We just concluded our 2018 Planet Forward storytelling expedition to Alaska with Lindblad Expeditions aboard the National Geographic Sea Lion. Wow!
Our Storyfest winners were dazzled by the ecosystems, the humpback and killer whales, bald eagles, sea lions and sea otters, brown bears and porcupines they saw, studied, and photographed. Compelling characters in amazing stories.
Our students touched time as they visited towering glaciers and embraced centuries-old Sitka Spruces. They considered their human footprint as they heard about dwindling fisheries and witnessed the calving of the glaciers. They pondered their place on the planet as they explored remote settlements and learned about Tlingit culture and other native peoples.
Our Planet Forward students shot video, took pictures, interviewed naturalists and scientists aboard ship, wrote and produced. They dove into their stories. You'll start seeing them in the next couple of weeks.
Professor Dr. Imani Cheers guided them through digital production techniques and social media. Planet Forward board member Michael Silberman gave a talk about how citizen action campaigns use narratives to galvanize action. Dan Reed, our intrepid director, did a brilliant job directing all activities — leading, organizing, mobilizing.
We all met with Alaska's lieutenant governor when we arrived in Juneau Sunday morning. Lt. Gov. Byron Mallott spoke about the environment, the role of oil and gas in Alaska, native peoples, and the impact climate change is having on this vast and breathtaking place. A representative from Alaska Airlines, which provided transportation for the students, flew in just to meet us.
We are so grateful to Lindblad Expeditions and Alaska Airlines for making this remarkable experiential learning opportunity possible. It has already had tangible impact. Stories, yes. But several students said their Planet Forward experience has shown them the power of communication and storytelling in environmental, health, science and policy. Several want to incorporate this mission into their careers. They know how much it is needed.
This trip was more than a success. It validated all we stand for and are trying to do. Powerful experiential learning with a generation that has more reach and more potential than any in human history. At a time when we need these stories told. The trip was inspiring in every way.
Here's a preview of what we saw from Instagram — with much more to come!
How we kicked off our trip:
We began our Planet Forward voyage in Sitka, Alaska. In the first two days, we met breathtaking fellow travelers. From the skies. And the ocean. These are our characters in our stories from our cameras. Thanks to @lindbladexp and @alaskaair for helping student Storyfest winners tell the stories that can move the planet forward. // @laurakay3 (1/5) #Storyfest2018 . . . . #PlanetFWD #LindbladExpeditions #natgeosealion #alaska #storytelling #storiesmatter #sustainabilitymatters #exploretocreate #passionpassport #adventureday #mytinyatlas #thisplacematters #storiestotell #thealaskalife #lonelyplanet #ig_alaska #naturealaska #ilovealaska #myalaskandream #awesomeearth #natureisneat #adventureawaits #makemoments #thisplacematters #wearestillin #worldenvironmentday #beautifuldestinations #welivetoexplore
Sewanee student Vanessa Moss shared the view from the cabins on the Sea Lion:
“North light in a forest unveils a hundred inventions of green. South light in winter paints cold pinks on icy peaks. East light brings morning promise, and west light, in summer, a lingering warmth that once again seduces Alaskans into saying: Okay, one more year. I’ll live here one more year, one more winter, then move to Baja or Tahiti or Sri Lanka. Humorist Tom Bodett says: We don’t intend to stay here, we just come up for a summer and ‘forget to leave.’ Next thing we know, we’ve been here thirty years.” -Kim Heacox (I’m moving to Alaska, folks.)
Video from GW winner Alex Rubeinstein:
Please consider this video my informal application to @natgeo // chronicling an incredible and life changing week aboard the #natgeosealion with @lindbladexp as one of @planetforward ‘s Storyfest 2018 grand prize winners. Adventure of a lifetime. . . . #wildlifephotography #naturephotography #wildlifevideosofinstagram #linbladexpeditions #planetfwd #nationalgeographic #natgeo
Planet Forward board member Michael Silberman got some amazing shots of the bears they encountered:
Only got to know them for an hour but missing these two after a week every time I think about napping. Def a top five experience. (This was after an hour of foraging the coastline post hibernation and pre salmon season.) #brownbear #alaska @lindbladexp @planetforward #natgeosealion #wildlifephotography #bears
The zodiac boat Planet Forward Director Dan Reed and I were on had a very close encounter with a whale:
Planet Forward's Laura Whaling focuses on the ice:
Alex found the sea lions:
Sour then sweet | Sea Lions (aka “Blubber Slugs” as I recently heard them called) lounging along the rocks of the Inian Islands near Cross Sound, where the waters of the Alaska coast meet the Pacific Ocean. This convergence of currents and flooding tides brings animals from miles around to feed; an open invitation for all wildlife. We even had a Humpback Whale breach right next to our boat, forcing us to turn off our engine until she continued on in the hunt for krill. • • • • #sealions @lindbladexp @natgeotravel @natgeoadventure @planetforward #planetfwd #linbladexpeditions #alaska #nature #beautyofnature #naturephotography #wildlifephotography #naturefilm #wildlifevideos
See Alaska through the eyes of Columbia University's Katherine Baker:
A fun accessory for the GoPro helped Laura get this amazing shot:
Another whale sighting, courtesy of Alex:
Finally, gorgeous captures of last light — which was at about 10 pm local time — as recorded by GW's Shandra Furtado: