This evening I had the opportunity to attend the Rowell Award Ceremony in downtown San Francisco. I found out about this event shortly after my return from a recent trip to the Wave in the Paria Canyon-Vermilion Cliffs Wilderness Area. On the way back home I had the opportunity to visit Galen Rowell’s Mountain Light Gallery in Bishop, California. I wrote about the experience in a blog entry titled Point of Reflection. Viewing Galen’s large prints and learning more about him piqued my interest in anything Galen so it seemed serendipitous to learn of this event and its timing.
The ceremony as you might expect was dominated by the memory of the late and great Galen Rowell and his wife Barbara Rowell. The evening was well balanced as a whole including the award ceremony and a lecture given by Tom Brokaw titled “Deleting the Virtual World”. The award ceremony lasted all of 10-15 minutes and included a speech by this year’s winner Beth Wald.
Beth in her acceptance speech paid honor to her close and fallen friend Todd Skinner as well as family and friends. I found her interpretation of “what photography means to me” to be quite interesting. As she stated its a “way to bring the world to others” and “show the impact of environmental devastation”. The two areas that she has been working the most as of late are in Patagonia and Afghanistan. In Patagonia she has been photographing Gaucho Life and Culture. In Afghanistan she has been photographing and showing elements of the land and culture beyond current headlines. In addition, with UN funding, has been training Afghan photojournalists enabling them to capture local stories about environment, culture and conservation. It was noted that she’s been working with Dr. George Schaller photographing landscapes, people and wildlife in an area that expands across Tajikistan, China and Afghanistan where they hope a Peace Park will be created. The sample of photographic work shown during her acceptance speech was impressive to say the least. She certainly was worthy of the Rowell Award.
Tom Brokaw’s lecture “Deleting the Virtual World” was incredibly interesting. It may be worth checking the Commonwealth Clubs site for a podcast of his speech. I’ll likely be looking for it to listen to it again. In a nutshell his speech touched on; the environmental leadership opportunity available to the United States, breaking away from virtual ties to address issues and raise awareness, and most importantly to nurture the legacy of predecessors (ignoring political allegiances) to create a culture of global citizens. His lecture was very poignant and well crafted. I can’t say I agreed with it 100% as I think the “virtual world” offers a great avenue for naturalists and conservationists to educate others in a way print and television cannot. I can see his viewpoint being involved with television for so long, but the message of conservation needs to be flexible and move to where the target audience resides. Regardless his message and delivery made the evening very worthwhile. I’d classify his lecture up there with the best I’ve seen including speeches/lectures by the Dalai Lama, Bill Clinton and Stephen Hawking.