In the Beginning
I was fortunate to have the experience of moving around a lot throughout my childhood. As a military family we lived in Arizona, Oklahoma, South America and the Caribbean. Residing in so many diverse places during such an important time in my life really helped me connect to nature and maybe even more importantly to human nature. My mom was always rescuing animals (of all species) and my step dad was an avid outdoorsman so we spent a lot of time hiking, camping out under the stars and off-roading. When I was nine we moved to the outskirts of Panama City, Panama, and lived beside a big river in the tropical jungle and my brother and I were always outside exploring either the rainforest or hanging out at the beaches. Panama was so beautiful yet so disgustingly polluted at the same time and that was such an eye opener, I remember writing letters to my friends and family telling them all about how polluted Panama was and how it made me so upset. I learned to Scuba dive when I was 15 while living on Aruba and just fell in love with the coral reefs and the majestic underwater world. Going from a desert to a rainforest and then to a tiny Caribbean island helped me to see so much diversity in nature, animals and people. I had pet marmosets (and every other pet you can imagine), spent a little too much time swimming through the trash in the Panamanian rivers, and took scuba dives just to do small ocean clean ups. Then when I was 19, I moved to Tucson and found Mrs.Greens world and started following all things green, and listening to those podcasts and reading those newsletters has propelled me even more to be inspired and take action!
I spend nearly all of my free time out side photographing and learning about nature and now it’s my turn to teach my kids about our human impact on the environment. We do a lot of good little things at home like minimizing plastic waste, recycling, shopping at and donating to thrift stores, and keeping backyard chickens for eggs. A year ago we went vegetarian at home and have been growing our own veggies and herbs and turning all of the inedible waste into compost for the gardens. I ride my bike a lot, but I could use it more for commuting, we all could!
I believe that love is the most universally important thing, and you cannot love something or someone you don’t know. The same applies to nature, if one is unfamiliar and disconnected to wilderness, why would they care about preserving or enhancing it? I think the more people get outside and get to know nature the more they will love it and do their best to protect it. I have always encouraged people to get out and go places and get to know the world we live in, also, I always wanted to be a writer so a few years back I decided to take those two passions and mash them together! I began writing a column called ‘Take a Stroll with Niccole’ for the AZ weekly magazine, every week I would write about some kind of outdoor excursion in the hopes that I could encourage people to get outside and get them excited about going on a new adventure. Sometimes it was a hike or bike ride or some cool tourist attraction, once every year I’d write about winter sports or even the occasional community event like Tucson’s famous Tuesday Night Bike ride. After a year of writing for AZ Weekly I picked up a few more writing gigs which was so exciting for me! I wrote for Tucson’s favorite arts and entertainment magazine Zocalo for their “Escape!” column, the Entertainer Magazine in Phoenix and I even got a few fun articles in ‘Lovin’ Life after 50’ which always gave my friends a good chuckle because I was 28 at the time. Writing these articles accompanied by my nature photography helped me to get involved with organizations like Sierra Club, Watershed Management Group, Tucson Mission Garden, Native Seed search and countless other environmental organizations around the southwest. I volunteer for many environmentally friendly non-profits and human rights groups. I have also learned so much from them about where we came from and where we are going if we continue on this path.
I (embarrassingly) only recently began voting to help elect officials who share my values and principals with regard to protecting and enhancing the environment. The earth and its rapidly changing climate doesn’t care about our politics, politics are invented and each and every one of us need to get involved even on the smallest scale! We need to hold our officials accountable for environmental protections and support the organizations that are politically active for these causes.
I took a short break from writing for a few years to pursue photography and spend time with my baby. Right now I am looking to get back into a few magazines and with a focus on photography I also started up my first personal photography project called the World Portrait Project (you can check it out on social media #worldportraitproject). For this particular project I am painting the earth or portions of the earth on peoples’ faces and interviewing them about their love of nature, their daily lifestyle choices and things they wish from themselves and what they would like to see in their communities with regards to climate change and environmental issues. It’s been so much fun! The project is really simple but it’s making for some great conversation which is something that is hard to have these days without things getting too politically charged. So really, it’s not any kind of solution but it is a fun way to start conversations and bring awareness to lifestyle changes that are attainable and smart!
All We Need is Love
Nature knows no borders, languages or religions. Love knows no walls or nationalities. How is it possible to love your own country without loving your neighbors in other countries and the nature that provides for our very existence and livelihood? It’s not possible. We need to spread love and educate our youth on human impact of the environment. We all need to work together, making small changes to have a huge impact! So get talking about important issues, start voting, get outside, learn about nature and history, and do your part to minimize your own footprint on this beautiful planet.
Niccole Celeste Radhe is a published Tucson photographer and writer with a deep passion for enjoying and advocating for the great outdoors. In her Take a Stroll with Niccole series, Niccole uses a mix of photography and storytelling to shed light on all of the amazing natural places hidden around us in the southwest. Niccole owns her own photography business, Celesteal Photography and proudly works and volunteers with many of Tucson’s most environmentally friendly non-profits and other important community changing organizations. Join her on Instagram and Facebook.
If you or someone you know may be interested in joining the #WorldPortraitProject please send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org