50 years ago, a Californian saved 70,000 acres of redwoods. Now he wants to photograph the park he helped preserve.
Photo credit Ally Gran
True

Ask about Dave Van de Mark in the communities bordering Redwood National & State Parks, and many people will tell you that the seventy-nine-year-old photographer is a living legend.

In June of 1963, as a fresh-faced twenty-year-old, Dave traveled from Southern California to work at a sawmill in Humboldt County. That summer dramatically changed his life and set Dave on a path that helped establish one of America's most beloved national parks.

"On only my second day on the job, I inquired as to where the trees being milled came from," Dave says. "I was quickly told I shouldn't ask such questions!"

Intrigued by his co-workers' evasive responses, Dave began looking for his own answers.

Photo credit Dave Van de Mark

"I explored like crazy, gaining strength as I hiked very long distances....I found extensive areas outside the existing state parks that were beautiful. I also saw them being logged rather brutally and I didn't like it."

A series of pivotal events further strengthened Dave's resolve to save the old-growth forests. He began hearing about the discovery of some of the tallest redwoods near Orick, California, which prompted discussions in the community for a national park. At the same time, he'd decided to take up photography and began documenting his long hikes through the forest. He also attended a meeting with some of the area's most active conservationists who took him under his wing. "Lifelong friendships developed on the spot!" Dave says.

Photo credit Dave Van de Mark

According to a GoFundMe campaign for Dave, he trespassed on private timber land, chartered airplanes to fly over clear cuts, slept on stream banks, and walked over a thousand miles to capture over 5,000 photographs.These photos of redwood destruction were sent all around the world and began raising much needed awareness that the old-growth forests were rapidly disappearing, and that more parks needed to be created.

"As soon as the timber companies knew the efforts to create a park were gaining steam," Dave says, "so were their efforts to log and impact places we were pushing for. They said only a small buffer was needed around the newly discovered tallest trees. That, coupled with almost complete opposition to a 'grand' park by local media and government, meant we faced virtually total opposition locally."

Increased notoriety came with increased risk for Dave. "I was really well known and received some verbal threats right to my face at a public hearing, and was often worried about being harmed arriving late at night to my isolated little home."

By then, nearly 90% of the redwood old-growth had been cut down. So, despite the threats, Dave and his fellow conservationists knew something more urgent had to be done. With help from university professors, Dave collected data on the scientific and aesthetic value of the redwoods. Thanks to the Sierra Club and national papers like the San Francisco Chronicle and New York Times, this information, coupled with Dave's photos, were able to reach a much larger audience.

Public support grew quickly. Over the next two years Dave and his team participated in all Senate and House hearings regarding redwood conservation, and ensured that congressional members could see the destruction with their own eyes. It all paid off. After years of immense effort, Redwoods National Park was established in 1968.

Photo credit Dave Van de Mark

Now, at seventy-nine, the legendary activist wants to revisit and photograph the areas he helped protect. And this GoFundMe will help him realize this dream.

"I have been back to areas heavily impacted by logging and that is precisely the reason for my "Fifty Years Later Project" – to allow me to have the ability and the equipment to visit and record the beautiful changes that have taken place over a half-century, before I'm too old and unable to do it. It is very heartening to see places that were eroding so badly and threatening the tallest trees, now stabilizing."

"Dave was instrumental in establishing the park, and continues to help us decades later with his photo project," says Steve Mietz, Superintendent of Redwood National and State Parks.

Christine Walters, an administrative assistant at RNSP, echoes that sentiment. "Without Dave Van de Mark...it's very possible there would never have been a Redwood National Park."

Unfortunately, Dave is struggling to find the resources to complete his dream project. His friend Ted Humphrey, who started the GoFundMe, writes "Now it is time for us to give back and thank Dave for his conservation and protection of the redwood forest. This project is a once-in-a-lifetime chance to show, through the eyes of the photographer that helped protect it, what 50 years of conservation can do at Redwood National & State Parks."

Photo credit Dave Van de Mark

When asked what advice Dave has for those fighting to save and protect old growth forests today, he offers, "Just persevere and don't ever compromise your values and be as bold as you can be."

For more information and to help Dave Van de Mark complete his life's work of documenting the forests he helped protect, please visit his GoFundMe.

Do YOU have an idea for a fundraiser that could make a difference? Upworthy and GoFundMe are celebrating ideas that make the world a better, kinder place. Visit upworthy.com/kindness to join the largest collaboration for human kindness in history and start your own GoFundMe.
Leah Menzies/TikTok

Leah Menzies had no idea her deceased mother was her boyfriend's kindergarten teacher.

When you start dating the love of your life, you want to share it with the people closest to you. Sadly, 18-year-old Leah Menzies couldn't do that. Her mother died when she was 7, so she would never have the chance to meet the young woman's boyfriend, Thomas McLeodd. But by a twist of fate, it turns out Thomas had already met Leah's mom when he was just 3 years old. Leah's mom was Thomas' kindergarten teacher.

The couple, who have been dating for seven months, made this realization during a visit to McCleodd's house. When Menzies went to meet his family for the first time, his mom (in true mom fashion) insisted on showing her a picture of him making a goofy face. When they brought out the picture, McLeodd recognized the face of his teacher as that of his girlfriend's mother.

Menzies posted about the realization moment on TikTok. "Me thinking my mum (who died when I was 7) will never meet my future boyfriend," she wrote on the video. The video shows her and McLeodd together, then flashes to the kindergarten class picture.

“He opens this album and then suddenly, he’s like, ‘Oh my God. Oh my God — over and over again,” Menzies told TODAY. “I couldn’t figure out why he was being so dramatic.”

Obviously, Menzies is taking great comfort in knowing that even though her mother is no longer here, they can still maintain a connection. I know how important it was for me to have my mom accept my partner, and there would definitely be something missing if she wasn't here to share in my joy. It's also really incredible to know that Menzies' mother had a hand in making McLeodd the person he is today, even if it was only a small part.

@speccylee

Found out through this photo in his photo album. A moment straight out of a movie 🥲

♬ iris - 🫶

“It’s incredible that that she knew him," Menzies said. "What gets me is that she was standing with my future boyfriend and she had no idea.”

Since he was only 3, McLeodd has no actual memory of Menzies' mother. But his own mother remembers her as “kind and really gentle.”

The TikTok has understandably gone viral and the comments are so sweet and positive.

"No the chills I got omggg."

"This is the cutest thing I have watched."

"It’s as if she remembered some significance about him and sent him to you. Love fate 😍✨"

In the caption of the video, she said that discovering the connection between her boyfriend and her mom was "straight out of a movie." And if you're into romantic comedies, you're definitely nodding along right now.

Menzies and McLeodd made a follow-up TikTok to address everyone's positive response to their initial video and it's just as sweet. The young couple sits together and addresses some of the questions they noticed pop up. People were confused that they kept saying McLeodd was in kindergarten but only 3 years old when he was in Menzies' mother's class. The couple is Australian and Menzies explained that it's the equivalent of American preschool.

They also clarified that although they went to high school together and kind of knew of the other's existence, they didn't really get to know each other until they started dating seven months ago. So no, they truly had no idea that her mother was his teacher. Menzies revealed that she "didn't actually know that my mum taught at kindergarten."

"I just knew she was a teacher," she explained.

She made him act out his reaction to seeing the photo, saying he was "speechless," and when she looked at the photo she started crying. McLeodd recognized her mother because of the pictures Menzies keeps in her room. Cue the "awws," because this is so cute, I'm kvelling.

A simple solution for all ages, really.

School should feel like a safe space. But after the tragic news of yet another mass shooting, many children are scared to death. As a parent or a teacher, it can be an arduous task helping young minds to unpack such unthinkable monstrosities. Especially when, in all honesty, the adults are also terrified.

Katelyn Campbell, a clinical psychologist in South Carolina, worked with elementary school children in the aftermath of the Sandy Hook shooting. She recently shared a simple idea that helped then, in hopes that it might help now.

The psychologist tweeted, “We had our kids draw pictures of scenery that made them feel calm—we then hung them up around the school—to make the ‘other kids who were scared’ have something calm to look at.”



“Kids, like adults, want to feel helpful when they feel helpless,” she continued, saying that drawing gave them something useful to do.

Keep Reading Show less

Alberto Cartuccia Cingolani wows audiences with his amazing musical talents.

Mozart was known for his musical talent at a young age, playing the harpsichord at age 4 and writing original compositions at age 5. So perhaps it's fitting that a video of 5-year-old piano prodigy Alberto Cartuccia Cingolani playing Mozart has gone viral as people marvel at his musical abilities.

Alberto's legs can't even reach the pedals, but that doesn't stop his little hands from flying expertly over the keys as incredible music pours out of the piano at the 10th International Musical Competition "Città di Penne" in Italy. Even if you've seen young musicians play impressively, it's hard not to have your jaw drop at this one. Sometimes a kid comes along who just clearly has a gift.

Of course, that gift has been helped along by two professional musician parents. But no amount of teaching can create an ability like this.

Keep Reading Show less