PopTech Blog

Posts by Michelle Riggen-Ransom

Blue Earth Alliance sponsorship opportunity for photogs

Man with cameraInterested in sharing your unique perspective of our changing world? The Blue Earth Alliance, which helps support photographic projects that "educate the public about endangered cultures, threatened environments, and important social issues," is currently accepting project proposals from documentary photographers focusing on these issues.

"We're focused on public education and inspiring positive social change," says Blue Earth's Executive Director Bart Cannon. "If your project helps to get people involved, we'd love to take a look."

Blue Earth sponsorships can include financial support, mentorship, help with PR and marketing, and other services depending on project needs. Past projects have included wildlife photographer Florian Schulz and Christoph Gielen's aerial studies of American prisons

Deadline is August 20th and submission guidelines can be found on their site.

Photo by Michelle Riggen-Ransom/twitter:@mriggen

Festival of movies and art to support the sharks

Whale shark

We seem to be sticking to an oceanic theme this past couple of weeks, with recent posts on whales and coral reefs. Maybe it's a result of our recent trip to Iceland. Or maybe it's because Shark Week is just around the corner.

The ocean continues to captivate us, this time in the form of a marine-themed film festival and art show, currently traveling down the West Coast of the United States. The project, entitled The Great West Coast Migration, was organized by the Japan-based international non-profit PangeaSeed, who works to raise awareness about the plight of sharks and the destruction of their habitat. PangeaSeed is partnering with the Beneath the Waves film festival, which aims to "encourage, inspire, and educate scientists, advocates, and the general public to produce and promote open-access, engaging marine-issue documentaries."  

Here's a little glimpse at what you might see as a very sad shark tries to find his missing friend along the coastal towns and waterways of the West.

The Great West Coast Migration - Episode Two from PangeaSeed on Vimeo.

The Great West Coast Migration played in Seattle, WA and Portland, OR earlier this month, and continues on the following dates and locations:

San Francisco – July 27 – 28: Spoke Art 
Los Angeles – August 2 – 4: LeBasse Projects
Costa Mesa – August 10 – 12: The ARTery 
San Diego – August 18 – 19: Space 4 Art

Image via PangeaSeed

Matt's back and he's still dancing

The world first admired his moves back in 2008 when his video Where the Hell is Matt went viral. Now game designer and international traveler Matt Harding is back, shaking his thing in countries all around the globe. 

Check Matt out as he dances in Damascus, boogies in Bratislava, and juggles in Kabul. The latest video was shot in 71 locations, including 55 countries and 11 states. Seattle-based Matt says Americans should travel abroad more, and appreciates that his dancing gives him an opportunity to see places he would never get to otherwise.

Matt may have two left feet, but they certainly have taken him to some interesting places.

Rachel Hope Allison's sea monster story

plastic bags heading to the ocean

Most PopTechers know all about the massive vortex of plastic that swirls in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. We've written about marine biologists making monsters out of ocean trash and featured activist ocean rowers. The PopTech stage has hosted heartbreaking slideshows of plastic debris and its effect on animals and impassioned environmentalists describing sailing ships made of plastic bottles to call attention to these troubled waters.

There's a newly-published graphic novel that illustrates the problem of plastic. Illustrator Rachel Hope Allison created the book, I'm Not a Plastic Bag, to tell a story of "loneliness, beauty, and humankind’s connection to our planet". The book gently reveals how our carelessly discarded everyday items combine to create something truly monstrous. With its lovely images and simple, sad story of this monster who doesn't fit it, it's an interesting way to introduce the topics of pollution, conservation, and stewardship to a younger audience. 

Plastic monster in the sea

According to United Nations Environment Program (UNEP), plastic accounts for 90 percent of all debris floating in the oceans. It's also the majority of the trash that washes up on our beaches. With projects like Allison's bringing awareness to the issue and an increasing number of cities and states banning plastic bags (including, most recently, Seattle), maybe this real-life monster will one day be the stuff of fiction.  

Hat tip to Treehugger

Images: Publisher Archaia; copyright Rachel Hope Allison

Soulful Kitchen: Jon Bon Jovi gives back to Jersey--and then some

Staff of Soul Kitchen

If you've ever wanted to break bread with Jon Bon Jovi, you can (at least in spirit). Bon Jovi's non-profit JBJ Soul Foundation opened Soul Kitchen in his home state of New Jersey, a "community kitchen" that provides fresh, organic meals to anyone in exchange for either cash or volunteer hours. Founded in 2009 as an effort to help the homeless in the area, the restaurant found a permanent location last fall. There are no prices on the menu; rather diners are encouraged to either donate what they can or do volunteer work in exchange for their meal.

That's not all Bon Jovi is doing to help the homeless. His JBJ Soul Foundation, in partnership with the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs, recently launched the Project REACH (Real-time Electronic Access for Caregivers and the Homeless) Mobile App challenge, which invites the general public to come up with tech solutions to match homeless folks with services. The goal of the project is to create "a free, easy-to-use, and broadly accessible web and smartphone app to provide locality-based services available to the homeless, including shelters, health clinics, and food banks". The contest, hosted by Challenge.gov, was inspired when Bon Jovi and his staffers noticed a need for real-time information about local services for their homeless staff and patrons.

Earlier this week, Bon Jovi told the standing-room-only crowd at the Health Datapalooza conference in Washington, D.C. about the origins of the contest, and showcased five finalist apps from Project REACH. The winner will be determined at the end of the summer once the apps have been field tested with their intended audience. 

I'm impressed enough with what he's doing to help the homeless community that this former New Wave girl just may have just become a Jon Bon Jovi fan.

Image: JBJ Soul Kitchen

Image-wise: Trees in silos photo meme

tree in silo

Nature is swift when it comes to reclaiming her space. An abandoned farmhouse is soon shot through with twisting vines and field grasses, asphalt can be split by a flower.

"Trees in Silos" is a photo meme that celebrates this reclamation in action. Click through to see the eerie and often beautiful shots as nature gently reminds us who's really in charge.

Image: Corey Wagehoft


Interview: Lukas Large and the natural world, illustrated

Yellow birdI've long been a fan of Lukas Large's Tumblr and its beautiful images of scientific illustrations. Each post is a single drawn image from the natural world (an animal, bones, a vintage anatomical drawing) with links back to the illustration's source. The site is updated multiple times a day, and readers are also invited to submit drawings of their own or others' work.

Scientific illustration is a wonderful blend of science and art, and Large's site gives visibilty to some works that otherwise may have languished unnoticed in various medical journals or textbooks in dusty libraries around the world. It also helps draw attention to new artists working in this field (like the image above from Brooklyn-based George Boorujy).

I was curious to learn more about the man behind the website. Here's a bit about his background and what he finds inspiring.

Michelle Riggen-Ranson: Where are you originally from? Where are you based now?
Lukas Large: I grew up in Stourbridge in the West Midlands in England and I still live there and work in the nearby city of Birmingham.  

What is your background/vocation?
I studied Genetics at University but I don’t currently work in anything to do with science.

Read more...

Northern sights: Photographer Florian Schulz shoots the Arctic

If you think the Arctic isn't melting, try spending some time with the polar bears. That's exactly what nature and wildlife photographer Florian Schulz and his wife Emil did for 18 months, producing some of the most amazing images of wildlife to come out of that region of the world.  

Schulz, a native of Germany, has a strong commitment to the conservation of natural places and creatures. He presented some of his images at the recent Collaborations for Cause summit produced by the Blue Earth Alliance. At the summit, photographers and media-makers got together for two days to talk about how powerful storytelling can change outcomes for people and places. Schulz presented photos from his book based on the project To The Arctic, and a clip from the same-named companion IMAX film directed by documentary filmmaker Greg MacGillivray.

"I hope to fuel the new conservation movement of connectivity," says Schulz. "Perhaps sharing my photography will move people’s hearts."

Often called a barren wasteland by those seeking to exploit its natural resources (ahem...oil), the Arctic is actually teeming with life. Schulz shot polar bears feeding on whale carcasses, thundering herds of migrating caribou, and coral reefs thriving below the frozen surface, all revealing a compelling story that the Arctic is a place worth preserving.

Green for All celebrates all moms

In honor of Mother's Day this Sunday, Green for All (GFA), an organization working to promote a clean energy economy, released a video entitled "7 Billion", which honors women's strength and leadership around the world. The video features hip-hop artists (and GFA's Dream Reborn music contest winners) Silent C and Invest, who say the are "inspired by their own mothers to honor the struggle and the courage of women around the world." Learn more about the artists as they talk about what inspired the making of the video.

GFA is also hosting a "Twitter Townhall" today with Phaedra Ellis-Lamkins (GFA CEO and expecting mother), Roberta Shields (Rapper Chris "Ludacris" Bridges' mother and President of The Ludacris Foundation ), and Ashara Ekundayo (Green For All Fellow, social entrepreneur and mother of DJ CAVEM.

Follow @greenforall and #StrongMoms today, May 10th at 11-11:30am PST, 2-2:30pm EST to take part in the conversation about motherhood, leadership and social change.

Meet your makers: Patagonia traces its clothing's origins


Getting some new duds in preparation for spring and summer's upcoming outdoor activities? Socially-conscious and environmentally-aware clothing maker Patagonia has updated its Footprint Chronicles project with an interactive map that allows you to track where and how your new windbreaker was made, and how it made the journey from where it was created to your particular corner of the world.

The Footprint Chronicles is a project the company launched in 2007 to both better inform the public about its supply chain and to help guide Patagonia in making better choices as a company. The newly-updated site now includes an interactive "Suppliers Map", which was inspired by their production team's old-fashioned, pushpin-laden world map. Click on any textile mill pin to read fact sheets about a particular supplier, or click on a factory pin to learn the basics about every place where Patagonia clothes are sewn. You can also view videos and slide shows about their key supply partners.

Patagonia Director of Environmental Strategy Jill Dumain says that when they originally launched the Footprint Chronicles project, the idea of corporate transparency made people nervous (especially the corporation). But now, she says, "Transparency is becoming an expectation." Watch the video as Dumain explains Patagonia's take on the new transparency and how they're empowering their customers to include social and environmental information in making purchasing decisions.