Tag Archives: environment

Another online project: Bracing for Impact, reported by Flux

In case you were wondering, Webb of Science hasn’t disappeared, but I have been busy with a variety of other projects. The Science Writers’ Handbook website continued to publish regularly through December, and I had a baby boy in October.

In addition,  I was part of a team of reporters (named Flux) who launched a crowdfunded reporting project (Bracing for Impact) looking at how communities are responding to and preparing for climate change. We started publishing stories in August, and we’ll be wrapping up our initial run this month. We used the brand new Beacon platform, specifically designed for journalists.

Our leader, Virginia Gewin, wrote a blog post describing “The Experiment” back in July. Crowdfunding is hard work. I have a whole new appreciation for the fund drives on public radio and television, and an awe and respect for artists, journalists, and others who are routinely supporting their work in this way.

At the same time it’s incredibly freeing to be able to create a new project and direct its path without having to make stories fit the exact specifications of an existing publication. I’m proud of what we’ve accomplished, and publishing with this great group of colleagues has sharpened my reporting and editing skills.

I wrote three stories for the project (Some stories may be behind Beacon’s paywall.):

Photo by Sarah Webb, reservoir in Clayton County, Georgia

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Alligators, Spanish moss, and a sense of wonder

Growing up in North Central Florida, I took my environment for granted.

My parents still live in the same house where I grew up. Their home feels familiar, almost a time capsule of my old life. But after years living away, I view everything around them like a tourist. On a visit in December, my eyes traced the outline of the heavy boughs of every live oak, the curtains of gray, Spanish moss weighing their branches like Florida snow.

Half my life later, I realize how little I explored my environment, how little I appreciated the strange beauty that surrounded me. So as an adult, I’m trying to recapture the wonder that escaped during my childhood and show my husband the places I wish had been more important to me. So, on December 26, we went to Paynes Prairie Preserve, 22,000 acres of grasslands just a short drive south of where I grew up, full of birds, bison, wild horses, and, of course, alligators.

Growing up in Gainesville, Florida, in the shadow of the University of Florida and Gator Nation, alligators feel too normal. People occasionally find them in their backyards or their sewer drains. When I was a teenager, my father talked about how a visiting Estonian researcher asked to see alligators. I didn’t get her fascination.

Now I do. My husband and I walked along the La Chua trail on the north end of the preserve, most of it is a wide, mowed strip with few barriers, people of all ages, and signs like this one.

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Because of creatures like these, sunning within 10 feet of the walkway.

alligators at Paynes Prairie

We saw dozens of alligators, but no bison or horses. With keen eyes and binoculars we picked out ibises, egrets, a Great Blue Heron, wild turkeys, and hawks. We even heard a hawk, caught next to the trail in marshy brush.

In many ways, the walk was a tiny glimpse of what I hope 2014 will bring. I want to appreciate moments, hear, see and feel what happens around me, and fan each spark of wonder into a steady flame.

Image Credits: Sarah Webb

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