Santa Rosa, California

Last weekend I was able to travel with Mormon Newsroom to cover stories in Santa Rosa and Napa, California. These two areas have recently been hit by devastating fires that destroyed thousands of homes and structures. We visited two local Mormon congregations, one of which had opened their church up to locals who had last or been evacuated from their homes. I was inspired to see church members there form their own ministry and open up their hearts and church to people they didn't know. Throughout the day I watched volunteers bring in bedding, toiletries and home cooked meals for people staying at the church. Here are two stories we produced on the trip and a few photos.

Most of the areas destroyed by the fires were still closed to the public and home owners. One afternoon we were given media access to visit a Santa Rosa neighborhood. It was unbelievable to walk through an area where hundreds of homes had been completely destroyed. All that remained were burnt out vehicles, large metal appliances and fireplace shafts that resembled cemetery headstones.

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Images courtesy Mormon Newsroom

Images courtesy Mormon Newsroom

Accra, Ghana

I spent the last two weeks in Freetown, Sierra Leone and Accra, Ghana capturing stories for Mormon Newsroom. The first story covered the community open house for the new Ghana Missionary Training Center. The new building can accommodate up to 320 missionaries who will be serving in west Africa.

The Missionary Training Center has several beautiful indoor and outdoor spaces designed to provide a good learning environment for missionaries. (Images courtesy Mormon Newsroom)

The Missionary Training Center has several beautiful indoor and outdoor spaces designed to provide a good learning environment for missionaries. (Images courtesy Mormon Newsroom)

The Missionary Training Center sits on the same campus as the Ghana Temple, Accra Stake Center and West Africa Area offices. The mayor of Accra commented that this campus is one of the most well kept areas in the city. 

The Missionary Training Center sits on the same campus as the Ghana Temple, Accra Stake Center and West Africa Area offices. The mayor of Accra commented that this campus is one of the most well kept areas in the city. 

The second story covered a "Face to Face" broadcast in which teenage youth were given the opportunity to ask questions to an Apostle from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Elder and Sister Renlund answered questions on two broadcasts, one in English and a second in French. 

The broadcast was recorded in the cafeteria of the new Missionary Training Center.

The broadcast was recorded in the cafeteria of the new Missionary Training Center.

Youth from Ghana and neighboring countries traveled up to twelve hours by bus to attend the broadcast in person.

Youth from Ghana and neighboring countries traveled up to twelve hours by bus to attend the broadcast in person.

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Two hosts presented youth submitted questions to Elder and Sister Renlund.

Two hosts presented youth submitted questions to Elder and Sister Renlund.

Eyes Toward the Past

Next week I have several documentary shorts that will be featured in an art exhibit held at the Union Station Museum in Ogden, Utah. The exhibit, called "Eyes Toward the Past," features twenty paintings that were commissioned forty years ago for the United States bi-centennial celebration. The paintings showcase imagery of events in the history of Northern Utah. The exhibit runs from July 24th to the 28th. 

Here are a two of the paintings that will be featured along with their accompanying short documentaries. 

"Chief Pocatello at Brigham City" by Gary E. Smith  (Image courtesy Weber State University)

"Chief Pocatello at Brigham City" by Gary E. Smith  (Image courtesy Weber State University)

"The Goodyear Horse Drive" by Farrell R. Collett (Image courtesy Weber State University)

"The Goodyear Horse Drive" by Farrell R. Collett (Image courtesy Weber State University)

 

 

The Right of Nature

Last week I returned from a trip to Ecuador and the Galapagos Islands. I spent a week researching, gathering interviews, and filming b-roll concerning a piece of environmental legislation that was passed in Ecuador several years ago. "The Right of Nature" is a legal concept similar to the Endangered Species Act, but focuses more broadly on entire ecosystems. Since its adoption in Ecuador, the concept has spread to Europe, North America and the South Pacific. I'll be working with Hal Crimmel (Chair of the English Department at Weber State University) and Dr. Valeria Berros (A professor of law at the Universidad de Palermo) to create a documentary on the "The Right of Nature" this coming year. Here are a few of the people we were able to meet and interview on our trip to Ecuador.

Arturo Izurieta is head of the Charles Darwin Foundation Research Center on the Galapagos Islands. Izurieta did his doctoral thesis on the threats faced by indigenous peoples in Australia and gave us insight into why "The Right of Nature" legistlation started in Ecuador based on the needs of their indigenous population. This interview is shot on a patio outside Izurieta's Galapagos Islands office. Nice view!

Arturo Izurieta is head of the Charles Darwin Foundation Research Center on the Galapagos Islands. Izurieta did his doctoral thesis on the threats faced by indigenous peoples in Australia and gave us insight into why "The Right of Nature" legistlation started in Ecuador based on the needs of their indigenous population. This interview is shot on a patio outside Izurieta's Galapagos Islands office. Nice view!

Alberto Acosta is the former head of of the Ecuador Constitutional Assembly and was a key figure in bringing forth "The Right of Nature" legislation. His role would be comparable to the United States Speaker of the House. 

Alberto Acosta is the former head of of the Ecuador Constitutional Assembly and was a key figure in bringing forth "The Right of Nature" legislation. His role would be comparable to the United States Speaker of the House. 

Valeria Berros is a professor of law at the Universidad de Palermo in Argentina. She has been researching the impacts of "The Right of Nature" legislation for several years and was recently awarded a fellowship at the Rachel Carson Center for Environment and Society in Munich, Germany.

Valeria Berros is a professor of law at the Universidad de Palermo in Argentina. She has been researching the impacts of "The Right of Nature" legislation for several years and was recently awarded a fellowship at the Rachel Carson Center for Environment and Society in Munich, Germany.

What I find interesting about the rights of nature is that they provide a new perspective to try to generate new ways both to avoid pollution and to protect certain natural areas. In fact... we started thinking about extending rights beyond the human limit.
— Valeria Berros