1000 Days of Greenbelt Nature is the ongoing story of a community of denizens — creatures of a natural world that coexists in parallel with that of the human world in the community of Old Greenbelt on the outskirts of Washington DC. Noise and stress and political dysfunction can make us forget that the natural world is all around us, even in urban landscapes. Stopping to see and hear birds and their songs, frogs croaking, and turtles splashing is an antidote to the stress and busy pace of life. By slowing down to savor the ever-changing colors, sounds and shapes of the creatures that surround us, we become more alive. This project is about capturing those moments in exquisite detail through images, words and sounds and sharing those results with more people. You!
Song of a Wood Thrush on Greenbelt Lake, June 14, 2013
Greenbelt Maryland began as the first "green" town developed during the New Deal Era. Along with fostering a cooperative community where civic engagement would be the norm, another major feature of the plan was to balance green space with human space. The social side of Greenbelt community history has been well documented by others. My project documents the "other," less well known success story of this green town — the thriving community of marvelous creatures who share the green space with the humans.
This project really began in my front yard when I became captivated by ruby-throated hummingbirds as they migrated through our neighborhood.
Inspired and compelled to photograph these marvelous flitting little creatures, I spent hours waiting and watching. And as I waited, I saw so much more. And this project — to listen and to see, to document and to share the bounty — was born. Since that moment, I have casually shared my close encounters with the natural world with friends over Facebook. 1000 Days is about going beyond "casual" sharing to a more formal process of documenting, archiving and creating community.
For many years, my "day job" has been to rigorously document (human) culture as a contract ethnographer. I've worked for lots of museums and organizations, including the Smithsonian Folklife Festival (2004, 2007, 2013), the Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum, Arlington County Cultural Affairs and many others. Although I love my work, in a way this project is more "personal" — it has been about personal health and goals like living in the moment, communing with nature, and sharing with others in the place where I live. 1000 Days of Greenbelt Nature merges my personal and professional goals as I seek to more comprehensively document another kind of community — a natural community, where the creatures are people, too.
Over the last seven years I've really begun to build an archive — and 1000 Days of Greenbelt is about formalizing that process by organizing and adding to the materials, making a more comprehensive survey of the creatures in our area, and sharing the results more broadly. Your support for 1000 Days of Greenbelt Nature will help me to accomplish these goals.
Over the next year I will intensify my exploration and documentation of our natural world in Greenbelt. I will begin to organize images and sounds and extend the scope of creatures we explore. I will conduct interviews with local biologists, entomologists, ornithologists and naturalists to enhance the dialogue and produce rich commentary on the creatures. And I will formalize the process of publishing and sharing the results by creating special groups on Google+ and Vimeo.
Everyone who supports this project — at any level —will be invited to join our online groups in order to share in the visual and aural bounty. People who contribute $25 or more will also receive images printed with archival materials and suitable for framing.
Please join us!
Risks and challenges
This is a highly scalable project and we have already successfully begun to make images and share the bounty. The minimum level of support we seek will enable us to extend the scope of the project to make significantly better images of smaller and more distant creatures and to make high quality print outputs. Any funds beyond that will only increase the depth and the quality of the outputs — making high resolution images of soaring Bald Eagles is definitely a challenge! But we'll soldier on at whatever level...
So the real challenge here is to supporters — people have been following these images and the saga of my involvement for years — is it worth it to you to kick in to support this project in order to make it better? I hope so!
- (30 days)