Hi, my name is Flannery and I am a junior majoring in studio art and environmental science. I’m from Columbus, Ohio, and I like living in the city just as much as I love nature. Since I was a toddler I’ve always appreciated the aesthetics of the things around me and tried to reflect them with my own art. The future of the planet is incredibly important to me and I make my best efforts to live sustainably, while also spreading awareness of the environmental issues that we have less individual control over. Living in Tree House the past two years has been a big help with this and has taught me a lot more.
Reading both The Meadowlands and Cronon’s paper at the same time was interesting, because they connect in several ways. What I noticed was that Cronon criticizes the puritanical, capitalistic view people have of wilderness and begins to bring up alternative ways of looking at it, Sullivan really delves into this alternative, and discusses a way to experience wilderness that focuses less on the sublime and purely recreational, but more on the exploratory aspect. Cronon begins to talk about appreciating the wilderness that isn’t natural parks, but rather the human-influenced and even cultivated nature in our own backyards. He talks about how going out into nature became a thing for the bourgeoisie, for people who are disconnected from it in their daily lives and benefit from the system that is actually damaging the “sublime” wilderness. I also liked his quotes from early wilderness explorers, who viewed wilderness as frightening, something not made for human eyes and feet. This is exactly how I feel in pristine wilderness, and it made me think about the way I relate to nature. The “backyard” wilderness, or the Meadowlands, are the kinds of nature I find comforting, because I feel more connected to it. These places have a human aspect that Cronon makes an effort to show is part of wilderness, because before civilization, we were part of it. I’m also really glad he discussed native Americans and indigenous people who live in what we want to be humanless, pristine wilderness, because these people are a part of the ecosystem and biodiversity of the places they live, and they show how human lives can never truly be seperated from nature.
Something I really appreciated about The Meadowlands was that it described a kind of place that, as I mentioned, comforts me. It reminds me of some of my favorite places in Columbus and Delaware. I’m a big fan of walking along train tracks, because trains move through nature in an oddly unobtrusive way, and train tracks seem to incorporate into the surrounding area like they were meant to be there. I can lose myself in the parallel lines that stretch seemingly infinitely into the distance. The meadowlands is crisscrossed by tracks, too, and going back to the book, the tracks in Delaware lead to some pretty meadowlands-esque places. In one direction, they lead to a large industrial area with factories both abandoned and functioning (I’ve been in at least one). They are surrounded by ditches and big thickets of honeysuckle, and marshy, empty fields. In the other direction, they lead to Troy road and the surrounding fields: some long for-sale agricultural fields with gravel roads and tire tracks running through them, and piles of interesting garbage in the bushes. Here, there are tiny, oddly clear swamps on the sides of the tracks (I’ve been in one of those too) with aquatic plants and little frogs living in them. These places are neither as toxic or as vast as the Meadowlands, but Sullivan’s descriptions reminded me of them.
Since I’m thinking about swamps right now, I chose an article about peat swamps. I know that swamps, marshes, bogs, and mangrove forests, with their specific conditions, can bury carbon, but I was surprised to find out that peat swamps cover only 3% of the earth’s surface and hold almost as much carbon as the atmosphere. I’ve also studied mangrove forests in the past, and drew some connections to that. Both mangrove forests and peat swamps, if destroyed, could release huge amounts of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. I think both of these places are very interesting and some of the most beautiful places on earth. They both serve a hugely important service to the planet, and are home to huge numbers of plant and animal species, such as the lowland gorillas in the Congo mentioned in this article.
- I’ve always been interested in invasive species and the ways they grow and spread, and how we can stop them from damaging the environment. I want to look at a few areas in Delaware- both more pristinely natural and affected by humans- and quantify numbers of invasive plants, particularly bush honeysuckle and garlic mustard, and form some sort of action plan to reduce their numbers. Obviously, I wouldn’t be able to get much done on this until spring.
2. Although the largest producers of waste are factories and corporations, individuals can still reduce how much waste goes into landfills. As a person with a uterus, I’ve noticed that a huge amount of waste comes from period products. I want to find numbers for just how much waste half the population produces every month, and then I want to raise awareness across campus of products such as reusable cloth pads and moon cups. Then, I would like to sell reusable pads, and use the funds for more large-scale waste reduction efforts.