Poetry and politics a good mix for Ravizes
“Vastly blue yet crystal clear,
a strong imposing sapphire tier,
reflecting a pool of mountains near …
a jewel to the eye.”
– Lake Tahoe poet Linde Ravize
Poetry and politics make for an unlikely mix but artists J.T. and Linde Ravize said the concoction has worked in getting what they say Lake Tahoe needs most – money.
Their picture-poetry book, “Hearts of Light,” has been used as a weapon in the recent battle to win federal funding for environmental improvements at all shores of Lake Tahoe.
The Lake Tahoe Restoration Act, passed by Congress in October, authorizes $300 million for Tahoe environmental projects over the next 10 years.
Traveling four times to the nation’s capital, the Ravizes aimed to bring a visual and emotional connection to the importance of passing the bill, which now awaits the president’s signature.
“There was nothing out there that was a good visual hit,” J.T. said. “Our job was to picture Lake Tahoe as a national treasure, not just a regional concern.”
Their self-enlisted duty worked, said Jim Hock, press secretary for Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., the bill’s major sponsor.
“The book is a good tool to educate people, especially the people in Washington D.C. who haven’t seen how beautiful Lake Tahoe is,” Hock said. “For education and advocacy, the Ravizes have gone above and beyond the call of duty.”
J.T. said he learned political prowess in the late 1980s, when he helped renowned photographer Robert Ketchum capture scenes in Alaska’s southeastern ice fields, and then use those photos to convince the Clinton administration to set the hills aside for federal protection.
By 1994, the Tahoe couple realized the lake was in need of a similar savior.
That’s when J.T. started compiling landscape shots of vermilion Sierra skylines and vivid snowcapped scenes with the goal of producing the best possible outdoor photo collection of the Lake Tahoe Basin.
While waiting, sometimes for hours, for the perfect lighting to enter J.T.’s viewfinder, his wife Linde began composing rhyming verse inspired by the vistas.
“At first it was just a fun thing to do, something that was supposed to be part of my private journal,” Linde said. “But then we realized that the pictures with the poems were the ultimate hook.”
Released in hard cover in May, the 188-page poetic pictorial has reeled in the nationally recognized Benjamin Franklin award, honoring the book for its printing design and visual content. In addition, Linde was named as a distinguished poet of merit by the International Society of Poetry.
The work, they said, is hardly over.
Museum shows, poetry readings and political pushes to make sure the money gets from the capital to the lake are at the top of their lists.
“It’s just not a done deal,” J.T. said. “We want to make sure the checks are cut.”
Linde added that they also plan to continue exposing Lake Tahoe’s beauty as art.
“We’d like to establish a place, a building that would be open to the public, for people to see the photos and poetry about the lake, so they can just sit and look – it’s the beauty of the lake that moves people to protect it.”
Visit http://www.heartsoflight.com for more information on the Ravizes’ book.
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