Saturday, November 29, 2008

Calling All Photographers...

We started this blog in the fall with a contest inspired by author Michael Pollan and the New York Times "Well Blog." The goal: to capture the spirit of a Wilderness Volunteers work project in words, seven to be exact. And our creative and dedicated wordsmiths have done just that, articulating the perils of volunteering amidst quicksand and Russian "invaders," the peace-inducing effects of Pulaski swinging and trail building, and the forging of friendships and timeless memories in the backcountry. The judges are weighing in, and the winner of WV's Seven Words of Wisdom contest will be announced shortly.

Which brings us, of course, to our next contest. It's been said that "a picture is worth a thousand words," which is a lot more than seven. Speaking in 1911 before the Syracuse Advertising Men's Club, newspaper editor Arthur Brisbane, in one of the earliest usages of this oft-repeated maxim, urged his audience:

"Use a picture. It's worth a thousand words."

Heeding Brisbane's wisdom, Wilderness Volunteers intends to do just that. We've captured the spirit of a WV work project in seven words; it's now time to capture it in a thousand - in a picture!

It's simple. We're looking for photos of folks working, hiking, hanging out - doing whatever you feel demonstrates the best of Wilderness Volunteers. Select up to four photos from any WV trips you've participated in, include the name and date of the project, as well as a brief caption describing the photo (humor appreciated), and email your entries to Mike Leonard at Prizes will be awarded for the top three submissions (one prize per entrant), and the contest will run until January 31st. First place wins a 27 oz. stainless-steel WV Klean Kanteen, second place a WV cap, and third place a WV bandanna. All entries will be posted and viewable online in the WV Photo Gallery.

Here's mine, taken before I understood the finer (err, basic...) points of photography:

"Tall grass in crisp focus with three blurry bull elk in background."

Aldo Leopold Wilderness, NM (July 2000)

And one more, taken when I realized the rest of us didn't either:

"How do I work this thing again?"

Leader Training Trip - John Muir Wilderness, CA (July 2006)

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Volunteering for Mother Nature

According to recent research by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, folks who volunteer on an environmental project are three times more likely to meet recommended levels of physical activity than those who don't. The training necessary to be in shape to maintain trails, remove fencing, erradicate invasive plants or backpack into a remote setting and spend a week doing manual labor is beneficial to your everyday life.

Personal health: Physical activity can control weight, control high blood pressure, reduce symptoms of depression and anxiety, prevent osteoporosis, improve balance and circulation, reduce risk of type 2 diabetes, heart attack and colon cancer, and increase your overall sense of health and well-being. The social interaction and teamwork during the project will increase your sense of empowerment and self-worth.

Environmental health: The physical effort during the project improves the condition of the environment by addressing the detrimental impacts of overuse, erosion, littering, etc. and creates a safer environment for the larger community.

A reporter once characterized a Wilderness Volunteers trips as a fantasy camp for anyone who ever dreamed of being park ranger or naturalist but found themselves working indoors instead.

Sign up for a trip, and then spend the time to be in great shape for it; you'll be glad you did!
John Moeller training for backpacking.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Cactus thorns go through gloves

The Wilderness Volunteers Board of Directors met for the annual meeting at Casa McLean in Tucson earlier this month. Before the meeting they did a day of work at Saguaro National Park, clearing the Cactus Forest Trail of plants encroaching into the trail corridor. This consisted of lopping and sawing a variety of spiny plants and then moving or throwing the cut pieces out of sight. The day was beautiful, the Sonoran Desert was lush, and the thorns were sharp!

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Seven Word Description: An Invitation

The New York Times "Well Blog" held a contest in January soliciting Seven Words of Wisdom, and the results were interesting and thought provoking. It was based on author Michael Pollan's (In Defense of Food) seven-word edict: "Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants." These are a couple of the winning submissions:

"Make promises. Don't break them. Find loopholes."
"Enter contests. Don't ignore rules. Try again."

and the winner was:

"Ate plants. A big heap. Still hungry."

I thought it would be fun for us Wilderness Volunteers to come up with our own seven-words (2-3-2) about doing a WV project. We'll start this blog with a contest. These are the rules:

Describe trips. Tell a story. Have fun.


Start writing. Post your comment. Seven words.

The winner will receive a limited-edition stainless carabiner mug with the WV logo. Contest ends November 31st.

My try:

Get outside. Have an adventure. Get dirty.