Jane Goodall Changing the World

The Difference One Person Can Make

Written by SurfWriter Girls Sunny Magdaug and Patti Kishel

“Every single day each of us makes an impact on the planet,” says anthropologist and primate specialist Dr. Jane Goodall.  The question we have to ask ourselves, she says, is: “What kind of impact it will be?”

For Goodall, who was born on April 3, 1934, the answer has been to spend her lifetime studying wild chimpanzees and protecting them from extinction.

Goodall’s goal has been to “use the gift of our life to make the world a better place” – something that is more important than ever now.

Goodall, who first traveled to Tanzania in 1960 at the age of 26, was the first person to immerse herself in the chimpanzees’ natural habitat and study their unique society as a “neighbor,” rather than an outsider.

Through her observations, Goodall discovered that chimpanzees had many social behaviors similar to humans – both good and bad – and were able to make and use tools, such as modifying twigs to dig for termites.

Launching her work because of a love for animals, Goodall, who had no college training in the beginning, went on to receive a doctorate from Cambridge University and start and support a variety of animal advocate and environmental groups, including the Jane Goodall Institute.

In addition to focusing on chimps and the ecosystems around them, Goodall’s approach to conservation looks at the needs of local people and the environment.

She is the author of numerous books and articles, including My Life With the Chimpanzees, In the Shadow of Man, Reason for Hope, and Seeds of Hope.

Frequently speaking around the world, Goodall has received many awards – the Order of the British Empire, United Nations Messenger of Peace Award, French Legion of Honor, Kyoto Prize, and Benjamin Franklin Medal in Life Sciences.

Whether it’s protecting the Earth, its animals or mankind, Dr. Jane Goodall continues to show us that each of us can make a difference and effect positive change when we take the time to understand and care about others.

“Change happens by listening and then starting a dialogue”

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Frank Lloyd Wright Honored

Eight UNESCO World Heritage Sites

 

Written by SurfWriter Girls Sunny Magdaug and Patti Kishel

In the world of architecture, no name is more highly revered than Frank Lloyd Wright (1867-1959). So, when the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) recently designated eight of his buildings as World Heritage Sites it was cause for celebration.

A design genius inspired by nature to create iconic structures perfectly suited to their environments, Wright designed more than 1,000 structures.

The master builder of the 20th century, Wright changed the idea of how buildings should look with his open concept, unified approach that “brought the outdoors in.” Whether it was a home in the Midwest, the Guggenheim Museum in New York,

or the Imperial Hotel in Tokyo, Wright’s innovative style became instantly recognizable.

After starting in Chicago, Wright established his renowned architectural studio Taliesen in Spring Green, Wisconsin, where much of his creative output occurred. The name of the studio is from a character in Welsh mythology.

Honoring Wright’s contributions to the human experience, UNESCO stated that his buildings have “outstanding universal value.”

“The architecture reflects functional and emotional needs; the design is rooted in nature’s forms and principles; the works align with the evolving American experience, while being universal in appeal.”

SurfWriter Girls Sunny Magdaug and Patti Kishel are Wright admirers and have been lucky enough to see his works – including Hollyhock House (built in 1921) in Los Angeles and the Calori House (1926) in Glendale, CA.

“Hollyhock House is an architectural tour de force,” says Patti. “Massive in scale, it’s built out of hollow clay tiles and wood covered in stucco – revolutionary materials at the time. The walls are decorated with hollyhocks – the favorite flower of oil heiress Aline Barnsdall, who commissioned the house.”

Wright said that the house was inspired by Mayan temples and dubbed its style “California Romanza” – meaning “freedom to make one’s own form.”

Patti also saw the architect’s Taliesin West studio in Scottsdale, Arizona, where Wright spent the winter months. It epitomized his minimalist approach to non-essentials. The “closet” he and his wife shared was just a single rod that could only hold a few garments. Whenever they bought a new article of clothing, they discarded something on the rod to make room for it.

The eight Wright buildings designated as World Heritage Sites are: Unity Temple (Oak Park, IL), Robie House (Chicago, IL), Taliesin (Spring Green, WI), Hollyhock House (Los Angeles), Fallingwater (Mill Run, PA), Jacobs House (Scottsdale, AZ), Taliesin West (Scottsdale), and the Guggenheim Museum (New York).

Like Wright’s Fallingwater house, perched above the flowing waters, each site is unique and impressive in its own way and is well deserving of this highest honor that a cultural landmark can receive.

Representing a time of American growth and endless opportunities, Frank Lloyd Wright was as iconic as his creations.

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Chris Ulshafer Hears The Call of the Wild

Focusing His Lens on Birds

Written by SurfWriter Girls Sunny Magdaug and Patti Kishel

When Chris Ulshafer introduces himself, he’s likely to say, “Hi, my name is Chris, and I’m a bird man.” Outside his home in Bear, Delaware, near Chesapeake Bay, there’s a whole world of wildlife putting on a show for his camera. Especially the birds.

From the ospreys, who he has even given names – Bonnie and Clyde, Boris and Natasha, Sonny and Cher – to Bald Eagles, blue herons, finches, wrens, vultures and more.

Now that he’s retired, Ulshafer – a former Eagle Scout and Boy Scout camp counselor – has time to pursue his outdoor interests, monitoring the birds’ comings-and-goings at nearby Locust Point, which is a haven for wildlife.

Ulshafer has come to know the ospreys, in particular, and keeps his telephoto lens trained on the new eggs and chicks in the various pairs’ nests, watching as the parents bring back food and teach their young to fly.

There’s lots to look at, too, since Chesapeake Bay is home to one of the largest concentrations of nesting ospreys in the world.

A volunteer and “resident scientist” for Cornell University’s School of Ornithology, Ulshafer works with the Audubon Society to collect data that helps to track and measure the birds’ habitats and migratory patterns.

“It puts me in my car on dirt roads where the osprey nests are,” says Ulshafer, who adds that the assignment’s “worked out quite well to relieve retirement boredom.”

In addition to the birds, Ulshafer sees other things that get his attention, including wandering turtles, butterflies…

And this horse named Bubba, who always comes to the fence to say “Hello.”

Ulshafer, who grew up in Southern California and went to Culver City High School with SurfWriter Girl Patti, has adapted well to his East Coast home and he and his wife Jan enjoy the natural world around them – or, as he calls it, “my outback.”

Whether it’s from the deck of his house or on the trails of the state park steps away, Chris Ulshafer has his camera in hand and is on the lookout for his wildlife neighbors.

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Mangroves – Nature’s Giving Trees

Protecting Our Planet

Written by SurfWriter Girls Sunny Magdaug and Patti Kishel

Like the tree in Shel Silverstein’s The Giving Tree, who gives everything to the young boy who loves him, mangrove trees give everything to our planet and its inhabitants.

Mangrove forests, which grow along salty ocean shorelines in tropical and subtropical latitudes, are made up of some 80 different species of plants that can subsist in low-oxygen soil.

Noted for their tangle of roots that appear to grow above ground supporting the plants as if on stilts, mangrove trees oxygenate the environment and stabilize coastlines from erosion.

Mangrove trees truly are giving trees. Five times more effective than rain forests at removing carbon from the atmosphere, NASA calls them “among the world’s best carbon-scrubbers.”

Mangrove forests also provide food and shelter to sea life, including a wide variety of fish, shellfish, algae, plankton, amphibians, birds, and mammals.

Critical to the health of our planet, mangrove trees can be found along the shorelines of over 100 countries and territories, with over 40 percent of them located in Asia.

SurfWriter Girls Sunny Magdaug and Patti Kishel learned that the world’s largest forest of mangrove trees covers an area of about 10,000 km in Bangladesh’s Sundarbans Reserve Forest between the Baleshwar River and the Bay of Bengal.

Due to coastal development, deforestation, climate change, pollution, and other factors, though, forests such as this are at extreme risk and could even become extinct unless countries come up with sustainable practices to protect them.

To create more forests, the SeaTrees Project, started by the Sustainable Surf non-profit organization, is on a mission to plant 1 million mangrove trees (with 228,000 trees planted and protected so far). 

Other organizations supporting the mangroves include Conservation International, the World Wildlife Fund, the Nature Conservancy, and the International Union for the Conservation of Nature. Working together they hope to expand the world’s mangrove habitat 20 percent by 2030.

To save these trees that give so much, the place to start is by giving back.

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Audubon 2020 Photography Awards

Photographs “Display the Magic of Avian Life”

Written by SurfWriter Girls Sunny Magdaug and Patti Kishel

It’s the eleventh year for the National Audubon Society’s Annual Photography Competition. In announcing the winners, the Society said the photographs were “spectacular, artistic and playful” and that they “display the magic of avian life.”

Including both amateur and professional photographers, there were more than 6,000 submissions from across the United States and Canada.

With so many North American birds at risk of extinction from climate change and other environmental hazards, the Society hopes that the contest draws attention to the different bird species and the need to protect them.

SurfWriter Girls Sunny Magdaug and Patti Kishel salute all the photographers who waited, watched, and clicked the shutter at just the right moment to showcase each bird.

Taking viewers into the birds’ domains and everyday lives, each photograph truly captures the wonder and magic of the birds.

Joanna Lentini won the Grand Prize with her underwater photograph of a Double-crested Cormorant diving beneath the sea.

It was taken in Los Islotes, Mexico. Lentini, who was in the Bay of La Paz observing “playful sea lions,” redirected her attention to the nearby cormorants. She says, “I watched in awe as the cormorants plunged beak first into the sea to snap at the sardines swimming by.”

Now, at a time when people are looking for something to cheer about, it’s uplifting to see these magnificent birds take flight.

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Rock it to me!

Spreading Joy in the Neighborhood

Written by SurfWriter Girls Sunny Magdaug and Patti Kishel

In neighborhoods all around us “The game is afoot,” as Sherlock Holmes would say, to find hidden treasures. Not gold or diamonds, but rocks of a different sort – painted rocks hidden by neighbors to bring smiles to the people who find them.

In a movement that has spread throughout the U.S. and other countries, people are decorating rocks with uplifting messages, ladybugs, flowers, butterflies, and other images and leaving them along pathways for their neighbors to find, keep, or re-hide for someone else to find.

At a time when we all need cheering up, it’s a safe, social-distancing way to share a smile with someone you don’t even know.

Kids, families, seniors – anyone out walking – are finding these special, handmade treasures and knowing that someone went to the effort to leave them there.

SurfWriter Girl Patti even found a rock – this blue bug that was looking up at her from the base of a bush. Written on the back of it is the word “Joy.”

Maybe there’s a rock waiting for you to find. Or why not channel your artistic abilities and leave a magical rock (or a few) for your neighbors to find?

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Ladders Are The Cat’s Meow

Swiss Kitties On the Prowl

Written by SurfWriter Girls Sunny Magdaug and Patti Kishel

From the beaches of Australia to the Alps in Switzerland, people and their cats are sharing each other’s lives. Aussie Robert Dollwett’s cats Didga and Boomer like to surf and skateboard.

In Brasilia, Brazil, when a stray cat kept sneaking into the offices of the Order of Attorneys building, rather than shooing him out, they named him Leon and made him an attorney.

And, in Switzerland this brave kitty rescued a lost hiker.

The Swiss, known for intricate watches and complex banking systems, have developed an ingenious way for their house cats to travel from one point to the other – cat ladders.

Offering kitties the best of both worlds – a warm, cozy home and access to the adventurous outdoors – the ladders are a common sight in Switzerland’s urban cities.

Graphic designer Brigitte Schuster has photographed them for magazines and is working on a book, Swiss Cat Ladders, that showcases the vast array of catwalks from narrow bridges to zigzag configurations and spiral staircases.

SurfWriter Girl Sunny Magdaug, who has lived in Switzerland, says the cat ladders reflect the practicality of the Swiss and their ability to find creative solutions to problems…

even something as simple as letting the cat out.

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New Protection for Pacific Ocean

140,000 Square Mile Coastal Haven

Written by SurfWriter Girls Sunny Magdaug and Patti Kishel

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration announced that new regulations have been finalized to protect the seafloor off the coasts of Washington, Oregon and California.

These would put an end to deep ocean trawling that damages the habitat of corals and sponges that provide for marine life.

The new protections that go into effect in 2020 cover 140,000 square miles of critical ocean ecosystems.

The nonprofit environmental group Oceana helped to bring about the regulations through its years of advocacy for the region and the scientific research data it gathered showing the damage being done by commercial fishing gear to the ocean floor.

Oceana’s Pacific campaign manager and senior research scientist, Ben Enticknap, said, the regulations are “a win-win for ocean conservation and fishermen.”

“Healthy oceans rely on a healthy seafloor and these new conservation areas will ensure that commercially important fish and other ocean animals, like deep-sea corals, octopus, crab and sea stars, can thrive into the future.”

Environmentalists have long opposed bottom trawl fishing methods because of the destruction caused by the weighted nets that are dragged over the ocean floor to catch the fish in their path.

The protections will enable fish populations to flourish and benefit both the ocean environment and fisheries.

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Kit Kat Candy Wrapper Art

Origami Artworks for the Environment

Written by SurfWriter Girls Sunny Magdaug and Patti Kishel

Japanese chocolate maker Kit Kat is swapping its plastic candy wrappers for recyclable paper ones that you can use to make origami artworks.

Kit Kat’s parent company Nestle says this should reduce the brand’s plastic waste by 380 tons a year. Nestle wants to have all its product packaging 100% recyclable by 2025.

The new candy wrapper includes instructions on how to fold the paper into a crane – a symbol of happiness and eternal youth throughout Asia.

In Japan it’s believed that if you fold a thousand origami cranes your wish will come true.

Kit Kat hopes its origami paper candy wrappers stimulate interest in origami. The Japanese paper-folding art dates back to the Edo Period (1603-1867).

SurfWriter Girls Sunny Magdaug and Patti Kishel are Kit Kat fans and love origami. With the new candy wrappers, we can indulge in both – and help the environment, too.

That’s definitely the cat’s meow!

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Swallows Take Flight

Parting is Such Sweet Sorrow

Written by SurfWriter Girls Sunny Magdaug and Patti Kishel

San Juan Capistrano’s famous cliff swallows have been taking to the sky to begin their long journey back to their wintering grounds in Argentina, some 6,000 miles south.

Each year around the Day of San Juan, October 23rd, the iconic birds leave the Southern California mission city to go back to Goya, Argentina – a trip that takes about 30 days.

Then, it’s hoped, that as the birds have done for centuries, they will faithfully return to California on St Joseph’s Day, March 19th.

Though San Juan Capistrano is much better known for the swallows’ return in the spring – a time of festivals and celebrations – their fall departure is part of the cycle of life…

and a bond that the two cities share.

SurfWriter Girls Sunny Magdaug and Patti Kishel have seen the birds’ comings and goings firsthand.

Over the years, a few swallows have even made their way to Patti and her husband Greg’s house to build their mud nests under the eaves. And, when we’re at the mission we always raise a toast to their safe journey.

Swallows and their nests are fully protected under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act of 1918.

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