Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Oregon Thanksgiving memories

My dad's "leaning outhouse of Pisa." I have to admit I worry a little bit about it falling over while I'm in it! Copyright © 2013 Wendee Nicole

Right now I'm on the MIT campus in a 3-day Knight Science Journalism Energy & Climate Boot Camp I was accepted into. There have been some fascinating lectures, not to mention fascinating journalists doing cool work. I'm in the process of planning travel to Uganda, and hopefully to the Workshop in Political Theory and Policy Analysis in Indiana which Elinor Ostrom and her husband founded, both as part of the Mongabay Special Reporting Initiative which I am now working on.

But first, I wanted to share my photos from Thanksgiving at my dad's in Oregon. But before THAT, I have to share my latest articles!

  • Meeting the Needs of the People: Fish Consumption Rates in the Pacific Northwest. (or non-pdf version here. I'm proud of this piece, and it got a lot of positive attention.
    Native Americans have lived amidst the Pacific Northwest’s pristine rivers and estuaries for millennia, relying on bountiful catches of local fish and shellfish for their sustenance. Because Pacific Northwest tribal populations typically consume much more fish and shellfish than other people in the region,1 they are exposed to higher levels of toxic chemicals that bioaccumulate in aquatic life—polychlorinated biphenyls, metals, dioxins, and dozens of other toxics found in factory effluent, urban wastewater, and runoff from agriculture and cities.2,3 As a result, they—along with other groups that eat a lot of fish—face higher risks of developing cancer and other diseases attributable to these chemicals.
  • PFOA and Cancer in a Highly Exposed Community: New Findings from the C8 Science Panel. PFOA is the stuff that lines Teflon pans, popcorn bags, and waterproof jackets. This is a news piece that followed another I did last year: Pregnancy-Induced Hypertension “Probably Linked” to PFOA Contamination
  • I have a cool piece on a sustainable hog farm in North Carolina coming out in Discover Magazine's Notes from Earth department in April

And in no particular order…here are some images from my dad's place and my trip to Oregon. I didn't take any at Thanksgiving dinner - I was so busy eating the yummy food!

Before I went to dad's cabin for Thanksgiving, I spent a few days with my 7th grade BFF Kelli in Portland, and we went to her mom's cabin in Welches, OR and her family's restaurant, Skyway Bar & Grill - yum! I hadn't seen her mom since 7th grade!!
Kelli and I. She thinks she looks like a vampire here - haha!
Kelli and I at Skyway Bar & Grill. Her cousin gave us these cool tshirts from there!

During the trip, I got together with my two nieces, Kira (who was driving down to see my brother - her dad - with my mom and stepdad), and Mehz and her fiancé Jordan. Mehz is my brother's oldest daughter who was adopted through an open adoption 24 years ago.

Kira and I. She's growing up so fast!
Mehz and her fiance Jordan.
The frame of my dad's cabin

This ferny paradise looks so primeval! This is just down the driveway, before turning onto the rock road my dad's cabin is off of.

This was the forest of my youth. This fuzzy tree is just down the road from my dad's property. Love these huge mossy trees. My brother and I used to think we were so strong by pushing over old/dead still-standing trees. :)
A view of the cabin from the side. The front part is a greenhouse with plants.

The woodbox for the wood stove.
Ferns in the forest on my walk.

A view of the garden with the cabin in the distance

Another shot of the garden

Dad and Bev love to garden and I got to enjoy its bounty, both at Thanksgiving and in the stuff I got to take home.

Mint, sage, and a pumpkin from the garden.
Bev gave me homemade, canned salsa - with all the ingredients direct from the garden! It was sooooo delish. And the raspberry jam - Oh.My.God!!! Heaven!! I need to go back when the razzleberries are berrying in summer.
A mossy tree - maybe a huckleberry? Or maple.

I got to stop by the elementary school I attended in 3rd and 4th grade, Highland Park. What a trip!

I peaked inside a bit and took a photo before school folk came and chased me off because school was in session. I remember that my classrooms were upstairs.
This is a view just outside the "mud room" and the main entrance.

A view right from the cabin of the sun through the trees.

When dad harvested some trees from this part of his property, he kept these three trees, which was where my brother and my tree house was located. They're bigger than they look in the picture.

Me, hugging a very large tree on my walk down the road.

Trees and sky...
Dad built what he and Bev affectionately call the "West Wing" about a decade ago. It wasn't there when I grew up. This is where I stay when I visit.

The road… I like to walk from the cabin a mile or so up the road to get some exercise.

This makes me sad… This was a tree stump on dad's property. In Oregon you have to replant when you log, but those trees are still very small and young. I somehow managed to not get any good pics of dad and Bev so I leave you with this awesome pic from their wedding rehearsal in 2009 - laughing as they often are!

Thursday, December 12, 2013

A visit to our nation's capital city!

A cool elephant sculpture at the Smithsonian National Zoo in Washington. DC. Copyright © 2013 Wendee Nicole

So at the end of October, I took a trip to DC to visit my friend Joe. The first thing we did was go see animals at the zoo! There were like a dozen otters running back and forth in their territory and it was the coolest thing ever! It was my second visit to the National Zoo. The first one was after taking my daughter to DC with her school class in 2006 (I blogged here)! I'd taken a separate flight and had extra time so went there to explore. There's a pic of the giant panda on that blog post, but they weren't on display this trip.

Loved this wall of panda stuffies in the gift shop!!

The main reason for my trip waste attend the Center for American Progress' 10-year anniversary conference, which included keynotes by Al Gore and John Kerry. I sat in the back of the room & this is an iPhone pic, but it's something! Seriously, Al Gore was on fire! He gave a dynamite speech!!

I love this picture of Joe & I at the Spy Museum! The museum was really cool. 
Joe in a Russian hat at the Spy Museum gift store. We both have Russian/Jewish ancestors! 
My grandfather was a Russian Jew. Like the Russian hat?
Hahaha I LOVED MAD Magazine as a kid! This brought back memories. 

We went for a walk to an awesome Korean restaurant Mandu for dinner with my friend Heidi and her guy Randy. This pic didn't turn out great but the sunset over the bridge was really nice. It was a lot of fun!

Sunday, December 01, 2013

Mongabay Prize for Environmental Reporting!

Ferns in Oregon. Copyright © 2013 Wendee Nicole

I'm thrilled to announce that I was awarded the first Mongabay Prize for Environmental Reporting! You can read the announcement here: Prize exploring the next big idea in rainforest conservation announced

The prize sought proposals to explore the question of "What's the next big idea in tropical biodiversity conservation?". After a two-month application window and a month of deliberations, this week an independent panel of journalists, conservation practitioners, and tropical forest specialists selected environmental journalist Wendee Nicole as the first recipient of the Mongabay Prize for Environmental Reporting. 

Nicole's reporting will examine the wider topic of innovation in tropical biology conservation, with focus on polycentric governance in Uganda and Peru. Her work will center around the late Nobel Prize-winning economist Elinor Ostrom's theories of polycentric governance and decentralization: putting power in the hands of locals. Nicole will spend time in both countries, interviewing on-the-ground actors and looking at the struggle to combat poverty while preserving shared resources like forests and biodiversity. In the process, Nicole will produce a series of articles on what's working and what's not in the world of forest conservation.

The 6-month, $20,000 grant will allow me to travel to Uganda and Peru to report on projects that exemplify polycentric governance. Though that's a mouthful, it is a very important and exciting concept. Ever heard of the "tragedy of the commons" where people are thought to always act selfishly and therefore deplete a common patch of land, such as the classic example of livestock overgrazing? Ostrom reviewed myriad real-life scenarios as well as conducting her own behavioral research and found that sharing a commons does not always end a tragedy. Rather than taking power away from local people and putting it in the hands of a national government, she found that giving local people a say and allowing them to have an influence on rules related to managing a forest, grassland, a fishery, or public health will allow sustainable management of that common good. It's cool stuff, and as my last post on "Mini miracles in Chattanooga" mentioned, I felt like I knew a trip to Uganda to see mountain gorillas and report on the amazing work of Conservation Through Public Health (CTPH) was destined after I ran into Dr Gladys (CTPH founder) at the Society of Environmental Journalists conference.

Here's a link to my bio and project info on the Mongabay Special Reporting Initiative Fellows page. I can't tell you how thrilled I am that I will be traveling to Uganda to be face to face with mountain gorillas within a few months!! I have been rereading George Schaller's Year of the Gorilla and need to get another copy of Dian Fossey's Gorillas in the Mist because mine is falling apart.

I just returned from a week in Oregon, and will post some photos from my trip soon. First I still have a post from a visit I made to DC in October. I'm getting behind on my blog!