WRITTEN RICHARD SEVEN
PHOTOGRAPHED BY HARLEY SOLTES
ERIC MORRIS | Globe trotter
Eric Morris built boats, but he didn't see the world until he built the EarthBall.
In fact, he recently had to leave his Orcas Island home and travel to the Middle East to install three of his giant air-filled orbs of the Earth.
The globes have taken him to Asia several times and to Europe. He has installed one in the Rotunda at the Capitol in Olympia for Green Power Day and one at a MasterCard corporate event in St. Louis. It took him to Disneyland and the Salt Lake City Olympics.
And, of course, to the Orcas Island Earth Day Parade, where school children march with the giant version of the globe. "It's a beautiful gesture, as these kids will be 'carrying' the real world soon enough."
The orb is like a globe, but instead of displaying neatly traced land masses bearing names, it patches together a quilt of NASA imagery, complete with cloud covering that obscures parts of the world. The smallest EarthBall is 16 inches in diameter. The largest to date is 20 feet in diameter (commissioned for a youth gathering in Atlanta's Georgia Dome).
Morris, a wiry fellow who just turned 50, was captivated 20 years ago by early photographs of Earth taken during the Apollo voyages to the moon. In 1992, his EarthBall (www.earthball.com) was launched into orbit aboard a NASA Space Shuttle. Astronauts used the globe while filming the NASA educational video "The Atmosphere Below."
He makes a living off the EarthBall, but Morris also allows himself to wax poetic: "As an iconic symbol of our times, it may ultimately be a part of the evolutionary process of awakening humanity to its true nature on this extraordinary planet Earth."
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