seeking inspiration from national geographic: women of vision & 2013 travelers of the year

Thursday, February 6:  This afternoon, I head to the National Geographic Society to listen to a presentation by the 2013 Travelers of the Year.  At the National Geographic Museum, there is also an exhibition called Women of Vision, which has been running since October 10, 2013 and closes on March 9, 2014.  Since it’s always a big trip for me to go into D.C., I take the metro to see the exhibition and then attend the program in the evening.

National Geographic Museum
National Geographic Museum

According to National Geographic‘s website: “Women of Vision features the work of eleven photographers. From the elegant landscapes of the Mongolian steppes and American West to war-torn battlefields of Iraq and Afghanistan; from the last great wildernesses of Africa to the lives of people from the Arctic to the Jersey Shore, their stories explore modern realities and what it means to be human in the 21st Century.”

Going into the exhibition
Going into the exhibition
Inside the exhbition
Inside the exhibition

I love the exhibition, in which women photographers have taken storytelling photography to the highest level.  I was allowed to take pictures of the exhibition, but of course pictures of pictures don’t turn out very well.  No matter.  I’ll show you some of them just so you can get an idea of the talent level of these amazing photographers.

Click on any of the photos below for a full-sized slide show.  I don’t know which artist goes with which photograph, but you can read more about the project here: Women of Vision: About the Project.

I was once inspired to do weekly artist’s dates by Julia Cameron’s The Artist’s Way.  I don’t get to do these too often now, but when I do I’m always inspired.  I love how creative some people are, and I feel awed in the presence of their work.

After seeing the exhibit, I walk through a long hallway covered in years of National Geographic magazine covers; this hallway leads into the regular museum.

Walls of National Geographic
Walls of National Geographic
National Geographic covers from its early days
National Geographic covers from its early days
inside the musuem
inside the museum
National Geographic Museum
National Geographic Museum

After seeing the exhibit, I have quite a bit of time to kill, so I go outdoors, turn on my handy MapMyWalk, and walk around the streets of D.C. as the sun goes down.  I pass by St. John’s Church, Lafayette Park and the north side of the White House, along with other interesting buildings, even one with JOBS banners hanging from the walls.

across from National Geographic
across from National Geographic
Pretty colors in the National Geographic gardens
Pretty colors in the National Geographic gardens
old house on D.C. street
old house on D.C. street

I see the historical St. John’s Episcopal Church across from the White House.

St. John's Church in Lafayette Square, across from the White House
St. John’s Church in Lafayette Square, across from the White House

In Lafayette Park, I can see the north side of the White House, with the Washington Monument in the background and an equestrian statue of President Andrew Jackson, erected in 1853.

Washington Monument, White House and Stonewall Jackson
Washington Monument, White House and President Andrew Jackson
Stonewall Jackson
President Andrew Jackson
The White House
The White House
JOBS - maybe I should stop in...
JOBS – maybe I should stop in…
reflections
reflections

After having dinner at Panache, I head to the program.   Below are some of these amazing travelers’ inspiring tales.

Photojournalist Allison Wright was in a deadly bus accident on a remote road to Laos and survived, thanks to villagers who never left her side, doctors on two continents, and 30 surgeries. She was inspired by the helpful villagers to return three years later with five doctors and $10,000 in medical supplies, creating the Faces of Hope Fund.

Twenty-nine year old traveler Shannon O’Donnell studied ethical ways for travelers to help and published her tips in The Volunteer Traveler’s Handbook.

Molly Burke and Muyambi Muyambi founded an organization, Bicycles Against Poverty, using a microfinance model to distribute bikes in rural Uganda, turning what would be a three-hour walk into a swift spin to health clinics, markets, and schools.

Tracey Friley launched Passport Party Project, a grassroots initiative to provide underserved girls the tools they need to obtain their first passports. Little more than a third of Americans have passports—compare that with 67 percent of Canadians who hold one—and it’s not just the price ($135 for adults, $105 for minors) that holds would-be travelers back but also the uncertainty of how to travel. This challenge is even more pronounced in poor urban areas.

In 1989,  John and HIlda Denham bought 2,000 acres of coastal forest with a goal of protecting nearly four miles of turtle-nesting beach in Costa Rica. When John established The Pacuare Nature Reserve nearly every turtle nest was pilfered by poachers and green turtles were being slaughtered. Today, 24-hour patrolling has reduced poaching to 2 percent and the forest is rich in wildlife, with over 30 mammal species and a bird list of 230.

Some of the Travelers of the Year were not available to speak at the event.  You can read all the inspirational stories here: National Geographic Travelers of the Year.

After the event, I was surprised to find that United Airlines, who partnered with National Geographic to create the Sustainable Travel Leadership Award, put on quite a do with excellent food and a free open bar.  I wish I had known about the free food and drink because I had already filled up on tapas and wine at Panache.  Of course, that didn’t stop me from partaking.

I’m really excited because on Sunday, March 2, I’m attending a day-long workshop entitled “Storytelling Photography.”  More on that after the workshop. 🙂

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