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Where and Who I'm From

Elizabeth's picture

Today in class, we began by writing about how our families and their relationships to the earth have shaped us and our relationships with nature. I'm overly fond of my family history, so this was a really fun exercise for me. I started out by going on and on about a lot of different family members, but after writing in class, I realized that my mom has actually been the biggest influence on my relationship with nature. Having moved around a lot in the US, one of the constants has always been my mom. Of all of my family, her relationship to the earth has really shaped me the most. Don't get me wrong--my father and my mother have both instilled in me an appreciation of the beauty of nature. But the other aspects of my mom's relationship with nature, and her family's relationship with it, has molded my feelings the most.

My mom and her family are from Iowa. (I am as well, but I’ve also lived in Illinois and California.) While no one in recent memory has been a farmer in my family, there are farmers all over Iowa--they are friends, bosses, and clients. My mom still watches over corn prices like a hawk. Farmers are really important to Iowa, and I grew up having a lot of respect for them. One of the reasons my mom (and I) cares so much about corn prices is because they effect who gets to go to college and where they get to go. If farmers are able to sell their crops for a good price, they can afford to send their kids to college, and other community members can afford to send their kids to college. Basically, how well someone manipulates the land determines the education levels of their communities. It isn’t necessarily how well farmers exploit the land (though that is sometimes the case), but how well a farmer can convince Mother Nature to help produce some plants. Coming to college with that connection in mind, I’ve really enjoyed getting to learn about nature while I’ve been here, not just as a reason for matriculation.



Anne Dalke's picture

King Corn

Have you seen this movie? King Corn is a 2007 documentary film that spotlights the role of government subsidies in encouraging the current huge amount of corn being grown, shows how large industrial farms are pushing out family farms, and looks @ ways in which government decisions about what-and-how crops are grown are manipulated -- with all sorts of economic, environmental, or social ramifications.

Watch it and learn also about all the high fructose corn syrup in your food!

mtran's picture

the balance

I would also like to share the story that came to my mind in class today. My grandparents lived during the Vietnam War and from time to time I am told about the all the hardships and victories they had fighting against the enemies. Generations of Vietnamese people are proud of our ancestors’ strategies, many of which took the advantage of the unique and precarious terrains in our country. They also destroyed mountains to build road and make secret tunnels, etc. Nature was a great support to the national victory, which now allows the country to develop. As Vietnam is urbanizing and developing at a rapid rate, natural areas are being destroyed to make space for modern buildings, roads and factories. Our ancestors were and the next generations are negatively influencing the nature in order to grow and thrive. To balance between social and economic development and nature preservation is important, yet a really hard task.

Shengjia-Ashley's picture

Your post reminded me of two

Your post reminded me of two very distinct and subjective interpretation of Vietnam War from a patriotic American elementary school history teacher and my grandfather who helped to send anti-aircrafts from China to Vietnam during 1965-1970.

American history teacher claimed in class: Vietnam War boosted the morale and patriotism of Vietnamese. If the war happened in America and we [America] are the side with limited resources like Vietnam, we would also rise up and defeat any strong enemy that threatens our land. We withdrew from the war, because we recognized that people with patriotism in their hearts cannot be beaten.

My grandfather: With the great help from us [China], Vietnam defeated America. The anti-aircrafts I sent crashed U.S. containment.

But look at the war subjectively, it ended with no defeat and victory but a huge human cost in terms of fatalities and lands destroyed by bombs. How do people turn something so tragic to stories of national victory?

mtran's picture

Unfair to say we turn tragic stories to national victory!

Because when we talk about national victory, we mean political victory - we win the freedom and liberty that belong to us and get the control of the the land within our border that is our right. And yes the war tells a tragic story in terms of human and nature cost, but as the teacher has said, which country would not rise up and defeat any enemy that threatens its land? The key, I think, is to prevent violent war by negotiations, to make peace with each other so that we all can live in harmony with nature. (And yes, history shows that, Vietnamese people did try negotiating and even retreated at some point but the US refused to stop war, to stop destroying nature with its bombs!)