Proust Nature Questionnaire – Mark Tercek


MARK TERCEK is president and CEO of The Nature Conservancy, the global conservation organization known for its intense focus on collaboration and getting things done for the benefit of people and nature. He is the author of the Washington Post and Publisher’s Weekly bestselling book Nature’s Fortune:  How Business and Society Thrive by Investing in Nature.

A former managing director and Partner for Goldman Sachs, where he spent 24 years, Mark brings deep business experience to his role leading the Conservancy. He is a champion of the idea of natural capital — valuing nature for its own sake as well as for the services it provides for people, such as clean air and water, productive soils and a stable climate.

In 2012, Mark was appointed by New York Governor Andrew Cuomo to serve on the New York State 2100 Commission, which was created in the wake of Superstorm Sandy to advise the governor and the state on how to make the state’s infrastructure more resilient to future storms. In 2016, Mark was appointed by President Barack Obama to the president’s Advisory Committee for Trade Policy and Negotiations.

Mark is also a member of several boards and councils, including Resources for the Future, the Nicholas Institute for Environmental Policy Solutions, the China Council for International Cooperation on Environment and Development (CCICED), Harvard Business School’s Social Enterprise Initiative, and SNAPPTNC’s science joint venture with UC Santa Barbara and the Wildlife Conservation Society.

Drawing on his professional background in the financial sector, Mark is leading TNC’s impact capital initiative and serves as board chair of NatureVest.

3 words to describe Nature? 

Inspiring. Spiritual. Valuable

3 things Nature taught you? 

Interconnectedness. Shortcuts don’t work. We’re all (all species) in this together.

3 most treasured Nature spots? 

Very difficult – I lead The Nature Conservancy, so it is like asking me who is my favorite child. So I will answer: Mountains, Jungles & Oceans.

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

At peace

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

Happy

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

Respectful

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

Calm, happy

When you hear thunder, it makes you feel…? 

Like rain is coming.

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

Like I’m outside

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? 

10

Share with us a childhood nature memory? 

Early in my TNC days and for various reasons, I was feeling stressed about my new job. I had to go to the Great Bear Rain Forest in British Columbia. My anxiety and stress vanished as soon as I arrived and took in the majesty, beauty and glory of the area. I also realized that I had myself a very good job!

Photograph by Emiliano Granado

FEEL THE WILD

FEEL THE WILD is the title of my book and my 3rd official campaign/theme. It is an intimate and powerful story about Nature and our relationship with it, told through stunning photography, captivating film making, and inspiring and thought provoking writing.

To feel is to connect, to experience. It is to perceive and become aware. Our bodies are created with an immense desire to experience the world around us. We are one giant ecosystem of senses living in a universe based on reciprocity. We experience personally and socially, internally and outerly, consciously and unconsciously, willingly and unwillingly.

To “Feel the Wild” is to connect with the wilderness – the untamed Nature, the untamed Us, the essence of Life, through all of our senses and experience everything it has to offer – the physical, the emotional, the philosophical, and the spiritual.

FEEL THE WILD is ultimately about learning who we are and our place on this planet, in the Universe. It is a journey of growth told through the lenses of humility, vulnerability, and perspective.

Proust Nature Questionnaire – Mario Cyr


MARIO CYR is an internationally renowned expedition leader for Arctic and Antarctic missions. He is a cold-water diving expert and a world-class cinematographer. Cyr has participated in more than 150 films for broadcasters such as National Geographic, Discovery Channel, the BBC, IMAX 3D, Disney Productions, CBC and David Suzuki, la Société Cousteau, France 2, Arte and NHK Japan. In 2011, he won the Palme d’Or at the Festival d’Antibes for Walrus:Toothed Titans. His contribution to Oceans, directed by Jacques Perrin, helped the film win a César for Best Documentary. In 2013, his Ice Bear 3D got an Emmy nomination.

Originally from the Magdalen Islands, located in the Gulf of St. Lawrence, Mario has become one of the very few specialists of cold water diving, capturing spectacular and unique scenes from marine life in the Arctic and Antarctic poles. In 1991, he pioneered filming wild walrus packs and polar bears at a very close range. His expertise and knowledge has enabled him to film authentic and never-before-seen underwater images of swimming polar bears and a female walrus nursing her young.

3 words to describe Nature? 

Imposing. Splendid. Fragile

3 things Nature taught you? 

Patience. Listening. Time arranges many things

3 most treasured Nature spots? 

The beach Old Harry Magdalen Island

Queen Charlotte Island

Tuvalu Island, South Pacific

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

I feel infinitely small.

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

I keep repeating myself that all trees are alive.

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

That we are tiny in front of such a power.

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

That I am lucky to see such beauty.

When you hear thunder, it makes you feel…? 

For some reason, I always think of past empires and the fear they instilled through their powerful conquests.

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

I return to my childhood when I hid under the patio afraid of the high winds.

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

Ocean

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

10

Share with us a childhood nature memory 

My summer on a splendid beach Bluff on the Magdalen Island.

STOP BREATHE RELAX LISTEN

Moving forward, my work will be divided in 3 main themes/campaigns.

Yesterday, I wrote about RANDOM CONNECTEDNESS, a social project which focuses on illustrating how we are all connected, in ways that go beyond social media.

FEEL THE WILD is about my work as a wilderness explorer, photographer and writer – I will write more about this in another post.

The third campaign, STOP BREATHE RELAX LISTEN is related to my mission to help and inspire people in their life’s journey. It is the platform on which my public speaking and coaching are built on. The campaign is about creating a space for introspection, where people can find the answers they are looking for. It is about honoring and welcoming our path, finding peace with our journey on this planet and celebrating who we are as human.

To explain more about it, let me share with you an excerpt from my Adventure Travel Trade Association 2017 Summit Keynote:

… As an artist, Wilderness is my studio, my inspiration. It is where I go to create – to photograph and write. But most importantly, I go there to meet with my mentor and teacher, Nature. My creative process is simple, by welcoming solitude, I open myself and am able to listen and receive the treasures it has to offer.

All this time alone in the wilderness, has led me to experience many epiphanies, moments where I felt that the veil of mystery on some of Life’s most precious secrets had disappeared. I have realized along the way that there was a certain pattern for those revelations to appear, a certain formula that seemed to work as a calling card for these insights to sneak up into my mind and reward me with a “eureka” moment. This pattern that I have observed has translated itself into one of my most powerful mantras – STOP BREATHE RELAX LISTEN. 

These 4 words have transformed me and changed the way I experience life. They have helped me manage my way out of challenging and struggling situations. They have given me a way to connect with life, with the world, and with others. By following them, I have come to understand who I am and who we are, individually and collectively  

STOP BREATHE RELAX LISTEN is about creating boundaries, so that you get a new perspective, which will bring you clarity and in the process allow you to receive the help life is sending your way. STOP and create your boundaries. BREATHE and get a new perspective. RELAX and welcome clarity. LISTEN, not with your ears but with your heart and mind so that you can open yourself to the signs Life is giving you, the guidance it is showing you.

Let me give you a way to visualize the mantra

Imagine that you are like a glass jar filled with water, sand, and floating candy (floating candy don’t really exist but the concept works for this exercise), all contained with the lid tightly on. Now that jar represents you, your own self. The water is the world around you. The sand is your thoughts, you worries, everything that populates your minds. And the candy, they are the insights, the rewards, ideas, those eureka moments. From the second you wake up, and until the very last moment when you fall asleep, you are constantly and frantically shaking that jar. Making a big mess of what’s inside. The water is blurry. The sand is all over. And the candy, well, good luck! They are like shooting stars, tiny dots of color that disappear the second you see them. If you want to see, pick and eat the candy much like if you want to find, receive and apply those insights that help you process your life’s journey, what you need to do is take that jar. Put it on a table, don’t touch it. Let the water stop spinning. Wait for the sand to rest and settle. Then and only then, you will clearly see the candy float up, calm at the surface, ready for you open the lid and pick them up. 

Experiencing the world through the lenses of humility, reciprocity, and vulnerability opens the path to so many treasures and priceless discoveries. Transforming our struggles and pain into growth not only brings us happiness and peace, but it also make us celebrate what it is to be human. Life is not easy. Life is not fair. It is not meant to be fair. It is not meant to be perfect. It is meant to be lived, to be experienced, to learn and grow from it. 

And what is there to learn today, in 2017? Well, there is no need to shame the human race with guilt, constantly pointing the finger at ourselves on how bad of a species we are and have been. How could we do the things we have done in the past. Simple, we have done them because in that moment we thought it was best. Some of them were good and some turned out to be real bad. And that is ok. We learn through feeling the consequences of our actions. And now we are feeling them. But remember, change is hard. Nobody wants change. The reason why we are 7 billions on the planet is not because we are a bad species, but because we are extremely good at learning from our mistakes, we rise in face of challenges, we shine and figure our way out when the shit hits the fan. This is who we are, this is what we do.

STOP and lets create our boundaries. BREATHE so that we can get a new perspective. RELAX and lets welcome clarity. LISTEN, not with our ears but with our hearts and minds so that together, united, we can become better humans, protecting and caring for this world, leading towards a bright and inspiring future.”

Proust Nature Questionnaire – Christine Mason

CHRISTINE MASON is the author of Indivisible, Love in the Face of Everything, & her upcoming Bending the Bow. She’s the cofounder of New Earth, a farm-based retreat center for Integral Activism on Hawai’i. She convenes, hosts and facilitates conferences, salons and events at the intersection of science and tech, spirituality, human optimization, society and institutions. She serves as Editor in Chief of Enter Magazine, sits on the board of GRIP, and is chairman of Now Labs, Inc. She’s a mom, grandmother, and a long time practitioner and teacher of yoga, meditation and tantra. Follow her at xtinem.com, or on Amazon.

3 words to describe Nature? 

Creative. Destructive. True.

3 things Nature taught you? 

All things are interconnected.

We are always provided for.

How elegantly things adapt.

The resonance of beauty

That an ecosystem in balance sounds a harmonic chord, out of balance there is dissonance – as in all systems.

Humility

Awe

3 most treasured Nature spots? 

The golden sunrise rocks in the high desert at Joshua Tree, Southern California.

The long slung white sand beach at Stinson, in Northern California.

The round stone beach at Washington Harbor, on Washington Island in Lake Michigan, surrounded by White Birch forest.

The ice caves above Aspen, Colorado.

The giant rolling dunes in southern Morocco.

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

Surrendered. Integrated. Rebalanced.

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

Peaceful. Quiet. Curious.

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

Alive. Creative. Urgent.

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

Grateful. Potentiated. Connected to all beings.

When you hear thunder, it makes you feel…? 

Like a child in the summer rains.

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

Lonely

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

I’m a planet earth person.

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

11

Share with us a childhood nature memory? 

Cresting a ridge at sunrise on snowshoes, my father next to me, deep fresh snow; the morning light catching the crystalline crust just so, a thousand rainbow prisms refracting in every direction, against a crisp cold bright blue sky; cheeks red, legs strong, eyes wide open; a suspended indelible moment of pure beauty.

Proust Nature Questionnaire – Brooke Garnett

BROOKE GARNETT is the founder of MAYAMAYA, which specializes in tailoring seamless, premium journeys around the world. MAYAMAYA is a small boutique company and they work intimately with a select group of loyal and discerning clients. With expansive destination knowledge covering over 50 countries and some of the most remote parts of the globe, Brooke has been recognized as a world leader in the travel industry and recently celebrated her fifth consecutive year on Travel + Leisure’s A-List. While Brooke’s travel adventures would take pages to relate, some of her more recent memorable experiences include learning to fish with an Aboriginal community in the Kimberley, a private weeklong helicopter tour of the Scottish Highlands, trekking with the Gorillas in Rwanda, and exploring the secret treasures of Jordan and Egypt. Brooke loves to cook, paint, and any sort of outdoor adventure. She has worked as a divemaster in Thailand and Honduras and is an accomplished photographer. Many of you have likely seen her GoPro video of an orphaned pelican flying over Lake Tanganyika, Tanzania which has gone viral with almost 6 million views on YouTube.

3 words to describe Nature? 

Powerful, fragile, harmony

3 things Nature taught you? 

Resilience, respect, true beauty

3 most treasured Nature spots?

Great Bear Rainforest, Canada

Hartmann’s Valley, Namib Desert, Namibia

Tasmanian Coast, Australia

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

Tiny

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

Clean

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

Nervous

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

Calm

When you hear thunder, it makes you feel…? 

Excited

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

Alive

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

30% desert, 25% Mountain, 25% Ocean, 20% Forest

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

8

Share with us a childhood nature memory?

My grandfather had a large piece of land in the middle of nowhere in Western Pennsylvania. As a child, I went here for every school holiday and it was the best – playing outside all day catching frogs with no structures in sight. There were some buffalo on the property and one day we found a baby buffalo that was left in a ditch. We rescued the buffalo and bottle fed it back to health.

Proust Nature Questionnaire – John Montalbano

JOHN MONTALBANO recently served as  Vice Chairman of RBC Wealth Management and Head of  RBC Global Asset Management during the period of 2008 to 2016. RBC Global Asset Management ranked among the largest 50 asset managers in the world, with more than $375 billion is assets under management. John is a Trustee of the Killam Trusts, and is a director on many community boards, including the foundations of St. Paul’s Hospital, The Vancouver Police, Take a Hike Youth at Risk, Junior Achievement of BC and also chairs the capital campaign for The Vancouver Public Library. Recently appointed to the Canada Pension Plan Investment Board and the Asia Pacific Foundation, John holds a finance degree from the University of British Columbia and an Honorary Doctor of Letters from Emily Carr University of Art & Design.

3 words to describe Nature?

Miraculous

Precious

Vulnerable

3 things Nature taught you? 

1. Whenever I am in nature, it always re-educates me that there is so much more to life than my urban reality.

2. Nature has taught me to be respectful of it, to relish in it and to rediscover myself with it.

3. Nature has taught me that it rarely lies. If it looks distressed, then it is likely distressed.

3 most treasured spots? 

1. Haida Gwaii

2. A savanna in Botswana

3. The tidal pools off Sonora Island

When I look at the ocean, it makes me feel…?

Whole

When I see a forest it makes me feel…?

The need to get into the trees.

When I see a volcano, it makes me feel…?

Wondrous of what lurks within it.

When I see a sunrise, it makes me feel…?

Renewed; when I see a sunset, it makes me feel… that I have lived to have seen another day in my children’s lives.

When I hear thunder, it makes me feel…?

Unsettled

When I hear the wind howling, it makes me feel…?

Concerned for those who do not have shelter.

Am I an Ocean, Mountain, Forest or Desert person?…?

Vancouver is deep within me, therefore, I am an Ocean, Mountain and Forest person. One is not complete without the others.

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

9- being near an ocean, mountain or forest is important for me to feel grounded.

Share with us a childhood nature memory?

Growing up in a working class family did not afford us an opportunity to see the world very often. The anticipation of my first overseas vacation had me all excited about the destination, only to find that it was the journey that I remember most. Flying through the clouds, for the first time, at a window seat, left me in awe and feeling like I was flying along side the angels…ok, in truth, I thought I was on a magic carpet, flying above earth and into space; but being raised Catholic, I quickly found myself becoming consumed with guilt because of my indulgent thoughts and, therefore, traded the carpet in for wings. Until that trip, I could never have imagined how beautiful clouds were, or how big, how broad and how bumpy. I have flown over 3 million miles and every take off would bring me back to that magic carpet ride.

 

Proust Nature Questionnaire – Megan Harrison

MEGAN HARRISON is an artist who works in a variety of media and exhibits her work nationally. Most recently she was included in the exhibition Geomagic at NMSU, funded by the National Endowment for the Arts. Her artwork depends on images and insights from geology, architecture, astronomy and Nature. She explores the complexity of the world around her wherever she is. Watch the video, the Complexity of Scale, made by Walley Films.

3 words to describe Nature?

Compounding complexity

Transformative

Penetrating

3 things Nature taught you?

You don’t have to be lucky enough to travel to exotic places to interact with Nature. Nature is a constant and creative force that pushes itself into every aspect of our world, from the remote and distant wilderness to cracks in the sidewalk.

No matter how big, the drama and story of our individual life pales in comparison to the scale, history and complexity of the world that we belong to.

We are shaped, physically and psychology, by natural forces. Our neurological landscape mirrors that of our physical one, complete with domesticated centers, rural outposts and untouched wilderness.

3 most treasured Nature spots?

Rocky Mountains of Colorado, where I grew up.

The North-East coast of the United Stated and into Canada. Instead of sandy beaches you will find huge slabs of ancient granite facing off against a dynamic and pristine ocean.

The wilderness of northern Minnesota (minus the mosquitos). Through all of the water channels and tiny islands you can go and go and go until it feels like you are a million miles away.

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

Salt water, sun kissed, wind-blown – when I look at the ocean I can sense for a brief moment the scale of the planet we live on.

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

I feel like I could spend all day there, listening to the sound of my steps, watching the light through the trees, finding a spot have a snack. I am so at home there.

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

When I see a volcano, it feels like all of my Earth Science textbooks have come to life. I can imagine the Earth’s crust, the lithosphere, the mantle and all of the tectonic plates bobbing around.

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

Seeing the sunset is an experience that usually comes to you. You are moving through your day and look up, and there it is.

When you hear thunder, it makes you feel…?

After a flash of lightning, the feeling of anticipation, waiting for that thunder to follow, is so satisfying.

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

Cozy and happy to have a good roof over my head.

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

Today I feel like a Forest person.

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

A 10. In fact, just thinking about nature has positive effects; the idea of wilderness shapes such a large part of the human psyche.

Share with us a childhood nature memory

My dad took me on a short camping trip when I was 7 or 8. It was the first time I experienced hiking into a natural space with a pack as opposed to camping next to a car. It felt like we walked for a very long time, though it was probably less than a mile. It was just far enough to feel really surrounded by the landscape. I remember green everywhere, cold mornings, and the smell of the tent. I was amazed watching my dad; he knew all sorts of tricks – how to set up a tent, start a fire, hook a fishing line, cook outside, brush your teeth and clean dishes without running water. I would love to go find that spot again. I am curious to see how my memory has interpreted that space.

Proust Nature Questionnaire – Christiana Moss

CHRISTIANA MOSS is managing principal and a founding partner of Studio Ma, the current AIA Arizona Firm of the Year and a recent Architectural Record Design Vanguard Firm. Her interests in advanced environmental design and the relationship between natural and cultural systems inform her design philosophy. She is one of five Studio Ma principals and practices collaboratively with Christopher Alt, Dan Hoffman, Jason Boyer and Tim Keil. The hallmark of studio is a commitment to sustainability and research, seen most recently in Princeton University’s net-zero ready 715-bed Lakeside Graduate Student Community.

As part of the firm’s mission of advancing the practice of sustainable design, Studio Ma has recently developed a “triple net-zero” concept for higher education research buildings and practices using an integrated design process, for its campus, cultural and urban infill projects. Their work on university campuses focuses on student residential life, academic and research projects. Other notable recent projects include Scottsdale’s Museum of the West, a Smithsonian affiliate, Arizona State University’s Manzanita Hall, Northern Arizona University’s Native American Cultural Center, the Cranbrook Institute of Science addition, master planning and cabin prototypes for Summit Powder Mountain, PRD845 and artHAUS, an urban infill development. Studio Ma has received significant recognition for their work, including AIA Arizona Honor awards, the Chicago Athenaeum and SCUP/AIA National Honor for Building Design. Their buildings have been featured in Metropolis, Architectural Record and The New York Times.

Christiana received her Bachelor of Architecture from Cornell University’s College of Architecture, Art and Planning.

3 words to describe Nature? 

Essential

Integral

Threatened

3 things Nature taught you? 

Humility

Awe

Self-reflection

3 most treasured Nature spots? 

Fire Island

Oak Creek Canyon, AZ

My back yard

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

When I’m looking out to the ocean I feel small and infinite at the same time.

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

When I’m in a forest I feel sheltered, embraced and connected to the earth.

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

I haven’t seen a volcano yet.

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

Thankful for its rising and anxious for its return when it sets.

When you hear thunder, it makes you feel…? 

Hearing thunder makes me want to seek shelter.

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

I enjoy feeling the wind on my face and prefer to be in it instead of hearing it from the indoors.

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

This is a difficult question. I love them all and they are all connected, perhaps some at different times. I began as an ocean person. The desert was once an ocean and I now enjoy the expanse of sky of both, the silhouette of mountains and the unique life water’s absence creates in the desert. The forest is a place I go to be immersed in the smells and sounds of the earth and I long for this too, perhaps I will become a forest person.

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

1 (being most important)

Share with us a childhood nature memory? 

I lived as a child on Fire Island without cars, free to run and swim in the ocean, walking in sand barefoot all summer long, picking blueberries and chasing rabbits. I lost this when I moved to New York when I was 12 and I’ve been longing to return to life without a city ever since.

Proust Nature Questionnaire – Ardy Sobhani

ARDY SOBHANI is an entrepreneur and business strategist, energized by ideation, iteration, and systems design. After earning an MBA in Design Strategy from California College of the Arts in 2012, Ardy helped launched Oru Kayak via Kickstarter with his two co-founders. The response to the project was incredible, with over 700 backers supporting the folding kayak company. In three years since, Oru Kayak has grown quickly, from a weekend hobby to young and scrappy startup to international brand. all under the guidance of Sobhani, Oru Kayak‘s CEO.

Today the company markets and sells through a wide variety of channels, has a robust and efficient manufacturing and fulfillment process in Southern California, and has developed key partnerships with , and many other major distributors. Looking forward, the company–which has doubled in growth each year since its founding–is poised for rapid expansion, riding a wave of good fortune and a dedication to the aggressive strategies put forth by Ardy and the rest of the executive team. Oru Kayak‘s dream of changing the way people experience the outdoors is closer than many believe.

As a leader, Ardy is motivated by a desire to use human-centered design to make the outdoors more accessible for all. He believes that clever, forward-thinking solutions will soon create game-changing products and services in the outdoor industry, and that Oru Kayak is position well to be a catalyst for this change. Ardy uses design thinking frameworks to inspire innovative thinking, merging design and business to create and deliver value to the customer and faster growth for the company.

3 words to describe Nature?

Freedom

Fresh

Recharge

3 things Nature taught you?

Ecosystem – Everything has a purpose and nothing is wasted.

Flow – the easiest path forward. Nature always finds it.

All the answers we are looking for are in nature, but they are hard to find.

3 most treasured Nature spots?

The waters that surround the cities. We need to utilize these natural water parks!

The Beautiful North of Iran ” Shomal”

My favourite tree in the neighbourhood

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

Calm and at the same time strong. Always there to take care of you and never let go.

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

Respect. Our elders with much wisdom

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

Never seen a volcano in person but it is very powerful. It’s time for the earth to breathe.

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

Another day about to start or end 🙂 Future or the Past. Both are very powerful.

When you hear thunder, it makes you feel…?

Love it! Louder, please!

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

Something is about to go down! We need to listen closely to what the wind is telling us.

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

I grow up in Tehran, Iran mountains city but lived in California for the most of my life. I love the desert for it vastness and its honesty. I love the ocean as it takes care of us. Mountains for their powerful stand and they are fun to play in. Forest for the oxygen the make. How about mountain forest next to ocean or lake.

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

10. I need more of it.

Share with us a childhood nature memory?

Camping in the forest of Iran. I LOVED it!

Proust Nature Questionnaire – Brian MacKay-Lyons

BRIAN MACKAY-LYONS received his Bachelor of Architecture from the Technical University of Nova Scotia in 1978 where he was awarded the Royal Architectural Institute of Canada Medal. He received his Master of Architecture and Urban Design at U.C.L.A., and was awarded the Dean’s Award for Design. In 1985, he founded the firm Brian MacKay-Lyons Architecture Urban Design in Halifax. Twenty years later, Brian partnered with Talbot Sweetapple to form MacKay-Lyons Sweetapple Architects Limited.

The firm has built an international reputation for design excellence confirmed by over 125+ awards, including the Royal Institute of British Architects International Fellowship in 2016, the Royal Architectural Institute of Canada Gold Medal in 2015 and Firm Award in 2014, six Governor General Medals, two American Institute of Architects National Honor Awards for Architecture, thirteen Lieutenant Governor’s Medals of Excellence, eight Canadian Architect Awards, four Architectural Record Houses Awards, eight North American Wood Design Awards and in 2017 the firm received the Global Award for Sustainable Architecture. Also in 2017, the firm has been shortlisted for the prestigious Moriyama Award (result pending). A fellow of the Royal Architectural Institute of Canada (FRAIC), and the Royal Canadian Academy of Arts (RCA), Brian was named Honorary Fellow of the American Institute of Architects (Hon FAIA) in 2001 and International Fellow of the Royal Institute of British Architects (Int. FRIBA) in 2016.

He is a Professor of Architecture at Dalhousie University where he has taught for over thirty years and has held seventeen endowed academic chairs and given 200+ lectures internationally. In 2004 he was visiting professor for the Ruth and Norman Moore Professorship at Washington University in St. Louis.

Ghost (1994-2011) was a series of international Architectural Research Laboratories that took place on the MacKay-Lyons farm. Ghost was founded by Brian as a meeting place for an international ‘school’ of architects who shared a commitment to: landscape, making, and community. The final installment of Ghost took the form of a three-day historic gathering where the twenty-five invited guests and speakers commiserated over these shared values and their ‘resistance’ to the globalization of Architecture.

The work of the firm has been recognized in 330+ publications including six monographs: Seven Stories from a Village Architect (1996); Brian MacKay-Lyons: Selected Works 1986-1997 (1998); Plain Modern: The Architecture of Brian MacKay-Lyons by Malcolm Quantrill (2005); Ghost: Building an Architectural Vision (2008); Local Architecture: Building Place, Craft, and Community (2014); and Economy as Ethic: The Work of MacKay-Lyons Sweetapple Architects, authored by Historian Robert McCarter, published April 2017. In addition to these monographs, the work of the firm has been featured in 100+ exhibitions internationally.

3 words to describe Nature?

As a fellow Canadian, Nature is IMMENSE. But, as a Nova Scotian, all Nature is a mixture of both CULTURAL and natural landscapes. As an architect, Nature is the ultimate design MODEL.

3 things Nature taught you?

NATURE WINS. Any attempt to beat nature loses.

ELEGANCE = economy of means.

RYTHM of the seasons.

We learn our manners at home, then take them out into the world. As a child, I have been imprinted by the landscape where my ancestors have dwelled for thousands of years.

3 most treasured Nature spots?

EDGE, where the land meets the sea.

ACADIE, the local Micmac word for the ecologically rich tidal estuaries around the Bay of Fundy, where I hunted and fished as a youth.

DRUMLIN, a hill that points in the direction of the retreating glaciers in the last ice age.

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

I feel connected to the INFINITE. (Prospect)

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

I am ALONE. (Refuge)

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

I see a PORTAL to the center of the earth.

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

A sunrise or sunset is a seasonal CLOCK.

When you hear thunder, it makes you feel…?

Thunder, universally inspires TERROR.

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

The wind is the weather FORECAST.

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

Clearly an OCEAN person.

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

Nature connection is essential to my/our well-being, or GROUNDING, so it is a 10.

Share with us a childhood nature memory?

Dip netting spawning gaspereaux at dusk on spring evenings with friends, in the rapids, where the fresh water from the forest drops into the salt tidal estuary water. This is only one of the seasonal RITUALS that marked my PLACE in the world.

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.

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.

Proust Nature Questionnaire – Camille Preston

CAMILLE PRESTON is a psychologist, executive coach, consultant, speaker, and internationally recognized expert on Virtual Effectiveness. She is the founder and CEO of the organizational consulting firm AIM Leadership, and the author of two books: Rewired: How to Work Smarter, Live Better, and Be Purposefully Productive in an Overwired World and Create More Flow: Igniting Peak Performance in an Overwired World.

For more than twenty years, Camille has guided leaders, executives, policy makers, professionals, and individuals alike to new heights of leadership, performance, efficiency, and greater happiness and fulfillment. Her clients span industries and fields around the globe, including executives from NBC, Zappos, MGM Mirage, Citrix, the Corporate Executive Board, Mars, Verizon, GE, Capital One, the US Army, and many others.

Beyond work, Camille is an avid runner, yogi, and adventure traveler. She has worked on five continents, traveled to 39 countries, and currently lives in Cambridge, MA with her husband, Mark, and their son, Preston and daughter, Adeline.

3 words to describe Nature?

Life-source (vital, energizing)

Teacher

Diversity (if you connect with how amazing, vast, diverse and profound nature is – it transforms your interactions elsewhere…. if you know the dessert and the ocean and the mountains – it helps you deal with different personalities, different life experiences)

3 things Nature taught you?

Centering

Humility (so beautiful, so powerful, so ever-changing)

To recharge OFTEN (being in nature recharges…)

3 most treasured Nature spots?

Sitting in a kayak in the center of Squam Lake – especially early morning, at dusk.

Top of Powder Mountain, in Utah – vast views, diverse landscape, intersection of so many forces – wild and beautiful.

Church Island Chapel – Squam. It is a sanctuary in a pine grove, surrounded by water… where I have gone with my greatest heartaches and greatest desires

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

Any type of water is profoundly powerful for me as I have a lot of fire in my personality. I need to be around water otherwise I’m off balance. I always seek out water – on my morning runs, on my ideal vacations, etc.

Something about the moisture in the waves, the space that sits above the ocean.

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

Reminded that I am just part of a larger system, a speck on this earth. You see the grandeur, the longevity, the strength – and it gives me focus.

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

It gives me the force to change, surrender to greater things. I loved driving in Chile – so many roads are built to frame a volcano. Almost as if there is deep reverence for their force to create and destroy.

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

Morning – I think about where / what to create, how to leave a mark and feel a sense of deep possibility.

Evenings – I think about all that is, all that I have been blessed with. There is a sense of gratitude to be.

When you hear thunder, it makes you feel…?

Humbled by the powerful force of nature – AND all that I don’t understand about it.

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

Grateful to snuggle deep into bed. For having safety, protection, and emotional community.

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

I’m a water person… I need to be.

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

10…. I can tell when I haven’t been “in it”. Nature drives where I live, how I engaged, the ways I create balance within myself.

Share with us a childhood nature memory?

Every summer I spent at Squam Lake. All this time unplugging, slowing down, learning a new rhythm, adapting to a new pace of life. We would also spend 3-4wks as a family backpacking. Now, as a mom – I’m humbled that they would leave the lake and “choose” a harder interaction with nature – to teach us life skills.

Proust Nature Questionnaire – David Nihill

DAVID NIHILL is the author of the best-selling book Do You Talk Funny? and the Founder of FunnyBizz, a community, writer platform, and conference series, where business meets humor to abolish boring content. His work has been featured in Inc., Lifehacker, The Huffington Post, Fast Company, The Irish Times, WSJ, and Forbes. A graduate of the UCD Michael Smurfit Graduate Business School he calls San Francisco home when immigration officials permit, and was named on the 2017 Irish America 100 List, which recognizes the accomplishments of the best and the brightest Irish-American and Irish-born leaders.

3 words to describe Nature? 

Inspiring, awe, wonder

3 things Nature taught you? 

Patience, appreciation, fear

3 most treasured Nature spots? 

Annanpurna Nepal, Tofu Mozambique, Salt Flats Bolivia

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

Like kiteboarding or swimming

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

Like running but also like stopping

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

In awe

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

Grateful

When you hear thunder, it makes you feel…? 

Alive

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

Like kiteboarding

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

Ocean

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

9..but why not 10, it should be 10 🙂

Share with us a childhood nature memory.

When I was 7 years old I went fishing for tadpoles by a small river. I urinated without surveying my surroundings and had an argument with an electrical fence. Exactly as memorable…and painful as it sounds 🙂

Proust Nature Questionnaire – Katie Losey

A lifelong wildlife enthusiast, KATIE LOSEY loves to explore the world’s most far-flung corners and hopes to inspire others to live out their wildest adventures through her words and images. At the heart of what guides most of her decisions is learning from the natural world, a strong thread throughout her life. Out of college, she began working at nonprofit Puppies Behind Bars, and too many times found herself reading National Geographic articles about the plight of African and Asian elephants. A year later, she was at an elephant sanctuary in Thailand. Her experiences connecting with these brilliant creatures continues to shape her world.

After returning to NYC from Southeast Asia, Katie found a home at an experiential travel company that plans private, custom journeys. Her trips have put her beneath orangutang swinging across Borneo’s canopy, gliding alongside sharks in Cuba, dancing on a 10,000 year-old glacier in British Columbia, and tracking gorillas in Uganda. Katie’s passion to link travel with conservation spearheaded Absolute Awareness, which connects travelers with the world’s wild places, creatures, and traditions to help champion and protect them.

In 2015 she became a member of The Explorers Club, whose mission is to advance field research, scientific exploration, resource conservation, and the ideal that it is vital to preserve the instinct to explore. In 2017 she co-chaired the 113th Explorers Club Annual Dinner, helping conceptualize and execute the longest standing philanthropic event in NYC history and a gathering of > 1200 world-class explorers in New York City.

3 words to describe Nature? 

Genius, wise, interconnected

3 things Nature taught you? 

Be patient

Seek symbiotic relationships

Find your own rhythm.

3 most treasured Nature spots? 

Malaysian Borneo Rainforest

Underwater world

The stream behind my house growing up in NY suburbs.

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

Calm

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

At ease

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

Inspired

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

Calm.

When you hear thunder, it makes you feel…?

Excited!

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

Serene

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

Forest

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

8

Share with us a childhood nature memory? 

Everyday after school I would go down to the stream behind my house and hang over a log that had fallen across the stream and watch the minnows, crayfish, and would just be so happy. I would bring my friends down there and I would know every rock, every fish hiding spot, the sunny spots, the bugs ones…loved it down there!

Proust Nature Questionnaire – Richard Titus

RICHARD TITUS was named one of the Wired 100 in 2010. Serial entrepreneur and executive, Richard  has a passion for technology & innovation. His startups include Razorfish, Schematic & Videoplaza. Titus’s most recent startup, Prompt.ly, was co-founded in 2013 and sold in 2016 to Breezeworks.

More recently, until February 2017, Richard led customer experience for Samsung Electronics Visual display division globally. While there he led User experience & design globally, and portions of its product planning & new product development functions for Consumer Electronics & Digital Appliance divisions. Richard has been an active blockchain investor & advisor for 5+ years, his most recent ICO’s include Hive and 2030.

Richard previously he held senior leadership roles at the British Broadcasting Corporation (Future Media Controller) where he launched iPlayer and the BBC mobile service and subsequently served as CEO of Associated Northcliffe Digital, the digital holding company of DMGT’s (Daily Mail) digital holding company. He is based in San Francisco, California.

3 words to describe Nature?

Warm (even when cold), Calm, Home

3 things Nature taught you?

Respect for my limitations

Humility around our role on earth

Awe of the complexity, grandeur and ingenuity

3 most treasured Nature spots?

Iceland –  the whole damn thing

Atacama desert, Chile

Yosemite Valley, California – which is magical even now after 10+ visits

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

Mediative effect of the waves

Longing to escape wherever I am (swim away).

Eagerness to jump on a wave.

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

I love the forest for the organic.

The surprise that the bed of pine needles could be so rough, prickly and yet simultaneously soft and welcoming.

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

It’s funny I just saw one in Nicaragua this week. A melding of fear, awe and fascination with the danger & power + warmth of what lies beneath the surface.

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

My house is in the hills and faces east. I watch the sunrise every day its part of my meditation routine. I feel a sense of rebirth, beginning, but also quiet contemplation. Happiness. No sunrise has ever made me feel sad.

Sunset, I always feel a mix of sadness about those things left incomplete and relief from the same burden.

When my daughters were younger, I used to wake them up to watch the sunrise. We pretended we could conduct it! “ok over there lets get a little more opacity on the water now. People work with me there’s too much bloody purple.. ” that kind of thing. They loved it. They still describe those memories as some of their favorites.

When you hear thunder, it makes you feel…?

Tumultuous Excitement

Expectation

Occasional dread

When my daughters were young, and somewhat afraid of thunder & lightning, I used to lay in their room (high on a hill where we felt on par with the storm) and I would pretend I could “speak storm” – translating the sounds into funny conversation.

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

Anxiety. Its the only storm sound I don’t like. Years of danger rock climbing and camping. Wind was something that could cause significant distress.

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

Mountain for sure. though ocean gets a strong 2nd mention.

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

Nature is where I go to recharge – even nature photos help me center myself.

Share with us a childhood nature memory?

As a child we drove from Orange County CA to  Washington DC across the country. Twice.  I remember being astounded at the diversity of landscape, the way it evolved and iterated. I found the land and nature would reflect themselves in the people. The Stoicism of the montana’ians. The Friendliness of the midwest farmers…

Proust Nature Questionnaire – Praveen Varshney

PRAVEEN VARSHNEY has been a principal of Varshney Capital Corp., a Vancouver based merchant banking, venture capital and corporate advisory services firm, since 1991. He is a director or officer of various publicly traded companies including Mogo (Co-Founder) and BetterU Education Corp. He is a Co-Founder of G-PAK and former CFO of Carmanah Technologies Corp. which became Canada’s largest solar company. He was Co-Founder of a predecessor of Mountain Province Diamonds who’s Gahcho Kué in September 2016 became the world’s largest new diamond mine since 2003 & De Beers’ second-largest producer behind its Jwaneng mine in Botswana.

Mr. Varshney is a Toniic member and a long-time member of both EO Entrepreneurs Organization & TiE (Founding Director). He’s on a number of non-profit boards such as The Varshney Family Charitable Foundation, OneProsper.org and a Founding Member of instrumentbeyondborders.org. Mr. Varshney is a SVP Vancouver Partner, a Vancouver Police Foundation Trustee, and on the Advisory boards of Room to Read – Vancouver and The Thomas Edison Innovation Foundation in New Jersey, USA.

Mr. Varshney is a past recipient of Business in Vancouver’s 40 Under 40 Awards.

3 words to describe Nature? 

Amazing, beautiful, wonderful.

3 things Nature taught you? 

To be grateful for the things in life that are free & can provide so much happiness – grass, flowers, trees.

Can also be a force to be reckoned with so to be respectful of that & situations that can arise.

There has to be a God, who else & how else could all this have been created!

3 most treasured Nature spots? 

Any beach on the planet, especially in Pt.Roberts, WA, USA where we have a small cabin by the ocean.

Walking through Pacific Spirit Regional Park near our home in Vancouver with our labradoodle dog, Ozzy.

Anywhere in Hawaii like on the Big Island where we have a home.

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

Wonderful!

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

Alive!

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

In awe!

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

Thankful to be alive & happy.

When you hear thunder, it makes you feel…? 

A bit scared & a bit in awe.

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

A bit scared & a bit in awe.

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

Wow tough choice, I’m going to go with Ocean.

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

10 but 12 if you’ll let me go with it.

Share with us a childhood nature memory? 

Growing up during the younger years, because our parents didn’t have much money, we did a lot of picnics so I have vivid amazing memories of all the various parks in the city & neighboring areas we’d visit, my siblings & I would toss a baseball around & even play hockey on the grass with street hockey sticks!

Proust Nature Questionnaire – Hiroko Demichelis

HIROKO I. DEMICHELIS  holds a Master of Science in Clinical Psychology and one in an Applied Positive Psychology (University of East London, Uk). She is a Registered Clinical Counsellor, she is certified in neurofeedback and in EMDR. She is trained in Mindfulness (Bangor University) and she is an advocate for modern meditation. She is the owner of the Vancouver Brain Lab, a clinical practice dedicated to support individuals to heal, flourish and reach their potential. Also, She is the co-founder of Moment Meditation, a project based on science based meditation. She is the proud mom of Blanca, she loves good Italian fashion, design and gelato.

3 words to describe Nature? 

Pristine, astonishing, restorative.

3 things Nature taught you?

You cannot stop the wind with your hands, everything shifts and nothing stays the same. When in the quicksand, stop fighting and try to float

3 most treasured Nature spots?

Third Beach. Whyteclyff park (the little island you can only reach w low tide), a secret little fall on the way to Whistler

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

The sound of the waves calms whatever storm is happening in my brain. I swim in the ocean all year long. I go and I scream out loud (it is soo cold so to distract myself I scream: “it’s tropical!!!” ). It feels like a hug!

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

Forests feels like a crowd of friends!

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

Volcano! I have only seen Mount Etna in Sicily from afar. It made me feel like I should always be humble!

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

A wonderful holiday in the BVI. Romantic. 😉

When you hear thunder, it makes you feel…?

Childhood in Venice, where everything shakes!

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

Safe if I am cosy at home.

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

Ocean, big time.

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

9. A lot.

Share with us a childhood nature memory?

My childhood was spent in Venice, Italy. We have a very special type of nature is Venice as it is surrounded by a lagoon. One of my best memories is being on my dad’s rowing boat, in the lagoon, my mom and dad chatting, playing guitar, drinking wine with friends, and us children watching the stars.

Proust Nature Questionnaire – Ru Mahoney

RU MAHONEY is a freelance Science Impact Producer based in Seattle, WA. She works at the nexus of conservation, education, and storytelling to catalyze interdisciplinary approaches to increasing science literacy and engaging public audiences. Her research on science communication has been supported by the National Science Foundation, and she has been a contributor to Jackson Hole WILD, Science Media Awards and Summit in the HUB, Utah Public Radio, TEDxHunstville, and the National Children’s Forest program. Ru is currently a research and impact production consultant on two feature-length documentaries.

3 words to describe Nature?

Primal. Nostalgic. Restorative.

3 things Nature taught you?

That change is inevitable, that those who adapt thrive, and that if you make Nature your home you can be at home anywhere.

3 most treasured Nature spots?

Lake Superior is powerful. I spent a lot of summers in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. If I could buy a lake cottage tomorrow, it would be somewhere along the coast of Superior.

The west coast of Scotland is stunning. My father’s family emigrated from there, so I’m a little biased. But there’s a reason the drive from Glencoe to the Isle of Skye is world-famous. I’ll keep going back as long as I’m living. It’s all my favorite colors and landscapes in a beautiful day’s drive. Even if it’s cold and rainy, which is often.

Pololu Valley on The Big Island in Hawai`i is worth getting up before dawn for. It’s wild north shore waves, stacked mountain cliffs, and moss covered trees all in one. Plus the trail down gives a perfect vantage for watching the sunrise so the sea cliffs slide through gradients of pink and gray light. It’s really special.

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

Dangerously prone to immediate wanderlust.

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

Present. This is my happy place and where I go if I need clarity and peace.

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

Insignificant. I recently had the chance to be very close to gushing lava and my reaction was surprisingly visceral. I often feel a sense of belonging to nature. Like it knows me, and if I’m respectful I will be safeguarded. (That’s not really true of course, but that feeling makes me careful but brave.) With the lava I felt a strong sense of not belonging. It was an interesting first for me.

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

Really conscious of time passing, and a determination to make the most of it.

When you hear thunder, it makes you feel…?

Calm. Happy calm. That might sound counter-intuitive, but I grew up in Florida where thunder was frequent. I think it triggers a sense of nostalgia and well-being for me. It’s definitely the best soundtrack to sleep to.

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

Introspective. Like change might be coming, either outside or inside myself.

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

Mostly forest for sure, but forest near the ocean. The smell of salt in the air is one of those simple things that make me feel grounded and deeply satisfied. I recently moved to the Pacific Northwest and I can’t get enough of being near beautiful forests that smell like salt and earth. It’s definitely where I feel most like myself.

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

10! It’s an enormous part of my identity and the catalyst for most of my self-knowledge.

Share with us a childhood nature memory?

My family spent quite a lot of time outdoors. My parents where both school teachers and we lived out of a van in the summers, usually heading north to the Boundary Waters, into Canada, sometimes taking trains further north when there weren’t any roads to take. I didn’t know the term “dirtbagger” then, but we were living that lifestyle to the max every summer of my life. It fundamentally shaped who I am.

One summer we were camping near Au Train, MI and there were northern lights. I was pretty young – maybe six or seven? – but I remember my parents waking me up and giving me a big blanket to wrap up in. Then my dad put me up on top of our van and I remember sitting up on the roof watching the aurora and thinking the world was full of magic.

Proust Nature Questionnaire – My mother

screen-shot-2017-01-17-at-10-03-36-am

Families are complicated. After 15 years of tumultuous and often absent communication, my mother and I have mended our differences and picked up where we left off, back to a time when our relationship was what one of a mother-son should be. A lot of who I am today is because of her, even my love of nature.  As a young boy, she always made sure that we spent as much time exploring the shores of the St-Lawrence river or roaming the local woods. I am really grateful for the values and skills she taught me. Thank you mother.

3 words to describe Nature?

Beauty, Respect and Strength

3 things Nature taught you?

That beauty doesn’t cost a thing. That it is the best place for your mind to wander and meditate. That we need to respect it because, simply, we are part of it.

3 most treasured Nature spots?

Close to water so that I can hear the sound of waves or the sound of a running creek. Leaning against a tree so that I can feel its energy. Walking under the rain, even better when it is warm.

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

In peace, meditative, and small.

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

If alone, I am a bit worried. If I am with others, I feel in harmony, I feel the energy.

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

In awe… from far away. But also insecure.

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

Happy, calm, mesmerized by the perfect beauty. I am fascinated by how it changes, how it evolves – the colors, shades and forms.

When you hear thunder, it makes you feel…?

I simply love hearing thunder! It is so delightful! It is exciting! I want to run outside and watch the storm… from sitting on a chair on a veranda though!

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

I love falling asleep to the sound of the wind whistling. That said, I wouldn’t want to be in a hurricane or tornado – terrifying!

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

Water!! Whether the ocean, a river, or a creek.

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

10. But at the same time, I am not dependant on it to be happy.

Share with us a childhood nature memory?

One memory I have is at my grand parents’ chalet, there was a vast field nearby where we gathered wild berries. Another one is by the St-Lawrence River where I spent countless hours playing in tide pools looking for little fish and shells. I also remember loving relaxing in a hammock, looking up to the sky and the top of trees, just letting my imagination run free.

scan-10

Proust Nature Questionnaire – Meredith Shirk

screen-shot-2017-01-17-at-10-03-36-am

MEREDITH SHIRK is the founder of Svelte, a multifaceted approach to attaining one’s optimal lifestyle. Shirk is  passionate about achieving peak performance and has consulted for major fitness brands. She is currently developing a line of health food products. She holds a NASM Personal trainer and Fitness Nutrition Specialist Certifications and is a former 3x All – America collegiate water polo player.

3 words to describe Nature?

Powerful. Unmoving. Serene

3 things Nature taught you?

Sufficiency. Patience. To Be humble

3 most treasured Nature spots?

7 Sisters, Baja Mexico. Open Ocean near West palm beach Florida. Under the ocean

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

Calm. Reflective. Grateful

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

Small. Appreciative. Awe struck

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

Vulnerable. Curious. Amazed

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

Happy. Peaceful. Like time has stopped

When you hear thunder, it makes you feel…?

Excited. A bit scared. Intrigued

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

Nostalgic. Restless. Like I need to nestle in

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

OCEAN 😉

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

12

Share with us a childhood nature memory?

I used to dive the reefs of west palm beach with my father and sisters.  No matter what mood i was in every time i was submerged in the ocean water, everything was calm. One afternoon my dad took me to dive the “Breakers Reef” and I remember diving down to the bottom (maybe 10 feet), and just sitting there.  I was just 13 or 14 years old, but I vividly remember seeing a large group of jacks swimming in front of me. They were HUGE fish, but just so graceful in the water… That moment has stuck with me as I just remember the feeling of being so small in something so vast and beautiful…

meredith

Proust Nature Questionnaire – Cody Shirk

screen-shot-2017-01-17-at-10-03-36-am

CODY SHIRK is an international investor who sources his deals by one simple method: exploring.

3 words to describe Nature?

Pure, vast, mystery

3 things Nature taught you?

Humility, joy, fear

3 most treasured Nature spots?

Channel Islands (off of California), Baja desert, Central America jungle

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

Humbled

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

Curious

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

Fearful

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

Lucky

When you hear thunder, it makes you feel…?

Alive

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

Aware

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

Ocean

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

9

Share with us a childhood nature memory?

I grew up in a rural area of Malibu, CA. I didn’t have any friends that lived close by, so I’d spend most of my days hiking or surfing by myself. On the weekends, I’d often pack a small backpack with water and food. I’d just start walking into the hills, bushwhacking the coastal chaparral and avoiding cactus. I always wanted to know what was around the next corner, because I knew there was a good chance no one had ever walked the ground that I was on. I’ve always like that feeling. The feeling of mystery. Of curiosity. Of knowing that the next corner could be hiding an incredible secret. On one of these hikes, I had probably walked several miles into the hills. It had taken me hours of climbing over rocks, avoiding yucca bushes, and picking ticks off my arms. I was probably 12 years old at the time, so although I was adventurous, I still had that childhood fear of the unknown inside of me. I ended up hiking into a dried up creek bed with sheer stone walls on either side. After walking up the creek bed for a little while I came to a huge rock that was a waterfall during the rainy season. At the base of the waterfall was a small amount of water. I couldn’t hike up the waterfall face and either side was impassible. It was a box canyon. What I didn’t notice was that there was an enormous coyote drinking water from the tiny amount of left over water. It’s grey coat perfectly blended in with the stone background. Frozen in fear, I just looked at the animal. I realized that I had completely blocked it’s exit, and I knew that I was in an extremely vulnerable position. I though the coyote was going to eat me. I just stood there. The coyote finally walked towards me and passed by me within an arms length. It didn’t run and it didn’t avoid me. It just casually walked by while making perfect eye contact. Maybe some kind of mutual understanding.

cody1

Proust Nature Questionnaire – Michele Benoy-Westmorland

screen-shot-2017-01-17-at-10-03-36-am

MICHELE BENOY-WESTMORLAND is a freelance photographer represented by Getty, Corbis, and other major agencies. She is a Fellow with the International League of Conservation Photographers and The Explorers Club. In 2001 she was inducted into the Women Divers Hall of Fame. In 2015, she received the NANPA Fellows Award. She has won several awards, including the Environmental Photography Invitational, Photo District News, and the PNG Underwater Photo Competition. Her work has appeared in Outside Magazine, National Geographic Traveler, Outdoor Photographer, Scuba Diving, and many other conservation, outdoor, and underwater magazines. She is currently directing her first documentary “Headhunt Revisited”, the story of Caroline Mytinger, an American portrait painter best known for her paintings of indigenous people in the South Seas during the late 1920s.

3 words to describe Nature?

Awakening, spiritual, renewing

3 things Nature taught you?

Humbleness, respect, patience

3 most treasured Nature spots?

Kimbe Bay, Papua New Guinea; Cape Nelson, Papua New Guinea; the mountains & forests of the Pacific Northwest

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

You now are asking the right person!  Peaceful, joyful and sometimes sadness in respect to the condition of our ocean environment

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

I feel much the same about the forests as I do the oceans.

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

Awe, amazement, admiration

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

Joyful, thankful, restful

When you hear thunder, it makes you feel…?

Amazement, wonderment, sometime surprised with a touch of fear

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

Since I lived in Miami during Hurricane Andrew, howling winds always make me feel a little stressed and careful about being outdoors.

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

Ocean

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

9

Share with us a childhood nature memory?

Spending time camping in beautiful forests with my family

michele-westmorland

Proust Nature Questionnaire – Charlene Winfred

screen-shot-2017-01-17-at-10-03-36-am

CHARLENE WINDFRED is a Fujifilm X-Photographer who captures exquisitely the byproduct of a life in perpetual transit. She was born and raised in Singapore. She lived for 15 years in Australia. In 2013, she sold everything and began the life of a nomad.

3 words to describe Nature?

Overwhelming, longing, life

3 things Nature taught you?

That life persists. That death comes for us all. That to be able to walk, to test my body against the earth, is one of the finest abilities I am lucky enough to take for granted (at the moment, anyway)

3 most treasured Nature spots?

Arches National Park. The open ocean. Any inner city park, being the closest I normally get to Nature… sad but true!

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

Overwhelmed and calmed at the same time

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

Like I want to go for a very long walk and look at everything. This very rarely happens, however.

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

I’ve never actually seen one, so I’ll get back to you when I do!

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

Sunrise – it’s been a while since I’ve seen one of those. Next! Sunset – whenever I’m in a position to see an entire sunset vista, it honestly makes me feel like having a glass of wine.

When you hear thunder, it makes you feel…?

Glad to be inside!

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

Like I want to be outside, running around like a crazy person.

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

Of the 4, the Ocean has been the only one I can say I’ve been to enough to be familiar with its many moods. I like to think I’d be a mountain person, because I find rocks strangely comforting to be around (and climbing is one of the things I’ve wished I could afford to do since I was a kid), but that could be me romanticizing both mountains and my affinity for them! Again, will get back to you if/when that actually happens.

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

10, because it’s everything. We can’t live without nature can we?

Share with us a childhood nature memory?

There are no maritime background, or lineage of proud/rogue sailors in my family’s runaway past. My father was a mad keen fisherman though, and that’s probably where my draw to the ocean started. Dad would disappear for days on these extended fishing trips in the South China sea when I was little, bringing back ice chests full of all sorts of fish and a bunch of awesome stories each time (he was a sensational story teller). I begged to go for years and kept being told it would happen as soon as I was old enough.

So that was my 8th birthday present. My parents worried for their small, sickly child out at sea during the onset of the monsoon season, but as Dad would recall about 20 years later, I’d positively flourished in those 5 days. That was the beginning of yearly trips in Malaysian waters.

The things I remember about being at sea: Stormy days – large approaching masses of angry water waiting to eat the boat, securing anything that would fly when being tossed around. Listening to the boat creak and moan woefully in the thrash. Afterwards, small fish roiling on the water as the clouds moved away, far as the eye could see in every direction; a lone marlin worrying a frantic ball of its prey in the water, the glorious still-frame of a sailfish in flight, a line of sunlight gleaming off its saltwater lacquered dorsal fin, down curved flank and flashing off its sickle of tail. The curious, heady mix of brine and diesel fumes (and in this case, old fish) that to me, will always mean “port.”

But what I retain most about those days is staring up at clouds puffing into existence, wavering shards of sunlight converging conical to a point in the water, or at a horizon that was never really still, the way it is on land. I never took to fishing, but it allowed me to spend days dreaming in any available spot on the boat, with or without a rod in hand.

charlene

Proust Nature Questionnaire – Flemming Bo Jensen

screen-shot-2017-01-17-at-10-03-36-am

FLEMMING BO JENSEN is a Fujifilm ambassador, official Red Bull photographer and renowned music photographer. Music, especially electronic music, is a big part of what makes his heart beat. For him, being able to combine music and photography is a dream come true. Since November 2009 he has lived as a nomad. He was the former Head of IT in a Danish Government agency, but wanted to see new horizons and left Copenhagen and his job in 2009. He has been on the road for more than 7 years now, and is still wandering the world, although can usually be found in Copenhagen during the summer months, enjoying the music festivals. He is the author of the ebook GET IN THE LOOP – How To Make Great Music Images.

3 words to describe Nature?

Awe-inspiring. Heals. Home.

3 things Nature taught you?

I was born and brought up on a dairy farm, so here goes: Respect and love for our planet, nature and animals. Where I truly belong. And a cow standing on your 8 year old foot will not move and not care how much it hurts.

– oh as I started traveling, I learned a 4: Nothing more dangerous than a wounded mosquito!

3 most treasured Nature spots?

Arches National Park, Utah, USA. Rottnest Island, Western Australia. My home country and landscapes of Himmerland, Denmark.

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

I was born on a farm, not near water so it used to make me feel great fear and a little bit drawn to it at the same time. Now that I learned how to swim and free-dive it still makes me feel fear – but now I want to go in it and explore!

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

Peaceful, in a fairy tale, carrying mosquito repellent, afraid we will someday have no more forests.

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

I will let you know when I see one!

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

I am not a morning person so sunrises are rare, unless they happen at 10am in the Scandinavian winter and I can have a coffee with it! Sunset makes me feel like bliss, like we are given a few minutes glimpse into a possible state of the world if we tried harder to protect nature, a few minutes where everything is alright.

When you hear thunder, it makes you feel…?

Time to get the cows inside 🙂

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

Cold. The wind is always cold in the Nordics.

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

Desert. I love wide open spaces.

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

10. My body couldn’t breathe without it. My soul couldn’t live without it.

Share with us a childhood nature memory?

I used to take our dogs for long walks down the fields, just to be out there alone (featuring cows), in a wide open space feeling that everything is possible.

flemming

Proust Nature Questionnaire – Kedyn Sierra

screen-shot-2017-01-17-at-10-03-36-amKEDYN SIERRA is W.I.L.D.‘s 1st scholarship recipient. He is an Adventure & Commercial Photographer and Filmmaker, a proud brand ambassador for Guayaki Yerba Mate and sponsored photographer for SOG Knives, Kokatat, Klean Kanteen, Confluence among others. His work has been featured by DPR Construction, NOLS, Voltaic Systems, The Leader, National Geographic Student Expeditions, Environmental Traveling Companions, Klean Kanteen, Sierra Designs, and The Wild Image Project.

3 things Nature taught you?

Humbleness, responsibility, self-worth

3 most treasured Nature spots?

I met a weasel by a small creek in the middle of the Alaskan wilderness, I feel absolutely upset that I can’t pinpoint it. The second spot is Raymond Lake on the PCT Trail. I’ve never felt utter pain and exhaustion from a hike so for that it takes second. The last place that comes to mind is Avalas Beach, a small patch where people can kayak into while on Tomales Bay. Avalas shows you the meeting point of the bay and the great pacific ocean.

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

I feel calmness from the tranquility of the water. I realize I am simply a piece to a greater magnificent piece of life.

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

The forests make me feel immersed.

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

When I saw a Volcano (sleeping volcano) I felt on top of the world. 360 view of the landscape definitely feels phenomenal.

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

I feel short on time. The minute the sun sets, the day has ended or begun depending on what’s happening. Sunrises make me appreciate everything because I rarely get to see those.

When you hear thunder, it makes you feel…?

Thunder makes me feel refreshed.

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

When the wind howls it focuses me.

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

A Forest person – conditions tend to be unfavorable in the Forest though it’s the only place you can truly feel the way everything is connected to one another.

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

I would put a 10 to Nature for my well-being. Without it, I can’t seem to understand anything.

Share with us a childhood nature memory?

My family was born into a minimalist lifestyle in the middle of the Yucatan peninsula. I was raised around animals, cows, turkeys, chickens, ducks, cats, dogs amongst others. It wasn’t in a farm environment but rather heavy forest. The memory of the endless roaming with the imagination of a bliss kid was absolutely phenomenal and short lived.

kedyn

Proust Nature Questionnaire – Ayelet Baron

screen-shot-2017-01-17-at-10-03-36-am

AYELET BARON is the visionary author behind Our Journey to Corporate Sanity: Transformational Stories from the Frontiers of 21st Century. Prior to being a speaker, coach, workshop facilitator, and committed to making a transformational impact on business, Baron was an Innovator-in-Residence in Roche/Genentech’s Strategic Innovation Product Development organization, and a Chief Strategy Officer for Cisco Canada.

3 words to describe Nature?

Humans. Grounding. Reality. We are nature; nature is grounding; nature ground us in reality.

3 things Nature taught you?  

To appreciate beauty as is. To recognize the life force in animals, plants and humans. To remember to follow nature in business – a time to plant, a time to water, a time to nurture and a time to harvest.

3 most treasured Nature spots? 

Diving in Fiji – the most spectacular underwater park; white sands of Turks and Caicos, and the deep blue Mediterranean Sea.

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

At peace. The whole experience of the beauty and infinity of the ocean from looking to listening to breathing it in is exhilarating.

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

In awe imagining what the trees have witnessed while we simply pass by in a flash. The conversations they must be having must be incredible as they show us what a connected network truly is.

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

The fire within each of us that can tip over at any moment and that emotions are natural if we allow them to be expressed

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

The cycle of life and death, with the depth of colors and opportunities

When you hear thunder, it makes you feel…? 

The power of nature to make a statement and bring clarity

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

Alive and attune with reality

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

Ocean first but I love them all … what could be better than an ocean with a mountain, forest and/or desert? I have had the pleasure of experiencing many breathtaking combinations

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

10

Share with us a childhood nature memory? 

I will always remember the first time I walked through an orange orchard in Israel when I was 6 years old and got to pick oranges from the tree. That smell of the orange buds has stayed with me forever. Then, my grandfather retired and bought an almond orchard and as a kid, I spent hours peeling the two cases of almonds and organizing them in neat piles. It helped me appreciate the source of our nutrients and also sparked a love of creation with cooking naturally. I always need to know where the food we consume comes from in nature.

ayelet

Proust Nature Questionnaire- Connor Beaton

screen-shot-2017-01-17-at-10-03-36-am

CONNOR BEATON is the founder of ManTalks, an international organization focused on mens health, wellness, success and fulfillment. Connor is an international speaker, podcast host, Business Coach and lifestyle entrepreneur. Before founding ManTalks, Connor worked with Apple leading high performance sales and operations teams. Since founding ManTalks, Connor has spoken on stage at TEDx, taken ManTalks to over a dozen cities internationally and has been featured on platforms like HeForShe, The Good Men Project, UN Women, CBC, CNN, the National Post and more.

3 words to describe Nature?

Breathtaking, God, understanding.

3 things Nature taught you?

Resiliency, humility and the ability to be in the present.

3 most treasured Nature spots?

The cliffs and beaches on the Amalfi coast in Italy, Camping at lake Garibaldi in BC & Secret Beach in Kauai, Hawaii

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

Connected to myself, calm and at peace.

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

Strength and comfort simultaneously.

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

Powerful and in awe

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

Humbled by life existence.

When you hear thunder, it makes you feel…?

Somehow always surprised and reminded of how small we are.

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

Connected to everything

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

Forest & ocean. I can’t choose just one. My favourite place to be is facing the forest with the ocean sounds at my back.

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

9

unadjustednonraw_thumb_25d8-1

Proust Nature Questionnaire- Erick Tseng

screen-shot-2017-01-17-at-10-03-36-am

ERICK TSENG is a Product Director at Facebook where he oversees product management for the company’s global advertising growth and solutions. Erick joined Facebook in May 2010 as the Head of Mobile Products.

3 words to describe Nature?

Magical, beautiful, essential

3 things Nature taught you?

To take risks, how much beauty there is in the world, how fragile our existence is on this earth

3 most treasured Nature spots?

Yosemite, Galapagos, Himalayas

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

Small

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

Fresh

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

Empowered

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

Calm

When you hear thunder, it makes you feel…?

Excited

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

Cold

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

Ocean

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

10

Share with us a childhood nature memory?

Traveling to a beach near Cape Cod, Massachusetts, and going tide-pooling amongst the rocks. I loved looking for little fish, crabs, and mussels tucked away in the shallow waters. I’d also collect fresh seaweed, and my mother would clean it up, and cook seaweed pork soup that night. Delicious!

10900082_10101496629214853_5622399379325240328_o

Erick and his wife, Rachel, in Antarctica. In 2015

Proust Nature Questionnaire – Chip Conley

screen-shot-2017-01-17-at-10-03-36-am

At the end of the nineteenth century, a teenage Marcel Proust answered a series of questions in a confession album that belong to his friend Antoinette, daughter of future French President Félix Faure. The original manuscript of his answers, titled “by Marcel Proust himself” was discovered in 1924 and auctioned for €102,000 on May 27, 2003.

The format of the questionnaire has since became a popular reference when wanting to find out more about the personality of an interviewee. The questions have been used by French television host Bernard Pivot, James Lipton from the Actor’s Studio and the magazine Vanity Fair.

I decided to adapt the questions with the goal of finding out what Nature means to people.

Starting today, and for every Friday forward, I will be publishing the PROUST NATURE QUESTIONNAIRE.

To begin this new project, here is hospitality entrepreneur, bestselling author and TED Featured Speaker, Chip Conley.

Honored with the 2012 Pioneer Award – hospitality’s highest accolade – The San Francisco Business Times named Chip the Most Innovative CEO. He received his BA and MBA from Stanford University and holds an Honorary Doctorate in Psychology from Saybrook University. Chip served on the Glide Memorial Board for nearly a decade and received its Cecil Williams Legacy Award in 2015. He is now on the boards of the Burning Man Project and the Esalen Institute, where the Conley Bookstore opened in 2016.

3 words to describe Nature?

Spiritual, cleansing, awe-provoking

3 things Nature taught you? 

Animism: everything has spirit; there are forces way bigger than me; “discover the pace of nature”

3 most treasured Nature spots? 

A deserted beach in Baja, the Ventana wilderness in Big Sur, a quiet rice paddy field in Baja

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

The vastness: there’s so much above and below the surface to explore, I wish I had many lifetimes to do this

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

Trees breathing with me and the phenomenally complex and beautiful eco-system

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

Metaphor for powerful human emotions

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

The end is also the beginning

When you hear thunder, it makes you feel…? 

There is nowhere to hide

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

I’m reminded of the stunning scene in American Beauty when the two teenagers are staring at the video of the plastic bag in the wind…wind creates life

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

I can’t say I’m only one of these but if I had to choose one, it would be Ocean.

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

9

Share with us a childhood nature memory? 

I remember staring at a live starfish on the beach I’d found and realized how much life was under the sea.

dsc9808-1

Nature Meditation – CLIMBING THE MOUNTAIN

_DSF2085

“You cannot stay on the summit forever; you have to come down again. So why bother in the first place? Just this: What is above knows what is below, but what is below does not know what is above. One climbs, one sees. One descends, one sees no longer, but one has seen. There is an art of conducting oneself in the lower regions by the memory of what one saw higher up. When one can no longer see, one can at least still know.” Rene Daumal

The backpack sits heavy on my shoulders. In front of me the mountain stands tall. Beyond its peak, a cloudless sky foretells the added struggle the sun will bring to the ascent. It is amazing how something so desirable can become so detrimental. On any other day I would welcome this bright star shining down on me, but right now, my mind is filled with fantasies of giant clouds rolling in from beyond the horizon, spreading themselves over my head and taking away this sunny encumbrance. I close my eyes and dream of shade. Its cool and refreshing embrace which would boost my endurance and somehow magically make the load on my back much lighter.

I take a deep breath and murmur: “It is what it is! Tonight, I will be closer to the stars, sleeping at the summit, with a breathtaking view of the valley and a front row seat for sunrise tomorrow.”

The beginning is always treacherously easy. My body is full of energy and my mind swimming in optimism. The trail is wide and the inclination barely steeper than a regular hike. From down below, the climb appears as an imaginary line traced over a terrain that makes no difference between a solid slab of granite or a loose patch of igneous rocks.

Another deep breathe, another murmur: “It doesn’t look too difficult. It should take me about 3 hours”

In reality, as much as I want to believe I am in possession of all the information I need, as much as I want to predict the outcome, my knowledge and understanding of the endeavor is simply speculative. The truth is that I can only prepare myself for the expected and be ready for the unexpected.

Over the next 4 hours, I will trip twice. I will stop to rest more times than my pride wants to admit. I will wonder on several occasions why I thought it would be a good idea to go sleep at the top of the mountain. Five times I will look at my watch and ask myself how much longer is it going to take. In the last hour, my mind will repeat over and over: “Just one more step, I am almost there.” During the entire ascent, I will analyze mentally the content of my backpack, inside out, and wonder what gear I could have left behind to shed some weight, or what I could have done differently to alleviate the challenge.

But as I reach the summit, my sight is suddenly free to fly across the valley and my feeling of struggle disappears. Exhaustion and pain become something of the past, and all this released tension slingshots back, filling me with pure exhilaration and a deep sense of accomplishment. “I made it!” – a whisper escapes my lips.

Barely rested and refreshed, I look in all directions and rejoice at the view with all the new possibilities laid before my eyes. Today’s goal might have been about completing this ascent, but for my desire in seeking new experiences, it is only an episode. For my relentless curiosity and unwavering need to learn, today’s challenge was a simple lesson about myself and life.

This week, let us reflect on the places we want to go, the things we want to achieve, the goals we want to fulfill. Are we focused only on reaching these destinations or are we fully aware and connected with the process of moving forward. Are we open to the lessons and discoveries that will present themselves to us, in sometimes the most unexpected ways? Do we truly understand that these goals, these objectives, these places we want to go are only the gateway to other new adventures?

“For life–which is in any way worthy, is like ascending a mountain. When you have climbed to the first shoulder of the hill, you find another rise above you, and yet another peak, and the height to be achieved seems infinity: but you find as you ascend that the air becomes purer and more bracing, that the clouds gather more frequently below than above, that the sun is warmer than before and that you not only get a clearer view of Heaven, but that you gain a wider view of earth, and that your horizon is perpetually growing larger.” Endicott Peabody

The Power of Nature to Nurture, Awaken, Transcend, Uplift, Restore, Elevate, the Human Spirit

Nature Meditation – ONWARD FORWARD LET IT GO

meditation

“You can’t start the next chapter of your life if you keep re-reading your last one” Michael McMillan

I would like to start this year with an excerpt from my book – FEEL THE WILD

After years living in New York City I was still trying to find my place, my tribe, my purpose. I worked in an office and performed a job I had no passion for. Day after day, I acted my way through the part, feeling as if I didn’t have enough to give to my work. And I didn’t. I wasn’t energized by my work; I was drained by it. Like a stabled horse, I wanted out. I needed to find that child within, to be alive once more. So I called it quits. 

I sold everything, bought a camera, and persuaded some companies to help fund my equipment. I took out a world map, put my finger on New York, and started moving south until I reached Patagonia. This land had been many things to many people. For Magellan and Drake, it was the land of giants. For Darwin, it was a place that would change his life. For French author and pioneering aviator Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, Patagonia was his muse. And for writers Chatwin and Theroux, it was their salvation. For me, this vast land, these million square kilometers of mountains, rivers, canyons, steppes, ocean coasts, and unbelievable skies, would perhaps bring me back from the depths of unhappiness. Patagonia is where my story began.

I was standing on a beach at Punta Norte, on the Valdes Peninsula in the Chubut Province, a place famous for orcas that beach themselves to snatch young, careless sea lion pups. Looking out and watching black fins knifing the shallow waters, I unexpectedly started to feel like I was choking. I don’t know why. I can’t explain what happened to me. Instead of giving in to the anxiety of the moment, I gathered my wits and took a really deep breath. I felt the south wind pushing its way into me. This cold air had traveled north from Antarctica, passed Tierra del Fuego, followed the rugged coast of Argentina, and now settled into my lungs. And with this new breath of icy air came a release. It was as if I was taking my first breath. My lungs opened up, like the petals of a flower stretching out to receive all the light around it. And I felt a sudden awareness, as if I was unexpectedly waking up after decades of hibernation…”

The part missing from the text is that none of it happened the way I had planned. In fact my trip to Argentina was so ill prepared that I had to cancel my original plan. I had overestimated the challenges and ridiculously overpacked. To say that I was in over my head is an understatement. Facing my foolishness and immaturity, I surrendered to my predicament. Letting my pride take the back seat, I reassessed everything and improvised. Six months later, I emerged transformed.

None of my expeditions have happened the way I wanted. In fact barely anything in my life goes according to plan. But every time I find myself in the unexpected, I let go, adapt, learn, and grow stronger. The truth is that my most cherish possessions, my most beautiful discoveries, and my most precious friendships have all appeared from these dark places where I thought nothing was working.

On December 31st, I was listening to Shankar Vedantam, host of Hidden Brain, concluding the story “Life’s Many Codas: Maya Shankar’s Path From Juilliard To The White House

“… all of us have chapters in our lives that close and when they do, especially if it is a chapter that we have known and love for a long time, it can feel like the whole book is over, that there is nothing left to do, maybe even nothing left to live for. But I think each of us has stories in our lives that reflect the fact that the people we are today are not the same people we were only a few years ago. We often underestimate our capacity to reinvent ourselves… the things that distinguished humans from other species is our remarkable capacity to adapt to different conditions, differing situations… it isn’t about our physical abilities, it is really about the mind and each year around this time, we need to remind ourselves that when one door closes, we have the ability to find other doors to open…”

Whatever has happened to us last year, the year before, 10 years ago, or even as a child decades earlier, we must let go. The goal of the Past is to learn from it, not to hold on to it. What I wish for you in 2016 is to shed the old skin, to let go of the unnecessary, to release the burden, the guilt and these negative attachments and march ahead, chin up, and confident. We are alchemists, we have the ability to turn iron into gold, to grow from the most challenging and painful. We are resilient! Onward and Forward!

The Power of Nature to Nurture, Awaken, Transcend, Uplift Restore, Elevate, the Human Spirit

 

Nature Meditation – SHADOWS

WIP_030609_Dreaming

“Life itself is but the shadow of death, and souls departed but the shadows of the living.” Thomas Browne

There is only a sliver of the sun peaking above the crest of the mountains. For the past thirty minutes, I have been watching this disc of light descend, slowly closing the gap between itself and the horizon. Within the next seconds this star that illuminates the world around me will disappear, taking along with it, the light that dominates and structures our lives. Colors will fade; what used to be a dynamic world of hues will turn into a monotone landscape. I wonder if perhaps the reason why the sky becomes so colorful during sunrises and sunsets is because it shows the migration of Colors. These particles of light fly with the sun and bond themselves to anything that vibrates at the same frequency. In the morning, they precede the sun and announce the arrival of the day. In the evening, they are the last ones to leave, making us long for their return.

Behind me, my shadow grows. Seemingly alive, this imprint of myself, this silhouette of my existence, expands, reaches across the air, and spreads over the land. While my physical presence is trapped within the confines of this body, it is its  shadow that goes beyond and connects with the world. With the sun now gone, my shadow merges with all the others and together, immersed within Earth’s shady embrace, we become one.

The light is powerful. It gives us the ability to see and define our environment. It warms and protects us. It allows us to control our path. With it, we can plan, analyze, create, and build. Because of it, we can breathe and feed ourselves. But light also carries a burden. It isolates. It categorizes. Instead of unleashing our consciousness, it buries it under an sea of judgments. We might be living on a planet that is part of a vast Universe, but during the day, when we look up to the sky, we see none of our connection to the Beyond. What we see is a blanket of fluffiness, a blue cover that appeases and hypnotizes us. What we don’t see is our place amongst the stars. What we don’t see is the Truth.

It is only when stepping into the shadow of the Earth that the Universe is revealed.

In the shadows we might loose our sight, but we gain more intimate senses. Our hearing opens up. Our smell tunes in. Control gives way to intuition. Instead of going outward, we must journey inward. Instead of reaching out and introducing ourselves, we must become vulnerable and let the world in. In the darkness we process, contemplate, and dream; in the absence of light, all and everything is equal.

Today, technology is the light – our lives are defined by it. While there are amazing benefits to its capacity, we must remind ourselves that the beauty of our species and the Truth about Life does not reside under a microscope or laid out in an algorithm. Lovecompassionfriendship, and community live in this place called Intimacy; in the shadow of technology.

We must ask ourselves: do we want to live in an emotional arid world much like a desert where the sun destroys everything and where shade offers you life and a sanctuary? Or would we rather choose a world that nurtures both intimacy and technology, each valued and protected, not one at the expense of the other?

As the year ends, lets reflect on our own intimacy and what lies beyond ourselves. Do we seek the light and let technology govern our lives because we are afraid of facing our humanity? If the stars are only revealed at night, if the Milky Way can only be seen in the absence of light, how much of ourselves are we missing by avoiding our own shadows?

I wish you Merry Christmas, a wonderful Holiday season, and an amazing New Year.

Find your inner fire, don’t be afraid of being alone, get lost, see what you want to see, exist through others, roar like a lion, breathe the world in, find your balance, celebrate life, and be vulnerable.

I will see you back in 2016.

The Power of Nature to Nurture, Awaken, Transcend, Uplift Restore, Elevate, the Human Spirit


PHOTO OF THE WEEK

WEEKLY DISCOUNT 15%. 

EYES IN THE DARK
ARGENTINA
25″ x 40″ Digital Photography
Archival Inkjet Lithography / Ultrachrome Pigment inks,
Printed on Hahnemuhle Fine Art Pearl 285g
$750 (minus 15%) + shipping

BUY NOW

Normal cover

FEEL THE WILD – eBOOK!

$9.75

190 pages of wilderness and nature through the lens and words of storyteller Daniel Fox

10% of the sales go to the W.I.L.D. Scholarship Fund, a program that sends inner city youth to month long wilderness immersion camp.

DOWNLOAD NOW

iphone-screenSmart Phone SCREEN SAVERS – Bundle

$8.75

A set of 30 photos to use as a screen saver for your iPhone or Android.

Resolution: 1334 x 750, 100dpi

10% of the sales go to the W.I.L.D. Scholarship Fund, a program that sends inner city youth to month long wilderness immersion camp.

DOWNLOAD NOW

desktop-screenDesktop SCREEN SAVERS – Bundle

$9.75

A set of 40 photos to use as a screen saver for your computer, desktop or laptop.

Resolution: 2560 x 1440, 100dpi, each

10% of the sales go to the W.I.L.D. Scholarship Fund, a program that sends inner city youth to month long wilderness immersion camp.

DOWNLOAD NOW

Nature Meditation – HYGGE

_MG_72341

“It is only with the heart that one can see rightly; what is essential is invisible to the eye.” Little Prince

There are thousands of them, sparks of ember rising from the fire and flying into the night sky. Their incandescence leaves traces against the darkness – erratic tapestry of temporary glowing streaks. My stare, previously locked on the burning logs, starts moving up. It picks up on a particular spark and follows it as it ascends and reaches to the stars. My imaginary mind can’t hold itself and creatively realizes that it has figured out where stars come from – millions of tiny embers from millions of campfires, over millions of years, that have flown high into the universe and settled. Once, these tiny Beings of Fire warmed our hearts, bodies, hands and skin; but now, hanging up above and out of reach, they warm our souls and make us dream about the infinite possibilities that lie beyond.

Around the campfire, friends are gathered. Through the grapevines, I hear many conversations. To my right, people are talking about the fish caught earlier, the same fish that we are now cooking on hot stones just inches away from the fire. There is a salty and crispy barbecue aroma lingering around that is tantalizing and torturing our hungry stomachs.

To my left, I can hear the excitement in recounting the day paddle of discovery, exploring two nearby bays – there was a great heron that was croaking at us, annoyed at having his secret stash of food disturbed. There was also the sight of a marauding mink, nearby rocks that were covered with seaweed and barnacles, sometimes going for a swim and diving for crabs. A family of deer grazing on a field, tucked between trees, was looking at us probably wondering why would any creature wear so many bright different colors and carry such a distinct plasticky scent.

In front of me across the fire, I can’t hear what the other people are talking about. I might not be able to hear their words but their bodies are speaking loud and clear. I can see the happiness on their faces. I see the glow of Life in their eyes. Their hands waving in the air with excitement.

For a minute, I contemplate at the impact fire has had on our evolution, not only transforming our eating habits, but also  – and I would argue even more importantly – transforming the way we interact. Beyond the purpose of hunting and security, it brought people together. Fire staged the birth for storytelling and laid the foundation to building communities. It created a place in time for people to bond, share, and connect. Here, in the outdoors, surrounded by a world that pre-existed me, I am connecting and bonding to my fellow humans and to nature in the same way that my ancestors did a million years ago.

The Danish have a word for the overall emotion that runs within my body: Hygge (pronounced ‘hYOOguh’), a deep satisfying state of well-being, a happiness that is rooted in being with others, enjoying life, living in the moment, eating, celebrating, and conversing. Looking around the campfire and seeing all of this love and happiness flowing, I come to understand how this word has become a cultural pride and the core of their identity.

Christmas and the holidays are a time to be Hygge. It is a time to stop and reconnect. A time to leave behind the worries and to celebrate life and the people that surround us.

This week, as we prepare ourselves to visit or receive our families and friends, lets take a moment to meditate on the joy and laughs these people have brought us, these memories of happiness that have happened over a good dinner or by a crackling fire in the chimney.

“Just living isn’t enough,” said the butterfly. “One must have sunshine, freedom, and a little flower.” Hans Christian Andersen, Danish Author

Read more about Hygge on NPR or BBC

The Power of Nature to Nurture, Awaken, Transcend, Uplift Restore, Elevate, the Human Spirit


PHOTO OF THE WEEK

_DSF1682

WEEKLY DISCOUNT 15%. 

MORNING ROTHKO
Summit Powder Mountain
25″ x 40″ Digital Photography
Archival Inkjet Lithography / Ultrachrome Pigment inks,
Printed on Hahnemuhle Fine Art Pearl 285g
$750 (minus 15%) + shipping

BUY NOW

Normal cover

FEEL THE WILD – eBOOK!

$9.75

190 pages of wilderness and nature through the lens and words of storyteller Daniel Fox

10% of the sales go to the W.I.L.D. Scholarship Fund, a program that sends inner city youth to month long wilderness immersion camp.

DOWNLOAD NOW

iphone-screenSmart Phone SCREEN SAVERS – Bundle

$8.75

A set of 30 photos to use as a screen saver for your iPhone or Android.

Resolution: 1334 x 750, 100dpi

10% of the sales go to the W.I.L.D. Scholarship Fund, a program that sends inner city youth to month long wilderness immersion camp.

DOWNLOAD NOW

desktop-screenDesktop SCREEN SAVERS – Bundle

$9.75

A set of 40 photos to use as a screen saver for your computer, desktop or laptop.

Resolution: 2560 x 1440, 100dpi, each

10% of the sales go to the W.I.L.D. Scholarship Fund, a program that sends inner city youth to month long wilderness immersion camp.

DOWNLOAD NOW

Nature Meditation – TE NO UCHI

_MG_6095

Life is like riding a bicycle. To keep your balance, you must keep moving.” Albert Einstein

It is a stormy day. The winds are blowing hard from the Pacific. The sky, which was blue and limitless yesterday, is now obstructed by dark clouds that loom over my head in a threatening manner. The ocean, which was calm and smoothing only 12 hours ago, is now pounding on the rocks with fury and in a thunderous crash. Amidst this chaotic landscape, sea gulls and terns glide with ease; a tip of a wing there, and one bird zooms across only inches above a breaking wave. These creatures have truly mastered the art of moving through the air, riding the invisible currents with finesse and grace.

Far out in the open I noticed a cargo ship pushing its way through — probably heading for a long ocean crossing — delivering goods to Asia. This beast of steel is defying the elements. Its immense volume is keeping it afloat. At its stern under water and hidden away, petals of metal are propelling it forward, while at its bow, the hull is clashing with the waves; steel against water, solidity against fluidity!

While the cargo ship and sea birds couldn’t be more different and representing a total opposite philosophy of moving through life, the two are actually relying and operating on the exact same core fundamental “tension”. Neither would exist without it. The ship would sink. Its steel would liquefy. The bird would fall. Its feathers would disappear. It is tension that keeps them together. It is tension that makes them move.

Just like the tree that stands tall, the sail that holds the wind, the rock on which I am now sitting, the legs that carry me, the beating of my heart, the sound of my voice, the neurons firing in my brain, the light that comes in through my eyes, the caress of a lover, a helping hand, or even this planet that hosts me and this sun that warms me; each fundamentally exist out of tension, at an intersection, a place where a particular force ends and another begins.

Tension is Nature. It is Life. It is the DNA of everything that is. It creates energy. It is movement and resistance. It is creation and destruction. It is a pause through which life emerges. And the absence of it is Death.

Life is a dynamic journey filled with endless forces. Some of those you will see coming, others will leave you in shock. The goal is not to avoid the resulting tensions but rather to move with them, accept them, embrace them, flourish with them. Understand their necessity and power of transformation.

The Japanese have an expression – Te No Uchi, which originates from finding the perfect sword grip, one that is strong enough so that it can resist a blow, but light enough so that it can be agile and responsive. Today the words are used to express the mastery one has in maintaining the right amount of tension, independently of the forces at play.

This week, whether at work or while doing a headstand, lets take a moment to meditate on the tensions that surround us. Am I a bird? Moving with ease and grace, going with the flow, and using the least amount of energy. Or am I a cargo ship? Plowing my way through, strong and steady but demanding great effort. In this era of change, how can we maintain enough tension so that we can sustain any upcoming challenges while at the same time be flexible enough so that we don’t crack under pressure?

Stillness is not the absence of tensions but rather a harmony within them

The Power of Nature to Nurture, Awaken, Transcend, Uplift Restore, Elevate, the Human Spirit


PHOTO OF THE WEEK

WEEKLY DISCOUNT 15%. 

MORNING RAIN
Summit Powder Mountain
25″ x 40″ Digital Photography
Archival Inkjet Lithography / Ultrachrome Pigment inks,
Printed on Hahnemuhle Fine Art Pearl 285g
$750 (minus 15%) + shipping

BUY NOW

FEEL THE WILD – eBOOK!

$9.75, plus shipping

190 pages of wilderness and nature through the lens and words of storyteller Daniel Fox

10% of the sales go to the W.I.L.D. Scholarship Fund, a program that sends inner city youth to month long wilderness immersion camp.

DOWNLOAD NOW

Normal cover


Smart Phone SCREEN SAVERS – Bundle

$8.75

A set of 30 photos to use as a screen saver for your iPhone or Android.

Resolution: 1334 x 750, 100dpi

10% of the sales go to the W.I.L.D. Scholarship Fund, a program that sends inner city youth to month long wilderness immersion camp.

DOWNLOAD NOW


Desktop SCREEN SAVERS – Bundle

$9.75

A set of 40 photos to use as a screen saver for your computer, desktop or laptop.

Resolution: 2560 x 1440, 100dpi, each

10% of the sales go to the W.I.L.D. Scholarship Fund, a program that sends inner city youth to month long wilderness immersion camp.

DOWNLOAD NOW

Nature Meditation – BREATHING IN, BREATHING OUT

“Our bodies have formed themselves in delicate reciprocity with the manifold textures, sounds, and shapes of an animate earth – our eyes have evolved in subtle interaction with other eyes, as our ears are attuned by their very structure to the howling of wolves and the honking of geese. To shut ourselves off from these other voices, to continue by our lifestyles to condemn these other sensibilities to the oblivion of extinction, is to rob our own senses of their integrity, and to rob our minds of their coherence. We are human only in contact, and conviviality, with what is not human.” David Abram, The Spell of the Sensuous

My diaphragm contracts creating a vacuum within my lungs that sucks in the air, bringing in the molecules of oxygen on which my survival depends. These two organs, each the size of a football, protected under my rib cage, contain more than 1500 miles of airways. This intricate system of organic conduits in various sizes carries the Earth’s gas all the way to 700 million plus microscopic look alike broccoli head called alveoli. These anatomical structures, in turn, perform an action that has defined the very nature of life since the beginning of time: they take and give back. Oxygen is stripped away from the air, and carbon dioxide is returned. As my diaphragm relaxes, it forces the lungs to release a breath of equal proportion but now of a different composition. My exhale will feed a different kind of organism which will proceed in a reverse manner; delivering oxygen while absorbing carbon dioxide.

The output of one is the input of another. And the output from the other is the very same input to the first one.

Every time I inhale, every time I exhale, I am reminded of my interdependence in a reciprocal cycle that has been going on for millions of years. Each molecule that enters my body, has been recycled billions of times, breathed in and breathed out by living and past species for eons, and will be for eons more.

My lungs are the embodiment of this reciprocity. Their main purpose is to connect me with the universe, and with nature. To take from it and give back. As much as one would want this to be a one-way relationship, it is simply impossible to exist without participating. Breathing in is taking from nature, and breathing out is giving back to nature. The more I breathe in, the more I breathe out. The more I take, the more I give back.

“There is one word which may serve as a rule of practice for all one’s life — reciprocity.” Confucius

In our existence, if our bodies are a product of reciprocity, what then will happen if we isolate and disconnect ourselves from the natural world? If the brain has evolved in face of challenges to solve, if our capacity to learn exists only because of our necessity to adapt, then what will we become if we let technology do everything for us? If we forgo the sensuous realm of our senses, are we consequently setting the stage for their disappearance?

This week, lets meditate on our breath and its transcending dynamic. Let’s reflect on our senses and their reciprocal existence. Are we breathing in more than we are breathing out? Is it time for us to let go of our breathe and give back?

The Power of Nature to Nurture, Awaken, Transcend, Uplift Restore, Elevate, the Human Spirit


PHOTO OF THE WEEK

WEEKLY DISCOUNT 15%. 

CLIMATE CHANGE or STOCK MARKET?
Big Island of Hawaii, Volcano
25″ x 40″ Digital Photography
Archival Inkjet Lithography / Ultrachrome Pigment inks,
Printed on Hahnemuhle Fine Art Pearl 285g
$750 (minus 15%) + shipping

BUY NOW

FEEL THE WILD – eBOOK!

$9.75, plus shipping

190 pages of wilderness and nature through the lens and words of storyteller Daniel Fox

10% of the sales go to the W.I.L.D. Scholarship Fund, a program that sends inner city youth to month long wilderness immersion camp.

DOWNLOAD NOW

Normal cover


Smart Phone SCREEN SAVERS – Bundle

$8.75

A set of 30 photos to use as a screen saver for your iPhone or Android.

Resolution: 1334 x 750, 100dpi

10% of the sales go to the W.I.L.D. Scholarship Fund, a program that sends inner city youth to month long wilderness immersion camp.

DOWNLOAD NOW


Desktop SCREEN SAVERS – Bundle

$9.75

A set of 40 photos to use as a screen saver for your computer, desktop or laptop.

Resolution: 2560 x 1440, 100dpi, each

10% of the sales go to the W.I.L.D. Scholarship Fund, a program that sends inner city youth to month long wilderness immersion camp.

DOWNLOAD NOW

Nature Meditation – ARE YOU A CHEETAH OR A LION?

“… the speed is the problem because it prevents us from reflecting where we want to go and how we want to get there.” Christian Seelos, author of “Innovate and Scale: A Tough Balancing Act”

This animal is pure beauty! It is truly a phenomenal feat of Nature’s engineering. Everything in its body has evolved following one simple logic: how to maximize the intake while minimizing the losses, so that it can deliver the quickest and fastest output. Its large nostrils increase the oxygen flow. Its lungs and heart, size for size 3 1/2 times that of a lion, work together to move and process oxygen more quickly and efficiently. Its bones are light, legs are fine and elongated, chest deep and waist narrow. This creature’s entire anatomy is built around one purpose: powerful bursts of speed. Within 3 seconds, the cheetah can reach 60 mph (96 km/h). Its maximum speed is 75 mph (120 km/h), the fastest for any land animal. Watching this majestic Felinae in action, zooming across the savanna, leaves any witness stunned with admiration. Its delivery of power with such agility is simply magnificent.

But this evolutionary strategy has come at a tremendous cost. For the sake of speed, the cheetah has had to position itself into a survival niche that is extremely fragile, has little room for error and comes with serious side effects. Its hunting strategy, while quite extraordinary, can’t be sustained for very long. With so much energy focus on one prey, there isn’t much room left for plan B. Its compact and undersized muscle mass makes it hard for the cheetah to go after large prey, instead focusing on the smaller ones. When successful in its hunt, the wild cat is so tired that it has to wait up to 30 minutes before eating, putting itself at risk for other more powerful and opportunistic predators. Hunting at such speed also makes collaboration challenging so, consequently, most cheetah hunt alone. Sight is their predominant sense making them diurnal hunters – as scent is not the most efficient of senses at high speed. Finally, with all the energy in one basket, little is left to defend itself, so it is no surprise that the cheetah is the more productive breeder of all the big cats, counting on a high number of cubs to assure at least one survivor. Within the family of Felidae, the cheetah is the most vulnerable species and the least capable of adapting to new environments.

The lion, on the other hand, has opted for a more social and balanced strategy: social structure being at the core of their evolutionary survival. They are not the fastest runners but they can defend themselves. They often hunt alone but will gather in a large group when needed. When they do, their communal hunts are organized and strategic. Their sight, scent and hearing are equally sharp, giving them the advantage at night. Being social, lions are known for their wide range of communication. Not the best at one thing, but great at so many, it is no surprise that the lion is culturally known as the “King of the Jungle.”

The cheetah and lion’s comparison is greatly insightful when we apply it to our modern and post-industrial society. Technology is all about speed, innovating at an exponential pace leaving us in a constant state of catching up. Elevating the individual over the group, we feel isolated. We complain about having no time and convince ourselves we need to go faster, do everything faster and live faster. While the benefits of living such a life are enticing and exciting, we are putting ourselves into a vary narrow survival niche that has little room for error.

This week, let’s meditate on the pace on which we live our lives. Am I, are you, are we a Cheetah? Or a Lion? Do our values protect and nurture a slower, more balanced and social lifestyle? Or a lifestyle of individuality and speed at the expense of everything else?

The Power of Nature to Nurture, Awaken, Transcend, Uplift Restore, Elevate, the Human Spirit


PHOTO OF THE WEEK

WEEKLY DISCOUNT 15%. 

OWL ON A BRANCH
Argentina
25″ x 40″ Digital Photography
Archival Inkjet Lithography / Ultrachrome Pigment inks,
Printed on Hahnemuhle Fine Art Pearl 285g
$750 (minus 15%) + shipping

BUY NOW

FEEL THE WILD – eBOOK!

$9.75, plus shipping

190 pages of wilderness and nature through the lens and words of storyteller Daniel Fox

10% of the sales go to the W.I.L.D. Scholarship Fund, a program that sends inner city youth to month long wilderness immersion camp.

DOWNLOAD NOW

Normal cover


Smart Phone SCREEN SAVERS – Bundle

$8.75

A set of 30 photos to use as a screen saver for your iPhone or Android.

Resolution: 1334 x 750, 100dpi

10% of the sales go to the W.I.L.D. Scholarship Fund, a program that sends inner city youth to month long wilderness immersion camp.

DOWNLOAD NOW


Desktop SCREEN SAVERS – Bundle

$9.75

A set of 40 photos to use as a screen saver for your computer, desktop or laptop.

Resolution: 2560 x 1440, 100dpi, each

10% of the sales go to the W.I.L.D. Scholarship Fund, a program that sends inner city youth to month long wilderness immersion camp.

DOWNLOAD NOW

Nature Meditation – SEEING WHAT WE WANT TO SEE

“Every man takes the limits of his own field of vision for the limits of the world.”Arthur Schopenhauer

I am standing atop a mountain, looking out, mesmerized. The landscape upon which my eyes are feasting is an  intense dynamic sea of clouds. There are clouds below  in the valley rising up, as if the ground was boiling. There are clouds above in the sky that grow exponentially and create an unexpected optical illusion, like fractals  expanding continuously, yet occupying the same space. Then there are clouds in front of me, blanketing the horizon, covering the slopes of countless mountains, their peaks appearing and disappearing like floating islands playing hide and seek in an ocean of cotton balls.

Staring and contemplating, I am reminded of the fog in San Francisco, a living entity that rolls over the hills, blown from the Pacific and playing tricks on the Bay’s inhabitants. Its magical powers are undeniably formidable. Its mastery in the art of illusion is irrefutable. Some days, it manages to make the entire Golden Gate Bridge disappear. On other days, it hides the city of San Francisco, one of America’s largest cities, behind such a thick opaque white curtain that for anyone sitting on the shores of Marin County or Berkeley, nothing can be seen except for a giant wall of nothingness.

On such a day, imagine what it would mean if you knew nothing of this area. Passing by, driving north or south on Highway 80, your experience of this location would be reduced to seeing a seemingly boring landscape, nothing more than a white horizontal veil spreading in all directions. When in fact, behind the fog lies one of the most powerful and iconic cities in the world.

Every time I see clouds, or fog, I think about all the treasures, worlds of wonder, truths and realities that remain hidden, away from our existence, away from our consciousness. Not because they are unreachable and unattainable, but only because we let ourselves be blinded by something that is nothing more than a smoke screen. Over the course of my life; through my ups and downs, successes and failures, gains and losses, I have come to understand how this insight from nature is at the core of my life journey and the foundation to my happy life. What we choose to believe, what we choose to see and hear, is only a perspective of a much bigger reality. A perspective that is defined by our chosen beliefs, values, and fears. In other words, what we see is what we want to see. We believe what we want to believe.

Yet these narratives we create are like the clouds that magically take away mountains, bridges, and cities from our visual realm. The limitations and boundaries we perceive are nothing more than an illusion, a perspective relative to a wide range of pre-conceived notions.

When I look up to the sky, I see the clouds that hide the blue atmosphere behind. When I do see the blue sky, I am blinded of the Universe that lays beyond. At night, when I look up and marvel at the sky saturated with stars, the gargantuan and unimaginable world of wonders that exist beyond, outside of our realm of comprehension, still remains hidden to me. When I look at someone, despite being able to see them, touch them, and feel them, what is inside of them, not just physically, but emotionally and spiritually is a complete mystery.

This week, meditate on what you believe in; these narratives that have come to define your life. Are they limiting your capacity for a much greater and happierlife? Are they expanding your consciousness? Are they hiding you from a world where love and compassion prevail? Are you ready to bear straight ahead, seeking what lies in and beyond the fog?

The Power of Nature to Nurture, Awaken, Transcend, Uplift Restore, Elevate, the Human Spirit


PHOTO OF THE WEEK

WEEKLY DISCOUNT 15%. 
SHEEP. Taken in Santa Cruz, Patagonia, Argentina.
25″ x 40″ Digital Photography
Archival Inkjet Lithography / Ultrachrome Pigment inks,
Printed on Hahnemuhle Fine Art Pearl 285g
$750 (minus 15%) + shipping

BUY NOW

NEW BOOK!

FEEL THE WILD “What makes Daniel’s work special and important is that it stirs us deep inside, where his story meets ours, his dream overlaps with yours and his curiosity become contagious” from Wallace J. Nichols, author of Bluemind

On Sale for $40, plus shipping

ORDER NOW

Normal cover

Nature Meditation – GETTING LOST

“ “Not until we are lost do we begin to understand ourselves.” Henry David Thoreau

The irony of the situation is hard to miss. This week’s meditation theme is about “getting lost” and here I am, writing these lines, lost in a world of in-between, in an unwanted place, away from my tribe, struggling to find my bearing. Yesterday, my life was structured and somewhat stable; I had plans, a schedule, confirmed engagements, and I had just celebrated the passing of a major personal milestone. And today, well, all the cards have been thrown up in the air and where they will fall is still unknown. Hours ago, my compass was bearing straight ahead, steady and holding course; now I look at the needle and it is pointing to all directions, going everywhere but the place where I want to go, leaving me in a twilight zone of torment.

How many times have, each one of us, felt this way? How many times have we faced uncertainty, the feeling of powerlessness creeping from the inner depth of our insecurity? In all my years of solo wilderness expeditions and in my personal life, I have always been able to look back at those moments of feeling lost, and, with the acquired wisdom, to see how positively transforming those truly unfortunate events turned out to be; how much I grew personally and spiritually. Despite knowing in my core that it was going to be ok, that I would make it through, I had been there before and that I had all the tools and capacity to find my way again, this chaotic present is still a burden of monumental proportion. And that is ok.

Erika Harris has a wonderful quote: “It is good to feel lost… because it proves you have a navigational sense of where “Home” is. You know that a place that feels like being found exists. And maybe your current location isn’t that place but, Hallelujah, that unsettled, uneasy feeling of lost-ness just brought you closer to it.

Besides reaffirming our sense of belonging, these forced detours are always filled with treasures, if only we let ourselves be open to being able to see them. I have lost count of the times when I have found the most beautiful places, met the most amazing people, lived the most incredible moments, and discovered my most cherished possessions, more often after finding myself lost and surrendering to the moment, letting the flow of life carry me, and my intuitions guide me.

There is an undeniable sadness and anxiety when faced with uncertainty. Let’s be honest, who really takes complete pleasure in being at a point in time and space that seems to be disconnected from everything? A location that has no name, no clear direction, no obvious way out? Should I go this way? Or that way? What if the solutions are in the opposite direction? Am I making things worse? Am I walking towards a precipice or closer to home? The answers, as distant as they may seem, reside inside of us, inside our “inner fire”, that place made of energy which is connected to everything and everyone. It is that place that feeds our intuition, that whisper which only wants to protect us. My fears and doubts will often be the loudest and quickest to react, urging me to flee and find shelter. But in those moments where my sense of orientation disappears, the bearing to find my way through the heavy fog, the path that will take me back home, the clarity that will illuminate my world once again and lift away that opaque shroud, all appear when I surrender and open myself first. The key is to accept the predicament and understand that I have no power over the past but I do hold the keys to the future.

Meditate on the times in your life where you’ve lost yourself not to the events, but to your fears and doubts. In the future how can you make sure not to give in to these negative feelings? We all get lost from time to time, it is an inevitable part of life. But whether these moments make us grow spiritually, happier, wiser, and richer, is within our control.

The Power of Nature to Nurture, Awaken, Transcend, Uplift Restore, Elevate, the Human Spirit


PHOTO OF THE WEEK

WEEKLY DISCOUNT 15%. 
Kayak Triptych. Taken in Baja California and Alaska. Signed and Dedicated, Archival Inkjet Lithography / Ultrachrome Pigment inks, printed on Hahnemuhle Fine Art Pearl 285g

BUY NOW

NATURE RETREAT

Weekend Nature Retreats, Day Hikes and BeSpoke Adventures – a mix of nature & philosophy with a purpose of gaining a better perspective on life & taking control of your personal narrative.

Reserve now for Cavallo Point on February 26/27/28 – 12 places left!

RESERVE NOW

f1e068af-0972-46c7-80fc-b0e9cff11ebb


NEW BOOK!

FEEL THE WILD “What makes Daniel’s work special and important is that it stirs us deep inside, where his story meets ours, his dream overlaps with yours and his curiosity become contagious” from Wallace J. Nichols, author of Bluemind

On Sale for $40, plus shipping

ORDER NOW

Normal cover

 

 

Nature Meditation – ALONE ISN’T LONELY

_MG_4107

No man (or woman) should go through life without once experiencing healthy, even bored solitude in the wilderness, finding himself (herself) depending solely on himself (herself) and thereby learning his (her) true and hidden strength.” Jack Kerouac

My childhood memories are vague and distant, like glimpses of a movie played behind a smoke screen. When I look at photos from my past, my brain is able to recognize what they represent; it recognizes the places where they were taken, it recognizes the people it sees. But beyond that, the images seem strange, disconnected, and impersonal. I can’t seem to be able to attach a feeling that ties me to that moment; I look at my younger self captured in a picture, a place in time that I can confirm and remember, but I have no emotional memory of being there. I want to remember the specifics, but for some reason, my past has become a timeline divided in themes, periods defined by an emotion that summarizes those particular years, thousands of memories put together, merged into a single block and stamped with a single word, an emotion that overrides all the others. Of those themes, the emotion that stands out is loneliness.

My life was for a very long time filled with a feeling of loneliness. For decades, I didn’t know where I belonged. My parents moved a lot. By the age of 12, I had already moved 10 times. With every move, I had to leave behind whatever world I had been able to create with the limited time that I had been given, and focus on recreating a sense of belonging to wherever I was then finding myself. Houses changed; friendships vanished as quickly as they were born; cities became backdrops for momentary plays. While the world around me was in constant motion, sweeping away any hint of foundation that I was trying to build for myself, one place remained constant and offered me salvation, peace, and a purpose ⎯ nature. Everywhere we moved, there was always a local park, a forest where I could roam and get lost; trees I could climb, creeks I could explore, dirt I could dig in. That loneliness that dominated my world was nowhere to be found the minute I stepped into the wilderness. There ⎯ in this world of silence ⎯ I found solace. I was alone but I was connected; I felt part of something that was bigger than me. Within that silence, I found comfort; within those trees, I found a tribe that listened; within nature I found the family I was looking for, the structure of values and insights that would teach me about life, about what it is to be human, and what is like to live on this planet.  That deep connectedness has never left me since, I carry it with me everywhere I go, where ever I find myself, whether I am alone or not.

In the attitude of silence the soul finds the path in a clearer light, and what is elusive and deceptive resolves itself into crystal clearness.” Mahatma Gandhi

The irony of our time is that despite being constantly connected and surrounded, actually never really being “alone”, there is a deep loneliness that permeates our lives. It is a loneliness that is overshadowed by pride; a pride that isolates us and infringes on our need to deeply connect; a pride that is based on the fear of facing our inner silence and solitude; a vulnerable and intimate place where the beauty of being human is revealed.

Face the silenceembrace your solitudecelebrate your vulnerabilityconnect with the beyond (whatever that may be for you), and find the lightwithin and around you.

The Power of Nature to Nurture, Awaken, Transcend, Uplift Restore, Elevate, the Human Spirit


PHOTO OF THE WEEK

pata2011_02

WEEKLY DISCOUNT 15%
Patagonian Winter. Taken in the Province of Santa Cruz in Argentina. Signed and Dedicated, Archival Inkjet Lithography / Ultrachrome Pigment inks, printed on Hahnemuhle Fine Art Pearl 285g

BUY NOW

NATURE RETREAT

Weekend Nature Retreats, Day Hikes and BeSpoke Adventures – a mix of nature & philosophy with a purpose of gaining a better perspective on life & taking control of your personal narrative.

Reserve now for Cavallo Point on February 26/27/28 – 12 places left!

RESERVE NOW

f1e068af-0972-46c7-80fc-b0e9cff11ebb


NEW BOOK!

FEEL THE WILD “What makes Daniel’s work special and important is that it stirs us deep inside, where his story meets ours, his dream overlaps with yours and his curiosity become contagious” from Wallace J. Nichols, author of Bluemind

On Sale for $40, plus shipping

ORDER NOW

Normal cover


HALLOWEEN SALE!

Several prints are currently exhibited at CIBO, in Sausalito, California. For anyone who walks into CIBOand emails the password “Pumpkin”, standing in front of their print of choice, will receive a 20% discount.

And don’t forget to taste their coffee!!! It is a MUST!

BUY NOW

Cibo

S2 = C + P

_DSF5104

The beach was made of this creamy white sand – powdery granules made of crushed shells and limestone eroded over millions of years, moved with the tides, currents and wind, slowly and gradually pushed back against the shore, grain after grain, and now forming the soft cushion I was resting on. This quiet little place located on the westerly side of Isla Espiritu Santo, just outside La Paz in Baja California Sur, was tuck between two long cliffs made of a multitude of volcanic ash layers, a product of the Miocene Era. Just like a pair of blinkers on a horse, these mineral fingers that advanced way far into the water, protecting this tiny oasis, were also preventing me from seeing the vastness of the Gulf of California, restricting my sight of this interior sea to just a sliver of emerald water. But that didn’t really matter since darkness had fallen and now my gaze was looking up, laying on my back, my hands behind my head, my eyes lost in an ocean of stars.

I was contemplating a world that was beyond my comprehension, a reality that was bigger than me, a universe that hold more secrets and treasures than I could fathom, and this reigning serenity was the perfect way to end the day.

The morning started with a gentle breeze, as the sun peeking above the horizon began its ascent into a cloudless blue sky, flooding the air with warmth, fueling invisible particles of oxygen and nitrogen with heat, causing them to move and swirl faster and generating the wind that would later slow my progress. This transition from darkness to light, this dance between the Sun and the Earth was affecting everything – the air, the ocean, the animals, the plants, and myself.

This planetary movement was intricately linked to the complex biological process that was happening in my body as my eyes were opening after longs hours of sleep, a ritual that has been fine tuning itself for thousands and thousands of year. The level of melatonin in my blood was decreasing as the presence of cortisol was going up. It is believed that this event is linked to the hippocampus in preparation of facing stress during the day. My lungs were expanding with more vigor, flooding my blood cells with oxygen, waking my muscles back from their comatose state. The same muscles that would later push against the wind.

Every part of my body was awakening. Slowly, I was becoming more in tuned with my surroundings. My existence on this planet was connected to the Universe. These carbon atoms of which my body is made of were affected by a star millions of miles away, by the gravity of the moon above me and by the unknown forces that controlled the solar system. How is it possible that we believe that Life revolves around us?

DCIM102GOPRO

With every paddle stroke, my thoughts, my worries, my wishes, my struggles, my joys and my pains are stripped away, leaving me naked but with clarity and perspective.

After cooking breakfast, sipping yerba mate and packing the gear into the kayak, I walked into the sea pulling the kayak off the beach. With a quick jump, I maneuvered myself into the cockpit and started to paddle. Looking back one last time, I offered my goodbyes to an imaginary host – a customary practice I do every time I arrive and depart a location, paying my respects to a place which doesn’t belong to me, honoring the hospitality I humbly received. In the same manner that I always ask the Ocean permission every time I travel its realm. It is not a religious belief but rather the understanding that my future is in the hands of nature.

I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived.” Henry David Thoreau

The clear blue sky had become swamped with hundreds of white smudges, much like the freckles on a summer skin. The peaceful clarity of the morning had left and in its place was some kind of an orchestrated chaos. The pelicans were flying everywhere and diving on bait fish while being harassed by sea gulls that trailed them like leeches. Rays of all different sizes jumped out of the water mysteriously, giving me the impression that the sea had turned into a giant Whack-A-Mole game. Frigate birds high in the sky keeping an eye on passing-by blue-foot boobies, waiting to steal their catch. Turkey vultures gliding effortlessly counting the days for the nearby carcass of a sea lion to reach its perfect decomposition state. Bouncing waves from the cliff with the current running around the island, plus the waves coming from the open sea and the head winds were creating this tempestuous surface that made me feel like I was sitting on a mechanic bull. And that was only what I could see. I am sure that if I poked my head underwater, I would discover another world of madness. All this energy, these whirlwinds of life, this pool of bouncing atoms, was creating heat, moving up and feeding what were now giants puffy monoliths.

No man should go through life without once experiencing healthy, even bored solitude in the wilderness, finding himself depending solely on himself and thereby learning his true and hidden strength” Jack Kerouac

The tent was up and the dinner was cooked. Pelicans were still feeding, picking the last of the survivors of what had been earlier in the day a bait ball of probably in the tens of thousands. But the way they flew and dove looked heavy and lazy. Even the sea gulls had giving up pestering them, instead floating on the water or resting on a rock nearby screaming like young spoiled brats – Mine! Mine! Mine! Mine! I was reminded for a second of what we must look like after a Thanksgiving dinner, stuffed to the ears and still reaching out across the table grabbing one last piece and managing swallowing it down only with a deep breath. Who said we were different from the animals?

After its daily journey across sky, the sun was about to disappear behind the horizon, painting the sky with deep hues of orange, pink, red, and purple. Had there been no clouds but a perfect empty sky, the sunset would have still been enjoyable but would have lacked panache. It would have been simple, humdrum, kind of stale and monotonous. There wouldn’t have been any deep hues and many colors. There would have been only a general fading of the light accompanied by a possible green flash and some orange leftover at the end. It was all this energy, this chaos, this frenzy of everything this world is made of, that this sunset was feeding on and giving it back to everyone to see in the most spectacular show ever produced. Beauty was literally rising from the depths of madness.

_DSF5621

The wind was barely rolling over the water and the round fluffy silhouettes up above were moving away. The night was taking hold and bringing along with it its posses. Venus, Jupiter, Vega, Arcturus, and Regulas were the first to show up but give another hour and the room would be filled with billions of others. As much as this place was buzzing with noise just hours earlier, now silence was of order.

It seemed to be a necessary ritual that he should prepare himself for sleep by meditating under the solemnity of the night sky… a mysterious transaction between the infinity of the soul and the infinity of the universe.” Victor Hugo

Laying down on that beach, I let the world sink in. I let my thoughts disappear. I let the silence take over. I am staring at this night sky filled with stars and know that, like earlier, looking out and seeing only a sliver of the sea, I am seeing only a tiny fragment of what we call the Universe. There is so much out there. How can we think so much of ourselves in front of such inexplicable beauty and mystery? Why are we so insecure about our evolutionary identity? Why can’t we find comfort in the knowledge and humility that there are things that are bigger than us? Having no meaning in the big scheme of the universe doesn’t mean we have no meaning in life. It just means that ultimately, we matter for a moment, for the ones around us. And that is important. But in the end, the atoms that we borrowed are returned. And the only things left are memories and legacies. Even those, unfortunately for the ones who have past but to the benefit of the ones who will come, will fade away with time.

The cacophony of life is necessary. The buzzing and frenzy of our culture has a creative purpose and we shouldn’t underestimate its value but more importantly, clarity and perspective happen only when silence and solitude are present. In our culture of multi-tasking, every hour filled with endless distractions and finding ourselves relentlessly connected to our technology devices, these alone times are becoming rarer and rarer leaving us with an incapacity to delve and think deeper, stuck in the shallowness found within 140 characters. More than ever, we must find the time to STOP. BREATHE. RELAX & LISTEN.

S2 = C + P (Solitude & Silence = Clarity + Perspective)

In the attitude of silence the soul finds the path in an clearer light, and what is elusive and deceptive resolves itself into crystal clearness.” Mahatma Gandhi

_DSF5083

The Power of the Voice

The black bear stood tall, mounted on his hind legs, only 15 feet away from me. Its nose was covered with long grey hair, some remnants of a deer carcass it was just feeding on. Its front paw claws hung in front of him while the ones on its back paws were firmly dug into the ground. Its nostrils grew larger, then smaller, with a rhythm, inhaling the air with vigor, deciphering what the emptiness around us hold secret. Its fur was wet and looked heavy and scrubby – the weight of winter hibernation still buried deep into him. Our eyes, these marvels of evolution, so similar to each other despite belonging to such distinct species, were locked and engaged into a staring contest. As if on cue, the birds stopped chirping and the forest became silent. Just a slight cold breeze bristling the needles of Pacific Northwest conifers. In some distant corner of my memory, these iconic musical notes for a duel in a Western movie were coming out of the closet.

_MG_7539

I had left Telegraph Cove earlier that day. The tiny historical village was located at the north end of Vancouver Island, about 6 hours from Victoria. I had paddled south for about 5 miles and set up camp. The plan was to spend the night there then cross Johnstone Strait the next day, visit the famous Orca Lab and circumnavigate Hanson Island. With the tent up and food hoisted up in a tree, I grabbed the camera and went on a hike to investigate the area.

No more than 20 minutes had passed when I heard a sort of crunching noise, somewhere not far, over to my right, through the thick green canopy. The sound puzzled me. My hearing over the years has become attuned to strange things, the wilderness is always full of weird melodies, but this in particular was forcing me to search my repertoire of possibilities.

With binoculars in hand, I crouched and moved forward, slowly and silently, like a lion stalking its prey. My blood started to rush, my pupils dilated and my senses became super sensitive. My ancestral hunting mode had just turned itself on. I was aware of everything – the ground beneath me, the air around me, the trees surrounding me. Every step became a thoughtful process, assessing the sturdiness of leaves and branches, before I delicately lay my foot or hand over. When I photograph an animal, I make a point of not hiding, but this was different. I didn’t know what was on the other side of the curtain and before I announce myself I wanted to know what or who was there.

Inching my way closer to the source, a change in the pattern emerged. What was supposed to be green, now was black. It took only a fraction of a second to realize what it was – a black bear. But what was it doing? It was not really moving. It fact it was in one spot, its head low and slightly moving upward from time to time. Its body was mostly stationary and its focus was concentrated on what seemed to be one single task. But what was it? On the ground around was nothing in particular and yet, through my binoculars, the bear seemed to be tearing something from something else! I still remember the thoughts running through my mind – what is it that this bear is doing? It was certainly not digging. There was really no sign of a carcass, no bones sticking out, there was really nothing that would give me any clue. So I inched my way closer.

At this point, having identified the culprit, the hunter in me subdued itself and the photographer in me rose. So I took a branch with my two hands and broke it. The cracking sound reverberated through the air and the bear abruptly stopped, its ears aiming on me. Its eyes locked on my position and without any hesitation, it interrupted itself and started walking towards me. At that moment, I took my camera out, took a deep breath and connected with the inner power within me, from a species that has evolved and successfully spread its reach to almost every corner of the earth. For thousands of years, my ancestors stood where I stood, when two predatory species face each other and judge what is at stake and the possible outcomes. I was not a threat and it was my responsibility to communicate and transmit my intentions. As the bear maneuvered its way through the trees covered in moss, I let the moment sink and kept contact with the wild animal. The wilderness demands to be respected and honored. I was a visitor and my intrusion was nothing of a farce. I had imposed myself onto the bear, disrespecting its intimacy. Now I had to answer for my actions in a humble and respectful way.

Kneeling on the ground, I announced my stand. I was not to disrespect the bear no more, but I was also not going to give away the control of this situation. When wild animals meet, and right now I was one, it is all about the bluff, who holds the fear and who owns the moment. The bear in theory and physically had pretty much all advantages over me. And yet, I had to show him that I was not afraid and convince him that an attack on its behalf would be a waste of energy and not worth the effort.

_MG_7534

As it walked, I started to talk: “Hello Bear, I am not here to take anything away from you. This is your territory and I apologize for the intrusion. I will respect you as long as you respect me.” My words filled the silence. While they communicated my intentions and presence, the tone and calmness of the delivery reassured me. The voice carries a lot of energy. The sounds that emanates from our mouth, the air that originates from inside our lungs is pure vibration. It is alive. It has a power, and yes it can also announce a lack of it. From the dawn of life, every single species has used its vocal capacities to communicate with the world. And right now, my words were carrying my intentions and making a stand.

The bear stopped. It studied the situation. Its ears, eyes and nose were in overdrive. What was I? Was I a threat? Was I a threat to its territory? To its food? Whatever I was, I was certainly not something it was happy to have around. So it moved forward and closer. Continuing talking to him, my tone and assertiveness changed drastically when he got off the mount of dead tree and found itself no further away than about 25 feet from me. At that moment, my voice got deeper and sturdier. I remembered that scene in the Lord of Rings when Gandalf stood on that ridge, hitting the ground with his staff and loudly spoke:”You Will Not Pass!” I didn’t have a gray beard nor I had a staff, but my command to the bear resonated and echoed across the forest. As my words faded into the distance, the bear stopped, stared at me, turned around and went back to the place it had come from. The dynamic had been established. While I had taken control of the moment, from the bear perspective, it felt that I wasn’t a menace and it resumed at tearing whatever it was tearing before my interruption.

With a mix of curiosity and pride, I decided to stay where I was and kept observing. I was still clueless on what the bear was eating and perhaps deep down, some dominant species behavior was forbidding me to leave. So I sat there, not moving for another 20 minutes, glued to my binoculars.

The bear must have felt the annoying stalking cause it came back. And this time, everything felt different. I could see it in its eyes, they were defiant and had a purpose. Its stride was solid and grounded. It was not charging but it was coming with an intent. As it passed the dead tree, my Gandalf move fell into dead ears and I had to suddenly change my strategy. So I stood up.

As we faced each other, eye to eye, predator to predator, mammal to mammal, survivor to survivor, I reached down into my inner core and connected to a primal place I am not even sure existed in me. I don’t carry any firearms but I do have with me ways to defend myself. Attached to my belt was a long machete with a velcro wrapped around the handle. Pulling a John Wayne, my hands hovered at my waist and I told the bear that if it wanted to come at me, I would not go down without a fight and that if one of us would end up beaten, I swore to it, it sure wasn’t going to be me. With my lips closing on that last word, my fingers slowly pulled the velcro and as the stripping sound of the fabric tearing away filled the air, the bear slowly lowered itself back to its four legs, its ears showing sign of defeat and its eyes avoiding contact with me. It throttled back to its spot, then proceeded with much energy at tearing something. To my surprise, I gazed at the bear running away with half a leg of a deer. It had indeed been a carcass hiding there beneath the tree and all this time the bear was protecting an important source of food. The adrenaline still pumping into my veins, I sat down once more on the ground and took a deep breath. I thanked the forest and my ancestors for their protection and apologized to the bear for the trouble.

Our voice and words have tremendous power. Our culture of technology and science might have reduced them to simple  phonetic products, but the truth is that they carry much more. They are vessels filled with subtleties, nuances, emotions, and intent. If the roar of a lion can rule the Serengeti, if the howl of wolf can conquer the forest and if the unique sound of a baby penguin can be recognized by it mother amongst millions of others, imagine what your voice can do.

“Without knowing the force of words, it is impossible to know more.” Confucius

W.I.L.D. Scholarship Recipients

scholarship

It is with great pleasure that I am announcing the first 2 W.I.L.D. Scholarship recipients, Gavrielle Thompson and Kedyn Sierra.

Going on this trip feels so right. I’m ready to soak up all the new knowledge, life lessons, and memories that are on its way. Not only am I stoked for this trip, but I’m overflowing with gratitude for this once in a lifetime opportunity. “ Gavrielle

“I’m excited to be participating on the 30 day NOLS expedition this summer. I hope this experience will give me the opportunity to get closer wildlife and witness breathtaking views. On a more personal note, I hope this chance to experience a new part of the world will give me a new perspective of people and culture.” Kedyn

N.O.L.S. as awarded them both a scholarship so that the funds raised during the W.I.L.D. campaign will go towards supporting these two incredible young people and attend the month-long sea kayaking wilderness camp in Alaska this summer.

“NOLS is excited to support both Kedyn Sierra and Gavrielle Thompson in attending their NOLS Alaska Sea Kayaking courses this summer of 2015. They have demonstrated exceptional merit, and we believe firmly that they will make excellent students this summer. The goal of the NOLS scholarship is to help support students who we believe will make influential and important leaders in their communities and future careers, and who otherwise would not be able to attend. We strongly believe in Kedyn and Gavrielle’s abilities, and are excited to get to know them better this summer.”

A huge thank you to ETC Trips for helping in the process of selection.

UPDATE

I am so proud of Kedyn Sierra, who, thanks to your contributions and support, spent a month sea kayaking with NOLS in Alaska last summer. Please WATCH the video and you will see how the power of nature has shaped this incredible young individual.

“Don’t cry because it’s over, smile because it happened.”” Dr. Seuss

#ThePowerOfNature

powerofnature

Stories unite us and nature heals us. It is for that reason that I have decided to start a new Facebook Page focused on YOUR storytelling relating to how NATURE has changed your life, and how it has helped you become a better person.

This page is for everyone to post. Feel free to share your experiences, your inspiration, your moments of bliss, your lessons learned, your insightful hikes, your peaceful paddles, your challenging backcountry explorations; share any story that highlights the power of nature to restore our human spirit.

Nature is more than a destination. It is a teacher, a meditation, it is food for the soul and the body, inspiration for the arts, a healer, a mentor, a lover – what is Nature for you? Tell us!

Please use the hashtag #ThePowerOfNature when posting on Twitter, Instagram and Google +. Every month we will award a signed print of my work to one lucky winner, among the ones who posted throughout all social media platforms (Facebook/Twitter/Instagram/Google +).

FALL NEWSLETTER

20962b5e-2b65-4564-bdd2-c8165797a3cf

Happy is he who is awakened by the cool song of the stream, by a real voice of living nature. Each new day has for him the dynamic quality of birth.

Gaston Bachelard, French Philosopher.

ALIVE & STRONGER

My first attempt to kayak a 1,000 miles, from Victoria, on the Island of Vancouver in Canada to San Francisco, was unfortunately put to a stop on Cannon Beach in Oregon at the end of September. The story ALIVE & STRONGER has been featured on the Canoe Kayak Magazinewebsite and will be appearing in the upcoming printed issue. This ocean story is about the power of nature to shape your character; about how being able to STOP . BREATHE . RELAX . LISTEN can make all the difference in any given moment. It is a story about hope, humility and focusing on the things that really matter in life.

69f5084a-db9c-42d6-ba6e-d7370349e1c6


W.I.L.D. SCHOLARSHIP

It has been just over a month since the end of the first W.I.L.D. fundraising campaign. With 86 funders, enough money was raised to send one under privileged teen to a month long NOLS sea kayaking immersion camp in the summer of 2015, airfare included.

Since then, I have been busy organizing the perks and looking for the lucky teen. Collaborating with ETC (Environmental Traveling Companions), an amazing organization based in San Francisco, that enables people with disabilities and disadvantaged youth to access the wilderness and develop an environmental stewardship, I can proudly say that before the end of the year, I will announce the recipient of the first W.I.L.D. Scholarship.

_MG_6876


NATURE VALLEY

I am extremely proud to announce that December will mark the beginning of my new partnership with NATURE VALLEY. NATURE VALLEY understands the power and reach it has to promote a healthy lifestyle and the value of stepping out into nature to restore our human spirit.

GetOutThere_1

Their campaign #GetOutThere, their project TrailView and their recent involvement with Erik Weihenmayer is only the beginning of their expanded focus. I am extremely honored to have been invited to be a part of it.

GetOutThere_8


THE POWER OF NATURE TO RESTORE THE HUMAN SPIRIT COLLECTION

I am presently working with an amazing San Francisco-based designer and master calligraphy Nobuhiro Sato to create a beautiful collection of WILD IMAGE products that will include t-shirts, merino hoodies, mugs, greeting cards, tote bags, water bottles and more.

The inspiration for the collection comes from the simplicity of a brush stroke to illustrate the purity and serenity of nature. The collection will soon be available through my online store – built by Coffee and Magic, and various distribution locations across the country. If you want to be notified when the collection will be available, please contact me.

Coffee-Mug-Mockup_VC

t-shirt-white


SALSA CYCLES

One of the beauties of sea kayaking is the pace – fast enough to cover some distance, yet slow enough that you can feel and experience all that this world has to offer. There is something primal and satisfying about feeling the elements, the rain, the wind, the sun. You can smell the fragrances of the ocean, the distinct aroma of a bay, the seaweed, the breath of a whale, the stench of ammonia from a bird colony. There is also something exhilarating about experiencing the vulnerability felt when encountering wild animals that are bigger than you, in a vessel that offers almost no protection.

Biking is kayak’s earthy equivalent – in every way possible. It is a lifestyle and a way of experiencing life. It is the desire to slow down… STOP, BREATHE, RELAX, LISTEN and honor the beauty around us.

64f944be-0b23-4084-aa14-63a60dd67a38

So it is with great pleasure that I am announcing my new partnership with SALSA Cycles. I plan on spending as much time on the water as off and my new Fargo TI is the perfect vehicle to explore the remote roads of North America. Equipped with my THULE gear and photo equipment I will be able to share my experiences with you wherever I go.

As a modern-day explorer, it’s hard to differentiate yourself; Daniel Fox, through his unique lens, has found a powerful way to do just that. His vision is innovative, his passion palpable. It’s exactly these characteristics that speak to (and inspire) his audience, which at Salsa Cycles, we feel is the same as ours—adventure enthusiasts, addicts and ambassadors. His talents, particularly in the photography department, match his lofty ambitions, and we’re excited to see what next peak he can summit!” Justin Julian, Salsa Cycles


PUBLIC SPEAKING

If you find yourself around the Bay Area in December or January, I will be speaking at the REI stores in San Francisco, San Jose, Berkeley, Corte Madera and at the Commonwealth Club of California. Click here to find out the dates.

0e905571-5e39-4496-813a-d7571cfe523f


MARINE CONSERVATION INSTITUTE

I am truly honored to have been chosen as a Partner for the Global Ocean Refuge Systems, a contributor from the Marine Conservation Institute and for the IUCN. My photos have already been used for various projects like the Institute’s new SEA G20 STATE 2014 report and their campaign awareness cards for GLORES and MPAtlas. My work was also featured at the IUCN World Parks Congress in Sydney this November.

9cd82a21-77a1-480d-afca-587c12102f36

“Daniel artfully exposes the beauty of the oceans for the rest of us to enjoy and is able to capture all the beauty and splendor of marine animals in their natural environments. We look forward to working with him to help make GLORES visually accessible to people all around the world.”  Caro Dratva, director of development of Marine Conservation Institute.

561e819e-1953-4e03-8fe5-359c8be62b55


1st PRIZE ALASKA MAGAZINE

Every year, Alaska Magazine awards the top photos that capture the spirit of the Frontier State. For this year’s Annual Photo Contest, the magazine has given my Steller sealion photo taken at Middle Pass, Inian Islands, Alaska the 1st prize in the Wildlife Category.

92ba3d7c-8614-4a49-aa38-b41d0791ba09


MEDIA

A quick summary of recent media coverage.

bc58bafb-0423-4364-90f1-e50b992a9412

f26a63b0-5b41-4bc1-b29f-6164d491be0b

493d837c-0042-4af2-a8b8-7930488df0dc

6a27fdb6-99df-447d-8a92-ba2da83f2a46

a647abfe-dd98-4b3b-b001-8461fe48309a


HAPPY HOLIDAYS

With December around the corner, it is amazing that already the year 2014 is about to end. Looking ahead to a promising and exciting 2015, I wish you wonderful and joyous holiday season. Be sure to take the time to STOP, BREATHE, RELAX and LISTEN.

To see the world, things dangerous to come to, to see behind walls, draw closer, to find each other and to feel. That is the purpose of life.The very reason why we exist is to explore, connect, and experience.” The Secret Life of Walter Mitty

0fb19f4f-a099-462e-a59f-65b8ed81ba6a

Feel the Wild

rei

I will be giving talks at REI stores and at the Commonwealth Club in December and January. See the dates and locations below. Looking forward to seeing you all.

REI

 

Lessons from Photographing the Wilderness

What is it like to be sitting on the grass 10 feet away from a one-ton bison as it slowly passes by you, staring at you. To have a brown bear challenging you 15 feet away. How to embrace the chaotic world of nature and find the magic nature has to offer. How to find inspiration even in the worst of times. Doing photography in the wilderness is more than simply observing a wild world through the lens, but it is chance to connect with the world around, to capture that connection that unites us to all species roaming this planet. This presentation is about becoming a better photographer by learning from nature. It is also about using technology in a constructive way and not getting overwhelmed by it.

REI San Francisco, December 3rd

REI San Jose, December 9th

REI Berkeley, December 10th

REI Corte Madera, January 14th

 

The Commonwealth Club

 

The Power of Nature to Restore the Human Spirit

Storyteller, explorer and photographer Daniel Fox brings you along on his journey into the wild. From grizzly bears in Alaska to crocodile-like caimans in Argentina, the images of his journeys bring the contours of the wilderness into stark relief and make clear the inherent connection between humans and the natural world. Join us as his stories of the depths of wildlife provide an opportunity for all of us to come feel the power of nature through the eyes of Daniel Fox!

San Francisco, January 22th

#GetOutThere Nature Valley

GetOutThere_1

I am extremely proud to announce that December will mark the beginning of my new partnership with NATURE VALLEY. Reaching beyond being a simple company of granola and protein bars, NATURE VALLEY understands the power and reach it has to promote a healthy lifestyle and our need of nature to restore our human spirit.

Their campaign #GetOutThere, their project TrailView and their recent involvement with Erik Weihenmayer is only the tip of what they have in plan for the future and I am extremely thrilled that I am going to be a part of it!

By becoming one of their official contributors, NATURE VALLEY gives me an incredible platform from which I can expand my mission of bridging the teachings of the wilderness to the public and my campaign STOP . BREATHE . RELAX . LISTEN.

Make sure to follow their INSTAGRAM and FACEBOOK page as my content will appear on their feed periodically, starting in December.

GetOutThere_7

GetOutThere_8

W.I.L.D. – Update

_MG_6876

It has been a little over 3 weeks since the end of the first W.I.L.D. fundraising campaign. With 86 funders, enough money was raised to send one under privileged teen to a month long NOLS sea kayaking immersion camp in the summer of 2015, airfare included.

Since then, I have been busy organizing the perks and looking for the lucky teen. Collaborating with ETC (Environmental Traveling Companions), an amazing organization based in San Francisco, that enables people with disabilities and disadvantaged youth to access the wilderness and develop an environmental stewardship, I can proudly say that before the end of the year, I will announce the recipient of the first W.I.L.D. Scholarship.

I am also working with an amazing artist, Nobuhiro Sato, on creating the brand identity for the Power of Nature to Restore of Human Spirit – STOP . BREATHE . RELAX. LISTEN, that will be featured on a new series of mugs, t-shirts, greeting cards, tote bags and much more.  These are the mugs that the ones who have donated $50 and more will received.

For those who have contributed $20 and more, your THANK YOU postcards will be mailed next week.

The prints, which were part of the $250 and more contribution, will be sent before the end of year.

A big thank you to Next Adventure, Icebreaker, Voltaic Systems and everybody who has contributed to the campaign.

Summer Newsletter

e12809f2-374d-4445-9722-be725b85dfb0

As I am about to embark on a 2 1/2 month long paddle, I am reminded of a quote sent to me by a friend. In her poem Stanzas, Emily Blonte writes:

“Often rebuked, yet always back returning to those first feelings that were born with me… I’ll walk where my own nature would be leading. It vexes me to choose another guide… The earth that wakes one human heart to feeling. Can centre both the worlds of Heaven and Hell.”

I spent the last 3 months exploring the wilderness of Alaska, letting nature be my guide and mentor. Always grounding me to what is essential in life, I experienced profound insights, humility and was welcomed by love everywhere I went.


W.I.L.D.

Our connection to nature is deeply rooted but if it is not experienced at a young age it is most likely that it will never find an anchor on which it can grown. Wilderness immersion camps are for me one of the most precious ways to ignite the bond we have with the planet.

I believes that immersion in nature is an important part of our development, especially during our early, formative years when it is so critical to discover who we are, develop strong self-esteem, begin to adopt leadership skills, challenge our physical well-being and acquire the capacity to live a balance life in a world dominated by technology.

_MG_2872

W.I.L.D. – Wilderness Immersion for Leadership and Discovery, aims is to give youth, especially under-privileged teens, the opportunity to experience first-hand the positive impact nature can have on their lives. The goal is to motivate them to explore and discover the natural world and understand how experiencing the beauty and challenges inherent in nature can lead to enhancing their self-confidence and developing valuable leadership skills

Our wish is to have their testimonials and experiences reach ​ ​and positively impact other teens and their families and inspire them to Experience the W.I.L.D


1,000-MILE FUNDRAISING PADDLE

For my first W.I.L.D. campaign, I will raise the necessary funds to send a small group of under privileged teens to a 30-day Sea Kayaking camp in Alaska in the summer of 2015. The wilderness immersion camp will be given by the internationally known and extremely well reputed National Outdoors Leadership School (N.O.L.S.).

DCIM100GOPRO

Launching in the third week of August, I will paddle from Victoria on Vancouver Island to San Francisco, a journey of 1,000 miles. The 2 1/2 month paddle will be at the core of a Indiegogo campaign. Click here – INREACH tracking & FACEBOOK, to follow this amazing journey!

_MG_5612-2-01

Find out more about how you can contribute and the wonderful rewards you can get. These teens will be changed forever, transformed and more deeply connected with the planet. Lets make this happen!

“The most rewarding part of this course was getting out of my element, and experiencing nature at its fullest.” Thomas W. Southeast Alaska NOLS Sea Kayaking Grad

Untitled-1


STOP . BREATHE . RELAX . LISTEN

Over the course of the next 6 months I will be announcing the launch for my new line of merchandize. Partnering with my sponsors, I will be offering tote bags, merino hoodies, t-shirts, mugs and much more with the mantra STOP . BREATHE . RELAX . LISTEN on one side and The Power of Nature to Restore the Human Spirit on the other.

_MG_5612-01

STOP . BREATHE . RELAX . LISTEN – The Power of Nature to Restore the Human Spirit is the foundation of my narrative and the message behind my work.

to post75-01


SAN FRANCISCO INTERNATIONAL PHOTO GOLD AWARD

August 9th was the opening of the San Francisco International Photo exhibition. My photo LO won one of the GOLD awards. Judged by Paula Tognarelli, Executive Director and Curator, Griffin Museum of Photography, the winning photos are on display at the Gallery Photographica, in San Francisco, 3265 17th Street, near the corner of 17th and Mission Streets, until August 24th.

_MG_0111


ALASKA 2014

It is now my second summer in Alaska. Last year I paddled from Sitka to Hoonah, from Tenekee to Hoonah and hiked around Mendenhall Glacier. This time I decided to return to Juneau and visit the famous brown bears of Pac Creek.

_MG_0192

I then went back to the Mendenhall Glacier but this time kayaking the lake and exploring the icebergs.

_MG_2307

Next stop was the Taku Glacier, up the Taku River. The highlight of this paddle was kayaking at night with the orcas, humpback whales and the plankton blooming. Listen to my radio interview on KTOO, public radio in Juneau.

DCIM101GOPRO

Finally, I spent 6 weeks on the island of Kodiak. The first paddle was to the island of Afognak and the second one – a 150-mile paddle down the Pacific coast south of Kodiak. Listen to my radio interview on KMXT Kodiak Public Radio and watch my tv interview on KTUU Alaska channel 4 NBC. Check the KODIAK & JUNEAU PINTEREST for a wonderful photo recap with many bears, minks, glaciers and much more.

to post91


Explorer and Storyteller, Daniel Fox, Believes in the Power of Nature to Restore the Human Spirit – on ABC

On August 7th, while in Salt Lake City for the Outdoor Retailer tradeshow, I was invited to pass by ABC’s studio for a live interview and talk about my work and the photography I did on Antelope Island.

Screen Shot 2014-08-18 at 8.41.26 AM


OUTDOOR RETAILER 2014

Every year I do my best to attend the Outdoor Retailer trade show and reconnect with all my sponsors. This year I had an even bigger reason to attend as my main sponsors Wilderness Systems and Adventure Technology had a big wall with my photography and excerpts from my stories. The photos were a great success and comments poured in. From the Press Release:

“…At the Outdoor Retailer trade show next week, we are displaying some of Daniel Fox’s work (see the example in the montage above!) at our booth. It not only serves as a beautiful reminder of why we love to get outside and play, but it just might touch you in ways you wouldn’t have expected. Our goal is to inspire you to explore a world without boundaries and ask you to think about this:  “Isn’t it time you looked at life with a new perspective?…”

IMG_5610

KOKATAT also featured my photography – which appeared in this year’s catalog. Their booth’s front banner had my Owl (top middle), the Morning Reflection (middle center), my photo of professional kayakers Kate Hives (bottom left) and Paul Kuthe (bottom right)

Kokatat Main Reception1

Voltaic Systems which has been supporting me with solar panels and long lasting batteries had this shot for their full backdrop. What a great presence at this year’s OR!!

_MG_8996


MOUNTAIN KHAKIS

Mountain Khakis has been believing and supporting my work since the beginning. I am honored to be featured in there 2015 catalog! So great being part of such a wonderful team of dedicated people, working relentlessly at delivering the best products. Thank you MK!

image001


MORE MINUTE OF NATURE

The series now has 24 videos. Watched by thousands, the videos have been the perfect platform to share my insights and the material I find inspirational. Promoting the need to disconnect by being in the moment – even just for 60 seconds, the series is a call for action to find balance in our ever-connected lives.

00cca558-7b7a-4c4b-ac51-0d52654e3945

MINUTE OF NATURE – CAPE ALITAK
Woody, plant manager at the Alitak Cannery and author of the book “Cape Alitak Petroglyphs: From the Old People” writes about a life changing event as a child while paddling with a whale

6c7d1bca-5e0d-4040-98b7-b48b9a620e68

MINUTE OF NATURE – THREE SAINTS HARBOR
The benefits of wilderness immersion, a quote from Casey Lyons at Backpacker Magazine and a myriad of moon jellyfish at Three Saints Harbor, Kodiak Alaska


STAY TUNED & THANK YOU!

I hope to get your support for the W.I.L.D. campaign. Don’t forget to follow the expedition via InReach and Facebook. And most important, find the time in the day to STOP . BREATHE . RELAX . LISTEN. 

W.I.L.D.

_MG_2872

Anyone who I know who enjoys the outdoors or cares for the natural word can recall a time and place in their youth when they found themselves out there in nature and felt that connection, that primal bond that unites us to this planet and to life. For me that connection was so strong that I simply never wanted to let it go. When I was a kid, I just loved to roam the woods, fish the lakes, explore the ponds or climb the trees. It is in these moments that I felt alive. So my best childhood memories are from a great number of summer camps I went to. They were my definition of a candy store. And the things I learned during these magical summers still impact my life today.

I love the work I do and I know that people appreciate it too. But I have always felt that something really important was missing. If these experiences when you are a kid are so important in the development of our appreciation of nature, what was I doing to make sure that they experience the wilderness like I did when I was young? I knew I was not the type the bring children along on my trips but there had to be a way.  A couple of years ago I met Geoff Green and I got to hear from the children themselves how his program Students on Ice had changed their lives. Recently during a paddle, the pieces came together.

I am extremely please to announce the beginning of W.I.L.D. (see press release below) My expeditions and outings will now have for main purpose to raise funds and send underprivileged teens to wildness immersion camps. So to kick off my new venture, I will kayak from Victoria, BC to San Francisco in hope to raise 10K and send 2 teens on a month long sea kayaking NOLS wilderness camp. I plan on starting this 1,000 mile paddle mid-August.

Stay tuned for more news! 

PRESS RELEASE

 

W.I.L.D.

Wilderness Immersion for Leadership & Discovery

“a 1,000-mile paddle on the Pacific Coast to raise funds and send under-privilege teens to a wilderness immersion camp…”

INTRODUCTION

The Power of Nature to Restore the Human Spirit is the belief that forms the foundation of Daniel Fox’s work. Through his personal experiences in the wilderness, his captivating stories and his “Minute of Nature” video series, he shares with us the impact that being with nature, even if only for a minute, can have on our digitally-driven lives. Sometimes philosophical, sometimes challenging us to stop and reflect, his stories, his photography and his videos help us pause and recall our own experiences with nature.

 

BELIEFS

W.I.L.D. (Wilderness Immersion for Leadership & Discoveries), a not-for-profit organization, believes that immersion in nature is an important part of our development, especially during our early, formative years when it is so critical to discover who we are, develop strong self-esteem, begin to adopt leadership skills, challenge our physical well-being and acquire the capacity to live a balance life in a world dominated by technology.

Unfortunately many of todays’ youth are immersed in a totally different reality. Living in front of the computer, the television omnipresent and socially connected via smartphones, they spend little time in nature and rarely disconnect from technology. If their lives exist on the “screen” now, it’s unrealistic to think they will have the desire to connect with the natural world as they mature. Yet, humans have always been connected with nature; 99.9% of our evolution comes from living in natural environments and our psychological underpinning is still entrenched in many ways with nature.

It’s interesting to note that the marketing world has leveraged our attachment to nature for a long time, selling products and services aimed at our “green” subconscious or pricing homes and resorts by the sea, in serene remote areas or in the mountains at higher rates than urban properties – bringing the ultimate luxury – being able to disconnect, relax and de-stress from our hectic lifestyle. We seem to have no problem in valuing nature when we need that rare escape but are not as willing to elevate nature as a more regular part of our lives.*

 

AIM

Knowing the importance of today’s youth in shaping the future, our initial effort is targeted on giving teens, especially under-privileged ones between the ages of 16 and 20, the opportunity to experience first-hand the positive impact nature can have on their lives through wilderness immersion camps. The aim being at helping them wanting to explore and discover the natural world and understand how experiencing the beauty and ultimate challenges, inherent in nature can lead to enhancing their self-confidence and help them develop valuable leadership skills.

Over time, we will be expanding our reach to include college students and business leaders.

 

FUNDRAISING CAMPAIGNS

For our first campaign W.I.L.D. will raise the necessary funds to send a group of teens to a 30-day Sea Kayaking camp** in Alaska in the summer of 2015. The wilderness immersion camp will be given by the internationally known and extremely well reputed National Outdoors Leadership School (N.O.L.S.).

“The most rewarding part of this course was getting out of my element, and experiencing nature at its fullest.” Thomas W. Southeast Alaska NOLS Sea Kayaking Grad

To kick off the campaign, Fox, an avid solo explorer and experienced kayaker who has paddled several hundred miles across all kinds of water will set-off from Victoria, British Columbia and paddle to San Francisco, California along the Pacific Coast. The 1,000-Mile Pacific Coast Paddle will take approximately 2 ½ months to complete.

Throughout his journey, Fox will be stopping along the route, speaking with the media and at events as well as posting his experiences on Facebook, Twitter and other social platforms.

During his 2½-month expedition, social media and news releases targeted at under-privileged teens and their families will invite them to submit an entry to the competition on why would they want to experience a 30-day sea kayaking wilderness NOLS camp and what they hope to take away from their experience.

To quote Fox:

“No one can possibly understand how impactful and inspiring nature can be until they are actually immersed in it. I want to encourage in these teens an interest in discovering our world, ask them to describe what they think it would be like to step away from their day-to-day world, to feel the beauty and experience the challenges of a non-urban environment. 

We all know the first step in any journey is envisioning it. By having them write about it and describe why they want to be there; having them share what they long for, we have already moved one step closer to bringing nature into their lives. Our goal is to have their testimonials and experiences to reach, and positively impact other teens and their families and inspire them to Experience the W.I.L.D.”     

 

For inquiries contact Daniel Fox daniel@wildimageproject.com

 

ABOUT DANIEL FOX

A Wilderness Systems sponsored sea kayaker, a Kokatat Ambassador, a Deuter Ambassador and a Delorme Ambassador, Fox, a Canadian based in San Francisco, is a storyteller, explorer and photographer. He writes about nature an exploration and shares his experiences with the public through his blog, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and other social media platforms. (http://wildimageproject.com)

ABOUT N.O.L.S.

Since legendary mountaineer Paul Petzoldt founded the school in 1965, more than 230,000 students have graduated from the National Outdoor Leadership School (NOLS), the leader in wilderness education. Whether through field-based courses offered in some of the most awe-inspiring locations in the world or classroom-based courses, the school provides transformative educational experiences to students of all ages. Graduates emerge as active leaders with lifelong environmental ethics and outdoor skills. To discover the NOLS experience or to bring a course to your business or organization, call (800) 710-NOLS (6657) or visit www.nols.edu.

 

* For additional reference on this topic, you can read more in these books and published articles: Blue Minds by Wallace Nichols, The Last Child in the Woods by Richard Louv, Your Brain on Nature by Alan C. Logan. Effects of Outdoor Education Programs for Children in California by the American Institutes for Research, Campfire Kids: Going Back to Nature with Forest Kindergartens, NOLS Research Wilderness Immersion Benefits. These all highlight the benefits of spending time with nature. More recently, an article in the Outside magazine, Take Two Hours of Pine Forest and Call Me in the Morning explored how Japan is financially investing in making its citizen spend time in the forest.

** Since 1971, NOLS students have been exploring the wilds of Alaska in sea kayaks. Theres no better way to take in Alaska’s dramatic coastline than by gliding on the water. Read more information about the trip and organization here.

 

Death is Nature

The warm light from the morning spring sun spread over the bay and the mountains like gold dust. The snow up above the tree line was slowly disappearing, the edges of every little ravines and crevasses turning to black – I have always loved the mountains at this time of the year, the contrast of the imagery so dramatic. Everything was magical. The musical notes from a nearby Pacific wren echoed across the bay playing a melody that just reinforced this empyrean moment. As if on cue, a doe and its one year old fawn came out of the woods and started walking onto the beach. The bay was a vast tide flat with a long sand bar that almost geographically cut the bay in two. The tide was rising and soon this landscape of mud, gravel and wet grass would disappear and transform itself. A world dominated by walking and flying creatures would become a world where the ones who can swim rule.

Song of a Pacific Wren

 

The doe walked confident, heading for the tip of the sand bar while the fawn seemed hesitant as the water got closer and the sand path narrower. As they reached the point, I stared, curious to see what they would do – go back, swim perpendicular and head to the beach or swim straight ahead and cross to the other side of the bay. To my surprise the doe simply stayed on course aiming for the shore across. In the water and having swam half of the distance, the young deer stopped and turned around – doubting its capacity to make the short crossing. Looking through my binoculars, I witnessed the distance between the two increase as the mother stayed on her course. Realizing that its attempt to change the course of action hadn’t produced the goal intended, the fawn turned again bearing across, now trailing far behind its mother. While the head of the mother rose above the water, now her feet reaching the bottom, the head of the young deer disappeared and went under. The doe, after shaking the water off her body, scanned the water in search of the little one – so was I through my binoculars. After more than 15 minutes of finding nothing, it became evident that the fawn had drowned. Its mother waited on the shore for another 20 minutes until it slowly walked into the woods, stopping twice and looking back searching for any sign of life. Basking under the sun, the Pacific wren still enchanting my ears, my hands wrapped around a warm cup of tea, the serenity still permeating the air, I closed my eyes, relaxed and humble, reminded of the true nature of life. Death is an intricate and essential part of life and nature. In the wilderness it surrounds me and is everywhere I look. Yet, where there is death, life abounds. One can’t exist without the other.

“… Nature is not cruel, only pitilessly indifferent. This is one of the hardest lessons for humans to learn. We cannot admit that things might be neither good nor evil, neither cruel nor kind, but simply callous – indifferent to all suffering, lacking all purpose.” Richard Dawkins ~ River Out of Eden: A Darwinian View of Life

I have written many times of our dysfunctional and gooey perception of nature.

“As much as we want to categorize, compartmentalize, judge, humanize, and beautify nature, for me the “wild” is only one thing – real. Everything is what it is. There are no right or wrong, no bad or good, no judgement. Nothing is pretty, nothing is ugly. A dead tree has as much value as a living one. A fire will benefit some while it will kill others. The prey does everything it can to survive, as does the predator. There are no winners, no losers. No one is more important, yet everyone is connected and interdependent. Nothing is perfect – evolution is this endless chaotic yet harmonious dance where each adjust to the other, over long long long periods of time. Species adapt or disappear. Continents break while others sink. Still, every morning, the sun rises and brings with it life. And even if this sun stops to shine, another one, somewhere else in this huge universe will illuminate another world.” STRIPPED

“Nature is raw, rough, a struggle, a fight, cruel, deadly, strong, destructive, intimidating and yes also amazing, beautiful, relaxing, humbly, and inspirational. Above it all though, it is resilient and a source of priceless teachings. It teaches you about perspective and reminds you that life is not about Us, that there is something bigger than Us, mere little humans. It teaches you about the costs of life, about sacrifices and what it takes to survive. Try to understand what it means for a species to spend most of its life and energy giving birth to hundreds of thousands, even millions, just to have a handful of survivors. While all the dead ones are essential to support a complex food chain that makes this great biodiversity inhabiting the planet possible. There is nothing sad about this because this is life.” WRONG IDEA OF NATURE

“By being so physically disconnected from it, we have totally forgotten what nature really is all about. We even go as far as to personalizing it, characterizing it as a female, “Mother Nature”. This concept of singularity simply doesn’t exist. In the natural world, both constructive and destructive forces are essential. Both the attack and the defense are crucial for survival.” NATURE IS NOT IN YOUR COMPUTER

Nature gives and takes life, it creates and destroys, lifts you up and pins you down, inspires you and depresses you. And this habit of constantly referring to nature as “Mother Nature” totally nauseates me. In fact I truly believe that it sits at the core of what is wrong with our relationship with the world around us and the planet Earth. We see everything separated and unrelated instead of connected and interdependent. We are not nature. Nature is not us. Nature is an entity separated from us. Within nature, we categorize and isolate the elements and the species or create gods and goddesses at our image, so to make sense of what is bigger, bringing everything down to our level – putting the Human as the most important single denominator, the reference to which everything in the universe is compared to. Once we saw the planet earth as the center of the solar system, now we are the center of the universe, of life and of evolution.

The word “nature” derives from Latin nātūra, a philosophical term from the verb for birth, which was used as a translation for the earlier Ancient Greek term phusis which comes from the verb for natural growth. The personification of nature is nothing new but the Greeks were extremely influential for inculcating the myth – Gaia, the great mother of all, the primal Greek Mother Goddess; creator and giver of birth to the Earth and all the Universe; Demeter, the goddess of the harvest, who presided over grains and the fertility of the earth. So in that matter we associated nature primarily with its ability to give and nurture, leaving the “negative” stuff to other gods, usually of male figure. I am not saying that nature is not caring, cute and lovely but it is surely not what defines it. Nature is this dynamic world that surrounds us, it is life, it is a mix of powerful energies that encompasses everything – us included.

A dead Guanaco on the Valdes Peninsula in Argentina

A dead Guanaco on the Valdes Peninsula in Argentina

 

Wilderness Systems, Minutes of Nature & Bear Encounters

April_Header_01

SPRING NEWSLETTER

What an interesting winter it has been! Unexpected developments demanding reassessment and ultimately turning into profound insights. Needless to say, the last four months have been full of surprises. With Spring around the corner, the foundation is now set to deliver a great deal of content – images, stories and videos. But first lets go over the latest!

WILDERNESS SYSTEMS

I am incredibly happy and proud to announce the sponsorship of WILDERNESS SYSTEMS and ADVENTURE TECHNOLOGY. Winner of the 2009, 2010 and 2011 Boat Brand of the Year by Canoe and Kayak Magazine and manufactured in South Carolina, Wilderness Systems’ innovative designs are tuned for performance and quality. Since 1986, they have has pushed the limits of design and innovation by refusing to compromise.

WS_AT_14_Daniel_Fox_Banner

“Wilderness Systems and Adventure Technology products have long provided the tools to access off-the-beaten-path destinations and give people an opportunity to explore their surroundings in a more intimate way,” said Evan Lyendecker, marketing manager for Wilderness Systems and Adventure Technology. “The goal of the Wild Image Project is to capture beautiful, remote places for all to experience and then inspire people to connect with their natural world, so it was a natural partnership for us. We are always looking for new ways to expose people to the wild and watery environments we depend on and care about so much, and we believe Daniel’s expedition helps foster that awareness and passion.”

Daniel_Fox_12

MINUTE OF NATURE

I have been working on finding a concept of short videos that would support my narrative – THE POWER OF NATURE TO RESTORE THE HUMAN SPIRIT. It was during my trip to the Bedwell River that the clarity of what I needed to do came to me.

minute_banner_01

Let me explain to you … watch the video below. (click on the image)

cover_video_01

Find out about the intended goal behind the un-edited Minute of Nature – Be in the Moment! (click on the image)

cover_video_01.1

This idea of sharing with you these moments and inspirational quotes or thoughts is exactly what I have been looking for. The notion of helping you disconnect and leave the modern world behind just for one minute so that your mind can wander away and connect with that part of nature where I was able to “Stop, Breathe, Listen and Relax.” This is exactly what I strive to bring to you.

cover_video_01.2

VANCOUVER ISLAND

For the last two months, I have been kayaking and exploring the Vancouver Island in British Columbia, Canada. The Pacific Northwest is always full of adventures and discoveries and the island hasn’t disappointed.

_MG_4107

I started on Vargas Island just outside of Tofino and followed with the Bedwell Sound. Paddling from Victoria, I crossed the Haro Strait and explored the San Juan Island. Then came a long weekend in Telegraph Cove and Hanson Island.

DCIM100GOPRO

There was a wolf encounter, two bear encounters, many raccoons, plenty of rain and winds and some great paddling. Check PINTEREST for a recap.

_MG_7539

PATIENCE

In our culture of instant gratification, the meaning of the word PATIENCE has almost become taboo. Still, from time to time, we are forced to confront its undeniable necessity. Once again, my time in nature was responsible for bringing me perspicuity.

“It has been 15 hours since the heavy rain started. Tucked into my sleeping bag, the sound of the water droplets falling on the tent like an endless drum roll, the clarity of what has been happening these last two months just dawned on me and I just can’t help myself but start laughing. The fact that I had planned to be in Hawaii at this time, diving and kayaking with the humpback whales makes this spiritual awakening even more ludicrous. As much as I would have wanted the reality to be different, the message was clear and all around me – patience needed to be embraced…”  Read the story here

_MG_4029

SISU

Finnish have a word – SISU, which its literal translation is “Having Guts”. But it cannot be translated without understanding its culturally value. It sits at the core of their spirit and has, for hundreds of years, defined who they are and what they strive for.  This story is what happens when you let nature in and experience how it can truly restore the human spirit.

“…Spending a lot of time in nature and on expeditions, your perception of things changes. You stop seeing things in what they could be or could not be. You quickly forget about probabilities, odds and statistics. Your bottom line becomes extremely clear and simple – yes or no, going or not going. I have to eat. I have to find shelter. I have to survive. You might and will debate about what to do or what could be done, but there is only one state of mind – Sisu…”

_MG_6428

SEA KAYAKER

Last July, some friends and I kayaked from Sitka to Hoonah, a 11-day 140 miles journey along Alaska’s coastal wilderness. The story of our adventure, written by Nathaniel Stephens was featured in the magazine Sea Kayaker.

sitka_07

“…In the morning, as we sipped hot coffee and looked out across the water to the north, two humpback whales breached in unison, launching their massive bodies fully airborne and flopping down in tandem with twin plumes of white spray…”

sitka_13

Check the photo board on PINTEREST and the video album on VIMEO for a recap of the paddling adventure.

PEEK

I was really happy to be asked by PEEK, a leader in the traveling industry, to contribute to their TASTEMAKERS section. Planning on spending some time on the Big Island of Hawaii? Make sure to read my “PERFECT DAY“.

Screen_Shot_2014_04_05_at_4.45.10_PM

MARIN MAGAZINE

“Walking the Wilderness” is a contribution between poet Ushi Patel and I, portraying the beauty of the Marin Headlands located in the Bay Area just across from San Francisco by the Golden Gate Bridge.

_MG_2306

KOKATAT

Made in the USA, this family-style company has been believing and supporting my work since the beginning. I am honored to be featured in there 2014 catalog! So great being part of such a wonderful team of dedicated people, working relentlessly at delivering the best products.

1529757_10203902374866052_2172387847524572771_o

THE MIGHTY BUFFALO

My story “The Mighty Buffalo” was featured along with some of my photos in the Bison World, the official publication of the National Bison Association.

_MG_1273

WHAT’S NEXT?

I am now leaving the Vancouver Island and heading north. First stop will be ATLIN, then JUNEAU, maybe the Prince Williams Sound and finally KODIAK ISLAND.

In August I will be in Salt Lake City for the Summer Outdoor Retailer Trade Show.

Coming this summer, the announcement for one of my most anticipated projects ever – which will bring my work and impact to whole new level – stay tuned!!

As always, my work wouldn’t possible without the support of my sponsors, a big thank you to all of them! WILDERNESS SYSTEMS, ADVANCE TECHNOLOGY, KOKATAT, SIERRA DESIGNS, DEUTER, MOUNTAIN KHAKIS, DELORME, THULE, SMITH OPTICS, AQUALUNG, SANDISK, DAHLGREN, ICEBREAKER, VOLTAIC SYSTEMS, SEA TO SUMMIT, ROCKY S2V, SPERRY TOP SIDER, SOG, OPTIMUS STOVES, KATADYN

Minute of Nature

minute banner-01

I have been working on finding a concept of short videos that would support my narrative – THE POWER OF NATURE TO RESTORE THE HUMAN SPIRIT.

It was during my trip to the Bedwell River that the clarity of what I needed to do came to me.

Let me explain to you … watch the video below.

This idea of sharing with you these moments and inspirational quotes or thoughts is exactly what I have been looking for. The notion of helping you disconnect and leave the modern world behind just for one minute so that your mind can wander away and connect with that part of nature where I was able to “Stop, Breathe, Listen and Relax.” This is exactly what I strive to bring to you.

Here is the first MINUTE, from Ucluelet.

These “Minutes of Nature” will be posted throughout all my social media sites but you are welcome to subscribe to the Vimeo Channel

 

Patience

Breath, Relax, Listen

Breath, Relax, Listen

It has been 15 hours since the heavy rain started. Tucked into my sleeping bag, the sound of the water droplets falling on the tent like an endless drum roll, the clarity of what has been happening these last two months just dawned on me and I just can’t help myself but start laughing. The fact that I had planned to be in Hawaii at this time, diving and kayaking with the humpback whales makes this spiritual awakening even more ludicrous. As much as I would have wanted the reality to be different, the message was clear and all around me – patience needed to be embraced. In our culture of instant gratification, the meaning of this word has almost become taboo. Still, from time to time, we are forced to confront its undeniable necessity. And once again, my time in nature was responsible for brining me perspicuity.

 In our Western society, the word patience denotes a more negative etymology, finding its root in the latin patientia, from patient– ‘suffering’.  But in Asia, the meaning takes a completely different approach and tries to bring forward the ability to wait and find peace, acceptance and dignity in the unexpected and uncontrollable. In China, the pictograph for patience is composed of two symbols – REN which illustrates the Blade of the Knife and XIN for Heart. The meaning being: “The sword blade is poised, ready to slice. Backed into this corner, we cannot move. When we don’t know which way to turn, or where to go, any movement at all can not only further muddy the water but can also bring disaster: the sword blade severs the heart and all is lost. Thus, the value of patience.” (Nonin Showiness) In Japan, the word is NINTAI which can be translated as an “obligation to take another direction”. GAMAN, “enduring the seemingly unbearable with patience and dignity” is one of the teachings of Zen Buddhist. 

IMG_4985

A day in the tent

The plan was to leave in the morning – paddling back to Tofino. A combination of misjudgment on my behalf and the missing of an adapter to charge my batteries had left me with no more power for the camera. Being on Vargas island to photograph the wolves, my presence here now was simply leading to nothing – I would rather leave than facing the possibility of being presented with a perfect photo opportunity and having no camera to photograph with.

A wolf had appeared to me on the very first day of my arrival – his prints were on the beach, fresh from the morning. After setting up camp, the lone wolf had ventured around my tent. I am always perplexed on the timing of things. How and why we get to be at a precise place at a precise time, precisely when someone or something else happens to be there. Coincidence? Meant to be? A bit of both? In this case, I had been hiking the beach, collecting mussels for dinner when I decided to get something from the tent. Grabbing what I needed, I stood up zipping the tent flap when I noticed right in front of me the wolf coming out through the trees. He was brown and black, tall, the size of a huge dog. But his pose was not aggressive – more like an intruder trying to sneak his way in – this was not an dangerous predator imposing his rule on a newcomer. Maybe it was because he was alone without his pack – we know how humans act differently when by themselves, alone, as opposed to when they feel protected from being in a group. My guess is that the law of collective courage is no different independently if you are wolf or a human. Anyhow, when he saw me, he retreated and I knew in the back of my mind his next destination – the food cache. I silently followed the ruffles of leaves and hid behind a tree. As predicted I saw him coming around to investigate the metal box where my food was stored. Slightly moving to get a better view, I stepped on a branch and the unfortunate breaking noise scared the wolf away. I was not to see any of him for the next five days.

Now that I wanted the leave the island, the weather was not allowing me. And this is how these last two months came to be summarized into this precise moment – in a tent battered by the rain, realizing that all of this was beyond my control. Like the fog lifting and suddenly revealing the unexpected landscape, I was forced to accept the moment. There was nothing I could do but find peace in the unforeseen. Not just about the fact that I was being held captive on Vargas island, but that I had to accept that all my plans for the beginning of 2014 were totally at the opposite of what had actually happened – sheltered from what I had taken from granted, I was being reminded of the fragility of what I had and the price that I had to pay to keep it.

The rain and wind came to pass and the next day, a heavy fog took over and assumed the role of deciding on my captivity. I was not be allowed departure. Only the next day did a window present itself. With a strong northerly wind, my original idea to circumnavigate the island had to be put aside. Pushing with all my might I departed from the beach, turned the point, beating the wind and finding myself in a favorable position, riding the tide and wind, only having to deal with the exposed Pacific.

I don’t know what the future has in store for me. What I do know, is that from sitting into my kayak riding a wave, a river, or the ocean swell, I have control on how to react to the unexpected. I can not predict or even anticipate the unforeseen but  I can be ready to adapt to whatever is thrown my way and have trust in my capacity to handle the flow. The key is to patiently wait, breath, relax and know when to move.

“Adopt the pace of nature:  her secret is patience.” Ralph Waldo Emerson

WS_AT_14_Daniel_Fox_Banner

Big Sur, the Mighty Buffalo & Holiday Wishes!

webfacebook2

WINTER NEWSLETTER

2013 is almost over and three months have already passed since the last newsletter. We are all about to enter the holidays to celebrate and spend time with the ones we cherished and care for. Before I give you my wishes, lets take a minute and go over the latest and what you can expect for 2014.

NEW WEBSITE

I am proud to announce that The Wild Image Project is starting 2014 in style with a brand new website! Created by photographer and good friend Flemming Bo Jensen and his partner Charlene Winfred of Coffee and Magic, the website does a wonderful job at capturing the essence of my work. The navigation is easy and intuitive and social media has been incorporated to support the narrative. Don’t be shy and click!

Screen Shot 2013-12-18 at 7.20.47 AM

MIGHTY BUFFALO

I recently had the amazing opportunity of spending three weeks at the Antelope Island State Park, located in Utah, just outside Salt Lake City. The park is known for the American Bison which was introduced to the island back in 1893. What started with 14 individuals is now, today, more than 500, one of the biggest free roaming buffalo populations in North America.

Untitled-1

This legendary animal was sacred to the Native Americans. For them, the bison was a symbol of life and abundance. In many myths, the bisons gave themselves up willingly as a food source for humans. In others their spirits brought sacred knowledge about medicine or peace pipes to humankind. In many cautionary tales, buffalo hunts were unsuccessful due to the hunters’ lack of respect to the buffalo. My goal was to capture the “Buffalo Spirit“. You can see the resulting photography here.

_MG_0124

DISRUPTION

Why do we live in a culture that doesn’t embrace disruption? Since everything that we love and appreciate is rooted in it. After a stormy day and an unforgettable encounter, I reflect on the topic, wondering if we are not stripping our lives from what is precisely making them exciting.

Read my latest story, “DISRUPTION, THE NATURE OF LIFE

mg_1335

STRIPPED

“…Sitting on that log, with my empty cup of tea, nothing feels out of place. I don’t feel out of place. The humility brought by the simplicity I find myself surrounded by is relaxing, refreshing and gives me hope. Real and honest is what nature is to me. It is a constant reminder of the true essence of what life is about. It is my source of inspiration, my elixir for meditation and my most profound teacher.” 

STRIPPED is a story about letting go and being in the moment as we juggle with our modern lifestyle, expectations and work duties.

bigsur_02

ROZ SAVAGE INTERVIEW

Roz is to ocean exploration what Kelly Slater is to surf. Not only has she paddled across every single ocean on the planet, but she decided to “start” her explorer career at an age when usually everyone else chooses to forgo their dreams and accept their given fate. Over the years, Roz Savage and I have become good friends and every time our complicated lives manage to cross each other, we always cherish long philosophical conversations. Emailing me from London, she invited me for another conversation and asked if I wanted to be on her next “Adventure Podcast”. After some logistics and scheduling, we found ourselves a couple of days later connected over Skype. Here is the interview. Be ready for some philosophical talk about exploration, conservation and photography.

hawaii_70

MARIN MAGAZINE

TOTEMS is a photo feature that was published in the Marin Magazine issue of October.  I was asked to write about my creative process and what was I pursuing while photographing nature. Read more here.

“… this collection is my attempt to present these animals with respect and honor. My goal is not to beautify or humanize them but rather to recognize their respective success of survival in relation to a humbling way of looking at the world that I fear is on the verge of disappearing.”

Screen Shot 2013-12-16 at 10.59.53 AM

OUTDOOR PHOTOGRAPHER MAGAZINE

“Behind the shot” is a column in the magazine Outdoor Photographer that goes behind the scene of some spectacular photograph, explaining how the image came to be. One of my bison photographs was recently featured. Read more here.

“…until he walked just about 20 feet from where I was sitting. He stopped by a bush right behind where he proceeded to scratch his furry head. I sat there mesmerized by its presence and the depth of his look, trying to understand what was the threat that so many saw in this creature. After taking my photos, I thanked him for his time and cooperation and slowly departed…”

_MG_0251

LIFE’S STORIES FROM MEMORY

Sandisk recently asked to be be part of their ‘s campaign “Life Stories from Memory“. Their products are really important for my work. I travel light, by myself, and am gone for long periods of time – so everything I have in my bag must be extremely reliable – if not bulletproof! The days have drastically changed since film and it is still hard to remember a time when your biggest investment and hassle was to carry, protect and process long rolls of fragile films. Nowadays, with my SanDisk Extreme Pro I can spend all my energy on pushing my photography to new places. My fingers will be frozen, my feet will be burning, the sun will scorch or the wind will roar, yet I know I don’t have to worry one second about where my work is being stored.More stories are coming up soon, but for now, the first one is about my last trip in Utah – SEEING EYE TO EYE WITH A BUFFALO. Next will be LAVA and TOTEMS

hawaii_53

“… My goal was to create an abstract and artistic representation of the lava’s intensity. Compared to the free flow of lava, active and fast, these clefts are the result of a constant but slow force. One fracture at a time, earth is moved forward to form new landscapes, erasing old ones behind. Invisible at day, their presence and intensity is only revealed at night, cracking the dark world open, light a lightning splitting the sky in pieces.” Story coming soon

s

“…When I photograph animals, I don’t hide from them, I want them to see me. I want them to “give me the shot”, instead of me “taking the shot”. I want their eyes to look into mine. I want them to tell me who they are. I want that non-verbal ancestral communication, that place where no words are needed and only the sense of commonality is felt. It is not an attempt beautify or humanize the animals but rather to recognize their respective success of survival in relation to our own mortality.”  Story coming soon

2014

Next year is looking to be incredible! There are many expeditions on the table – HAWAII, KODIAK ISLAND, GRAND TETONS, YELLOWSTONE and the CHANNEL ISLANDS. Everything will be confirmed in January – stay tuned.
Also in the works are a photography SHOW in San Francisco, a coffee table BOOK with a poetry writer, a photo PROJECT on the Farralon Islands and a photo portrait SERIES at an animal refuge in Florida.

So exciting!!

bigsur_05

HOLIDAY WISHES

“In this century we have made remarkable material progress, but basically we are the same as we were thousands of years ago. Our spiritual needs are still very great.”  Dalai Lama

Let us all remember that despite the attraction of technology and the temptation of simplifying the depth of our relationships to those of robots, we must never forget the magic of nature and the beings that we are. We are more than algorithms and statistics. Lets not loose faith in our capacity for spiritual greatness and move on into the future with the desire of finding inner peace and content. I will see you again in 2014!

HAVE A WONDERFUL HOLIDAY, A MERRY CHRISTMAS & A WONDERFUL HAPPY NEW YEAR! 

christmas-20142

Stripped

It happens every time, and independently if I want it or not, I find myself pulled into it. Parked at the Big Sur Station, I am getting my equipment ready. The plan is to hike to Syke Camp, spend a couple of nights there then one night on the beach and finally hike a 3,000 feet peak nearby. I should be excited, thrilled and relaxed, but instead I am anxious and worried. I try to focus on making sure that I don’t forget anything – I would really hate finding out that I have forgotten a lens or battery for the camera after a 5-hour hike and having to return. Despite all my previous stories written, despite all the photos that I have taken, despite the fact that deep down I know that it always works out, I can’t stop but stress about the uncertainty on if I will be able to find something to write about or find a nice landscape to photograph. Will I be inspired? If so, about what? Will the light be good? Will I see animals? Will the weather cooperate? And what if I don’t have anything to show by the end of the week? My last story, TIME, was written many months ago in Hawaii. I have since been twice in Alaska, kayaking and hiking a glacier, and even though both were incredible expeditions, I failed to come back with new words. Knowing the reasons why the page has remained blank doesn’t help either.

_MG_7986

Pine Ridge Trail

The creative process is one of the hardest things to find. And even more challenging is to protect that process as the world around you changes. Inspiration is complicated and some are more famous for their bizarre rituals then for their own art.

I love being on expedition – having a set target, a destination to reach, a goal, but it is not what I live and work for. The content that I produce during these adventures is more descriptive – narrating the days, the progression, the ups and downs, the struggles encountered and the magical moments witnessed. It is premeditated. Inspiration is not really the most important aspect, but rather your ability to deliver the story, to capture the local flavors.

What I long for as an artist is much different. It is when I have the feeling, the sensation that the inspiration has come to me rather than me seeking it. It is that sense of being connected to something else, something bigger. As alone as one can be when creating, knowing that you are only a channel through which your environment expresses itself brings a total different perspective – the loneliness disappears and a deep fulfilling connectedness lives – bringing along a sense of purpose.

I am 2 hours into the hike and my mind is still stuck in that parking lot. I am walking the trail much like I would walk the sidewalks of New York – focused on the destination and shutting myself to everything else in between – a self defense mechanism we have had to developed to protect ourselves from the constant and relentless assault on our senses from our modern lifestyle. Instead of enjoying the moment, I feel heavy and distracted. Layers of anxiety rooting from our civilized, moral and intellectual culture weighing on me. My ears are open but don’t hear anything. My eyes are open but can’t see anything. My body is tensed, preoccupied with every uphill steps I have to make. The Ventana Wilderness is full of wonders with majestic Redwoods and beautiful Pacific Madrones, yet, my head looks down – I am a man walking his purgatory! After 5 hours, I arrive at the destination tired but wired. Where are the hot springs, where to camp? Quick lets get to work – what can I photograph? I can’t rest. This is work and I must produce!

_MG_8748

Syke Camp

It is 6pm – the tent is up, the backpack emptied, the hot springs have been located and already “enjoyed”. The kettle is on the stove. I am camping on this tiny “island” in the middle of the Big Sur River, a magical set up, yet I am totally oblivious to my surroundings. I am pacing frantically. The steam shoots out from the kettle and I am slow to realize the water is ready. So much for someone who is supposed to be “one” with nature – pathetic!

I take my cup of mate tea and sit on a log that rests slightly above the river, bridging my campsite to the north shore. My feet hang with my toes dipping in the frigid running water. I take a sip. Then I take a deep breath. Another sip – another breath. Finally, the moment I have been unconsciously waiting for is starting to manifest itself.

Like the afternoon wind pushing away the morning fog, with every new sip and every new breath, my comatose state starts fading. Free of their societal constraints, my senses awaken from their lethargy. My back arches up. My chest opens up. My ears start tingling to the sound of water swirling around the rocks. My eyes start seeing for the first time an American Dipper just a few feet away, diving for a few second then reappearing with a nymph in its beak. My lungs are beginning to feel lighter. My mind is clear. My heartbeat has slowed down, yet I remain extremely sharp. By the time my tea is finished, everything feels new and fresh – alive. In reality though, it is me who has changed, it is me who is alive now. I was closed and sequestered, now I am freed and attuned. I have finally found the state of mind I came here for. And with it came my inspiration. Thought by thought, sentence by sentence, words have come back. Stripped from the confinement of technology and cultural expectations, I was finally at peace with simply one thing – being.

“Nature is pleased with simplicity.” — Isaac Newton

“Life is not complex. We are complex. Life is simple, and the simple thing is the right thing.” — Oscar Wilde

_MG_9292

Sunset from 3,000ft

As much as we want to categorize, compartmentalize, judge, humanize, and beautify nature, for me the “wild” is only one thing – real. Everything is what it is. There are no right or wrong, no bad or good, no judgement. Nothing is pretty, nothing is ugly. A dead tree has as much value as a living one. A fire will benefit some while it will kill others. The prey does everything it can to survive, as does the predator. There are no winners, no losers. No one is more important, yet everyone is connected and interdependent. Nothing is perfect – evolution is this endless chaotic yet harmonious dance where each adjust to the other, over long long long periods of time. Species adapt or disappear. Continents break while others sink. Still, every morning, the sun rises and brings with it life. And even if this sun stops to shine, another one, somewhere else in this huge universe will illuminate another world.

Independently if we believe and speak about it as a separate entity, in reality we are no different than nature. Quite the opposite, we are nature, and we are intricately part of it. We are nothing more than a footnote in the grand scheme of evolution. Yet we have come to believe that everything revolves around us – that everything is about US. Our view of the world is no different then when we thought that the earth was the center of the galaxy. Instead now we see ourselves as the center of Life, of the Universe.

In our quest to conquer – not only territorially, but intellectually and morally, we have lost our connection to the world around us, to the planet and to life. We also have lost our ability to look at our environment (the surroundings or conditions in which a person, animal, or plant lives or operates) and learn from it. We no longer look at nature and use it to understand life – instead we see nature and life as flawed systems that need to be corrected and reengineered under our own perception of what it should be. We see ourselves as great saviors with god powers!

Our myopia and shortsightedness have made us inefficient and incapable of looking at the bigger picture. We focus on details, obsessing about single events, while loosing perspective of everything else around. Our expertise at extracting data from pretty much anything – important or not, trivial or useless, has transformed our world into an intellectual dump. Buried under so much information and incapable of managing it, we look at technology as our only hope. Completely lost and feeling powerless, we blindly put our salvation into machines and their ability to “process” – because the only way we can make sense of anything is through numbers, equations, statistics and graphs. Common sense is no longer valued unless it can be measured and quantified.

Sitting on that log, with my empty cup of tea, nothing feels out of place. I don’t feel out of place. The humility brought by the simplicity I find myself surrounded by is relaxing, refreshing and gives me hope. Real and honest is what nature is to me. It is a constant reminder of the true essence of what life is about. It is my source of inspiration, my elixir for meditation and my most profound teacher.

“The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes, but in having new eyes.” Marcel Proust

Sunset from the beach

Sunset from the beach

Time

Time from Daniel Fox on Vimeo.

“I’ve seen things you people wouldn’t believe. Attack ships on fire off the shoulder of Orion. I watched c-beams glitter in the dark near the Tannhäuser* Gate. All those moments will be lost in time, like tears in rain. Time to die.” Replicant Roy Batty Blade Runner

Batty, in his last words, accepts that despite his physical superiority, that after his failure of finding a way to live longer, time is something that he simply can’t avoid and defeat. It is the reason why he saves Deckard. Looking down at him and seeing him struggle, holding on for his dear life, he realizes at that moment that both of them are equal – two creatures trying to survive, trying to hold on and extant beyond that finite existence that nature has given them.

I am standing in the middle of a black lava field that stretches for miles in all directions. I am told that prior to the eruption, this now barren landscape was lush with trees and filled with life. The beach at the ocean was so beautiful that it was the official island postcard, promoting this divine location – palm trees over a black sand beach. But time has scorched this once beauty – covered in molten black rock, twisted and burned by fire, trapped under a blanket of desolation. It is easy to loose hope in this No Man’s Land, a place where even the strongest of gods would feel abandoned – Hades never forgave his brothers. But all this is part of nature’s plan.

Past sunset, the sky and the horizon become one. The darkness takes over and if it wasn’t for this cloudless night with its millions of stars and gravity keeping me grounded, I wouldn’t know which way was up or which way was down. Despite the eeriness of the moment, something incredible is happening.

Pele_01

According to the Hawaiian mythology, Pele is the goddess of fire, lightning, wind and volcanoes. It is believed that she lives in the Halema’uma’u crater, at the summit caldera of Kilauea, one of the Earth’s most active volcanoes. The residents of the Big Island take their belief in her quite seriously. And I understand now.

While daylight reveals a tortured landscape, at night time it is the blood of the planet that suddenly comes to be seen.  And there is nothing tortured about it. Life is what is flowing under my feet. I feel it, I feel Pele, I feel the earth, I feel its force, its intensity – it is then that I realize, this place is not about death and destruction, it is about life and creation.

This planet is a creation of time. We are in fact nothing but the result of an ongoing experiment that has been going on for millions of years. Time is nature, it is the force that drives everything. As I stand by this boulder the size of a bus, slowly cracking its way forward, I come to understand the pace and rhythm of life.

“It is the time you have wasted for your rose that makes your rose so important.” Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, The Little Prince

Man’s relationship with time couldn’t be more different. Nature has given us time to evolve and develop an intelligence that is unmatched on this planet. But like any good fable, with such incredible potential came an even greater burden – self awareness. As much as we think of ourselves as omnipotent, god-like and capable of outstanding feats, we are nonetheless simple mortals that cripple over time. Independently of our legacy, even the greatest of kings will be at one point forgotten and become nothing. Our existence might be relevant to us, but in the scheme of the universe, we are nothing, not even a grain of sand.

Facing our mortality and vulnerability, we see time as a disease, as a theft, as an injustice, as a destructive force and as the most valued currency we possess. Aristotle said that

“Time crumbles things; everything grows old under the power of Time and is forgotten through the lapse of Time.” 

And Napoleon reminded us that

There is one kind of robber whom the law does not strike at, and who steals what is most precious to men:  time. 

Cecelia Ahern, in her book The Gift, wrote that

“Time is more precious than gold, more precious than diamonds, more precious than oil or any valuable treasures. It is time that we do not have enough of; it is time that causes the war within our hearts, and so we must spend it wisely.”

ruled by the fire

But isn’t it through time that the most beautiful things are created? It takes nine months for a mother to create life. It takes years to find that peaceful place in your heart. It takes a lifetime to realize that your most precious possessions were the simplest things you tried so hard to avoid. Time is the complexity that I taste in my wine, it is the beauty of an oxidized piece of copper. It is the essence of everything I cherish and it is my mentor as it brings me back to reality and makes me understand the universe.

I once read a story about an Elder telling a young woman of her frantic pace and need to get things done on time – “You have watches, but no time.” In this culture of speed where even the simple gesture of saying thank you is seen as a waste of time (NY Times), where anything above 140 characters is not worth reading, how will we ever understand and appreciate the beauty of life? How will we achieve wisdom if we can’t even appreciate the time it takes to become wise. Have we become spoiled and arrogant, basking in a culture of convenience and overnight deliveries? Maybe it is time to stop and look at the world around us and realize what we have been missing.

Like a petal in the wind
Flows softly by
As old lives are taken
New ones begin
A continual chain
Which lasts throughout eternity
Every life but a minute in time
But each of equal importance

Cindy Cheney

Little drops of water, little grains of sand,
Make the mighty ocean, and the pleasant land.
So the little minutes, humble though they be,
Make the mighty ages of eternity.

Julia Carney

around

See more photos on Behance

A BIG thank you to LENSRENTALS, SANDISK AND JADE CHEN

* “Probably from Richard Wagner’s operatic adaption of the legend of the medieval German knight and poet Tannhäuser. Joanne Taylor, in an article discussing film noir and its epistemology, remarks on the relation between Wagner’s opera and Batty’s reference, and suggests that Batty aligns himself with Wagner’s Tannhauser, a character who has fallen from grace with men and with God but does receive redemption at the end. Both, she claims, are characters whose fate is beyond their own control.”

Concept vs Reality, a Cautionary Tale

Procrastination! It has been more than a month since my last post. It is not like I have nothing to write about. In fact, I have a long list, my head full of words that are trying to find their way out. The problem has been simple – plain old boring lack of motivation! You might catch me talking for more than my share at dinners or in the car with friends, but when the time comes to sit at the computer and stare at that screen, that same computer I have been trying to get away from for so long, my mind simply disappears. It goes away, fleeing the scene like a child that has absolutely no desire of taking a bath! I sit on that chair, pressing the keys randomly, as if I was waiting for some magical event – a kind of trance where my fingers would start moving without me thinking about it. But then the minutes pass, my mind wanders, my eyes look away – out the window – and next thing I know, I have moved on to something else. Maybe coming clean about my lack of concentration and laziness will force me forward. First step in dealing with a problem is acknowledging you have a problem right?

Hello, my name is Daniel (Hello Daniel). I have been lazy for over a month now. There, I’ve said it! Now let’s do some writing!

DLD_DanielFox_2013_22Last month I attended the conference DLD in Munich, where I was doing some creative photography. DLD stands for Digital Lifestyle Design. It was truly incredible to meet and hear so many fascinating people, creative in so many ways, and all out trying to make the world a better place. But every time I find myself in these events, every time I hear these talks, I am always left with a bitter aftertaste. Let me explain why in two parts.

The first part is about concept and reality. The second is published on the EPIC conservation blog and is titled – Our Salvation in God Technologius.

Air Force captain Theodore Van Kirk, navigator of the B-29 bomber Enola Gay that dropped the atomic bomb on the city of Hiroshima, Japan said in 2005:

“I pray no man will have to witness that sight again. Such a terrible waste, such a loss of life. We unleashed the first atomic bomb, and I hope there will never be another. I pray that we have learned a lesson for all time. But I’m not sure that we have.”

There is a reason why today the world is still afraid of nuclear – we still have a physical memory of its destructive power. Whether it is the Second World War or Chernobyl disaster, the damages were so visceral that it’s stayed in our cultural collective memory. Independently of how beneficial nuclear energy could be for a sustainable world, no one wants to go for it.

nuclear-bomb-explosion2There was a time when our world lived in a reality – we were connected to real things, real consequences, our connection to the world was physical. Nowadays, things couldn’t be more different. Life has become a concept. Our connection to our world is through theories, algorithms and computers. Nature is a remote “beautified” possession, an ideology of a pristine static environment. Our “zero casualties” wars are conducted by drones, piloted by video gamers who sit behind a screen and go back home to their families at the end of the day. Collateral damage is only something they see and calculate, not feel. None of these soldiers go home and have nightmares from the horrors of war. The consequences of our actions are pushed out, hiding away the destructive effect our lifestyle and choice of values has. And with all of this, our arrogance grows to new heights.

We have to be careful in our semantics and what we pretend to understand. Loving the cuteness of polar bears does not make someone connected to nature. Fighting a war with drones does not mean you understand what war is. Talking about garbage in the ocean doesn’t make you an environmentalist. Being a vegetarian does not make you a friend of the planet. Being an expert in coding and algorithms surely doesn’t make you expert in life. Having thousands of friends on Facebook doesn’t mean you are a nice person to be around. Being famous doesn’t mean you bring value to society. And having all this technology available doesn’t make us better or more advance.The debate has become really important not only in our relationship with nature, but also with violence. The last shooting in the USA and the need for gun reforms has led to pointing fingers to the usual culprits, with the usual answer – “Violence has always existed!” Yes, it has, but our relationship with it was real, physical. Today, violence is a game, a concept, a virtual experience. The world is constantly exposed to violence, but from its seat in front of a television or while playing a video game. Movies have become more and more violently graphic due to the technology in special effects.

OB-MR292_bullet_G_20110222024233

The most popular video games are the bloody and violent ones where the players kill and butcher their way around. But all of this is only a concept. Even bullying has lost it sense of reality, except for the ones who suffer from it. Hiding behind the screen, kids no longer censor themselves and their mean and cruel behaviour finds false courage in anonymity. In the past, you needed to have balls and arrogance to play bully.  Now you only need to be a coward to terrorise your school. If that was not enough, once home, a child would usually be clear of the bullies, but now victims can’t hide because the attackers find their way into their rooms, into their computers, into their “online identities”. How can we expect the children to have any sense of consequences to their actions when the world around them glamourises damages and feeds on misery?

We are entering a new age where robots will start to perform more and more tasks and with them they will take away our last connection to reality. Will we fully drown ourselves in an ocean of virtuality and concepts? I have written before on how knowledge is our Achille’s Heel

“… from within our cities, sitting behind computers or staring down at our “smart” phones, we claim our superiority and gaze at the world around us in a conceited way. Detached from any realities, we think of aging as a disease, that good parenting means monitoring our children every single second, that consuming green will fix our consumerism, that the idea of implanting a device in our brain to fix an imbalance is pure genius, that people who gamble our savings have a right to do so, that Facebook is real, that the web brings us closer, that food is only a recipe of carbs, proteins, sugars, and fats, and that nature is only a resource that demands to be quantified and managed…”

and about our flawed perception of nature.

“… It is no longer a destination but rather the emotionally charged and personified notion of an animal’s struggle to survive, whether it is the “march of the emperor penguin” or the “fate of the polar bears”. We now live in a world where natural realities are being blown out of proportion and every minute struggle in an animal’s life is over empathised for. Living in cities, feeding ourselves from grocery stores and spending our weekends in the park around the corner, the natural world has become a beautified concept, a Disney story and a pretty picture on the wall…” 

In the book “Concept & Reality in Early Buddhist Thought” the author refers to the mind’s conceptual proliferation, its tendency to create a screen of concepts by which it misinterprets the basic data of experience. From behind our television and our computers, it has become too easy to conceptualise the world, life, ourselves, our issues, our challenges. At DLD, there was excitement in the air, a sense of euphoria, talking about all this new data we are gathering, all these doors that technology is opening – and how all of this will make our lives better, how it will come and take away all our problems. Really? Aren’t we forgetting the most fundamental reality? As much as all this information, all these possibilities, are painting a really bright and promising future, the truth is that, at the end of the day, we are humans, not machines.

All this reminded me of the NOVA’s documentary Mind Over Money, with Milton Friedman and the University of Chicago School of Economics with their rational expectations and their belief that economics has nothing to do with human behaviour.  That it can all be boiled down to equations and formulas – a disconnected utopian world of theories… look where it has led us.

The beauty of our lives – of life – does not find its root in numbers, codes and algorithms. Following a recipe to the letter doesn’t mean it will create the perfect dish. It is the human touch that brings the real value. John Maeda was on the dot at DLD 2013 when he said, talking about design: “The beauty comes from what you experience, the emotions, the facial expressions, the subtleties and for that there is no design thinking algorithm”.

More on the EPIC blog.

RECOMMENDED
Growing Up Online on PBS
Digital Nation on PBS
Sherry Turkle’s TED talk

2013 Wish – Go Out!

oregon_30

Now that the holidays are over, that the cacophony of consumerism has been muted, that our bodies are feeling the excess of celebrating and that the believers in the end of the world have had to deal with a doomsday-no-show, in is time to look ahead and hope for wishful thoughts.

Last December, Outside magazine published an amazing article written by Florence Williamstitled “Take Two Hours of Pine Forest and Call Me in the Morning”. The text was about how now science is slowly understanding and capable of explaining the positive neurological effects spending time in nature does to your brain and body. Armed with a battery of machines and sensors, scientists are able to identify the causes and consequences of lets say a walk in the forest. As I rejoice myself with the obvious conclusion, I worry of what is to come next. Williams is also aware of the danger, pointing that our “modern world” will try to put nature in a can, “feel nature without even trying”.

“Nature hates calculators.” Ralph Waldo Emerson

“You must not know too much, or be too precise or scientific about birds and trees and flowers and water-craft; a certain free margin, and even vagueness – perhaps ignorance, credulity – helps your enjoyment of these things…” Walt Whitman

“I go to nature to be soothed and healed, and to have my senses put in order.” John Burroughs

Time in nature is more than chemical reactions. It is not just about our natural immune cells increasing every time we take a walk in the forest. Even if one day we are able to create a pill that will replicate the physical sensations of spending time on a beach, it will never do justice and bring the same benefits as the real experience. Nature is about breaking away from the chaos and anxiety we find ourselves so easily trapped in. It is a conscious effort of taking the time to relax. It is about making a choice of values and priorities. In this era of smart phones, computers, tablets, constant connection to the web and relentless solicitation to consume, these decisions to “disconnect” from this overbearing artificial stimuli does more than engage the neurones and immune systems, it is also one of the most rewarding sources of creativity.

And Kevin Charles Redmon writes precisely about this in his article: “Put Down the iPad, Lace Up the Hiking Boots

The results, which appear this month in PLoS One, were striking. Students who took the test after a four-day immersion in the backcountry scored 50 percent higher than their coursemates. “The current research indicates that there is a real, measurable cognitive advantage to be realised if we spend time truly immersed in a natural setting,” the authors write.

The study’s sample size was small and would best be repeated across several hundred subjects, thoroughly randomised. More importantly, the design doesn’t allow Strayer and his colleagues to pinpoint what’s causing the burst in creativity: is it the interaction with nature, the disconnection from technology, or both? And is physical exercise somehow involved? (Or could it be a flash of green?)

… Just how permanent are the neural ravages of Twitter, Gchat, and Gawker? Is a week in the Canyonlands every summer enough to restore our atrophied attention spans—or are we, the meme generation, totally hosed when it comes to consuming art more complex than a GIF or longer than 140 characters?

I have written before about the lack of imagination in today’s children. The topic is nothing new. A quick search on the web reveals many studies and articles, whether in the Washington Post (Is Technology Sapping Children’s Creativity?) or Psychology Today (Children’s Freedom Has Declined So Has Their Creativity). Richard Louv is obviously well known with his “Last Child in the Woods” book, which has become close to a cult classic.

So my wish for 2013 is that we forget a little about trying to understand too much what happens when we go to nature and that we simply go because it feels good, because it does us good. I wish that we would stop this obsession to quantify everything and start just believing in common sense. I wish that each one of us makes a conscious decision to disconnect at least one day of the week or one day of the weekend, and go out – outside the city, go smell the fresh air, go Shinrin Yoku, go swim, go hike, go see the mountains, the beach, the forest, anything really, as long as you away from any screen.

Wrong Idea of Nature

“It is an incalculable added pleasure to any one’s sum of happiness if he or she grows to know, even slightly and imperfectly, how to read and enjoy the wonder-book of nature.” Theodore Roosevelt

I often wonder how Roosevelt would be perceived today. A republican, a liberal, a politician, a cowboy, a rebel, a naturalist, an explorer, a scientist, an avid reader, a soldier, and a lover of nature. He was also a great hunter who went hunting in Africa but in the process helped the Smithsonian museum creating an exhibit that would fascinate and continues to do so to millions of children and adults alike.

He was someone who believed in using natural resources, but opposed being wasteful. What would the United States of America look like today if he hadn’t created 5 national parks, 18 national monuments and 150 National Forests, protecting more than 230 million acres (930,000 km2) of American soil in various parks and other federal projects.

Would Roosevelt be thrown to the pit by the conservationists? Would he be called an “animal hater” by the nature activists? Unfortunately I believe so, and to the lost of our culture.

Like politics and many other issues in our society, nature and the environment have become extremely polarised topics. Common sense has become a rare commodity, replaced by harsh judgements to anyone who tries seeking the middle ground. You are either one or the other and dare if you wish to bring some perspective to the table.

In my talks about our relationship with nature, I spend a lot of time showing how not only have we become disconnected with our environment but also how our perception of nature has become extremely erroneous.

Living in cities, away from the wilderness we are detached from the realities of living in nature. We shop for food at the grocery store, getting our electricity without much effort and have our garbage picked up every week. Our lawn is mown weekly and kept green with pesticide. The modern definition of nature is now a “sanitised and censored” one.

We personify it as this cute and cuddly entity that just needs to be taken care of, fragile and delicate, in dire need of our protection, us its Saviour! Nature has become this poster we put on the wall and admire, this beautified television show where a predator capturing its prey is edited so that blood and death don’t appear to the viewer. It is a world where animated ant, fish, dog, and bear talk and move like humans. A world where hunters who decide to connect with their food are branded prehistoric barbarian and animal loving extremists the voice for an unfortunate and unrepresented kingdom. It is a nostalgic ideology of a pristine and utopian world, a debate where anyone who doesn’t cheer for the cat and eats meat is deemed cruel and against the planet.

But nature is far from any of this. Nature is raw, rough, a struggle, a fight, cruel, deadly, strong, destructive, intimidating and yes also amazing, beautiful, relaxing, humbly, and inspirational. Above it all though, it is resilient and a source of priceless teachings. It teaches you about perspective and reminds you that life is not about Us, that there is something bigger than Us, mere little humans. It teaches you about the costs of life, about sacrifices and what it takes to survive. Try to understand what it means for a species to spend most of its life and energy giving birth to hundreds of thousands, even millions, just to have a handful of survivors. While all the dead ones are essential to support a complex food chain that makes this great biodiversity inhabiting the planet possible. There is nothing sad about this because this is life.

It is easy to chastise the indigenous for hunting when sitting behind a desk pampered by today’s convenient world. It is easy to claim your love for deer, coyotes, elephants, monkeys, badgers, and so many more when you don’t have to physically deal the consequences of their presence. It is easy to click any cause on Facebook and claim to the world what you believe in. I dare you to go live with monkeys in your backyard and see how you deal with them. I dare you to go and deal with elephants destroying your crops year after year. I dare you to go live where deer will eat everything you plant on your property.

Did you know that elephants cause millions of damage and are involved in destruction of woodland and contamination of water?

Did you know that Snow monkeys in Japan raid farms eating soybeans, watermelons, mushrooms, sweet potatoes, potatoes and mushrooms, destroying about 5,000 hectares of farmland each year?

And if by any chance the price of your “organic” food increases, lets say because of “nature” – weather related or some invasion, you are the first one to cry unfairness.

Did you know that our society’s beloved domesticated cat has been responsible for hundreds of million of dead mammals, birds and others? Combined with rats, they have almost wiped out entire island’s ecosystems – so much for  our infatuation with the small feline.

So when the CBS Sunday Morning show aired the segment, the “Pro & Cons of Growing Animal Population”, featuring Jim Sterba’s new book “Nature Wars”, harsh comments quickly followed – “… this is anti-nature bullshit propaganda…”.

Because we see nature as this static world. Because we see ourselves separated from it, better than it. Because we believe we are above it. Because we want to pick and choose only the “good” things from nature. But ask any Inuit or Eskimo and they will tell you that the “Whites” live in an egotistical bubble detached from any realities and absolutely disconnected with real nature. And I agree with them.

Nature connectedness doesn’t mean wanting to protect nature – in fact “protecting nature” is a modern concept. It means understanding that you are a part of it and that you are dependent on it for your food, health and survival. It means that you understand that if you don’t respect it and accept the finitely of it, it is not nature that will loose but you.

Being connected to nature is not eating organic food, supporting animal welfare organisations, consuming green or being vegan or vegetarian. It is not about being emotionally attached to it either. Being connected to nature is to understand our interconnectivity with our environment. It is about accepting its teachings, to understand about losses, death, that nothing is perfect – that life is about perspective, that everything is relative. Being connected to nature is basically one simple word, humility. But like everything else right now, we see the world and the planet through the anthropocene lens and believe that life will end if we don’t fix our mess.

I will go as far as to say that except for old indigenous cultures I don’t believe that neither Buddhism nor Hinduism, or again Paganism are philosophies or religions that are connected to nature, because they all put humans as the central being and above everything else. The day that we will stop seeing ourselves as this god creature, we will then be for the first time on the right path.

Our bond with nature has become conceptual not physical and here lies the problematic. Away from its realities, we  are unable to balance our judgements. We are ruled by our emotions and incapable of seeing the bigger picture.

“I heartily enjoy this life, with its perfect freedom, for I am very fond of hunting, and there are few sensations I prefer to that of galloping over these rolling limitless prairies, with rifle in hand, or winding my way among the barren, fantastic and grimly picturesque deserts of the so-called Bad Land… its toughness and hardy endurance fitted it to contend with purely natural forces… to resist cold and wintery blasts or the heat of the thirsty summer, to wander away to new pastures, to plunge over the broken ground, and to plow its way through snow drifts or quagmires… There are no words that can tell the hidden spirit of the wilderness, that can reveal its mystery, its melancholy, and its charm.” Theodore Roosevelt

Recommended articles
Killing Animals to Save Animals: A Conundrum
A New Breed of Hunter Shoots, Eats and Tells
The mechanical guts of the universe
Nature Connected Psychology: Creating Moments That Let Earth Teach
Germany to Ban Sex with Animals
David Bellwood: Lessons from coral reefs from PopTech on Vimeo.

BLUE Recap Day 1 to 3

The dust has settled and people have finally been able to catch their breath. It is a week now since the Blue Ocean Film Festival & Conservation Summit ended. 2012 will be remembered as the year where everything changed for the production team behind the event. With a line up of ocean celebrities, European Royalties, Hollywood power, and a long list of incredible movies, BLUE has set a benchmark for what is to come in the future. Lets go back and recap what happened.

DAY 1

Even if the official start was on Monday September 24th, there was plenty of action already happening the day before, on Sunday. Familiar faces started to roll into the hotel while submersibles from the Waitt Foundation, Ocean Gate, Virgin Oceanic and Hawkes Ocean Technologies appeared in the lobby. While the people from the Google Liquid Galaxy, Ocean Futures Society, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute, Ocean Footage, 5 Gyres and many more were busy settling down their booth, Surfrider and Congressman Sam Farr were entertaining and helping a group of children cleaning the beach of trash. Armed with a bag and gloves, everyone picked up a fair amount of cigarette butts, plastic bags, cans, plastic debris, empty bottles, and even a shoe. Even though it was great to see such enthusiasm for collecting people’s left overs, I couldn’t stop thinking about how our relationship with nature has changed. When I grew up, nature was a place to have fun, to explore, to play hide and seek, to get lost, to experiment, to wander – and through this, one came to develop the love and care it so deserves. Now, nature has become a debate, an ideology, a place where we ask children to go and clean up our mess. We tell them it is their duty to do so. Personally I question the long term effect for this strategy. Already surveys are coming out pointing to the next generation and discovering that their care for the environment and nature is at a record low. But this issue is for another time. Right now, looking at these kids roaming the sand searching for things that don’t belong there, I was just happy that there were out and not inside somewhere, watching television or on the computer.

Towards the end the afternoon, I met with documentary filmmaker and adjunct professor of Science and Natural History Filmmaking at Montana State University, Gianna Savoie. We talked for quite a while about the difficulties and challenges of transforming the scientific narrative into a story that people can connect with. Competing for attention, our world is no more forced to listen or watch – the internet and the democratization of knowledge and information have changed the way people learn. They don’t want to simply be told the facts, what matters is the personal story behind it. The human element. The emotions. For the scientific community, this reality and necessity is a complicate task to understand. Their funding often now depends on reaching out to places and people who don’t want to read through hundreds of pages of data, but instead they want to feel the emotional connection.

In the evening, the press was invited at Peter B’s Brewpub for a long night of food and home brewed beer tasting. Quite a feast!

DAY 2
I started the day by having breakfast with legendary Captain Don Walsh. Our mutual friend Josh Bernstein has suggested we meet and thank god he did. Walsh, a retiree Navy Captain, is an oceanographer and expert in marine policy. He was the first to reach the bottom of the Mariana Trench on January 23, 1960, aboard the submersible Trieste together with Jacques Piccard. He was also the last one to say goodbye and the first one to say welcome back to James Cameron on his personal breaking record visit to the deepest point of the world’s oceans (DeepSea Challenger). The Captain was here not only as part of the Ocean Elders but also to receive a Life Achievement Award. At one point, Jean Michel Cousteau passed by our table and the two of them entered a long chat, remembering many past friends. When Walsh told Cousteau that the Chinese had already been down in the Mariana Trench three times since Cameron, collecting many samples and specimens, he simply couldn’t believe that no one knew about this. How was it that no one had heard about this? He asked.

Following our conversation from the day before, Gianna Savoie was now part of a panel, along with Alyson Barrat from Living Oceans Foundation, Blair Palese from Antarctic Ocean, Charlotte Vick from Google Ocean & Mission Blue, Annelore Reisewitz from Strategic Ocean Solutions and Kathleen Flood from Cascade Game Foundry. The title of the discussion was “Communicating Science: Mastering Science Storytelling”. During her presentation, Alyson put up on screen a live “Skype” conversation with Captain Philip G. Renaud, aboard the Foundation’s boat in the French Polynesia. Palese talked about their incredible campaign they have going on right now in anticipation of CCAMLR’s meeting on the faith of conservation for the Antarctic Ocean. Called “I’m Watching”, the strategy maximises the current technologies and social media. Charlotte Vick talked about the impact Google Earth has and how one little entry can generate millions of views. Finally Gianna presented to the crowd the amazing Pacific Voyager project. Combining culture, science and indigenous heritage, the expedition is a marvel, bridging historical knowledge and practises with today’s need to connect to something deeper.

At the same time at the theatre, Louie Psihoyos was presenting for the Encore Series, his 2009 Academy Award movie The Cove. Also in other rooms, Craig Eastman talked about the importance of music in storytelling while Craig Adkins showed us the incredible capacities of the GoPro and how this tiny camera has changed the way we see the world.

The evening was marked by the official opening event. On stage, taking turns, Congressman Sam Farr, BLUE Founder Debbie Kinder, Jean-Michel Cousteau and Dr. Sylvia Earle each welcome the crowd. While most talked about the importance of educating and breaching outside of the ocean community, Jean-Michel spent much of his speech talking about the very sad episode of Morgan, an orca that was recently captured and is now in captivity in a private park in the Canaries. Dan Basta, director of the office of National Marine Sanctuaries at NOAA, surprised everyone by honouring the work of Debbie and her daughter Sara. The evening was followed by the screening of Otter 501 and ended with a light buffet. The tone was set and tomorrow was going to be another incredible day!

DAY 3
The day began with a series of really interesting classes and presentations. Emmy Award winning wildlife cinematographer Andy Brandy Casagrande IV treated the audience with absolutely stunning footage taken with the Phantom camera. Andy showed the power of slow motion and how it can be carefully integrated in a strong documentary narrative. The lively Chris Palmer taught in his class what was needed to raise money for cinematographic nature projects. Palmer could’t be more qualified. He has been a pivotal figure in several multi-million dollar projects and is now president of the One World One Ocean Foundation. While Corinne Bourdeau and Mary Elizabeth Murphy from 360˚ Communications talked about the whole distribution aspect of documentaries, a discussion around the use of laws and lawsuits to solve the biggest plastic pollution problems was taking place on the main stage. Lisa Boyle from the Huffington Post, Christopher Chin from the Centre for Oceanic Awareness, Research, and Education, Rachel Doughty, Attorney, Leila Monroe from the Natural Resources Defence Council, and Saskia VanGendt, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) looked at how legislations and regulations were either helping conservation efforts or not, and what could be done to fix the process.

Running in between sessions, my next stop was Fabien Cousteau’s talk – an insightful presentation of what it meant to be brought up in an ocean family legacy. That legacy continued right after with Fabien’s father, Jean Michel, as he presented the screening of his documentary “My Father the Captain: Jacques Yves Cousteau”. Revisiting the adventures and the legacy of Captain Cousteau through intimate stories from his family, Jean-Michel also gave a voice to the people whose lives were influenced by the famous “Commandant”. Also present was Celine, Fabien’s sister, with her new baby – the next generation of Cousteau!

While Captain Don Walsh talked about his career on the main stage in a conversation with John Racanelli, CEO at National Aquarium, I met with Marine Vice Chair for IUCN’s World Commission on Protected Areas Dan Laffoley. Laffoley is also an advisor for my E.P.I.C. expedition. Together we joined Dr.Sylvia Earle and her team for the Mission Blue cocktail reception. Ocean Elder Graham Kelleher made the crowd laugh with his incredible wit and unforgiving australian accent. Blair from Antarctic Ocean reminded everyone of what was at stake down south, and Anatoly Sagalevich, deep sea legend and dear friend of Sylvia, delighted the audience with some of his personal stories.

The day ended in style with a screening of Finding Nemo in 3D, hosted by Walt Disney Studios. Paul Baribault, VP of marketing greeted the audience and explained the complicated process of turning a simple animated 2D movie into a unforgettable 3D experience. He also took the occasion to announce Disney Nature’s next project “Bears”, coming to theatre in 2014. The movie, directed by Keith Scholey (African Cats) and Alastair Fothergill (Earth, Chimpanzee), was shot in Alaska in the Katmai National Park and followed the “day-to-day lives” of the brown bears.

The rest of the days coming later this week!

Radio Interview on CHON FM

While on assignment in Whitehorse, Yukon, for the Tlingit Cultural Revitalization, I had the opportunity to sit down with radio host Christine Genier and chat about my work, the EPIC expedition and our relationship with nature.

Click here to listen to the interview

Conservation 2.0

“The greatest obstacle to discovering the shape of the earth, the continents and the ocean was not ignorance but the illusion of knowledge.” Daniel J. Boorstin, The Discoverers

One of the biggest problems we have with conservation is that all our efforts are based on a principle of knowledge. We firmly believe that yesterday’s abuses were done because of a lack of understanding. The extermination of buffalos and wolves happened because we didn’t understand their crucial role in their surrounding ecosystems. The decimation of whales and seals in the 17th century was accomplished because we didn’t know there were not unlimited numbers of them. Since we consider ourselves the smartest species that ever existed, superior to the natural world precisely because of our ability and capacity for knowledge, we have come to the conclusion that our destruction of the environment was simply due to not understanding it. Therefore, in an attempt to change the individual’s behavior, conservation organizations have for decades based their strategy on amassing huge amounts of data on which they rely to promote their agendas. This concept might have been justified in the past but it is greatly outdated.

Our laws are based on values which our culture has deemed imperative to achieve a moral society. No one is allowed to kill. Child labor is forbidden. Rape is not accepted. Cheating is punishable. Stealing is condemnable, etc. All these moral values exist because they are within a value system that we have chosen, fought for, and voted upon. And most of them, if not all, have their roots in religion, not in science.

Technology has expanded our knowledge to such an extent, that we now count on it to solve absolutely everything. Combined with our belief that because we are so knowledgeable, we won’t be repeating the same mistakes again, we have blinded ourselves to the root of the problem. Knowledge is the Achilles’ heel of today’s culture.

For thousands of years, the natural world has either been seen as a giant basket of resources, or a savage world unfit for human society. It has become secular and empty of any sacredness. It has had no value besides being a means to feeding ourselves. We see the human species independent of all the others, at the top of the chain with only one purpose, to consume. Unfortunately, monotheism is greatly responsible for this. The idea that humans are a divine creation set the stage to a systemic problem. By putting Earth under our dominion, given to us by the Almighty, we see nature as a balance sheet. How can we maximize its output? The more we know, the more we will be able to reap from the natural world. While it is true that we must create a sustainable system where resources can be allowed to replenish themselves, for our society to change its perception of nature, the debate on conservation will have to stop focusing on information and data and make values its primary target. But how can we achieve such a thing?

The dialogue is extremely similar to Alain de Botton’s recent TED speech and in his new book Atheism 2.0. We know there is no God, that is alright, but we must aim for something better than a simple status quo on spirituality. In terms of conservation, we know our lifestyle has been absolutely unsustainable. We know the facts and have all the necessary data. Every new study always points out the obvious. But now we must progress to a new and more enlightened debate.

Conservation organizations have a lot to learn from religious institutions. Both are promoting their particular philosophy on life. Both are trying to convince people of a certain set of values. Religious groups have had tremendous success, while conservation organizations have been beating the stick for as long as we can remember. So what is the big difference? De Botton is quite right in explaining why this has happened. Religion starts with the belief that you are en eternal child, in constant need of reinforcement, with daily, weekly and annual rituals. Repetition is the key and messages are constantly repeated. Science and the conservation community, on the other hand believe that you simply have to publish a report and people will remember it forever. They believe that you only need to show the problems for the system to correct itself. They think of humans as rational beings capable of constantly making objective choices based on the information they have been given. In other words, Religion understands that we are emotional beings made of flesh and blood, while the other camp appear to believe we are walking brains.

In our modern society, consumerism and entertainment are the main religion. Why? Because all our rituals celebrate these two. We sit in front of tv together, we eat in front of tv together, we go shopping with each other, and the value of our economy is based on our purchasing power. We consume relationships “online” in the same way we consume food: fast, much of it, and easily. We are obsessed with our gadgets and possessions. And this is, what our children learn. As they spend so much time in front of the television, they understand from an early age what our priorities are. Advertising simply reinforces this dogma.

Where is nature in all this? It is certainly not sacred. It is certainly not spiritual. It is something less and less experienced. Where are our rituals with nature? At schools? I don’t recall being nature savvy a high priority on the curriculum. At home? When was last time you went camping or hiked through the wilderness? Instead, nature has come to be a battlefield, a distant and disconnected ideology, filled with data and information, under the blanket of more knowledge and better technology. And this is where most of the conservation organizations have decided to conduct their campaigns. People have become environmentalists rather than being naturalists.

With millions poured into conservation each year, we have to reassess the priorities. We need to invest in children, but not to make them aware of all the “nasty and bad” things humans are doing, but rather to help them experience and connect with nature, the wilderness, the untrodden path. We must make ecology mandatory in high school. We must develop some kind of dialogue where the sacredness of nature is developed and taught. Not as a beautified concept, where everything is rosy, but rather as the complex and dynamic system where each living being is interconnected with another and with the environment. If we want to alter the perspective children have of nature today, then we will have to put in place rituals in which they can feel nature as well as being constantly reminded of it.

“All our knowledge merely helps us to die a more painful death than animals that know nothing.” Maurice Maeterlinck

Nature is not in your computer!

“Today, kids are aware of the global threats to the environment – but their physical contact, their intimacy with nature, is fading. That’s exactly the opposite of how it was when I was a child.” Richard Louv

The United Nations predicts that by 2030, more than 60% of the world’s population will live in cities. By then, in the U.K., city dwellers will represents 92% of the population. It is quite a sharp contrast to back in 1950, when the world’s urban population represented only 30%. While this new reality clearly shows a growing physical disconnection with nature, another reality, much more subtle, is making people believe otherwise.

When I grew up, there were people who spent a lot of time in nature, and there were people who simply did not. The “outdoor” people were usually fishermen, hunters, campers, hikers, etc. They cared about nature because they spent time in it. The people who rarely ventured away from the asphalt, were, with no shame, just not concerned with the wild world. The environment was not really a debate, but rather a destination. What we learned in school about nature was more scientific, like ecology and biology, alongside geography and history. On television, you had Jacques Cousteau, Jim Fowler, David Suzuki, and David Attenborough. Each was a nature journalist, reporting on the wilderness, out there and out of reach. They showed us wild worlds with amazing animals, feeding our growing appetite for adventure. Back in those days, loving nature didn’t equate with being a vegetarian, or to campaign against animal cruelty. In fact, all the television personalities mentioned above fished or even hunted.

Today, the picture could not be more different. Technology has totally transformed our perception of the wild word.  While nowadays we rarely spend time in nature, people are constantly made aware of it. Discovery and National Geographic stream 24 hour/day entertainment shows. Social media makes it possible for anyone to care about environmental causes, anywhere, independently if they are well informed or affected by it. The Internet allows any individual to post anything they want without any particular context or further explanation.  Not one day goes by without seeing a photo of a baby panda, a dolphin, a shark being butchered or a dead seal entangled in a fishing net. Nature has become an ideology people are fighting for. It is no longer a destination but rather the emotionally charged and personified notion of an animal’s struggle to survive, whether it is the “march of the emperor penguin” or the “fate of the polar bears”. We now live in a world where natural realities are being blown out of proportion and every minute struggle in an animal’s life is over empathized for. Living in cities, feeding ourselves from grocery stores and spending our weekends in the park around the corner, the natural world has become a beautified concept, a Disney story and a pretty picture on the wall. Anything that contradicts this notion is deemed anti-nature or anti-animals. Animal welfare organizations, based in cities, are raging wars against society and anyone who doesn’t agree with their belief that any creature has a soul and humans have no right to take it away. In their view, plastic, genetically created meat, and soy-everything, is the way for the future. A meat eater, a fish eater, or a person wearing leather or fur, independently where and how it was processed, is targeted as cruel and against the natural world. For the indigenous people, who have lived off the land and the sea for millennia, with sustainable practices and honoring their connection with the earth, this intrusion from people who know nothing about their lifestyle and culture is seen as extremely hypocritical and shallow.

Worse, Google Earth and sites like theBlu are advertising themselves as places where one can “explore” the world. A recent article in the Los Angeles Times stated: “It’s a living, breathing ocean that you can “dive into,” exploring underwater habitats from the Indian Ocean to the Sea of Cortez while encountering thousands of fish — as they swim across your computer screen.” The computer screen is nothing like being out in the wilderness. It is nothing like exploring other countries for real or mingling with other cultures. Pressing keys on the keyboard does not make you an explorer nor and adventurer, and even less a naturalist or an environmentalist. Clicking the “Like” button on a Facebook Cause does not mean you care or simply understand what you clicked for. Watching Blue Planet on BBC doesn’t mean you love the ocean. What you love is being entertained by something beautiful. But the natural world is not just a cute teddy bear that you can spend your nights cuddling with. Nature is a raw chaotic world where each creature competes with each other, culminating in a very complex, intertwined balance that took millions of years to create, and CONTINUES to evolve .

By being so physically disconnected from it, we have totally forgotten what nature really is all about. We even go as far as to personalizing it, characterizing it as a female, “Mother Nature”. This concept of singularity simply doesn’t exist. In the natural world, both constructive and destructive forces are essential. Both the attack and the defense are crucial for survival. What is motherly? Volcanoes, hurricanes, droughts? Hyenas eating an antelope alive? A pod of orcas drowning a whale calf?

We have to be careful because our lack of relationship with nature and our disconnection from its dynamics and forces, can have grave consequences. As the Arctic is being developed, westernized countries and their mediatically-sensitized populations will most likely clash with indigenous people and their culture, as it just happened in Greenland. The Inuit have been hunting seals for as long as they can remember. And looking at the number of seals, they have done quite a good job at making sure that their hunt was sustainable. Compared to the western world which has had a reputation of decimating everything it goes for, from whales to fur seals, from wolves to buffalos, from tuna to mackerel.  Because we have done such a bad job with the planet’s resources, or such a good job of exterminating them, we now project our guilt onto others. The EU ban on seal products has created devastating effects on the Inuit’s culture and economy. The ban came after emotionally charged media campaigns, portraying fluffy white baby seals being clubbed to death and skinned. In the name of animal welfare, the EU decided to impose the ban. What people didn’t know was that the Inuit have an ancestral right to hunt. The ban didn’t reduce the number of seals hunted every year in Greenland. What it did, was strip away the right of the Inuit to make a living. Consequently, there are over 300,000 skins in stock in Greenland worth millions for the Inuit. Most likely, the skins will be destroyed, taking away with them the welfare of several communities.

It is crucial to do everything possible to take children outside of the cities, away from the computer and television. They need to experience the real natural world, not the urban or virtual version of it. Tim Kasser, Professor and Chair of Psychology at Knox College, correctly points out in his report: “Children, Commercialism, and Environmental Sustainability

“While not typically seen as an “environmental issue,” those concerned about the environment should be sobered by the increasing commercialization of childhood, as the same generation of children that is being encouraged to prioritize wealth, consumption, and possessions is the same generation that, if current trends continue, will need to drastically reduce its consumption patterns so as to prevent further global climate disruption, habitat loss, and species extinction… What’s more, recent research shows that the materialistic values encouraged by advertising messages are also quite problematic for environmental outcomes. For example, studies around the world make it clear that the more people care about money, wealth, and possessions, the less they value protecting the environment and the less concerned they are about how environmental damage affects other humans, future generations, and non-human life. Other research shows that materialistic values negatively correlate with how frequently adults and children engage in pro-environmental behaviors such as commuting by bicycle, reusing paper, buying secondhand, and recycling.”

Furthermore, We also have to be careful with what we promote and how we promote it. Social media and the Internet won’t make people change their daily routines. It might inform them, make them aware of something, but it is certainly not enough to change them. Writing “Cigarettes will kill you” on a pack doesn’t make someone stop smoking, but paying close to $10 for a pack might.

We might have the knowledge, but we greatly struggle with applying it. Social media, the Internet, computers and television are not a replacement for true wilderness, traveling, or exploring. We must be careful of the pretentious western environmental imperialism we so easily practice. Lets change our own tragically unsustainable culture first. Lets put in place the right legislations, lets decrease our production of garbage, lets reduce our consumption, lets show our children that there is more to life than cities and technology, let ourselves first reconnect with the natural environment and its realities, before telling others, who might be living off the land and sea and have done so in a sustainable way for generations, what they should do.

“We have two kinds of morality side by side:  one which we preach but do not practice and another which we practice but seldom preach. “  Bertrand Russell

Humble enough to listen and tough enough to decide

In the 1960’s during a plague of Crown of Thorns starfishes on the Great Barrier Reef, in the waters of Australia, people decided to counter attack by slicing them into pieces. Whether it is true or not, according to certain reports, their numbers then doubled or quadrupled when each piece of starfish regenerated itself into a full new one.

In 1584, Pedro Sarmiento de Gamboa, a Spanish sailor, established a settlement at Buena Bay (locally known as Mansa Bay) on the west side of the Strait of Magellan, near Punta Arenas in Chile. In less than a couple of years, all 300 plus settlers died of starvation. The unfortunate location is known today as Puerto Hambre or Port Famine (Port Hunger in english!)

In 1819 Sir John Franklin led an expedition in the Canadian Arctic. Of his original crew of 20, 11 died of starvation. Again, in 1845, his famous Northwest Passage expedition got lost and all of his 129 men, himself included, died.

What do those three seemingly unrelated events have in common?

The Crown of Thorns is known to the Fijians as “Na’Bula”, meaning living or alive, reflecting the regenerating power of the starfish. Puerto Hambre is located in an area where the Alacaluf, a Fuegian tribe, had lived for hundreds of years. Franklin’s doomed expedition perished in a place where Inuit had been living for thousands of years.

Each case represents a total lack of consideration for the precious knowledge held by the indigenous people. For the “White Man”, coming from civilized countries, these “people” were considered savage and primitive. Not only were their beliefs in nature seen as a flagrant obstacle to progress, but it was ridiculous to admit that they could know more on how to survive in these remote places than a highly decorated naval officer.

While the natives saw themselves as part of Nature and understood the delicate balance that needed to be respected, the “White Man”, supported by his belief that God had created the earth for him only, plundered the resources as if there would be no tomorrow. Anything found in the way was destroyed. His motto has always been “Act Now, Think Later”. He wants something, he gets it, then deals with the consequences later. He decimated the buffalos, the wolves and the whales. On the Pribilof islands in the Bering Sea, he succeeded in reducing to almost zero a population of fur seals that was considered limitless. When the resources were gone, he simply moved to another location and proceeded again. Where the indigenous people managed to live off nature for centuries, the “White Man” only took decades to destroy everything.

Not much has changed today. Reading recently about the incredible and fast decline of stock of Mackerels off the coast of Chile, we don’t seem to have learned anything. We keep repeating the same pattern over and over. The only difference is that today with our technology, we do it much faster.

The natives have warned us since the beginning that our lives were unsustainable. That our lifestyle and values would destroy the earth’s resources. We laughed at them and told them that we had amazing technology that would fix everything.

…overcome by the giddiness that flying lent him, Icarus soared through the sky curiously, but in the process he came too close to the sun, which melted the wax. Icarus kept flapping his wings but soon realized that he had no feathers left and that he was only flapping his bare arms. And so, Icarus fell into the sea…

This Greek myth is a premonition about our culture of consumption. Obsessed by satisfying our desires and pleasures we have forgone common sense and wisdom. We have lost the ability to limit ourselves. Blind to any consequences, we plunge into our ego centered lives and quietly hope for salvation. We take pride in our intelligence, bragging about our inventions and technology, believing that only WE have the power to save the world. But are we really that smart or simply extremely arrogant? One thing for sure is that we are not a mature civilization. Mature is by definition something that is based on slow and careful consideration. Which lies at the total opposite spectrum of how we operate.

And in those moments, when everything around us is crumbling, we look at our leaders for guidance and courage. But unfortunately, as Margaret Thatcher said: “One of the great problems of our age is that we’re governed by people who care more about feelings than they do about thoughts and ideas.” Will our world find the humility to listen to the indigenous tribes and have the courage and strength to take the necessary decisions to move towards a sustainable growth? Will the Arctic become the stage for a new kind of development or sadly be an “Encore” of a very bad show? A dialogue like the one recently put forward by Prince Charles is a good step in the right direction. The only thing it takes is people that are willing to make the right decisions rather than wanting to please everyone.

“In the distant past, scientists often ignored and even made fun of the knowledge of indigenous people. But we now recognize that people who live off the land for generations know more than researchers will discover with years of investigation.” Smithsonian Blog

Human’s Relationship with Nature

In the 1700’s, a famous astronomer from France, named Nicolas Louis de Lacaille, started to name his discoveries, new constellations, with man made objects. He would look into his telescope, point it up towards the stars, see a pattern then give it a name. He named one constellation Horologium Oscillitorium, honoring Christiaan Huygens and his invention, the pendulum. He named another one Microscopium, after the microscope. In fact, from the 70 constellations known at that time, Lacaille added over 14 new ones, all named after instruments. Little did he know that his decision to imprint the sky with Man’s creation not only broke thousands of years of astronomy tradition, but reaffirmed a behavior that had been working its way into the core of our society for the past several thousands of years – Nature was no more, and Man ruled every element and realm.

Allow me to illustrate how we have become so disconnected from Nature, the effects that it has created on our society, the gains it gave us, the damages it inflicted, and why, despite obvious future complications, we find ourselves challenged over what to do. We have made an habit to over analyze, saturate our theories with numbers, and spit out new solutions to only realize that their application was impossible and their success unattainable. In fact, the explanation lies in our history, how we are as a species, and why, what seems like a simple change, will demand from us, a drastic change in our values and in the way we live. Do not worry, I am not here to tell you that the world is doomed, that we have five years to fix it, otherwise life will cease to exist. Quite the contrary, we are masters at adapting and surviving and hopefully, by the end of the evening, you will have a better understanding of our current situation and what can be done to remedy this unhealthy modern paradigm.

On a small note, I would like to point out that I have just used the word “remedy” to introduce my rhetoric. The definition of “remedy” is the following: a medicine or a treatment for a disease or an injury. It is a means of counteracting or eliminating something undesirable. It comes from Latin remedium: “RE” meaning ‘back’, also expressing intensive force, and “MEDERI” which means ‘heal.’ Humans are not a bad species. We do not need to condemn ourselves with guilt, despair over how we have been so irresponsible. Who we are today, what we are doing and what we have been doing is quite logical and predictable. Just like a child who was told not to play with fire, and did, then got burned, now we need to tend the wound so that it can heal properly.

One of the first places we need to look into, is mythology, and more precisely, the history of our mythology. Now bare with me, we will not delve into a study of myths, gods and religions. I am simply going to outline certain key elements that pertain to our relationship with nature. Now, according to Mercia Eliade, in his book Myth and Reality, one of the foremost functions of myth is to establish models of behavior. Joseph Campbell, in his book “The Power of Myth” described them as having four basic functions: the Mystical Function–experiencing the awe of the universe; the Cosmological Function–explaining the shape of the universe; the Sociological Function–supporting and validating a certain social order; and finally, the Pedagogical Function– explaining how to live a human lifetime under any circumstances. In other words, whether be religious or folkloric, these stories passed over time helped us shape our system of beliefs and values.

The place of Nature in mythology is extremely interesting. At the beginning, humans were afraid of it. The early civilizations revered the elements – fire, wind, water, earth, and thought than certain animals were their elected representatives. We refer to this practice as animism, where plants, animals, inanimate objects and natural phenomena possessed a soul. The divine was illustrated in the world around them and humans saw themselves at the mercy of it. Nature was bigger than them. In the Mapuche mythology, a group of indians in the region of Patagonia in South America, the Ngen were spirits that managed, and governed nature. The Ngen were created by the Pu-am, the representation of the universal soul, who wanted the Ngen to assure the order and the laws of admapu , the rules of the Mapuche tradition. If a Mapuche needed to obtain something from nature, he was to first respect the spirit then give an offering.

Then came the gods. The earliest ones were still depicted in nature. Per instance, in the Aztec mythology, Tepeyollotli, the “heart of the mountains”, was the god of earthquakes, echoes and jaguars. He was portrayed as a jaguar leaping towards the sun. In the Egyptian mythology, Aker, one of the earliest gods worshipped, was the deification of the horizon. He was originally illustrated as a narrow strip of land, representing the horizon, with heads on either side, facing away from one another, a symbol of borders. Since the sun reaches its peak in the zodiac of Leo, these heads were usually those of lions.

As humans moved away from believing in the power of the elements, and seeing the divine in nature, a most fascinating event happened. They started to created entities, gods and goddesses, with human forms. These deities, with arms, legs and faces like ours, were now in control of the elements, of the universe, of life, and of the earth – no more was Nature master of her own domain. Poseidon, a god from the Greek mythology, ruled the realm of the sea. A human form with a beard, riding a chariot carried by horses or hippocampus. Nature was now tamed by the human god, at the mercy of his whip, reduced to a simple means of transportation. In this picture, Egyptians have evidently moved away from symbolism. It shows Shu, the air god, a human form, supporting Nut, the sky goddess, another human form. Geb, the god of earth, at the bottom, showed in earlier records with a snake head, has now moved into a full human form. Two characters, with human bodies and animal heads are helping Shu. In this attempt to explain how the world works, humans are the divine, and animals, or nature, are reduced to mere helpers. Even in Hinduism, Prajapti, “lord of creatures”, a deity presiding over procreation and the protector of life is shown looking like a human.

Now some will tell me that these images are not to be taken literately. Everyone knowns that they are only figments of our imagination and not a true representation. But saying that would be diminishing the power that images have and the impact it has on the subconscious when repeated millions of times over hundreds and hundreds of years. Studies in communication and marketing have proven over and over the impact of repetition, whether being true or not.

There is one character, present in several mythologies who differs in its representation: Faunus, Roman god of the forests, plains and fields and Pan, Greek god of shepherds and flocks, of mountain wilds, hunting and rustic music. There is also Cernunnos from the Celtic mythology. Although we known little of his significance, his depiction leaves no doubt on the point being made. Each is a variation of the Horned god. A entity half human, half animal. With horns or antlers, a beard, and often baring legs of a goat.The meaning of such mixture is left for debate, perhaps it was an attempt to unite the old divine, Nature, with the new one, humans. Nevertheless, one thing for sure, this creature, the gross character, this half human, half beast, became with time, the flagship for Man’s savageness, witchcraft and the image of the devil.

So, at the beginning, we had the divine in Nature, now the divinity is in humans, and Nature is under its control. What was to come was even worse – a total loss of respect and a quest to destroy it.

The last two thousand years have been dominated by the rise of monotheism, the belief in only one god. Today the three predominant monotheistic religions are judaism, christianity and islam. As you can see on this map, together they cover most of the world. Different in the their form and beliefs, their attitude towards Nature is the same. The planet is to serve Mankind, and humans are to serve God. Mankind’s goal is to rise from this imperfect world and join with God who lives above, in the heavens. Nature is either savage, evil, or in great need to be corrected. Its resources are like a giant bottomless bag in which we can serve ourselves indefinitely. By putting humans as the perfect creation, mankind was no longer limited by Nature. Quite the opposite. Being divine masters and immune of any consequences, we were free to do what we wanted and manipulated the planet to our wishes. This narrative has unfortunately been the driving force in our relationship with the planet for centuries.

By having dominion over nature, humans came to believe that they were also its protector, even its savior, if needed. It is no surprise when looking into the Old Testament and reading the story of Noa and his arch, saving every animal on the planet, that we find ourselves today believing that it is still our responsibility, once again, to save the earth. Although the rescue boat has changed into our total trust in technology, the thought is the same: we are separate from Nature, we know better than Nature, and only WE have the power to save it. If life is to subsist, it will only be because of us.

And the question arises, why should we save Nature when for thousands of years, everything about it has been looked upon with aversion, annoyance, as a symbol our own limitation, as the enemy. Our industrial era has excelled in claiming that the growth of mankind had to be made to the detriment of Nature. Still today, we believe we have to choose one over the other. Why should we start to re-consider the sacred in the elements and in the animals, when the idea of pervading life in the “un-human world”, has been considered “childish”, and typical of “cognitive underdevelopment”, by our most distinguished philosophers and men of sciences. Why should we regress and act like “primitives”, as some suggest? Why is it that living in the country, rather than in the cities, a place glamorized by the feats of human incredible ingenuity, is culturally seen as simplistic and filled with a lack of vision. Let me ask you a question. Would any of you give up the comfort of your modern day convenient life – with your computers, your cars, your access to any kinds of food anytime, and your gadgets, to save a forest or a fish, or a mammal that you most likely will never see in your life.

The answer lies in our choice of values. And here is where the topic becomes tricky. It has nothing to do with numbers, statistics or any graphs. Technically, we are absolutely capable of living in a world empty of any wilderness. Technically, we could have every crop, every chicken, every fruit, every vegetable, every tree grown inside in artificial indoor places. We can engineer pretty much anything. And what we can’t, we are working on it. In fact, we have become so good at it, that we now know we can act like gods. What before was only an assumption, or a wish, is now a fact and a reality. And consequently reinforces our belief that our technology is the only thing that can save the earth.

We love our numbers. We love our capacity to create equations. We brag about how we are able to explain everything in the world, in the universe with numbers. Between 354-430 AD, St. Augustine wrote “Numbers are the Universal language offered by the deity to humans as confirmation of the truth.” Today, we continue and say that the underlying element that connects everything are numbers – it is the universal language we claim. We fantasize about meeting other people from far away galaxies and communicating with them through numbers. In the movie “The Day the Earth Stood Still”, Professor Karl Barnhardt, a nobel prize physicist, entertains a meaningful conversation with Klaatu, an alien, through formulas and statistics. On Tv, there is a show where a young genius mathematician helps the FBI solve cases that normally would be too hard for humans to figure out. And how does he do it? With equations. We throw numbers at everything and all the time. Our DNA has been reduced to a simple equation of letters. Our food has been dissected into numbers – the perfect diet consists of X calories, Y carbs, Z proteins, and well 0 sugar of course. We look at life and everything around us in a simple way: input and output. It is what separates us from the animals, it is what makes us so special, our ability to manipulate numbers. Therefore, it is only logical, that we look at Nature in the same way. And for the past 20 years, the scientific community, the environmental community and the politicians have been raging a war of numbers. Each side claim to have the right statistics. My numbers are better than yours. And yet nothing changes. Why, because of the place of Nature in our values.

On a side note, to illustrate how far our obsession of quantifying everything has gone, it seems that the planets in our system have now a dollar value. An astrophysicist of the University of California in Santa Cruz has been appraising the planets. With a complicated and special formula, he came to establish that the value of Venus was a penny – of Mars, $16,000, and of course of the Earth, 5 quadrillion! Talking to the Daily Mail in London, the scientist declared that: “The formula makes you realize just how precious Earth is and I hope it will help us as a society safeguard what we have”. Indeed, how obsessed we have become.

The idea that technology will save everything is a dear one to all of us. In our modern society, technology has moved to a god-like status with the power of total redemption – if only we could invent or come up with a solution that will fix all our problems, nullify all our undesirable deeds, and allow our consumption based culture to keep growing without much interference, this is our idea of heavens.

Let me ask you another question. Do you care about child labor in a place, half way across the world, where you will never set foot? Do you care about domestic violence in a house, somewhere on another continent, in a city you probably never knew existed? Do you care about a 10 year old virgin being sold for human trafficking. Why? If we look at the numbers, there are absolutely no incentives to care. And even more, there are no reasons why there should be any laws to prevent it. The reason there are laws, the reason we care, it is because of our values. It is because of what we believe to be good, and what we believe to be bad. And those values are the foundation of our system. Sadly, in our modern world, Nature has never been a concern or a priority. It has never been part of our values.

Now, why is it so hard to change? Because despite the fact that we love to believe we are a logical and smart species, that our brain is in charge of every decision, unfortunately, we are still governed by our physical needs and our emotions. Do you remember when I talked about the child who was told not to play with fire and still did? Well, we are physical beings. We need to experiment, we need to feel to understand. How do you think we have achieved so much. It was certainly not because we listened to all the people who said it was impossible. The trait in our behavior that pushes us to new limits is the same trait that makes us ignore all the warnings. We know that cigarettes will kill you. It is even written on the package. But each of us also know someone who has smoked two packs a day for the last fifty years and is in better shape than most of us. We know that we have overfished the oceans, but living in our convenient and global economy, it is hard to know what it means. My point is that as much as we want to sensitize the public and ourselves about the impact of our lifestyle on the environment and the decline of wild animals, we will need to acknowledge the dynamic of how we behave, how we think, and most importantly, how we get to change. As human beings, we need to physically feel to understand, we need to experience the consequences of our actions. That is why we have laws. Because we need limits. And for the last 50 years, we have become masters at breaking any limit encountered. We have transformed deserts into blooming plains. We have engineered crops to yield five times more. We have manipulated our cattle to grow faster. We are experts at making things bigger and faster. So how can we care or value something which we have had as our mission to defy? Why should we care for something we have believed to be an obstacle to our survival?

Some people in this world have never set foot in a forest. Some have never seen a night sky saturated with stars. Some have never seen the ocean rolling on a white sandy beach. With ecology classes gone from schools and sciences classes slowly disappearing, how can children be even taught about the dynamics of life? How can a child be aware, or even have a sense of what nature is if he has never even experienced it.

We have a choice to make. And let me say that, whether you choose one over the other, is not better or worse. Each has its pros and cons. Each has its advantages and consequences. Each is either good or bad, it just depends on where you stand. If we, as a society, choose to have a world dominated by technology and engineering, constantly improving at making things bigger and faster, at the detriment of Nature, than we just need to keep doing what we are doing. I am sure we will be able to find technological solutions to pretty much everything. But If we choose to have a world where the wilderness can still be experienced, where a father can take his son fish in the outdoors. Where a child can snorkel the bay and marvel at thousands of flickering moving colors, then we will have to change. Not because of numbers, not because we need to save the earth, not because climate is changing, but because we value Nature. Because we want Nature to be part of our world. Because we believe that our responsibility is to be humble, respectful and caring citizens of this planet, of this universe. Not to destroy it or act like its savior.

Shot for a fish

“If we cut up beasts simply because they cannot prevent us and because we are backing our own side in the struggle for existence, it is only logical to cut up imbeciles, criminals, or enemies, for the same reasons. “ C.S. Lewis

It was hard not to remember those words as I kneeled next to the dead female sea lion, beached only minutes before. The evidence was flagrant. There were no signs of trauma, no decomposition, no bloating. Blood was still trickling from her snout. Besides the missing eye, probably taken by a seagull, there were no other plucking wounds. This animal must have been alive only a few hours ago. On her back was the explanation for such an unexpected turn of events – a clear round opening, with soft curled red edges. A theory became quite obvious but I still had to do one more test before confirming my suspicion. I walked towards the sand dunes, picked a small branch and with it came back to the victim. Sliding the stick into the wound, it went in as expected and determined what was now a fact. The sea lion had been shot, and hit probably just before diving, explaining the low angle of the bullet’s trajectory inside the animal.

Looking over the horizon and trying to figure out how this poor creature had ended here, I noticed another floating object not too far off. As it got closer, I was able to clearly identify it. Sadly, it was another dead sea lion, but this time, it was a pup. As it rose up with the rolling waves, just before being rumbled back down, the animal would find itself in a transparent crest, illuminated from behind, crystalized and motionless, as if it had been delicately displayed in a glass of formalin. This one never made it to the beach. Trapped in the tumble of the rollers, it slowly kept drifting down the coast. I didn’t get the chance to examine the body but my conclusion seemed quite solid. With a fishing village at about 4 kilometers up the coast, coincidentally the direction from which the sea lions had drifted, and the reputation these animals have for “stealing” the fisherman’s catch, it was fair to assume that the mother and her baby had crossed the path of a person who believed that the world was too small for them to feed on the same “commodity” that he was making a living of.

Filled with a sudden lack of hope, I found myself questioning humans’ ability to make peace with Nature. Just the day before, I had finished reading Sylvia Earle’s book: The World is Blue: How our Fate and the Ocean’s are oneand had started reading A Passion for the Earth, a book of essays, inspired by David Suzuki. Sylvia’s last words were: “Throughout the history of our species, the mostly blue planet has kept us alive. It’s time for us to return the favor.” Closing in on 8 billion of a hungry world population, how many wild animals, how many jungles, how many oceans, will be killed, cut, and polluted so that we may carry on the uncontrolled and unaccounted destruction of our host?

Wildlife of Argentina in New York


The Consulate General of Argentina

requests the pleasure of your company for the opening of

Wildlife of Argentina” by Daniel Fox

Opening Reception October 7th at 6pm
RSVP@cnyor.com (really important)
12 West 56th street, New York

Presented by Taragui, Planet Explore, Wend Magazine, Plywerk, Kokatat, TesacomAlpineAire Foods & Periscope Creative

A Story to Tell

“One way or another, we all have to find what best fosters the flowering of our humanity in this contemporary life, and dedicate ourselves to that.” Joseph Campbell

Ever since I was a young boy, I found my inspiration and comfort in nature. It thought me about life, and death, about change and evolution, about challenges and perseverance. It thought me about perspective and balance.  Most importantly, it thought me about being humble and spiritual.

I started the Wild Image Project so that I could tell a story. A story about our relationship with nature, about our journey in this universe, a story about being human. Humans love to see the world within a limited frame, within a world that they can explain, control and manipulate. We forget that who we are today is the result of a process that has lasted several millions of years. We are also, just a chapter in the story of evolution. It is fair to say that if we had the ability to look into the future, most likely, we would discover that our appearance has evolved, changed, just like we have changed physically and mentally since the time we came down from the trees.

As our world is changing, so are we. Change is always hard. Change is by nature an unwelcome force. But change is the reason why we know so much and why we are so good at surviving – it forces us to adapt and thrive. Our unsustainable lifestyle has led us to re-question our values, the way we consume and the way we live. It is not just the last 50 years that have been damaging our planet, but the last 3,000, ever since we started to put Man as the perfect creation and saw nature as an imperfect reality: cruel, inhuman, obsolete…Since then, we have consumed our planet earth and manipulated her with no respect, believing that this land was only for our benefit. Just like a teen, who decides to egotistically deny his heritage and sees himself as the source of truth, we have strayed away from our roots bragging about our superiority.

In this period of change, it is important to remember that as we consume and destroy our planet, the people we hurt the most are ourselves. The planet will take a couple of thousands of years to recuperate, but we won’t. In fact, it has been proven, that the moment Man disappears, nature will flourish again. If we want the world to participate in this journey of growth, we have to change our line of thought. We have to stop seeing ourselves as saviors of the planet. The only thing we will save is us, our survival. This change of lifestyle must be embraced, not because it will save the planet, but because it will assure our survival and will provide a promising future for our children.

The story I want to tell is a story of hope and of unity. We are part of Nature, and it is part of Us. As someone said about my work: “Going beyond the rubric of “wildlife photography”, Daniel Fox’s images invite the viewer to act as celebrants/participants in a visual communion with Nature. Portrayed with a fresh directness that captures the immediacy of their natural environment, the subjects are offered not as “specimens” but as noble protagonists. Fox captures nature at its rawest and most challenging of states. He conveys its beauty and imbues it with exquisite poetry. Through this unique perspective, the natural world in its resplendence is both honored and transformed.”

It is my way to foster the flowering of our humanity, it is my own way of making the world a better place.