country to help pass a carbon tax and take a major step forward in reducing our dependence on oil. If they were able to pass a carbon tax in Australia, we can do it here.
Renewable energy and getting away from fossil fuels is what we have to focus our efforts on to save our waterways and the earth. According to scientists, dirty energy is the single greatest factor contributing to climate change, accounting for 95% of the problem. It is making the oceans warmer and raising the temperature of the earth. As the ice melts and raises sea level, saline water encroaches on our rivers and the aquafor–a phenomenon that is already quite evident in Florida. Seawater seeping into the Everglades is a huge threat to the drinking water of Miami, and even the newspapers are finally reporting the truth about that. Storms are getting increasingly violent, flooding and dangerous fires are becoming the norm, and flora and fauna are being threatened as climate zones shift. Scientists are recording all these changes, but they are repeatedly being silenced by corporate greed. Lobbyists and corporations are controlling the media, preventing this information from reaching a public that would often rather remain in denial than face the reality of what is happening. The problem is that the harm we are doing to the earth is more and more visible every day and is leading to the demise of our planet and the human species at a far more rapid rate than was ever anticipated. Violent weather patterns do not care if you are rich or poor. Their path of destruction is indiscriminate. This is why it should not be a Democratic or a Republican Issue. Climate change is a problem caused by humans that is affecting all life, and only humans can turn things around. Many say it may already be too late, but that does not mean we should give up. Without hope, we are all lost.
What gives me hope is the knowledge that there is a growing community of people working to protect and preserve our earth throughout the country. As I travel across the country, I hope to meet as many of these individuals as I can. Together, our power is exponentially greater. Please let me know if you know anyone who is making a difference who might be willing to talk to me during my travels. I am happy to donate photographs to help their cause and I will tell their story at my Climate Reality presentations. It is local, personal stories that touch my heart the most, coupled with images of what things look like right now–especially compared to how they looked a few years ago… Join me in loving this planet. It is our only home.