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The Quest for Truth: What Scientists Can Learn by Observing Nature

Albert Einstein remarked, “Look deep into nature, and then you will understand everything better.” He knew something that many scientists and engineers overlook in their quest for truth: nature holds the answers we’re seeking! We’re simply here to learn nature’s language and laws, and how we can interact with it. Every law of the universe can be witnessed by observing nature. In the west, we like to believe we arrive at facts once they’ve been scientifically validated. Truthfully, the facts were written long before humans arrived on this planet, and we are simply catching up. What science brings to the table is a deeper understanding of why things happen and how to ensure the right things continue to happen so both our species and planet thrive together.

We Protect What We Love

We begin with love. From our very first moment on this planet, we recognize beauty. Our initial attraction leads to connection, intimacy and bonding. What makes love last is our desire to nurture and protect. When we experience love, we’re not cognizant of the flood of dopamine, oxytocin and cortisol released into our bloodstream. We’re simply high on the intense feelings of happiness. Love relationships truly make the world go ‘round, and without love, we’d cease to exist as a species. Love is a universal law that governs human existence; science simply helps us understand what is happening to us.

All innovations in science and engineering are a copy of something in nature. And what better model to follow? Nature has spent the last hundred billion years in R&D. Consider the elegant design of a flower. Arguably considered one of the most beautiful gifts of nature, flowers engineered the shape of their petals, the length of their pistil, the smell and texture of their sweet nectar and their trapping mechanism to ensure their captor would be sufficiently covered in the flower’s DNA. Or consider why certain species of hummingbirds have such long beaks, sometimes greater than the length of their body. They co-evolved with deep-necked flowers featuring long corollas, such as the passiflora mixta. This relationship between flower and pollinator – the love story that feeds the earth – is responsible for over one third of the food we eat and took over 50 million years to evolve!

Where Art & Science Meet

As a filmmaker, I have spent thirty years mastering the art and science of time-lapse and slow motion cinematography, taking people on journeys through time, space and scale, capturing the truth of nature in a way that words cannot. With altered speed, macro and aerial techniques, I’m able to reveal what is too slow, too fast, too small or too vast for the human eye to see. Through this art form, I provide a point of view that is radically different from the human perspective. My work shifts our understanding of relativity and opens our perception beyond human vision. When we begin to consider impossible things, we dare to push past preconceived notions, assumed truths and accepted norms and enter into the place where innovation and discovery are born. This is the domain of the greatest thinkers of our time.

Nature lies at the intersection of art and science. Art looks at something as beautiful while science observes it in relation to its function. Nature uses beauty as a tool to master function and to further evolve its species. Since nature is the basis for the laws governing the universe, one could argue that beauty is our most powerful tool to not just survive, but thrive. All creatures respond instinctively to beauty – color, taste, touch, smell and design. It’s critical that scientists across all disciplines study the fundamentals in nature and art and look to the systems and structures of the natural world to solve our greatest problems.

We are at a critical time in history where we will depend heavily on advances in natural science and improved clean energy technology to eradicate global warming and climate change. My greatest opportunity as a filmmaker is to inspire a generation of change agents by revealing the mysteries of the natural world. When we fall in love with nature, we will instinctively protect it.

The USA Science & Engineering Festival is a beacon of hope for emerging scientific thought leaders. There are many ways to be in the practice of science. I want young people to understand they can make breakthrough scientific discoveries both in a lab and outside of it. As we evolve over the next century, I believe we will – we must! – turn to nature to uncover the answers that will save us. If my films can shift minds by unlocking a deeper understanding of the uni-verse, or inspire inquiry and imagination in youth, then my greatest work has been done.

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Earth Day 2015

“A true conservationist is a man who knows that the world is not given by his fathers, but borrowed from his children.” —John James Audubon

This Wednesday, April 22nd, is Earth Day. First celebrated in 1970, Earth Day is now observed in more than 192 countries each year. Did you know that Earth Day is the largest civic event in the world, celebrated simultaneously around the globe by people of all backgrounds, faiths, and nationalities? Protecting the earth is in everyone’s best interest. It’s this common ground that can unite us to work together to preserve this world for our children. There are many different ways you can get involved in your community to honor Earth Day, but if you don’t get the chance on April 22nd, remember that every day can be Earth Day!

Tomorrow in Washington, D.C., Louie’s film “What’s Possible” produced by Lyn Lear that opened the UN Climate Summit will be opening Global Citizen 2015 Earth Daypresented by Global Poverty Project and Earth Day Network. Louie’s beautiful Moving Art will also be featured as thousands gather at this free event at the Washington Monument Grounds. Timed to coincide with the spring meetings of the World Bank Group and the International Monetary Fund, Global Citizen 2015 Earth Day will bring together global policymakers, finance ministers, environment and development NGOs, industry executives and high-profile artists. Together, these world leaders will work to educate and inspire citizens to take immediate action to end extreme poverty and address climate change.

As Earth Day celebrations continue, Louie is honored to speak at the Esalen Inspirational Film Festival: Films that Empower and Enrich the Human Spirit. He will be presenting Wednesday night where he will show his film Disneynature’s Wings of Life, narrated by Meryl Streep.


Purchase your copy of Wings of Life on DVD or Blu-Ray today!


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Moving Mondays: Fantastic Fungi

A solution for global climate change is underfoot. Support the film that reveals the research, Fantastic Fungi.

By Louie Schwartzberg

After 40 years of filming, studying and advocating for nature, I still have one question I think about every day:

If pollination is the foundation of life on our planet, what supports the very plants that are pollinated, giving them the power to convert light energy into food, fuel, medicine, and shelter?

The surface-level answer is soil (sorry for the pun). But that’s only the beginning of the truth. Let’s dig a little deeper. What turns solid rock and organic matter into soil? How does soil become rich with the nutrients that support all life on Earth?

The answer is the oldest, largest and toughest organism on the planet. It can feed us, heal us, clean up toxic waste and shift your consciousness. It is a form of intelligence living in the ground beneath us. It is Mycelium, the invisible network that is the root system for budding mushrooms.

I took a journey into an old-growth forest with my cameras and my good friend, mycologist and author Paul Stamets. He’s become our guide through a world of unexpected wonders as he shares his unique insights about the critical role of fungi in life on Earth, and about the environmental solutions and medical advances fungi can provide to enhance life in the future. They are the solution we’ve been seeking to help rejuvenate our bodies, regenerate our environment and expand our consciousness.

This year I am teaming up with Producer Lyn Lear, Mycologist Paul Stamets and Dr. Andrew Weil to create the feature film Fantastic Fungi, an important scientific exploration and visual journey to raise awareness about the vast healing potential of mycelium.

“Nature has been experimenting with fungi for a billion years, perfecting a lot of powerful survival tools,” says Stamets. “We can use these tools in fantastic ways – to revive damaged ecosystems, to offset global warming, and even to prevent diseases.”  

Dr. Andrew Weil adds, “The uses for mushroom mycelium fill niches for which we don’t have anything in western pharmacology.” There are indigenous fungi within this ecosystem with extremely strong antiviral properties potentially mitigating pandemic flu or small pox viruses enhancing immune function or helping the body defend against cancer in ways that are not harmful.

“My mother was able to beat breast cancer – the worst case her doctor had ever seen – with the help of turkey tail mushrooms to support her chemotherapy,” says Stamets. “Engaging with mushroom mycelium can save thousands of lives.”

Mycelium can not only help us with our personal afflictions, but also the many ills plaguing the globe. With science and technology, mycelium can be key ingredients to the restoration of the environmental damage caused by industrial waste.

By distributing the right nutrients to the right plants, mycelium helps to detoxify and recycle soil, optimizing nutritional density in our food supply. There is even evidence that fungi-generated soils could absorb vast amounts of carbon dioxide, help control climate change, and reduce radiation in areas like Chernobyl and Fukushima.

Stamets explains, “We can capture industrial waste or farm waste, reduce its toxic effects on the environment, and grow food for people. Mycelium breaks down hydrocarbons, oil, petroleum products, herbicides, pesticides.”

Collectively, fungi is the largest living organism and the foundation of all life on Earth – yet far too few appreciate its value simply because its story has not yet been told. In truth, we are only beginning to understand the powerful role mycelium plays in the ecosystem at large and how to create a symbiotic relationship with this organism. Mushroom mycelium is sacred medicine for our planet.

By producing this film independently, Fantastic Fungi can tell the story that needs to be told in a way that big studios can’t. It’s a film that can only be created from the front lines, from the doctors and scientists and artists who have learned the language of nature. Together, we can create the shift in consciousness needed to restore our planet.

If you’d like to learn more, please visit our Kickstarter page or our website.

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Moving Mondays: Where Is Your Focus?

Sometimes we lose focus of what’s most important to us. It’s easy to do when we get caught up in the details of our daily lives. We spend precious time and energy stressing, caring, worrying about things that either don’t matter to us or don’t serve us in the long run. These distractions erode our quality of life and can ultimately begin to make us feel unhappy or depressed.

What’s important to remember is that each day is a new chance to commit to choices that will help us focus on what matters. Some people find writing in a journal helps them focus. Others may find that attending a place of worship, meditating, or doing yoga helps them avoid the distractions that can leave them feeling off balance. Finding a way to remind ourselves to stay focused on what matters helps us learn to ignore or let go of anything that doesn’t serve us or our personal higher purpose.

Reflection of the Week: What is one activity you can add to your routine to help you focus on your personal higher purpose? What are some techniques you can use to avoid the distractions that may arise in your daily life?


Louie’s next film, Fantastic Fungi, is now live on Kickstarter! Imagine an organism that can feed you, heal you, and may even help save the planet. Visit the Kickstarter page to check out the trailer, the great rewards, and to help us make this film a reality! Visit: http://bit.ly/FantasticFungi


During the month of March, Moving Art will be sharing some of our most popular and Moving Monday blogs from the last. These are some of the blogs that resonated most with our readers and we know we can always use small reminders as move along our on our personal journeys of growth. Stay tuned to see if your favorite post makes it!

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Moving Mondays: Offers of Knowledge




No matter how old we are, personal growth should be a priority in our life. By making it a priority, we ensure that we are living life to our fullest potential. It isn’t necessary to attend seminars or read self-help books, though we may find these tools helpful. The truth is that we have the opportunity to learn valuable lessons and soak up wisdom and knowledge from everyone and everything we come across in our daily lives.

The key is to be conscious of such opportunities. By cultivating awareness and being present in each moment, we will become more conscious of the opportunities to learn the lessons that are presented to us. And once we decide to value personal growth, how can we not be grateful for everyone and everything that offers us a chance to learn something new?

Reflection of the Week: Is there something that has held me back from making my personal growth a priority in life? What can I do to overcome these obstacles and cultivate an awareness of the teachers and wisdom that surround me?


During the month of March, Moving Art will be sharing some of our most popular and Moving Monday blogs from the last. These are some of the blogs that resonated most with our readers and we know we can always use small reminders as move along our on our personal journeys of growth. Stay tuned to see if your favorite post makes it!

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Moving Mondays: Holding A Grudge

“Our challenge is to find the compassion for others that we want them to have for us.” -Sally Kohn

With energy tied up in the past, we don’t have any left to take care of the present. We’re human. And sometimes we make big mistakes. What we forget is that by holding a grudge against someone who has hurt us, we only hurt ourselves more in the long run. Holding a grudge consumes our energy and diverts our attention away from the present moment. Because we’re tied up in our anger or hurt, we may miss the fact that in the present moment, we’re actually doing okay. Moments of peace and contentment elude us when our thoughts and feelings wander to past wrongs.

Sometimes the hardest thing to do is the right thing to do. When we make mistakes ourselves, we hope for compassion and understanding. When someone else hurts us, it serves us well to emulate what we would hope to have shown to us. Letting go of a grudge can do wonders for our overall well-being.


During the month of March, Moving Art will be sharing some of our most popular and Moving Monday blogs from the last. These are some of the blogs that resonated most with our readers and we know we can always use small reminders as move along our on our personal journeys of growth. Stay tuned to see if your favorite post makes it!

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The Healing Power of Gratitude


“Reflect upon your present blessings, of which every man has plenty; not on your past misfortunes, of which all men have some.” Charles Dickens

We have all heard at some point that we should focus on the good in our life and not the bad. We’ve been told how helpful it would be if we cultivated a gratitude practice and learned to appreciate the blessings we have in life. But have you ever wondered just how much a gratitude practice can affect your life? If you’re the type of person who needs scientific evidence that having an attitude of gratitude can benefit your life, researchers have good news for you. They’ve found that people who consciously focus on gratitude experience greater emotional well-being and physical health than those who don’t.

Gratitude has the ability to heal us. If we make a decision to face our days with gratitude, we are better able to cope with stress, more likely to feel optimistic about the future, we exercise more and get sick less, are more likely to achieve our personal goals, have more energy, enjoy closer personal relationships, forgive more easily, and we are more likely to help others. These are just a few of the benefits of learning to have a grateful outlook on life. Gratitude heals, energizes, and transforms lives.

If you don’t have a gratitude practice, now is the time to start one. You don’t have to wait until you’re in the right place emotionally or until something particularly wonderful happens to you. Right now at this very moment, even if you’re having a no-good, terrible day, I bet you can find one thing for which you can be grateful. Start there. Each day is a new opportunity to find something for which we can be grateful. You owe it to yourself and your overall health and well-being to cultivate a gratitude practice.

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Moving Mondays: Gratitude

“If the only prayer you ever say in your entire life is thank you, it will be enough.” Meister Eckhart

How can we learn to recognize blessings in our daily life? What can we do to make sure we never take anything for granted? The answer to these questions lies in cultivating a gratitude practice.

It’s too easy to focus on what’s wrong in our lives. Our problems naturally take up most of our attention as we try to fix them. When we do this, however, we can often lose sight of all the good that exists in our life, too. A gratitude practice may not be the easiest thing you ever start — it’s called a practice for a reason — but once you begin, you’ll see that cultivating this practice will be one of the best decisions you ever made. Be gentle with yourself as you begin and soon you’ll truly feel the difference it can make in your life. We learn not to dwell only on the problems in life as we recognize the blessings we receive each day. Gratitude gives us strength to face the hard times because we can focus on the good that exists in our lives, too. We learn to feel hope and optimism even during our toughest challenges.


So grateful for the blessings
That fill my heart on the anniversary
Of the day I jumped on the
Merry-go-round of Life.
Each birthday is a gift of
Presence.

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The Healing Power of Nature

When you’ve felt depressed or stressed out, have you ever decided to go for a walk among the trees or visit a beach to watch the waves roll in? How did you feel after you spent time in nature? Experience has shown us that nature is one of the best natural healers we have available to us. Now science is giving us proof of what we’ve already felt to be true.

In this paper from Susan E. Mazer, Ph.D., Dr. Mazer explores the use of nature in providing therapeutic benefits to patients in a hospital environment. She tells us that even Florence Nightingale herself said that patients needed fresh air and natural sunlight to facilitate their recovery and healing. But it’s not only in a hospital setting that nature can be used to heal. In this recent article from Huffington Post, we learn that new scientific research shows exposure to nature increases our overall well-being and may even be able to prevent us from getting sick. Going on a long walk and taking time to experience the awe of nature has shown that it can lower levels of cytokines; according to the article, “chronically high levels of cytokines have been linked to a number of health problems, including heart disease, Alzheimer’s, depression and autoimmune conditions.”

Moving Art is fighting to increase awareness of both the mental and physical health benefits of nature. We’ve started a campaign to end Nature Deficit Disorder and hope you’ll join us on Twitter, Instagram, & Facebook as we spread the word & #BeatNDD. Share pictures of yourself in nature and tag them with #BeatNDD. Together we can encourage everyone to take advantage of our most free and accessible medicine — our natural world.

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Moving Mondays: The Power of Choice




We spend so much time reminding ourselves that we don’t have control over everything that happens to us in our life that sometimes we forget what we can control. We have the power to control how we react to people and circumstances in our life. We have the power to choose what our response will be. It’s important to cultivate a daily mindfulness practice to remind ourselves that we always have the power of choice.

While learning to let go of what we can’t control is vital for our physical, mental, and spiritual well-being, it’s vital to remember that we do have control over our choices. We will never be able to control the people around us — there will always be people who anger us or hurt us or annoy us — but we do have the power to choose how we let other people affect us. Each day we can make a conscious effort to choose how we want to live . Whether we choose to accept certain people or situations, the power of choice will remain ours alone.