Tuesday April 28
Education helps children grow to their full potential and change the world through individual acts of compassion. Frye’s article “Oppression” links educational opportunities to setting individuals free from what he calls the “birdcages” of economic and social constraints. Educational opportunities are especially important for children, and it is vital that “we infuse their education with kindness and compassion and a deep immersion in nature, so that they do not grow up “unwild” and so their decisions are founded on a deeply rooted, reflexive caring ethic” (Bekoff 120). With this knowledge of the natural world and it’s effect of compassionate thinking, we can lessen poverty in Haiti and help improve the economy. Everyone on this Earth is responsible for helping others. Whether we like it or not we are accountable. Actions we take against can contribute to improving life in Haiti; in fulfilling our responsibilities of helping each other, we are helping humanity.
Tuesday April 21
Even though an education system is present in Haiti, the Haitian citizens have limited educational opportunities. If the citizens were able to strengthen the educational systems in their country, the chances of stability in economic and social conditions in Haiti would be improved. Each individual who receives education is empowered to give something back to the nation by using their knowledge to better their communities. While several solutions have been implemented to try and improve education in Haiti, they have not been successful enough.
I would like to propose a cultural strategy for educational opportunity suggested by the conservation biologist Marc Bekoff that has not been used and is more promising. In his book, Rewilding Our Hearts, he defines rewilding as “…paradigm shift… that values compassion above all” (4).
I have come to focus on compassionate action as a part of this shift. Compassionate action could include a parent sending her child to class, a donation for a cause that helps provide school lunches, or even speaking up when something is not okay, as a solution to problems like educational opportunity in Haiti, in connection to rewilding. By giving back to the community, rewilding is being practiced since it “is a cause for action, but primarily to action within our own lives” (8).
Education creates opportunities that help a child grow to their full potential and eventually change the world through their individual acts of compassion. These opportunities include: connection with an individual’s learning in the natural world, to better understand the environment, and the practice of kindness in an effort to help those around us. Educational opportunities also break open figurative birdcages, as previously mentioned in Frye’s article “Oppression.” With each ‘bird cage’ broken open in Haiti, using the powerful tool of educational opportunity, another individual is set free, who has the power change the barriers that prevent others from learning in a classroom. If everyone goes back for at least one person after they have succeeded, eventually there will be no more cages capable of closing. With children “it is vital… we infuse their education with kindness and compassion and a deep immersion in nature, so that they do not grow up “unwild” and so their decisions are founded on a deeply rooted, reflexive caring ethic” (Bekoff 120). With this knowledge of the natural world and it’s effect of compassionate thinking, we can lessen poverty in Haiti and help improve the economy so education is not a question, but a right for each citizen. I believe it is also important to say that everyone on this Earth is responsible for all the actions not taken to help others as well. Whether we like it or not we hold accountability, because each action we take against one another can cause a chain reaction that lasts for years, an example being Haiti’s globalization problems. We need to fulfill our responsibilities in helping each other, in helping humanity.
Is there a correlation between a person’s connection to nature and social well being? The connection to nature has a profound influence on our ability to develop socially in our society. These social developments lay the foundation for who we are as an individual, setting up solid morals and a deeper understanding of oneself. With a deeper self connection influenced by nature there is a strong correlation between the ability to take social inequities upon oneself and make a change, no matter how small. The connectedness to nature may give one the motivation to make this change.
Connecting to the natural world from a young age has proven through strong correlation to have positive impacts on an individuals self understanding, commitment to social justice, self reliance, environmental concern, moral development, a greater sense of community, agreeableness and openness, and one’s sense of compassion and altruism. It is important to understand that these are not the only things the connection to nature can influence, and that you can only take out what you put in. By this I mean the results can vary, you have to commit to the connection to nature, which can only happen over time. Half hearted attempts in trying to connect to nature will not give you the desired results; Learning what nature has to offer comes from doing. Connecting to nature can have its own unique effects on an individual, but you can not force this. The ability to be enveloped and connected to the natural world is completely up to the individual, and is not something that can be forced. I leave you with a quote from Henry Thoreau “to affect the quality of the day, that is the highest of arts”(Thoreau). The ability to make a change in our world is the greatest task an individual can take upon oneself, and the connection to nature is one step you can take to have the ability to do so.
Over the last few decades, our society has gotten farther than some people thought it ever would. Technology is advancing at an unprecedented rate. Cities are expanding, our population is booming, and our education system is striving to become as successful as it could possibly be. But how are these advances affecting us? In his poem, “My Town”, Buddy Wakefield states, “We’ve gotten so far ahead of ourselves that we’ve actually fallen behind”(Wakefield). Somewhere along the way of sculpting our society into the pseudo-utopia that we like to pretend that we live in, we have lost touch with one of the most primal and inherent characteristics of all animals on earth; wildness. While the literal definition of wildness is being “wild” or “untamed”, it has also developed a meaning that has been shaped by the work of authors such as Henry David Thoreau. Wildness is a quality only found in untouched wilderness. It is the capacity that humans have to find truth and clarity within themselves and within the world through experience in nature. It is the quality of understanding ourselves and understanding the importance of untouched nature in our world. Today, we are losing our sense of wildness. People seem to be incapable of understanding the importance of wildness.
Most people can live their lives day to day and pretend like everything we do in society and every aspect of the way we live is perfect, but frankly, it isn’t. The way we live is easy, not successful. Like Buddy Wakefield said, “We’ve gotten so far ahead of ourselves that we’ve actually fallen behind”. The “advances” we’ve made have only separated ourselves from nature and from wildness.
How much control do people in the United States have over their lives in 2014? Although many think that they rule their own world, many people are subconsciously governed by things they do not even realize. People have the ability to purchase things pre-made for them but what if that was no longer an option? In this essay I discuss how people through history have gone about living self-determined lives. First a history of the back to the land movement will be given, followed by how technology has an effect on subsistence and self-determination. People who are compelled to live subsistence lives recognize that they have found a more whole way of living and a more meaningful way of life as described in this essay.
Subsistence is and isn’t for everyone. It is everything we do yet something none of us do at the same time. We all require fossil fueled devices in some way or another today and by doing so we are at some level interacting with the world and natures resources it has to offer. But at the same time do we really have a personal interaction with nature? Some people certainly do. However, the concept of a pure interaction with nature and the wilderness as a lifestyle is something that needs further self reflection. This helps us come to terms with the cultural aspect of subsistence but leaves out the whole economic side. Subsistence can also be simply the way in which a group of people interact solely based on their needs for survival. Subsistence as an economic system can seem un-attractive to capitalistic eyes as a step down from where we are now. Subsistence can be almost like a welfare, for those who can only afford just what they need to get by. In conjunction with these two working definitions of subsistence comes technology. By using technology to some extents the process of experience and learning is ignored and there is definitely a delicate balance that needs to be found in order for technology and subsistence to work hand in hand. Not only the exclusion of a process needs to be taken into account but also the impact that using hard technologies has on our environment which in turn is a reflection of our personal interaction with said environment. Subsistence is a complicated beast but by looking into it there is something to gain for everyone.
Sustainability is a very complex categorization of anthropogenic practices which have taken on a large role in describing our lives in the United States. The concept of sustainability has become a guiding theme in the development and research of science, economics, architecture, and our daily lives. It is a word that governs the environmental movement. To many, our ability to make systems in the United States sustainable, particularly agriculture, will determine the future of our natural environments and ecosystems in the United States, as well as climate change as a whole. While to many sustainability is a simple concept, I believe it has evolved to a use far broader than its original definition, causing the actual value and power of the word to disintegrate. Sustainability is a term and concept which needs be be used in a less casual manner if its value is to be preserved. Perhaps, it should not be used in many of the contexts which it is currently applied.
Through taking the time to understand what sustainability is, it seems that instead of giving the word different definitions, these new definitions should be given a new name. Another alternative would to be to set concrete definitions for each category of Sustainability. Because in agriculture many natural resources must be taken into account, the development of a quantitative measurement may be the best option. Either way, a very important aspect of the concept that should remain is the importance of something being ecological, or not harming the environment. My overall conclusion however, is that our problems as a whole species goes much deeper than the discussion of sustainability and the impacts our actions have on the environment. I believe that the root of the problem goes back to the population of humans. The earth cannot support the number of humans that inhabit earth. That is why we have these issues in the first place. Overpopulation is why humans now rely on industrial agriculture. Perhaps the so called sixth extinction is an indication that the biosphere cannot support us. All this does not mean we should give up on sustainable and ecological concepts, but we need to make a serious global effort to address the size of our population. These are the questions and issues of the present and future.
Growing up, many people, including author Henry David Thoreau, as well as myself, have had the feeling that the more we buy, the less it seems we truly have. The shiny nick-nacks that have an oversized price tag, the new three hundred horse power sports car, and the house with two rooms that we never even use feel extravagant once we purchase them, but then we feel it’s extravagance wares off. It’s no secret that many people in America and many other parts of the world buy and use more resources than we need, but in doing so, do we miss out on living a more fruitful and experience filled life with more material we posses?
The most essential lesson that can be given to the world from him is that the greatest prize is no prize at all, but is a gift that the world provides, right outside our door. He believed that although the hole that many of us are digging into is getting deeper with materialism, although, he also mentioned that it is not to late to dig ourselves out. As he said, As a single footstep will not make a path on the Earth, so a single thought will not make a pathway in the mind. To make a deep physical path, we walk again and again. To make a mental path, we must think over and over the kind of thoughts we wish to dominate our lives”, we can always drop the cash and start a new path. It is easier to give away and simplify, than to buy complicate, after all.
What has made us so different? There is no giant wall that separates state lines, or a fence that runs down along the coasts keeping people in or out. It can be argued that there are physical differences and we may not come from the same place, but should any of that matter? So if it has come to the point where people act in unnecessarily rude ways towards each other with no justifications, then humanity is doomed; and we are left asking ourselves why. Some people may like to imagine that the world they’re living in is a clean place, this is false. We live in a world of racism, judgment, destruction, and cruelty, and the people are to blame. Generally, we have these problems because our society imposes boundaries upon us, and in turn divides our societies up. This paper is about these specific societal boundaries and how they have conditioned people.
Just because there are different classes of people does not mean that there is some giant boundary wall that separates us; this world is ours to share. When people succumb to actually trying to force people out of our country, or destroying the environment around them, it really makes you take a step back and ask why? What makes them think that this is okay behavior? Is this what our ‘human nature’ has come down to? We are faced with obstacles that challenge our decency and integrity day in and day out; such as immigration, prejudice and destruction of our environment. Since society imposes these boundaries, literal and figurative, upon us it is up to people to choose not to succumb to these drawbacks; to choose to see the kindness in one another. Otherwise humanity will continue on a downward spiral and we will ruin the future for not only ourselves but for generations to come.
People for centuries have had a peculiar infatuation with the wilderness. Men and women across the world abandon their normal lives seeking god, clarity, an escape from society, right of passage, or the restorative properties that nature holds. Different stories from different times, society drawing their own lines between brilliance and insanity. This infatuation manifests itself in North America and certain stigma is created around these individuals. I want to figure out why they so desperately want to go to the wilderness and what we can learn from their experiences.
These individuals are viewed as either insane or brilliant they walked a fine line between the two. In pursuit of the restorative powers of nature these men and women have gone out into the wilderness to find themselves, an escape from their society and to make statements about their society.
Zoochosis is defined as a psychological condition of animals kept in confinement. These wild creatures are held against their will and forced to perform and entertain us. In contrast, when you watch the animals on Animal Planet or Discovery they have a vast amount of land that they can run and roam around in. When you pay to go experience a zoo, aquarium, circus or an animal based sporting event, you are throwing all your money into a million dollar industry that supports, what Karen Dawn, a well known animal activist and writer, describes as “the ABCD’s of the animal entertainment industry:
Acquisition: Animals do not give themselves up willingly for our entertainment. They must be ripped away from their families.
Brutality: Unlike domesticated animals who would respond to positive reinforcement and affection,wild animals trained for entertainment are dominated and intimidated into submitting into human will.
Confinement: While their natural environment might offer them whole jungles or oceans to roam, captive animals are confined forever in cages, in tanks, in pens, or with chains, for our viewing pleasure.
Disposal: When they have outlived their economic usefulness, animals used for entertainment are disposed of in shocking ways” (61).
These animals do not have to be used in such ways as we think they do, animal sanctuaries are set up with anchors of land and there are strict regulations on when people can view the animals. Because the animals live in such a large habitat, there is never a guarantee that you will see the animal on a given day. This is how animals live in the wild and this is how we should experience them. Observing animals should be a rare and cherished opportunity.
Because we are animals, we feel the need to connect with other animals in anyway that we know how. With our primal instincts and propaganda from the media, it’s hard to comprehend how the zoo, circuses, aquariums and animal based sports are so cruel to these wild creatures. Hundreds of years ago we didn’t know half of the animals that we know of today and the species thrived. We need to leave the animals in peace and experience them in other way. Today, we have television, documentaries, movies, sanctuaries and safaris. If we spread the word about the abuse, neglect and psychological damage we will be able to stop all of the animals based entertainment for good. As the write Richard Dawkins says “in one hundred or two hundred years we may look back on the way we treated animals today, as something like we today look back on the way our forefathers treated slaves”.
Technology use which is disconnecting us from nature is also disconnecting us from ourselves, the only way to begin to reconnect with nature is to begin to reconnect with ourselves by changing our lifestyles to those of which will help us become more independent and open to the wonders of living surrounded by nature. Society’s technology dependence has limited our time spent in nature, as a result of this our appreciation and compassion for the natural world has suffered as well. The natural world can be shared and experienced without having to go outside. Being able to have experiences with nature and the wild world that we live in is important to the growth of a person as an individual, as well as their growth as a member of the ecocentric society we should be living in, rather than the egocentric one which we have become. Because technology has become so engrained in our lives today it is hard to imagine life without the “luxuries” it offers, but are these technological advances helping us? Or are they causing us to care less about the natural world around us that is already so fragile. By breaking the stranglehold all unneeded technology has on our society, and focus on the lessons that nature can teach us is the only way we can begin to become a more environmentally minded society. Reconnecting with nature and having experiences out of doors and away from the technological haze we live in is the only way for people to become themselves, the wilderness is the best classroom for a person to learn about themselves. This essay will be focused around the authors who have already discussed why a connection with nature is important to human prosperity, as well as authors who are continuing this conversation today, but use the term reconnection because our society has lost touch with the nature we live in, this essay will also detail specific areas of technology that are affecting ourselves and our world negatively, and what every person can do to break the barriers technology dependence creates.
Although it is obvious that giving up total use of any form of technology is not a viable option, technology advances have aided us in helping better ourselves and our planet, however the way the overuse of technology throughout the vast majority of the world needs to change. What a person learns from overuse of technology is not as powerful as if the same person were to go out and learn from having first hand experiences with the wilderness. We cannot depend on technology to bring nature to us, we need begin to bring ourselves back to nature, because society has no other choice to live together with nature, not the wilderness. Nature is always surrounding us whether we are aware of it or not, the wilderness and truly wild, undisturbed, places are rare, but they are people in the egocentric society need to go look for, instead of allowing technology bring those wonders to them. It is time to realize that people cannot learn about who they are and how they fit into the connectedness of the world solely within in the confines of a classroom. Much more can be learned about one’s self if people could just begin to slip away from the distractions of technology dependence and begin to become more self-reliant and accepting of living a simplistic life. Leaving unnecessary technology behind and searching for the inherent wildness inside ourselves is a spiritual experience that the individual has to have, it cannot be a secondhand experience aided by the use of technology, because the sheer power and internal connection a person has with the living world around cannot be felt through a screen.
We often talk about nature in terms of systems, such as the circle of life, the food chain, and ecosystems. Although we try to think of ourselves as separate from those systems. That they are the natural processes of this world and we have no involvement in them. Even going as far in that we control nature and manage it to our benefit. I would like to challenge that way of thinking. I like to think of the connection between humans and nature as a symbiotic relationship. We came from the natural process of evolution, and this connection continued to follow us as we evolved. We came from the nature and if the natural world is taken care of, we are able to thrive socially, economically, and physically. This connection is innate but also found in many ways all over the world. It has been represented through religion, literature, and science. There are two ways that this interaction to nature can be seen, in physiological and psychological processes. Humans are a part of the natural systems and are connected to nature therefore it is in the best interest of all to maintain and foster this connection.
We are all a part of nature, from breathing in the air around us, the act of us existing causes a change in our environment. Therefore whether we practice a connection with nature willing or not we change the nature around us and the nature changes us. The connection with nature is something that is always around and with us. The connection is innate only if we make it. If we were to all foster this connection it would benefit not only nature but each and every one of us.
Nature and wilderness represent the areas of the world that are still untouched by humans and our industrial, polluting ways. We have a tendency to destroy things that are natural in order to make them more accessible and controllable. We like being the apex species on this planet and fear losing that position to the wild, so we destroy anything that might threaten our status. Now that most of the world is under human control and we humans feel safe, we tend to forget about nature and take it for granted. We have an anthropocentric viewpoint which means we believe or act like we believe that everything on this planet is here for the exploitation of man. We are too tied up in our urban lives to look at the world as something bigger than a pile of resources. We do see some value in nature however, so we set aside places like national parks in order to preserve their naturalness. Even our national parks though, are becoming more and more industrialized. We seem to have forgotten that their purpose is to preserve rather than to entertain, so every summer people hop in their SUVs and drive down to the Grand Canyon or Yosemite to “experience” nature, or in other words, to run our gas guzzling machines up and down the Park, taking in the views through tinted windows while the air conditioner keeps us cool. This is no way to experience nature, and is what Edward Abbey would call industrial tourism: going out into nature without making it seem like we ever left our urbanized world, because god forbid we break a sweat or breath in air that does not have smog in it. In this paper I will look at Ed Abbey’s term industrial tourism and what it means as well as how we can avoid it and have a more natural encounter with nature. I hope to promote a transition to eco-tourism, or tourism with preservation and experiences within nature in mind. This transition from industrial tourism to eco-tourism can help people learn to appreciate and understand nature better. In order to promote this transition I will look at our interpretation of the term wild and nature and what it means to us as well as what it meant throughout history. Having experiences within nature helps us to connect with the wilderness, I will be looking at how we connect with and perceive nature and all the factors that can change how we interpret scenery and the natural world. Eco-tourism does not just mean having experiences in nature, it also means preserving nature. In order to understand how industrial tourism affects the nature of national parks I will research some sources that look at the environmental costs of tourism and different tourism methods. Looking at the social and environmental effects of industrial tourism can help people to see the benefits of eco-tourism and will hopefully lead to a change in our tourism methods.
The state of our National Parks and our appreciation for nature is rapidly declining and in order to preserve these things we need to shift from industrial tourism to eco-tourism, from anthropocentric viewpoints to eco-centric viewpoints. The social and environmental impact of industrial tourism can be detrimental for our planet. This can be changed by creating experiences in nature and the wilderness, whether it’s camping, or hiking a mountain or taking a walk through the woods. Do something that is your own, an experience that you can have to yourself, do not follow the beaten path. Earlier cultures feared nature but also looked to it as a place of healing and cleansing, it’s this fear that we have of the wild that has led us to destroy it but it is also this fear that has captured the attention of so many. So let nature grab your interest, be fascinated by it so that you can have the drive to appreciate and understand it.
A National park is a natural, or historic site set aside to be preserved for the enjoyment of future generations. All 50 states have at least one preserved area that falls under the jurisdiction of the National Parks Service (NPS). The National Parks Service is a bureau of the U.S. Department of the Interior and began with the creation of Yellowstone National Park in 1872. One of the main policy documents for the National Parks Service is the NPS Organic Act of 1916, which states the purpose of the NPS
…promote and regulate the use of the Federal areas known as national parks, monuments, and reservations hereinafter specified . . . by such means and measures as conform to the fundamental purpose of the said parks, monuments, and reservations, which purpose is to conserve the scenery and the natural and historic objects and the wild life therein and to provide for the enjoyment of the same in such manner and by such means as will leave them unimpaired for the enjoyment of future generations (United States, 1916).
The mission statement of the NPS is contradictory and causes questions to arise. How can national parks “. . . conserve the scenery. . . and to provide for the enjoyment . . . by such means as will leave them unimpaired for the enjoyment of future generations” (United States, 1916)? Or more simply how can a national park be used and preserved at the same time? The National Parks mission statement calls for parks that are used for use by people and be preserved for future generations to enjoy. The debate about which goal, use or preservation, is more important has been going on since the creation of the National Parks service. This paper will examine both sides of the argument, and the NPS’s policy documents to find a balance between use and preservation in national parks.
The National Parks service is charged with the management of all our national parks, monuments, and historical sites. Since the founding of the National Parks Service in 1872 with the creation of Yellowstone National Park, the purpose of the parks has been debated. The Organic Act, the main policy document for the NPS states
…promote and regulate the use of the Federal areas known as national parks, monuments, and reservations hereinafter specified . . . by such means and measures as conform to the fundamental purpose of the said parks, monuments, and reservations, which purpose is to conserve the scenery and the natural and historic objects and the wild life therein and to provide for the enjoyment of the same in such manner and by such means as will leave them unimpaired for the enjoyment of future generations (United States, 1916).
In simpler terms the goal of the National Parks Service is to preserve parks while allowing people to use and enjoy them. Many people wonder how can parks be preserved and used at the same time? This debate continued for many years until in 1978 an amendment was made to the Organics Act, and this amendment contains a solution to this debate. This 1978 amendment states “[t]he authorization of activities shall . . . not be exercised in derogation of the values and purposes . . . (Mappes, 2007, p. 614)” of national parks. What this means is that activities within national parks can only be authorized as long as they do not degrade the park, or the National Parks Service. This amendment can end the debate over the main goal of national parks, preservation or use. This amendment places preservation as the guideline for use. his means the biggest goal for national parks is preservation. Preservation is more important than use because activities within national parks will only be performed if the park stays “. . .unimpaired for the enjoyment of future generations” (United States, 1916) like it is stated in the Organic Act. Now to answer the question this paper started with: What purpose do national parks serve? The purpose of national parks is to provide humans with protected natural areas they can visit and enjoy in a way that preserves the natural beauty for the next generation.
“Parents, educators, other adults, institutions – the culture itself – may say one thing to children about nature’s gifts, but so many of our actions and messages – especially the ones we cannot hear ourselves deliver – are different. And children hear very well.” (Louv, 2005, p.14) In The Last Child in the Woods: saving our children from nature-deficit disorder, Richard Louv explores the ideas and theories of children in the wilderness. Why are children so wild? What can we do to get rid of all of this energy? They cannot get rid of the energy indoors or while playing videogames. Children are forced to sit down all day at school while teachers cram information into their heads. The only time they get to be themselves is in physical education classes, and at recess; both of which are slowly being stripped away from schools and thus taking the developmental areas of the brain that aid learning and destroying it. Building a program or curriculum that directly exposes children to nature during physical activity, while promoting physical, emotional and intellectual development is one of the most important areas we can fix. If we do not do this, our children will lose their touch not only with nature but with themselves as well.
A program that introduces children to nature should not only get children outside and active in the wild, but should have them fully engaged in the activity and learning that goes along with it. That’s exactly what is happening. There are schools around the world who are trying their best to integrate programs outdoors, they are often called “nature schools” and they introduce ideas and make nature their main focus. While not every school can be a “nature school” many schools around the U.S. and around the world are trying to integrate the environment into different areas of their curriculum.
Thursday April 16
Evolution gave us long legs and spring like tendons for a reason. Every part of the body has a function, the function to do work. Mark Mattson, author of Evolutionary Aspects of Running- Born to Run Purposefully, brings together many scholars work to bring up the point that humans were in fact born to run. He states, “One structural feature of humans that is believed to facilitate energetic efficiency during endurance running is legs with long spring-like tendons…” (2). Legs were meant to be in constant motion, unlike now where seats rule the world. Mattson compares the stride length to quadriped mammals from 2 million years ago who also had small feet and toes. These animals are natural born runners, and we do not need scientists to prove that. Animals are much quicker than humans and that is because they have two more parts of their body to help them move and catch prey, and we originated from primates so he is basically saying we should run (Mattson, pg.2).
Not only does running improve muscle cells, it is also proven to help brain cells. “It is now well established that endurance exercise can stimulate the growth of brain cells and can improve cognitive function” (Stranahan). The energy gained after running, commonly called the runners high, gives that runner the concentration and stamina to work on a task effectively after endurance running. The brain is a very interesting and powerful part of the body, as it is usually called the control center of the body. Lieberman, in his article explains what happens during a 1 hour run.
“For example, during a 1 hour run many different potential sources of food or materials that could be used for shelter could be encountered, and up-regulation of the expression of BDNF [Brain derived neurotrophic factors] at synapses activated during the encounter with that resource would promote strengthening of those synapses and long term retention of the memory of the resource and its location”.
Running triggers the brain to produce neurotrophic factors, which increases the production of new nerve cells across the brain which in the end, helps us remember where places and objects were (Lieberman). Synapses, a part of the body introduced in 1897 by English physiologist Michael Foster, plays an important role in brain development. As stated in the quote, many different potential sources of food or materials could be passed by which all relates back to the evolution of man. We come from primates who are natural born hunters and possibly the smartest animal still alive. They know what to eat and what is good for them. They can create shelter and live for a long time. In addition, which I stated before, brain cells are increased after some endurance running or training. “Cells in the brain are very sensitive when endurance exercise is induced. Studies of animal models and of human subjects support the hypothesis that exercise induces the expression of neurotrophic factors which, in turn, promote structural and functional plasticity of neurons and their resistance to injury and disease” (Gomez). Neurotrophic factors, are proteins that are responsible for the development of neurons in the body. Neurons are very important to the body as they send and receive signals that are then sent throughout the body. The more neurons you have, the more in shape you are according to doctors. Humans gain neurons with time. Studies have shown that elderly people who start to exercise daily will gain more neurons, resulting in a slight increase in possible life expectancy and more overall energy. In life, muscles and bones become weaker. With the research and findings, vitamin C can very much help restore bones and muscles.
Studies have shown that running barefoot can improve the body. Understanding the correct way to train for endurance running is key to gaining more energy and efficiency while running. I do not understand how some people think running is bad for you.
Edward Abbey had many careers, one of them being a park ranger at Arches National Park in Moab, Utah. During his time there Abbey had many unique encounters in nature, things like riding an inflatable raft down the Colorado River, or exploring canyons untouched for centuries. All of his experiences helped Abbey build a strong and deep connection with nature, and being a park ranger allowed him to observe other tourists in the park and how they interact with the wilderness. He noticed that most people did not bother to look for adventure and would stay in their cars or complain about the heat. Edward Abbey writes many polemics about these “motorized tourists” and in his novel Desert Solitaire, Abbey introduces the word “industrial tourism”; he uses it to describe modern tourism practices and the humanization of our national parks. In Desert Solitaire, Abbey goes off on a long polemic in which he strongly voices his opinion on industrial tourism. Ed Abbey writes:
“Industrial tourism is a threat to the national parks. But the chief victims of the system are the motorized tourists. They are being robbed and robbing themselves. So long as they are unwilling to crawl out of their cars they will not discover the treasures of the national parks and will never escape the stress and turmoil of the urban-suburban complexes which they had hoped, presumably, to leave behind for a while…Why is the Park Service generally so anxious to accommodate…the indolent millions born on wheels and suckled on gasoline, who expect and demand paved highways to lead them in comfort, ease and safety into every nook and corner of the national parks?”(60)
What Abbey is saying is that not only does the Park Service allow for industrial tourism but also the tourists refuse to change in order to understand nature and what national parks have to offer. Abbey says that the tourists are being “robbed” by the Park Service. The Park Service is designed around industrial tourism and in order for the people to transition to eco-tourism the Park Service must do so first. If the national parks are designed around eco-tourism, people will be more willing and able to participate in eco-tourism. Providing paved roads with places where people can see the park from their car does not help the progression of industrial tourism. Rather, the parks should accommodate for eco-tourism activities such as hiking or camping. Providing trail maps or rentable bicycles rather than paved roads, selling firewood and camping supplies rather than selling snow globes and magnets.
The ability for humans to communicate to each other without needed to actually come face to face is paralyzing our social ability in a real conversation. It has become imperative to use the internet. Just think, if everyone you are friends with communicates through social media or in a group message by texting on a cellphone it only makes sense that you would want to use the same mediums. If that technology is not available to someone or they choose to not conform to using the internet that person may feel left out. Nicholas Carr is an author that writes about social, economic and business implications of technology. As Carr says
“If all your friends are planning their social lives through texts and Facebook and Twitter and so forth, then to back away from that means to feel socially isolated. And of course for all people, particularly for young people, there’s kind of nothing worse than feeling socially isolated.” (Carr)
It is much easier to resort to using cell phone to communicate rather than face to face conversation. Carr makes this very apparent, nobody wants to be out of the loop. Carr also says in his video that if you are in a business environment and your boss and co-workers use e-mail to communicate, you will need to conform to that or put yourself at risk in your job. He then continues to say, this type of conforming has transferred to the social aspect of humans.
Lastname, Firstname. Title of Book. City of Publication: Publisher, Year of Publication. Medium of Publication.
Knudsen, Daniel C. Landscape, Tourism and Meaning. Ashgate Publishing Ltd. 2008. Print.
Nash, Roderick. Wilderness and the American Mind. Yale University. 1967. Print.
Percy, Walker. 1975. “The Loss of Creature.” The Message in the Bottle. Web.
Reddy, Yolanda A. National Parks and Rivers: Background, Protection and Use Issues. Nova Science Publishers Inc. 2009. Print
Thursday April 9
Write a 1-2 page cover letter. Address the letter to me (“Dear Mark,”) and then
1) Explain using specific examples what you chose to work on and change during the weeks of work between version 1-2. How did you prioritize what needed to be done? What did you discover about your area of interest along the way? What did you learn about yourself as a writer? What did you learn about writing that you will be able to apply to other writing tasks?
2) Explain your plan of work for the next three weeks. What exactly do you feel still needs work in this essay? What parts of the argument needs to be developed or considered more fully? While you will receive comments from me (and from other readers, such as a writing assistant at the Center), please be clear about where you think you need to go.
Edit Your Essay. Take out a pen and go through your essay–word by word, phrase by phrase, sentence by sentence. Correct any errors you find.
April 7-8 What am I doing? How do I begin?
Breaking Open the Bird Cage: Rewilding to Provide Educational Opportunity in Haiti
Education creates opportunities that help a child grow to their full potential and eventually change the world through their individual acts of compassion. These opportunities include: connection with an individual’s learning in the natural world, to better understand the environment, and the practice of kindness in an effort to help those around us. Even though an education system is present in Haiti, the country actually has limited opportunities due to weakened state of their learning institutes. If the citizens were able to strengthen education in their country, the chances for a stable, thriving home with a plethora of opportunities is exponentially increased. Each individual who receives education can give something back to the nation by using their knowledge to better their community. By giving back to the community, an action called “rewilding,” introduced by scientist Mark Bekoff, is being practiced (1). Bekoff says, that rewilding “is a cause for action, but primarily to action within our own lives” (8). He also describes that his book, Rewilding Our Hearts, “calls for another paradigm shift, one that values compassion above all” (4). I have come to focus on compassionate action, which could include a parent sending their child to class, a donation for a cause that helps provide school lunches, or even speaking up when something is not okay, as a solution to problems like educational opportunity in Haiti in connection to rewilding.
Every person, at some point in their life has an urge to just get away, whether it be from work, society, and friends or family, the wilderness serves as that place of getaway. Through recent decades the idea and notion of escaping is evident in literature and other sources. Specifically from 1860 to the early 2000s. Pieces of literature like Desert Solitaire by Edward Abbey, Walden by Henry David Thoreau, Into the Wild John Krakauer, and Dharma Bums by Jack Kerouac all show ways of escaping in a similar sense because of their escape into nature. In addition to these pieces of literature there are also some psychology articles that explain and give evidence of the benefits of escapism. Escaping can mean many things, whether it be from reality, ourselves, society, or our own issues, humans all have their own way of escaping. Some may escape from day to day struggles, boredom, work, school, responsibility, and commitment. The things that we usually escape from cause trouble such as stress, anxiety, and emotions so we find a way to escape. For some people escaping could mean to literally escape to a different place such as nature and wildness or partaking in sports and hobbies, while others may use drugs to retreat. From this we can see how escape can take different forms whether it be bad or good. The reoccurring them of how we all have a need or an impulse to change and escape is evident in these pieces of literature. To escape and change is almost like an instinct within us but, sometimes we are comfortable with our current situation and we tend to be scared of what could come from change. But if a person was to take that step forward into escape they could find something satisfying within themselves and the world around them. Overall, this paper will answer the question of why do we escape and explain how escape is beneficial.
We will eagerly buy tickets to go to the cinema and watch the seemingly futuristic new movie out titled something like “Cyborgs United” or “A Technological Invasion”. The commercials promise advances that may be possible someday like the real movie “Back to the Future” which takes place in the futuristic year 2015. Unlike in the movie, we have not discovered time travel, but some could argue we are coming close to hovercrafts. Nevertheless, these movies are our entertainment, and not until recently have they become our possible future. Although there is reasonable ambivalence for some people about technology, they will be gone someday, and the new generation of children will be born and grow up knowing how to use an iPhone, computer, and other gadgets without remembering when they were taught. For the older generations this would be equivalent to trying to remember when someone taught you how to make a phone call. For some, it may seem silly. Well of course we all know how to use a simple phone, but were we ever really taught… Or did we just observe and learn on our own. For the new generations to come they will learn inherently and without even knowing it because their world will be so immersed in the technological age.
Some people think that technology is breaking us away, slowly but surely, from our humanity. Humanity is a thought that is bigger than any one person, but also involves all at the same time. As humans we crave social interaction, touch, eye contact, etc., all of these things provide reassurances that the other individual is listening, there is acceptance or understanding, and ultimately this makes us human. Animals do not communicate this way, at the sophisticated level we do. What would happen if we took away these human interactions? Potentially we would have distracted, awkward conversations if the code of manner (eye contact, body language) was taken away. We would seem to be uncivilized. However, there is another side of the argument that technology furthers our communication and makes us more human because there is more communication. An exploration of these ideas concerning the influence of technology on our communication skills and ultimately every day lives is important because we can always improve our lives. In this case our energies would be focused on the improvement of technology or the improvement of ourselves.
“Winning is Everything: How the Culture of Sports Has Come to Corrupt Us”
Many improvements have been made in the culture of sports. These include, more opportunities to compete in sports, including a greater availability of youth sports, and a rule that allows women to compete in the highest level of sports. This culture of sports has many positive attributes, and yet people are still losing track of their love for these sports. We are no longer playing sports for the fun of it like we used to. Ulterior motives hit us and we begin to compete for these motives, whether they are fame, fortune, or power. This paper develops the ideas on the culture of sports to find out why we have gone from doing something that we love doing for fun, to participating in the corrupted culture of sports.
The Mind is its Own Place: The Authors’ Ever-changing Chase for Self-Knowledge
I use Henry David Thoreau, Aldous Huxley, Gary Snyder, Allen Ginsberg, William S. Burroughs, Elizabeth Gilbert and Paulo Coehlo to explore self-knowledge. I emphasize the similarities and differences between the writers while referencing articles, philosophers, religious texts and other authors to provide supporting material for my claims. In my conclusion, I prove that all these authors’ methods of achieving self-realization are in some ways adaptations of past philosophers ideas and even religions such as Buddhism and Hinduism. I also emphasize that the evolving methods by which these authors pursue enlightenment is due to either a change in circumstance – such as war, common theology, environmental changes – or the fact that no two people are the same and the mind is its own place.
How do I Begin?
In Jean Kilbourne’s short essay “Beauty. . .and the Beast of Advertising,” Kilbourne asks, “what does society, and especially teenagers learn from the advertising message that proliferate in the mass media”? Especially in today’s teenagers, young girls are effected the most. Advertisements and mass media seem to have a stronger effect on them. They go through so much peer pressure to be perfect, in order to portray the models we see each day. Teenagers see the power and treatment these women receive and want to follow in their footsteps, but it is not that easy unfortunately. It ends up that women are not powerful but instead are weak and controlled. They give up their lives to portray an unrealistic object. Also they can please the opposite sex. These models we perceive as having a wonderful life end up being an object for both men and women to criticize. Women’s bodies no longer belong to them, it is now an object to be envied and desired, instead of being seen as strong females.
While reading Bell Hooks essay on “Malcom X: Consumed by Images” I began to realize something. Many figures in our history have been remembered in a distorted way so we do not know the true person any more. The authors of the book Reading Culture, summarize Hooks essay, “The Malcom X who emerges from Spike Lee’s film, Hooks argues, is a benign figure resembling only faintly the radical she remembers” (183). This essay makes me think of how figures in American history like Christopher Columbus, John Smith, The Pilgrims, and more have all been made out to appear differently than they were.
Notes Toward A Poetics of Walking
“You will then find your feet playing a tune, and quickly discover the music and poetry of rock piles—a fine lesson, and all of nature’s wildness will tell the same story.” —John Muir
This paper takes up the general problem of situating one’s self in an environment. Its more specific interest is the genre of the walking poem—poems that use the physical activity of walking as a specific form of directing attention to the world. I’m interested in how these poems formulate a conceptual space for transformation (as opposed to transcendence) of the environment, and in how this process of poetic formulation unsettles existing representations of and attachments to place. I begin the essay with a brief look at A. R. Ammons’s wonderful little essay “A Poem is a Walk.” In the essay Ammons seeks, in his words, to “establish a reasonably secure identity between a poem and a walk and to ask how a walk occurs, what it is, and what it is for” (116). He sketches three points of identity between a poem and a walk: first, the walk is “the externalization of an interior seeking, so that the analogy is first of all between the external and the internal; second, a poem and a walk “make use of the whole body, involvement is total, both mind and body”; and third, poems and walks turn, “one or more times, and eventually return” (117). It is this movement of turning and returning that gives shape or structure to the poem and the walk.
In this presentation I use the cultural geographer Yi-Fu Tuan’s definition of the human being as “an animal who is congenitally indisposed to accept reality as it is” in his most recent book Escapism to locate the presence of the social in writing that takes as its subject being in the natural world. In Tuan’s formulation, to seek nature, to “escape to nature,” is dependent upon “escaping from nature” (19). As social creatures, animals of human culture, when we go to nature to recreate, work, live, we are seeking to escape the world as it is—most especially, I would argue, when we speak of ourselves as escaping to nature. “‘Escape from nature’” is primary for another reason,” Tuan elaborates, as “the nature one escapes to, because it is the target of desire rather than a vague ‘out there’ to which one is unhappily thrust, must have been culturally delineated and endowed with value” (19). Literatures of the environment, in particular, shape an elaborate rhetoric for seeking (or dwelling in) presence as opposed to the social or cultural or built environments that we say mediate our connection to the natural world. My particular interest is in how what I call the “rhetoric of acceptance” seeks to efface social presence. I argue, to the contrary, that contemporary environmental writing that seeks acceptance of (and advocacy for) the natural world is wildly social. That is, the social assumptions writers and environmentalists bring to wild places and landscapes are precisely the anthropocentric ethical impulse to re-imagine a more sustainable way of being in the world.
Titles and Claims (& Key Terms)
Commonplace -> Surprising/new
Simple -> Complex
Obvious -> Less obvious
What others might think is important -> what you think is important
What others quote or discuss -> what you quote or discuss
ITW Titles and Claims and Key Terms (April 5)
Adam The Symbiotic Connection Between Nature and Humans
Humans have always had a connection to nature, this connection being a physiological, psychological, symbiotic relationship with nature. It has been represented in literature, religion, and science. There has been improvements in people interacting with nature allowing them to thrive socially, mentally, and physically compared to those who do not interact with nature.
Key Words: connection, humans, nature, biophillia, physiology, psychology, and symbiosis.
Emmett: What has running come to?
I want to explore all the different of angles when it comes to the science of the body and how it is related to running. I also want to go through the life of some runners in the past and their impact on the running. I am also interested in the claim that humans are born to run.
Key Words: Evolution, running, history, ancient, benefits of running, history of running
Katie A Peek into the Problem with Sustainability through the Lens of Agricultural Practices
The issue of sustainability, to the average citizen, concerns making small changes in their lives to decrease their impact on earth. While these efforts have value, the whole idea of how sustainability is approached as a simple idea of a way of life which we should strive to reach is highly superficial. The problem with sustainability is its ambiguity in definition. It is in reality a term which in its present use, is indefinable. Its presence is of a ubiquitous nature which appears in every portion of our lives, it concerns our every action. Sustainability and the strive to save the earth, I believe, comes from our primal instinct to want to further our race into the future and preserve our species. That, I believe, has both lead to our overpopulation and our yearning to lower our impact on the planet. This one instinct, however, has produced reactions which conflict within ourselves. The response to becoming more sustainable, which I will use for lack of better word, has been in some ways a resumé or check list of things and actions which one can flaunt to the public and use to improve their social status within most audiences. In David Orr’s essay, “Four Challenges of Sustainability,” he states that “Geunuine Sustainability…will come not from superficial changes but from a deeper process akin to humankind growing into a fuller stature.” The response which needs to take place is for humans to realize that this crazy idea of sustainability can not be put into a simplistic nature if it is to be used effectively. It needs to be recognized that sustainability is highly complex because the world humans have created is also highly complex. It conflicts with our instinct to reproduce, and then produce more because to limit our impact on the earth, humans must act upon the truth that we are overpopulated. While I could argue that certain practices are better for the environment than others the true progress which needs to be made is that the general public must first take a second look at the idea of sustainability, and in that second look take the time to understand that it is not and can not be a simple term. It is an idea which requires a scientific and spiritual approach. In its essence it encompasses everything. For this reason identifying one sector of sustainability at a time is more productive than exploring the term in a general sense. The area of agriculture is one which has received public attention concerning its sustainability and impact on the environment. These responses include the Locavore Movement, Organic, Cage-free, and Free Range. Though these responses are legitimate they tend to concern the intrinsic feel good value of knowing your farmer instead of one which seeks to understand how certain agricultural practices effect the environment and ecosystems. For this reason I hope to enter as well as open up conversation about sustainability and agriculture which, from my experience, is lacking, at least in eyes of the general public and education.
key terms: sustainability, environment, agriculture, ambiguity, ubiquity, complex, Locavore, Organic, Free-Range, intrinsic, ecosystems
McCabe Less more
The people of the world today seem to have a particular, and growing obsession with burying themselves in a life of buying materialistic items that they believe is necessary to them, but do our lives become more satisfying as we claim more items for ourselves.
Meg Speciesism: the good, the bad and the ugly.
The earth works with all its creatures to maintain balance within its individual ecosystems. For centuries the earth has changed slowely and independently until the evolution of modern day human beings. As human beings we feel that we are superior and therefore more important then all the other creatures that share the planet with us. We have taken control over things we do not have the right to, such as animals. We have attempted to manipulate the earth and suck it dry to benefit ourselves. Our minds have been clouded with ignorance and greed because of the cultural ways that are all forced upon us and engrained into our minds since we are a small child. Humans have been driven to speciesism, or the idea that they are more intelligent and superior to other beings, the consequences of this idea is both immoral and destructive to the earth and its creatures, including humans.
Keywords: Ignorance, Speciesism, greed, immoral, destructive, superior and manipulate.
Brendan Going into Nature: A Social and Cultural History
For centuries men and women have left their lives behind to seek self actualization and solitude in the wild.
Keywords- Self Actualization, solitude, escape, anti-society, visionary.
James Teaching Children about Nature through Physical Education
Children in schools today are deprived of physical education and even more so from nature. School systems constantly cut programs that deal with physical education and need to realize the importance of physical activity and how their children connect with nature.
Key words: Nature, children, physical education, school
Elizabeth Breaking Open the Bird Cage: Rewilding to Provide Educational Opportunity in Haiti
Education creates opportunities that help a child grow to their full potential and eventually change the world through their individual acts of compassion. These opportunities include: connection with an individual’s learning in the natural world, to better understand the environment, and the practice of kindness in an effort to help those around us. Even though an education system is present in Haiti, the country actually has limited opportunities due to weakened state of their learning institutes. If the citizens were able to strengthen education in their country, the chances for a stable, thriving home with a plethora of opportunities is exponentially increased. Each individual who receives education can give something back to the nation by using their knowledge to better their community. By giving back to the community, an action called “rewilding,” introduced by scientist Mark Bekoff, is being practiced (1). Bekoff says, that rewilding “is a cause for action, but primarily to action within our own lives” (8). He also describes that his book, Rewilding Our Hearts, “calls for another paradigm shift, one that values compassion above all” (4). I have come to focus on compassionate action, which could include a parent sending their child to class, a donation for a cause that helps provide school lunches, or even speaking up when something is not okay, as a solution to problems like educational opportunity in Haiti in connection to rewilding.”
Key Terms: Education, Haiti, Rewilding, Poverty, Globalization, Nature, Compassion, Economy, Child, Bekoff
Matt Ownes Nature Deficit Disorder and the problem is puts on children
for my purpose for the paper, i want to focus more on the relation that kids have with the outdoors and how that effects them in school systems and nature deficit disorder. also, i would like to tie in ADD and ADHD
key terms: Education systems , Nature Deficit Disorder, Outdoor life styles, Outdoor dependency , Lure of the screen
Ian Escapism: Methods and Benefits
Escapism can take several forms and has been evident in societies in different ways. Some may retreat to the wilderness while some may use drugs which shows that there are positive and negative ways to escape.
Key words: Escape, Retreat, Escapism, Place/state, Wilderness, Refuge, Consolation, extremities, modern, benefits, negative, adventure, change, security, conformity, experiences, positive, deviating
Matt Levels of Subsistence: Purist to Realist
There are multiple levels of subsistent living. In a modern world it is impossible to ignore the impact of technology on people lifestyles. Most people think that those who take to the land are anti-technologists and don’t use any forms of technology, however people with the goal of making a life in the woods and not going on a suicidal adventure embrace some forms of technology. There is a broad spectrum on where these people can fall, from those with simply maps, axes and food and water, to those who go with chain saws, generator, and gun.
Keywords: Subsistence, lifestyles, Back to the land, technology, economy, self-sufficiency, harmony, environmentalism
Tristan Cellphones: How could we live without them?
Cellphones hold a huge part of our attention. why? some say that we need to get away from them and give our full awareness to the present while others say they help and we should not shy away. I believe that we are cyborgs and there is no way that humans will be leaving cellphones anytime soon. My worry is that self-reflection has gone right out the window, we never get off our phones enough. However i can not deny that it is imperative we have them. How would you stay in contact with friends and family all day? How could you find your way home if you were lost and did not know the area? How would you know which restaurants are good and worth going to when you are new in town? How could we live without them?
Key terms: Cellphones, Cyborgs, Self-reflection,
Will Where Has All the Wildness Gone?
Although as a society we have made many advances, social and cultural influences are what is causing the deterioration of wildness in America’s youth today. Things such as standardized testing, our public school system, and our growing media use are all contributing to this issue.
Key Terms: social and cultural influences, deterioration of wildness, standardized, media use
Cam Resisting “Industrial Tourism”: Tourism and the Creation of Experience
This paper looks at the term Industrial Tourism and what it means as well as how we can avoid it and have a more natural experience with nature. I will also promote a transition to eco-tourism, or tourism with preservation and experiences within nature in mind. This transition from industrial tourism to eco-tourism can help people learn to appreciate and understand nature better.
Key Terms: Industrial Tourism, Eco-tourism, Experience, Appreciate/Understand, Nature
Erin Societal Boundaries and the Impact They Have On Human Probity
The world filled with racism, judgement, destruction, and cruelty. Are human beings to blame? My position is that we have these problems because society imposes boundaries, literal and figurative, upon us. In turn we are faced with obstacles that challenge our decency and integrity day in and day out (i.e immigration/prejudice and destruction of our environment). It is up to people to choose not to succumb to these drawbacks; to choose to see the kindness in one another; otherwise humanity will continue on a downward spiral.
Key terms: racism, judgement, kindness, human nature, boundaries, society, wildness
Marina Living with or Against: Disconnected From Reality
With our current amount of exploitation that people are now accustomed to it is hard for many to see the repercussion. Because of this, problems such as pollution, the processing of food, and the use of animals for their furs, meat, experimentation and entertainment both for personal and public pleasure is a huge problem that we have impacted directly. Many of the things that are causing us so much pollution are actually things that are helping us ease us through our lives as comfortably and conveniently as possible. Efficiency and affordability play another huge roll in our lives that are both hugely appealing to our modern lives, so it is not looked at as being an issue because as of now it is only seen as being helpful, but unfortunately if our actions continue, it can and will cause problems for not only us, but the plants and animals we seem to neglect to appreciate and care for.
Key terms: ethics, accustoms, ignorance, efficiency, living with, living against, economical, greed, repercussion, human benefit
Jared Nature Connectedness Social Affect: The influence nature has on one’s ability to make a difference, and how the individual develops socially as well as morally.
The connection to nature has a profound influence on our ability to develop socially in our society. These social developments lay the foundation for who we are as an individual, setting up solid morals and a deeper understanding of oneself. With a deeper self connection influenced by nature there is a strong correlation between the ability to take social inequities upon oneself and having the motivation to make a change in the world we live in.
Key terms: Connectedness, nature, motivation, inequities, society, dependence, correlation
3. Debatability and Complexity
A successful thesis (or a claim or a statement of purpose) will be debatable and complex
Debatability: Is the claim controversial or unique enough to justify the reading of this piece?
The goal is to move from
- A fact, or a position with which few readers would (or could) reasonably disagree; or
- A position that would challenge some readers’ views; to
- A position that would challenge many readers’ views; may be unexpected or controversial; relies on a strong argument for support.
Complexity: Is the claim sufficiently complex to demonstrate that the issue cannot be resolved easily or does the claim frame the issue as a simple “cause and effect” scenario?
The goal is to move from
- Presents a problem with a solution; oversimplifies the issue; or
- Presents a problem with a solution, perhaps as a cause/effect scenario that may be more obvious to some readers than others; to
- Presents a problem without an easy solution or resolution; attempts to look more deeply into the issue or analyze it from a new angle or perspective.
4. They Say / I Say
Education for Freedom: Defining Democratic Thinking through Children’s Literature
My paper is about the importance of integrating children’s literature into an everyday classroom. Some may assume children’s literature is primarily used for pleasure and sometimes education, but I am arguing children’s books introduce democratic thinking at a young age. Far too often, democracy is considered merely a political system, while there are essentially numerous benefits creating this notion as a whole. While connecting the three abilities, the democratic individual, and this larger idea of democracy, I am attempting to define the concept of democratic thinking.
March 3: The Art of Quoting
Wendell Berry 2012 Jefferson Lecture, “It All Turns on Affection.”
“The term “imagination” in what I take to be its truest sense refers to a mental faculty that some people have used and thought about with the utmost seriousness. The sense of the verb “to imagine” contains the full richness of the verb “to see.” To imagine is to see most clearly, familiarly, and understandingly with the eyes, but also to see inwardly, with “the mind’s eye.” It is to see, not passively, but with a force of vision and even with visionary force. To take it seriously we must give up at once any notion that imagination is disconnected from reality or truth or knowledge. It has nothing to do either with clever imitation of appearances or with “dreaming up.” It does not depend upon one’s attitude or point of view, but grasps securely the qualities of things seen or envisioned.
I will say, from my own belief and experience, that imagination thrives on contact, on tangible connection. For humans to have a responsible relationship to the world, they must imagine their places in it. To have a place, to live and belong in a place, to live from a place without destroying it, we must imagine it. By imagination we see it illuminated by its own unique character and by our love for it. By imagination we recognize with sympathy the fellow members, human and nonhuman, with whom we share our place. By that local experience we see the need to grant a sort of preemptive sympathy to all the fellow members, the neighbors, with whom we share the world. As imagination enables sympathy, sympathy enables affection. And it is in affection that we find the possibility of a neighborly, kind, and conserving economy.
It is by imagination that knowledge is “carried to the heart” (to borrow again from Allen Tate). The faculties of the mind—reason, memory, feeling, intuition, imagination, and the rest—are not distinct from one another. Though some may be favored over others and some ignored, none functions alone. But the human mind, even in its wholeness, even in instances of greatest genius, is irremediably limited. Its several faculties, when we try to use them separately or specialize them, are even more limited.
[A Framing Sentence] To live more fully and responsibly in the world, to live a more meaningful life, we first have to imagine that life. [a phrase that signals where the words are coming from] In his 2012 Jefferson Lecture, “It All Turns on Affection” Wendell Berry makes this argument. “For humans to have a responsible relationship to the world, they must imagine their places in it.” For Berry, the imagination is the fundamental human power that allows us to connect to yourselves and the world around us. His claim in the lecture is that we are disconnected from what is closest to us, and that we need to change how we build that connection though our imagination. As Berry puts it in a deceptively simple but memorable conclusion, “To have a place, to live and belong in a place, to live from a place without destroying it, we must imagine it.”
Gary Snyder. Turtle Island.
Learn the facts of biology and related disciplines
humans are a part of not apart from, cultivate contact with plants and animals (including the creepy and the crawly), “we are it– / it sings through us.”
Seek the Truth
contemporary cultures now deep into the Holocene (in transition to the “Anthropocene”?) are often unreliable guides, “mind pollution,” seek using method, imagination and inquiry
Find your Place
a process of discovery of where you are, where you are going (and you are not alone!), dig in, take responsibility, and remember that this continual discovery of where you are (“re-inhabitation,” what Barry Lopez calls “rediscovery) does not (for Snyder) preclude motion or mobility)
Explore Alternative Lifestyles“imaginative extensions,” integration of past traditions and lifeways, mindful awareness of the resources and the limits of nostalgia
Share and Create
skills, food, practice; slip out of grammar of possession (me, my, mine)Cultivate the Wild
Be aware, Be alive
“live vastly in the present” and be aware of wildness within and without, work through and not necessarily alongside five millennia-long trends; “Poetry and the Primitive”
Cultivate Wholeness, Mindfulness, and Simplicity
food and labor, rethink our relationship to work: “If there is any one thing that’s unhealthy in America, it’s that is is a whole civilization trying to get out of work – the young, especially, get caught in that. There is a triple alienation when you try to avoid work: first, you’re trying to get outside energy sources/resources to do it for you; second, you no longer know what your own body can do where your food or water come from; third, you lose the capacity to discover the unity of mind and body via your work.” (Interview with Gary Snyder, 1977)
Think with Nature
watersheds and bioregions
Promote Cultural and Spiritual Growth
rather than the pleasures of merely circulating in the endless (and too often selfish and destructive) cycle of production and consumption, “true affluence is not needing anything,” “economics must be seen as a small sub-branch of ecology”
“varied and sensitive agriculture”
Explore Alternatives Sources of Energy
“walk more, drive less”
“do more with less”
Mind the House: Population
birth rate, empower women, social policy
Respect for Life
“creepy crawlies” included
We are the Problem and we are the Solution
“Our immediate business, and our quarrel, is with oursleves”
Effective cross-cultural (international) Dialogue
list of key terms and metaphors Snyder offers readers in Turtle Island
Body (“is this is our body?” “this is our body”; mind (“No Matter, Never Mind”); balance (harmony, humility, homeostasis); web (of life, fabric and warp–horizontal threads to hold strength–and weft–fibers woven left to right); song (“we are it– / it sings through us”) healing (not saving); mother (Mother Earth); love (“with more love, not less”); language (“unmuddied,” Myths and Texts, “poetry a riprap on the slick rock of metaphysics”); fear (embrace, “natural inner-self wilderness areas”) place (“find your place”); time (human time, earth time)
Your major project begins next week. Please review the “Schedule” page and read the sequence of writing assignments on the “Writing” page.
This Week you have two responsibilities. First, you will be completing the work on your book and the short writing exercises focused on reading as a writer and writing as a reader. Second, you will be looking ahead to the major writing project. Please set aside time this week (and over the weekend, if possible) to think about your area of interest. We will spend most of our time in class talking about areas of interest and designing an individualized work plan for the project.
Writing Due: 1) two-page summary or précis of the book and 2) two-page commentary on issues in book that discusses the text and the relevant context(s) for reading the book (biographical, social, historical, cultural, literary)
Sign up for individual conference.
An assistant from the Center for Writing will visit class on Thursday and Friday to talk about the resources and opportunities for writers at the Center and to “demystify Thinking and Writing”
Next Week there are no class meetings. You will attend an individual Conference in Mark’s office, 206 Parker Hall. The conference will begin with a discussion of your written statement and with you explaining what you hope to investigate in your thinking and writing project. You will bring two copies of your Statement of Purpose/Motivation to the conference
(Optional): you will bring your Book Review to the conference (see grading and assignments page).
Week 6 (February 22-28) begins with submitting Research Installment #1 on our first class meeting (Tuesday or Wednesday)
First Thoughts: Excerpts from Your Quotation Exercises
Thursday February 5
The norms of the average people that live around one another can tend to contribute to a person losing what Walt Whitman said, is the true self can be “clipp’d away” (625).
In “Democratic Vistas” by Walt Whitman, our “close quarters” interactions with culture is depicted as an encounter with “the enemy” that threatens mankind to a certain degree. Everyone feels pressured to be a working part of society as it “urges us to engagement,” by telling everyone to play along with the “accepted” practices culture demands. But how long can one play this game of conforming to the ideal culture, before they find they “believe in nothing” of their own? (625) Having beliefs slammed into your daily life can make it hard to form your own ideas separate from what you’re being told, so eventually
According to Claude Lévi-Strauss, in The Raw and the Cooked, culture is defined as a “product of human nature”. This definition closely relates to the title of the book because the raw or “what is found in nature” is taken into the hands of humans and is transformed into a finished product. These products that are made, is what makes up human cultures. To be exact, Levi Strauss is saying that humans have taken the components of the wild and domesticated them into a way of life. Strauss then continues to state that “categorical opposites drawn from everyday experience with the most basic sorts of things” such as natural and artificial, savage and civilized, wild and domestic, and other opposites that come together “for the formation of abstract notions and for combining these into propositions” (vi).
Culture might be defined as intelligence or a level of social refinement. It might be said that someone with culture is a bit more amiable than an those without. To what price is the individual prepared to extract for a bid at proper cultural content though. Walt Whitman wonders in Democratic Vistas (1871) “Shall a man lose himself in countless masses of adjustments, and be so shaped with reference to this, that, and the other, that the simply good and healthy and brave parts of him are reduced and clipp’d away…”(625).At the same time culture itself suggests this to be not the case. That one can evolve into his own cultured self without losing his original being. Ralph Waldo Emerson says in “Culture” from The Conduct of Life (1860,rev.1876)
“Culture is the suggestion from certain best thoughts, that a man has a range of affinities, through which he can modulate the violence of any master-tones that have a droning preponderance in his scale, and succor him against himself. Culture redresses his balance, puts him among his equals and superiors, revives the delicious sense of sympathy, and warns him of the dangers of solitude and repulsion”(321).
These ideas that “Culture, or civilization, taken in its broad, ethnographic sense, is that complex whole which includes knowledge, belief, art, morals, law, custom, and any other capabilities and habits acquired by man as a member of society” is presumably the path that mankind seeks. One is trying to add to his/herself with culture not replace parts of ourselves with it.
Ralph Waldo Emerson urges to readers that a new culture is necessary in Democratic Vistas. He argues that the Government we live by is not a true Democracy, he writes,
“We have frequently printed the word Democracy. Yet I cannot too often repeat that it is a word the real gist of which still sleeps, quite unawaken’d, notwithstanding the resonance and the many angry tempests out of which its syllables have come, from pen or tongue. It is a great word, whose history, I suppose, remains unwritten, because that history has yet to be enacted. . . ” (1062).
In this passage he states that although we refer to ourselves as Democratic, nothing has been done to that proves us as Democratic. Even though our nation was founded on the idea of Democracy, Emerson states that we have not acted on the notion of Democracy and as a result need to change.
In the book Democratic Vistas the yearning for a reevaluation of the ways of our culture is expressed in a single paragraph,
I should demand a programme of culture, drawn out, not for a single class alone, or for the parlors or lecture rooms, but with an eye to practical life, the west, the workingmen, the facts of farms and jackplanes and engineers, and of the broad range of the women also of the middle and working strata, and with reference to the perfect equality of women, and of a grand and powerful motherhood. I should demand of this programme or theory a scope generous enough to include the widest human area (Whitman,148).
He is saying how society these days is limiting peoples beliefs and what they stand for. “simply good and healthy and brave parts of him are reduced and clipp’d away, like the bordering of box in a garden?” (625) Here Whitman is telling us about how he feels that there is such a strong cookie-cutter outline for people these days.
it may feel like you’re just a product of culture. Whitman describes this particular problem:
“Shall a man lose himself in countless mass of adjustments, and be so shaped with reference to this, that, and the other, that the simply good and healthy and brave parts of him are reduced and clipp’d away, like the bordering of box in a garden?” (625)
Everyone wants to be unique and their own person, not a project for one to “cultivate” them like “corn and roses” because “who shall cultivate the mountain peaks” which are so beautiful on their own.
Passages for Writing as a Reader Workshop
Tuesday February 3
1. Mathew Arnold (British social critic) in Culture and Anarchy (1869) argues that Culture is “the best which has been thought and said” (21), “a study of perfection” (43), “to make the best that has been thought and known in the world current” (45), and “to make all men live in an atmosphere of sweetness and light” (89). (Arnold contrasts culture and anarchy, and the philosophers Thomas Hobbes and Jean-Jacques Rousseau contrast “culture” with “the state of nature”)
2. Claude Lévi-Strauss (French anthropologist) in Le Cru et le Cuit (trans. The Raw and the Cooked, first volume in Mythologiques, a study of Amerindian mythology): “raw” (what is found in nature) and “cooked” (cuit is literally “done,” “prepared,” a product of human culture) civilized and uncivilized. In the Introduction to the book he states that there are “categorical opposites drawn from everyday experience with the most basic sorts of things — e.g. ‘raw’ and ‘cooked,’ ‘fresh’ and ‘rotten,’ ‘moist’ and ‘parched,’ and others —” that provide conceptual tools “for the formation of abstract notions and for combining these into propositions” (vi).
3. Edward Burnett Tylor, Anthropologist, in his two-volume Primitive Culture (1871): The Origins of Culture and Religion in Primitive Culture, offers the following definition: “Culture, or civilization, taken in its broad, ethnographic sense, is that complex whole which includes knowledge, belief, art, morals, law, custom, and any other capabilities and habits acquired by man as a member of society” (43).
4. Walt Whitman from “Democratic Vistas” (1871)
“We find ourselves abruptly in close quarters with the enemy. This word Culture, or what it has come to represent, involves, by contrast, our whole theme, and has been, indeed, the spur, urging us to engagement. Certain questions arise. As now taught, accepted and carried out, are not the processes of culture rapidly creating a class of supercilious infidels, who believe in nothing? Shall a man lose himself in countless masses of adjustments, and be so shaped with reference to this, that, and the other, that the simply good and healthy and brave parts of him are reduced and clipp’d away, like the bordering of box in a garden? You can cultivate corn and roses and orchards—but who shall cultivate the mountain peaks, the ocean, and the tumbling gorgeousness of the clouds? Lastly—is the readily-given reply that culture only seeks to help, systematize, and put in attitude, the elements of fertility and power, a conclusive reply?” (625)
“I do not so much object to the name, or word, but I should certainly insist, for the purposes of these States, on a radical change of category, in the distribution of precedence. I should demand a programme of culture, drawn out, not for a single class alone, or for the parlors or lecture-rooms, but with an eye to practical life, the west, the working-men, the facts of farms and jack-planes and engineers, and of the broad range of the women also of the middle and working strata, and with reference to the perfect equality of women, and of a grand and powerful motherhood. I should demand of this programme or theory a scope generous enough to include the widest human area. It must have for its spinal meaning the formation of a typical personality of character, eligible to the uses of the high average of men—and not restricted by conditions ineligible to the masses“ (148).
- Ralph Waldo Emerson, “The American Scholar” (1838)
“Men such as they are, very naturally seek money or power; and power because it is as good as money, — the “spoils,” so called, “of office.” And why not? for they aspire to the highest, and this, in their sleep-walking, they dream is highest. Wake them, and they shall quit the false good, and leap to the true, and leave governments to clerks and desks. This revolution is to be wrought by the gradual domestication of the idea of Culture. The main enterprise of the world for splendor, for extent, is the upbuilding of a man. Here are the materials strown along the ground. The private life of one man shall be a more illustrious monarchy, — more formidable to its enemy, more sweet and serene in its influence to its friend, than any kingdom in history. For a man, rightly viewed, comprehendeth the particular natures of all men. Each philosopher, each bard, each actor, has only done for me, as by a delegate, what one day I can do for myself. The books which once we valued more than the apple of the eye, we have quite exhausted. What is that but saying, that we have come up with the point of view which the universal mind took through the eyes of one scribe; we have been that man, and have passed on. First, one; then, another; we drain all cisterns, and, waxing greater by all these supplies, we crave a better and more abundant food. The man has never lived that can feed us ever. The human mind cannot be enshrined in a person, who shall set a barrier on any one side to this unbounded, unboundable empire. It is one central fire, which, flaming now out of the lips of Etna, lightens the capes of Sicily; and, now out of the throat of Vesuvius, illuminates the towers and vineyards of Naples. It is one light which beams out of a thousand stars. It is one soul which animates all men (189).
6. Ralph Waldo Emerson, “Culture” from The Conduct of Life (1860, rev. 1876)
“Culture is the suggestion from certain best thoughts, that a man has a range of affinities, through which he can modulate the violence of any master-tones that have a droning preponderance in his scale, and succor him against himself. Culture redresses his balance, puts him among his equals and superiors, revives the delicious sense of sympathy, and warns him of the dangers of solitude and repulsion” (321).
8. David Orr, Hope is an Imperative: The Essential David Orr. Washington: Island Press, 2011.
from “Two Meanings of Sustainability” (1988): “The belief in technological sustainability rests on the assertion that humans, as Herman Kahn once said, should be ‘numerous, rich, and in control of the forces of nature.’ The goal of sustainable development is in this sense familiar to devout readers of the dominion passage in Genesis and to acolytes of Francis Bacon. From Bacon we found the justification for the union of science and power that, in his words, would ‘command nature in action.’ Bacon sought, not truth as such, but a particular kind of truth that would lend itself to specific outcomes. His means of ‘vexing’ nature were aimed to ‘squeeze and mold’ her in ways more desirable to her interrogators and molders. Bacon’s legacy is found in our times in the belief that nature can be ‘managed’ by understanding and manipulating natural processes. The goal is to manage all ‘assets,’ whether human or natural, to promote economic growth. This assumes a great deal about human management abilities. For advocates of technological sustainability, ecology provides the scientific underpinnings for a system of planetary management” (68-69).
from “The Origins of Sustainable Design” (2006): “Francis Bacon, perhaps the most influential architects of modern science, proposed the kind of science that would reveal knowledge by putting nature on the rack and torturing her secrets from her, a view still congenial to some who have learned to say it more correctly. The science that grew from Bacon, Galileo, and Descartes overthrew older forms of knowing, which were based on the view that we are participants in the forming of knowledge and that nature is not inert. The result is a science based on the assumption that we stand apart from nature, that knowledge is to be judged by its usefulness is extending human mastery over nature, and that nature is best understood by reducing it to its components” (128).
Passages for Reading as a Writer Workshop
From the Writing of Rachel Carson
“To stand at the edge of the sea, to sense the ebb and flow of the tides, to feel the breath of a mist moving over a great salt marsh, to watch the flight of shore birds that have swept up and down the surf lines of the continents for untold thousands of years, to see the running of the old eels and the young shad to the sea, is to have knowledge of things that are as nearly eternal as any earthly life can be.”
“Before sunset, the skies lightened and the wind abated. While it was yet light the sanderlings left the barrier island and set out across the sound. Beneath them as they wheeled over the inlet was the deep green ribbon of the channel that wound, with many curvings, across the lighter shallows of the sound. They followed the channel, passing between the leaning red spar buoys, past the tide rips where the water streamed, broken into swirls and eddies, over a sunken reef of oyster shell, and came at last to the island. There they joined a company of several hundred white-rumped sandpipers, least sandpipers, and ring-necked plovers that were resting on the sand.”
“While the tide was still ebbing, the sanderlings fed on the island beach…. As they slept, and as the earth rolled from darkness toward light, birds from many feeding places along the coast were hurrying along the flyways that led to the north. For with the passing of the storm the air currents came fresh again and the wind blew clean and steady from the southwest. All through the night the cries of curlews and plovers and knots, of sandpipers and turnstones and yellowlegs, drifted down from the sky. The mockingbirds who lived on the island listened to the cries. The next day they would have many new notes in their rippling, chuckling songs to charm their mates and delight themselves.”
“About an hour before dawn the sanderling flock gathered together on the island beach, where the gentle tide was shifting the windrows of shells. The little band of brown-mottled birds mounted into the darkness and, as the island grew small beneath them, set out toward the north.”
―Under the Sea Wind
“The choice, after all, is ours to make. If, having endured much, we have at last asserted our “right to know,” and if, knowing, we have concluded that we are being asked to take senseless and frightening risks, then we should no longer accept the counsel of those who tell us that we must fill our world with poisonous chemicals; we should look about and see what other course is open to us.”
“A rainy day is the perfect time for a walk in the woods. I always thought so myself; the Maine woods never seem so fresh and alive as in wet weather. Then all the needles on the evergreens wear a sheath of silver; ferns seem to have grown to almost tropical lushness and every leaf has its edging of crystal drops. Strangely colored fungi — mustard-yellow and apricot and scarlet—are pushing out of the leaf mold and all the lichens and the mosses have come alive with green and silver freshness.”
“Until we have the courage to recognize cruelty for what it is—whether its victim is human or animal—we cannot expect things to be much better in this world. We cannot have peace among men whose hearts delight in killing any living creature. By every act that glorifies or even tolerates such moronic delight in killing, we set back the progress of humanity.”
“If I had influence with the good fairy who is supposed to preside over the christening of all children I should ask that her gift to each child in the world be a sense of wonder so indestructible that it would last throughout life, as an unfailing antidote against the boredom and disenchantments of later years, the sterile preoccupation with things artificial, the alienation from the sources of our strength.”
“I sincerely believe that for the child, and for the parent seeking to guide him, it is not half so important to know as to feel. If facts are the seeds that later produce knowledge and wisdom, then the emotions and the impressions of the senses are the fertile soil in which the seeds must grow. The years of early childhood are the time to prepare the soil. Once the emotions have been aroused — a sense of the beautiful, the excitement of the new and the unknown, a feeling of sympathy, pity, admiration or love — then we wish for knowledge about the subject of our emotional response. Once found, it has lasting meaning. It is more important to pave the way for the child to want to know than to put him on a diet of facts he is not ready to assimilate.”
“The winds, the sea, and the moving tides are what they are. If there is wonder and beauty and majesty in them, science will discover these qualities. If they are not there, science cannot create them. If there is poetry in my book about the sea, it is not because I deliberately put it there, but because no one could write truthfully about the sea and leave out the poetry….”
“We have looked first at man with his vanities and greed and his problems of a day or a year; and then only, and from this biased point of view, we have looked outward at the earth he has inhabited so briefly and at the universe in which our earth is so minute a part. Yet these are the great realities, and against them we see our human problems in a different perspective. Perhaps if we reversed the telescope and looked at man down these long vistas, we should find less time and inclination to plan for our own destruction.”
“Mankind has gone very far into an artificial world of his own creation. He has sought to insulate himself, in his cities of steel and concrete, from the realities of earth and water and the growing seed. Intoxicated with a sense of his own power, he seems to be going farther and farther into more experiments for the destruction of himself and his world.
There is certainly no single remedy for this condition and I am offering no panacea. But it seems reasonable to believe — and I do believe — that the more clearly we can focus our attention on the wonders and realities of the universe about us the less taste we shall have for the destruction of our race. Wonder and humility are wholesome emotions, and they do not exist side by side with a lust for destruction.”
“Only within the 20th Century has biological thought been focused on ecology, or the relation of the living creature to its environment. Awareness of ecological relationships is — or should be — the basis of modern conservation programs, for it is useless to attempt to preserve a living species unless the kind of land or water it requires is also preserved. So delicately interwoven are the relationships that when we disturb one thread of the community fabric we alter it all — perhaps almost imperceptibly, perhaps so drastically that destruction follows.”
—From Carson’s speech in acceptance of the National Book Award, 1963
“If we have been slow to develop the general concepts of ecology and conservation, we have been even more tardy in recognizing the facts of the ecology and conservation of man himself. We may hope that this will be the next major phase in the development of biology. Here and there awareness is growing that man, far from being the overlord of all creation, is himself part of nature, subject to the same cosmic forces that control all other life. Man’s future welfare and probably even his survival depend upon his learning to live in harmony, rather than in combat, with these forces.”
— From Carson’s “Essay on the Biological Sciences” in Good Reading, 1958