“Conservation is a positive exercise of skill and insight, not merely a negative exercise of abstinence and caution.”
–Aldo Leopold

What do we leave behind for the next generation? What decisions are we making today that will make no sense in the decades to come? How do we tell our kids and our great grandkids about the places that are no longer here to explore? Yes, these are all solemn questions, but important ones worth forcing ourselves as a society to sit down and think about. We can make better choices for future generations if we are able to learn from the past and put our experience into action.

On this installment of Saturdays Around the World, we head down the Colorado River in the American West to Glen Canyon. This region was once home to some of the most remarkable and beloved canyon formations. Unfortunately, we lost much of this beauty in 1963 with the construction of Glen Canyon Dam. Now, as the waters of the Colorado River have begun to dwindle, some of Glen Canyon’s former wonders are slowly being revealed.

Taylor Graham and a group of his fellow filmmaker friends took the expedition of a lifetime to explore this new landscape, and along the way filmed an incredible story of loss, rebirth, and timeless adventure.

Image: Kayaker exploring Glen Canyon

Source: Courtesy of Taylor Graham

Rediscovering the Canyon

In the fall of 2017, Graham and his friends (a few of whom went to the University of Vermont, which is pretty close to our EWC headquarters) took on an over 350-mile journey to explore the Colorado River and the once hidden wonders of Glen Canyon. Their expedition took them along a landscape that was entirely lost to a generation.

Though we can’t go back in time to undo the devastation caused by generations of environmental degradation, sometimes we are given the opportunity to glimpse the world as it once was. This was the opportunity Graham and his team decided to take on.

Before we get into this film, I suggest you grab a favorite beverage and/or snack food and get ready. It’s rare that a film like this captivates our team so deeply. At first, I said to myself “I’ll give this a quick watch and then come back and finish it later”. Thirty minutes later, I was so deeply enthralled that somehow the time had slipped away. It’s truly a piece that takes you on a journey, along for the meandering wonders of the river and through the process of discovery and exploration along with the team.

So, let’s jump into Glen Canyon Rediscovered a phenomenal short film by Taylor Graham.

We can do something and we have done it before!

As stewards of the planet for generations to come, we share a responsibility to look at the environmental mistakes of the past and try never again to repeat them. Yes, it can be a confusing process. Yes, it can become loud and sometimes messy. But knowledge and conversation matter.

“Earth provides enough to satisfy every man’s needs, but not every man’s greed.”

Mahatma Gandhi

We’ve seen what positive progress can look like when we make a direct effort to reverse the impact we’ve had on our planet. Through careful planning and hard work, we brought back an island brought to the brink of extinction.

30 minutes

Adventure to the Island that Came Back from Extinction

Can we really save an entire ecosystem when it is nearly hunted to extinction? We can! Let's adventure to an island of survival where life is once again finding a way.

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With forethought, we’ve been able to empower youth to make a difference in their community and empower other students around the world to follow in their footsteps.

12 minutes

Bye Bye Plastic Bags

All over the world, plastic bags are becoming a major source of pollution. So, how do you solve a problem this big? You put two driven and passionate teenage sisters on the case. Here is their story...

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There are thought leaders around the planet educating youth and newcomers to the importance of our planet’s rivers. And in doing so, are shining a light on how we can all do better for the next generation to avoid devastation as we saw with Glen Canyon.

11 minutes

Meeting the Salween River

On this Saturday Around the World, we're traveling through the beautiful Salween River in China and seeing the efforts put into place to protect it.

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8 minutes

Discovering the Life Flowing through the Grand Canyon

The natural wonders of the world have a lot more to offer than just beauty! Let’s discover what we can learn from the river that flows through the Grand Canyon and the people who live in its surrounding area. How are they connected?

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25 minutes

Chasing Rivers: An Adventure on the Colorado

Think about your nearest river. Where did it come from? Where is it going? Here's a remarkable story from a National Geographic photographer about how his adventure to chase the Colorado River reshaped his perspectives.

Read More

Importantly as well, we have creators and filmmakers like Taylor Graham shining a spotlight on corners of the world that might otherwise go unnoticed. If you’d like to check out more of his work you can visit his website, take a look around his Vimeo page, or keep up with his adventures on Instagram.

We cannot stop the progress of time, but we are now in a position to look forward.

We’ve seen what centuries of overuse and consumption can do to ecosystems (and to ourselves). Though we will probably never return our planet to it’s most pristine state, we can do better to shift our focus to doing the best we can to “leave no trace”.

All any of us has to do is start somewhere. We don’t have to solve all of the problems by ourselves, tomorrow. We can start with a little thing, today and begin to build our communities to do the same.

If you want a few places to get started, check out American Rivers. They helped produce this piece and have some great resources available for how you can get involved in! I can also suggest checking out Charity Navigator’s index of organizations working in environmental protection and conservation. They have a very extensive list with rating systems that look at organizations’ accountability and transparency as well as their financials to help you decide where to best put your time and energy!

Stay beautiful & keep laughing!

-Liesl

Find more ways to get involved! 

To see more innovative ways people are shining a spotlight on our environment, check out our full library of articles on Conservation and Sustainability! You’ll see, it really still is an amazing world!

Conservation & Sustainability on EWC

Notes:

  1. Graham, Taylor. “Rediscovering Glen Canyon’s Lost Wonders by Kayak | Short Film Showcase.” YouTube, National Geographic, 22 Dec. 2018, www.youtube.com/watch?v=o87zW2BWCUo. Accessed 22 Jan. 2019.

Liesl Ulrich-Verderber

COO of Ever Widening Circles, Founder of EWCed

Liesl is a camera-toting traveler, a global story seeker, and an aspiring—but more often floundering—outdoor enthusiast. She can be found on Instagram @Liesl.UV