Thursday, May 1, 2014

Our Current Apocalyptic State and My Final Thoughts

So I leave you with this...

Even though I believe that we are currently living in a state of the apocalypse, the city of San Francisco being a prime example of that shift away from what was old towards what is new, I still have hope for humanity and the world that we live in today.

It's a strange thing really.  Most environmentalists struggle with the ups and downs about what is going on in our environment and the great effects that humanity has on it through the systems, methods, and structures that we have created for ourselves.  But at the end of the day, I see the light at the end of the tunnel.  Even if our species doesn't survive, I know that Nature will restore itself and take back what was rightfully hers in the first place: her land.

We have painfully destroyed the beautiful Earth that we live on and we continue to do it daily by ignoring the signals, messages, facts, and concepts that aren't only coming from scientists and scholarly professors, but from those all around us.  There is evidence in each and every one of us that we are impacting the environment in a negative way and that the actions we are taking are therefore impacting us and harming both our physical and psychological state of beings.

I think that we have progressed too far.  I don't believe that technology will save us.  Not at all.  Because I believe that WE will save us.  And if we used our technologies in the most beneficial of ways and in the least harmful ways, it could aid us to be the best beings we could be and to create the best planet it could be.

It's important to understand that what we did yesterday affects today and what we do today affects tomorrow.  So let's make a personal value to protect the sacred beings of our own kind and the sacred Earth that allows our kind to live in the first place.

I hope this blog, and the links to my photos, guidelines, and other project outlets have helped you come to an understanding of what the apocalypse actually means in today's society, why we are in an apocalypse of our own, what we can do to shift away from it and towards a brighter future, and my overall standpoint of why I see it and think the way that I do.

Now, it's up to US to not only fight for our lives, but to fight for this Earth.  To know that Nature has a right in itself to be valued and to be taken care.  Because if we don't take care of it, who else will?  We must lead by example for future generations to come and show them that this is not only a necessity or a priority, but it is in our bones to nurture Nature back to health, just as it has nurtured us for these billions of years.

So I'll leave you with a few inspirational quotes from people such as Rachel Carson, the first prominent female environmental activist of our time, the good old Dr. Seuss, and my favorite movie that is the epitome of what it would be like to live in an apocalypse and what it does to humanity as a whole, in Beasts of the Southern Wild.

So thank you for not only listening to me rant about my ideas on society and the apocalypse, but for actually hearing me out.  It means more than you will ever know.

"Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, Nothing is going to get better.  It's not."-- Dr. Seuss

"The human race is challenged more than ever before to demonstrate our mastery, not over nature but of ourselves." -- Rachel Carson

"In nature nothing exists alone." -- Rachel Carson

"I see that I am a little piece of a big, big universe, and that makes it right." -- Beasts of the Southern Wild

"The whole universe depends on everything fitted together just right.  If one piece busts, even the smallest piece...the entire universe will get busted." -- Beasts of the Southern Wild

"You gotta learn to take care of people smaller and sweeter than you are." -- Beasts of the Southern Wild

Pier 70: Once a Naval Shipyard Now a Place of Beautiful Ruins

The second place that I chose to shoot at for my project was another place full of military and naval history, but also another abandoned space that has been neglected due to the fact that it is located at the edges of San Francisco.  It is right on the water near AT&T park, and unfortunately many people don't have the desire to renovate the space or revitalize it to be a part of the fruitful, cultural, and thriving center that San Francisco is today.

I don't want to say much about Pier 70 because I would rather let the pictures speak for themselves, but it was a former dry dock that housed ships such as the famous SS Oceanic.  It also housed many prominent businesses such as Bethlehem Shipbuilding Corporation's administrative offices and Union Iron Works.  The dock has been in little use since then, but there has been talk of reparation plans to restore the pier back to the importance and usefulness it once had and to also fix up the historical buildings that surround the pier.

Today, many of these buildings are vacant, just like the ones on Treasure Island, but the people of San Francisco have been trying to re-create these spaces into community centers in which ideas, goods, and conversation can be shared amongst our own.

For example, the Forest City Project is working with San Francisco to help develop this area to restore it as a creative working and living space that reflect types of communities that we want to live in and the types of environments that we want to live in.  Here's a link to their website and the work that they are doing:

So here's the 2nd part of my project, in which I shot at and around Pier 70 so that I could understand the significance of this space and why it exists in the current state that it does today.

The Apocalyptic Buildings and Landscapes of Pier 70

Here's also a link to my Flickr for more photos at Pier 70:

Exploring Treasure Island and its Abandoned Past

I instantly knew what my first choice would be when I decided that I was going to go out and shoot for this project because it was a space I had visited for and a place that both intrigued and haunted me for its lack of life on the island, but evidence that it existed due to the rows upon rows of vacant buildings and lots that lined its tiny streets.  And it didn't disappoint.  I didn't know what to expect when I went to visit Treasure Island and to take photos for my project, but what I discovered was a space so beautiful and twisted, that it was teeming with history and just waiting for its story to be told.

So here it is.  Treasure Island in all its former glory.

Abandoned Military Buildings

Treasure Island is a man-made area of land that reaches just across the Bay Bridge and right next to our beloved city of San Francisco: the joy and success of what it once used to be a part of, now only a place of history, emptiness, and hopelessness. It is the epitome of our apocalyptic future, with its vacant buildings, barren landscapes, and no motivation or determination to turn this town into the thriving city that it once was and the community that it once had.

Treasure Island was a former military base and naval station, and it also housed the first San Francisco International Airport. In more recent times, the island has been used for film stages and film sets, it is currently occupied by Job Corps, it has a small urban farm, it hosts the Treasure Island Music Festival every fall, and has a population of less than 7,000 people with access to only a small amount of schools,  grocery stores, day-time activities, and so on.

Broken and Boarded

The question is: Why hasn’t Treasure Island revitalized itself over the past 5-10 years? With access to places like San Francisco and the greater Bay Area, one would assume that the opportunities for this island would be limitless. Maybe it’s the isolation, the abandonment, or the fear that it would take away from booming San Francisco and the hype for people to move to inner cities. And then again, who really knows the cause for Treasure Island’s current state of existence. All I know is, there’s a reason for everything. For a place once so full of life, there has to be an explanation for its decline in relevance and popularity.

I’ve been to the island a few times before, once with a class and once while attending a music festival, but the more often I visited it, the more that I noticed how broken it seemed. There wasn’t much sign of human life, except the cars driving to and from the island, the brand new, bright red playground that I happened upon accidentally, and the church that sits just below the first stop sign you come to when you arrive at the island.

This time around, I came to the island with the intention of shooting these apocalyptic landscapes and uninhabited, boarded up buildings for my class project, in which I wanted to show how lifeless this island seemed and why it ended up this way. I wanted to discover the story beneath it all because I knew this place didn’t just stand still in time, but that it mattered to the history of the Bay.

Hope in the Blue

So what’s in store for the future of Treasure Island? To be honest, I’m not really sure if I can answer that question. But what I do know is that even through the broken and boarded up windows, the paint peelings hanging off the walls, the worn down buildings, and the random objects of both trash and value that I stumbled upon, I noticed the color that still remained on the island.

The blue.

It still had some character. It was as if hope had never left.

Forgotten Things

My final thought is this: that at the end of the day, no matter how broken something is, how rundown or empty it may be, it’s never completely forgotten. These ‘forgotten’ things, such as the vacant tennis courts, rusted fences, and directionless signs, and this ‘forgotten’ island, weren’t really that forgotten after all. Even though many of us tend to over look the importance of our land and the resources it gives us willingly everyday, nature never forgets its existence.

It was beautiful to see through all these empty lots and buildings, that nature made its way through things. Flowers sprouted up in the cracks of the cement, trees grew tall and mighty next to rundown buildings, the grass appeared greener than ever, and spiders were making homes in empty pipes. In the end, nature always wins, and maybe, just maybe, nature will be the one to restore this forgotten place and make it remembered once again.

Here are links to both my Flickr and Exposure so that you can see more of the work that I did for my project and more of the shots that I took on the island: