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Alex and Hannah's Teach-in script

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Intimacy and the Earth

 From a distance, I could only see one color green when I approached this field. It wasn’t until I got up close when I realized there were flowers in the field and it took a while for me to count over a dozen different species of plants hidden in plane sight in a field I had walked by many times but only now stopped to lay in. During a course I took this semester called “ecological imaginings”, we read a number of texts discussing ecological and environmental issues. An idea that was brought up during our discussions and that I connected with and feel is important to share is the idea of intimacy with the land being the key to the health of our environment. Terry Tempest Williams’ An Unspoken Hunger, Timothy Morton’s “Ecology without Nature”, and Thomas Berry’s “The Dream of the Earth” are texts we read during the course that touched on this concept each in their own unique way. Morton illustrates how we can be cognitively intimate with nature, Berry suggests ways in which we could be more intellectually intimate with the earth, and Williams shows us how becoming physically intimate with the land will fix our relationship with the environment.

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Reflections about the Botanical Tour

The botanical tour that the people in the other class lead us on was very interesting. I liked learning about the plants in Morris Woods while actually being able to see them and touch them.  One of the things that our tour guides had us do was to smell the leaves of two similar looking plants. Smell is not a sense I would usually think to use when comparing plants but these plants had two clearly different smells so this ended up being the easiest way to tell them apart. This made me wonder what else I was missing by using mostly only my sight to interact with plants. In William’s book she talks about loving the land, but you cannot be intimate with the land if you are only using one of your senses to interact with it. I really liked that we used multiple senses to interact with the plants we were being shown during the tour. 

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Reading Response: Comments/thoughts

While reading Carolyn Merchant’s Introduction to Radical Ecology at the beginning of her book Radical Ecology, I was intrigued by the student’s analyzing the way their families have interacted with the environment. I ended up thinking about my own grandparents and what nature was to them. One of the things I got stuck on was a story that my dad once told me about how while he was growing up in the middle of Manhattan, my grandma would go outside and pick dandelion leaves for them to eat from any grassy area she could find in New York City. This used to embarrass my dad a lot because in the city everyone buys food from the store, but thinking about where my grandma came form it now makes a lot of sense why she did this.

My grandma grew up on a farm in the mountains in Greece where her and her family farmed the land and herded sheep. When she got older she ran away from their farm and tried to find jobs in a bigger city. This I used to think said a lot about how she thought because it showed she wanted to move away from rural and move to an urban setting where she would not have to work the land. When WWII came she was forced to move into a labor camp and I am sure must not have a good relationship with her environment there. When she was freed she came to New York City (suggesting that she did not want to be around a lot of plants anymore) yet my grandma ended up really appreciating nature despite this.

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Nature Posting: Sunlight

Today I didn’t feel like staying in the shade under the tree at my location so I went out into the sun and lay in the grass instead. Pretty much everything becomes beautiful when the sun shines on it. The sun brings out all the colors in an object. A blade of grass isn’t just green, it moves from a golden-yellow where the sun hits it to a deep blue-green in the shade just before it disappears into the earth. The same is true for the rocks on the wall. The sun makes then sparkle and their colors are brighter grey and blue and brownish purple. Lying there soaked in its warmth I feel like I could spend all day observing the way rays of sun fall across the earth and the patterns they create. 

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Nature Posting: No fairies in the grass

The branches on the tree are all twisted. I’ve known this since the day I first sat under the tree but now pay more attention because the leaves are so sparse. I wonder how the branches grow the way they do. How do they get all twisted together, what makes them grow up then suddenly left and right and down instead of keeping straight in the same direction. When I was little I was told that when I walk through the field and squish the grass with my feet, little fairies that live under each blade push it back up straight. I imagine fairies in the tree under its bark pushing the branches this way and that until the branches twist. But that is not how it happened. Now I am older and know that there are no fairies living under my feet and fixing the grass after I have trod over it.  And what we do to the earth will not be repaired by some magical natural process. We need to fix it. 

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Women and the Wilderness

“Black Women and the Wilderness” by Evelyn White reminded me of something that I briefly mentioned during a conversation in class at the beginning of the semester; that it is harder for women to go outside and feel free and safe in nature. The reason that this is, is the same reason for us as it was for Evelyn White and other black women at her time. Because of the imbalance of power between men and women or white and black, women and especially black women need to worry about their safety when they are in the wilderness and do not have the protection of a locked door, their friends, and their family. I feel really strongly about wanting to change this because all people deserve to feel like they can live comfortably in our natural environment and explore the earth. 

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Nature Posting: Hurricane

For this weeks nature posting I really wanted to write about the storm so it’s a little late (sorry):

 There is nothing like letting myself run fast and free through a storm. When the wind and rain are whipping face and the cold is stinging my skin. I feel the true power that nature has had all along but has been keeping dormant.

Maybe its all the movement, the wind is moving all around me and the rain down into my face. And I am moving into it, fighting back against the wind or letting the wind take me faster.

My heartbeat is strong and constant and so is my breath. I have beaten the cold and no longer need clothing to keep myself warm.

The warmth comes from my movement and inherent life. 

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Reflection of Class Summary

In my reflection I pointed out the things that were working well for me as well as adding a couple of ideas of things we can try (if we have time) that might be helpful. The way we write papers every week that aren’t graded is helpful because it gives us the chance to take risks in our writing as well as practice our formal writing skills. Sometimes I wish we had more time to work on these papers but at the same time it is good to have a new prompt every week because then I am able to have more ideas about these prompts and not get stuck. The last thing I suggested was that it could be helpful to try and find any subliminal connections that we had during our class discussions to our surrounding environment and point them out at the end of class. Then we can see how much being outside is affecting us and if we really do think more ecologically when surrounded by nature.  

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Nature Writing #4

Sometimes its fun to imagine time all happening at once instead of moving forward one event at a time.

 

This is what I did this week at my location as well as at Harriton House, and I found that it made me feel much more connected with the land at Bryn Mawr. By land I mean the physical space that somehow stays constant despite all the changes that occur in it as time passes. Although plants may die and new plants may grow, or a rock might be moved to a new place, the ground beneath my feet feels stable and intimately connected to all events that have or will or are occurring on top or inside of it. Sitting still in one place, I feel as if I am actually in an infinite amount of places throughout time that are all connected by the land. I am a time traveler.

 

This was inspired by what I learned at Harriton House when Bruce told us about the history of the farm and of Bryn Mawr. I noticed that knowing about the events that happened in the past and how the land changed throughout time made me feel so much more connected to Bryn Mawr as a place. I wanted to experience a similar connection to my location on campus so I imagined its past too. 

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