Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Fragile Oasis


"As we got further, Earth diminished in size. Finally, it shrank to the
size of a marble, the most beautiful you can imagine. That warm,
living object looked so fragile, so delicate, that if you touched it
with a finger it would crumble. Seeing this has to change a man."
~ James B. Irwin, Apollo 15

You've been to the Fragile Oasis web site, haven't you? Everyone knows when an astronaut starts embracing social media, right? Well, that's what I thought. Sometimes, I don't bother commenting on or writing about things that seem "obvious" to me… like everyone in the space community knows about certain things that simply don't need mentioning.

However, I just had an online conversation with some Spacetweeps yesterday who hadn't yet visited Fragile Oasis, begun by astronaut Ron Garan in June 2010, and I was shocked. Shocked, I tell you… shocked! ;)

Fragile Oasis mission patch
Some astronauts have blogged while on assignment, and still others have joined Twitter or Facebook, but few have been as dedicated or prolific in their writing as Ron Garan, who shares his thoughts on training in Russia's "Star City", quarantine, flight traditions, living and working in the ISS, and how one comes to think of our amazing world when they get to see it from 250 miles up each day.

The Bloggernauts section features an archive of posts from Ron over the past year, as well as posts from fellow astronauts Don Pettit, Doug Wheelock and Nicole Stott; guests posts are a frequent treat, most notable from Russian Cosmonaut Dmitri Kondratyev, singer/songwriter John Ondrasik, and Cirque du Soleil founder Guy Laliberte (Canada's first private space traveler).

You can also see some great materials about Fragile Oasis on Twitter and Vimeo, where their roving reporters go to events and ask people what they think about our planet Earth. And yes, I'm in there chattering ;)

Astronaut Ron Garan
Astronauts are the lucky few who get to rise far above the Earth and see our planet in space in a way no other humans can, and this tends to have a dramatic emotional effect on their psyches. They see the oneness and beauty of everything without national borders, without close-ups – and they are able to do so as a result of scientific progress that MUST continue forward.

"The stark contrast between the beauty of our planet and
realities of life for many inhabitants reaffirmed
the belief I share
with so many. Each and every one of us has
the responsibility to leave it a little
better than we found it."
~ Ron Garan, STS-124 & Soyuz TMA21

Fragile Oasis
Fragile Oasis started as a blog, but has now grown to include a community of shared projects, and an interactive map of where all the members are seeing their Earthcare projects through to completion, including green business initiatives, energy-efficient engineering, famine relief, disaster preparedness, widespread literacy & education concerns, and clean water efforts.

It all started from an orbital perspective, once we'd be wise to share. Come check it out, and vote for projects to follow where you live! Thanks, Ron!