Shayla Scheitler – GEOG 360: Week 2

Introduction

My name is Shayla and I’m a junior at OWU, majoring in Environmental Studies and minoring in Zoology. I come from a small town in south eastern Ohio. When I say “small,” I mean considered-a-village small; population of 1,200 people small. My first home was on a 6 acre land. I grew up picking blackberries and making pies, raising chickens and selling their eggs, tending to a fairly large garden and eating our home grown vegetables, daily exploration of the forest, etc. My interest in environmentalism began from the age I started becoming aware of politics. Ever since my early teenage years, I’ve been eager to learn about our environment and how we may conserve it. I bring this passion for environmentalism into the House of Peace and Justice. In our house we aim to bring together a variety of passions and integrate them into social justice. I hope to begin to participate in environmental activism. My other true passion is my ESA, Jerome the fat, black, sassy cat. He is sleek, soft, and my soulmate. I’ve benefited tremendously from his help regarding my mental health. I suffer from PTSD, General Anxiety Disorder, Borderline Personality Disorder, and Major Depressive Disorder. Jerome has helped me have the ability to focus on my education and career instead of being absorbed into my mental health. I believe that this year will be a bounce back from last year, and I hope to accomplish a lot for environmentalism on this campus!

Response to Readings:

The Meadowlands by Robert Sullivan

I had mixed feelings about The Meadowlands by Robert Sullivan. It was full of interesting tales, but it was just like a dragged out monologue. For me, it was difficult to pick out meanings in the tales. Here are some take-away notes:

  • “On top of Snake Hill, I am on mysterious ground that is not guidebooked and that reads like a dead language” page 20
    • The geological beginnings are mostly forgotten due to association with the urbanization.
    • People now visit the Meadowlands for shopping and other attractions. The original land that the author reminisces of is lost to urbanization. People don’t seem to appreciate the nature of the land for what it used to be.
  • The author uses personification to describe the scene, emphasizing the human connection to nature.
  • Snake Hill was demolished because officials thought money was better spent on developing cities. They weren’t appreciative of the land and basically completely disregarded its history and value.
  • The author seems to be witnessing demolition on page 62. He says that there’s a guy in a yellow plastic suit – I’m thinking this may be related to toxic waste, or just waste in general from the demolition.
  • Words the author uses to associate with nature that were on our handout:
    • Barren
    • Unexplored
    • Desolate
  • “A duck swam by us that didn’t look so much like a duck as a toxic chicken.” This quote is very sad and powerful. I see a possible connection to the men in plastic yellow suits.
  • The garbage hills are ‘alive’ with decomposing microscopic organisms. This is finding nature and life even in a garbage pile – impressive.
  • Bodies of dogs gassed and dumped into the garbage pile…some were not fully dead and were moving around…what the f*ck.
  • I eventually stopped scouring the tales for similes, metaphors, and any meaning, honestly. It became just a tangent of encounters with strange people and circumstances.

The Trouble with Wilderness by William Cronon

I’ve read this text last semester and felt I only needed to refresh my memory. I really like this text and I feel that it challenges what we think we know about the term ‘wilderness.’ I also think it is a great parallel to our thought into asking the question, ‘what is nature?’ Here’s my take-away notes on this piece:

  • We seem to separate humans from nature. I, too, am guilty of that. When I think of nature I think of a forest or mountain range limited to visitation only. Although we are technically animals, generally we don’t think of ourselves as part of nature.
    • Do we think we’re superior?
      • We have unique cognitive thinking, abilities that other animals lack, we are civilized, we’re high on the food chain.
    • Do we think that nature is just our environment, our habitat, and that we are merely living in it?
      • We idealize nature and thinking of it as something distant and remote. Nature could be part of our backyards but we have this fixed image of what it should look like.
      • We think of national parks, reserves, etc. as an escape from our civilized lives and a way to connect us to this idealized distant and remote space that we envision.
  • Our desire to conserve and protect what we perceive is nature, is actually harmful. If we separate these landscapes from our towns and cities, then we cut off our responsibility to it.
    • We like to put ourselves as admirers of nature rather than residents of it. This limits our knowledge of the land and therefore makes it more difficult to protect it.
      • “We need an environmental ethic that will tell us as much about using nature as not using it.”
      • If we exclude ourselves from our definition of nature, we must accept that there is ‘good’ and ‘bad’ in nature. There is life and death. There are no laws in nature. Animals eat plants. Animals eat one another. Vultures feed on the remains of dead animals. We have to accept the ugly parts of nature to understand it as it truly is. Idealizing it and ignoring the ugly parts of nature makes our view on nature, artificial.
  • This really challenges the environmentalist mindset I have. I fail to realize that protecting nature does not mean we need to isolate it.

3 Project Ideas

  1. I think it would be a great opportunity to tie in this project with my house project at Peace and Justice. I’m an artist, so my interest lies within that realm. I was thinking it would be really neat to collect miscellaneous items that we would normally throw away or recycle, such as used paper, Keurig cups, cardboard, aluminum cans, etc. I could schedule an event where people are welcomed into our house to make use of these items. Whether that means a practical use, art, or whatever, is up to them. The point of this project would be to think about our waste produced and how we can utilize these things we would normally toss.
  2. Not exactly sure on the fine details of this idea, but I think it would be a great idea to replace the red solo cups at parties with your own reusable cups, tumblers, bottles, whatever. As much as I love the appearance of red solo cups, I see too many of them outside on a Sunday morning.
  3. Also not sure on the fine details of this idea, but I would like to replace plastic bags at T-Store. Not everyone has reusable grocery bags, so I would like to be in contact with T-Store and other officials that may be able to help, so that we can have reusable bags at T-Store for sale. Eliminating plastic bags all together and boldly suggesting the purchase of a reusable bag may not please the student body initially, but this project would make a lot of progress towards a sustainable campus.

Current Event

NOVA, National Oceanic and Atmosphere, has began a coral reef restoration effort.

The association is using techniques like underwater coral farming and reattaching broken coral pieces to transplant and restore thousands of coral colonies on damaged reef sites. Coral is very important in the oceanic environment, so restoring the coral reef will allow native species to thrive once again. Here’s the link to the video:

https://oceantoday.noaa.gov/restoringcoralreefs/

I actually found this video on Instagram Explore, and I looked it up to find the full video. This gives me a lot of hope for being able to restore the Great Barrier Reef over time.

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