For the week’s forum discussion we were asked find a piece of work other than a photograph that had some kind of link to our own practice or research interests, and explain why we chose it and how it relates to our own work. I chose the items below because the relate closely to my interests and the direction I wish to pursue in my research, while at the same time serving as a bit of inspiration and explanation of why I am part of this programme.
The following paragraphs were excepted from a 19 Dec 2017 article in the online magazine Good Nature Travel; The Official Travel Blog of Natural Habitat Adventures and the WWF written by Candice Gaukel Andrews. In it she quotes author Terry Tempest Williams 2012 book When Women Were Birds: Fifty-Four Variations on Voice.
We are all birds
In her 2012 book When Women Were Birds: Fifty-Four Variations on Voice, author and environmental activist Terry Tempest Williams wrote, “Once upon a time, when women were birds, there was the simple understanding that to sing at dawn and to sing at dusk was to heal the world through joy. The birds still remember what we have forgotten, that the world is meant to be celebrated.”
So while our birds still sing, I hope we will all join in the celebration of 2018 as the Year of the Bird. But, while we’re doing that, let’s remember that those tuneful voices that lift us in our darkest hours are the ones that we humans are actively working to silence once again, possibly for forever.
Here’s to finding your true places and natural habitats,
Terry Tempest Williams in the same book also wrote the following:
“To be read. To be heard. To be seen. I want to be read. I want to be heard. I don’t need to be seen. To write requires an ego, a belief that what you say matters. Writing also requires an aching curiosity leading you to discover, uncover, what is gnawing at your bones. Words have a weight to them. How you chose to present them and to whom is a matter of style and choice.”
The follow is excepted from 15 Dec 2017 article, How Birds Bind Us, in the Audubon Society online magazine by Mark Jannot. http://www.audubon.org/news/how-birds-bind-us
The way the artists and the entire community in upper Harlem have come together around the murals (and have spread the word about the threats to birds) has been inspiring, but it really shouldn’t be seen as surprising. Not, at this point, to me anyway. In the nearly five years I’ve served as the editor-in-chief of Audubon, I’ve seen a zillion amazing and wide-ranging examples of people coming together and rallying around birds, from volunteers with New York City Audubon monitoring (and, when necessary, shutting down) the memorial 9/11 spotlights to save migrating birds, to people recreating habitats and even entire islands for their benefit, to using them as aids for bringing struggling veterans back from the brink.
I find great pleasure in birds; observing them, listening to them and photographing them. Their presence reassures me that things are right in my little piece of the world at that moment in time. Birds are present across the globe from pole to pole and everywhere in between. Some have adapted to the harshest places on the planet while others have found a way to live in close proximity to humans in the most urbanized and industrialized places on Earth. Yet for many humans, birds are nearly invisible. There are 574 recognized species in the UK (RSPB) and 810 in North America (Sibley), and I would venture most people would not recognize more than a few species.
2018 is the 100th anniversary of the Migratory Bird Treaty Act and 2018 has been designated by National Geographic and the Audubon Society as the Year of the Bird. Birds are a bellwether of our environment. Thomas Lovejoy, Biologist and founder of the idea of Biodiversity said “If you take care of the birds, you take care of most of the environmental problems of the world.” Recent legislative changes in the US have served to once again put birds at risk, and the unchecked impacts of plastic pollution and climate change caused by humans is putting additional stress on bird populations. Audubon research indicates 314 species are endangered due to climate change alone.
The focus of my work is intertwined with biology (ornithology specifically), ecology and the environment, and could conceivably contribute to discourse on the importance of preserving biodiversity and the impacts of human actions on it. For me this represents a closing of the circle that began with my secondary school and undergraduate work as a biologist and ornithologist.
Mrs. Williams paragraph about writers can equally apply to photographers. Photos also carry weight and great photographers share that same aching desire for discovery with writers. I am in this course in large measure to find my voice as a photographer, and to find a way to have my work merit being seen and “heard”, to matter. Birds are still singing, but I fear too many people are not listening. I hope in finding my photographers voice, I will be able to use it to get a few more people to listen.
I grew up wanting to fly and I have had the privilege (albeit with some mechanical assistance) to experience the freedom of flight; to dive, to soar, to dance among the clouds and race across the treetops. I have been a bird and wish everyone could know that joy.