When I first came across the Lexicon of Sustainability project, my first thought was “Damn this is so cool! I wish I had thought of this!”. This project combines some of my biggest passions in life: photography, travel and food. I love that the photographers are using their skills to educate themselves and the public on the complicated terms used in the modern food system. I agree with their philosophy that “people can’t be expected to live more sustainable lives if they don’t even know the most basic terms and principles that define sustainability”. More information is never, ever a bad thing – although you can choose to ignore it at times (like when a funnel cake at the State Fair seems like the best idea in the world). Access to education, learning, knowledge is how change and improvement are born and I love that these photographers have found a creative way to do that.

My lovely little herb garden, on a bookcase in my apartment.

This is a subject that I have become more and more passionate about over that last few years. In many ways, it feels very natural. As a Midwestern girl, I come from a long line of farmers and “sustainable”, “local”, “real” foods are what my grandparents (and parents) grew up eating. They just called it “dinner” or “food”. I grew up eating from gardens and homemade canned items – not because of a “food philosophy” but because my brothers and I thought it was pretty cool that you could plant a carrot seed and a few months later have a carrot (and because my grandmothers lovingly kept our pantry full of home-canned tomatoes,  yummm).

The point of these ramblings are to say that I think the Lexicon of Sustainability is a wonderful project. I love that they’re educating the public. I love that they’re supporting small farmers. And I love that they’re using their photography to improve the world (in their own way).

Below are a couple videos from the Lexicon of Sustainability project. Enjoy.

What do you think of the project? What words would you like to see added?

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If you’re interested in learning more, these are a few of my favorite blogs*:

100 Days of Real Foods

Take Part – Food Blog

Deliciously Organic

Poor Girl Eats Well

Food Babe

*To be clear, I didn’t write these blogs so I don’t necessarily agree with 100% of the content. But, I think they’re all doing good things by encouraging people to know where their food comes from.

For the past couple of days, I’ve been working on a short video of the winners of this year’s Best of Photojournalism contest for the National Press Photographer’s Association‘s conference, Convergence 10.  As I’ve watched the winning pieces, I’ve felt so inspired by these photographers, videographers, and producers.  But, there is one story that immediately made an impression on me: “Leveling Appalachia: The Legacy of Mountaintop Removal Mining”.  This amazing video was a collaborative project by Yale e360, milesfrommaybe productions, and MediaStorm.

©2009 Yale University

“Leveling Appalachia” is about the practice of mountaintop removal mining which is destroying mountains and covering thousands of streams in southern West Virginia.  As the video shows, it has also affected the quality of the drinking water in the surrounding areas and has caused floods, though the WV Coal Association denies it.

Occasionally when I drive home to Ohio, I take a much more scenic, though slightly longer, route through West Virginia.  I drive right through the area focused on in this video and I am always stunned by the beautiful, mountainous scenery.  It breaks my heart to think that this area is slowly being destroyed.

On another note, I was incredibly impressed by this story.  The photography is amazing, the audio is impeccable, the story, compelling.  This and the other stories in this year’s Best of Photojournalism provide me with so much inspiration for my own projects.

I hope you take the time to watch this story and let me know what you think of it.

Click here for the story.

A photo from Frozen Land, Forgotten People (photo by Barbara Davidson, Copyright © 2010, The Los Angeles Times)

A couple of weeks ago I attended the Southern Short Course in News Photography.  It’s a conference that’s held in Charlotte, NC and it’s basically a weekend filled with guest speakers and workshops all related to News Photography.  I meet so many amazing photographers and learned more than my brain can hold.  I wanted to share the work of one of those photographers, Barbara Davidson of the LA Times.  Click here to view her multimedia piece, Frozen Land, Forgotten People.  This audio slideshow won in NPPA’s 2010 Best Of Photojournalism contest, taking first place in the News Audio Slideshow category for Web sites that are affiliated with a major media organization.  It’s a story about an area of Navajo land in northeaster Arizona that was affected by the so-called Bennett Freeze which halted all development on the land for 40 years.  While this ban has been lifted, this area is still severely poor and undeveloped.  It’s an incredible story told with beautiful photography and I was shocked that this exists in America.  I found this piece especially inspiring because I am currently working on a couple of audio slideshows myself.  At the Short Course, Barbara spoke about this project and talked about the shock she felt when traveling from LA to this area.  Please watch this story and let me know what you think.

[http://www.latimes.com/news/nationworld/nation/la-na-bennett-freeze-ss,0,760471.htmlstory ]