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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the national mall: the smithsonian castle, the enid a. haupt garden, & the national carousel

Saturday, December 7:  The Enid A. Haupt Garden is a 4.2 acre garden in front of the Smithsonian Castle in Washington, D.C.  Created in 1987, the design of its three distinct gardens reflects the cultural and aesthetic influences celebrated in the Smithsonian Castle and the surrounding museums.

entrance to the enid a. haupt garden
entrance to the enid a. haupt garden
enid a haupt garden and the smithsonian castle
enid a haupt garden and the smithsonian castle
the enid a. haupt garden
the enid a. haupt garden
the enid a. haupt garden
the enid a. haupt garden

The Fountain Garden is modeled after the Alhambra, the 14th century Moorish palace and fortress in Spain (andalucía: granada’s alhambra).  It sits beside the National Museum of African Art.

the fountain garden
the fountain garden
sculpture in the fountain garden
sculpture in the fountain garden

The Moongate Garden, beside the Arthur M. Sackler Gallery, gets its design inspiration from the Temple of Heaven, a 15th century religious complex in China (**the journey, “moon fresh” jerry, the temple of heaven & an acrobatic extravaganza).

the Arthur M. Sackler Gallery
the Arthur M. Sackler Gallery
view of the Castle from the Moongate Garden
view of the Castle from the Moongate Garden

The Andrew Jackson Downing Urn was designed in honor of Andrew Jackson Downing, who in 1850 transformed the Mall into the nation’s first landscaped public park using informal, romantic arrangements of circular carriage drives and plantings of rare American trees.  Downing’s design endured until 1934, when the Mall was restored to Pierre L’Enfant’s 1791 plan.  Downing, the father of American landscape architecture, designed the White House and Capitol grounds.

Andrew Jackson Downing Urn
Andrew Jackson Downing Urn
Andrew Jackson Downing Urn
Andrew Jackson Downing Urn
Andrew Jackson Downing Urn
Andrew Jackson Downing Urn
parting shots of the smithsonian castle
parting shots of the smithsonian castle

Near the Smithsonian Castle is the Carousel on the National Mall.  The Carousel on the Mall was built by the Allen Herschell Company in 1947.  It’s known as a traveling machine.  The horses are four abreast, all jumping.  The Sea Dragon, added later, is the most popular seat on the carousel.   It is the only operating carousel in Washington, D.C.

the Sea Dragon on the Carousel on the National Mall
the Sea Dragon on the Carousel on the National Mall
the national carousel
the carousel on the national mall
the carousel
the carousel

Finally, in the middle of the National Mall, I can see the Washington Monument at one end and the Capitol at the other.  The Washington Monument’s 500 tons of scaffolding is now coming down, little by little.  The scaffolding enabled workers to perform $15 million in earthquake damage repairs, beginning early this year. The monument will reopen in spring 2014.

the Washington Monument, with the scaffolding half removed
the Washington Monument, with the scaffolding half removed
the U.S. Capitol
the U.S. Capitol

Stay tuned for further episodes of Washington’s sights as I eventually carve out time to revisit them all. 🙂

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travel theme: distance {the march on washington & “i have a dream”}

Monday, September 2:  This week was a big deal in Washington as the country celebrated the 50 year anniversary of the August 28, 1963 “March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom,” accompanied by Martin Luther King, Jr.’s “I have a dream” speech.  (For more about what was happening at that tumultuous time in the USA, see the Atlantic’s article: 50 Years Ago: The World in 1963).

I decide to go into Washington today, during the Labor Day holiday, to photograph the view from the Lincoln Memorial across the Reflecting Pool to the Washington Monument.  In a famous photograph, Martin Luther King, Jr. stands on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial and gives a famous speech that includes these words (For the rest of his speech see Martin Luther King, Jr.: I Have a Dream):

And so even though we face the difficulties of today and tomorrow, I still have a dream. It is a dream deeply rooted in the American dream.

I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal.”

I have a dream that one day on the red hills of Georgia, the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slave owners will be able to sit down together at the table of brotherhood.

I have a dream that one day even the state of Mississippi, a state sweltering with the heat of injustice, sweltering with the heat of oppression, will be transformed into an oasis of freedom and justice.

I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.

I have a dream today!

Today’s view is different than the one above.  For one, today is 50 years at a distance from the 1963 historic moment.  The only crowds today are tourists, wandering haphazardly around.  The Washington Monument, in the distance, is now covered in scaffolding for renovations after it sustained structural damage during the 2011 earthquake.  And my pictures, unlike those taken in 1963, are in color.   Except for the one below.  And of course, Martin Luther King, Jr. is absent as he was, sadly, assassinated on April 4, 1968.

The Reflecting Pool and the Washington Monument today
The Reflecting Pool and the Washington Monument today
The Lincoln Memorial
The Lincoln Memorial
Abraham Lincoln, 16th President of the United States
Abraham Lincoln, 16th President of the United States
Abraham Lincoln at the Lincoln Memorial
Abraham Lincoln at the Lincoln Memorial
The view from the steps of the Lincoln Memorial across the Reflecting Pool to the scaffolded Washington Monument
The view from the steps of the Lincoln Memorial across the Reflecting Pool to the scaffolded Washington Monument
Reflecting pool & Washington Monument
Reflecting pool & Washington Monument
the Reflecting Pool and Washington Monument
the Reflecting Pool and Washington Monument

I also decide to stop by the Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial, which was just completed on August 28, 2011, 48 years after the “March on Washington.”

entrance to the Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial
entrance to the Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial
Words of Martin Luther King, Jr.
Words of Martin Luther King, Jr.

From the National Park Service website about the memorial: August 28, 2011, the 48th anniversary of the groundbreaking March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom witnessed the dedication of the Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial. It is fitting that on this date, reminiscent of the defining moment in Dr. King’s leadership in the Civil Rights movement; in the form of solid granite, his legacy is further cemented in the tapestry of the American experience. His leadership in the drive for realization of the freedoms and liberties laid down in the foundation of the United States of America for all of its citizens, without regard to race, color, or creed is what introduced this young southern clergyman to the nation. The delivery of his message of love and tolerance through the means of his powerful gift of speech and eloquent writings inspire to this day, those who yearn for a gentler, kinder world . His inspiration broke the boundaries of intolerance and even national borders, as he became a symbol, recognized worldwide of the quest for civil rights of the citizens of the world (National Park Service: Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial: History & Culture).

looking back at the entrance to the Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial
looking back at the entrance to the Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial
Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial
Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial
Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial
Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial
Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial
Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial
Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial
Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial

And a quote to think about.  I think I need this one myself now.

Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial
Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial

For other takes on Ailsa’s challenge at Where’s my backpack? see Travel Theme: Distance.

the united states capitol

Sunday, August 25: Since I returned home to the USA at the end of July after three years living abroad, I’ve been posing as a tourist in my own country.  I’ve lived in the Washington, D.C. area for most of the last 25 years, and though I don’t live in the city itself, I live in one of the largest of the metropolitan area suburbs:  Fairfax County, Virginia.  The monuments in Washington seem commonplace to me since I’ve seen them so many times.  In fact they seem so commonplace that I’ve hardly ever bothered to photograph them.  Isn’t it funny how sometimes you don’t even notice the things in your own backyard?

Today I venture into Washington on a Sunday morning in search of photos for the Instagram Weekend Hashtag Project: The project is called Partwatching and the goal is to take creative photos of people interacting with art.  I’m heading for the National Gallery of Art, where I hope to surreptitiously capture people interacting with art.   However, before going there, I decide I’ll talk a little stroll around the United States Capitol, the iconic symbol of Washington.  I’ve taken the tour of the interior before, but today I just walk around the grounds out front.

The United States Capitol, according to The U.S. Capitol Visitor Center, is a symbol of the American people and their government, the meeting place of the nation’s legislature. It is built in neo-classical style with a white exterior.  Construction of the U.S. Capitol began in 1793. In November 1800, the U.S. Congress met in the first completed portion, the north wing. In the 1850s, major extensions to the North and South ends of the Capitol were authorized because of the westward expansion of our nation and the resultant growth of Congress. Since that time, the U.S. Capitol and its stately dome have become international symbols of our representative democracy.

the U.S. Capitol
the U.S. Capitol

Though it has never been the geographic center of the federal district, the Capitol is the origin by which the quadrants of the District are divided and the city was planned (Wikipedia: United States Capitol).

The U.S. Capitol
The U.S. Capitol

The Ulysses S. Grant Memorial is a presidential memorial at the base of Capitol Hill, honoring American Civil War general and U.S. President Ulysses S. Grant. The sculpture of Grant on horseback faces west toward the Lincoln Memorial, which honors Grant’s wartime president, Abraham Lincoln; together, the Grant and Lincoln memorials define the eastern and western boundaries of the National Mall.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
The Ulysses S. Grant Memorial

A striking feature of the central statue is Grant’s calm attitude amidst the raging fighting going on around him. This is not surprising because Grant was known for his calmness and coolheadedness during battle. In sharp contrast to Grant are the sculpture groups on either side, Cavalry Charge and Artillery (Wikipedia: Ulysses S. Grant Memorial).

Statue in front of the U.S. Capitol
Cavalry Charge sculpture in front of the U.S. Capitol
Statue in front of the U.S. Capitol
Cavalry Charge in front of the U.S. Capitol
Statue in front of the U.S. Capitol
Artillery Sculpture in front of the U.S. Capitol

Standing on the grounds of the Capitol and looking West, I can see the National Mall stretching before me, with the Washington Monument, covered in scaffolding, standing between the Capitol and the Lincoln Memorial.

The Mall and the Washington Monument
The Mall and the Washington Monument
the Mall and the Washington Monument
the Mall and the Washington Monument

I hop into a small traffic circle with a garden and a statue, behind which looms the dome of the Capitol.

the U.S. Capitol
the U.S. Capitol
the U.S. Capitol
the U.S. Capitol

I love the view below of the National Mall and the Washington Monument.  The Monument is like an alien object now; it’s covered in black scaffolding while it undergoes repairs due to structural damage from the 2011 earthquake.  My first reaction when I saw it upon my return was the same irritation I felt when I went to Angkor Wat and found its front facade covered in scaffolding and green netting.  But… now that I’ve gotten used to it, I think I like it!  Maybe they should keep it like this forever. 🙂

the Mall and the Washington Monument
the Mall and the Washington Monument
The U.S. Capitol
The U.S. Capitol
the U.S. Capitol
the U.S. Capitol
steps up the U.S. Capitol
steps up the U.S. Capitol

I then head to the National Art Gallery, in search of people interacting with art.