Serendip is an independent site partnering with faculty at multiple colleges and universities around the world. Happy exploring!

Observations and Reflections

sara.gladwin's picture

Things I wrote down while I was observing:

-Lawn mower is so loud

-Girl went past on a scooter

-Everyone is walking so fast at this time in the morning, including Max who is afraid she will be late to class

-Seeing Max reminds me of where the wild things are

-This spot makes me reminiscent

-Why would I pick a spot so noisy, so full of distractions

-I guess I like the distractions and welcome them

-All the landscaping is so clearly defined

-Uncomfortable in the sense that your back will always be vulnerable to something, to being watched. I wish that I could be all seeing.

- I keep picking at fragments of conversation. I’m feeling rather voyeuristic; I am both interested in the talk that is happening as people walk by and at the same time I feel like an intruder.

-Turning to look at Thomas and my view is obscured by trees.

-Should I be trying to observe in Rheomode?

-Stop trying to analyze


Reflections about my space (which I also made while sitting there):

I came to my space accidently, while walking out from Pembroke arch toward Taylor hall. I found myself drawn toward the space of grass to the left, between the two paths leading to the rest of campus. This is a place of familiarity for me, one in which I had spent a lot of time without regard to the environment around me. There is a sense of re-visitation, of reconsidering a space and really giving it a different kind of attention. I think that the thought of being between two paths also attracted me; there is a sense of being at the middle of a crossroad. This really made me think about the meaning I have imposed upon the space; the feeling I’ve attached to the good weather and the metaphor I have attached to being poised between two roads that diverge away from one another. It is really difficult for me to remove the part of me that analyzes experience without first allowing the experience to take full shape on its own, so I experimented with observing first without trying to place meaning on what I was taking in.  I try to pay attention to my surroundings, to be attuned to both the environment and the people that pass by. When going back over my observations I noticed that they are mostly about the people and I have this overwhelming feeling I only mentioned the trees out of guilt. After all, this is an ecological imaginings class. I have a sense that I have “accidently” observed the wrong thing; that I was supposed to be paying more attention to the landscape and not the people. I tend to gravitate toward people and I’m beginning to wonder if I purposely pushing away from “nature” – (and I use “nature” for lack of a better word to describe the trees, the grass in which I am sitting and ecological design around me) because I feel more comfortable in observing people. Looking back on my observations, the one thing I really noticed about the landscaping was how clear all the lines are drawn. “Nature” in this sense has been “imagined” as a controllable aspect of our environment, as part of the aesthetic appeal. Paths are convenient (or sometimes inconvenient) ways of getting to and from class, a way of clearing space to walk separate from the grass, separate from the places designated for flowers and trees. It really brought me to consider other “clearly” drawn lines that exist- the walls of a classroom for instance. There is such a clear separation between the outside and the classroom; a line in which we have chosen to ignore by having class outside. What are we inviting in then that others have chosen to keep out? Are we inviting in the distractions? Are we rejecting the notion of a traditional classroom? Are we choosing to be immersed in our topic of discussion- ecological imaginings?