A Beautiful Day at Kirstenbosch

It really was a perfect day when I took this GigaPan image at Kirstenbosch National Botanical Gardens in Cape Town, South Africa. Composed of 160 individual photos, the panorama covers 260 degrees in width. One of the joys of viewing a GigaPan is that it’s a participatory process. Hiding within those 260 degrees are probably upwards of a hundred species of plants — all indigenous to South Africa — and birds, insects and a few humans. Feel free, of course, to explore here by zooming in on anything that intrigues you. But, if you want to share your finds, you can create one of those snapshots you see at the bottom of the picture. To do that, click here to go to the image’s true home, on the GigaPan Website.

Kirstenbosch Update: Thanks for your support!

Kirstenbosch National Botanical Gardens, South Africa, 2011

I arrived back in the States yesterday after a 17-hour flight from Johannesburg to learn that the Kirstenbosch Project didn’t raise enough money to qualify for funding. Disappointing? Of course, but not really surprising given the amount still needed when I was last able to get Internet access with just 30 hours left.

First, a large collective shout-out to all 24 donors whose pledges ranged from $5 to $1,250. (Big round of applause). You guys rock.

You should know that the project isn’t over. Later, when my body has had a chance to regroup after the flight and time-zone changes, I’ll begin thinking about alternate ways to reach the goal – producing a catalog of prints from Kirstenbosch. The Gardens remain vitally important centers of plant biodiversity. Outside of South Africans, most of us don’t realize their ecological significance and their beauty. The need to spread the word about Kirstenbosch remains, and I intend to do what I can to achieve that end.

Once again, thank you, all, for pledging your support. And thanks to Kickstarter for the opportunity to get arts projects funded. It didn’t happen this time, but so many wonderful projects have become realities because of Kickstarter. I plan on continuing to support Kickstarter ventures and I urge you to do the same.

Out of South Africa (too soon)

Shantytown school, Cape Town, South Africa

I haven’t had internet access for days. I’m in Kruger National Park on my last day in Africa — for now. This country is amazing — weighed down and held back by problems, many of which are the legacy of apartheid. Poverty, drugs, HIV, corruption, environmental threats galore — that’s all here. But the number of people I met who are working to overcome these problems gives some hope. It’s impossible to separate the humanitarian/economic crisis from the environmental ones. That’s true everywhere, of course, but the links are so much more visible here.

The Kirstenbosch project (if it gets funded) must address the social/political side. I took photos in the shantytowns that will show Kirstenbosch in it’s context. The country won’t be able to maintain these important gardens in the face of a growing humanitarian crisis. What’s worse, the plants will continue to disappear in the wild if social problems aren’t addressed. Habitat is being destroyed, acid rain is fed by new coal-fired power plants (South Africa uses 40% of all electricity generated in Africa — mostly from coal), as is climate change.

So the project is changing slightly — opening up — due to conditions on the ground.

Thanks again to all those who have backed the project so far. Only 30 hours left, so please spread the word!