“Counter-imagining the Dystopia” Photo Exhibit

My first forest experience was in MacRitchie forest during secondary school, which organised a cross-country run event every year.

Since the forest is part of the central catchment nature reserve, it is in no danger of being cleared.

Since then, I had taken forests in Singapore for granted.

It wasn’t until 2016 when I saw firsthand how one secondary rainforest after another was razed to the ground by bulldozers.

First was Bidadari forest, followed by Lentor forest, and then Tengah forest.

Then came news reports of roadkills and human-wildlife conflicts, mainly due to deforestation in Mandai, Punggol and Pasir Ris.

Finally, revelations of development plans in Bukit Batok hillside park area, Clementi forest and Dover forest in 2020 were the last straw that compelled many concerned citizens to advocate the conservation of our remaining forests.

Lately, as I revisited MacRitchie forest, I realised how fortunate it has escaped the axe, after having been regenerating from human disturbances 150-200 years ago.

As I survey the lush greenery, I hope that the photographs of this forest will inspire action to be taken to conserve and restore the forests outside of the nature reserves for climate resilience, biodiversity protection and public health management.

The OML photo exhibition hopes to bring together leaders who provide active resistance that challenge our social, cultural, economic, environmental, and imagination crises and open thresholds to foresee the shape of what can become possible.

One challenge of advocating nature conservation and environmental sustainability is not to fall into the doom-and-gloom fatalism (which I occasionally find myself meandering into).

Hence the need for “counter-imagining the dystopia”, which is the theme of this OML (One Million Leaders) Photo Exhibit, organised by NELIS Global.

The exhibit showcases visions of a more beautiful, compassionate, regenerative future that already exist.

After all, we live in a world where contradictions and paradoxes exist, as I have come to realise.

Whether we are for nature conservation or economic development, we find ourselves inextricably enmeshed between the two spheres.

For example, since we live in a monetary-based society, nature conservation advocacy work requires funding to be successful.

Similarly, no business can remain sustainable without relying on the regenerative nature of the natural environment.

Perhaps it is a matter of where the resources are channeled to.

For example, are they used to protect the environment, biodiversity and thereby our physical and mental well-being?

Are they also used to promote nature awareness?

On this note, I am glad to have my three photos – together with other amazing photos by other photographers – contributing to the success of the OML Photo Exhibit in Tokyo, Japan, which I learnt “was very well received”.

The online gallery is found here.

Their video, heartfully received by NELIS’s audience on the 5th of November, is helpful for their ongoing Web Expo awareness campaign this month.

Feel free to watch and share the link.

If you feel inclined to help support this Web Expo movement, may I invite you to share the post and/or purchase any of the photos in the online gallery?

By doing so, you will be supporting the OML Programs running worldwide (OMLA -Africa-; OMLATAM -Latinamerica-; OMLAS -Asia-; OML-MENA -the Middle East & North Africa-).

You will also be supporting the local doers, dreamers, and their communities or initiatives working towards “one world in harmony”.

P.S. For the purchase of each photo, 50% of the funds goes to NELIS/OML and 50% to the photographer.

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