Tag Archives: Orion

Views from Above

Aerial photo of a former tobacco farm in Cerro Gordo, NC

Aerial photo of a former tobacco farm in Cerro Gordo, NC.

About two years ago, at a Creative Capital retreat sponsored by our state’s Arts Council, I met Ken Abbott, an Asheville-based photographer who has been doing incredible work with low elevation aerial photography (LEAP). Using a tethered balloon and a digital camera, Ken photographs landscapes that are sometimes beautiful, sometimes ravaged by development (including mountaintop removal). He’s even gotten himself into trouble (almost) documenting supermax prisons from above.

Ken and I had the idea to collaborate on a project with students, and with generous support from the North Carolina Arts Council, the North Carolina Humanities Council (and wonderful Indiegogo contributors!) brought our pilot program, “Views from Above,” to West Columbus High School in rural eastern North Carolina. For two weeks, we worked with students to do both land and aerial work–photographing using the LEAP system, evaluating and arranging images, and doing landscape work and interviews in two small towns. With plenty of student help, I’m blogging about the work on Orion‘s website for the next few weeks; check out our first post here.

Ken, by the way, will publish his first book next year with GFT. I saw the collected photographs while we were in Columbus County and can’t wait to get a copy.

P.S. Orion is accepting submissions November 1-15!


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“The Science of Citizenship” in Orion


Some books you can’t wait to read–you have to get them the day they come out, and then you devour them in a day or two. That was my experience with Rebecca Skloot’s The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks, which I blogged about in February 2010. I read it as an argument for the value of science education in our culture, and later wrote an essay for Orion about why skimping on science is bad for an engaged and informed citizenship.

To document the piece, I used Skloot’s work, my own experience as a poorly-trained Brooklyn classroom teacher, as well as my more recent teaching experience working with the dedicated science teachers at Hawbridge in North Carolina. I also paid visits to the inspiring Environmental Charter Middle and High Schools in Los Angeles, and spoke with Sandra Laursen, who codirects a research unit devoted to science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) education at the University of Colorado, Boulder. You can read the article online in full here; it will also appear in Leave No Child Inside, an anthology just published by Orion.

(Above: seedlings in the hydroponic greenhouse at ECHS.)

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