As a transplant from Monterey, CA I was definitely excited to return to a scenic coastal town after living in the Bay Area for four years. Over the past year I spent every free weekend traveling back and forth between the city and the California’s Central Valley, so getting to stay in one place for two months sounded like a treat. Bonus points for the tall trees and windy beaches, us NorCal kids don’t expect to do much swimming anyway.
My first day on the job I drove out to Salem with my mentor, Meg, and quite frankly chatted her ear off. In the Salem office I met a good amount of the Department of Land Conservation and Development staff and all of them seemed to take interest in my project. A few of them also had some hand in it over the years and I believe they were excited to see where I could take it being that it is my main focus during my time here.
The official title of my project is the Oregon King Tides Photo Initiative. This project is actually an international initiative dependent on citizen science. Coastal communities around the world are asked to take pictures of “King Tides”, or the highest tides of the year, and standard high tides for comparison. This helps coastal management organizations visualize and plan for the ways in which these communities may be affected by sea level rise. Newport is a prime location to witness the King Tides in the winter and is where I’ll be working for the next 10 weeks.
Although a lot of my work involves sorting through photos and developing ways to discuss the importance of this project, I will have the chance to do some field work! Many of the photos sent in do not include the “normal” high tides comparison shots. Throughout the summer I will travel up and down the coast a few times to make sure we gather the missing pieces and develop a clear message about why this project matters.
My first week was mostly full of correcting the photos uploaded to the Flickr page that had missing or scrambled information. Meg had mentioned that most of the participants were from *much* older generations… and it showed just a bit. One of my own goals this summer is to help Meg create a stronger social media platform for the project so people of all ages are informed and start to get involved (follow @oregonkingtides on Instagram!). Social media has be become an incredible marketing tool in the last 5 years and I see so much potential in it. If used correctly, projects like this and others that depend on citizen science can truly gain massive numbers of dedicated participants and continue to educate the public on why the issue of our rapidly-changing planet is important.
My favorite part of the week was getting to do some graphic design work for posters being used at an upcoming beach bash. This project has so many great opportunities for me to be creative. I also feel obligated to learn as much as I can about photography which has really helped get me outside to explore and take some photos.
On my lunch breaks I usually grab a Dutch Bros (they are a true delicacy in California!) and head to the beach to play around with my camera. I’m hoping I’ll soon be contacted by Dutch Bros offering me a large sum for advertising their coffee so well.
Lastly, I found both a gym and a natural foods store where I can lift weights and purchase my favorite vegan snacks. My personal goal is to hit a couple personal records while I’m here and try some new recipes out on my roommates. If anyone misses work due to food poisoning that’s probably my fault, apologies in advance! Newport may be small but it’s full of kind and passionate people. Cheers to week one and embarking on a new adventure.