Pedaling for Peace

On April 15, 2012 I started riding my bicycle cross-country from Jacksonville, Florida in voluntary support of the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation (NAPF) and the work of author and Peace Leadership Director for the NAPF, Paul K. Chappell. By July 4th, I had covered over 1300 miles to just west of Luling, Texas where a major mechanical failure brought this first stage of my cross-country journey to an end. After storing my bicycle and trailer with my aunt and uncle in Weatherford, Texas, I flew from Dallas to Santa Barbara, California to attend the NAPF First Annual Peace Leadership Summer Workshop. I then lived and worked in Santa Barbara for several more months before I returned to Jacksonville and sold off the rest of my possessions that I could to help fund a continuation of my journey. Starting June 8, 2013 and ending August 9, 2013, I rode from Weatherford, through 400 miles of the central Texas hill country, including Austin, Texas, back to Luling. It was at this point that a friend of mine invited me to work for a brief period in Pennsylvania before flying me back to Santa Barbara where I continued volunteering for the NAPF as well as for the Santa Barbara Bike Coalition. As of August 9th, 2014 I began"Stage III" of my cross-country adventure, this time heading south from Santa Barbara to San Diego and then east to El Paso, TX. It was there that illness, winter weather, and diminishing resources brought that leg of my journey to an end. After staying with another friend in Columbus, GA for several months, I moved "back home" to Kentucky to stay with my dad for a while and build a better "resource base" for future endeavors including review and further tracking and primitive survival skills training at Tom Brown, Jr's Tracker School , and a possible longer tour of the east coast, northern tier, and north west coast back down to Santa Barbara, CA.

Friday, October 12, 2012

Where There's a Will, There's a Way...

It is hard to know where to start This story...I am suddenly aware of the immensity of time and space, of the passage of Hi-story, that has brought all of us to this point, whatever the moment is for each of us in our lives. All I know is...far from my despondence of only a couple of months ago, I do not think I have felt more at ease or more at home, or more happy to be alive as a human being in this world as I feel right now.

A little over two weeks ago I began looking at opportunities to connect with other people in Santa Barbara. One of the internet options I used for that was "MeetUp". One particular group, the Global Community Dinner Night group, had an upcoming event featuring a Japanese photographer named, Kenji who was giving a presentation on his recent travels to Japan, especially his home village.

We all met at Silvergreens, the same place the NAPF Workshop attendees had their Downtown Santa Barbara Dinner Night several weeks before.  Making sure to be there a little early, I also had the opportunity to sit next to Kenji while we were eating and was impressed with his energy and sense of humor. When he heard about my riding my bicycle half-way across the country to get to Santa Barbara he was equally impressed with me.

In effect, we started to become friends that night. He invited me to join his own MeetUp group - the Santa Barbara Japanese Photography Group (SB-JPG), which I did. The next meet-up scheduled for that group was to take pictures of the full moon. Between the meeting at Silvergreens and the Full Moon Shoot, I was loaned a bicycle to get around on and ended up finding Kenji at his house where we were met by, Dennis, another member of the group for a ride to our shooting location. (Upon arrival, I joked with Kenji saying that he really should have warned me about the Massive Hill that I had to climb to get to his house. Simply put, it was way too steep to ride, so I ended up pushing my "new" bicycle instead, and even that was pretty difficult!)

In relating these experiences to Paul the next week, I made the comment "It's good to have friends who are photographers when you're trying to document your life." In my mind, I was thinking it would be really great to have Kenji become more involved with the NAPF on a professional level, but turns out, Paul had other ideas.

Within a few days, he's telling me about doing short videos with some of the basic ideas from his talks, even a video specifically to promote the NAPF Peace Leadership Workshop. He already has a nice camera, he/we just needed to figure out how to use it, and in particular, we needed to figure out how to create what I would later understand as a particular "depth of field" effect that was more commonly used in professional videos on-line.

Next thing you know, I'm On Assignment. Having had few cameras in my life, and never a truly professional piece of equipment, I am now being tasked with figuring out how to use Paul's Nikon D5100, not only for still shots, but for video as well.

More than that, though, Paul's decided this would be a great way for me to be of even more service to the NAPF as they could benefit from having what I will refer to as a "staff photographer". Yes, I'll still be working as a volunteer in this role. And, yes, I'm going to be starting from scratch - but if I could learn to be an electronics technician in service to the Navy, I think I've got it in me to handle the level of difficulty involved with becoming a photographer/videographer in service to the NAPF. And as Paul also pointed out, it could be one more marketable skill for me to add to my resume'. (Funny, that's what my recruiter said about becoming an electronics technician!)

As for my part, I also know that as an "aging person" - it's always good to take on the challenge of learning an entirely new skill as that forces our brains to grow new neurons and that can help our minds and body's stay healthier!

Furthermore, in this age of internet media, photos and videos are another means through which to communicate the wonderful message of Peace that Paul and the NAPF have to offer to the world. Given my own commitment to Wage Peace, I could not be more pleased to help in whatever way I can.

I must say, I find it interesting though, that there really is no "ego" in this for me; i.e. I am not seeking to establish a reputation for myself as a "Professional Photographer" It has never been something I was that drawn to, although that might have been partly because of the expenses involved with equipment, etc. Nevertheless, I am definitely up for this and looking forward to growing through this learning experience as I have through so many others in my life.

It also means I can continue to give my attention to Paul, to the NAPF, and to the cause of Waging Peace in a very deliberate and Focused way! (And, yes, that pun Is intended!)

Peace! Out! Y'all! : ))