Lens-Artists Photo Challenge: Less is More

Amy’s challenge this week is a very meaningful one. Imagine how the Earth would benefit if the human species truly embraced the idea that “Less is the new More!”

We’ve all seen news articles showing evidence of huge flotillas of garbage in our oceans, of urban sprawl eating up wilderness, and of first world over-consumption. I remember being visually struck by a National Geographic article by photographer Peter Menzel showing the possessions of an average family from a variety of countries across the world. (Material World: A Global Family Portrait) The American family had enough possessions to fill the end of their cul de sac. 

One of the benefits of my preferred way of travel, camping, is that it gives me the opportunity to live very simply. The clothes I’m wearing, a tent, a box of matches, some bedding, and a few cooking utensils are completely sufficient. The food I eat is recycled: gathered in and returned to the land. The vast landscapes of the outdoors are anything but simple. The world is a complex array of ecosystems. But focusing on one feature reveals the astounding beauty of simple design.

Removing extraneous clutter from my photos and my way of life allows me to focus on the wonder of the essence of Life. That I am alive and that I am surrounded by life that exists on levels more intricate and vast than I can see or imagine is…simply…amazing.  

Earth Day Eve

Tomorrow is Earth Day. The first Earth Day was April 22, 1970, when

“twenty million Americans displayed their commitment to a clean environment. It was called the largest demonstration in human history, and it permanently changed the nation’s political agenda. By Earth Day 2000, participation had exploded to 500 million people in 167 countries.  The seemingly simple idea — a day set aside to focus on protecting our natural environment — was the brainchild of U. S. Senator Gaylord Nelson of Wisconsin. It accomplished, far beyond his expectations, his lifelong goal of putting the environment onto the nation’s and the world’s political agenda.”  (from The Man From Clear Lake by Bill Christofferson)

That simple idea – that Earth deserves the attention and respect of all its human inhabitants, and protection from harm – seems to me more fundamental than any other ideology formed around life on this planet.

It boggles my mind that damage done to one magnificent cultural edifice can command more attention than the complete destruction of countless forest cathedrals, that concern over relics of antiquity can eclipse the horror of the extinction of living species…including our own.


“In the last 20 years, over 3.5 million hectares of Indonesian and Malaysian forest have been destroyed to make way for palm oil. Almost 80% of orangutan habitat has disappeared in the last 20 years. We are losing over 6,000 orangutans a year.” (from The Orangutan Project website)

“The Holocene extinction, otherwise referred to as the Sixth extinction or Anthropocene extinction, is a current event, and is one of the most significant extinction events in the history of the Earth.” (Wikipedia)

I want to present to you, on the eve of Earth Day, an invitation to reflect on our hubris, our ignorance, and consider ways to protect, conserve, respect, and champion our planet, perhaps with the affection you might tender towards a venerable ancestor.

She’s been around a long, long time. None of us would be here without her. And we have treated her badly. We have made grave mistakes. Perhaps now we can admit we were wrong and make reparation.

For example, PLASTICS. They’ve only been in existence for 60 years or so. We lived without them before; we can live without them again. No big deal…except if you’re protecting the plastic-producing industry instead of the inhabitants of Earth.

Steve and I found a quiz on Climate Change Solutions that yielded some surprising information. I challenge you to test your assumptions about effective ways to curb climate change by clicking HERE.

How will you honor Earth Day this year?

How are you changing habits that have proven destructive?

How are you encouraging love and respect for the environment in people you know?

Like my hero, Jane Goodall, I have hope in the ability of humans to make moral choices about how to behave towards the planet. In an interview with Mongabay, “Dr. Jane” gives five reasons to have hope for the planet: 

  • The energy, commitment, and hard work of young people once they understand the problems and are empowered to discuss and ACT upon solutions.
  • The human brain.
  • The resilience of Nature. 
  • The indomitable human spirit – the people who tackle seemingly impossible tasks and won’t give up.
  • My most recent reason for hope is the power of social media.

I feel acutely the urgency of making better decisions and practicing to do no harm in whatever way we can. Please leave a comment if you would like to share examples of your practice that may edify me and others.

Thank you for reading this post. May you enjoy the beauty of the planet where we live, Earth, in a deeply personal way tomorrow.

  (all photos in the gallery under copyright by Priscilla Galasso) 

Lens-Artists Photo Challenge: Blending In and Standing Out

The environment. Ecosystems. We are in them and of them and we are them. We are interconnected with everything around us. We blend in and stand out simultaneously. 

May all beings appreciate their surroundings, their selves, and the relationship between all things. May this appreciation grow into respect, affection, and peaceful harmony. 

Thanks, Leya, for inviting us to see the ways things Blend In and Stand Out. Enjoy your forest!

Lens Artist Photo Challenge: Changeable

“The only way to make sense out of change is to plunge into it, move with it, and join the dance.”
Alan Wilson Watts

Steve and I woke up yesterday to a brilliant autumn ballet of frost and color, sun and wind. We said goodbye to the sandhill cranes in our backyard and drove up to Door County to dance with the colors at Peninsula State Park on Green Bay.
Living in Wisconsin does have its benefits. 

Thanks to Amy at The World is a Book for this challenge.

Full-on Summer

After a week of cool, wet weather with low temperatures in the 50s overnight, the Midwest summer has hit Wisconsin. My garden is thick with arugula, and the tomato plant is growing at the rate of a jungle vine. The heat index today is in the danger zone with a high temperature of 92 degrees Fahrenheit and humidity at 78%.

I refuse to turn on the air-conditioner in the house; I have none in my car. I rely on all those passive techniques my mother taught me when we were living in the 1875 Victorian in the Chicago suburbs. I don’t have an attic here; this is a Lannon stone ranch-style house. I open all the windows and the front door at night to let in the cool air and shut everything up when the sun rises in the morning. I have a box fan in the living/dining room, no ceiling fans.

Steve converses about Buddhist mindfulness. What does it feel like in this weather? Without judgement, accepting what is, what do I notice?

The trees are swaying outside my window. As hot as it is, there is a stiff breeze. I see a million shades of green. I hear the hum of the fan. Birdsong woke me at 4:40 a.m., before I shut the windows. I noticed smells inside the house after I shut them. Melting soap in the bathroom. Coffee. My body feels slow, swollen, lazy.

I am trying not to dread the fundraising event I am working tonight. The dress is “formal”. The open bar and silent auction are outside, on the patio. My dress is made of an unfortunately synthetic material (long story). I imagine I will sweat. I fear social embarrassment…and I do not. I don’t really care that much. I like myself. I do fine work. The rest is unimportant. I will practice being gracious and compassionate, and I will come back home to my cool stone house at the end of the evening, strip down and lie beneath an open window, waiting for a thunderstorm. All will be well.

Outside, the butterflies and chipmunks, the birds and deer and Charles the woodchuck go slowly about their summer growth. I imagine that while they may sweat, they do not fret. I aspire to learn their wisdom. 

Team Galasso and the “Die Bees” Walk

The Step Out Walk to Stop Diabetes, known to 2-year old Josie as the “Die Bees Walk”, took place on a gorgeous fall day in Chicago. The route was a three mile circle around Lincoln Park and just a mile and a half from my daughter Emily’s home. By a great miracle, all four of my children were able to attend, plus my eldest’s best friend Katie (the mother of little Josie), my son-in-law Andy, and my middle daughter’s boyfriend Jake. I took lots of pictures, got some exercise (seven miles of walking total, I figure), ate a delicious gluten-free vegan meal, and collected hugs and kisses from my children. Totally satisfying! Here’s the gallery:

An American Adventure: Part Twelve

Memorial Day weekend around Moab, Utah was amazingly congested. This year, the Colorado river ran higher than usual from the recent snowstorm.  Recreational sites dot Highway 128 at regular intervals, and they all seemed to be full of boaters, campers, and bikers – humans with big, metal toys. We were searching for an entirely different kind of adventure, so we drove on north…and ended up at Dinosaur National Monument on the Green River.

However, the campsites with shade and accessible by our 2-wheel drive sedan were full up, and we didn’t have the energy to search for dispersed camping in the Ashley National Forest. We decided to break down and spend the night in an inn. After nine days, a hot bath was just too tempting! I have to say, I have a hard time ignoring my appreciation for plumbing. I can do it, but I can too easily undo it, too. Just 6 days into our adventure, I boiled some water on the campfire to wash our hair. The feel of water on my thirsty scalp out there on the canyon edge was exhilarating! Steve and I both have hair that grows almost down to our waists, though. Washing it and rinsing it thoroughly takes a lot of water. Without a handy renewable supply, it seems a poor choice.

But here’s another chance for awareness: how do I use water? What do I use it for? How much do I use? Can I use less? Should I use less?