Patterns In Nature – Kids and Cameras Can Help Build A Sustainable Future
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My camera, my pen, and I just returned from a great winter trip of wandering, exploration, and discovery throughout parts of Texas, New Mexico, and Arizona. I had no specific location in mind. I simply wanted Nature to come to me so that I could embrace Her. Along the way, two questions were asked of me on separate occasions. What do you see and feel as you take a picture?   What pictures are you taking? About the time these questions were asked, I came across posts by two of my favorite bloggers who provided answers far better than I.

Kim Manley Ort , did a wonderful guest blog on contemplative photography  a part of which I wish to share with you:

“Photography helps me notice and appreciate my life. I practice what is called a meditative or contemplative form of photography. It’s about being present and open to life as it is, without judgment. It’s about being open to what the world offers up to me rather than looking for a particular shot.”

Well said, Kim! My camera is simply a tool by which I engage Nature. It’s purpose is NOT to take a picture. It’s purpose is to help bring me into intimate contact with Nature and to engage each moment. Typically, I sit with no camera in hand for extended periods letting Nature come to me. When I’m able to engage a profound moment, I pick up the camera and attempt to capture what I am perceiving. I also try to write out my feelings and perceptions.

More than anything else, I passionately love these times of engagement with Nature. It is a very spiritual experience for me. It is both work and play. David duChemin offers a wonderful description of my contemplative lifestyle.

” My work and play is to create. To write. To photograph. To grow friendships and make new experiences together. And to mold myself, in collaboration with time and circumstance, into the person I hope to be. I read …  because the words of others are among the raw materials for whom I am becoming. I read and watch great stories as fuel and hope for my own story. If it doesn’t add to my life and the work of creation in which I spend my days, or to the lives of others, then it’s neither work nor play and I’ve no time for it. There is no spare time. I plan to use every second of it. Lives are not merely lived; they are created. And it’s that created life from which our love, our art, our legacy flows to others.”

Thank you David !!!

I repeat one of David’s lines. ” ..it’s that created life from which our love, our art, our legacy flows to others.” Hold that word “legacy” in your mind and heart for a moment. What if you were to apply David’s description of work and play to helping a young person who is walking beside you in Nature? What if that young person were holding a small camera? What if you asked that young person to record how he or she felt after waiting for Nature to present Herself? This process provides you the opportunity to give your legacy of engaging Nature to a child or youth.

Photography is a marvelous tool for developing a consciousness of Nature within young people.  Photography and its contemplative  process brings them into intimate contact with Nature by engaging them in each moment of their outdoor experience. If you are a parent, leave them with your legacy by giving your son or daughter a camera or a smartphone with a camera. Then take them hiking. Share your findings as you explore the images you both have captured. On a grander scale, volunteer to take a group of school kids out in Nature. Teach them about observing and engaging Nature. Then, let them freely use their ever present smart phones to capture images of Nature. Encourage them to share their images back in the classroom. In particular, encourage them to express the  feelings they had as they captured an image.

The idea of kids and cameras in Nature is catching on because there is a potential for building a new Nature consciousness that humanity has lost in the past three generations.

The “Children And Nature” organization has a great article on kids using cameras in Nature.

Another group that employs volunteers and cameras to engage kids in Nature is the “Parks In Focus” organization whose purpose is  “Connecting youth from underserved communities to nature through photography”.

The solution to the environmental crisis induced by mankind is to restore a consciousness for Nature through our youth. In doing so, you will be leaving your legacy for a sustainable future. 

Thanks for reading this blog post. The purpose for these blogs is to develop a dialog between myself and my readers. You are encouraged to offer your comments in the space provided below.

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My name is Bill Graham. As a Marine Biologist who has worked in the US and Mexico for 30 years, I am a student of Nature, a teacher, a researcher, and a nature photographer. Through my work, I have acquired an ever growing passion for how everything in Nature is connected. Today, I travel extensively contemplating about, writing about, and photographing Nature’s connections. I also work with conservation projects in the USA and Mexico and mentor talented youth.

11 Responses to “Patterns In Nature – Kids and Cameras Can Help Build A Sustainable Future”

  1. Hi Bill,

    Thanks I liked your post… I work with children too – I think I am immersing them in Science in a fun and interesting way… but really I am learning more from them than they are from me! Once I slow down and listen to their questions, comments and observations and look at things through their eyes then life/science/nature suddenly becomes full of infinitely wonder! I like your idea of introducing the camera to children, I will experiment with this with my own children!

    • Hi Naomio:

      Like yourself, I am growing as I learn to create a sustainability education program where I teach. I also teach an advanced English program for high school kids. I have recruited my high schoolers to become the teachers (mentors) for the lower grades. THe idea is that the younger kids will listen better to older students than to teachers. We are still in the experimental stage but things look very good.

  2. With or without cameras (preferably with) we must get our youth in, and connected to nature. “WE PROTECT WHAT WE LOVE.” If we can share what we love and allow them love it as well, our legacy will be passed along to many generations.

    I wish I had some of the technology when my kids were growing up but we still have many pictures of family vacations in the National Parks that they truly love and cherish.

  3. ELISA del Carmen cedillo says:

    Es importante e interesante lo que hoy ascribes en tu blog, y me hace pensar en que mejor legadopuedes dejar como ser humano en nuestro paso por este mundo : amor y respeto por la obra maravillosa de dios en todo todo lo que nos rode a. Yo como educator trato de plan ear situations didactics en donde los peaked Sean analiticos, critics y reflexives atravez de Los sentidos y propiciar atravez del juego el cuiDado de la naturaleza.

    • Thanks for your comment Elisa. Like yourself, my faith is the unifying force in my life. I see and feel God in all of Nature. The Indians were connected in much the same way with their spirituality. Unfortunately, I see very few other people who feel any kind of spirituality while they are in Nature. So, we must find other ways to build humanity’s consciousness for Nature. I firm;ly believe that our only hope of a new human consciousness of Nature is with our children.

      //////

      Gracias por tu comentario Elisa. Al igual que ti, mi fe es la fuerza unificadora en mi vida. Veo y siento a Dios en toda la Naturaleza. Los indios se conectaron en mucho de la misma manera con su espiritualidad. Por desgracia, veo muy pocas personas que sienten algún tipo de espiritualidad mientras se encuentran en la naturaleza. Por lo tanto, tenemos que encontrar otras maneras de construir la conciencia de la humanidad para la Naturaleza. Creo firmemente que nuestra única esperanza de una nueva conciencia humana de la naturaleza es con nuestros hijos.

  4. What a wonderful post, Bill (and thanks for your comments). I can feel your enthusiasm. How great to go on a winter trip and just let nature come to you. And yes, kids and cameras is a great way to get them connected to nature. That may be a path for me to explore in my new place.

    • I live in Mexico and teach at a local private school. I’m in the process of experimenting with and developing such a program. I’m using my teen age students to work with grades 4,5,6 in this effort. The idea is that kids can influence other kids.

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