They say a picture is worth a thousand words, but sometimes pictures are worth more. Nothing tells the recent story of the Ichetucknee River and springs better than the “then and now” photographs of John Moran that are on display in the “Springs Eternal” exhibition at the Florida Museum of Natural History (FMNH) in Gainesville through Jan. 5, 2014.
I saw Moran’s first “then and now” photographs of the Ichetucknee in 2010 at another exhibition at FMNH, “The Blue Path.” That exhibition was curated by Annie Pais and Stewart Thomas, the creative team that guides the Gainesville nonprofit Florida’s Eden.
I kept seeing those first “then and now” photos on a postcard, so when I started working for Florida’s Eden I floated that idea and with Moran’s kind permission, the image below was the result—a postcard that could be mailed to state legislators to express concern about what was happening to our waters.
The Florida Museum of Natural History reported that “The Blue Path” was one of their most popular exhibitions ever. Anecdotal evidence suggested that more than a few people were moved to tears by Moran’s then-and-now views of the Ichetucknee. “What can I do?” was a common question. Florida’s Eden gave postcards out for free whenever we had the opportunity to do so. I always told people, “The springs and river can’t speak, so we have to speak for them.” Our goal was to raise awareness of what was happening to our springs, and we succeeded.
Fast forward three years: While more people are aware of Florida’s water problems, those problems have only gotten worse. There is another springs-focused exhibition at FMNH, Moran’s and Lesley Gamble’s “Springs Eternal,” that includes the stunning images that you see at the top and bottom of this article. Along with the Howard T. Odum Florida Springs Institute, Moran and Gamble are raising money through a crowd-funding effort at Razoo to place an oversize catalog of the images from “Springs Eternal” in the hands of every elected official who represents Florida’s springs district; click here for more information and to contribute to this worthy cause.
Please click on the images on this page to see them more clearly, then consider your own relationship to the Ichetucknee and what you might do to help it in its time of need. Maybe you could talk to your legislators and tell them you want clean, abundant water for the Ichetucknee. Maybe you will be moved to take on a creative project of your own to help tell the Ichetucknee’s story, or maybe you will offer support to the artists, writers and other creative types who portray the springs and the river. Maybe you’d like to visit the “Springs Eternal” exhibition while it’s still on view or learn more about the larger Springs Eternal Project and view a PDF of the Springs Eternal exhibition panels at SpringsEternalProject.org. Maybe you’d like to lend your support to the Ichetucknee Alliance by joining or making a donation.
Perhaps best of all, maybe you’d like to take someone who’s never been there to spend a day at Ichetucknee Springs or on the river. You could help someone else fall in love with our “crown jewel!”