This elegant book is the first to provide a comprehensive visual and written history of the Laguna Wilderness and the efforts to save it. Liberally illustrated with approximately 80 color photographs, the book also provides area maps plus information on the geography, geology, flora, and fauna of the region.
winter 2003, 9.5″ x 11″, 96 pages, 80 photographs
“Ron Chilcote, the author-photographer, participated from the earliest days in an astounding success story in land conservation amidst the rapid post-World War II development of Southern California. More than just beautiful images, the photographs express the deep attachment the photographer feels for the land in what is ultimately, a work of love.”
Elizabeth Brown, President, Laguna Greenbelt Inc.
“Ron Chilcote’s magnificent images of nature are a faithful reminder of the passion this wonderful land evokes in the many thousands of people who worked so hard to save it. The book is a fitting tribute to their perseverance and an accurate record of the years of struggle, hope, and ultimate triumph in preserving and protecting the wilderness open space.”
Michael Pinto, President, Laguna Canyon Foundation
“The camera’s lens has been used skillfully, dramatically, and artistically to showcase the incomparable beauty of Nature’s Laguna Wilderness. This exemplifies the very reason thousands walked to save Laguna Canyon for current and future generations.”
Carolyn Wood, President, Laguna Canyon Conservancy
From the Introduction
One must question what motivates a photographer to commit in the struggle for the preservation of nature in the face of human intrusion and to try and capture a beauty that endures to the present. Frequently I take my camera into the field where it is possible to find peace and spirituality and to discover how to shape a commitment not only to preserving what is left of pristine nature but to finding the positive values of human existence. My convictions have thus largely been shaped by personal experience, but I also have been moved by the thoughts of others who have guided me in the present work. For instance, the nature photographer, Galen Rowell believes that photographers are indebted to humanity to produce images of the truths they witness in the field: “Behind every successful photograph of the past lies its power to endure…it shows us that the power of a nature photograph is irrevocably connected to our human belief system” (2001: 26). The writer, Terry Tempest Williams, reflects on how photography leads to conservation of wilderness areas: “For me we can find our way toward conservation of these precious wilderness areas by photographic images.a wash of images and emotion that returns us to our highest and deepest selves, where we remember what it means to be human, living in place with our neighbors” (2001:3). Susan Landauer reminds us that the Japanese painter of Yosemite, Chiura Obata, favored unassuming views such as a nameless lake or flowers in a dry ravine and that his “appreciation for the intimate side of the Sierra Nevada” reminds us of the photography of Ansel Adams “who was simultaneously shaping his artistic response.” Obata was not concerned with precision in his landscapes, disliking documentary realism and tending toward impressionism. His paintings often relied on his own imagination.” Like the photographer, he painted at different times of day and in varying conditions of weather. He sought a holistic vision of the shared ‘spirit harmony’ and ‘life rhythm” of the mountains (in Obata, 1993: 30-33). Paul Rogat Loeb writes of our commitment to “a lifelong process, one that links our lives to the lives of others, our souls to the souls of others, in a chain of being that reaches both backward and forward, connecting us with all that makes us human” (1999: 349). He describes “how we learn to heed our deepest convictions, to act-together with others-toward shaping a better world, and to continue doing so throughout our lives” (9). Finally, Seung Heun Lee, in a prayer of peace before the United Nations, called for all of us “to realize the truth of our existence, to allow us all to discover the sanctity of our lives, to allow us all to seek the spirituality of our beings” (2000: viii). He refers to the need to shift our thinking: “We just need to move away from the paradigm of competition and domination. Then this world will not end. In fact, the world will prosper and return to its original place as the warm cradle of self-discovery and the advancement of human spirituality”(81).
The present project emanates from more than a quarter century of activism in the struggle to secure and preserve the Laguna Greenbelt or Laguna Coast Wilderness, undeveloped lands around the city of Laguna Beach and buffering Laguna Beach from adjacent cities. I simply call it the Laguna Wilderness, and it comprises many components, variously named Aliso and Wood Canyons Regional Park, Crystal Cove State Park, Laguna Coast Wilderness Park, City of Laguna Beach Greenbelt, Laurel Canyon State Reserve, and the Irvine Open Space Reserve. The intent is to capture the natural setting and the beauty associated with nature in an area that is easily recognized but known only casually by most of us. Historically it was ranch land that extended into what has been developed into the cities of Irvine, Aliso Viejo, and Laguna Niguel and contiguous to urban areas that now spread throughout South Orange County. This intrusion of development and urbanization along with millions of people who have found their homes in the area has not been without its impact and negative consequences. Photographs that document the area a generation ago and today reveal the extent of this changing landscape.
Trade Paperback Edition publication date August 2003.
Deluxe Edition: Limited, clothbound boxed-edition, includes 11″ X 14″ color photograph on Fuji Crystal Archive paper, signed and numbered by Ronald H. Chilcote. Available in May 2003.