Using the power of photojournalism to expose social, economic and ecological injustice

Posts from the ‘Nature’ category

Clearcut area of forest by Dominion Energy for the Atlantic Coast Pipeline. This cut is near Wintergreen Resort, a four-season mountain resort on the eastern slopes of the Blue Ridge Mountains, located in Nelson County, Virginia.                                                                                       photo: Orin Langelle

 Atlantic Coast Pipeline Already Destroying Forests

Ernie Reed, from the Nelson County District Board of Supervisors, gave Dr. Mary Finley-Brook and me a tour of some of the sites where the Atlantic Coast Pipeline would go through Nelson County. Dr. Mary Finley-Brook serves on the Virginia Governor’s Advisory Council on Environmental Justice and is a professor of geography and the environment at the University of Richmond.

This photo was taken close to where a drill would bore beneath the Appalachian Mountain National Scenic Trail and the Blue Ridge Parkway through the mountain gap between Three Ridges Wilderness (George Washington National Forest) and Devil’s Knob (at Wintergreen Resort). The mountain consists of greenstone and granite.  The bore would be over 4,200 feet long and 46 inches in diameter for a 42” pipeline that would contain fracked natural gas at a pressure of 1440 pounds per square inch.

Dr. Finley-Brook (left) and Ernie Reed (right) by a solar powered USGS Water Quality monitoring Station in Nelson County, VA. Photo: Orin Langelle

The drill is estimated to require almost 30 million gallons of potable water. The polluted water and residue from the drilling then must be contained, transferred to tanker trucks and trucked to a waste disposal site, yet to be determined. Nelson County has declined an offer from Dominion to purchase this water and a source for it is yet to be determined

Although the ACP has not yet received final approval, Dominion Energy is clearing some corridors of forest where they have purchased easements through the threat of eminent domain. This clearcutting is considered a “preconstruction activity” by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC).

If constructed the Atlantic Coast Pipeline would be 604 miles long and cross West Virginia, Virginia and North Carolina. Approximately 300 miles of the pipeline would run through forested land.


This video footage is from JR Chopper and other credits are listed at the end of this short clip. While I did not take photos for this clip, I am working on a documentary photo essay of the ACP and I did help in production of this clip.

The struggle against the pipeline has called into question many different practices by Dominion Energy regarding environmental, racial and class injustices. – Orin Langelle


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Note: I am honored that Alexis Lathem chose one of my photographs for the cover of her new book, Alphabet of Bones. Alexis and I have been friends for almost a quarter of a century and have worked on many campaigns together. And we both have much more to share as time goes by…

If you are near Burlington, Vermont on September 26th, I hope you will attend Alexis’ book launch party (details below).

Alphabet of Bones

Special Book Launch   26 September 2015 @ 4:30 p.m.
Arts Riot
400 Pine Street
Burlington, VT 05401
The readings will be accompanied by a fine art slideshow and a live jazz music performance.

Alphabet of Bones

by Alexis Lathem

Releases September 2015

Alphabet of Bones is a collection of poems born out of the poet’s long engagement with the natural world—as gardener, shepherd, activist, and as a mortal human being whose bones will one day return to dust. Set in the context of unprecedented violence against nature—as living cultures are reduced to archeology—these poems take the long view, insisting on a deep ecological memory, and an awareness that our stories will be told through the landscapes we leave behind. From the pastoral landscape to the arctic tundra, these poems trace the discovery of the luminous in the shadows of loss. “We must leave a message,” the poet asks. “But in what language will we speak?”


Praise for Alphabet of Bones

“Alexis Lathem’s poems are steeped in patient observations and a deep comprehension of the grace and tragedy of human life, of the mysteries of the natural world, and our fragile place within it. Perhaps most of all these poems are shaped by an understanding of the power of language — its music as much as its meaning. Alphabet of Bones is a grave, beautiful accomplishment.”
—Jane Brox, author of Brilliant: The Evolution of Artificial Light, named one of the top ten nonfiction books of 2010 by Time magazine; Five Thousand Days Like This One, a 1999 finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award in nonfiction; and Here and Nowhere Else, winner of the L.L. Winship/PEN New England Award.


Instructions for a Ghost Writer

Let it rain so long that the only vowel the water knows is O.
Keep still. Wait for the mist to lift.

If you’ve listened to the moths beat their wings against their moons—
then you will be prepared.

You will hear things—animals, footsteps, wind—
and will doubt yourself. This is to be expected.
Your ghost will come.

She will tap softly in your ear and hum.
She has a fondness for words like pellucid and papyri.  
She will want you to put them in.

Follow these instructions and she will come again.
Stay close to death. Stop for the dying squirrel in the road,
put its heartbeat in your poem.
Grow your parsley and calendula from seed.

She might fall asleep in the corner of your room, stumble out at dawn.
Overtake you walking on the Brooklyn Bridge. Be tender,
she is made of the faded scent of pine. Close the door quietly.


About the Poet

1436552732483Alexis Lathem is an environmental journalist and writing teacher. Recipient of the Chelsea Award for Poetry, a Vermont Arts Council grant, and a Bread Loaf scholarship, her poems and essays have appeared in many journals. In her reporting on the struggles of indigenous peoples to defend their lands from development, she has paddled and trekked through taiga and rainforest. She lives on a small farm in the Winooski River Valley.


 To purchase Alphabet of Bones, please contact:

Wind Ridge Books of Vermont
233 Falls Rd., PO Box 595, Shelburne, VT 05482
(802) 922-7641  [email protected]



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“All signs show that Paraguay, both its territory and its population, are under attack by conquerors, but conquerors of a new sort. These new ‘conquistadors’ are racing to seize all available arable land and, in the process, are destroying peoples’ cultures and the country’s biodiversity — just as they are in many other parts of the planet, even in those areas that fall within the jurisdiction of ‘democratic’ and ‘developed’ countries. Every single foot of land is in their crosshairs. Powerful elites do not recognize rural populations as having any right to land at all.” – Dr. Miguel Lovera

Photo Essay by Orin Langelle. Analysis at the end of the essay by Dr. Miguel Lovera from the case study: The Environmental and Social Impacts of Unsustainable Livestock Farming and Soybean Production in Paraguay. Dr. Lovera is the ex-president of SENAVE, the National Plant and Protection Agency during the government of Fernando Lugo.

Woman holding photo of baby whose condition is blamed on Monsanto during a rally in Asunción, Paraguay, 3 December 2014.

Woman holding photo of a baby whose condition is blamed on Monsanto and agrotoxics during a rally in Asunción, Paraguay, 3 December 2014.

I recently returned from Paraguay and observed corporate dreams coming true at the expense of the people and biodiversity…

Stay tuned.

– Orin Langelle, 16 December 2014

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