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The Hylaeus Project

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The Hylaeus Project

Native Hawaiian Bees are Bringing Art and Science Together

Lisa Schonberg is a musician/teacher/artist/creative entomologist. You know the type, right?
We met up with her to talk about this awesome project she started with Aidan Koch (another artist/nature lover) called The Hylaeus Project.

How did you find out about these Hawaiian bees when you live in Portland?

I worked for the Xerces Society for Invertebrate Conservation in Portland. My last and most favorite project for them was a status review of the Hylaeus bees of Hawaii. Xerces was paying attention to them because they are the only bees that are native to Hawaii, and like many other native Hawaiian species, have been in sharp decline for a good while. Xerces was interested in petitioning the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to list some species of Hawaiian Hylaeus as endangered. They asked me to look at what was known about the 60 known species and make a recommendation for the best candidates for listing. I ended up co-authoring petitions to list seven species with entomologist Karl Magnacca, who is the reigning expert on this taxa. Although I’d previously done fieldwork in Hawaii (for the U.S. Geological Survey), this work was all from a desk in SE Portland. When I left the job at Xerces, I realized that I was one of the few people who had ever paid attention to these important and threatened pollinators. Before Karl, the only other thorough survey was done by the British naturalist R.C.L. Perkins in the 1890s. So I decided to document these bees in a creative way and get the word out. I knew so much of them, I almost had to.

Would putting these bees on the endangered species list do to the Hawaiian tourism industry what listing the spotted owl did to the Pacific Northwest logging industry?

I do not think that it would. There are such vast developments of resorts on the islands where the Hylaeus habitat is long, long gone, and those people can go on touristing as they would. In places where the Hylaeus are still hanging on near possible development or expansion, I could see there possibly being limits placed on where they could expand. But it could be to the benefit of the resort or other development interest to conserve those areas and even gear tourist activities toward “eco-tourist” sorts of things like biology talks and bird, bee and plant walks in the conserved habitats, and create jobs out of those activities. Hell, they could even take it one step further in places where the habitat is long gone and initiate native plant restoration projects and bee reintroductions and probably market that to tourists as well.

What brought Aidan Koch and you together for this project?

I’ve always admired Aidan’s work and aesthetic, so she immediately came to mind for this project. I loved the drawings from her Field Studies book in particular, and I loved the things that she’d happened to take note of and draw in her travels. I was excited to see what she’d notice and document on our trip. I also knew she had good rhythm. While we were in Hawaii, Aidan and I ended up forming a new side-project band called Lava Rock—an improve duo, with myself on drum kit and Aidan on vocal loops and oscillator.

Bringing art and science together seems tricky since art is so open to interpretation and science is so factual. Did you have any trouble mixing the two with this project?

Socially effective art and science are really similar—I’m realizing this more and more. You decide you want to illustrate or bring attention to something, and you dig in really deep and become intimate with an idea, and then you hone that idea and present it to the public. Science is factual, yes, but only because it is built on previous work and accepted theories and is peer-reviewed, etc. Some sciences, like physics, seem so abstract and creative in the same ways a lot of art is. So, yeah, I didn’t have much trouble mixing the two. I have thought about the fact that my book and the drawings are more straightforward representations of what we found, whereas the music might come off as more abstractly connected. But I see a really obvious connection there between crucial habitat, sound, and interpretation through music.

When you’re out in the field recording sounds, what are you looking for?

I generally start recording with headphones on and see what happens. Sometimes I have to give it some time before noticing things—like the way the wind sounds when it moves through different plants. Sometimes there isn’t anything super interesting or notable—which is something! The absence of machinery, of engines, of squawking invasive myna birds, that is all something. When that is all absent, quieter things—like the crescendo of wind moving through thin grasses—are more noticeable. Other times I end up catching an awkwardly amplified conversation from nearby beachgoers. Some sounds are no-brainers to record—the immense chorus of coqui frogs every night on the Hilo side of the Big Island, or the sound of bombs being dropped into the ocean a mile off the shore of Kauai. Once I got over the initial shock of those bombs, I recorded the hell out of them.


The Hylaeus Project
Written by Lisa Ann Schonberg and illustrated by Aidan Koch
Publication Studio, 2014
Cassette Tape of The Hylaeus Project
Percussion compositions by Secret Drum Band
Curly Cassettes, 2014
Available HERE >>>

(((Hot Romper Action)))

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Clothes are for fun, right? Otherwise we wouldn't wear them all the time. These rompers by The Sunset Sessions should be the official flag for fun clothing. They're fun for eating candy at the amusement park or slipping out of for a midnight skinny dip session.

Grab yourself a pair HERE>>>

CREDITS:

Model: Savannah Kreisman

Photographer & Art Director: Amanda Cooper

Wardrobe/styling (in 1970s/1980s vintage collection from): The Sunset Sessions

Hair & Make Up: Jasmine Gold

Geoffrey Holstad: Inner-view

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Geoffrey Holstad is an artist, creative director, plein air graphic designer and citizen meteorologist. He is currently daylighting as an apparel graphic designer at Patagonia in Ventura, California. By moonlight, he is the co-founder and director of Cabin-Time, a roaming creative residency to remote places.

What do you have for breakfast?
Huevos rancheros from Farmer and the Cook (Ojai, California) and 100 cups of gas station coffee, consumed outdoors.

What are you doing at Patagonia?
I am the in-house apparel graphic designer at Patagonia. I design new tee/hat graphics, help curate the other amazing artists that we work with, and assist with print production work. I cannot imagine a more inspiring, authentic, eclectic, rewarding place to work. I am very proud to work with such an amazing group of friends who care so much about radically responsible business, and for our planet.

I am also a board member on Patagonia’s new Environmental Media Grants Council, responsible for funding radical, grassroots filmmakers and creatives devoted to protecting the environment.

Conquerors of the useless!

How did you end up working for Patagonia?
Leading up to the offer from Patagonia, I did freelance illustration, hand-lettering, design, and creative consulting for a little over five years, much of which was for the outdoor industry. I worked with a lot of clients like Poler, Stussy, Dakine, Merrell, etc. which gave me a little bit of momentum in the outdoor/skate/surf apparel worlds. I also wrote for the super fun blog Cold Splinters, through which I met a lot of great people which helped that snowball along.

As I became more and more devoted to Cabin-Time, a personal project that accrues no money (by design), and less so to paying commercial work, it became increasingly apparent that I would need some steady income to pay student loans, and keep the lights on.

I left Michigan for Southern California in the winter of 2013, for a full-time design gig at Patagonia.

Why are you doing the Cabin-Time residency thing?
Cabin-Time is a roaming creative residency to remote places. I started Cabin-Time in December of 2011 with designer Ryan Greaves and photographer Colin McCarthy, and we (now a crew of six working creatives) have since hosted five residencies and over 40 artists from around the world.

Cabin-Time has been the most rewarding and important project of my life, and keeps getting better. I spend much of my 5-to-9 working with my best friends to make this project work.

We are embarking on our sixth residency at the end of this summer, this time, to an off-grid homestead in Northern Idaho.


That Thalia catalog you did a while back is the funnest freaking catalog I’ve ever seen. Did they give you total creative freedom or what?
Corey at Thalia got in touch with me to design a tee for the shop in 2012, and then followed up with that catalog project leading up to the 2012-13 holiday season. I did indeed have freedom to do pretty much what I wanted with the cover, and hand-lettered and illustrated some assets for the inside. I also did a little interview with Corey for print in the catalog as well.

Thalia’s great!

Aside from C street and the surf in general, what are some unexpected joys to living in Ventura?
I actually live 16 miles up the mountain in the tiny town of Ojai with my girlfriend and fellow Patagonia designer Sarah Darnell.

Foraged blood oranges, condors, black sage, hot springs, bouldering, Pine Mountain, sunshine, great vegetarian food, swimming holes, baby coyotes, Beatrice Wood, and crystals. 


Horn Tootin' Time!

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The world is upside down when a long-standing media giant magazine like ours gets blogged about by young hip upstarts like Without Walls and The Athletic.

If you don't want to read their whole stories, you can just enjoy these pulled quotes from them.

"Watch out girl so you don't get cactus butt!" - The Athletic

"Stay Wild is a space for the creatives to share their amazing stories."- Without Walls

Also, The Athletic made some awesome socks with us. Each pair you buy comes with the summer issue of Stay Wild!