Sacred Headwaters Newsletter

Project Link:

Sacred Headwaters is a bi-weekly newsletter that aims to guide a co-learning process about the existential issues and planetary limitations facing humanity and about how we can reorient civilization in a way that will enable us to thrive for centuries to come.

The goal of this newsletter is to provide a deeper understanding of the issues, what’s at stake, and how we might approach mitigating them, up to and including restructuring our civilization to live within the bounds of the earth system. Each newsletter will include an annotated list of articles — targeting one or so hours of reading every two weeks (it’s a bit closer to two this week) — and a book recommendation. Feel free to bite off as much as you can chew. I hope these readings will help you understand and explore what a meaningful and sustainable life looks like and encourage discussion and dissemination of information about the ecological crises confronting humanity.

What’s in a Name?

The Sacred Headwaters — or Klabona — is a region of northwest British Columbia in Canada; it is a vast wilderness, one of the most biodiverse regions in Canada, and the source of three of North America’s largest salmon-bearing rivers. It’s also under constant threat of industrial development, including, most recently, massive-scale open pit mining that puts the entire ecosystem at risk. The Sacred Headwaters is emblematic of the overarching challenge we are facing — learning how to live within earth’s means as part of the earth system instead of separate from it, depleting it. It’s also a place where we can find lessons about how to do that. The First Nations have lived there for thousands of years, harvesting salmon and other natural resources in a sustainable cycle. Indigenous culture has much to teach us about what real sustainability looks like, and we need to open our minds to every learning opportunity if we’re going to continue inhabiting the earth for the foreseeable future.


Head to the newsletter website to subscribe and if you find it valuable, share with friends and colleagues.

GeoJSON Visualizer

Project Link:

This is a tool for rapidly visualizing and sharing geospatial data. It’s intended to allow users to quickly gain an understanding of the extent and properties of a dataset without having to open a cumbersome program like ArcGIS. It’s also designed to facilitate easy sharing of visualizations; users can highlight aspects of a dataset and generate a link that will bring anyone else to the same interactive map with filters and colouring already applied.

Technical Information

This project is written with Javascript using, LeafletJS, and React. It’s hosted on Github Pages.

Contributions, Bugs, and Feature Requests

This is an on-going open source project. Please use Github Issues to log any bugs or feature requests. Suggestions, testing, and code contributions are all welcome.

BC Environmental Assessments Map

Project Link:

This is a map-based visualization of past and ongoing environmental assessments of major industrial projects conducted by the government of British Columbia. The goal is to allow the user to explore the projects reviewed by the BC Environmental Assessment Office over time and space. Users can filter by decision, date, and project type.

Technical Information

The project is written with Javascript using, LeafletJS, and React. It is hosted on Github Pages.

The data are pulled from an API endpoint on the BC government website

Colorado River Allocation Visualization

Project Link

This project is an interactive visual interpretation of how existing and historical legal constraints on the Colorado River impact the actual allocation of water amongst the top-level stakeholders (basin states and Mexico). The user can experiment with changing annual flows — a simplified analog for total water supply – to see the how they impact water availability around the southwest.

I created it in November, 2017 for an online contest hosted by the Bureau of Reclamation. I was notified in March, 2018 that the project was chosen as a winner of the contest; the press release is here.

Technical Information

This visualization is written in Javascript and HTML. The base-layer of the map is provided by Mapbox and a library called Leaflet.js is used to manage the display of data on the map. was used as a build platform to package the HTML and Javascript into production-ready code. It is hosted on Github Pages.


Thanks to Dr. Jack Schmidt at Utah State University, Daphnee Tuzlak, Alex Walker, Maggi Kraft, Ryan Choi, and Sammy Lyster for their valuable input and feedback.

The Car Free Challenge

Project link:

The #carfreechallenge is a social media campaign and accompanying website I created at the beginning of 2018 to encourage and challenge outdoor athletes and enthusiasts to work to minimize their environmental impact. I personally am challenging myself to gain 150,000 vertical feet (by any sport) without driving — so, from home or by mass transit. Outdoor recreation is a rapidly growing sector and I think it’s important for us — as a group — to take real action to fight climate change. There’s a cognitive dissonance inherent in the idea of traveling to pursue these activities, and while I’m not suggesting anyone avoid travel completely, I do think people tend to overlook their local adventures and I am hoping this campaign will encourage people to get creative and explore near home rather than traveling all the time.

Technical Information

The website is written in vanilla Rails 5 and hosted on Heroku with Amazon CloudFront as a CDN. I’m not trying to build an activity tracker; in fact, I’m encouraging users to use Strava. The goal is just to create an easy-to-use platform to set goals and share them, and to provide simple progress tracking towards that goal.

Get Involved

Head to the website and set your own car-free goal for 2018! If you’re interested in sponsoring the #carfreechallenge, please get in touch — we’d be stoked to have corporate support in spreading this important mission.

Odrive Sync Lightroom Plugin

Project Link:

I struggled for a long time to figure out how to maintain my entire photo library (many hundreds of gigabytes and counting) while still having access to it on the road. Most photographers I know use external drives as archives and backups, but if you’re on the road for an extended period and need to access something on a drive you left at home, you’re out of luck.

I played around with mounting cloud storage as a network drive on my Mac with FUSE but it was too slow and unreliable to use regularly. In order to work with photos in Lightroom, they really need to be stored locally, so I needed a solution that allowed me to have local copies of photos I was actively working on and placeholders for cloud-stored photos I didn’t need.

Enter odrive, an application that allows you to sync entire sections of your hard drive with your cloud storage provider of choice — and then to “unsync” anything you’re not using, maintaining a .cloud placeholder locally instead.

This plugin interfaces with the odrive CLI to allow “syncing” (downloading from the cloud) and “unsyncing” (removing local copies) on-demand from within Lightroom.

More information about downloading and installing the plugin is available on Github. If you find the plug-in useful, please consider a donation.

Future Plans

The plugin serves me pretty well right now, but I’d like to be able to filter my catalog based on whether something is in sync or not in Lightroom, so that’s the next feature I have planned.

Grand Canyon River Map

Project link:

This is an interactive river map of the Grand Canyon of the Colorado with topography, information about river miles, camps, and rapids. It will eventually have a companion mobile app that allows users to download the map for online use and interact with the GPS functionality of their phones. It’s based on public geospatial data provided by the USGS and Grand Canyon Monitoring and Research Center (GCMRC).

Technical Information

The app is written in Javascript (ES6) using React, Leaflet, and Brunch. The underlying map tile is from Mapbox and is their “outdoors” layer.

Going Forward

Over the first part of 2018, I’ll be enhancing the map to be more user friendly and attempting to source additional public domain information about rapids, camps, and other notable features of the Grand Canyon for river runners. I’ll also be building a back-end Rails API app to support user accounts and interactivity in advance of creating a mobile application.

Camping By Kayak is a website I created in Fall 2017 as a guide to self-support kayaking rivers around the world. It’s also the web home of a longer term project I’m working on, a print guidebook for kayaking the Grand Canyon of the Colorado River. As of now, it’s a straightforward WordPress website populated with content mostly written by me, though a few folks have contributed some great articles on self-support river trips in the southeast US.

CampingByKayak is working with Colorado Kayak Supply to produce and distribute self-support related products. The first thing we’ll be marketing is a streamlined break-apart firepan, available for purchase in early 2018.

Proudly powered by WordPress | Theme: Baskerville 2 by Anders Noren.

Up ↑