Sara Lazarovska's blog
I sit on the stone ledge in the cloisters, trying to jot down everything I see around me: worn-out grass still fighting to stay green, copious amounts of mud where the grass lost the battle to weather and wear, wet stone walls that look like they're crying in the rain, and a stone fountain, which is actually much deeper than I originally thought, empty except for a tiny puddle of rainwater. Today is the last time I visit my site for a site-sit, and I honestly don't know how I feel about it. On one hand, I will enjoy not having to get up earlier on Sundays to do this, but on the other hand, having to visit the cloisters weekly somehow worked for me.
I'm not sure exactly what I got from my site-sits alone, but one thing's for sure: I realize there is not way I can view nature without any interference of how I'm feeling at that moment. I'm trying so hard to appreciate nature when all I can think about is "the Greasepaint crew are taking apart the set of Reefer Madness right now; I'm gonna miss them" while I hum the melody of "Mary Sunshine" to myself quietly. I don't think I can ever consider myself an ecological writer because, for my own taste, I'm not being objective and rational enough, something that I find incredibly irking.
If you are a young urban denizen pursuing higher education that lives in the city and is up-to-date with the environmental news of this century, you have been fed information by a number of ecological writers, given “environmentally conscious” advice to get yourself out of your home and “experience nature.”
I don't know why, but the thing I keep thinking about from The Lives of Animals is the way Costello began her talk: with the information about the Nazi concentration camps during World War II. Maybe this is because I worked with the Jewish Community Center in Skopje on a project about the Holocaust, and because my best friend's favorite museum is the Holocaust Museum in Skopje. That's why I was so shocked when Costello makes the connection between the concentration camps and eating meat. I mean, I pledged to be vegetarian for a year when I was an active member of PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals), and I still do feel guilty when I eat meat, but I never thought of eating meat as something as atrocious as mass genocide. After all, there is a reason why the biological food chains exist: some animals eat other animals for subsistence, others eat plants. Also, why should plants not be considered living beings in the same way as animals and humans? Following that thought, would it be ethical to eat plants then too? I don't think that there is a single solution or answer to these questions. That is why I am against campaigning for a single way of life - diversity is beautiful, and it's what makes life interesting. Hence, while I do support Costello for being vegetarian, I'm not so sure I agree with her reasoning.
We all (freshwomen and senior ecological imaginers) agreed unanimously that we wanted to get the biological tours of BMC campus done before Thanksgiving Break due to the amount of work we had to do after the Break. One thing we could not agree on, however, was the exact time. Numerous e-mails were exchanged back and forth, but no agreement could be reached. Thus a Doodle doc was born. We all put down the times we could meet, but not a single time frame seemed to work for every one of us. While this was happening, it was somehow decided to meet on a Saturday from 10:30 to 12:30, and in the e-mail talking about it it was mentioned (can't recall by whom) that the time would work for me too, since I was free from 11. I e-mailed everybody back, telling them they got the wrong idea: I was free from 1, not 11. But that seemed to go unheard and the decision was made to go on our biological tours then, and when I saw the e-mails discussing that it was ttoo late. All logistics aside, I am really sorry we didn't manage to go on the tours - it would have been lovely to find out more about the botany of the BMC campus. However, I do feel that my voice and opinion were not heard at all in this project; Zoe and I tried to reschedule the tours but we got negative response, and the agreement about the initial meeting completely disregarded me and what I had to say. I don't know why this happened, but one thing I know for sure is that I don't like not having my voice heard and feeling invisible.
While reading Leopold's piece "The Land Ethic," I kept thinking back to a book, Emerald City (written by Matthew Klingle), that I read for my Environmental History class. In it, Klingle explores what he calls 'the ethic of place' which is basically the relationship that people have with a certain place. However, after reading "The Land Ethic," I realized that even though Emerald City is an environmental history of Seattle, most of the places that people have an ethic of place associated with are actually locations that were once sites of wild nature that have been "remodelled" (a word that Dr. Dalke seems to be really keen on :D) by humans or their actions. There are very few instances in which the places that Klingle talks about involve nature to a greater extent, so I began wondering whether the Native Americans in the state of Washington that Klingle mentions have an ethic of place or land ethic, as Hannah mentioned today in class that some people might because of their ancestral history's relation to nature. What I would say now, after today's discussion, that perhaps the Native Americans that inhabited the region that now is Seattle might have had a land ethic, but that their descendants nowadays have more of an ethic of place regarding the environment of Seattle (also known as the "green city" - see how Klingle plays with words in his book title while he subtly mocks the extent of nature conservation of America's sustainability hub?).
I was excited to visit my site this week. Since my last visit left me so amazed, I thought that, surely, it would be fun to visit the cloisters as well. I was wrong.
There was nothing new in the cloisters. Just the same ol' grass, beaten down by weather and numerous people trodding down on it, looking as it did the week before last. How disappointing.
I was wondering whether I made a wrong decision not changing my site; after all, it does not provide much nature-fueled stimulation most of the time, and the other person that chose the same site, Claire (CMJ), changed her site. Then, however, I thought about my process of decision-making: I am not one of those people that take forever and a day to decide about things. I make my decions fast and rarely regret them. I have learned to think fast on my feet and evalute options quickly. I don't dwell on past decions much (there are certain exceptions though), so I decided not to dwell on this particular one either. I trust myself that I made the right decision.
Here goes, another eventless site sit. The nature in the cloisters (or lack thereof) will be the same as last week - what could I possibly write about this time?
These were my thoughts as I was walking to the cloisters that Saturday afternoon. The sun was setting and I was going to miss it, since it sets behind TGH, and the wonderful was going to be blocked. Sigh.
However, when I walked into the cloisters, I stoped dead. I was mesmerized, completely hypnotized, wonderstruck. The last of the sun's rays filtered through the tall windows of Thomas Great Hall, coloring the grass a million different shades of all the colors of the palette of visible light and nature. For the first time, I saw a whole new dimension to the otherwise boring flora that is enclosed within the cloisters - it seemed happy, almost playful. The light (alas, what was left of it for that day) shone proudly and strongly, beautifying the natural landscape.
It was nature - biology, physics, chemistry, ecology, environmental science, and all their glory - that reminded me exactly how wonderful our planet is. It also reminded me why I have such an appreciation for the sciences: because they explain it all, the wonders of nature. And to me, that makes nature more tangible, the environment a little closer to me, more understandable. On that note, I take my hat off and salute all the science majors out there; you are doing what I do not have the energy or the will to do, but it is still something I have an immense appreciation for.
Does economic prosperity equal environmental destruction? Waring seems to think so. She talks about how CFCs (chlorofluorocarbons) are actually counted as economic growth, not environmental degradation, and about carbon trading as an economic activity, much more like a service than an action that might impact various ecosystems. However, I think that her outlook on our relationship with nature (as humans wishing for economic prosperity) is quite dismal and I'm not so sure I completely agree with her. Granted, economic growth has taken its toll in the natural environment in the countries where it has been most apparent (Japan, USA, China, Germany, etc.), but to say that a country must be environmentally destructive in order to be economically productive is a little far-fetched. I'm thinking of Norway when I say this. Norway has fared quite well economically; while it has never been a global (or even European) economic superpower, it has certainly had one of the most stable economies, as well as highest life standards. Additionally, they have exploited very little of their natural resources when compared to other global economic powers of the same strength. Indeed, they have extracted a lot of petroleum and natural gas and have one of the largest global timber industries, but they also have vast expanses of untouched nature, a percentage of "natural purity" that countries such as the US can only dream about.
Central Park: "Due to possibility of strong winds, Central Park will be closed from noon Wednesday, November 7 until noon Thursday, November 8."
And there I was, convinced all this time that parks were free and open (mostly) public spaces that anyone could enjoy at any time. Was I fooled, huh? Apparently, they have working hours (or is it operating hours? available hours?), just like shops and offices. I mean, I am aware that a lot of parks in cities are privately owned, but they're free for public use (like the Zuccotti Park in New York City, a crucial site for Occupy Wall Street). However, what hadn't occurred to me before is that they are actually closed at any point of any day - I always just assumed they were always open. But now I realize that they are just businesses, part of enterprises. People usually consider parks little bundles of nature in the hearts of big, bustling cities; however, even though park do have elements of nature such as plants, insects, and animals, there is nothing natural about them - they are just as artifical and out-of-place as the concrete and steel take make up the cities. What are your thoughts on this?
Note: The quotation was posted on the official Central Park Facebook profile, maintained by the Central Park Conservancy, on November 6th, 2012, at 3:40pm.
Last Sunday, as all of you know, was Lantern Night, so all the new BMC students congregated in the cloisters in complete and utter silence (required singing notwithstanding) to get their lanterns (myself included). I was amazed how Thomas was kept in complete darkness and everything was planned out so neatly so we could have this magical night of BMC tradition even with the looming hurricane. So being in the cloisters during Lantern Night with all the other students there was an experience starkly different from what I'm used to when I visit the site. Different, but still as nice.