Florian Shulz: Freedom to Roam

Florian Schulz is a professional nature photographer and a founding member of the International League of Conservation Photographers (ILCP). His Freedom to Roam Project chronicles wildlife migration corridors and shows how each piece of the conservation puzzle connects with the others. This project documents the affects of global warming and human encroachment on wild spaces and makes clear the need for protected wildlife corridors to allow migrating species to be able to move throughout their ranges safely and freely.

Phase one of the Freedom to Roam project documents the wildlife corridor that runs from the arctic down along the coast and through the mountains of North America. The photography from this phase, known as Y2Y or Yellowstone to Yukon, was compiled into a book and selected photos are also on display at the Field Museum in Chicago. Schultz is now starting work on phase two, B2B or Baja to the Beaufort Sea.

The stunning video above puts a face to the conservation efforts and shows just what it is scientists and other conservationists are working to protect. The caribou in this video migrate over proposed oil drilling land, pristine wilderness that the oil companies would have us believe is barren and purposeless but for the oil that lies beneath it. With the effects of global warming diminishing arctic habitat it is more important than ever to protect that habitat, and to make more habitat accessible to arctic wildlife.

For more information on the Freedom to Roam project and award-winning photographer Florian Shulz visit visionsofthewild.com.  The NY Times article Home on the Range also provides information on the proposed protection of the Y2Y wildlife corridor.

Tomato Travels, or Where’d You Get That Cow?


A few weeks ago I read this New York Times article about major brands marketing their foods as local to the area where they are either grown or processed, and it got me thinking about what shopping and eating “local” means to me. If I shop at Target, which is headquartered here in Minneapolis, is this shopping local? Or do the goods AND the services have to be here? What about buying Mexican tomatoes at the local food coop? Is this more or less “local” than buying locally grown tomatoes at Whole Foods?

Ultimately, how we each define “local” is up to each of us. For me, I look for locally grown foods and have a preference for smaller farms that use sustainable practices. I prefer grass-fed beef from a local ranch, milk from local grass-fed cows, and organic fruits and veggies from local small farms. But if I can’t find what I’m looking for, or the local organics are out of season, then I have to start making choices. In the winter I choose locally grown hothouse tomatoes over the organic imported varieties. I also shop at Whole Foods over the local coops, and this works for me because I use less gas by driving to fewer locations (yes, I know I should ride my bike, and I’m going to work on that for trips with fewer items) and our Whole Foods stocks a lot of the locally grown meats and produce.

But what about the bigger brands? General Mills is headquartered just outside of Minneapolis. Do their products count as local? For me, I have to say no, and yes. From an ecological standpoint, no, because I know that they’re shipping in raw ingredients from all over the world; the food is not entirely locally grown and quite a large amount of fossil fuels are being used to get all those ingredients to MN. But from an economic standpoint, I know when I’m buying General Mills products I’m helping my neighbors to keep their jobs, and that’s important too.

If you’re a non-vegan in MN and haven’t tried Thousand Hills Cattle beef or Cedar Summit Farms milk, you should check them out. Grass-fed is the best!  We’ve also got great farmer’s markets for locally grown fruits and vegetables – my favorite is the Minneapolis Farmer’s Market under the freeway near the North Loop in Minneapolis.  It’s open every weekend day in the summer.

If you’re outside of Minnesota and would like to find local farmers and ranchers near you, check out Sustainable Table’s Eat Well Guide.

World Oceans Day: The End of the Line

Today is World Oceans Day, a day to honor our oceans and all they have given us, and to raise awareness for the current plight of our oceans and those that live there. Our oceans are facing issues from global warming to pollution, and the truth is that we cannot survive on this planet without everything the oceans give us.

“The End of the Line” is a documentary about the issues of overfishing that was released in theaters today. This film, hailed by “The Economist” as “The Inconvenient Truth about the oceans,” shows the appalling overfishing that is currently happening in our oceans and will make you think twice about what you order the next time you head out for seafood. Visit the film’s website for more information on tickets or the campaign to prevent overfishing.

Global warming is considered the biggest threat to the oceans (overfishing is number two), with wide ranging impacts from the warming of the oceans, creating inhospitable conditions for fragile ecosystems including coral reefs, to ocean acidification. Thus the more we do to prevent climate change, the better the oceans will be protected.

Greenpeace has a plan to protect 40 percent of the earth’s oceans as marine reserves. This plan would help to protect the oceans against overfishing and pollution and would allow our marine ecosystems a chance to recover. You can sign the petition or learn more about the plan at the Greenpeace campaign page.

Nick Broomfield and Greenpeace: A Time Comes

This film by Nick Broomfield tells the story of a small group of Greenpeace activists that shut down the UK’s Kingsnorth power station to protest the government’s plan to build new coal-fired power plants. The six activists climbed through the tower to the top and then two members lowered themselves over the side to write a message on the tower. Their actions brought national and international attention to the issue, but the attention they brought wasn’t the real victory – their acquittal of criminal damage was. The message this acquittal sends is clear. The people of the UK will not stand by and allow their government to ignore the issues surrounding climate change.

While I tend to agree with the ideals of Greenpeace, I’ve always had mixed feelings on direct action campaigns. I’ve often wondered if they have any real impact. Often actions of small groups of activists are seen as a bit crazy, and sometimes they even generate sympathy for the opposition. But this is one case in which it’s clear that direct action can make a difference. As of April 23, no new power plants will be built in Britian that do not have carbon capture technology in place. Would this have happened without the shutdown of Kingsnorth? I think not.

Read more on the acquittal in The Independent.

Patrick Farrell Wins the Pulitzer

Photographer Patrick Farrell has won the Pulitzer Prize for his photographs of Haiti in the aftermath of the hurricanes that ravaged the country last year. If you haven’t seen these photos, you should. While we usually see the destruction of buildings in hurricane photography, Farrell’s work shows the human destruction. The images are very moving and sometimes disturbing. I watched the slide show, with Farrell’s voiceover, three times in succession as, sitting in my living room, it’s hard for me to comprehend what it must have been like to be in Haiti during these storms.

Patrick Farrell, I commend you on your courage in taking these photos and I congratulate you on your win.

Farrell’s Haiti photographs: A People in Despair: Haiti’s year without mercy
Miami Herald Article on Farrell winning the Pulitzer