I have a dream… Bill of Nature

Nature is more than a destination, more than a “place”. Nature is a mindset and a way of looking at the world. It is a teacher and a mentor. It is a set of values and principles on which one chooses to live accordingly, a framework for personal transformation. Nature is about reciprocity, balance and humility. It is a world of wonders, discoveries and wisdom.

Nature is Life – Life is Nature.

If a Genie gave me one wish, my wish would be for our society to change its relationship with Nature and view it in the same way we see Freedom and Democracy. As a value that needs to be honored and respected. Instead of seeing Nature as a commodity that needs to be managed.

I would wish for the creation of the BILL OF NATURE, just like we have the BILL OF RIGHTS.

This Bill would set the tone and direction on how citizens of this world want to move forward and into the future. This Bill would NOT be about measuring or quantifying Nature, but about creating a framework for our growth, a set of values that we prioritize culturally, and individually.

The Bill would be simple, clear and composed of keywords:

  • Humbleness NOT Righteousness
  • Better NOT Easier
  • Respect NOT Protect
  • Consciousness NOT Senseless
  • Reciprocity NOT Opportunistically
  • Community NOT Individuality
  • Slower NOT Faster
  • Local NOT Global
  • Accountability NOT Dishonesty
  • Long Term NOT Short Term
  • Forward NOT Backward
  • Optimism NOT Pessimism
  • Dynamic NOT Static
  • Evolution NOT Perfection

That is what my wish you would be.

Proust Nature Questionnaire – Jennine Cohen

JENNINE COHEN is a the Managing Director of the Americas for GeoEx. A trusted adventure, luxury and travel expert, Jennine also supports travel conservation efforts. She is a member of the Board of Directors for the International Galápagos Tour Operators Association (IGTOA) and has been featured in Travel & Leisure, Afar, Conde Nast Traveler, Vogue, YahooTravel, Fortune, Forbes, ABC, CBS, Travel Weekly, TravelAge West, Recommend Magazine, SmartMeetings, Travel Alliance Media and beyond.  Besides sending people traveling around the world, Cohen advises, coaches and helps small businesses, women entrepreneurs, healers, and business leaders to uncover their everyday magic.

3 words to describe Nature?

Peace, Pachamama, Purity

3 things Nature taught you?

Like nature, I am a force;

Hitting the reset button in nature = clarity;

No regrets for going bigger

3 most treasured Nature spots?

The South Yuba River, Nevada City,

Wrangell Saint Elias National Park – Alaska,

Dead Horse State Park – Utah

When you look at the ocean, it makes you feel…?

I want to be out there, in the waves instead of sitting on the shore

When you see a forest, it makes you feel…?

Like everything is right in the world

When you see a volcano, it makes you feel…?

Mother Earth is amazing

When you see a sunrise or sunset, it makes you feel…?

Like the days are precious – and we should appreciate and have gratitude for each uniquely beautiful day.

When you hear thunder, it makes you feel…?

At home

When you hear the wind howling, it makes you feel…?

Intrigued

Are you an Ocean, Mountain, Forest, or Desert person?

Mountain – but love them all deeply

On a scale of 1 to 10, how important is Nature to your well-being?

10

Share with us a childhood nature memory?

I didn’t have much exposure to the wilderness as a child, and my first real introduction was in college through UCLA’s Outdoor Leadership Program. My first backpacking trip with UCLA was through Sequoia National Forest – it was how I fell in love with the West.

I was surrounded on that trip by much more experienced peers who had spent their childhoods enjoying frequent family camping trips. I on the other hand, didn’t even know how to set up a tent – let alone use topo maps and a compass. Despite this, as we hiked through the mountains and under some of the largest trees on the planet, I felt a deep sense of satisfaction, calm, sense of purpose. Though I was an absolute beginner, but my unbounded excitement for my new found passion over time led to my competence in and eventual addiction to the outdoors. My life was forever changed after that trip, and my career in the adventure travel industry born.

Coincidentally, that same trip happened to fall over 9/11. We had been in the wilderness and seemed to be the last ones on the planet to find out about the terrorist attacks to the World Trade Center – emerging from the woods a full week after the tragic event. Not being surrounded by news all week likely shielded us from the high levels of stress and anxiety that the rest of the country was suffering from.

It is a good reminder about the importance of disconnecting from the noise of today’s anxiety inciting media – in order to intuitively return to the abundance of calm and clarity.

Proust Nature Questionnaire – Bruce Poon Tip

Entrepreneur, leader and philanthropist BRUCE POON TIP is the founder of adventure travel company and social enterprise G Adventures, the world’s largest small-group adventure travel company, with 23 offices worldwide offering more than 650 tours on all seven continents and serving 150,000 travellers a year.

Bruce is also the founder of the nonprofit foundation Planeterra in 2003, which harnesses the power of the tourism industry to direct travel dollars into vulnerable and underserved communities around the world. His work with organizations such as the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), the Multilateral Investment Fund (MIF), like-minded companies and indigenous people has supported more than 40 unique community development and relief projects around the world, with another 50 in development.

In 2012, Bruce was inducted into the Social Venture Network Hall of Fame, joining celebrated entrepreneurs such as Richard Branson (Virgin Airlines), Anita Roddick (The Body Shop), and Ben Cohen and Jerry Greenfield (Ben and Jerry’s Ice Cream). He was also awarded a Queen Elizabeth II’s Diamond Jubilee Medal, recognizing significant contributions to society, and was named Entrepreneur of the Year in 2016, 2006 and 2002.

Bruce’s first book, Looptail: How One Company Changed the World by Reinventing Business, a New York Times bestseller, was the first business book to be endorsed by His Holiness the Dalai Lama, who penned the book’s foreword. In 2015 Bruce released his second book, Do Big Small Things, a gorgeously designed journal about life and travel that takes readers on a journey and invites them to share their own inspiration and creativity.

G Adventures has been named one of the 50 Best Managed Companies for over 10 years and is repeatedly recognized as a “best place to work” in Canada, the US, the UK and Australia.

3 words to describe Nature?

Happiness

Peaceful

Beauty

3 things Nature taught you?

Being humble,

Importance of stillness

Awareness that we’re surrounded by beautiful things

3 most treasured Nature spots?

Serengeti, Galapagos and the Geelong Bird Sanctuary

When you look at the ocean, it makes you feel…?

Free

When you see a forest, it makes you feel…?

Small

When you see a volcano, it makes you feel…?

Curious

When you see a sunrise or sunset, it makes you feel…?

Invincible

When you hear thunder, it makes you feel…?

Excited

When you hear the wind howling, it makes you feel…?

Light

Are you an Ocean, Mountain, Forest, or Desert person?

All of the above

On a scale of 1 to 10, how important is Nature to your well-being?

9

Share with us a childhood nature memory?

Growing up in Calgary I spent a lot of my spare time in ponds after school, knee-deep in mud. I lost track of time catching frogs and observing tadpoles in transition. I was fascinated by natural biology.

Proust Nature Questionnaire – Gary Turk

GARY TURK is an award-winning filmmaker and spoken word artist best known for his viral film ‘Look Up’, attracting over 500 million views worldwide. Through poetry and film, Gary explains how overuse of smartphones and social media can disengage us from real relationships, human interactions and living in the real world.

Look Up’ is currently the most viewed Spoken Word film on YouTube, and went on to win Best Viral Film at Cannes. Scroll down to watch his latest video – IN OUR NATURE

Gary’s work, which has explored our relationships with money, politics and nature has gone on to inspire masses across the globe and gained worldwide coverage including BBC News, Fox News and TIME.

Gary has appeared on The Today Show, Good Morning Britain, BBC Breakfast, Sunrise (Australia), among many others.

Gary continues to make short independent films, as well as performing live around the world. He can also be found giving talks, workshops & performances at schools, universities, and corporate events.

3 words to describe Nature?

Boundless

Magnificent

Inspiring

3 things Nature taught you?

 To travel

To take my time

To appreciate the little things

3 most treasured Nature spots?

Looking Glass Rock, Appalachian Mountains, NC.

Cuckmere Haven, South Downs National Park, England.

Beneath the Redwoods, Mendocino CA.

When you look at the ocean, it makes you feel…?

Calm

When you see a forest, it makes you feel…?

Protected

When you see a volcano, it makes you feel…?

Inconsequential

When you see a sunrise or sunset, it makes you feel…?

Like everyone and everything is connected

When you hear thunder, it makes you feel…?

Like looking for lightning

When you hear the wind howling, it makes you feel…?

Like there’s no point standing still

Are you an Ocean, Mountain, Forest, or Desert person?

Mountain person – I love being able to take in my surroundings from up high (especially if I can see Oceans, Forests or Deserts from there).

On a scale of 1 to 10, how important is Nature to your well-being?

An easy 10 – If I ever don’t feel 100%, I know that being in Nature will always make things better, put things into perspective, and provide the answers I need.

Share with us a childhood nature memory?

After a long day of trail hiking with my cub-scout, we went to sleep under the stars in our sleeping bags on the forest floor. What I did not realise as we went to sleep was that I still had a cereal bar in the pocket of my shorts. When I woke up I noticed there were lots of tiny pieces of foil wrapper in my sleeping bag. I climbed out to find that my shorts now had a large hole in them leading to my pocket, which had clearly been chewed, and inside my pocket was the remaining foil wrapper and the crumbs of a cereal bar that I had not eaten.

I became immediately certain that I had been attacked by a bear in my sleep, and that I must have somehow slept through the encounter.

Our group leader then reassured me that considering the size of the hole in my shorts, and the fact my sleeping bag and limbs remained intact, it was most likely a mouse that attacked me during the night.

I often remember this moment in nature as a child, as part of me still likes to believe it could have been a bear.

The Spirit of Juneau

Some places come and go. Some cities spring up only to disappear decades later for one reason or another (think of Bodie, California). History is filled with forgotten colonies and failed urban visions. I am curious though. What factors or variables are necessary to sustain a city and its inhabitants for hundreds of years? For thousands of years? How is a geographical location in the middle of seemingly nowhere able to maintain interest despite its remoteness and existential challenges? It takes more than an abundance of fish to justify settling down. It takes more than strong will and powerful wishes to turn a series of buildings into a lasting and thriving city where souls live and rest. Are there mini gravitational forces that we are unable to see, inexplicable vortexes that attract life and make people stay in the same way such as sweet nectar pulls in thousands of hungry bees?

For several millennia, this location was known to the Tlingit as Dzantik’i Héeni (where the flatfish gather). It sits at the foot Yadaa’at Kale (the beautiful face of the mountain) and is south of Aak’w (little lake). Nearby are Kootznoowoo island (fortress of bear) and Taku river (the flood of the geese).

During the 1791-95 expedition, Captain George Vancouver, along with his crew on the Discovery, were the first recorded Europeans to visit it. A hundred years later in 1880, two prospectors Richard Harris and Joe Juneau, guided by Tlingit Chief Kowee, struck gold at the mouth of Gold Creek. The city was then renamed Juneau.

For thousands of years, people have come from far away and gathered at Dzantik’i Héeni (Juneau). Whether they were drawn by the abundant natural resources, the major fishing and hunting grounds, the promise of gold, perhaps they followed love, were lured by work or simply came to visit, none of those reasons are enough to make one stay and settle. There is something in the land, the waters, and the mountains that draw people in and inspires them to call Juneau home.

I first discovered this Alaskan city in 2013 when visiting with a group of friends. Juneau was our rendezvous point where we boarded the Alaska State Ferry. We kayaked from Sitka to Hoonah, along the Pacific Coast of Chichagof Island and from Hoonah to Tenekee Springs (TV interview and radio interview).  I returned the following year, only this time I kayaked solo from Juneau to Pack Creek and then to the Taku Glacier (radio interview). One of the trip’s highlights was a night paddle on bioluminescent waters, surrounded by orcas and humpback whales. To say it was magical is an understatement.

Ever since that first visit, Juneau has played an integral part in my career and in my personal life. Three of my most popular photos were captured there (see above). Some of my most memorable memories took place on its surrounding waters and deep within its forests. Not only has Juneau become one of my favorite gateways into the wilderness; it is a place where I found a great friend, Ken. Originally from Boston, he moved to Alaska in the 70‘s. Explorer, philanthropist, conservationist and musician, Ken owned Alaska Discovery and founded of Pack Creek Bear Tours.

At the beginning of this year, Juneau resident Captain Tom Kelly from Blue Planet Eco Charter reached out to me with an invitation to join him on a summer sailing cruise. I was now married and the prospect of being able to share with my wife a part of the world that had been so special to me was really exciting. It was the perfect opportunity! While my solo wilderness expeditions are remote and span weeks at a time, this trip had to be slightly different. It needed to be adventurous, but not extreme while encapsulating all the classic highlights that Juneau is known for including the places, the food, the people and activities.

Travel Juneau and I worked together to plan the perfect itinerary: a floatplane to Pack Creek where brown bears can be viewed in their natural habitat, a hike in the Tongas National Forest, a paddle to the Mendenhall Glacier and exploration of the ice cave, whale watching in Auke Bay, a feast of fresh-caught Alaskan King Crab and a weekend excursion to a luxury fishing lodge in Angoon. Our 12-day trip would conclude aboard Captain Tom’s 40’ S/V Seamoore as we sailed around Douglas Island overnighting in Young Bay.

The other goal was to bring my photo project Random Connectedness to Juneau. Through this project I seek to illustrate the random connectivity of the human species. I do this by taking portraits of random people holding a letter of the alphabet. I then combine these portraits into words, phrases or sentences. The letters are red for a reason. According to Chinese mythology, the Gods tie an invisible red cord around the ankles of those that are destined to meet one another in a certain situation or help each other in a certain way. It is called the legend of the Red String of Fate. The red letters represent the string.

In addition to photographing the natural beauty of Juneau, I would turn the camera on its people. How best to celebrate this distinctive city that has given me so much other than to honor its citizens who live and breathe it, the ones who radiate the “Spirit of Juneau”.

It was incredible to hear their stories. The vast majority are from the lower 48 states who had come to visit and had never left. Some were born here, had left to pursue advanced eduction or a job, only to find their way back. Juneau was home to each of them. A unexpected discovery was to see so many talented and young entrepreneurs throughout the city. Young adults one would expect to see in major hubs like New York or San Francisco. They were all adamant about their beloved city – it was the best! Let me introduce you to some of them.

Maura Selenak of Almaga Distillery (Above, E in the THE). Originally from Minnesota, she moved to Juneau after falling in love with the dramatic scenery and sense of community. A kindergarten teacher, Maura and her husband founded the craft spirit distillery using a 250-gallon still from Vendome.

Eric Oravsky of Adventure Flow (Above, S in the SPIRIT). Grew up in Montana and was exploring the wilderness with his parents before he could walk. He continued to explore and found photojournalism to raise awareness for the wild places he loves. Keeping active and inspiring others led to him co-founding Adventure Flow.

David McCasland of Deckhand Dave’s (Above, F in the OF). An incredible story of persistence. A young local chef and fisherman, who recently opened a taco truck that serves “to-die-for” panko-crusted salmon sticks and fish tacos. His tartar sauce is a secret recipe and the talk-of-the-town.

Christy Namee Eriksen of Kindred Post (Above, 1st U in JUNEAU). Born in Korea, she grew up in Alaska. Christy is an artist, community activist, educator, and writer whose work is grounded in social justice and community engagement. She is the recipient of the 2013 Mayor’s Award for Artist of the Year, two Rasmuson Foundation Individual Artist Awards, and the Loft Immersion Fellowship.

Ryan Lindsay of Devil’s Club Brewery (Above, E in the JUNEAU) He began his career working for Bridgeport Brewing Co. in Portland and later found himself commercially brewing for Drifter Brewing Co. in Cape Town, South Africa. During his time with Drifter, his brew was awarded the best light beer in the country of South Africa.

Jessica Hahnlen of Frost and Fur (Above, 2nd U in JUNEAU). Born in Juneau, she lived in Sacramento then moved back with her husband. Her company design and hand-print (she screen-prints her art onto apparel) in Juneau and gives back 3% to local non-profits

Lia Heifetz of Barnacle (Below, O from Love). A lifelong Alaskan, she lives in Juneau with her partner Matt. Together they started Barnacle, turning kelp into tasty snacks, like salsa and pickles. Their mission is to create delicious and healthy foods using Alaskan ingredients to expand the local food economy, build community resiliency and perpetuate stewardship of natural resources.

A whale of a thank you to the FAVORITE BAY LODGE team for an unforgettable weekend!

Thank you Above & Beyond Alaska (ABAK) for a great time at the Mendenhall Glacier.

A HUGE huge thank you to Kara at TRAVEL JUNEAU for her support, Maryann at PEARSON’S POND INN for her incredible hospitality. Special thanks to Adventure Flow, Juneau Whale Tours, Alaska Seaplane, Tracy’s King Crab Shack and Deckhand Dave’s.

Proust Nature Questionnaire – Scott Sampson


SCOTT SAMPSON was born and raised in Vancouver, BC. He is a dinosaur paleontologist, science communicator, and passionate advocate for reimagining cities as places where people and nature thrive. He serves as the President and CEO of Science World British Columbia.

Scott’s scientific research has focused on the ecology and evolution of Late Cretaceous dinosaurs, and he has conducted fieldwork in many countries, including Kenya, Zimbabwe, South Africa, Madagascar, Mexico, the United States, and Canada. He has published numerous scientific and popular articles, and regularly speaks to audiences of all ages on topics ranging from dinosaurs and education to sustainability and connecting kids with nature.

Sampson has appeared in many television documentaries and served as a science advisor for a variety of media projects, most recently the BBC movie, Walking With Dinosaurs. He has authored multiple books, including Dinosaur Odyssey: Fossil Threads in the Web of Life, and How to Raise a Wild Child: The Art and Science of Falling in Love with Nature. However, he is perhaps best known as “Dr. Scott,” host and science advisor of the Emmy-nominated PBS KIDS television series Dinosaur Train, produced by the Jim Henson Company.

3 words to describe Nature?

Interwoven, Nested, Evolving

3 things Nature taught you?

Wonder, Deep Connection, Humility

3 most treasured Nature spots?

While I have had the pleasure of traveling to a number of countries around the world, my most treasured nature spots have been those that I have been able to return to again and again. They are the ones I know the best, and that resonate with me most deeply.

Long Beach (Tofino area), Vancouver Island

Marin Headlands, California

Red Rock Country, southern Utah

When you look at the ocean, it makes you feel…?

Awe (in its vastness)

When you see a forest, it makes you feel…?

Wonder (in its deep, mostly unseen interconnections)

When you see a volcano, it makes you feel…?

Humbled (by the sheer power it represents from within the Earth)

When you see a sunrise or sunset, it makes you feel…?

Tiny, and a little off balance (sitting, as I am, on the side of a giant, rolling sphere)

When you hear thunder, it makes you feel…?

Resonance (it is as if I feel the thunder more from the inside out, than the outside in)

When you hear the wind howling, it makes you feel…?

A deep appreciation for shelter

Are you an Ocean, Mountain, Forest, or Desert person?

Growing up in Vancouver, BC, I was raised at the intersection of ocean, mountain, and forest, so for me they are interwoven. But if I had to pick one only, it would be the ocean.

On a scale of 1 to 10, how important is Nature to your well-being?

10

Share with us a childhood nature memory?

While still a child, camping with my family in the interior of British Columbia, I went off on my own (as usual) in search for interesting rocks and (hopefully) fossils. I spent a joyous hour or two on the side of a steep, boulder-strewn slope, turning over rocks and hunting for whatever wonders might be revealed. (I may have rolled a few rocks down the hillside as well.) Eventually I stopped and sat for a long while on a flat rock with a view of the valley below. When I finally headed back to our campsite, I wanted to show my parents where I had been. Late in the day, we walked back to the spot, to find a rattlesnake lounging on the very same flat rock I had sat on just hours earlier. I presume that it was soaking in the last rays of sun before a night of hunting. Although my first reaction was a twinge of fear, my lasting sense was one of interconnection—with the snake, the rock, and that place.