Narrative Ecology??

Smacholdt's picture

I began this post by looking up a list of genres on Wikipedia. What I was specifically looking for was one that encompassed science, but still told a story. I have a friend who is interested in the emerging field of narrative medicine, and I had hoped that I would be able to find something along the same lines pertaining to ecology. The general idea behind narrative medicine is that you treat a person as a whole, and not just a cluster of symptoms. You allow people to contextualize their ailments in terms of the schema of their lives as opposed to the often cold and impersonal jargon that is so common in medical fields. See also: http://www.nytimes.com/2010/01/03/education/edlife/03narrative.html.

This made me wonder, could we solve more of our current ecological problems by taking this sort of approach to the environment. This is very closely related to what Berry and other authors we’ve read this semester have said; Recontextualize how we think about “nature” (a slippery term in itself.) This would not automatically solve any of the problems that we have created for ourselves, but just thinking in terms of different stories would give us the necessary insight to work on these problems.

I had the goal of rewriting this post: http://serendip.brynmawr.edu/exchange/“traditional”-ecology-field-guide-flowers in a more narrative way. Right now it seems very straight forward and scientific, so I think I need to make it more inviting for the reader.

Here is how I decided to rewrite it: The scientific name of the Great Blanket Flower (pictured here) is Gaillardia aristata. Gaillardia is a genus of perennial plants in the sunflower family that is drought-tolerant and native to North and South America. The plant was named after M. Gaillard de Charentonneau, an 18th-century French magistrate who was a patron of botany. The flower’s common name refers to the patterned blankets made by native Americans. (Info from Wikipedia.) When I researched the second part of the plant’s scientific name I found only links to conifers. Interesting… The blooms that I saw were all about 11/2 to 2 feet tall and in full flower. The stems and leaves were indeed hairy, and most of the petals had about 3 tips. 

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