Creating Viral Images at the People’s Climate March

On September 21st I worked with Survival Media Agency to document the largest climate march in history, the Peoples Climate March. Our team was contracted by 350.org to document and capture this historical event. To cover this moment, Survival Media brought in 6 photographers and 2 editors.

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Considering all the attention on the event, over 400,000 people marching in the streets, and the thousands of groups that came out to support, it was clear that we had the potential to make some of those images go viral.

Crucial to that social media push was the first shot of the march, the one that showed what was happening in New York ‘right now’. To get that shot I was given access to a crane at the front of the march. Twenty minutes before the march started I rose up above Columbus Circle to capture the moment. What I witnessed was an incredible demonstration of people power. It was impossible to see the end of the crowd. It extended all the way up to 91St and beyond. Never before had this many people gathered in one spot to demand action on climate change. Here was the climate movement coming of age.

However, I didn’t get to take in the scene for long because in a few minutes my colleagues were asking me to get down so they could have my images.

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On the ground, Shadia Fayne Wood and Bunker Seyfert proceeded to edit the crucial image and send it to the waiting crew at the offices of 350.org.

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Six hours later, when I had finished documenting the march, I finally caught a glimpse of the image. It had been shared over 7,000 times! It takes a team; photographers, editors, graphic designers and a platform that will amplify your image. But, when it works, it is awesome.

Here is that image.

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Laptops of a Movement

The following images were photographed at the PowerShift 2013 conference in Pittsburgh. I was searching for a different way to look at a conference, something that was unique to the individual, but at the same time consistent. In my opinion, by highlighting the issues that matter to them, the stickers on a laptop provide a more complete picture of each individual. At least this was my reasoning behind it, let me know what you think in the comments below.

Defend Our Climate – Oka

Over 300 people gathered today to rally in support of action on climate change, social justice and environmental justice at Oka, Quebec in Canada. The rally was part of a national day of action organized by a group of organizations in Canada called Defend Our Climate. The purpose of the rallies was to draw attention to the worsening climate situation and the increased fossil fuel activity in Canada.

It was a beautiful day to be out photographing and capturing these moments.


Defend Our Climate – Images by Robert van Waarden

Powershift – 25 Photos of Inspiration

I have just finished documenting Powershift in Pittsburgh. This is the third time I have covered a Powershift, the first in 2009 in Washington and the second was in London. There is no doubt in my mind that over 6000 young adults (and some teenagers) left Pittsburgh yesterday ready to change and fight for a diversity of issues. The most important aspect of this conference was the range of speakers and panels that highlighted the intersectionality of the climate crisis and the social and environmental justice movements in the United States and the world.

I worked with Project Survival Media to document the conference for the Energy Action Coalition. We did the important job of covering the speakers and the attendees and then stayed up late working with social media experts to push the images and memes out to world.

Below is my selection of the 25 top images from the weekend. I hope they inspire you to work a little bit harder than ever before to help solve the climate crisis.


25 images from Powershift 2013 – Images by Robert van Waarden

Energy East Open House – SansTransCanada and SaveCanada steal the show.

This evening TransCanada held their one and only open house in the vast city of Montreal. The open house was situated in the middle of nowhere in the east industrial area and almost everyone visiting got lost. Surprisingly, for a massive infrastructure project there were few ‘regular’ citizens to be seen. In fact there were more blue shirts in the room all night than ‘regular’ citizens.

But that statement doesn’t tell the whole story. It was clear that the majority of those blue shirts and regular citizens were actually concerned citizens. Save-Canada.com  has been attending these events, dressed in almost exactly the same fatigue as the TransCanada representatives and handing out more information about how this pipeline will impact Canadians and the world.  It seems that the TransCanada people don’t know what to do with them. Throughout the evening Save Canada, and SansTransCanada, their Quebec counterpart, engaged with citizens and even played a little game of ‘pin the spill on the pipeline’.

From my perspective it looks like TransCanada has a long uphill battle ahead. There are a lot of concerned citizens, few actual jobs and they are building an export pipeline. If you are looking for some more information here is one source. The visual story is below.

 


Save Canada – Trans Canada – Images by Robert van Waarden

Front Lines – Climate Justice Struggle in Durban

While world leaders discuss solutions to the climate crisis at the United Nations Conference of Parties in Durban, South Africa, the South Durban community is on the front line of the climate justice struggle.

Front Lines – Climate Justice Struggle in Durban from Robert van Waarden on Vimeo.

Image published in Dein Spiegel – COP 17 in Durban, South Africa

It has been awhile since my last post.Anjali Appaduri and youth intervention I was really busy in December at the UNFCCC conference in Durban and since then have been swamped with work, mainly helping supervise the 1000′s of images that will make up this years World Press Photo Contest. Expect more from me in the next month, including updates on projects and upcoming projects. Until then, a quick post to share a recent publication in the German magazine Dein Spiegel. This is an image of Anjali Appaduri delivering the youth intervention at COP 17.

Guest Post – Moving Planet in Nepal

This guest post is cross-posted from 350.org and written by Anna Keenan detailing our recent experience in Nepal.

I spend most of my time working as a climate campaigner for Greenpeace International in Amsterdam, however for the 2011 global day of climate action – Moving our Planet beyond fossil fuels – I have somehow ended up in Kathmandu, Nepal, with climate-activist photographer Robert van Waarden. I simply couldn’t resist the opportunity to write about what “Moving Planet” has been like in this magical (and slightly crazy) city of contrasts!

Today, there was not just one, but three major events in the Kathmandu area.

Moving Planet action in Nepal

First – we were up at 5am to make it on the bus to Dulikhel with Small Earth Nepal, a wonderful organization who are working on many aspects of sustainability – from awareness-raising, to scientific methodological training, to promoting biogas in rural villages. Today, 100 people hiked from Dhulikhel to Namo-buddha Monastery – where over 350 young monks are living and learning Tibetan Buddhist philosophy. The monks led our group in a meditation on a Zero-Carbon Future.

Aside from philosophical leadership, these monks are also into practical action. One of the many interesting initiatives at the monastery is the on-site production of heating briquettes from the monastery’s paper waste and agricultural waste. These carbon-neutral briquettes are burnt in place of firewood (which is in short supply) to keep the monastery buildings warm in winter – and because the briquettes burn without smoke, they also improve air quality.

The second event Nepalese Youth for Climate Action, along with Kathmandu Cycle City 2020, organised a cycle rally with over 120 keen young cyclists participated! In Kathmandu, every intersection is a chaotic, noisy blur of pedestrians, motorcycles, rickshaws, bicycles, taxis, trucks, as well as chickens, dogs and cows, all competing for space. The diesel fumes choke the city and many residents suffer from allergies or skin reactions. Cycling is not only good for the global climate – it could be a great solution to the local air-quality problem, and with no fuel costs, it is affordable – a big concern for most residents! However, the traffic chaos makes cycling a dangerous choice for anyone trying to ‘do the right thing’. Today’s cycle rally promotes the goal of Kathmandu being cycle-friendly within the decade – these young people are campaigning for cycle lanes so that more people can choose to cycle, in safety.

The third event was a fully solar-powered screening of short eco-films from around Nepal, run by Story Cycle. The solar panels charged the batteries during the day, and when the sun set on Patan’s Durbar Square, that renewable energy powered (despite rainy conditions!) a screening of 15 short films, made by young people, about local eco-issues in Nepal and South Asia.

These three events are just the tip of the iceberg (or should I say instead ‘just the edge of a great Himalyan glacier’?) of the Nepali sustainability initiatives that we have had the pleasure of learning about over the last few weeks. With so many different types of climate action happening in one place, and so many inspiring, intelligent young people on the case, a sustainable future for Nepal is looking more likely every moment.

Zero Carbon Time Lapse Photography

I recently had the wonderful opportunity to volunteer with the zero carbon bike generatorZero Carbon Collective in Amsterdam.  A collection of individuals concerned about climate change, the collective strives to Inspire Sustainability Through Creativity. Their launch event, the Zero Carbon Concert, was held November 27, coinciding with the opening of the UNFCCC Conference of Parties in Cancun, Mexico.

I was eager to help. When I heard that we needed to cycle the bicycle generators from Zeist to Amsterdam, a distance of 50+ km, I knew that was for me. It was a long slog in the snow but we made it and the concert was a huge success. An estimated 200 people attended. They all took turns powering the concert with bike generators to prevent the lights and music from going out. It seems everyone enjoyed the chance to get involved and help run a sustainable concert.

Join the Zero Carbon Collective on Facebook

I didn’t forget to document the event and I felt that this was a great opportunity to create a short multimedia piece and try out some time lapse photography. I attached the camera to the huge ‘Bakfiets’ and set it to shoot every 25 seconds. The result, a bumpy ride of 5 hours condensed to about 25secs. Watch the fun little video below to jump through some wonderful Netherlands scenery and catch the story of the Zero Carbon Concert.

Note: My first time lapse, lots learned, hopefully more to come.

Zero Carbon Concert Amsterdam from Robert van Waarden on Vimeo.

10:10:10 in Utrecht – Cradle to Cradle Climate Action

In conjunction with the Global Work Party, Cradle to Cradle, a event informing children and adults about sustainability was held today in Utrecht, the Netherlands. The Cradle to Cradle event was packed with kids and families, enjoying the sun, learning about sustainability and creating cool things with recycled materials. The photographs below show kids making wallets from old milk cartons and art from recycled material.

The Global Work Party was organized by 350.org and 10:10 and is being heralded as the world’s largest day of civil action ever. Be sure to hop on over to 350.org for more photography around the world.