I wanted to give an update since it has been several months since I have written.
I am back in Brooklyn settling back into life Stateside after nine months on the road. In some ways it feels like I never left. If it wasn’t for having the very visible marker of my nephew Leo turning from a baby into a chatty toddler with an ever-growing vocabulary, I might think it was all a dream. Of course, I also have many wonderful memories, dozens of new friends, and thousands of photographs to remind me what a rewarding (albeit bittersweet in terms of learning about climate change) experience it was.
As my travels progressed, I found my free time to write becoming more scarce (along with internet connections not always being what was promised at my hostels). I met such interesting people, especially via the “couchsurfing.org” network, that I ended up spending my non-shooting time with them, plotting and planning about where to photograph, and just learning about their cultures (and often eating delicious food!)
I still plan to finish writing about the rest of my experiences but decided instead of writing about my visit to each country, I will group my essays together according to the following climate change issues: rising sea-levels, melting glaciers, drought / wildfires, and flooding. I will tie in the way these conditions are impacting not only the landscape, but also people, agriculture and wildlife.
Since some of you may be wondering where else I went after New Zealand. Here was the rest of my itinerary and some sneak peeks at images (in order):
– The Kingdom of Tonga
– Kenya (where a devlish mosquito must have bit me)
– London and Holland (where that mosquito’s dose of malaria caught up with me!)
I was supposed to end my travels in Germany, photographing their highest mountain, The Zugspitze, but the malaria knocked all the energy out of me. I am grateful I had friends in Amsterdam who got me to their doctors and then the hospital (Thank you Ivar, Sanne, Suzy and Yasha!) and that my mother came to nurse me back to health (a double thanks to you!). I feel very lucky I didn’t get ill until almost the very end of my trip.
There are other locations in Europe I would like to photograph next summer. I know the Zugspitze will still be there, but at the rate its glacier is melting, the snow may not (despite the large reflective tarp they use to cover the ski slope every summer). I also hope to cover more northern destinations next year: Alaska, The Arctic, Greenland, Russia, and a little further south, Madagascar (which I had to skip over due to time limitations this trip.)
I know I couldn’t have done this past year of work without the generous support from so many of you. Gracias, Merci, Kob Khun Ka, Xie Xie, Sukriya, Asante! No matter what language I say it in, words cannot fully express my gratitude. I have updated my website to list the many of you who have supported me with financial donations, letters of recommendation, a couch to sleep on, homemade meals. travel companionship, informative interviews etc…If I have left anyone out or misspelled your name – I apologize, please let me know.
I am very happy to announce that I just received a Puffin Foundation Grant in support of The Witness Tree. I will be applying for other grants to continue working on this project.I am still fiscally sponsored by Fractured Atlas, so if anyone is interested in making a tax-deductible donation to my help me continue project, follow this direct link to do so.
All the time I was traveling I was keeping an eye on what the climate conditions were back home. I know that few snowmen were created this winter and that record high temperatures were set all over the US. The hottest days I had to cope with were in Delhi where it hovered around 110 F during my time there.
I am heading out to San Francisco in a couple days to attend a conference by The Climate Reality Project. The focus of this meeting is to train a new group of concerned citizens to give presentations on the “reality” of climate change. I feel privileged to have been chosen to participate in the training. Starting this Fall, I will be available (in my free time between teaching and photographing weddings!) to give talks on behalf of Climate Reality as well as presentations on The Witness Tree. Please let me know if you are interested in having me speak to your school or community group.
When I realized my return flight from California was via a stopover in Chicago, I decided to take advantage of the opportunity to photograph farms in Illinois that are being affected by this summer’s drought. ( I always try to tie in photographing for this project with locations where I will already be going to keep my carbon footprint lower!) Over the next year I hope to photograph in other US locations, including Vermont to photograph their sugar maple trees whose production is in decline due to global warming. If you have any suggestions of landscapes near your hometown that you think would be good to include in my project, please drop me a note via this blog or at cam (at) carolynmonastra (dot) com.
Stay tuned for more blog posts and a new website coming early next year!