It's about time to write another blog post... This one will be about my recent decision to make a journey to Standing Rock in North Dakota to take part in the peaceful protests against the DAKOTA ACCESS PIPELINE. This issue has been weighing heavily on my mind for the past few months. Every single day there's some new development from Cannon Ball, where a pipeline is being constructed that is 1100 miles long, spanning four states and slated to cost $3.7 billion! Greg Abbott, the current governor of Texas, appointed Kelcy Warren as 1 of 10 commissioners to head up the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department. He does not embody the values and core mission statement of TPWD. Warren is also instrumental in the proposed construction of the Trans Peco Pipeline, which cuts directly through protected natural lands of Big Bend National Park, widely considered to be Texas's most revered nature destination. There's a petition to remove Kelcy as the chair of TPWD, which I strongly encourage you to sign HERE. At the time of writing, they only need 2,000 more signatures to enforce legal action.
I believe Standing Rock is a microcosm for the much larger energy crisis facing this country and the world. We need to begin transitioning to clean, sustainable energy solutions such as wind, solar, geothermal if we desire to leave a habitable environment for our children and many generations to come! The corporate interests that control this country are solely focused on generating profits for their shareholders, and consequently shortsighted for alternative ways of creating a brighter future. In the possible event of a pipeline rupture (long list of past accidents HERE), the oil would contaminate clean drinking water for millions of working class families along the Missouri River. When combined with the lower Mississippi River, this river system forms the world's fourth longest tributary! I think most logical people can agree that building a pipeline bordering such an vital river is incredibly asinine! It's analogous to the vein systems in your own body. If you want to survive into old age, it's not a good idea to clog them with cholesterol and fatty acids, preventing blood from reaching your heart and extremities.
And we mustn't overlook the obvious injustice being enacted on the indigenous peoples of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe. Over 300 different Native American tribes have come together in peaceful solidarity and prayer to oppose construction of the "Long Black Snake", as their ancient prophecy described the pipeline. This nation has treated Native American tribes with extreme disrespect, not to mention the mass genocide of their peoples, ever since the very beginning of settlement. This is yet another example of brutality and injustice being inflicted on the original inhabitants of this great country, all in the interest of corporate greed and corruption. In the collective voice echoed by protestors at the Texas Capitol, "You can't drink oil"!
It is for these reasons and more that I've decided to make the drive through New Mexico, Colorado, Wyoming, Montana, and into North Dakota. I'm going with a special lady in Austin whom I've known for nearly two years. It was only two weeks ago that Audrey mentioned the possibility of traveling to Standing Rock together. She also exclaimed, "If you don't stand for something, you'll fall for anything!" These inspiring words from Peter Parker AKA Spider-Man are still echoing in head. Many of my good friends are also passionate about this looming environmental issue and a grand vision has been calling me to this land since the initial dispute. So I decided to move out of my current residence at the end of November, donate my possessions to Habitat For Humanity, and follow my guiding light North! I believe every man or woman of reasonable talent, especially those with a creative, artistic mind needs a muse in their life. Someone who inspires them to get fully in touch with their heart source in order to ultimately fulfill their highest potential. It goes without saying that Audrey is that woman for me. Whether or not it turns into a thriving relationship is quite honestly beside the point. Every man needs a travel companion, and I don't want to make this voyage alone, as I have so many times before in my life! I'll be 30 years old on January 4th and this adventure is simply the next transition to finding myself whilst helping a unifying movement in the process.
I have already set the intention and put out feelers in an effort to work together closely with Myron Dewey, a prominent Sioux activist, media influencer, drone operator, and creator of DIGITAL SMOKE SIGNALS. I recently got a refund on my DJI Mavic Pro drone after waiting over a month for shipping. There was no guarantee it would arrive before our departure on December 5th, so I opted to put the funds toward travel expenses instead. However, I'm still on the fence about picking up a Phantom 3 Professional on the cheap from a member of the Austin Drone Pilots group before leaving. There's a very distinct possibility it will be shot down by militant police officers, so I'd rather not invest in the bleeding-edge tech quite yet. Ultimately, it boils down to a simple question of 'want' vs. 'need' as so many things often do. I want to capture the injustice being enacted on peaceful protestors in the name of revolution, but is it absolutely necessary for my own well-being? The answer is a resounding NO! What's most important is traveling safely along the road of dreams in love and happiness. We're asking for warm supplies and firewood to donate at Sacred Stone Camp. Temperatures are getting down into the low 20's now and the water cannons being used by abusive police are leading to cases of hypothermia. The full supply list is available HERE.
After spending 2 weeks, or however long it takes for President Obama to reach a final decision on the DAPL issue, we will continue onward and upward to Canada! I've been fantasizing for many months about exploring the many beautiful national parks of Canada; especially Banff, Yoho and Jasper National Parks near Calgary/Alberta. It's going to be freezing cold but that won't prevent me from traveling these enchanting lands and capturing beautiful landscapes along the way. In all honesty, going to Standing Rock is simply an excuse to fulfill my true calling, which is traveling Canada. In lieu of the recent elections in this country, I'm not entirely sure when I'll be back... Without getting too political, let me just say Donald Trump will be a disaster for this country! All you have to do is READ what he intends to do in his first day of office. There's already a political uprising taking place in the streets against a President that doesn't have the populace's best interest in mind. I wouldn't be surprised if many of these people didn't even vote in the first place. I would rather distance myself from all of the crude bullshit coming down the pipeline. ;)
In a more positive tone, I honestly blame Instagram for my overwhelming feelings of wanderlust as of late. Scrolling through my feed constantly turns up gorgeous digital photographs from around the world. As any self-reliant geek (labels are for jars) would do, I decided to compile an email list of my favorite influential Instagram photographers and began contacting them asking for opportunities to collaborate. The same goes for tour agencies in Iceland and other countries of interest for sponsorship. The majority of them opened the email and I've received mixed responses. Persistence is the key to success is so many facets of life. It's always better to open doors with strategic ideas and conversation now rather than later. I think many people often worry that they're not interesting or talented enough to have a meaningful conversation with a more influential person. Well, how do you think that person got to be where they are? If you don't put in the effort and think a little different from the crowd, you'll never grow to be the best version of yourself. "You have nothing to lose, everything to gain"! Take the risk and reap the benefits! My experience has taught me that success, whatever that means to you, is often fraught with many hurdles along the way. It's never immediate, but rather a series of social experiments and learning experiences, until eventually it clicks and you get it right! I'm certainly not there yet; life is a journey, not a destination. You should always be wary of anyone who claims to have everything figured out; they're either a liar or a downright fool.
In closing, I love the beautiful city of Austin, Texas for many reasons. I have a great community of close friends here; people who inspire me to achieve great things in life. However, there's nothing or no one tying me to the Lone Star State and I'd much rather invest in owning my passion for travel than struggle to pay rent for what's convenient. Life begins at the end of your comfort zone and it's time to spread my wings and fly North where I can be free! Have love, will travel! <3
Look forward to capturing iconic images at Standing Rock... Here's a few examples of photos from a recent protest/march to and from the Texas State Capitol.