Play

ECP-DSCF6918.jpg

I recently listened to an episode of the podcast, Mrs. Greens World. Her guests on this particular episode were two gentlemen that I greatly admire and respict. Namely, Jim Richardson (National Geographic Photographer) and Dennis Dimick (National Geographic Editor). I was lazily tuning in and out as one often does when listening to podcasts while commuting, when I heard Jim mention the “Anthropocene Epoch”. Now, when one of my favorite photographers starts dropping geo language, I pay attention. An hour and a half later the following were some of my thoughts.

ECP-DSCF6903.jpg

This post isn’t about the Anthropocene Epoch. As much as I’d love to dig more into the that, I’m going to focus on something else they discussed in the episode. Jim and Dennis both spoke about growing up on farms, and more generally, being raised in relationship with nature. For Jim it was his family farm in Kansas and for Dennis his parent’s sheep farm in the Willamette Valley of Oregon (I’ll take the latter). Both spoke fondly about spending lots of time in touch with the land. Whether it was farming, gardening, camping or simply playing outside, they spoke with the nostalgia of a parent rummaging through their children’s old baby photos. They spoke though, as if children these days don’t play outside… at all.

While I think that is indeed the growing norm for today’s youth, listening to them made me first, thankful for my own childhood where playing outside was a huge part of growing up and second, reflect on a recent camping trip I took with my older brother, sister-in-law, wife and most importantly, niece. I loved watching my niece Luci for those two days. Ceaselessly it seemed, she was on the run, playing with rocks, sticks, pine-cones and just about anything she could get her hands on. She was constantly making up games. At one point she and I were running ahead of “the army” to deliver a “very important message” to the Queen. I never learned exactly what that message was or why it was so vital that we succeed in delivering it, but there was no doubt that it was of the utmost importance that we find the Queen. Unfortunately for the Queen, PB&Js precluded delivery. All day Luci’s imagination fabricated hostage situations, magic objects, entire story-lines that seemed to flow forth from nothing then just as quickly evolve into something entirely different. It was beautiful. I found myself envying her creativity. How a simple piece of sandstone, in concert with a pine branch, could become the key to not drowning as we floated down the Nile River on my brother’s sleeping pad.

ECP-DSCF6934.jpg
ECP-DSCF6953.jpg

I think this is precisely the type of behavior that Jim and Dennis suggest is an uncommon commodity these days. In an age of pocket entertainment where industry standards are pivoting to videos that last no longer than 30 seconds (because that’s the average limit of a child’s attention), children aren’t challenged to be creative. According to an article published in the New York Times, the average age that a child receives their first smartphone has trended younger and younger and currently sits around the age of 10.

In their 2018 study published in the Journal of Neuroscience and Biobehavioral Reviews, Nijhof et al. focus on long-lasting negative childhood chronic diseases and discuss consequences that are “likely the result of a reduced possibility for play in these children.” They go on to discuss “play” as “multidimensional” and describe the five dimensions of play: “(1) highly active games such as chasing, rough-and-tumble play and play fighting, (2) pretend and socio-dramatic play, (3) language play, (4) social play and games with rules and (5) and construction play”. They argue that healthy play in adolescence, (which includes 10-year-olds, as well as anyone less than 23 years old,) is vital to physical, social/emotional, cognitive and language development. They further posit that stimulating play behavior enhances the adaptability of a child to a “(chronic) stressful condition… thereby strengthening the basis for their future health.” While they don’t discuss it directly, I struggle to see where YouTube and Netflix fit into the equation.

The recognition of the importance of playing and getting outside is not at all a new one, and yet there is no arguing that children today play less, especially outside, than their predecessors. Why is that?

While I don’t have the answer, I do have a wonderful niece that I’ll continue to play with every chance I get, because her health now, her health as an adult and subsequently the health of the society that she grows into depends on it more than we know.

Long time no... read?

Last time I blogged on this website was quite a while ago. Since then lots of life has happened, including but not limited to, getting married, grad school… yep, that about sums it up. Long story short, I’m going to try and get back into the swing of things (as they say). I’m currently in my second year of my M.S. of Geology program, so I don’t know about the frequency with which I’ll be able to post, but my hope is to be better about it. So this is my semi-public (“semi” because I don’t expect to reach much of an audience having been silent for a while) declaration that I’m back at it.

Photos and videos from the past couple of years to come… Teaser: this includes media from a month of field work in Wyoming and a trip to New Zealand among other stuff!

Cheers,

-Ethan

Me after a month of field work in Wyoming this past May. Yes, those are overalls. #comeatmebro #overalls4thewin

Me after a month of field work in Wyoming this past May. Yes, those are overalls. #comeatmebro #overalls4thewin

Thailand Video

Time is a fickle thing. Despite living in Thailand for 6 months of the past year, my time there feels like an eternity ago. Putting together this video has been a difficult endeavor. First, its been tough simply finding the time to do so, more significantly, however, revisiting my time there has been emotionally taxing. As anyone who has forced themselves out of their own comfort zones knows, there is a freedom, a liberation of self found beyond that threshold. It becomes particularly notable when you return to find that threshold further out than it previously was. Naturally, that experience is an emotional one. Sifting through my hours of footage to compile this 5 minute video has been a condensed revisitation of that emotional journey punctuated by the fact that my time in that incredible country is a thing of the past. This video (like most of my videos) serves more as a selfish and narcissistic diary of my time than anything else. For that reason I'd like to thank those of you who do watch it for taking the time to empathetically glimpse an experience of mine that will forever be an important one in my life.

The Best Medicine

Returning from Thailand has been a whirlwind of reverse culture shock. In a matter of 2 weeks I returned to CO--while my girlfriend went home to OR--walked back into my job for corporate America and moved into and apartment in Denver. Needless to say, its been a bizarre and abrupt transition from Thai time to American time (and I mean that with respect to more than just timezones). About 5 days after getting back I needed to escape. I was dealing with everything pretty well, but I needed to decompress. So I took my cameras to the mountains. Spending time documenting beautiful things is not only one of my favorite things to do, but I also find it epically cathartic. It just so happened that I escaped on a perfect night for some astro-photography. No clouds and a new moon made for a bitterly cold but beautiful night. Having spent the last 6 months at 0ft. of elevation, spending the night at 12,000ft. was a bit taxing. Some minor altitude sickness and general chill aside, I sorely needed the mountainous medication.

An apology

I have to apologize for not keeping up to date on my blog and website here. I'm currently experiencing some pretty frustrating computer issues i.e. random shutdowns, overheating, possibly some RAM issues, graphics issues and a couple other things. I'm doing my best to trouble shoot things while living in a place without any IT stores let alone computer people that speak english. Just today i tried to find a can of compressed air to clean out my fans and was unable to do so. Its looking increasingly like i'll have to wait to get home to really diagnose this issue(s) and even then it might be a new computer for me... which i might not be able to afford immediately. As such I apologize for the fall off on my website and other such social media spheres.

A Day in the #teacherlife

A while back Marika posted a "Day in the life" post in our travel blog (https://ethikaoutandabout.wordpress.com/). It inspired me to put together a "day in the #teacherlife" video. While the video by no means captures the happenings of everyday, especially the crazy stuff (i.e. the snake in my classroom today), it serves to illustrate the goings on of an average day for me. Hope you enjoy!

This blog

The first post on any blog is always an awkward declaration of something or another. For my last blog initiation, I posted about how my mom would likely be the only person to read the blog. While the same holds true for this blog, this blog also serves as a platform for me to document my thoughts on certain things. In all likelihood, I'll simply share and write about photography of mine, but in all honesty, I don't know what this blog will become, or where it will take me. Until then, I'll keep clicking my shutter release.

-Ethan