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Towards Day 15 (Wed, Oct 31): Ecological <-> Multicultural?

Anne Dalke's picture

froggies315: awesome wind map

The Weather Channel, 6:30 Oct. 29-->"once again: we are all together in this world of weather…"

weather prediction:
47 degrees, 8 mph winds, 40% chance of rain
--we'll meet in the classroom (mturer's choice for Monday)

I. On Reading the Hurricane
we are trying to comfort ourselves by turning the storms into something campy, familiar, and non-threatening…Giving something a gendered name to familiarize us with something we don't understand and to potentially decrease the feeling of a threat is unsettling….Are we not scared enough of the idea of a storm this size? Are we too scared? Is it okay to comfort ourselves by humanizing storms or is that wrong or dangerous to us? I don't know.

I also find the tendency to ascribe a gender to a storm system to be problematic.

Adrienne Rich's "Storm Warnings": "I draw the curtains.../Against ...the insistent whine/Of weather..."

Anne on the depleted oyster beds....

II. coursekeeping/juggling
on Mon, we'll continue our discussion of ecofeminism (and economics!) by discussing the four essays by Winona LaDuke, as well as the preface and two chapters of Marilyn Waring's 2004 book, Counting for Nothing: What Men Value and What Women are Worth --these will make an interesting pairing

(our botanical exploration of Morris Woods has been postponed til next Wednesday)

this Friday @ 5, your second (6 pp.) web event is due--> a revision/expansion of your first one, using some new keywords and alternative grammatical forms to re-locate your experiences in either (or both!) a larger time and space. What was this place like before we got here?  How does an expanded sense of time, space and/or companions alter your understanding, and your articulation, of your earlier experiences? Alternatively (in response to Berry) you might consider how might the bi-co could revise its curriculum to reflect the need for ecological literacy.....this is not a "wander," but an analytical paper, one that makes a claim and backs! it! up!

on Sunday, your most recent description of your site sit is also due...
some notes from last week (long ago)...
eetong: wants to interact with her site: "What would a radical environmentalism look like?"
hira: finally walked past the fence to see the pond up close.
graham: my expectations left me surprised at what I actually did observe……
forgetting that one of the key attributes of nature is random and thus unpredictable
Nan wrote a "doubletake": she saw "a lioness right there in my garden," and
then "a small boy, hitting her with a club" ….and asked, "what would you do?"
smacholdt reported that "they MOWED my spot. Mowed it!
All the wildflowers are shorn to the ground. Devastation!"
ekthorp visited the pond @ sunrise, hoping for "something magnanimously new,"
and getting "nothing" that she expected.
rachelr collected leaves: "Most adventurous site sit. Didn't stay in one place.
Trees around me aren't very diverse..."
mturer: someone has to come along later and tell us to really look [at a cloud/tree/leaf/ocean] and that everything we learned is wrong.

what emphatically did NOT work this past week was using Serendip to continue
talking w/ one another outside of class...we'd decided to try something a little more interactive/ go!
graham suggested conversations about how the topics/ readings overlap with one another
(ex: Pollan and Carson on weeds)--to broaden the scope
hira picked up on that (White's cf'ing male/female labor--> ecofeminism)
froggies315 would like our experience in this class to focus on learning how to read text
we'll do some of that today, and also
pick up that weekly on-line initiative again once this next set of papers is in...

Sometime before 5 p.m. on Sun, Nov. 18 -->
you need to plan a get together, outside of scheduled class time, w/ several members of the Balch Seminar on "Ecological Imaginings." They will be prepared to lead you on a geological tour of the campus; and you should be prepared to share with them what you (will by then!) have learned in our botanical exploration. Plan to spend about 2 hours together: 1/2 an hour sharing w/ one another what's been most useful/interesting to you in our journey so far, then 45 minutes w/ them leading you on a geological exploration, 45 minutes w/ you leading them on a botanical one. Describe this experience on-line.  

In order to make this happen,
I'd like you to self-organize into 6 pairs (if Nan doesn't want to do this, then we'll organize into 5 groups: 4 pairs and 1 threesome); no 2 bio majors should be together. I'll pass around a sheet now so you can identify your pairings.

I also want to follow up on your desire for another field trip or two: Sarah, I want to consult w/ you about movement; mturer, about re-locating ourselves on a nearby body of water; and graham, about a jaunt further afield...can't do this on my own!

III. Last Wednesday we began discussing the intersection of feminism w/ environmentalism...

ekthorp was so excited to see how enraptured we became in our discussion of eco-feminism that she shared a poem by H.D. about overturning systems of patriarchal oppression

smacholdt felt frustrated through much of the class: "I felt that feminism and environmentalism were very separate. I’ve always had trouble with both ideas, maybe just because they’re so expansive. I think that 'environmental justice' is a clearer descriptor than 'eco-feminism.'"

w/ the move from ecolinguistics to ecofeminism,
we are moving into the realm of environmental justice
we are also moving from first- to second-wave environmental criticism

the main difference (contra "anthropocentrism," smacholdt!)
is that the ecocritic is not individuated or extricated from social institutions

ecotheory evolving toward increasing acknowledgement of ecocultural complexity,
after initial too narrow focus; evolving varieties of ecofeminism has been one catalyst
for this movement (and I thought might give us an interesting way in);
second-wave ecocriticism/social ecocriticism questions organicist models of nature,
notes that natural and built environments have long since been "all mixed up,"
and takes urban, degraded landscapes seriously;
if the older "praise-song school" saw landscapes as scenes for reconciliation;
this more recent one thinks inclusively of environmentality as a property of any text

in that context, Rachel Carson is something of a "hinge," a (proto) eco-feminist....
and what about the female milk producers Bruce Gill described?
where they liberal or radical feminists? ecologists?

I also meant to mention that the dairy operation c. 1908-1929 was operated for the family by a woman - Mary Vaux.  It was in fact quite common for women to operate successful commercial enterprises such as this--- examples of eco-feminism?   The operations were very much a nurturing endeavor and a responsible relationship with or the use of "resources"  ... very much a reaction or response to  a growing and impure factory food supply (sound familiar?).... It wasn't just the meat packing industry - it was nearly the entire urban food supply including the dairy industry -- and the effects of impure or adulterated dairy products were even more immediate.  The major urban fluid milk suppliers in the second half of the 19th century weren't the pastoral bucolic farms of our dreams; rather, they were the urban breweries and malt houses with thousands of gallons of malt waste to dispose. Cattle ate it in places which would make the worst slums look good, and the maltsters made a second profit! Growing reactions to practices such as this, coupled with the growing acceptance of the work of Louis Pasteur, sanitary fairs, the development of the "milk jar" or bottle, the temperance movement (believe it or not!), and dying babies (back to your grieving mothers),  led the way to a response of purity which resulted in a hearty dairy industry in SE PA in our case (pure white fat-rich milk), and white eggs instead of brown, white doctor's smocks, cute white nurses caps for more than half a century, white barber's aprons, white butcher's aprons etc etc etc. The distaff side played a major role in all of this by way of acceptance perhaps as much as demand.  In dairy alone, I can think of four examples of women running the operations within 2000 feet of Bryn Mawr College alone, and off the top of my head a major woman breeder nearby in New Jersey.

III. let's continue our discussion of "social environmentalism"-->
ecological concerns that are racially and culturally inflected

you'll see on sheets around the room excerpts from
Jamaica Kincaid's "Alien Soil,"
Evelyn White's "Black Women and the Wilderness,"
Anthony and Soule's "Multicultural Approach to Ecopsychology,"
and The Winona LaDuke Reader...
let's see which of these intrigues you most,
by asking you to comment on as many as you'd like,
responding to the prompts you see there...

in structuring the discussion this way, i've been mindful of a suggestion by sara.gladwin:
I’ve been feeling very rushed, like maybe part of what we need to do to evaluate our course is not actually talking but more silence, such as more pauses between what we say to really reflect on what we are talking about…. I end up feeling like I either missed some crucial nuance about the way someone was stating something or feeling as though there was no room during the class to address some things I felt particularly poignant in a reading....I really wanted to know more about Graham’s opinion of our ecofeminist reading….there was no point during the discussion that I could interject this as relevant- too often I felt like we were set in a particular track or focus that would not appreciate the interruption of divergent thinking….I think using silence could actually be an interesting tool for uncovering and clarifying the connections between readings and personal experiences.

"Alien Soil":
the character of the English people...leads them to obsessively order and shape their landscape

gardens in which only flowers were grown made it apparent that they
had some money...outside space was sheer beauty

What did the botanical life of Antigua consist of at the time...Christopher Columbus first saw it? To see
a garden in Antigua now will not supply a clue....Antigua is also empty of much wildlife natural to it....

there is a relationship between gardening and wealth...the people of Antigua have a relationship
to agriculture that does not please them at all...they (we) were brought to this island from Africa...
for the free labor they could provide in the fields....a wretched historical relationship to growing things

contrasting lawns and massed ornamental beds are a sign...that someone...has been humbled

...what if the people living in the tropics...are contented with their surroundings, are happy to observe
an invisible hand at work...what if these people are not spiritually feverish, restless, and full of envy?

"Black Women and the Wilderness":
I didn't want to get closer. I was certain that if I ventured outside...
I'd be taunted, attacked, raped, maybe even murdered.

I believe the fear I experience in the outdoors is shared by many African-
American women and that it limits the way we move through the world...

I imagine myself in the country as my forebears were--exposed,
vulnerable, and unprotected--a target of cruelty and hate.

"Never be the only one, except, possibly, in your own house."

I could no longer reconcile my silence with my mandate to my students to face their
fears....I have taken wilderness an effort to find peace in the outdoors.

Anthony and Soule, "Multicultural Approach to Ecopsychology":
Given the public invisiblity and harness of their rural experiences, it is not surprising
that African Americans may have a different feeling about the land than privileged
people of European heritage. The depth of humiliation, the feeling of outrage...
lead to a feeling of detachment and avoidance of emotional engagement with rural life
....a psychological perspective that needs to be included in an enduring conservation ethic.

our response to urban realities is not divorced from our ancient fear of wild territories...the inner city
[can be seen as] a wilderness...fear comes from the lethal combination of being caught in darkness in
an unfamiliar world... How much...emotional reaction is an unconscious fear of retribution and guilt for
... the prodigious waste of abandoned sections of the city?

There is also the painful reminder that these are displaced people. They do not own their land, nor are they flourishing in this desolate urban habitat...urban populations by definition are people who cannot feed themselves.

The lessons of both social justice and ecopsychology are simple and the same. They involve living in connection...cities clearly teach us about interdependence....Ecology can be seen as a way of life...its range of relationships includes everyone....feeling more firmly rooted in one's sense of self...holding an ongoing intention to 'stand corrected' without being subsumed....Everybody's story is vital to the integrity of the whole....

Monoculture is...deadly...inclusivity is risky, but ...exiciting.

The Winona LaDuke Reader:
Trad'l Eco Knowledge and Env'l Futures
2 tenets essential to traditional ecological knowledge:
cyclical thinking and reciprocal relations/responsibilities
"take only what you need and leave the rest"
implicit: continuous inhabitation of place, and the need
to maintain a balanced relation between humans and ecosystem
"development" must be decentralized, self-reliant and closely based on carrying capacity of ecosystem
trad'l management based on consensual understanding and collective process
holocaust of America: intentional/unintentional genocide-->colonialism
forced underdeveloment of sustainable indigenous economic systems
["usufruct rights" =rights of enjoyment/ "use of the fruits" w/out ownership]
subsistence lifestyles invisible to economic analysis [see Marilyn Waring, upcoming]
conflict between paradigms of industrial and indigenous thinking:
development practices a war on subsistence

Who Owns America?
we belong to the land, in a collective relationship--
different from European concept of land ownership
land tenure pattern originated with church, handmaiden to colonialism
aboriginal title not on same par as legal private property
who has the right to name? (Christian process offensive:
aggrandize those who committed crimes against humanity)
direct relation between development of US and underdevelopment of Native America
most Presidents, Vic Presidents were land speculators, in the arena of the thief
"corporate welfare": support for exploitation
intergenerational dysfunctional relationship won't go away
compensation as payment: title 'cleared' by reparations in the court of
the thief, w/ thieves setting the price they will pay for what they stole
issues of justice and survival

Honor the Earth
Ojibwe is a language of verbs, for people of action
our people almost entirely disappeared in the Holocaust of America
core of belief: that we have choices/responsibility...and face consequences
cf. trading pollution credits, radiation standards, risk assessment
w/ the highest law: natural law
known via intergenerational residency and spiritual knowledge
cf. this cyclical approach w/ the linear world view/waste production
of technological advancement and economic growth
cf. also belief that most things are animate, have standing and spirit
forest w/ trees vs. "timber resources"; beneficial use of water vs. allocation of water rights;
corn vs. "agricultural products"--moved from animate to inanimate;
important to recover the language
last teaching: reciprocity
cf. unsustainable American practices of conquest, frontier, movement,
all causing extinction: the predator worldview

Seventh Generation Amendment
American public policy reflects short-term interests, pilfering that which is collectively ours
all of us carrying a "body burden of dioxin," whic bioaccumulates up the food chain
environmental laws are outstripped by poisons
need a seventh generation amendment, distinguishing
between (and defending both) private and common property
consider the impact of current decisions on the seventh generation from now:
"the right of citizens to use renewable resources shall
not impair their availability for future generations...."