Walking, maps, and art — some of my favorite stuff — are all wrapped up in one project, “a transect – Due East:”
A body of work based on a series of cross-country hikes that enabled me to generate visual and written notation, correspondence, interviews and historic research. The location is specific to my homeland in the San Joaquin Valley of California where I traveled due east into the foothills and Sierra Nevada Mountains.
–Matthew Rangel, Project Statement
Due East through Elliot Ranch, 2008,
lithograph, 22″ x 28.5″, by Matthew Rangel
The Western Soundscape Archive houses thousands of audio recordings: “570 different Western bird species, all of the region’s vocalizing frogs and toads, dozens of reptiles and more than 100 different types of mammals,” with dozens ambient field soundscapes of the West remote wildlands. Many of the recordings are are Creative Commons licensed for non-comm use.
From the series Neighborhood Stories– Park Life, profiling the daily life of a community’s urban oasis: “Country Bobby” Lowry is the guardian of Walter Pierce Community Park in Washington, D.C. He’s been keeping an eye on the park for almost three decades, and knows more about how it than any city official — he knows the trees, the plants and the kids. In the first of four stories about the park, we meet this transplanted farm boy who never takes shortcuts in his work. See NPR’s has great photo gallery.
Utah’s Zion National Park draws 2.7 million visitors a year, and a major attraction for hearty hikers is a trek along the Grotto trailhead to Angel’s Landing. From the banks of the Virgin River, the yellow-and-red sandstone sides of Zion Canyon rise 2,000 feet. It feels like being inside a huge body. The canyon walls are the rib cage spread open and Angel’s Landing is like the heart.
Chief Mountain Hotshots, Nicole Meeso and Aldon Wells, Powell Campground ID — Getting ready for a day’s work in the Clearwater Forest with the Blackfeet wildland firefighters, known as some of the best in the world.
Sister Carol Ann and the Bendictine Sisters, St. Gertrude Monastery, Cottonwood ID — Land stewardship is a matter of faith in these sisters’ rural Catholic perspective. We walk thru the woods of the monastery; 800 acres which the sisters have had to learn how to manage.
Lois & Betty, Patterson Restaurant, Patterson WA — Sipping coffee and surveying farm life from the breakfast tables of a small town cafe.
Louis Butler and family, Walla Walla River WA — Four Generations Fishing: A retiree from Hanford Nuclear Reservation goes catfishing with his daughter, grand-daughter and great-grandsons.
Ken Karzmiski, Archeologist, Columbia Gorge Discovery Center, The Dalles WA — Looking for lost Lewis & Clark legacy, and the artifacts and languages of native cultures drowned by the Columbia River dams.
USCG Duty Surfman Kyle Betts, now Chief Boatswain’s Mate and Executive Petty Officer, Cape Disappointment U.S. Coast Guard Station WA — The USCG Search and Rescue team pulls boats and people out of treacherous West coast waters along the Columbia River bar, where the river meets the ocean: “the graveyard of the Pacific.”
An earlier pedal over the same route, from the Rocky Mountains, down the Columbia River to the Pacific Ocean, interviewing whoever crosses our path: wind surfers, church organists, forest service employees, and “we’ve been talking to as many loggers as we can, to try and find out if they don’t see bicyclists, or they just hate us.”
The first movement in From the Journals of Lewis and Clark, a symphonic work for orchestra and choir based on the expedition’s journals. Montana’s Great Falls Symphony commissioned University of Idaho music professor Dan Bukvitch as the composer. The text is President Jeffersons’s instructions to Captain Lewis in 1803.
Biking & Mic-ing the Modern Lewis & Clark Trail; part one of two, up the Missouri River into the Rocky Mountains. Barrett Golding and Josef Verbanac, a radio producer and an English professor, a Jew and a Souix, bicycle from Missouri to Montana, enduring floods, war, worms, mud, and myriad Lewis & Clark festivals:
Prep: Cross-country preparations, then and now, from Penis syringes and Indian presents, to AAA and GPS. “Your observations are to be taken with great pains and accuracy, for others as well as yourself” –Jefferson’s Instructions to Lewis, 1803.
Flood: Missouri floodwaterss, a frog symphony, a million worms, bowfishing a beanfield, and in Marthasville MI little league it’s Lemke Trenching and Excavating vs. Miller Funeral Homes. Don Sherman, a retired Chrysler worker, who now volunteers his time taking care of the city park in the flood-prone landmark rural town — which, in Lewis & Clark’s time, was the last outpost of white society. And we go bow-fishing for in a bean field.
Rendezvous: Biking and mic-ing the Missouri River. Captain Lewis’ Aria, surveyor-stalking cougars, black powder bursts, cave wall Manitous, and Edens lost. Explorers express emotions and the Expedition breaks into song, in “Corps of Discovery: An Opera in Three Acts” produced by music professor Eric Dillner and the University of Missouri’s Show-Me Opera. Geographer James Harlan maps the Two Missouris, the Missouri Territory now and two centuries ago, using an 1815 Land Office survey and Clark’s field-notes. James Denny, Historic Interpreter, for Missouri’s Department of Natural Resources, points out where pictografs on a cliff were a landmark of the Lower Missouri, until the railroad blew ’em up; we tour through the tunnel of the ex-Manitous.
Wars: No Home on the Range, Chief Joseph’s Race Track, and Brothers Buddha and Brahma. Farrell Adkins, Campground Host at Arrow Rock MO sings the little known second verse of “Home on the Range.” Matt Nowak, Natural Resources Director at Fort Leavenworth Army Base KA describes this places part in the death and desctrution of the Nez Perce people.
Indian County: Daily pow-wows, casino economies, and Lewis’ birthday gloom. Neil Phillips, Penobscot tribal member and former canoe racer paddles from Maine to Montana, experiencing life on the river, a little-seen view of America. Joe Verbancec Sr. tours us thru the Standing Rock reservation.
The Strenuous Life: Bruce Kaye, Chief Naturalist at Theodore Roosevelt National Park recounts Teddy Roosevelt’s time in North Dakota. His ideas about conservation developed in the badlands, then get expressed in the acts of the President of the United States and the start of the National Park system.
Re-enaction: At Coal Banks Landing, on Missouri River “Breaks” in Montana, we encounters the re-reactors, traveling up-river using the boats, clothes, food, guns and knifes of the Lewis & Clark era.
Camp: Lewis and Clark made 600 campsites on their expedition from St. Louis to the Pacific and back. So far, the exact location of only one has been identified. For 13 years, archaeologist Ken Karsmizki has been digging at Lower Portage camp of the Great Falls, on the Missouri River in Central Montana, and finding fire pits, butchered bones, wooden stakes and other artifacts, all dating to Lewis and Clark’s time.
Orchestration: “From the Journals of Lewis and Clark” is a symphonic work for orchestra and choir based on the expedition’s journals. Montana’s Great Falls Symphony commissioned University of Idaho music professor Daniel Bukvich as the composer, whose job was to make Art imitate History.
Made up of coral reefs that surrounded the flanks of a volcano that has since become inactive and submerged. Like many tropical atolls, Atafu is very low lying and vulnerable to sea-level rise. This photograph was taken by astronauts aboard the International Space Station in January.
Galapagos Islands, Pacific Ocean
…are the tops of volcanoes on the sea floor off the coast of South America along the equator. This image was taken by the Landsat 7 satellite in 2001.
An unsentimental elegy to the American West, “Sweetgrass” follows the last modern-day cowboys to lead their flocks of sheep up into Montana’s breathtaking and often dangerous Absaroka-Beartooth mountains for summer pasture. This astonishingly beautiful yet unsparing film reveals a world in which nature and culture, animals and humans, vulnerability and violence are all intimately meshed.
The Story of Stuff folk have a new film out on The Story of Cap & Trade. Annie Leonard once again does her simple, straight-forward finger-pointing at job pointing to some devilish details in the current proposals:
Miller’s field recordings from a portable studio, set up to capture the acoustic qualities of Antarctic ice forms, reflect a changing and even vanishing environment under duress. Coupled with historic, scientific, and geographical visual material, Terra Nova: Sinfonia Antarctica is a seventy minute performance, creating a unique and powerful moment around man’s relationship with nature.
Drove 1100-miles in 19 hours last Wednesday — MT to NoCal — to be with fam for Thanksgiving. Pubradio kept me company the whole way (‘sides some signal-less spots in ID mtns and NV desert, filled with Joe Frank and TAL podcasts.)
Near NV/CA’s border heading east on I-90, when you crest Donner Pass, a pubradio feast commences. My presets fill up fast. From SF there’s KQED, NPR’s most listened-to station, and Pacifica’s KPFA, home to Negativland’s Over the Edge. One of college radio’s freeform finest is KDVS at U of CA-Davis. And community station KVMR-Nevada City CA manages to be hyperlocal yet always entertaining to this outta-towner.
While speeding downhill thru the Sierras, I caught KVMR’s eve news. It ended with a discussion about oak trees: one scientist/radio-announcer/educator talking to another scientist/author. I felt privileged to listen into their conversation. Their tree talk wasn’t dull or dumbed-down; it was comprehensible and comprehensive. An unexpected, imaginative use of radio, doncha think?:
Scupltor Kenn Coplan has been making Rust Angels out of desert debris:
Rust Angels are made from recyled material (Trash) that I have collected from my local deserts. My hope is to create 1,000 Rust Angels in the tradition of Sadako Sasaki, who tried to make a thousand cranes (Senbazuru) to grant her wish for her life after she was irradiated in the nuclear bombing of Hiroshima during World War II.
Sophie Rouys is a conservation biologist and heads up the Kagu Recovery Plan for New Caledonia; she recorded some really close up calls one morning in the park at Riviere Bleue. They call, usually in groups, for anywhere between 5 minutes and an hour at dawn. They’re pretty silent the rest of the time, except for clucking sounds when male and female switch off at the nest and the occasional display.
The Encyclopedia of Life: “Imagine an electronic page for each species of organism on Earth…” —Edward O. Wilson. EOL is community-building online database of animals, plants, and other organisms. Lost to learn, for instance,I know that we saw on our hike yesterday 150 Cervus elaphus.
“Two coyotes attacked a promising young musician as she was hiking alone in a national park in eastern Canada, and authorities said she died Wednesday of her injuries. The victim was identified as Taylor Mitchell, 19, a singer-songwriter from Toronto who was touring her new album on the East Coast.
She was hiking solo on a trail in Cape Breton Highlands National Park in Nova Scotia on Tuesday when the attack occurred. She was airlifted to a Halifax hospital in critical condition and died Wednesday morning, authorities said.…
Wildlife biologist Bob Bancroft said coyote attacks are extremely rare because the animals are usually shy. Bancroft, a retired biologist with Nova Scotia’s Department of Natural Resources, said it’s possible the coyotes thought Mitchell was a deer or other prey.
“It’s very unusual and is not likely to be repeated,” Bancroft said. “We shouldn’t assume that coyotes are suddenly going to become the big bad wolf.”