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And then the unimaginable happened…

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Just when this family had returned to their home from the hospital…

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And just as they were starting to come to terms with what their new life would be like fighting the rare form of cancer that was discovered in their four-year-old son…

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Ron Powell, EZ’s father, died suddenly Sunday morning on February 2nd, 2014.

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He died in his sleep, with his family around him. They believe that he suffered from massive cardiac arrest.

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Along with the entire West Marin community and anyone who knew Ron Powell, I am in complete shock and utterly heartbroken for this family. Ron was an incredibly kind person, with a beautiful smile and he was truly loved by everyone.

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Please consider helping this family, as they now face an even harder road than they could have ever imagined possible. Ezequiel still has a long fight ahead without his father’s support.

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And on top of learning her four-year old son has cancer, and then two weeks later losing her best friend and husband, Alex has to figure out how to financially support her family while remaining strong for both children.

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Overcoming this nightmare seems impossible… but there is hope… over 30,000 people have visited this blog post in the past two days… if every person donated just $10… that would be an incredible gift of love and financial relief for Alex, Lu and EZ.

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Donations can be made via PayPal or at any Wells Fargo branch by referencing the RONEIL POWELL MEMORIAL FUND. Please denote “Gift Donation” on your transaction. The Federal Taxpayer ID # for the Roneil Powell Memorial Fund is: 46-4722983, Wells Fargo, County of San Francisco, Ca.

The RONEIL POWELL MEMORIAL FUND was established for the deposit of gift donations by the community for the sole benefit of the Powell/Porrata Family during this cancer crisis. The RONEIL POWELL MEMORIAL FUND is not a California 501(c) nonprofit organization. Please consult your financial professional for tax advise regarding your gift.

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Thank you for sharing this post and for supporting this family. Now please go tell your family you love them, because life is insanely short and it doesn’t give you any warning… the majority of the above photos were taken in March 2013… less than one year ago.

Green Gala Goddesses…

The University of California Botanical Gardens at Berkeley had their Green Gala Fundraiser today. The highlight of the event was definitely the fashion show of sustainable and local designs held in their stunning Redwood Grove Amphitheater. The eco-chic designers used inspiration directly from the Garden’s uniquely biodiverse plant collection to create two original designs that feature natural fibers and plant-based dyes.

The UC Botanical Gardens are a wonderful Bay Area resource, so I was happy to come and support their event. But really who doesn’t love running around in the redwoods photographing beautiful women in amazing clothes? To see more photos of the event click here.

My only regret is that I didn’t have more time to play. Because as it turns out, I think I am secretly falling in love with fashion photography… well, maybe not all fashion photography, but at least local sustainable fashion photography.

So if you are a local designer and you want your fashion photographed… I am inspired and ready to play.

Fog, Sheep and Cheese at Barinaga Ranch…


| View Show | Create Your Own

It is MALT time again for me, which means I get to go explore amazing ranches in West Marin and document what goes on, for MALT’s (Marin Agricultural Land Trust) annual report.

This time I went to Barinaga Ranch. The owners, Marcia Barinaga and her husband Corey Goodman, wanted to buy a farm and retire in West Marin. But they quickly decided that they didn’t want to retire in the usual way, instead they decided to keep the land in agriculture by raising sheep for cheese. Neither having grown up on a ranch, they had a lot to learn.

But they have been learning quickly, and only a few years after they purchased the land, they now have their very first cheese available on the market this fall. Some of the places you can find their cheese are: Oliver’s in Santa Rosa, Cowgirl Creamery and Osterina Stellina, in Point Reyes Station.

Messy… but cool…

Here is just one more photo… well really there are 19 more photos in this one photo…. from my night at the JB Blunk Residency that I have been posting about… the photos that were lost but not really lost.

Anyway, I wanted to try and show the amazing scope of the environment, but I wasn’t getting it with even my widest lenses. And I have never been able to afford a panoramic camera that I have wanted for years and years. So I decided to create a 180º sequence in photoshop using the Photomerge tool… which I have only used once before. For this photo, I stood on the railing and took about 30 photos, which are pretty borring on their own.

And tonight I made this! It’s kind of messy… but really fun. I am going to clean it up and play with other merge options, but I thought it was useful to see how it looks before it is tucked in around the edges.

Just Like Fishing…

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In my last post, I confessed that I “lost” some files. And just like fishing, those were the ones that got away… so I raved and raved about how great those photos were and I woefully mourned their loss.

Well, today I found them.

I think they were bigger and better swimming in my memory. But I did get the beautifully made bed photo that I wanted, so I feel a little better after-all.

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Photography Lesson number 2 in 2009… save your files in the correct folders the first time.

J.B. Blunk Residency…

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If you are an artist who is need of a quiet and inspiring place to recharge your creative spirit and make some serious art… then you should look into the J.B. Blunk Residency. You can read all about it on their website, so I won’t go into too much detail here… but I will say, it is absolutely amazing – inside and out!

Everywhere you look you see something inspiring…. the view of Tomales Bay and Black Mountain that you can’t escape from if you try, the wall of handcarved wood, the sculptures in every corner, the huge workshop stocked with anything you need, the cozy wood-stove that warms your entire being…

I was only there for one night and I am a believer.

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And now for my confession… I was so proud of myself.

We arrived in perfect time, right before the sun disappeared for the evening, so I ran around and photographed every possible angle – inside and out. And then after the sun was down, I sat in front of the fire and edited all the photos to perfection.

I was so happy to have such a head start on this project that I didn’t realize I hadn’t copied the files to my computer, instead I was editing them from the card reader. And then… I promptly erased the card so that it would be ready to go for my sunrise session. But I didn’t realize my mistake until days later when I franticly searched for those perfectly edited files.

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So that explains why the only photo I have of the bedroom is the one with the messy bed – while beautiful even messy, it is not exactly the scene you would put in a brochure. I took a zillion photos the night before, with the room all perfect and the sunset shining through the window… and all of those photos are gone. I am heartbroken and haunted by all those lost photos. But… the good news… I learned my first lesson in 2009.

Copy files first – then edit – then double check.

Argh.


Dallas: their words with my photographs…

I was hired by Re:Vision to go to Dallas and find people to tell the story of Dallas. Re:vision is hosting an architectural contest to build a community in one city block of downtown Dallas. Their premise is, “building community one city block at a time.” So Re:Vision wanted to show the architects a multimedia piece that would help them design a community that will fit the wants and needs of the people of Dallas… and they hired me (insert huge smile here) to do so.

Just in case you don’t know me… this is exactly the kind of documentary work I want to do in life!

The multimedia piece is still under construction, but because it has been such a long time since my last post,  I wanted to at least share something from my amazing journey. And because the Rolleiflex photos don’t work as well in the multimedia piece, I thought I would let them shine on their own here.

So, below you will find a series of photographs and quotes from many different Dallas residents. The photographs do not necessarily line up with the quotes, meaning the faces might not match the voices. This is just an experiment, so please feel free to leave your critiques in the comments below.

I hope you enjoy getting to know Dallas as much as I did.

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“How does the rest of The World see Dallas? Nobody knows how The World sees Dallas.”

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“We’re going from a typical American 1950’s city, where people went to work and everyone lived out and around. We are trying hard to create a downtown area where people can live, work, and play… a dense, urban, vibrant, fun downtown.”

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“Having a place around which the community meets is enormously important and you don’t realize it until you get to a place where it doesn’t happen.”

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“Nobody walks here, so you don’t meet people and share a sense of space and community.”

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“That is why community is around church, high school football and The Cowboys.”

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“You’ve got all that space. You can take any one of a number of thoroughfares and it’s amazing how far out the Dallas Area Metroplex goes. And then when you finally get out there and it is The West in the movies.”

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“Community in suburbs is tough because the architecture creates islands. You close your door at the back and you don’t see each other. You come and you go, and it’s just classic.”

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“It’s just a big old sprawling, sunbelt, southern, western, nutty, consumer, crazy… it’s just classic. It’s the best of the best and the worst of the worst in this genre of community.”

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“The question is, do you need a core anymore? Does the core matter? I think it should. For density. We’re supposed to get 5 million people over the next 25 years, where are you going to put them?”

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“Dallas has the largest amount of open land. To be efficient and good stewards of the environment, we have to work on density. We can’t move people up the highway further and further.”

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“Today there is the economic segregation that was brought about by racial segregation. Now the Black middle class is gone.”

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“This city will not be successful until it talks about education. Over 90% of kids in the Dallas Independent School District qualify for free or reduced lunches.”00930004

“So, the number one problem facing Dallas, is reducing poverty.”

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“I think a lot of people have a good life here and are real happy about it. Happy to take their kids out of Dallas schools and put them in private schools or suburban schools.”

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“Other people who aren’t doing so well, they find joy in their lives, but they would find more joy with better opportunities. If we could get together, we could create a community that would work better for everyone.”

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“This project could be the rallying point. By saying, “This is what it means to be community. This is what it means to come together, and to have access to the tools we need, and define our own values and goals, to execute this as a group and a neighborhood.””

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“Dallas is a minority majority city with one third Black, one third White, one third Latino… and the Latino population is growing. We’ll be more than 50% Latino in 20 years.”

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“Most people here aren’t from here. A lot of the ideas here came from other places, but it’s still Texas. It has that real quality.”

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“It’s a lot more cosmopolitan than people give it credit for. When I travel everyone thinks it’s a backwards hick town because of that stupid show in the 70’s. People get past that and its an OK place.”

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“Dallas is playing catch up. It’s a vibrant city that doesn’t know it is vibrant. So much culture, but so little comes to the surface, you have to find it.”

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“Downtown Dallas made a mistake when it decided to bury its pedestrian life. We have underground tunnels with businesses, as a result you don’t see people, they are all moles underground.”

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“I fight The Underground everyday of my life. You can spend the whole day in the air-conditioning without ever going outside. My opinion is that it’s the downfall of downtown. But slowly people coming up to the street level.”

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“We all sort of live in a bubble and we don’t see the rest of the world. We certainly don’t see it through the eyes of people that live there, or work there, or pray there.  Sometimes we don’t even know it exists and we make a lot of judgements thinking we know the world, when we don’t.”

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“I think 80% of Dallas cares; there has just never been a way to get involved to bring it together.”

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“Because of the cost of fuel, people are coming back downtown, so we have an opportunity to plan development and new pockets of life. It will be interesting to see what happens downtown.”

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“Dallas needs to start to figure out what we can do as a city to make life better for everyone… easier, less expensive with green building and mass transit. Dream bigger.”

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“Things change. Maybe they will revert back to being more compact, to where people exercise more, save energy, start walking, and say, “hello,” to people.”

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“We are on the cutting edge of some things, and we are behind the times on some things, but we are going to get there.”

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“Dallas knows where it needs to go.”

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“It’s one of the World’s great cities. It is only going to get better because the people I know who are involved are all working on it. There is not a person here that doesn’t want to work on it. There’s lots to be done and it’s promising.”

Get to know your food, farmers and the tools they use…

Farming has changed greatly over the last two generations, as Gene Ponica knows that first hand. He says, growing up on a dairy ranch was not fun for a kid. But the dairy cows are long gone these days. It was too expensive and challenging to upgrade all the old equipment to meet today’s strict dairy standards, so now the only cows on Poncia’s 700 acre West Marin ranch are beef cattle… and, that means, for the first time in his life, Gene has time to go fishing.

For the 2008 Annual Report for MALT (The Marin Agricultural Land Trust,) the theme was: Tools of the Trade. So I went to four different ranches and photographed tools old and new to help illustrate some of the changes that farming has gone through over the years.

These are some samples of where farming has come from…

I was told that in the “old days” ranchers were very resourceful… because they could not afford to buy new fancy equipment, they often had to build a lot of their tools, in order to make their chores a little easier. I saw lots of homemade tractors, and my favorite… the milking track shown in the photo below. These old carts ran on a track around the barn to distribute the hay, that dropped from the barn above, to the cows waiting to be milked in the barn below.

Then I saw some tools that were used in the “old days” and that are still going strong today… like The Straus Family Creamery’s organic milk bottling and washing machines. It was such a beautiful process to watch. And as a quick aside: Albert Straus is absolutely the nicest (extremely successful) business man I have ever met… all of his employees in the office and the factory clearly like and respect him. It is refreshing to know that a good man is behind a good product… and it makes me feel good to buy that beautiful milk bottle in the grocery store, even if it is more than my budget would like, because good quality products are not cheap.

And then I got to experience a modern milking industry in action… and I saw the process of cheese making from start to finish, at the Giacamini Ranch, where they make Pt. Reyes Blue Cheese.

Definitely no milking by hand here, because in order to keep up with their demand, they need to milk over 300 cows in 5 hours. And the secret to their rapid success… this handy little machine below…

I have spent many hours milking cows by hand… and I am really glad I had not seen this machine during that time period, because I didn’t fully understand how easy it could have been…. no spilled milk, or hours of hand cramping milking, in this super sterile barn.

Then all that milk ends up here… where the rest of the magic begins…

And the beautiful final products…. cheese…. and manure. The cheese is carefully packaged and shipped off to grocery stores across the US… and the manure is carefully collected, processed and diverted from the waterways… in order to protect our environment for the next generation of farmers and consumers.

My conclusion… get to know where your food comes from… how it is made and who is making it… and you will appreciate it all a whole lot more. Support your local organic farmers and cows.

Trying to wow with my cows… and one sheep…

For the last three years, I have been lucky to get assignments for MALT, the Marin Agricultural Land Trust. I do all kinds of things for them, including, documenting events like Taste of Marin, and their hikes on MALT protected ranches. It has been a wonderful partnership, because I have been able to go places that I wouldn’t normally get to go to and meet people who I wouldn’t meet otherwise.

And for the past couple of weeks, I have been trying to collect images for their Annual Report. The theme is ‘tools of the trade.’ I will post some of those photos next. But in addition to tools, Elisabeth also wanted powerful overall landscape photos… photos that show nature, with a slight trace of human impact and some animals. My first round of photos weren’t so impressive… which isn’t surprising because landscapes really are not my specialty.

So, I had one last night to try again… but it is challenging with our bright blue cloudless skies, because without anything interesting in the sky, it puts all the pressure is on the landscape itself… and the window of opportunity for good landscape light lasts about 10 minutes… and then it is gone. So it is a game of wait…wait…wait…wait…wait….then…. go-go-go-go-go…. and then it’s over… until next year’s Annual Report… so I hope, with these photos, I got what she wanted.

The Women Behind Biofuel Oasis…

Today I got to meet the women of Biofuel Oasis.

Biofuel Oasis was founded in 2003 to provide greater access to biodiesel, a renewable fuel that reduces harmful tailpipe emissions. They are a women/worker-owned & operated cooperative that values sustainability, local production, and community.

And it is a very exciting year for this group. Not only is their business in the middle of the whole alternative-energy political swirl, but they are moving to a beautiful new station in Oakland in a couple of months, and most importantly… they now have new photos by paige green photography. Wow, it’s a big year indeed.

I enjoyed my quick glimpse into the bio-diesel world of these rad women, although the priority of this trip was to take formal photos, so I didn’t get to see them in action as much as I would have liked. But I guess that just means I will have to make another trip.

If only my little Honda, Ralph, were a diesel and if I lived in the East Bay, then I would most certainly go to them for all my biodiesel needs, but unfortunately Ralph isn’t and I don’t, so the best I can do is to tell all you… so if you live in the East Bay and you have biodiesel needs then these are the women to go to.


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