Documentary Team Win Nau's Inaugural $10,000 Grant 4 Change

drummond steele wildfire photo

Benjamin Drummond and Sara Joy Steele are a Seattle-based documentary team specialising in multimedia stories about people, nature and climate change. They are also the just announced recipients of $10,000 from the eco outdoor clothing company Nau, who through their Grant 4 Change campaign, which ran from 7 July to 31 August, exposed the work of over 280 very worthy nominees to a broader audience.

Ten finalists (five selected by the public, and five by Nau staff) were chosen, and Benjamin Drummond and Sara Joy Steele have emerged as the winning grantees. As Nau put it in their media release, "Working together for over a decade, Benjamin and Sara have told stories through photography, field audio recordings and words. From semi-nomadic reindeer herdsmen in the Arctic to wildfire fighters of the American West, the two have documented the lives of people on a regional level, understanding that in order to mobilize a global effort we must first generate local will."US Wildfires
The top photo is from their project 'Facing Climate Change,' and is taken from a sub-project, known as the Tinder People, documenting the issues surrounding wildfires in the US West. According to Drummond and Steele the 2007 wildfires cost over 3 billion USD in federal funds, not to mention the nearly 3.8 million hectares (15,000 square miles) they burned. Many western forests have become overgrown and "climate change essentially holds a match to these fuels and the millions of homes we've built around them."

(By coincidence I was just today reading the transcript of the television program, Foreign Correspondent that said exactly the same thing. "There are climate change sceptics out there for sure, but you will not find too many of them in the ranks of the California firefighters."

'At the US fire central command in Boise Idaho, weather predictor Rick Ochoa says as the summers have become hotter and drier, they have seen the fuels dry out more and the forest change and he thinks the change is permanent. "I think this is here to stay. We're seeing here in the States and in Australia, longer fire seasons, hotter fire seasons and it's just because we're dealing with a much warmer globe," he said.')

drummond steele bio photo

Benjamin Drummond, Sara Joy Steele
But we digress. Back to Benjamin Drummond, Sara Joy Steele and Nau. "Benjamin and I are so honored to be the inaugural recipients of Nau's Grant for Change," said Sara Joy Steele. "This campaign will provide us with the financial support and added public awareness needed to grow our work. Hopefully, we will continue to inspire others to act."

And their work does continue apace, with a new new project just launched where they record a program where criminals get down and dirty: Connecting Prisons with Nature: The Sustainable Prisons

nau grant 4 change image

In the meanwhile Nau plan to honour Benjamin and Sara at a bit of a bash in New York, come 21 November 2009, and will continue to use the Nau website to promote the couple's work for change during the next year. As Gordon Seabury, president and CEO of Nau see it, "Positive change is at the core of Nau's business philosophy, and it affects every decision, from packaging materials to marketing partnerships. Our goal for the Grant for Change was to find others who were trying to give back."

:: Nau Grant 4 Change and Facing Climate Change.

Photos: Benjamin Drummond and Sara Joy Steele
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