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Remote Footprints & Project Remote

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Set aside your creature comforts. Leave your apprehensions at the door. It’s time to break out your map and compass, ’cause this ain’t your mama’s three-hour-tour – let’s go remote!

The Remote Footprints team hikes through the woods

Project Remote is one facet of the nonprofit organization called Remote Footprints. A personal project started in 2009, Project Remote is the trekking and documenting journey of each of the United State’s most remote spot. The project is headed up by the Means family: Ryan, Rebecca, and Skyla, who are able to travel and report on these remote spots as free time allows; so far they have visited just over half of the 50 states. They define their remote destinations as the point within a state that is the farthest straight-line distance from a road. With their endeavors, they hope to bring awareness to the expansive asphalt arteries that make up the road network in this country. At the same time, they want to encourage other families to get outside with their kids and enjoy nature’s roadless wilderness. “This latter purpose guides our activities on a local level. In our area we offer various classes and events to help parents get outside and learn about the natural world experientially.”

The Remote Footprints team hikes through the woods

Location sought, food packed, car gassed-up, it’s time to head out. “We go as far as a car will take us, then we get out and walk.” In a pack weighing in at over 70lbs and containing a tent, food, and other supplies, Ryan shoulders the resources for the whole Means family, while Rebecca is tasked with carrying a load on her back that’s nearly as heavy – Skyla! “The heavy pack weights make for difficult backpacking, both mentally and physically.” Upon arrival to the remote location, the Means take 360° video and photos to document the condition of the location and they also spend 15 minutes recording any human sounds or sights.

Rebecca and Skyla go over their Remote journal
Ryan Means taking a panoramic photo and using GPS at the remote site

For each of the family members, this project has meant something different. Ryan’s fondest memory so far was gorgeous scenery at the approach to the New Mexico remote spot where “we walked through a beautiful ponderosa pine grassland.” Rebecca’s fondest memory has been “watching Skyla grow into an awesome outdoors girl who can handle rain, frost, dangerous situations, and just about anything.” And Skyla, well … she says her fondest memory was “eating the beans and rice backpacker meal.” When she’s older, she will look back on these adventures and the time spent with her mom and dad with so much love and admiration.

Follow the Means on their journey by reading their expedition journal entries and keeping up to date with Facebook posts. The Remote Footprints website and the Project Remote website contain much more information detailing their intentions, beliefs, and goals.

“We are not encouraging people to visit a particular spot but to seek remoteness in general, and to celebrate and preserve the public lands that often times contain the remotest location in a state.”

Means family portrait at night

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    The Sharing Tree

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    Traverse the treasure trove, scour the rummage jungle; supplies and materials abound. Tubs of tubs, bins of rolls, buttons, binders, shelves and shelves of possibilities. Various knick-knacks, doo-dads, and thing-a-majigs. Oh, the thing-a-majigs! Carly’s shop is full of the makings of opportunities to come; The Sharing Tree caters to everyone. Bins full of would-be trash that are now part of art projects, classroom supplies, presents, decorations; all thanks to The Sharing Tree’s commitment to community and to bolster the phrase that’s been spread far and wide: reduce, reuse, recycle.

    Carly of The Sharing Tree, behind the front counter

    As a little girl back in Minnesota, Carly was inspired by a similar business, which took in donations and recycled them via low prices back to the public. She wanted to continue a legacy of caring for the earth when The Sharing Tree opened three years ago here in Tallahassee. The nonprofit’s beginnings came about through a need from the local government and schools, dreams from Carly’s childhood, and other interested entities. Through a public partnership with these factions The Sharing Tree was born.

    From their website: “The mission of The Sharing Tree is to collect and redistribute reusable materials to educators, artists, and the broader learning community, while simultaneously educating the community in the art of creative reuse. The beauty of The Sharing Tree is that it truly benefits the entire community; providing classroom materials to teachers that enhance the educational setting for students while also inspiring the entire community to reuse and recycle.”

    Inside The Sharing Tree
    Inside The Sharing Tree

    Originally intended solely for educators, The Sharing Tree opened its doors to the public just a short 5 months after its grand opening in August 2010, at which time it was a resource only for teachers. This is one of those places you have to visit to appreciate how awesome it is. Don’t miss the $5 fill-a-bag room when you visit. Oh, and supplies are free for Leon County School educators.

    Inside The Sharing Tree
    Inside The Sharing Tree

    For the green aspect, here’s one wonderfully staggering fact: in the first two years of being open, TST kept 400,000 pounds of materials out of local landfills! At that rate, after being open for five years (in 2015), 1 million pounds of materials will have been diverted from becoming trash. Beautiful!

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      Raley’s Confectionary

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      Who: Wes Raley
      What: Candy Master
      Where: Raley’s Confectionary
      Favorite Board Game: Candyland
      Why: Because… candy!

      Wes Raley of Raley's Confectionary holding some of his art rock before it is cut into bite-sized pieces

      Wes cut his teeth in the candy-making business some years back. He made his debut in Tallahassee fairly recently working for a local toy shop/ice cream parlor creating lots of image candy and other types of old-fashioned treats. Yet, he had lofty pursuits of his own – running his own candy business – and so set out on the sugar-dusted trail.

      Wes, folding up different colored sections of sticky sugar to make an image

      Located just a block or so from the ever-growing Gaines Street, off of All Saints Drive, next to Fermentation Lounge, through the doors of the Cider Lodge, down a hallway, and in a little back room (shared with a chocolatier) *PHEW* is where the magic happens. No illusions here; the magic is a fine mixture of the smells, visuals, tastes (free during a presentation!), and Wes’ personality. For the history of how this young fellow got started, well, that I’ll save so you can hear it from him – a story he tells every batch of customers to walk through the door (because the question of his beginnings inevitably comes up). I will let you in on a little info: his favorite candies are the root beer art rock (candy with image in the center) and anise taffy. And just to sweeten the deal, all the sugar used is organic and the flavors are all natural. Business is sweet, folks!

      Wes Raley of Raley's Confectionary holding some of his art rock before it is cut into bite-sized pieces
      Wes Raley of Raley's Confectionary holding some of his art rock before it is cut into bite-sized pieces
      Art rock being cut into bite-sized pieces
      Wes gives out samples to eager customers
      Wes can't resist his own candy

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        Featured Profile • The Birth Cottage in Tallahassee

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        7:00 pm on a Saturday. It’s graduation day for both Ashley and me but we’re not walking across the stage and accepting our diploma; we’re at our house experiencing the birth of our daughter! We had planned to be at The Birth Cottage for all the excitement but once the contractions started and mama says she doesn’t want to leave the house, well, you just aren’t going anywhere!

        Layla & Alice of The Birth Cottage in Tallahassee Layla and Alice individual shots

        Nestled in the heart of Midtown Tallahassee lies the cozy, intimate cottage where Alice and Layla, a mother-daughter team, have helped hundreds and hundreds of mothers bring their babies into the world. Back to that rainy graduation Saturday – Layla and Alina came to our house in the morning and were there until the evening, coaching Ashley, keeping her calm, and maintaining a positive atmosphere. And then Juni was born, nay, made her dramatic entrance into our lives. Proof…

        Layla & Ashley a few days after Juni was born

        Of course, the welcoming rooms they have at the Cottage are dressed up just like bedrooms to make you feel at home and ready to greet your child, we just never quite made it there the day Juni was born. I can’t say enough about the ladies that run this place – they were awesome through Ashley’s pregnancy and are overjoyed every time they get to see Juni now; they truly love helping mothers and babies and it’s very apparent.

        One of The Birth Cottage birthing rooms and outdoor sculpture Layla & Alice of The Birth Cottage in Tallahassee

        PS The annual Birth Cottage celebrations at Silver Lake are always a blast to attend.


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          Featured this week – Lonni Hopkins Studio Jewelry

          Featured Profile of the Week

          Aloha again, welcome to this week’s Featured Prof- what’s that you say? You haven’t seen a Featured Profile of the Week in… how long? Over a month?! That’s odd, I could have sworn I said I’d keep up wi-… abandoning the site? Never! Vacation time and a broken computer will slow you down. Now pipe down, time for the show!

          I may be a little biased here, but my mom makes some stunningly original and gorgeous jewelry. Did I just destroy my credibility for these Featured Profiles by featuring my mom? Nah. I profile artists, small business owners, and the like; she happens to qualify under a few categories.

          • three handmade silver rings
          • Lemon Quartz Pendant with 14k gold
          • Pyrite & Silver Bracelet
          • Green Amethyst Necklace & Earrings
          Jewelry photos by the masterful Robert Dimante

          Lonni Hopkins profile photo Lonni has lived a life of art: bouncing from lithography to photography, quilting, watercolor, sculpture, and so many mediums in between; her endeavor into metalsmithing kicked off circa ’96. Jewelry seemed a natural progression, pulling from past experiences and artistic expressions, culminating with the acute skill and careful workmanship metalsmithing demands.

          “How light dances across the surface of the metal is an important consideration in the designs.” – Lonni Hopkins

          A new metal has recently entered the field, which Lonni has adopted, more pure than traditional sterling silver, called argentium. It’s a modern sterling silver alloy which modifies the traditional alloy (92.5% silver + 7.5% copper) by replacing some of the copper with the metalloid germanium¹, yielding purities from 930 to 960. In terms that I can understand, it’s a brand new DSLR that has a buffer like an abyss, shoots at 300 megapixels, and downloads 64 gigabytes of data to your computer in 5 seconds. See, I’m already losing readers. In simpler words, it’s a game changer. Another metal new to Lonni’s jewelry designs is 18 karat gold. I suggested titling her ring collection ‘Bling Bling Ring Rings’ for younger crowd appeal but I don’t think she’s going for it. The gems and stones picked for pieces bear names nearly as beautiful as their appearance – aquamarine, amethyst, citrine, peridot, aventurine, and sapphire are just a few. Almost makes me want to start a gem collection. Almost.

          Lonni working on a piece at her home studio

          Hold on, got a call coming in. It’s my mom, gotta take this. Tune in later for more profiles, posts, and pictures; in the meantime, get more sleep and eat your veggies (says mom).


          ¹ Argentium Sterling Silver on Wikipedia.

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            Featured Profiles!

            Get pumped, y’all! Soon making the scene on the Shutter Pop Photo Journal will be the (cue voice echo) Featured Profile of the Week! These will be short write-ups with accompanying profile photos for small businesses, artists, or people of interest located in Tallahassee and surrounding areas, such as Havana, Quincy, Thomasville and elsewhere. The simple idea is to highlight people and businesses in the Big Bend and to bring a weekly touch of community to this blog. (end voice echo) Just know in the future when you see the logo below accompanying a new post on this Journal, one correct response is to give a hoot and a holler, especially if you’re in a place of work (cubicles are good). Featured Profile of the Week » Continue reading “Featured Profiles!”

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