Putting a Human Face on
Tropical Deforestation

"The photographer saw things the writer did not and the writer heard and saw things the photographer never noticed ... As viewers, we forget the artistry behind a photograph, because the themes are so powerful ... The portrait of Steven Brend is a ... beautiful composition, an echo of a 17th century Georges de La Tour painting reinvented as a photograph."

—Blue Greenberg, "Conservation & Ecology at Art Guild"
Herald Sun (Durham, NC), April 2011

Client: Rare

Rare is an international social change organization that runs local environmental campaigns in 50 countries. It has a sophisticated base of donors, most of whom are well informed about international and environmental issues. Explaining the “problem” is not always necessary, and in fact risks positioning Rare as yet another messenger of doom. When it came to the issue of deforestation and climate change, Rare wanted to say something new to donors, to introduce them not to more facts but to more people—the people actually living in the forests.

Creative solution
Take One worked with closely with Rare to produce a small artistic book entitled People of the Forest. It consisted of a series of photographic portraits, along with written introductions to 14 individuals living in the endangered forests of Indonesian Borneo. The book was given to Rare donors and partners as a special gift—a departure from traditional, disposable marketing materials. Many were deeply moved by the opportunity to learn the names and stories of individuals living in one of the world’s richest, yet most endangered forests. This added to Rare’s credibility as representing the “people side of conservation”—a claim being staked by more and more environmental groups.

Click here to download a PDF of People of the Forest.

Supplemental communications
Take One engaged Pulitzer Prize-nominated author William DeBuys to accompany Jason on the trip to Rare’s project site in Borneo. In addition to writing the text for People of the Forest, Bill spoke at a Rare fundraising dinner, offering a journalistic and poetic account of what he witnessed in Borneo. Take One subsequently produced a magazine-style feature article ofering Rare donors and other audiences a fresh take on the science and jargon-heavy language of forest conservation. And, as he did on numerous Rare site visits, Jason submitted blogs in real time, inspiring Rare audiences to follow his journey.

The content of the People of the Forest book has evolved into an art exhibit, shown at Harvard University, the Durham Art Guild sponsored by Duke University’s Nicholas School of the Environment, the Wild & Scenic Film Festival, and the prestigious Mountainfilm festival in Telluride, CO.