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The People of Wanxian, PRC 1983: "I am not sure of that foreigner"

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Margrit M. Berger (S… on February 22, 2010

A wonderful series, dear Ian! A touching photo of a Grandmother and her Grandaughter! Beautiful study of the four hands. They seem to symbolize the readiness to accept what life and situations bring upon a human life.

I have read all the comments above! I am glad, that Amelia and you pointed to the circumstance that deplacements because of river regulations and dams take place not only in China, but in most other parts of our world as well. It's probably the scale which is frightening. There are many examples of big projects in Turkey, Brazil etc. etc. etc. Because of increasing need of energy, governments probably have to decide between "cholera and plague" or the power of water to nuclear power, etc.

And who would know better than you do, that thousands of millions of people are deplaced right now because of wars, because of hunger, because of political and economical situations etc. It's a plight on human beings which has gone on, probably since humanity exists and it's taking place right now and it will do in future. You are doing a wonderful job to help soothening the wounds of thousands.

Not, that my heart didn't go out to those people. It is a great disaster for those having been affected by it, to lose a homestead. On the other hand, I know, it's one of your concerns, that we shouldn't close the eyes about the deplacements and the misery in today's world, homesteads being shelled, lives being killed, people being crippled, children dying of hunger in actual happenings, often caused by our exemplary world.

Thank you, my friend, to show with your documentary photos the love you feel towards people all over the world, I admire and love you for your engagement with great respect,


Alfred Schaffer on March 14, 2010

Very nice scene!


Ian Stehbens on March 15, 2010

Thank you very much, Alfred. It is good to include the very human component in Panoramio's natural landscapes.


Ian Stehbens on March 15, 2010

Dear May,

I didn't overlook your comment, nor did I undervalue it, that I am only now responding. It was so cherished, so affirming and so beautiful, that I have allowed it to sit. I really couldn't adequately respond.

Your empathy for others around you, for humanity in general, and which I experience is so very special. If My deep sense of desiring to identify with others, to celebrate difference, to welcome outsiders and to be driven by significance is somehow revealed in my photography, then I am fulfilled.

Every journey into the world of others has challenged me, changed me and deepened my passion for justice and peace - or justpeace. And this and other visits to China was no exception.

Humbly and appreciatively,


Margrit M. Berger (S… on March 23, 2010

Dear Ian, I am happy to know you! I admire your engagement, which you are keeping up always young in mind. What can be more just than to campaign for justice and peace!?

PS: Thank you for professionally positioning "my plane" over Gran Canaria! I only did it approximately - not very Swiss - is it? ;))

Warmest regards, May

Ian Stehbens on March 24, 2010

Thank you, May. You are an inspiration, so thank you for all your sharing , in images, in text and in silence.

Gran Canaria is utterly un-Swiss.

While your plane is flying over Gran Canaria of Africa's west coast, this week my orbit has been among east African refugees from Congo and Burundi who now live here. And the complexities are complex, especially for their children.

Warmest regards,


Margrit M. Berger (S… on March 24, 2010

Dear Ian, thank you for all your comments and for telling about the great peace work, which is so important! I wasn't quite sure what you meant with 'silence'. Is it the mutual silence of understanding or the silence of the delays of my answers, which I regret so much, because I can never catch up in reasonable time.

It's dreadful, the burden so many people have to bear. What a difference, to come to a country as refugee with all the traumatic experience that includes, or on the other hand to travel to a country on one's own free will, self conscious and the feeling to be welcome.

I don't know, if I ever told you, that I have been working with refugees from many different countries - organizing courses, teaching our language, making them familiar with our system, administrations, everyday life, schools, etc. etc.

I think, people, who haven't been in touch with refugees, can never imagine what it must be like, to be entirely dependent of the goodwill of a nation, administration and people. No home country to go back to, to be concerned about the family, the future...

And no end in sight of all the tragedies.

Warm regards, May

Ian Stehbens on March 24, 2010

Dear May,

Just a quick note to acknowledge your gracious and compassionate answer, and to clarify the question of sharing in/through silence. This was intended to refer to those silent conversations we have sometimes have with the other when one of us is out walking with the camera. They are special times too. I hope that is clearer.

You don't need to be at all concerned about the other issue, that of delays in responding to each other or to any of the network, in the slightest. We all experience the same in Pano: the more one engages with it, the more the responses flow and the more one seems to get behind. That is understood. In an odd way, I guess it is one of the blessings of Pano.

Warmest regards,


Margrit M. Berger (S… on March 25, 2010

Dear Ian, how could I have misunderstood, what you meant, though you are so often present, when I am on my walks. Maybe, it's because I think of you as a more eloquent than silent companion. :)

Warm wishes, May

Maja Weidemueller on March 25, 2010

Dear May and dear Ian, please forgive me for intervening in a conversation where I haven't been invited to: it is just to say that I fully understand you and that I feel relieved in reading it. Relieved by realizing that obviously I am not the only one who has this "problem": the more one shares significant issues, the more one would like to accompany the pictures with words - but this requires time, and we all have our lives, our professions and our families and the poor 24 hours of a day are just too short. I think it is a question of trusting the others, dear friends, lets trust in each other's ability to understand also a quiet company and lets trust in our feeling that the others "are there" by our side, even when there are no words.

Cheers, dear friends! Maja

Ian Stehbens on March 25, 2010

Dear May,

Right now, I'm silently looking down from a road above Sumiswald. I can see a tower lit by the street lights below, and scattered lights on the hillsides above. Can't quite see what the time is on the clock tower. There are still a few cars about: one leaving the town on the street coming in my direction; another on a curved road in the distance. Is that a school down there? Lights on. For security or is there a meeting there tonight?

Then in an instant we are sitting together with GE on your screen trying to geo-locate some of your aerials from the Canaries flight.

In silence?


Margrit Berger on March 28, 2010

Dear Ian, :) I love your observations and thanks for the proposal to geo-locate the photos. ;)) GE isn't as exact either as you might think. Once I discovered one of my Tenerife photos on the neighbour island, another time all of my church photos of Sumiswald on the roof of the church, some of them I had taken from the very spot you are standing now above the town. ;)

With sounding thoughts,


Ian Stehbens on March 28, 2010

You are right in regard to GE, May, for new versions of imagery are sometimes a little differently calibrated it seems. And as you know the mapping is certainly not precise. I get real satisfaction from their aerial photography imagery which now covers most of Western Europe and settled Australia, especially the cities. I could geolocate every chimney, plant and room accurately, and enjoyed doing so!

"Sounding Thoughts" seems like a wonderful way of expressing what goes on here. may be the title for a book??

But isn't GE wonderful to have?!

Resonating thoughts,


Margrit M. Berger (S… on April 2, 2010

Ian, I wish I had one of those photo finders, it would save a lot of time, instead of brooding on GE and trying to find the exact places.

Thank you for your resonating thoughts! Isn't that all we need in order to grow and to learn? Someone, we estimate, listening and responding to our thoughts?! :)


Ian Stehbens on April 4, 2010

Dear May,

I agree, but the brooding or poring is a fun challenge somethimes.

For the aerial images that I have from flights across our big continent, or over the Arctic (LHR-SFO or Incheon-Dulles) I have found the in-flight route map on the monitor wonderful help. I sometimes actually photograph the screen so as to fix a route or a location. Then with the time taken info in the EXIF data, I can readily plot my locations on GE. I have fun doing it, too.

But my images along the Yangtze required a little more detective work!!

Warmest regards,


Margrit M. Berger (S… on April 8, 2010

You are right, Ian, it is fun to turn back to the journey and do it all over again in thoughts, when trying to find out the exact viewpoint of the photo taken, but the Irish and Scottish GE satellite map is often behind some clouds and unfortunately not so clear as one would wish for. I was helpless in Donegal until a local person helped me. Warm wishes, May

谭政 on August 14, 2010


Ian Stehbens on August 16, 2010

Thank you 谭政 for your explanation. I appreciate what you have said about the Expo in your reply. I also appreciate the commitment of people to building a just and fair society. My visits to China have given me a profound understanding of your society, both historically and in this present age.

This portrait of a grandmother and her granddaughter continues to touch my heart.

Sincere and respectful regards,


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  • Uploaded on February 5, 2010
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    by Ian Stehbens