Visions of the Wild casts wide net for international participation – Fairfield Daily Republic

Posted By on September 29, 2020

FAIRFIELD What do Louisville, Kentucky; Elche, Spain; Patras, Greece; and Fairfield, California have in common?

Well, right off the bat, they are each at 38.2 degrees latitude on the globe, which puts all of them on the map, so to speak, for this years Visions of the Wild Film and Arts Festival, produced for the past seven years by the U.S. Forest Service.

Unlike usual, this years event is not Vallejo-centric, said Forest Service member and Visions of the Wild organizer Steve Dunsky. Its about anyone in or around the 38th parallel, including Fairfield, Vallejo, Napa and most of the Bay Area.

Since the novel coronavirus pandemic rendered the typical in-person Visions event impossible, its organizers had to come up with an out-of-the-box solution, which led to the concept of exploring the place on the planet the Bay Area inhabits, Dunsky said. Started as a mostly Vallejo-area thing, event organizers have found a way to cast a wider net this year, they said.

The 38th Parallel theme lends itself to virtual visits to and speakers from around the globe and around that latitude line, who will be featured during the months-long event. There is also a childrens environmentally focused art project, for which prize money will be awarded. This contest is open to all students who live or attend school within the 38th parallel area.

The event launched last week and runs through November.

Its really a global story now, including Vallejo, Fairfield and all points in between, Dunsky said. We are looking at all areas between the 37th and the 39thparallel.

The 38th parallel actually runs through Martinez, while Fairfield is at 38.2 degrees latitude and Vallejo is at 38.1. Following the imaginary latitude line from Fairfield, one finds Louisville, a place in the news recently, and Elche, Spain, (a city noted for its urban Palm Grove, designated as World Heritage Site), and Patras, Greece, (the gate to the west, from which one can catch the ferry to Italy,) Dunsky said.

The Forest Services Steve and Annie Dunsky launched Visions of the Wild eight years ago in honor of the 50th anniversary of the 1964 Wilderness Act, which established the National Wilderness Preservation System and instructed federal agencies to manage wilderness areas and preserve wilderness character, organizer Robin Gross said.

Every year wed get 150 to 200 people participating, and each year has been fantastic, Gross said. This year, because were doing this virtually, we hope well be able to broaden our scope.

Its an experiment to see if Covid-19 provided a different approach perspective, she said.

Here we are traveling the 38th parallel, Gross said. Were having speakers from all over the place: Tajikistan, Portugal, all over the place it was basically, the people on the committee, it was, who do you know?

One woman, an Italian-American teacher at American Canyon High School, traveled to Italy and found a speaker to present from there, Gross said.

This years Visions of the Wild program coincides with this years Earth Year celebration to mark the 50th anniversary of Earth Day. (Courtesy photo)

Im excited in the sense that its Earth Day and look at what weve been able to look at in ways weve never been able to before, she said, adding that this year marks the 50th anniversary of Earth Day, though Covid-19 has kept us from doing the traditional thing. So we landed on who on the 38th parallel, are doing interesting things?

Its all about making connections with people, Dunsky said,

The idea is were all feeling isolated and theres a lot of stress and anxiety and what this allows us to do is connect with those in the local community and other parts of the world, he said. Were all going through this pandemic together, and hopefully people can use this event to make connections. Weve already created some that we didnt anticipate.

For instance, Gross and Dunsky both noted that after the 38th parallel idea had been adopted, it was discovered that there was a couple who wrote a book about a trip they took around the 38th parallel.

David and Janet Carle wrote about their journey to destinations along the globes 38th parallel. The 38th parallel is the foundational topic for this years Visions of the Wild program. (Courtesy photo)

We connected with them, and found theyd already connected with people Ive connected with during this process, Dunsky said. Its all about network building. One person leads to another; like-minded people trying to connect to the nexus between art and nature. Thats what this is all about.

On the matter of art, the event offers an opportunity for schoolchildren along the parallel to find discarded plastic and make art out of it for cash prizes, organizers said. The Global Plastic Art Challenge for kids in English and Spanish is this years way of involving children, Gross said.

Every year we try to have a kid component one year we did art windows downtown, another year they did sound-scaping in Lynch Canyon, one year we did underwater robotics its always been to get more kids involved, she said. So this year the question was, what can we do with the kids? And looking at the 38th parallel, I did some research and found that Louisville, Kentucky, every year has a Youth Green Summit with the schools. I called them up and told them about Visions and the 38th parallel, and we decided we could maybe come up with a global plastic art challenge.

The contest is open to children age 5 to 18 (with three age categories) who live between the 37th and 39th parallel, to collect plastic and make art with it and submit it online, organizers said.

This also creates an opportunity for further, longer-lasting connections, Dunsky said.

It would be fun to establish pen-pal relationships between schoolchildren along that latitude, he said.

There are two Visions of the Wild programs in October and one in November, organizers said. All are available online after the in-person, online event, though organizers prefer people join us live so we can answer questions, Dunsky said. History, culture, environmental issues will all be dealt with.

Solomon Nunes Carvalho is shown in a self-portrait from 1848. (Courtesy photo/Jewish Museum of the American West)

The history focus is on Solomon Nunes Carvalho, a 19th century, groundbreaking Jewish American explorer and artist. A film about Carvalho, distributed by Brandeis Universitys National Center for Jewish Film, is set to be presented in November. Its the first time a Jewish historical figure has been featured as part of the event, Dunsky said.

Because this years event is virtual, and the film will be streaming worldwide, it will be followed by a discussion with the filmmakers about Solomon Nunes Carvalho (1815-1897), an observant Sephardic Jew born in Charleston, South Carolina, and his life as a groundbreaking explorer and artist, according to event material.

Organizers said they hope the inconveniences encountered and overcome presented by the pandemic turn out to be a blessing in disguise.

Were hoping once the pandemic is over, were hoping to get together in person in the real world and celebrate our collective humanity along this imaginary 38th parallel, Dunsky said.

For information, visit or[emailprotected] for the newsletter, and for information on the historical film and for the book on traveling the 38th parallel.

Thursday: Global Recycling Plastic Art Challenge Launch Event: 7 p.m. Oct. 21: The 38th Parallel and the Silk Road: 5:30 p.m. Nov. 18: Carvalhos Journey: 6 p.m.


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Visions of the Wild casts wide net for international participation - Fairfield Daily Republic

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