Saturday, November 28, 2020

Giant Sequoia National Monument

Today I continue my series on all 129 U.S. National Monuments. This is in follow up to my series that featured open access photos of all of the U.S. National Parks. In the coming years, I will highlight open access images all of the U.S. National Monuments in alphabetical order.

Today's featured monument is Giant Sequioa National Monument in California. This is one of the monuments that was under review for delisting as per executive order by the president. Following the photos is a list of U.S. National Monuments previously featured on this blog.

Click for photo credit.
Click for photo credit.
Click for photo credit.
Click for photo credit.
Click for photo credit.

Previous On the Brink posts on the U.S. National Monuments

Admiralty Island National Monument
African Burial Ground National Monument
Agate Fossil Beds National Monument
Agua Fria National Monument
Alibates Flint Quarries National Monument
Aniakchak National Monument
Aztec Ruins National Monument
Bandelier National Monument
Basin and Range National Monument
Bears Ears National Monument
Belmont-Paul Women's Equality National Monument
Birmingham Civil Rights National Monument
Berryessa Snow Mountain National Monument
Booker T. Washington National Monument
Browns Canyon National Monument
Buck Island Reef National Monument
Cabrillo National Monument
California Coastal National Monument
Canyon de Chelly National Monument
Canyons of the Ancients National Monument
Cape Krusenstern National Monument
Capulin Volcano National Monument
Carrizo Plain National Monument
Casa Grande Ruins National Monument
Cascade Siskiyou National Monument
Castillo de San Marco National Monument
Castle Clinton National Monument
Castle Mountains National Monument
Cedar Breaks National Monument
César E. Chávez National Monument
Charles Young Buffalo Soldiers National Monument
Chimney Rock National Monument
Chiricahua National Monument
Colorado National Monument
Craters of the Moon National Monument
Devils Postpile National Monument
Devils Tower National Monument
Dinosaur National Monument
Effigy Mounds National Monument
El Malpais National Monument
El Morro National Monument
Florissant Fossil Beds National Monument
Fort Frederica National Monument
Fort Matanzas National Monument
Fort McHenry National Monument
Fort Monroe National Monument
Fort Ord National Monument
Fort Pulaski National Monument
Fort Stanwix National Monument

Friday, November 27, 2020

Sustainability Case Studies Chapter 15: Emerging Social Movements for Sustainability: Understanding and Scaling Up Upcyling in the UK

This is the 15th post in this blog series, Sustainability Case Studies, that is based on the book The Palgrave Handbook of Sustainability: Case Studies and Practical Solutions edited by Robert Brinkmann (yours truly) and Sandra Garren and published by Palgrave Macmillan in 2018. Each post in the series will comment on the content of the chapter as well as some general take-aways or practical teaching or personal/organizational initiatives that could be gleaned from the chapter. Links to previous posts on the series (including the post that introduced the series) follow after the chapter review.

This chapter, Emerging Social Movement for Sustainability:  Understanding and Scaling Up Upcycling in the UK by Kyungeun Sung, Tim Cooper, and Sarah Kettley focuses on the social movement of up cycling and how it can be advanced within the United Kingdom. The chapter starts with a review of upcycling, which is the creation of high value products from lesser value used materials. Upcycling takes many forms. For example, you could make a nice dining room table by repairing and enhancing a used or broken table. Or you could make a nice cooler box from old discarded pallets (as I did). Or, you could make jewelry from discarded watch pieces. The authors note that upcycling is somewhat related to the maker movement which is a movement focused on making new things, invention, and tinkering with existing objects.
Old doors on their way to becoming tables.
Click for photo credit.

The authors link the upcycling movement with a number of other emerging social movements including the degrowth movement, socially responsible investment, and sustainable food production. Together, they highlight how social movements can effectively help to transform current unsustainable practices. The goal of the case study was to identify different approaches to upcycling and factors that influenced behavior toward upcycling in order to identify any policy interventions that could be deployed for scaling up upcycling. A series of interviews with 23 participants were conducted in the study.

The results show that most engaged with upscaling used wood and textiles and that most upcycled products were used personally and not resold. Many found the benefits were economical. However, respondents also noted that reducing waste and feeling good about their work were also motivators for taking on upcycle projects. Many people who participate in upcycling also had early exposure to arts and crafts. 

A bag made of upcycled fabric. 
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The results indicated that the target population for expanding upcycling in society is people 30 and older and that a key strategies would be to build greater positive attitudes toward upcycled products and build community-based family events for upcycling workshops. In addition, intervention strategies were reviewed in a focus group of experts in sustainability and social change. This group suggested that there needs to be better access to used materials that could be available to those interested in upcycling. There is much more in this chapter that those interested in sustainability and social movements would find interesting. 


Here are some discussion questions when using this chapter for a unit on social movements and sustainability, upcycling, or waste.

1. What is upcycling and what do you own that is an upcycled product?

2. Have you ever made anything that you could consider upcycled?

3. How can we use interviews to understand a social movement?

4. What other social movements can you think of that are like the upcycling movement?

5. In this study, the two most upcycled resources were wood and fabric. What other types of waste materials do you think could be used for upcycling?

6. The article notes that there is a need for greater access to used materials for those interested in upcycling. How do you think we could provide greater access to these materials?

7. Economic factors were one of the top motivating factors for people to engage with upcycling. What would motivate you to get involved with upcycling? 

8. How do you think we could educate people about the benefits of purchasing upcycling goods?

Previous posts in this series:

Thursday, November 26, 2020

General Motors Now Supports California Air Quality Standards Regulations

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I have written quite a bit about the attempted changes to fuel efficiency standards by the Trump administration--most recently here (which has links to earlier posts). It was reported this week by the New York Times that General Motors, which had supported an administrative lawsuit that was trying to strip California of the right to set their own fuel efficiency standards, no longer supports this initiative and will work with the Biden administration on climate change goals.

The Clean Air Act grants California the right to set fuel efficiency standards separate from national standards. Because of California's unique geography, air pollution is a significant problem in the state because polluted air gets trapped in heavily populated valleys. Because car manufacturers don't want to make cars with different fuel efficiencies for different states, they tend to manufacture all cars based on California standards and U.S. policy has largely followed California's lead on the issue. The Trump administration was trying to change this policy. Now, however, it appears that the issue is dead. According to the Times piece only major car manufacturers that still publicly support the change advocated by the Trump administration are Fiat Chrysler and Toyota and I suspect that their support will fade. 

Wednesday, October 28, 2020

Metamodernism and Sustainability

It is becoming clear to me that sustainability is a metamodern discipline. In the text below, I briefly review metamodernism and why the term applies so well to the field of sustainability.

Metamodernism is both a philosophy and a social movement that emerged in the last decade or two from post modernism which itself was a reaction to modernism. Modernism can be looked at as more or less the outgrowth of the enlightenment. Our framework of science and even higher education itself is a product of modernism. In the 1980's and 90's, post modernism led to the questioning of modernism and sought to deconstruct the frameworks of modernism to understand, in part, power structures in modernism and to re-emphasize the unemphasized. 

To digest down post modernism to an essence, there is no truth. Instead, there are constructions of reality built by those in power to create an understanding of our world. The movie The Matrix nicely creates the feeling of post modernism by totally deconstructing reality to create a new reality that may or may not itself be real. The Warhol prints of Mao and Marilyn also deconstruct the meaning of art and image and the singer Madonna constantly reinvented her image since the 1980’s in an embodiment of post modernity--there is no Madonna, just an annual recreation of identity.

Metamodernism is a reaction to post modernism in that it recognizes the realities of both modernism and post modernism. It seeks to take an optimistic approach to the world by recognizing that both modernism and post modernism exists at the same time. The video, This is America, by Childish Gambino, and the recent Borat movie are cultural representations of metamodernism that provide both real and unreal experiences. It isn’t magical thinking. The reality of the unreality actually exists. Politically this is represented by the Trump administration and the very metamodern policies associeated with COVID. The federal government is both working on the pandemic while not working on it. It will go away, it is a hoax, it is killing thousands, and it is a real public health crisis. 


So why is sustainability a metamodern discipline?


I have written a great deal about the different ways that sustainability is enacted, discussed, and implemented around the world. I sometimes talk about it as "a tale of two sustainabilities" whereby one sustainability is the sustainability of the west and the other is the sustainability of the developing world. In other places I've written about surfing and suffering sustainability where western approaches are cool, optional, and quantitatively of comparatively limited value (due to huge per capita consumption) and where suffering sustainability is about existentialism and improving challenging situations. Now I think a better way of framing sustainability is within metamodernism.


Here are two examples of what I mean from the recycling and energy worlds. 


If we look at plastic recycling in the U.S., we know that the vast majority of the plastic is shipped overseas and of that plastic the vast majority of it is diverted to local waste streams or litter and is not recycled. We have built a whole infrastructure around plastic recycling but it is of limited actual value. Of course the best thing we could do is not use plastics. But instead, we institutionalize recycling within a sustainability modernist approach even though there are metamodern realities that show that it is of limited value. Should we stop plastic recycling? No. But is plastic recycling a problem? Yes. Do we feel optimistic about recycling overall? Yes. Metamodern.


Green energy is another metamodern issue. We have rapidly ramped up the development of green energy across the world. That is truly a wonderful thing. However, during the same time that we have ramped up these energy sources, global consumption of oil and natural gas, two important drivers of climate change, have increased substantially and the overall world's energy use has gone up and continues to rise. Thus, green energy has not replaced oil and natural gas consumption at the global level. It has only added to the overall amount of energy that is being produced around the world. Do we want to continue to produce green energy? Yes. Has green energy led to a reduction of the global use of fossil fuels? No. Do we feel good about wind and solar? Yes. Metamodern.


The field of sustainability is inherently a quantitative one. We measure a baseline, develop policies to enact change, and then measure the results of the outcome. To some, however, sustainability is about the "feels" of the environment. It feels right to recycle and it feels right to drive a Tesla. However, the feels often mask broader issues with overall consumption. We don't always question whether we needed to purchase the plastic or buy the car in the first place.


When you look closely at the discourse around sustainability, you can find metamodernism everywhere. As a result, I think it is important for sustainability initiatives in the coming years to focus on authenticity and quantitative approaches that clearly demonstrate impacts locally, nationally, and globally. We also have to recognize connections. Solving a plastic waste problem in a community in the U.S. could create a burden for communities in Africa. Adding green energy without serious reductions in carbon-based fuels globally doesn't really impact our global climate change problem.


I doubt that the metamodern issues we are facing in our society will go away soon. We want to be optimistic about a variety of sustainability issues. We think we can manage our way through climate change and most of us live our lives without changing our behavior. Many of us continue to try to live normally through COVID-19 even though we are in the midst of a pandemic. It is the optimism that leads to metamodernism. And it is my optimism that makes me worried.





Sunday, October 4, 2020

George Washington Carver National Monuments

 Today I continue my series on all 129 U.S. National Monuments. This is in follow up to my series that featured open access photos of all of the U.S. National Parks. In the coming years, I will highlight open access images all of the U.S. National Monuments in alphabetical order.


Today's featured monument is George Washington Carver National Monument in Missouri. This is not one of the monuments that was under review for delisting as per executive order by the president. Following the photos is a list of U.S. National Monuments previously featured on this blog.

Click for photo credit.
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Previous On the Brink posts on the U.S. National Monuments

Admiralty Island National Monument
African Burial Ground National Monument
Agate Fossil Beds National Monument
Agua Fria National Monument
Alibates Flint Quarries National Monument
Aniakchak National Monument
Aztec Ruins National Monument
Bandelier National Monument
Basin and Range National Monument
Bears Ears National Monument
Belmont-Paul Women's Equality National Monument
Birmingham Civil Rights National Monument
Berryessa Snow Mountain National Monument
Booker T. Washington National Monument
Browns Canyon National Monument
Buck Island Reef National Monument
Cabrillo National Monument
California Coastal National Monument
Canyon de Chelly National Monument
Canyons of the Ancients National Monument
Cape Krusenstern National Monument
Capulin Volcano National Monument
Carrizo Plain National Monument
Casa Grande Ruins National Monument
Cascade Siskiyou National Monument
Castillo de San Marco National Monument
Castle Clinton National Monument
Castle Mountains National Monument
Cedar Breaks National Monument
César E. Chávez National Monument
Charles Young Buffalo Soldiers National Monument
Chimney Rock National Monument
Chiricahua National Monument
Colorado National Monument
Craters of the Moon National Monument
Devils Postpile National Monument
Devils Tower National Monument
Dinosaur National Monument
Effigy Mounds National Monument
El Malpais National Monument
El Morro National Monument
Florissant Fossil Beds National Monument
Fort Frederica National Monument
Fort Matanzas National Monument
Fort McHenry National Monument
Fort Monroe National Monument
Fort Ord National Monument
Fort Pulaski National Monument
Fort Stanwix National Monument


















Wednesday, September 23, 2020

Energy Companies At Odds Over The Future Of Oil, But Is The Rush To Renewables Performative?

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I have written much in this space and in my books about the shift of major energy companies like BP away from oil to a more diversified portfolio that includes renewable energy. Of course not all energy companies are alike. Some have embraced renewables more than others.

Today, the New York Times published an important piece in their Business section on the growing gulf between European and North American energy companies. European companies like BP have greatly expanded their renewable operations while American companies like Exxon Mobil are sticking with oil and natural gas.

The article points out a growing divide between pragmatists in the oil industry that recognize that climate change is a problem and that for their companies to flourish there is a need to diversity holdings, and traditionalists that continue to advance a dirty energy portfolio even with mounting evidence of systemic planetary problems associated with climate change. There is a growing distaste in the public and major investment groups, including the world's largest investment company, BlackRock, for support for dirty energy and, as the article notes, these companies seem rather out of step with major societal and corporate trends.

It is worth noting that the movement toward renewables is modest at best. Total energy use around the world continues to grow and renewables cannot keep up. Certainly renewables are a part of the growth, but the global use of coal, natural gas, and petroleum increased as well over the last 20 years. Thus, renewable energy production does not match the growing global demand for energy which must be met with traditional dirty sources. We have not had a serious policy in the U.S. and many other parts of the world as to how to significantly reduce overall global energy use to cut combustion of fossil fuels so renewables can be a bigger part of the portfolio. As we see global energy use continue to spike, it is worth questioning whether the modest move globally to renewables is a serious reaction to climate change or if it is a performative band aid. We cannot make a real difference until we cut overall fossil fuel use and that is not happening--even though we see green energy increasing.

Sunday, September 6, 2020

Sustainability Case Studies Chapter 14: Japanese Women and Antinuclear Activism After the Fukushima Accident

The Fukushima Power Plant after the disaster.
Click for photo credit.

This is the 14th post in this blog series, Sustainability Case Studies, that is based on the book The Palgrave Handbook of Sustainability:  Case Studies and Practical Solutions edited by Robert Brinkmann (yours truly) and Sandra Garren and published by Palgrave Macmillan in 2018. Each post in the series will comment on the content of the chapter as well as some general take-aways or practical teaching or personal/organizational initiatives that could be gleaned from the chapter. Links to previous posts on the series (including the post that introduced the series) follow after the chapter review. 

This chapter, Japanese Women and Antinuclear Activism After the Fukushima Accident, by Professor Heidi Hutner of Stony Brook University, begins with an interesting review of the role of women in anti-nuclear activism since the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945. Women have been leading the anti-nuclear charge for generations and this chapter explores how women continued the activism after Fukushima. One of the drivers of this activism is that women and girls are unequally impacted by nuclear pollution which was highlighted in the Preamble to the 2017 UN Treaty to Prohibit the Use of Nuclear Weapons.


The case study section of the chapter reviews the events associated with the Fukushima disaster and the scope of the pollution problem that resulted when the cores were breached at the nuclear power plant. The levels of radioactivity in the area was shocking and the public was greatly dismayed by the amount of radiation released into the environment. All nuclear reactors in Japan were closed (not all of them are back online) and a new era of anti-nuclear activism, led by women, was born in Japan. Some protests had up to 170,000 protestors who marched to demand a clean up of the region and many Fukushima residents "occupied" areas of government spaces in Tokyo to shed light on the issue. Some of these protests continue to the present day. 

The chapter reviews the stories of a number of women activists who helped to drive public knowledge about the disaster and who sought greater government action to mitigate the problems of Fukushima and prevent future radiation pollution events. There are too many fascinating stories to account here. However, it is clear that many women were radicalized by the events of Fukushima and that this is part of a long tradition of women engaged with the ant-nuclear movement in Japan. The chapter also makes a case that Japan's patriarchal government and decision-making systems have driven much of the move to nuclear power in the last 70 years in direct contrast to women who have been pushing for an anti-nuclear future.

Click here for more information about the book.

A 2011 protest in Japan. Click for image credit.

Here are some discussion questions when using this chapter for a unit on activism, nuclear energy, and/or gender and the environment.

1. What was the Fukushima disaster and when did it occur?

2. What were the impacts of the 1945 bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki?

3. Why are women so engaged with the anti-nuclear movement?

4. After the Fukushima disaster, a number of different types of protests emerged across Japan. Describe them.

5. Who is Mioko Smith and how did she set the stage for the protests that emerged after the Fukushima disaster?

6. How did the disaster impact farmer, Sachiko Sato?

7. What is the "partnership ethic" and why is it important in this case study?

8. What evidence is there that Japan's decision making around nuclear energy is an example of a patriarchal power system?

Previous posts in this series:

Wednesday, September 2, 2020

Major Sustainability Center at Northern Illinois University Taking Shape

In late 2018, Northern Illinois University (NIU) announced the formation of a new center aimed at community-based sustainability. The Center, called The Northern Illinois Center for Community Sustainability (NICCS) has worked to shape its future through a number of conversations with a variety of interested parties on the NIU campus. Recently, the university posted an update about the center here that many of my readers will find of interest.

The Center is still working out the details about its organization and focus. However, many of the faculty associated with the center have a deep understanding of the field of sustainability and it is clear that the future of the organization is bright. As the article points out, two biology faculty associated with the center have received substantial federal grants and many faculty are engaged with projects that bridge much of the work being done in departments and colleges with work supported by the Center. 

The Center will be housed in a new campus building that is currently in the planning stages. What is exciting about this project is that it has the opportunity to advance a regional and global approach to sustainability that also has a local context for the unique environment of Northern Illinois--one of the centers of the modern industrial agricultural system that also includes the vast Chicago megalopolis.

Sunday, August 30, 2020

We're Not Pivoting -- We're In Rolling Motion

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All over the country universities are experiencing tough times. We are in the midst of a global pandemic, many campuses are experiencing budget crises, and the next few months may prove to be one of the most challenging political periods in our history. If we had only one of these problems, we would be in what many would call unprecedented times. 

In moments like this, I think it is worth considering our past. When my university, Northern Illinois University (NIU), graduated its first class of 16 students in 1900, I don’t think anyone back then could have imagined what we would be facing in 2020. 


Or could they?

 

About this time, American society was recovering from the Civil War, coming to terms with the Massacre at Wounded Knee, and dealing with great technological advances in transportation with the advent of the automobile and airplanes. Americans were coming out of the depression of the 1890s that left many destitute due to the lack of a governmental safety net. Books like The War of the Worlds  and The Picture of Dorian Gray were published that reflected a certain amount of social angst.

 

If we fast forward to the 1910's, we continue to see challenges. NIU saw significant enrollment declines due to World War I and classes were suspended on campus during October of 1918 due to the influenza epidemic of the era. NIU President Cook, writing during this time, said, “When we shall begin again is a matter for the future to decide. There is nothing that seems of consequence right now but the war and the epidemic.”

 

During 1918, whole families died from the flu. Around the world, the war and the pandemic were not the only issues. This was the year when the Russian royal family was assassinated within the sweeping events of the Russian Revolution, and a few short months before Zapata was killed near the culmination of the complex Mexican Revolution. These were very difficult times.

 

I could go through a range of changes and challenges that NIU and other universities faced since 1918:  The Great Depression, World War II, The Vietnam War, civil unrest in the 1960’s. During each of these moments, universities evolved and changed with the times.

 

I have no doubt that American universities will continue to be vibrant institutions on into the future. However, as history shows us, universities rose to the challenges they faced. As we look toward the next decade, we have to ask ourselves how universities will change with our times. 


I joke with my colleagues that the word of the year is "pivot". It seems like we pivoted to online course delivery back in the spring semester and around the country we are pivoting to a blended delivery system this semester with the expectation that we should be able to pivot to whatever the situation demands in the future. Over the last few weeks, I have added the word pivot to my administrative bingo sheet along with words and phrases like biggest bang for the buck, paradigm shift, leverage, put a pin in it, and my favorite, it is what it is.

 

But the term pivot implies that you are basically just circling a central point. Pivoting means that the basic conditions don’t change as you circle that central point.

 

In our current era, the term pivot isn’t really accurate. We are actually going through rolling motion. We are rotating around a central point which is itself going through motion. What matters in this rolling motion is that there needs to be intention of direction. Certainly we have outside forces like COVID and our national economy influencing our direction. However, we give up our own power of intention if we are only reactive to the changes impacting our direction.

 

We have the opportunity in higher education to make decisions over the next few years to direct us in a path of our choosing. Certainly we will have to deal with the momentum of our times—the issues of budget, COVID, and others. But we have choices in this unusual situation.

 

As we start to think what the fall of 2021 looks like when we start to emerge from a post COVID world (hopefully), we should do so with intentionality. At all levels of higher education, we need to think about what we want to be and how we want to get there. We need to put our own spin on things so that we don’t pivot in a single spot. We need to design our own forward motion.

Sunday, August 2, 2020

George Washington Birthplace National Monument

Today I continue my series on all 129 U.S. National Monuments. This is in follow up to my series that featured open access photos of all of the U.S. National Parks. In the coming years, I will highlight open access images all of the U.S. National Monuments in alphabetical order.

Today's featured monument is George Washington Birthplace National Monument in Virginia. This is not one of the monuments that was under review for delisting as per executive order by the president. Following the photos is a list of U.S. National Monuments previously featured on this blog.

Click for photo credit.
Click for photo credit.
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Click for photo credit.
Click for photo credit.
Previous On the Brink posts on the U.S. National Monuments

Admiralty Island National Monument
African Burial Ground National Monument
Agate Fossil Beds National Monument
Agua Fria National Monument
Alibates Flint Quarries National Monument
Aniakchak National Monument
Aztec Ruins National Monument
Bandelier National Monument
Basin and Range National Monument
Bears Ears National Monument
Belmont-Paul Women's Equality National Monument
Birmingham Civil Rights National Monument
Berryessa Snow Mountain National Monument
Booker T. Washington National Monument
Browns Canyon National Monument
Buck Island Reef National Monument
Cabrillo National Monument
California Coastal National Monument
Canyon de Chelly National Monument
Canyons of the Ancients National Monument
Cape Krusenstern National Monument
Capulin Volcano National Monument
Carrizo Plain National Monument
Casa Grande Ruins National Monument
Cascade Siskiyou National Monument
Castillo de San Marco National Monument
Castle Clinton National Monument
Castle Mountains National Monument
Cedar Breaks National Monument
César E. Chávez National Monument
Charles Young Buffalo Soldiers National Monument
Chimney Rock National Monument
Chiricahua National Monument
Colorado National Monument
Craters of the Moon National Monument
Devils Postpile National Monument
Devils Tower National Monument
Dinosaur National Monument
Effigy Mounds National Monument
El Malpais National Monument
El Morro National Monument
Florissant Fossil Beds National Monument
Fort Frederica National Monument
Fort Matanzas National Monument
Fort McHenry National Monument
Fort Monroe National Monument
Fort Ord National Monument
Fort Pulaski National Monument
Fort Stanwix National Monument

Sunday, July 26, 2020

Five End of Summer Books for the Beach Bag from University Presses

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While many of us have spent a chunk of the quarantine writing, the folks at the beloved university presses around the county have been busy working with authors, copy editing, and publishing scholarship from the greatest minds in our land. I have selected five new books from the presses that my readers may find interesting. If you know of some other great new offerings, post them in the comments.

1. Swamp Souths:  Literary and Cultural Ecologies edited by Kristen L. Squint, Eric Gary Anderson, Taylor Hagood, and Anthony Wilson and publishes by LSU Press. When I was growing up in Wisconsin, I was deeply intrigued by the southern swamps as depicted in film and literature. After living in the south for two decades and spending considerable time in these swamps, I remain intrigued. They are a landscape apart in the reckoning of the American imagination. These places represent an otherness and exoticism that deserves this volume that makes a case for greater recognition in American cultural identity.

2. Wildly Successful Farming:  Sustainability and the NewAgricultural Land Ethic written by Brian DeVore and published by the University Presses of Wisconsin. Do you want to understand how we are transforming agriculture to be more sustainable? Look no further than this book that highlights via case studies how farmers are using sustainable innovation to repair our land and create a more sustainable world.

3. Building a Better Nest:  Living Lightly at Home and in the World by Evelyn Searle Hess and published by Oregon State University Press. As we strive to live greener lives we are often confronted by the unsustainable nature of our living space. This book questions many assumptions about modern life and documents a quest for living more sustainably in the world via intentional living off the grid and in touch with nature.

4. The Greenway Imperative:  Connecting Communities and Landscapes for a Sustainable Future by Charles A. Flink and published by the University Press of Florida. As we continue to look toward innovation in sustainable urban design, greenways will gain greater prominence as we reject cars for bikes and walking. This book is the definitive source for everything you need to know about greenways and why they will be more important as we strive for a more sustainable world.

5. Environmental Justice in a Moment of Danger by Julie Sze and published by the University of California Press. We are in a moment in society's history with great cultural and social disparities. This book highlights growing activism around key environmental justice issues like the Dakota Access Pipeline. The book notes these are dangerous times for the environment and for the environmental justice movement.



Sunday, June 21, 2020

Great Lakes at Historic Levels

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The Chicago Tribune published an interesting article today by Patrick M. O'Connell about record high levels in Lake Michigan and the other Great Lakes. It is worth a read here. As the piece points out, the shoreline in Chicago is seeing some significant inundation that is impacting access and threatening boater safety. The high levels are the result of global climate change associated with increased runoff associated with increased precipitation and warmer winters.

O'Connell notes that the Great Lakes have seen significant fluctuations in recent years and experienced record low levels just five years ago. The wild fluctuations are not normal and reflect the predictions of extreme conditions that many climate scientists have predicted as highlighted in recent reports from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.

Friday, June 19, 2020

Zora Neale Hurston Quiz Revisited

On this Juneteenth celebration, I wanted to revisit my Zora Neale Neale Hurston Quiz that I published back in April of 2015. I have long celebrated her writing as some of the most important 20th century environmental literature written in the English language. She has a distinct way of bringing elements of nature into her fiction and non-fiction that was relatively uncommon during her time.

The find the answers to the quiz, you can visit the original post here.

the original post follows.

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Zora Neale Hurston is one of what I call the Trifecta of early to mid- 20th century Florida women writers who had an impact on how we think about the environment. I've written about this trifecta here.

Hurston is perhaps one of the most interesting writers of the 20th century to call Florida home. She had a huge influence on 20th century writing and certainly on how we think about the environment in Florida.


1. Hurston is most famous for this book that depicts life in the Everglades for African American farmers. Name the book.

2. Weather is one of the most symbolic elements in the book referenced above. In what way does weather have a deus ex machina moment in the book?

3. Hurston wrote the above referenced book while living in this country. Name the country.

4. The book depicted a distinct human and environmental realism that was unique at the time. It was also very different from the tradition of this group (with a familiar New York name) with which Hurston is often associated. Name the group.

5. While a noted novelist and short story writer, Hurston earned a degree in this field from Barnard College. Name the field.

6.  In 1935, Hurston published this book that focuses on folklore from Florida. In it she reveals dozens of stories that have been passed down through generations--many of which bring in environmental or sustainability themes. Name the book.

7.  Hurston often used black dialect that was common in the south at the time. This was criticized by many for what reason?

8.  One of the things that I find refreshing about Hurston's work is that it shows people in relationship to their environment in very realistic ways. She also uses an abundance of environmental references. For example, Hurston speaks about her experiences as a black women in an interesting essay in which she uses environmental metaphors such as "For instance at Barnard. "Beside the waters of the Hudson" I feel my race. Among the thousand white persons, I am a dark rock surged upon, and overswept, but through it all, I remain myself. When covered by the waters, I am; and the ebb but reveals me again." Name the essay.

9. Although largely associated with Florida and New York, Hurston was actually born in this state and lived there until she moved to Florida when she was three years old. Name the state.

10. From the 1950's and until her death in 1960, Hurston lived in relative obscurity. She was buried in an unmarked grave in Fort Pierce, Florida. However a famous author revived interest in Hurston in 1974 when she wrote an essay for Ms. magazine titled "In Search of Zora Neale Hurston". She also dedicated a grave marker to her near her burial site. Name the author.