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Planning Our Final Field Trip

Anne Dalke's picture

We made a number of decisions in class today (see updated syllabus for details).

We agreed that we will take a final class-wide "ramble":
we are eco-imagining a collective event to end the semester,
which will compliment the individual Thoreauvian stroll with which you each began
(lovely thought; thanks, rachelr!)

We also agreed to go do this @ 1 p.m. on Sunday, December 2nd --
and to accomodate that time by cancelling class on Monday, Dec. 3rd.

Next to be decided is where we will go, how we will get there, and what we will do once we arrive.

Current options for where to go include the
* Tinicum Wildlife Refuge (a visitor center, observation platform, and
10 miles of trails in southwest Philly, near I-95 and the airport);
* Forbidden Drive (a 5 1/2 mile trail in the Wissahickon Valley Park in the northwest part of Philly); and
* Mill Creek (which we can access from the edge of the Bryn Mawr
campus, and would try to walk along, as far as Dove Lake).

Options for how to get to the first include taking the R5, then the R1--or renting a college van;
for the second, renting the van; and for the third, walking.

What we will do might include activities, designed by each of us, in which each of us invite others to engage.
Or: just exploring.

Please post your preferences here--w/ a brief explanation of why.



hirakismail's picture

I like the latest idea Prof

I like the latest idea Prof Dalke mentioned in class today. Let's go to the park 10 minutes from here and find out about creek restoration! I think that's great :)

r.graham.barrett's picture

Field Trip Idea

Although we are steadily running out of time in the semster and its starting to become crunch time for both our class and everyone else, I still think we should go ahead and try and have this final fieldtrip. Not only does it serve a role of the same capacity that the individual walks had on each of us individually but it also lets us share the experience with the class. Doing so presents us the opportunity to get away from the static nature of class discussions that some of us have been complaining about. In its place, a trip like this lets our discussion become mobile and not restricted to one particular spot that we have examined thoroughly time and time again. The trip instead will bring us to a new environmental setting, the features of which will be new, thereby allowing us to evaluate the new surroundings with the same excitement we had in the beginning of the semester. I personally believe that if we do end up taking this trip (I vote yes) that it should be to Forbidden Drive.

Srucara's picture

Possible to Open up some new dates?

I am interested in going on a final field trip as a concluding aspect of our class - I feel as though it would serve as a communal, holistic gathering and we could each contribute a piece of our learnings to the event in the form of discussion, activities, etc. (It would be a wonderful, final, collaborative event of sorts). However, I am also open to rachelr's idea of focusing on the tools we already have in front of us for the remaining portion of the semester and using them to go exploring on our own for the rest of our lifetimes. But if we do decide to go on a field trip, is it possible we may open up a few other dates/possibilities?

rachelr's picture

Running out of time

At first I was really excited at the prospect of another field trip, however as our Wednesday class went on and on in circles I began to think that this is too much at this point. It feels like many people have very different and strong feelings about what this trip should be about, and while I think our conversation got us closer to a common idea, we're far from there. As I mentioned in my mid-semester evaluation, if I'm taking the time to read these texts then I want to take the time to talk about them. A field trip and cancelled class would cut off time spent doing this, when there is still just so much to talk about. 

The learning from this course doesn't end at the end of the semester. I think having these ideas for places to visit would give me a place to continue this learning outside of class, and that could be really beneficial. If you're interested in these things the lack of a scheduled field trip shouldn't stop your exploration. If we had more time left in the semester I could see making a field trip happen, but at this point I want to focus on sharpening the tools we already have in front of us. 

rachelr's picture

… but...

If the decision to have the field trip has been set in stone I would like to walk from Bryn Mawr along Mill Creek. I think it would be practical, as well as help us connect the botany and geology from our site of the campus with the area right around us. Plus, as I said in class, the ending with a group Therovian walk would be nice. 

ekthorp's picture


So I had totally no idea what Dove Lake was until eetong posted the above picture. Yesyesyes! I love this place, and have some really sentimental and wonderful memories there. I had been leaning toward visitng Mill Creek and Dove Lake anyway, and I would absolutely love for us as a class to go visit a very personal spot for me. I would also love for us all to individually come up with some activities to do, or maybe collectively designing some we can do as a class. Either way, I would love to incorporate this field trip into our final project in some way. I think that would be really fun.

froggies315's picture

I’m in favor of walking over

I’m in favor of walking over taking the train or driving (it takes less time, it costs less money, plus it’s better for the environment!)  My vote is for Mill Creek.  I’m also in favor of structuring this activity.  It is much easier for me to explore when I have the safety of structure.  The only static structure that I need for this wander is a definitive end time.  It’s probably also important for us to have some food for snacking on, some water for drinking, and some semblance of a first aid kit.  Given that it will be December and that we’ll be near water, we should also each wear warm things that aren’t cotton and shoes which are waterproof.  As far as I’m concerned, all the other structures can be dynamic.  

My suggestion for dynamic structure is a model called Natural Cycles/8 Shields.  It is resilient, redundant, and hokey--all good things.  It’s based off of a compass rose; each direction has a different kind of energy.

Northeast: End and Beginning
East: Excitement and Inspiration
Southeast: Orientation and motivation
South: Focus and perspiration
Southwest: Relaxation and Internalization
West: Harvest and celebration
Northwest: Reflection and Release
North: Distillation and Integration
Northeast: End and Beginning

If you’re interested, you can read more about this model here.  In addition, I have a book which I’m happy to share.

My idea is that we split into groups (maybe the groups we’re doing the freshman thing with?) and in our groups we choose the direction we’d like to be responsible for.  Then we plan to drive at the energy of our respective directions during the wander.  For example, the northeasts might be responsible for opening and closing the wander.  The easts can think of a couple of games that will get our blood pumping and teach us how to play them when we’re bored.  The southeasts can do some research and tell us stories about why water is important.  The souths can then help us to realize this on our own.  Not all of the directions need to have activities associated with them.  The southwests can make a snack for everyone and then when we’re tired/cold/complain-y tell us that it’s time for a break and feed us.  The wests can spend time reflecting before the wander and then during a break they can tell us how they have seen us contribute to the class/why we are awesome.  Get the gist?  The main idea is that all of the essential components of a meaningful experience are accounted for and that one group or person isn’t responsible for everything because this is exhausting and impossible. 

sarahj's picture

Third froggies315, Second eetong

I would like to visit either Mill Creek or Forbidden Drive.  I originally wanted to go to Forbidden Drive with an intense yearning because I have driven past it so many times and never been able to get out and explore it.  I like the mix of human and geological history that the Forbidden Path which is similar to here.  However, I visited Mill Creek this morning with the members of the EcoLit ESem and my partner and suddenly was in favor of the creek.  I like that there isn't a cleared path a long the stream and that it's close enough for me to touch it.

I third froggies315's motion about the activity becuase I think it adds a nice structure to the excursion and gives each of us the same responsibility as anyone else to come up with something to do.  It also reminds me of the Yellow Woman Stories we read earlier what with the emphasis on directions.  I second eetong's request for some alone time to explore. 

Mill Creek also makes me think of the classtime field trip I took during the Geology class I was in 3 years ago.  We went to explore the Creek, but the highlight of the trip was that a few students were able to put on those,ummm, fishermen overall pants?  I think they are called Waders, maybe? They also provided really tall fishermen boots so that we could enter the stream.  It's not very deep, but in some places (depending on rainfall) it can approach 3 feet.  Could we possibly contact someone in the Geology department and see if we could get a hold of some of these?


et502's picture

pants = awesome

let's do this. I'm not sure who to contact. but I support this plan. 

et502's picture

second this motion

I just realized - I think I went swimming at dove lake during summer 2010. We befriended a turtle. It was great. It wasn't the kind of "lake" I was expecting, but it reminded me of home, so I feel as though I already have a connection to this place. So yes, I'd definitely like to go again and see the changes in the past years/seasons. 

Here's a video of the lake that I found on Youtube.

Also - Aliza, I really like the division of these activities because it would also lend a sense of balance to the trip - with no direction being more or less important than another direction. However, I would also like some time to explore and write on my own, without having to stay involved in what the rest of the class is doing.