Wednesday, May 27, 2009

More Photos

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

This is Simon Nicholson writing. I´m one of the four faculty involved with the "Practice of Environmentalism" course. We are now a little more than half way through our stay on the Galapagos Islands. The scenery is picture-perfect and the hospitality wonderful. This has hardly, though, been a tropical vacation. Our students have been working hard each day, filming, conducting interviews, redrafting stories and themes, all while battling the fierce equatorial heat.
We are traveling with 24 students, divided into four groups. Each of the groups has spent the semester developing a Galapagos-focused project. Now is crunch time, as months of planning informs just a few days of frantic activity.

The work the students are doing here is nothing short of inspirational. On Saturday, for instance, I spent much of the day with the "Fueled by Nature" team. This group is shooting a 30-minute
television pilot, looking at alternative energy and sustainable living. Their time on Saturday was spent largely at a new wind farm on the island of San Cristobal, which is now providing more than 50% of the electricity the island uses. The contrast between the elegant wind turbines and the noisy diesel generation facility we also visited was striking, and will make for a powerful story.

On Sunday, Bill Gentile, my colleage from the School of Communication, was up at 4:30am to assist the "Fin-tastic" group. They had a 5am meeting with local fishermen, to film their work on the water, and to interview them about the practice of "shark finning", which is harming local shark populations.

The other groups have been equally as productive. I can´t wait to see the rough cuts of the final projects at the end of the summer, and to continuing to work with this wonderful group of motivated, talented students.

More soon,

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Photos from San Cristobal

San Cristobal

We arrived on San Cristobal Island on Sunday and headed straight into the water, snorkeling with the sea lions. Our hosts on the island, Whitman Cox, a fourth generation galapagonian naturalist, Solar Quest, an energy conservation NGO, and several community group leaders greeted us with a warm reception. We headed over to dinner which required us to cross the beach of sleeping sea lions. Sleeping sea lions, do no like to be disturbed, and crossing the beach proved to be quite entertaining. Several evening crossing have been navigated and we have nicknamed the trip the "sea lion gauntlet" If you rouse a sleeping sea lion, a quick retreat is needed. More than 100 sea lions call the beach their own at night and the bark they make wakes us in the morning. Waking up to the noise of barking sea lions is a new one for most of us and an incredible gift.

Sunday morning kicked off a day of filming with groups visiting a wind farm, along with self directed interviews and shots from around the harbor town. The afternoon was spent at Kicker Rock, where the group went snorkeling. Snorkeling with Kiho Kim is truly a gift as he identified starfish, sponges, stingrays and sharks. At one point I asked him how many sharks is too many sharks as our group was swimming with 30 small reef sharks. He thought 30 was just about enough!

This morning Fin-Tastic headed out with two groups of fishermen at 5:00 along with Bill Gentile from SOC. The group was filming two different fishermen co-ops on the island and interviewing the leaders to learn more about the challenges facing the fishing industriy on the island.

Simon Nicholson and Kiho Kim took two other research teams to the Jutan Sacha Foundation to learn more about the foundation's work in eradicating invasive species such as the mora (berry) and passion fruit. "Fueled by Nature" shot footage of the solar system at the "Colegio Alejandro Humbot" and the solar section of the local highschool, "Escuela Pedro Andrade."

The four groups are trying to accomplish an inordinate amount of filming in a compressed period of time. Schedules and "island time" are often in conflict, so we review schedules and regroup regularily. Tomorrow we leave at 6:00 am to Santa Cruz and will visit the Charles Darwin Station, the lava tunnels and the highlands.

More Photos from Quito

Photos from Quito