Category Archives: Environment

On Camera with Painter Calvin Grimm


Calvin Grimm’s paintings allow viewers a window into the enduring beauty of the natural world. His work is abstract and biomorphic, striking in its use of color and line. His canvases draw their power from Grimm’s longstanding relationship with the environment. In the 1970’s, Grimm became involved in the National Outdoor Leadership School (NOLS) as a sea-kayaking and mountaineering expedition leader in Wyoming and Alaska. His experience allowed him to facilitate young people’s understanding and appreciation of the outdoors.

Grimm believes that humans’ firsthand experience with nature is the best defense system against environmental degradation. The premise is simple: people won’t destroy what they know and care about. His work also inspires a deep regret for natural disasters that have already occurred; one painting in particular focuses on the fate of the sea creatures living in Prince William Sound in the wake of the 1989 Exxon-Valdez oil spill, a canvas that Grimm revisited 20 years later after the BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.

Grimm’s work and his experience stand as testament to the fulfillment offered by a connection with our natural world. He notes that such a connection seems conspicuously absent in many aspects of our modern life. Hopefully, Grimm’s paintings will not only inspire us to understand and appreciate nature, but also to work towards its protection – ensuring our own flourishing in the process.

Published September 19, 2013

Painter Calvin Grimm: an exhibit


Abstract expressionist painter Calvin Grimm pours everything into his paintings—his emotions, his life experiences, and particularly his love and respect for nature. Though there are few recognizable forms in his paintings, it is not just abstract ideas he represents in oils. It can be something so specific as the image of oil-soaked wildlife trying to flee the aftermath of the Exxon Valdez and BP oil spills.

Here’s a short tour of three of his works.

Supporting Calvin means supporting an artist who is giving the world more than just wonderful painting. He spent decades of his life working to raise awareness and concern for our natural environment and the damage which we humans do to it. Don’t miss Samantha Pack’s article about Calvin, where he talks about his art and his beliefs about conservation. Or go enjoy the on-camera interview.

Calvin Grimm’s site
the Clearwater
the Woodstock Land Conservancy


Jeremy Scott Olsen sound editor / re-recording mixer
Ingersoll Avelino editor

Paula Minardi producer

Erick Iniguez coordinating producer
Ryan Metcalf supervising producer
Jeremy Scott Olsen executive producer

Shannah White consultant to Calvin Grimm

Calvin Grimm art and photographs used with permission and gratitude

“Twenty One Years: Exxon Valdez to BP Gulf Oil Spills”
oil on canvas

“Clearing Out the Stories”
oil on canvas

“Seeker/Sought: Deep Ocean / Deep Space Series”
oil on canvas

Calvin Grimm supports

National Outdoor Leadership School – The Leader in Wilderness Education

Hudson River Sloop Clearwater

Woodstock Land Conservancy

“I’ve Always Known”
written and produced by Nathan Schafer
copyright 2013 by Nathan Schafer

“Lamp Project Theme 2011″
written and produced by Nathan Schafer
copyright 2011 by Nathan Schafer

with great appreciation for our all-volunteer crew for their talent, dedication, professionalism and time

copyright 2013 by The Lamp Project
all rights reserved

Calvin Grimm: Nature’s Power, Captured on Canvas

When you look at Calvin Grimm’s paintings, what do you see? Biomorphic forms and vivid colors? Abstract expressionism – with an organic twist? The melding of line and shape that both haunts us and gives us hope? There’s no right answer; the work of this Woodstock-based artist and environmentalist embodies all of the above. Each of Calvin Grimm’s paintings is a rich and personal expression of our human relationship with the natural world. He articulates that his goal in painting is “to inspire people spiritually through art in a conversation about the beauty of nature and about the sustainability of nature. I feel gifted that I can do that through my art.” There’s another important element to Grimm’s work: optimism. “Very often my paintings are optimistic because nature is constantly fulfilling and revitalizing,” he says. Grimm’s gift with a paintbrush allows him to share the beauty of nature with others, and to engender hope that humans can interact meaningfully with, and protect, our natural world. He calls painting “the unique language that I have to help people feel optimism, so we can sustain the fight, and sustain the involvement [in environmental activism].” Grimm shares this unique language and skill with a number of organizations whose missions center around environmental protection.

Calvin Grimm: "Seeker/Sought: Deep Ocean/Deep Space Series". 2013. Oil on canvas.

Calvin Grimm: “Seeker/Sought: Deep Ocean/Deep Space Series”. 2013. Oil on canvas.

Grimm believes firmly in the importance of experiencing nature’s beauty and power firsthand. This, he says, is our best environmental defense system: if people interact with the natural world, they will come to see its importance, and then will be inspired and motivated to protect it. Beginning in the early 1970’s, Grimm became involved in the National Outdoor Leadership School, or NOLS, leading five-week-long mountaineering and sea kayaking expeditions in Wyoming and Alaska. (He also transported supplies to the adventurers by horseback). He says that the work allowed him, and the young people on the trip, to “absorb the nuances of the natural world,” and to “experience the wilderness, and the dynamic of forces and people and the changing environment, and all the while, to build a sensitivity in how we relate to that environment.” The genuine interaction between people and the natural world makes up the basis for human respect for nature – and the foundation for working together to protect it.

In addition to his work with NOLS, Grimm has been involved with the Hudson River Sloop Clearwater, a 106-foot long replica vessel of the sloops that sailed the Hudson River in the 18th and 19th centuries, conceptualized by activist and American folk legend Pete Seeger. Since its construction in 1969, the Clearwater has served as the flagship of the environmental movement, its purpose to educate youth about what they can do to protect and preserve the Hudson River.

Don’t miss The Lamp Project’s video exhibit of Calvin Grimm’s work, plus the on-camera interview about his life, art, and causes.

Grimm was a boatswain on the Clearwater throughout the 1970’s, charged with the boat’s maintenance, as well as an educator for students who came aboard. He describes Seeger’s vision and the mission of the Clearwater: “If you get people to fall in love with the river, they can actually appreciate that there are living creatures in it, and that it has a life of its own. Then, it became a love, which became a political force – Seeger wanted to create a groundswell of political activism – taking people’s sense of love and a sense of the crime that was being done and transforming that emotion into action.” Grimm also mentions how powerful it was for children to see that it took serious teamwork to raise the boat’s huge sail, an idea of collective intention that would fuel their efforts as champions of the environment long after they disembarked the Clearwater.

Depicting the devastation – both physical and emotional – of nature’s destruction by humans is also an important element in Grimm’s work. He describes the time he spent in Prince William Sound, Alaska, and the particular memory of how the tide receded to reveal sea urchins and sea anemones clinging, vulnerable, to the rocks. He developed “a deep and personal relationship with those creatures.” When he heard news of the Exxon Valdez oil spill in 1989 in Prince William Sound, Grimm was overcome with emotion. What he’d begun in his studio as a hopeful painting about these sea animals became “visceral, slimy, oily, and devastating. The creatures attempted to pull themselves out of the mess, unsuccessfully, and black crows were flying around, but it was all in an abstract representation…It was a real expression of my disappointment, my hurt, and my anger.” Grimm channeled his emotions into his work, and the result was a remarkable canvas that chronicles a disastrous natural and historical event. When he heard news of the BP oil spill in 2010, Grimm knew that he had to revisit the painting. The final canvas, titled Exxon Valdez to BP Gulf Oil Spills (1989-2010), both awes us in its beauty and frightens us in its reality.

In speaking about his work with youth, Grimm also touches on our modern disconnect with nature. He mentions Nature Deficit Disorder, a condition defined by a lack of connection with natural elements that can result in attention and mood disorders, depression, and obesity. He says that children in particular have lost their interest in and respect for nature, and have not “developed their intuition, sensitivity and feeling for it. They can’t have a spiritual experience with it if they can’t actually feel it.” In terms of protecting our environment, the worry is that “these people are not going to be qualified to steward [nature], not being in touch with it, and not knowing what it means to lose it.” Grimm speaks with a palpable sadness, and we can see the potent memory of his experience working with youth on the Clearwater and during NOLS expeditions.

But, ever the optimist, Grimm continues to show us through his work how central and vital our connection with nature can be. And, Grimm maintains his connection to various environmental protection organizations, such as The Woodstock Land Conservancy, by painting pieces to be used as auction centerpieces that attract critical fundraising. Grimm’s home, too, stands as a testament to his passion for protecting our environment. Built out of recycled and repurposed materials and designed to complement the wooded mountainside it rests on, Grimm’s house functions as both an art gallery to display his work, and a work of art to be admired all on its own.

To be sure, it will take more than appreciating works of art imbued with the majesty of our natural world to alter attitudes and environmental policy. And paintings may never be enough to recapture what we have already lost. However, the impact of Calvin Grimm’s art is undeniable: he allows us to understand what, precisely, we are fighting for.

If you are interested in learning more about Calvin Grimm and his art, please visit his website, You can also learn more about the organizations that Calvin Grimm is involved in, including the Hudson River Sloop Clearwater, and the National Outdoor Leadership School (NOLS), by visiting their websites for more information.

Our World in Numbers: Tracking the Live World Clock


A woman contracts malaria. A man suffers his first stroke. A war robs a family of their lives. As much as we lament these misfortunes, we still feel detached from them—keen on viewing disasters as hypothetical scenarios rather than as distinct daily possibilities. How differently would we react to these events if we could fathom their yearly impact? Daily impact? If we could pinpoint the escalating rates of births, deaths, and disasters by the minute?

Spreading awareness of global trends is the aim of the Live World Clock. A counter developed by Poodwaddle, this embeddable widget illustrates the scope of global events by projecting their quantitative impact in real time. Users are able to toggle between durations—years, months, weeks, days, and even time from the present moment on—and scroll through live statistics, including those measuring global population, death rates, the spread of illnesses, and human environmental impact. Among the most striking of these findings are the death tolls from disease, the staggering amount of carbon dioxide emissions, and our multiplying national debt: numbers that continue to escalate tremendously, even as our lives seem to continue independently of rapidly evolving global factors. Though the Live World Clock functions merely as a mathematical, research-based projection of these statistics, it serves as a staggering illustration of misfortunes, deaths, and harmful human trends that continue without a foreseeable end—numbers that will only continue to rise if we fail to offer immediate aid.

Interfaces like the Live World Clock emphasize the need for quick collective action. The old maxim states that time stops for nobody—but when it comes to the global problems we have the power to control, it’s now easier than ever to inform ourselves about these trends, take a stand against escalating issues, and stop the clock on war, disease, and other calamities in our world.

The Live World Clock is also available here.

Songcraft and Sustainability: musician Victoria Vox


Victoria Vox

As a personal challenge and a gift to enthusiastic fans, Victoria Vox is recording 52 songs in 52 weeks. “The 52 Covers Project” features the singer-songwriter, her ukulele, and a more unusual instrument: the mouth trumpet.

Why mouth trumpet? Vox laughs about this. “In 2005 I performed 200 shows. I drove around the country all by myself. That’s a lot of alone time. I started writing a tune that had a jazz form and it really called for a solo of some sort.” Naturally, mouth trumpet came out.

Originally from Green Bay, Wisconsin, Vox now lives in Baltimore, traveling to give workshops and performing more than 125 shows a year. Her repertoire is an eclectic, all-acoustic mix of folk, contemporary, and jazz, while her ukulele style ranges into surprising, alternative rhythms and themes.

Vox has attracted a stream of accolades and awards. This summer, her album, “Exact Change” won the “Vox Pop” vote for Best Adult Contemporary Album at the Tenth Annual Independent Music Awards. At the same time, she has been exceptionally good at relating directly with fans. Those fans have responded by funding three albums since 2006.

Recognition has also encouraged Vox to donate a portion of her CD sales to 1% for the Planet. A non-profit organization, 1% is actually a network of companies, all donating 1% of their sales to environmental organizations worldwide. Vox said that she had always been environmentally conscious, but felt she could do more. “I decided to use my music to create awareness about the environment, mostly through the decisions I make as a business owner.”

She continually seeks new ways to promote environmental awareness. Last year, Vox began taking mass transit to many of her gigs. Then, in October of 2011, she joined Team 1% in a 320-mile bicycle event called Climate Ride to fight climate change and support sustainable solutions.

As fans say, “Stay tuned.” Vox shows no signs of slowing–not in creative innovation nor in active support of the causes she loves.

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