Class Project Ideas

August 30, 2015

A couple of ideas bouncing around in my brain for possible class projects:

  • Some sort of art or installation piece that intertwines nature and trash. I like the idea of nature warring with human waste, so maybe create warriors out of natural items (branches, leaves, etc.) and then “garbage” warriors? Or decorate some of the trees around campus with an infestation of trash for a week?
  • Conduct a survey of how many times people take out the trash a week, then create a mural with leaves or pebbles or something, each leaf or pebble representing one load or trash taken out. It might be neat to have nature representing how much trash we accumulate and toss out per week. Display the results by the JAY, with tables containing information on how to cut back on trash and be more waste-conscious.
  • Supersaurus, the longest dinosaur in existence, weighed around 40 tons and ate around 2 tons of food every day. If it was alive today, what would we have to do to keep ourselves and plant life alive as well? What would we have to change? Or would it be impossible for us and Supersaurus to live together?

Personal Introduction

August 30, 2015

Hello, my name is Zanna Wright (also known as that one kid who showed up an hour late to class, ha ha). I am a junior geology major, just because no school in the United States offers Paleontology as an undergraduate major. Sads. I plan on proceeding to graduate school to obtain my PhD in Paleontology, then I want to dig up dinosaur bones for the rest of my life! I love natural history museums and dinosaurs, so I want to work with those when I blossom into the adult world and become a self-sufficient individual with a career.

This is me in Wyoming with my friend, Velma the Velociraptor. We purchased her to celebrate the Wyoming Dinosaur Center's 20th Anniversary. Successfully frightened the pants off seven children.

This is me in Wyoming with my friend, Velma the Velociraptor. We purchased her to celebrate the Wyoming Dinosaur Center’s 20th Anniversary. Successfully frightened the pants off seven children.

Fun facts about me!

  • I was adopted from China when I was 8 months old! I asked my parents if this means that Donald Trump could deport me if he became President, but they told me that I’ve been naturalized, so he can’t. Phew.
  • I. LOVE. CATS. I’m also allergic to them, so that makes for an awkward relationship.
  • I don’t grow armpit hair. I just don’t. It’s extremely convenient.
  • I was originally planning to be an English major! Finding geology was just a stroke of luck; I took GEOL 110 to fulfill a distribution requirement and I loved it.

I am eager to take this class, and am looking forward to this semester! I am excited to hear some new opinions, learn some new things, and be challenged in new ways. One of the best things OWU has done for me has been to change some of my ingrained stereotypes and make me more open to others’ opinions and ways of life, and I want that to keep happening!

Capitalizing on “Clean Eating”- Public Consciousness Concerning GMOs and the “Health Halo”

August 30, 2015

In early 2015 Chipotle, the “health” inspired burrito based fast food chain, decided to go one step further than any other “healthy” alternative restaurant before them: Chipotle decided to remove GMO products from their menu. And while the move is applauded by many, it is not only for the environmental or health impacts, but for the excellent marketing and business maneuver by Chipotle. By casting itself as a healthful alternative (or perhaps the least terrible for you alternative), Chipotle has begun to capitalize on the “health halo” effect: the often inaccurate perception of health in a product. This “health halo” is now expanded with the removal of GMO products from their menu. The health conscience eater is now joined by the environmentally concerned in a giant burrito-eating frenzy to trump the ages.

This is a hamster eating a very tiny burrito. He is a very health conscience and environmentally concerned eater.

This is a hamster eating a very tiny burrito. He is a very health conscience and environmentally concerned eater.

The unique branding of Chipotle as the health conscience and environmental impact conscience company has interesting implications for food production and health in the United States. It shows the shift in cultural values in sections of a populace who can afford the inflated prices of “organic” and “non-GMO”. How much this is an actually ideological shift on Chipotle’s part or just a brilliant move to capitalize on a group of middle to upper class educated and conscientious Americans is not yet known.

Check out a discussion on this issue via NPR here.

Hi, I’m Hayden

August 30, 2015

Hello fellow geographers! I am excited to be taking class with you all this semester. I’m Hayden Knisley and I am a Junior this year at Ohio Wesleyan. I am a member of the Chi Phi Fraternity here on campus and am studying Geography and English. Overall I have tended to lean toward the more “human” side of the Geography discipline (I am especially interested in Economic and Social Geography). I hope this course allows me to have a greater look at the “pristine myth” and the human/nature dualism we touched on in class on Wednesday.

Following the trail blazed by those who have posted before me, I will also give you a listing of interesting facts about myself:

  • I enjoy avocados.
  • I cooked dinner for my family nearly every night this summer.
  • My home town has a population hovering around 1000 people.
  • My middle name is Hayden.

List is done. I am certain class will showcase more about all of us and I look forward to this semester with you all.

Here is a cow. I hate cows. Ask me why sometime.

Thoughts on “The Meadowlands”

August 29, 2015

What first caught my attention was Sullivan’s use of comparisons that joined together the “man/nature” binary. Phrases like “wild industrial” and “a hydrological kidney” hinted at his feelings towards the Meadowlands. A snippet of a paragraph on page 82 beautifully exhibited this: “We saw more carp, more mudflats coverd ith sandpipers, and the frozen-in-time remains of a snapping turtle that appeared to have been decapitated by a train just as it had crawled up out of the marsh. We also saw a Thermos, three unopened cans of Pepsi, a beach chair sitting on another island, and a Seven Seas Red WIne Vinegar salad dressing spill.” Then at the bottom of page 18, I really felt Sullivan’s love for the swamps when I read “the smell of lemon-scented Joy dishwashing detergent that emenates from somewhere under the Newark Bay Bridge that was once covered with acres and acres of soft green salt marsh grass and now is covered with acres and acres of sun-sparkled, newly imported cars, or the crisp, stark scent of Titanium White oil paint that arises from the western end of the Pulaski Skyway.” His description of the junk dumped in the Meadowlands is pretty, with no trace of hatred of or sadness for the state of the swamp.

I also noticed many bits that reminded me of our discussion in class. Sullivan marvels that “in the middle of the Meadowlands there are acres and acres of land where there aren’t any people at all.” (18) This reminded me of the common theme of seclusion in many of the definitions of wilderness that we read. I recalled our talk of danger in the wild when “in 1956 a man set out in the fall to walk across the meadows that are now paved concrete from Elizabeth to Newark and that he didn’t show up until the next spring, when his body was found in the creek.” (18) There are actually many accounts all through the book that remind me of danger in the wilderness… When Sullivan moved away from New York he “would walk into the woods outside the city where [he] ended up living and see beautiful trees and huge mountains topped with spectacular glaciers that altogether only made [him] miss the world’s greatest industrial swamp,” (31) This along with Bill Sheenan’s thought “I’d love some land out there (the Meadowlands). You know? I’d preserve it.” (192), remind me of our questions of what wilderness is. Sullivan experienced what most people typically think of as beautiful wilderness, but still preferred the swamps. Bill spent so much time in the Meadowlands that he came to cherish them. Maybe even blue limestone can be considered beautiful wilderness if we spend time there and connect with the park?

Also, I’m not sure if I’m supposed to strictly discuss environmental topics in the book, but I just want to bring up how unbelievable the characters scattered throughout the chapters are. The inventor Seth Boyden in the chapter “An Achievment of the Future” is incredibly colorful. I laughed a little too much when I read that he became obsessed with growing strawberries at the end of his life and grew a fifteen pound strawberry. I also laughed too much (thanks to the dark side of my humor) when Sullivan wrote of Henry Herbert who, when he “threw himself a party to cheer himself up and no one came, Herbert killed himself.” (48) I felt very sad for Henry, but the bluntness of Sullivan’s writing caused me to laugh. Sorry.
Tony Malanka, the owner of one of the Meadowlands dumps that is trying to sell it, seemed entirely normal, until the end of the chapter when he turned out to be an ass, saying to the waiter about the sausage he was served “Well, let me tell you something. If my wife served me this, first of all, I wouldn’t eat it. But if my wife gave me that sausage, let me tell you something, I’d divorce her. Do you hear me? I’d divorce her!”(106) Then there is John B. Smith, America’s first great mosquito warrior, and the person in charge of executing his dream of nation-wide mosquito control, Leonard Soccio.

Commence the discussion!

All About Aletta

August 27, 2015

Yeah, I know I just posted about the butterflies. But why not introduce myself since I’m already here? As you can see, my name is Aletta. This is my third year at OWU, I live in tree house, am a botany and environmental studies double major, and my current dream is to grow food in Cuba for a few years (if you ever want to know more about their agricultural system just come to me–I am inclined to extol their amazing practices for hours). I don’t want to form any more complete sentences, so enjoy these fun facts in list form:

  • Tree House is one of my favorite places on earth
  • I have a bit of a green thumb and aim to crowd my room with plants
  • I have a goldfish named Chandler who I won at a fair two weeks before I began my freshman year
  • My armpit hair is really long because it makes me feel beautiful
  • I haven’t shopped anywhere except second-hand stores for a year
  • I only eat ethically raised meat
  • The last book I read for fun was “Heart of Darkness” (I’m currently halfway through “Anna Karenina”)
  • My feet are almost always cold, so I have an impressive collection of fuzzy socks


Environmental News- 08/27/15

August 27, 2015

The monarch butterfly population is estimated to have dropped by 95% since the 1990s.  The David Suzuki Foundation has created this Monarch Manifesto to encourage people in the northeastern U.S. and southern Canada to plant butterfly gardens to help monarch butterflies thrive once again! Final project, anyone?