Escalation

September 13, 2020

BW photograph of some dried oak and other leaves against a downed burned log.

Copyright 2018 Kevin P. Mick Photography. All rights reserved.

Portions of the West Coast continue to burn in some of the largest wildfires in history, which seems to be a yearly descriptor now as the fires become larger and larger.

BW photograph of a tree limb sheared off in a storm.

Copyright 2020 Kevin P. Mick Photography. All rights reserved.

Meanwhile, the Gulf Coast is bracing for the next round of storms.

Despite ample evidence of the escalation of such climate-related mayhem, the current administration continues down the path of climate change denial.  Please read through that report as it describes the efforts made to deceive the public and some of the organizations supporting such deception.

This hire is consistent with the current administration’s position on climate change…which is the problem.

Be safe and well.

 

Labour Day 2020

September 7, 2020

BW photograph of a shingled store.

Copyright 2020 Kevin P. Mick Photography. All rights reserved.

Today is Labour Day, a holiday in the U.S.  It is not known if the above store had not as yet opened for the day, was closed for the day, or was closed period.  Coronavirus has certainly taken its toll on many small businesses, although that linked report does document cautious optimism.  Overall, COVID-19 has had a variety of effects on employment and unemployment.

BW photograph of an abandoned store in the 9th Ward three years after Hurricane Katrina.

Copyright 2008 Kevin P. Mick Photography. All rights reserved.

This store has a different history.  I photographed it twice, once in January 2008 and again in December 2008.  The only real difference was that the owner’s name had been removed from the roof.  In an unbelievable example of serendipity, an individual walked up while I was making the above photograph and asked what I was doing.  I told him the reason-that I was documenting conditions in the Lower 9th Ward three years after Katrina and had been there the previous January.  The man was the owner of the store.  He took the time to tell me that the flooding caused by the Industrial Canal breech during Katrina had destroyed the store.  Prior to the storm, he said, residents would gather on the bench and have talks into the night-that it was the center of the community.  He went on to say that he did not re-open because there were not enough residents returning to make this a viable business-that he had sold the property.

I passed one of my favourite stores today, and it was closed-the space was empty and available to rent.  It was a pleasant place in which to shop-the employees were quite friendly and the products sold quite good.  Truthfully, I do not know the reason for this particular store’s closing, just that it is now gone and will be missed.

Like COVID-19, the enhanced storms, wildfires, and sea level rise secondary to climate change have also created obstacles for small businesses to overcome.

Seeing as how this is Labour Day,  it is useful to think on the role mismanagement of both the acute pandemic and the chronic issues presented by climate change have had on small businesses and employment.

Given that, it is also especially helpful to support the small businesses in your community.

Be safe and well.

Broken Plate

September 2, 2020

BW photograph of a broken plate alying amid grasses three years after Hurricane Katrina.

Copyright 2008 Kevin P. Mick Photography. All rights reserved.

This photograph was initially included in the previous post-I removed it, though, as I wanted to give it a bit more attention as I consider this to be one of the more meaningful photographs I have made.

From a photographic standpoint, it was a relatively simple image to make.  As I was walking around looking at the ground, a habit I have cultivated since being a child, I came upon the plate.  This was clearly photographed from above.  The camera was on a tripod pointed straight down, and oriented to maximize the flatness of field (the back of the camera was parallel to the ground).  I do not remember the exposure, but it would have been based on the lighter tones of the plate, shells, and stones so that they did not burn out.  Pretty straightforward.

It is the context of the photograph that contains the meaning.  This was made in the Lower 9th Ward of New Orleans, three years after Hurricane Katrina.  While I cannot definitively say when this plate arrived at this resting place or this state of being, it was there long enough to have the grasses grow around and over it and for other debris to be deposited upon it.  While somewhat dulled, the colours (the original file was in colour) and design remained-they were clearly legible.  The plate was broken, for sure, but still there.

I often speak of photographs as being metaphors…this is another case.

The plate speaks of a time forgotten and perhaps lost.  Who would have eaten off of it?  What kind of food would it have held?  For how long was it in service?  What exactly happened?

It was still there…that speaks to resilience.

Be safe and well.

August 29

August 30, 2020

BW photograph looking into the 9th Ward from the Industrial Canal Seawall three years after Hurricane Katrina.

Copyright 2008 Kevin P. Mick Photography. All rights reserved.

Yesterday was the 15th anniversary of Hurricane Katrina (August 29, 2005).  That the timing of Hurricane Laura so closely coincided with this anniversary, not to mention the expected force she was to bring, was uncanny.  Hurricane Laura did not produce the storm surge expected, but she still tore up and inundated the communities over which she passed.  Lives were lost and property demolished.  Condolences to all who have been impacted.

And that is an important point.  In sociology, there are two major perspectives:  the first is the macro perspective, which looks at the bigger picture-the totality.  Hurricane Laura was a Category 4 storm, one tick from the highest current rating.  (It is important to note that some have proposed adding a Category 6 to the Saffir-Simpson Scale due to the climate-change induced intensification of these large storms.)  As such, she did make a mess of things, but not as big a mess as was forecast.  The word “luck” and its various forms and other synonyms have been used in the aftermath to describe overall reactions and the relief felt by many, as the result could have been much worse.  That can be viewed as reflection on the on the “big” picture.

BW photograph of street house numbers laying on the ground three years after Hurricane Katrina.

Copyright 2008 Kevin P. Mick Photography. All rights reserved.

The second perspective, the micro perspective, focuses on the smaller, more intimate details.  With regard to Hurricane Laura, this would be looking at the impact on particular families and communities in her path.  Even though the overall destruction was not as bad as it could have been, there are those who have quite literally lost everything in Laura’s wake.

BW photograph of broken windows in a broken house three years after Hurricane Katrina.

Copyright 2008 Kevin P. Mick Photography. All rights reserved.

BW photograph of a sandal amid weeds on a step three years after Hurricane Katrina.

Copyright 2008 Kevin P. Mick Photography. All rights reserved.

In 2008, three years after Hurricane Katrina, I made two trips to New Orleans, LA to provide assistance and document the progress in rebuilding that long after the storm-the photographs herein were made on those trips.  Even three years later,  much evidence of the destruction remained.

BW photograph of a car covered with roofing debris three years after Hurricane Katrina.

Copyright 2008 Kevin P. Mick Photography. All rights reserved.

BW photograph of a toilet in a gutted house three years after Hurricane Katrina.

Copyright 2008 Kevin P. Mick Photography. All rights reserved.

BW photograph of a destroyed van amid tall grasses three years after Hurricane Katrina.

Copyright 2008 Kevin P. Mick Photography. All rights reserved.

BW photograph of a headboard inside a gutted house three years after Hurricane Katrina.

Copyright 2008 Kevin P. Mick Photography. All rights reserved.

BW photograph of a destroyed house three years after Hurricane Katrina.

Copyright 2008 Kevin P. Mick Photography. All rights reserved.

There were some houses that had been rebuilt or replaced, some with on-going construction, and many vacant lots with slab foundations but nothing else, or gutted shells of houses.

BW photograph of a "Roots Run Deep Here" sign in the 9th Ward three years after Hurricane Katrina.

Copyright 2008 Kevin P. Mick Photography. All rights reserved.

The people with whom I spoke were determined to rebuild and make a go of it-this was their home.  They were almost uniformly grateful for the attention and the assistance. Some spoke with disdain for the destruction-porn tourists who came, looked, and left.

Laura has now come and gone-there are three months left in the 2020 Atlantic hurricane season.

Please consider donating to your chosen charitable organization in support of the people who experience such disasters-this goes for those coping with the wildfires out west as well.

It would also be important to hold politicians accountable with regard to the issue of climate change-that is one of the many, many, many reasons the upcoming November election (hurricane season ends November 30 and the presidential election is November 3) is such a key time for this country and the world at large.  At this point, it will take much more organized, governmental efforts to mitigate and adapt to climate change…as we most likely have more Katrinas and Lauras in our future.

Be safe and well.

UPDATE: Marco and Laura

August 26, 2020

BW photograph of a foundation in New Orleans three years after Katrina.

Copyright 2008 Kevin P. Mick Photography. All rights reserved.

Marco may have “fizzled” but Laura has strengthened dramatically:  she is currently a Category 3 storm with the possibly of increasing to a Category 4; in either case, there is the potential for an “unsurvivable” storm surge.  That is indeed catastrophic.

This provides more specifics about the wildfires burning in CA and elsewhere in the west.  Please take note of the amount of carbon released into the atmosphere on one day from the CA fires.  That is a key point…the burning of trees removes them from their role as a carbon sink.  In addition, trees release that stored carbon as well as creating new amounts when burned.

Pay careful attention how climate change is addressed by the presidential candidates as we move toward the general election in November.

BW photograph of a broken house three years after Katrina.

Copyright 2008 Kevin P. Mick Photography. All rights reserved.

The above are worth considering when reading this.  The human cost of climate change becomes exponential, especially in a world gripped by nationalism and beset by a pandemic.

Be safe and well.

PHOTOGRAPHER’S NOTE:  The two photographs were made in the Lower 9th Ward in New Orleans three years after Hurricane Katrina.  Laura is shaping up to deliver quite a blow to the the Gulf Coast area and beyond.

FINAL UPDATE:  NPR posted this update regarding Hurricane Laura.

 

Fall 2020

August 4, 2020

BW photograph of a lone tree partially submerged by floodwaters.

Copyright 2019 Kevin P. Mick Photography. All rights reserved.

Hurricane/Tropical Storm Isaias came ashore and is now moving with a purpose up the East Coast.  (Photographer’s Note:  The flooding depicted above is not related to Isaias.) People in its path were advised to stay with family rather than in larger, more public, shelters due to the risk of COVID-19.  Another reminder that all is not normal.

BW photograph of Catoctin High School.

Copyright 2020 Kevin P. Mick Photography. All rights reserved.

We are also moving toward the start of the Fall 2020 school year.  Some colleges and primary/secondary school systems have already declared that they will remain in an all-online posture.  Others have committed to partial openings with face-to-face classes and various versions of online, hybrid (part on-line/part face-to-face classroom), and A/B scheduling to produce smaller class sizes.  There appear to be school systems that have yet to announce their plans.  One would be well advised to check with the local board of education or their institute of higher learning for updates.  This is, most likely, going to be a fluid situation as the school year begins and progresses.  COVID-19 is not going away, and we will also have the seasonal flu with which to contend.

There is much pressure being brought to bear to return schools to their “normal” posture-this comes from the president on down the chain.  Anecdotally, some students have voiced very clear preferences to be back in a traditional classroom-that they have a strong dislike for online instruction.  This most certainly is an issue of learning style or preference.  In other cases, the curriculum is not well-served by an all-online environ.  How to open schools, though, is also an issue of equality and equity.  Some do not have access to high-speed internet and/or the hardware necessary to function in a fully online environment.  And then there are the Luddites among us.  In any case, there will be nothing “normal” about the upcoming fall.

The push to open schools is also, in part, based on how COVID-19 appears to have different effects on young children (older teens seem to be affected similarly to adults).  Some have speculated that a child’s more active immune system or differences regarding a particular receptor to which COVID binds are possible explanations. That, though, is a focus on the physical signs and symptoms and consequences.  Human Rights Watch posted a report that is much broader in its scope-this addresses the psychosocial issues presented by the pandemic-it is a difficult, but quite important, read.  HRW includes recommendations for governments to mitigate these long-lasting impacts.  It remains to be seen if these issues can be adequately addressed by the governments and systems needed to do so.

BW photograph of a hat laying in front of a destroyed house in the Lower 9th Ward-2008.

Copyright 2008 Kevin P. Mick Photography. All rights reserved.

The current pandemic has certainly highlighted the chasm that exists in the U.S. (and globally) between social classes-be they grouped by race or economic status.  It is more than a bit ironic, given that Isaias is currently drenching the East Coast, that similar concerns were raised about the manner by which Hurricane Katrina exposed inequality in the U.S.  Katrina hit in August 2005-the above photograph was made in the Lower 9th Ward and shows damage that remained three years after the storm.

Fifteen years later, the same issues remain…it is only a different catalyst that has exposed them.

Be safe and well.

Open Up

May 17, 2020

BW photograph of an evening sky with silhouetted trees in the foreground.

Copyright 2020 Kevin P. Mick Photography. All rights reserved.

States, or at least portions of states have begun to re-open.  Some of these are in compliance with, or in defiance of, governor’s orders.  For those readers in the U.S., it is worthwhile to check your state government’s home page for further information about the specifics as to what is allowable and what is not.  Having restrictions, though, does not mean folks will follow them.  In some cases, the plans have allowed for increased transmissions…meat-packing plants are an example.

BW photograph of a single shopping cart parked on a curb.

Copyright 2020 Kevin P. Mick Photography. All rights reserved.

Arguments have been made that governors know best when it comes to managing COVID-19 at the local level as opposed to following a federally-mandated plan.  Not that there has been a clear and viable federal plan.

BW photograph of two shopping carts parked on a curb.

Copyright 2020 Kevin P. Mick Photography. All rights reserved.

Time will certainly tell as globally there is evidence of cases increasing as restrictions are relaxed.  I used New Orleans in the link above as an example as this also addresses one of the other unknowns about COVID-19.  Speculation (hope?) has posited that as the summer months arrive, the heat and humidity increase will cause COVID-19 transmission to decease.  The problem is that Louisiana is already warm: it is 82 degrees in New Orleans as this is being typed-87 degrees is the high for Tuesday.  The air there will certainly become more soupy as the humidity levels increase in summer, though.

There is a longer-term point to this as well-temps and humidity levels will again drop come fall/winter.  Will there be a need for another round of stay-at-home orders?  Given that it will take yet awhile to have a vaccine for COVID-19, this could certainly be an issue.  We will also have the usual round of visitation by variations of the flu to complicate things.

It is useful to remember that taking care of oneself by wearing a mask and social-distancing means we are also taking care of others.

Be safe and well.

Melting

May 2, 2020

BW photograph of water currents in front of a rock.

Copyright 2019 Kevin P. Mick Photography. All rights reserved.

Lost amid the coverage of COVID-19 is this most important report (well, not lost as the link attests).  This is not to say that COVID-19 is undeserving of the attention.  It is, though, another example of how chronic conditions continue outside of public awareness when more acute issues arise.

We really do seem to have a short attention span.  Once SARS dissipated, interest was lost.  Then, along came MERS.  Now, we have COVID-19, which highlighted the lack of preparation for such a pandemic. Meanwhile, the ice sheets have continued to melt and seas have continued to rise.

At some point, it is hoped that we collectively learn that it is in humanity’s best interest to be more forward thinking:  to fully engage in the research and development needed to address emerging pathogens rather than by cutting funding and eliminating programs once the crisis has passed.  To fully commit to funding the R&D to provide the needed adaptation/mitigation options as dictated by environmental conditions.  Climate change has long lacked that necessary attention.

Climate change, especially given the political administrations in place in much of the world and their interest in rolling-back environmental protection efforts, remains inexorable in its effect.

Take care and be safe.

Earth Day 2020

April 22, 2020

BW photograph of a discarded full Sunny D bottle of juice.

Copyright 2020 Kevin P. Mick Photography. All rights reserved.

Today is Earth Day-the 50th anniversary.  NPR had this report on the day’s meaning and current activities in the age of COVID-19.

BW photograph of a sycamore tree's roots.

Copyright 2020 Kevin P. Mick Photography. All rights reserved.

This video is quite poignant and well worth a watch, especially on this day.  Please also be sure to read photographer Joe McNally’s description that accompanies the video.

Be safe and well.

April 1

April 1, 2020

BW photography of a patch of fungi.

Copyright 2020 Kevin P. Mick Photography. All rights reserved.

April 1 is traditionally April Fool’s Day in the U.S.-a time when folks typically play tricks on one another.   Given the impact of COVID-19 and substantial “stay at home” orders in place throughout the country, it is difficult to imagine being in a playful mood.  A microbe has exerted control.

BW photograph of lichen attached to a rock.

Copyright 2020 Kevin P. Mick Photography. All rights reserved.

Interestingly, liquor stores and gun dealers have been determined to be “essential” businesses in some states.  Access to liquor and firearms in a time of quarantine.  What could go wrong there?

As Jimmy Buffett sings “…I shot six holes in my freezer.  I think I got cabin fever…”

Be well.