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Some leads/threads/possibilities for posting on Sunday...

Anne Dalke's picture

Consider some possibilities for a (water-y!) field trip:
Mill Creek (see map, above, of BMC physiography, from the BMC Campus Heritage Preservation Initiative)
Dove Lake
Pennypack Park and Environmental Center (named after the Lenape word for deep, slow moving water)
John Heinz National Wildlife Refuge @ Tinicum (established to protect the last 200 acres of freshwater tidal marsh in Pennsylvania; from Lenape word "tennicunk" meaning "island" or "along the edge of the island")
Fairmount Water Works Interpretive Center, which tells the story of the Schuylkill River and the urban watershed; the Lenape called it Ganshohawanee, meaning "rushing and roaring waters," or "Manaiunk"; it was later given the Dutch name Schuylkill-- "hideout creek"? "hidden river?" referencing the river's (nearly hidden) confluence with the Delaware?

Why would we go on a field trip? What are we seeking to find/see/learn?

Also consider: what shall we do about the class scheduled for Wednesday before Thanksgiving? Since some of us will not be here, and several of us would prefer not to thought--> you read all of the Terry Tempest Williams' book for that Monday's class, when we discuss it; then we have an on-line discussion on Tues-Wed-Sun, each of you re-directing the 1 1/2 hours of class time into writing about/responding to others' writing about the text...?

You are also of course welcome to explore the readings further,  to play out something you/we didn't get to talk about  fully in class...



r.graham.barrett's picture

Next Wednesday

I personally think that for class next Wednesday (right before Thanksgiving) we should still have a class. I know that a fair amount of people won't be there but I think for the people that are still here meeting face to face and allows for a quicker and less distant conversation. Anything we come up with in the class conversation can be shared online so that anyone who missed class can still contribute to the discussion

sara.gladwin's picture

class next wednesday

I think I'd rather still have class as well, I'm afraid I won't be as responsive or participatory if we are only having the discussion online. I feel like it would be easier to come to class and then post about what we talked about online.

et502's picture

divide and conquer

Is there a possibility that we could explore all these sites separately? - could we send delagates to each site and have them report back to the group? we could present our findings through the final teach in -

sara.gladwin's picture

I like this

but I also still would like to have class together in a place, and be able to experience having our class in another environment as well as exploring separately and teaching each other.

ekthorp's picture

Ideas for the future

I would be really interested in visiting the Fairmount Water Works Interpretive Center. I'm really interested in how water transforms from wild and vicious to tame and drinkable. The evaluation of the chemicals in our loclal water systems that Smacholdt's contributed surprised and intrigued me. It made me contemplate exactly how the water we drink differs from its naturals forms and states of water in original sources like rivers and lakes. It all seems polluted, but there's a difference between the types of dirty we're willing to go along with. I think this contrast would be most visible and interesting in tandem with a visit to a natural water source, like a creek, river, or Dove Lake. I think the comparison between the two types of water helps us see what is essential about water that we need so much of. I think the challange is managing both of htose options, given our limited timeline.

I appreciate Hira's sentiments to stay in class on Wednesday, but I absolutely understand the desire to go home early. Maybe we can compromise by cutting class a little short, or having those who are in class take abbreviated course notes, and everyone pass thier version on line for those who were not in class can read and comment on it. Hopefully we can form a collective collage version of a classroom so those not in class can still benefit from  a kind of discussion. 

r.graham.barrett's picture

Field Trip to Fairmount Water Works Interpretive Center

Despite having volunteered for Pennypack Park and knowing from personal experience that it does have alot to offer the class, I feel that the class field trip  should be at the Fairmount Water Works Interpretive Center. I believe that we should do so in most part because it will give us a better sense of the history of the Delaware watershed in the Philadelphia area as well as a chance to learn more about the process in which natural water sources are used for human purpose.

Through growing up close to the city, I know that Philadelphia exists in a geographical area that traditionally had a lot more above ground streams and creeks that it currently does. Over the course of the city's history though development and industrialization led the city to cover the creeks or divert them underground so as to build on top of them, efectively changing the geography of the city. It would be interesting to learn more about this process and the implications it has environmentally on the area and it would give the class the chance to examine and the discuss the idea of bending the water systems of the natural environment to best suit human convenience. Likewise visiting the Fairmount Waterworks also provides a chance to examine the various procedures and applications of the Philadelphia waterworks. Although diagrams of urban waterworks are widely available and most education systems cover the water work operations at some point, I've always felt as though there was a large amount of disconnect between natural water systems and the water we use during our daily household use. Acquiring more details about how specifically water from the local watershed is collected, treated, and made available for local use by the local populance would contribute significantly in removing the feeling of disconnect that exists between the water we use and the water available in nature.

sara.gladwin's picture


I think the historical aspect of this is really appealing, and being able to learn about the ways in which land has changed over the years in relationship to the time.

hirakismail's picture

Field Trip

I think the John Heinz National Wildlife Refuge @ Tinicum is the most appealing option for a field trip. I think most of us have probably walked in parks or lakes or museums, but maybe we haven't all seen a wildlife refuge? I'd be interested in seeing the similarities and the differences amongst them. What makes one place a park and another a refuge? Does a refuge mean less human movement within a natural landscape? Is this again another way of separating "nature" and people? What are the pros and cons of a wildlife refuge? I also find the title of the place to be interesting, because the marsh is being included in the description of "wildlife;" it seems to me that the water is being treated as part of that life; the living things there.

As for Wednesday class, I would prefer to just meet in person, as we regularly do. I just think that trying to meet online would complicate things, and since we are already trying to make up for our lost class due to Sandy by doing the ESEM partner projects, purposefully rescheduling this Wednesday class before Thanksgiving seems like we're just making it harder on ourselves. I think those who need to/really want to leave should do so and make up for it by doing an extra analytical posting on Serendip, and the rest of us just meet in class and have that analytical discussion face to face. Serendip has its benefits, but class in person is different and I appreciate the merits of that.


Srucara's picture

Taking a Field Trip

Looking through the various sites posted, I too agree that a location of a body of water would add an additional dimension to our ecological imaginings experience. I especially like the John Heinz National Wildlife at Tinicum site for a possible field trip and looking through the website, I found the following:

"The refuge was established by an act of Congress in 1972 to protect the largest remaining freshwater tidal marsh in Pennsylvania; approximately 200 acres.The refuge has five varied habitats: freshwater tidal marsh, impounded water, woods, meadow and field. The diversity of such habitats in such a concentrated area make it a natural magnet for all forms of wildlife."

I think this particular site has many points of discussion, exploration, and insight to offer such as - what is the government's role in protecting our environment (as an act of congress in 1972 has played a great role in the protection of this sensitive freshwater habitat). This site also offers insight into diversity of environment and its effects on life forms and a direct, first-hand experience of a sensitive/endangered environment needing protection. I feel these are tremendously enriching avenues to base our continued learning upon. The diversity in habitats sequestered in one region as well as the richness in species of an array of different types of plants and animals (birds, reptiles, frogs, foxes, fish, turtles, and wildflowers)  will serve to contribute an added dimension of interaction and observation of living forms beyond a few daddy long legs.

Smacholdt's picture

Water and Class

I agree that we should focus on water for our field trip. It would take us outside of our familiar environments, since Bryn Mawr’s campus does not have many large, non-manmade bodies of water. It might also serve as a positive reminder of just how dependent we are on water. We need it to grow food crops, we need it to shower, and we use it for transportation. Not only that, a human being can live for an entire month without food, but only 3 days without water, as it comprises about 65% of the human body. 65 percent! Not only are we dependent on water to grow our food, we are more than half composed of this resource.

I was also thinking about “civilization’s” dependence on water, and the fact that it is no accident that most of the world’s major cities are built on waterways. The city of Philadelphia sits between the Delaware and the Schuylkill Rivers, from which it derives some of its usable water.

This made me wonder about our drinking water on the mainline. I ran across this page: One thing that really jumped out at me is that significantly more chemicals have been detected in our drinking water than in the national average. This is probably because we are in such as populated area.

I think it’s important to know where the drinking water in our area (well Philly’s area, anyway) comes from, so I think that it would be a cool experience to visit the Fairmount Water Works Center. Maybe this would help us gain more respect for our water system.

On another note, I support having class before Thanksgiving. I worry that having a completely online discussion might get a little scattered. And I think that the face-to face nature of class discussions is valuable. 

mturer's picture

field trip reasons

I think visiting a body of water would expand our view of the environment we live in and potentially positively affect the context in which we speak about it. When I brought up this idea, I was thinking less about history and conservation, but more about what our understanding of "water" is. Lakes, creeks, and rivers aren't just another resource in the greater ecosystem they are a part of, they are entire ecosystems in themselves. Animals and plants live inside of them and they have diverse, complex ecology. The idea that water is more than just its name expands my view of things like ecological history and conservation, because most conversations about ecological history and conservation as they regard to water usually discuss the importance of available water to humans and ignores the many species of plants and animals that live inside of it and depend on its existence as much as if not more than we and other land animals do. 

Our field trip wouldn't neccesarily have to be to a body of water, but I think we should definitely examine our environment outside of the boundaries of what are available to us here, and water is a very good way of doing that. We can't access something like a tropical climate, tundra, or desert, but we can at least try to access water. The temperature might limit our experience, but so far the weather has had frequent periods of warmth (like today!) so maybe we will be able to catch another one of these for this experiment. If not, I think we should at least try to do this or another similar field trip anyway, but we might have to adapt it to the needs of individuals in our class

froggies315's picture

thoughts on water

I like water.  It’s fun to play with/in and we need it.  Some water is more important to me than other water.  I’ve spent time getting to know specific rivers, streams, and lakes, and these are the rivers, streams, and lakes which I care for.  This is self centered.  It is also inevitable; we care most for the things we know.  Before I can listen meaningfully to someone talk about the history/importance of some body of water, I need to have relationship with the water.  If I’m being honest, I don’t care in any deep way for the water sources that are listed above.  I know that they are important, but doubt my life would change if they were obliterated tomorrow.  This is the crux of our ecological crisis.  The only solution I have to offer is that we should devote all of our time to building relationships.

The best way to build relationships is to give them time.  This is how I relate to/spend time with water: I like to sit and watch it flow; I like to skip smooth stones; I like to search for bugs in the sand; I like to splash; I like to swim; I like to feel the muck between my toes; I like to catch salamanders, and I need to drink it.  The issue with doing most of these things at the end of November or the beginning of December is that it is cold.  Probably too cold to relate to the water in way this is also safe.  

I  don’t want to listen to someone talk about why water is important and how humans are polluting it because I already know that water is important and that my actions pollute it.  I would find value in going to water with the goal of starting to build a relationship with it, but I’m concerned that this wouldn’t be safe.  

rachelr's picture

I had a farm...

The idea of discussing all of Terry Tempest Williams' book for Monday and then gathering online over the extended weekend is most appealing to me for the Thanksgiving alternative. 

Out of Africa is mentioned in the book, and if you haven't seen the movie I highly suggest you watch it. I'm planning on watching it over the break and working it into my weekend Serendip time. If anyone else is thinking about watching it, I'll be here to chat! Its basically full of breathtaking, aerial video of the African landscape and deals with issues such as gender roles, respect for those native to the area, and working the earth there for things that it wasn't meant to produce. Plus Meryl Streep is just awesome. 

"If I know a song of Africa, of the giraffe and the African new moon lying on her back, of the plows in the fields and the sweaty faces of the coffee pickers, does Africa know a song of me? Will the air over the plain quiver with a color that I have had on, or the children invent a game in which my name is, or the full moon throw a shadow over the gravel of the drive that was like me, or will the eagles of the Ngong Hills look out for me?"

et502's picture

in favor of online discussion, but with structure

I am also in favor of online discussion, but I think it would be more useful to do so in small groups, if possible. found it very difficult and overwhelming to try to respond to this thread - for one thing, if I get to a thread much later than everyone else has, other people have said what I want to say, and I'm not sure how to demonstrate that I'm "listening" and thus "participating." Anyway, I'm feeling more skeptical about how we could really have a strong discussion online that invites equal access and participation.

Ideas on structure: we could divide into 3 groups based on topics, and start threads for each of those groups. (ex: one of the groups could look at "Out of Africa," and the other two could come up with their own topics/questions). Once everyone has contributed to/read their group's thread, we could each select a sentence or two from the discussion (whether from our own statements, or those of group members), and post that to a final thread or gdoc that the entire class contributes to. 

Another thought - I think we should try to schedule this, in some way. So maybe we could divide into groups based on who can meet on Tuesday, Wednesday, or Sunday...