Week 1 Book Review; The Meadowlands and The Trouble with Wilderness

January 22, 2020

The Meadowlands

p15 It’s cool people are exploring what’s already there, however I think the reason people fly out west to explore isn’t because there isn’t nature near them, but because if the “real nature” is far away they can go three times a year and feel good about themselves as naturalists or whatever. But if nature is twenty minutes away and you only go three times a year everyone will know you’re a poser and don’t actually love being in nature that much.

p 30, p 49 There seem to be two kinds of people in the book, the kind who appreciate the meadowlands even though they are sort of gross, and the kind who are afraid of it, like the man who destroyed Snake Hill. I believe the people who hate and fear the meadowlands are afraid because it ruins their safe little bubble of city. It is unfamiliar and unlike parts of the city or even other cities they haven’t been to, nothing in their experience let’s them extrapolate what being in the meadowlands would be like so it scares them.

p 32 I think the narrator is searching for something in the meadowlands. He wouldn’t sink $600 in camping supplies and the time and money and effort spent writing a book about the meadowlands if he didn’t think he would learn something.

p 80-p86 The comparison of cigarette butts to shrimp and an egret to styrofoam as well as many other examples in that section of the reading implies that the animals and trash are part of the same system and are equal. This trash has become so integrated that it has become natural. The part later on about the hill of trash that is given a name like a natural structure (Mount Arlington?) echoes this integration idea too.

p 167 Europeans appreciate the Meadowlands more because unlike Americans they don’t live there. It feels exotic, like ancient ruins, or a national park. People don’t appreciate what’s right in front of them.

p168-p183 There’s something so sad about John Watson wasting away giving tours to random people and wandering around an empty rotting industrial park instead of being in a city doing something productive, but also what would he do? I feel that way about a lot of the people and ideas in this book. The two men who fight over conservation even though they both really want the same thing. The fires that burn for so many years the firemen give up trying to put them out. The man who knows the marsh so well it took him ten minutes to cross an area the author got lost in. The man who rides his bike over the ice. It’s just all so sad but I am also kinda envious that they all have so much nature to explore and so much time to explore it with.

The Trouble with Wilderness

I thought the concept for this paper was great. At first I thought it was kinda slow, but the evolution of the idea of wilderness was a fascinating story.

p 16 The part about advice about wilderness use being about not using the wilderness reminded me of middle school sex ed. Let’s scare the children and hope that they’ll never do what we know they’re probably going to do at some point anyway instead of giving them useful information about it.

Readings w1

January 22, 2020

Both of the readings from this week bring to mind the concept of liminal spaces. According to Google, a liminal space is the time between the ‘what was’ and the ‘next. ‘ It is a place of transition, a season of waiting, and not knowing. Liminal space is where all transformation takes place, if we learn to wait and let it form us. The Meadowlands is full of imagery of places like this, from the abandoned radio antenna in Walden Swamp to old trees laying in the depths, to rubble brought from London. Each of these are prime examples of “what was” and the changes that are occurring in The Meadowlands are leading to the “next”. This concept is also applicable in the way the Cronon reading talks about the wilderness as well.

Another concept that goes hand in hand with the idea of liminal spaces is the idea of the Other, that is mentioned in the Cronon reading. The other is distinct or different from things that are already known. In this case that Other is not human, but it could be God. The concept of the Other combined with liminal spaces seem to create this space that is familial but unfamiliar at the same time. Places of wilderness could definitely be considered like this, we live alongside them, sometimes even in them. But, we are not always welcome and the wilderness can be unforgiving.

Aliyah Hannig week 1

January 22, 2020

MY name is Aliyah Hannig, I am 21 years old and I am engaged and getting married on march 13th, 2020. I am from Wilmington, Delaware / South Jersey, and now I live with my fiancé in Columbus. I love music, my favorite genre being metal, and my favorite sub genre being death metal/ black metal. Some bands that I enjoy are Cattle Decapitation, Anaal Nathrakh, Batushka , Rotting Christ and many more! I consider myself to be edgy, it is part of my personality. I am also a flaming atheist as my family members call me.

Some project ideas include me interviewing some people , my grandparents and others about the shift in environmental and political way of thinking throughout their life, and maybe making a mini documentary about it. There was a political shift in environmentalism that started to occur in the 1960’s and 70;s, and my grandparents were alive during that time. I would like to get a real first world experience with those who were able to observe that shift happening and live through it. Another Idea that I thought about was maybe introducing some sort of composting thing for places like hamwil and smith? So that way we can help eliminate food waste and help the environment. One last idea I had was to maybe start encouraging more local community gardens. That way the community can experience and grow something together, all while remaining positive and helping the environment. Many with growing fruits and vegtables, the harvest can be donated to local homeless shelters and be made into soups and such!

I like cronan a lot, and his writing. I was able to read a lot of his work for my PG 280 class I took last semester. My favorite thing about this article was the fact about how he talked about really honoring the wild and being thankful for what we have in nature. Also, how humanity kind of defines wilderness, and how it means different things to different people. That is not something I have thought about before. I liked how he talked about how our idea of what wilderness was has evolved and changed throughout history. Someone in 1812 versus today would have very different views from each other. In my opinion, reading this article has highlighted my love for the wild and admiration of it’s beauty.

IN reference to the meadowlands book, I liked bits and peaces, but overall, not so much. Which thats ok, everyone is entitled to their opinion. I liked how it also states that nature is separate from human life, which is what we discovered we all thought in class. I feel like most people when defining nature, will say that nature is a lack of human intervention. I also liked how this took place in New Jersey, as I lived there up until I was 13. I like how this book exposed the versatility of the meadowlands, as there are many things that people would call the area. I have been to the meadowlands before, and a dump is what I would call it, as many other people would.

Info about me

January 22, 2020

I’m 21 years old. My birth name is Hannah but my preferred name is Juniper, and my friends call me June. I won’t hate you forever if you call me Hannah but I probably won’t realize you’re talking to me. I live in tree house. I am a physics major. I play guitar and am sort of in a band? It’s just my friend and I messing around. I’m a senior. When I graduate I want to go to graduate school and focus on something that is a hybrid of my physics knowledge and environmental interest. A renewable resource engineer or maybe a scientist that does something environmental like studying carbon in the oceans or how habitats are breaking down due to climate change. I have applied to three schools and heard back from none. My favorite color was lime green and now it’s scarlet. I have two guinea pigs named Zoey and Margot. They are cowardly. 

Project Ideas

January 22, 2020

I learned something new and upsetting. I went to the bishop cafe with my friend today for lunch and they’re still using paper disposable containers! What! I thought the science center cafe was bad using paper and disposable chip bags. It’s so pointless! Everyone eats in the cafe anyway so why do they have disposable take out containers? Why don’t they use plates or at least green boxes? Green boxes would actually be great there because there have been issues with students being like it’s reusable and green but I don’t want to be an eco freak. But if they are forced to use them every time they go to the cafe at hamwil or the science center they will become desensitized and use them more in other places too. I don’t want to be angry while eating lunch everyday. If there are problems with using green containers in those places I will fix them because it really bothers me that we still use disposable food containers. Also that was going to be my house project anyway so now if I include the bishop cafe that should be a good size for a class project. I am willing to do other things but this is what I want to do. Take down single use disposable food containers at the science center cafe and the bishop cafe. 

Other things I would be willing to do is work on getting composting going again. I’m friends with some of the people working on it now and I worked on it as a sophomore. 

It would also be cool to do more of a research project because I always want to learn more things. I’m interested in almost everything. But I think it would be cool to look into how carbon footprints are affected by shipping food from far away vs eating locally vs those companies that ship food for one meal right to you. Also carbon sequestration is cool and I want to learn more about that. Also the great plastic patch in the pacific is disgusting and fascinating the way looking at blood is so I wouldn’t mind researching that and the recycling crisis. 

Week 1 Environmental Article: Food out of thin air

January 22, 2020

The article I read this week is about food powder made from bacteria and vitamins and carbon dioxide. It’s called “This company is making food from ‘thin air’ plus a dash of water and clean energy”, by CNN reporters Jenny Marc and Mark Tutton. I thought it was cool, despite the fact that the title is kinda misleading. The company Solar Foods, makes a kind of protein powder that can be added to foods or drinks. They pride themselves on the low carbon footprint of their food because it’s grown in labs using carbon dioxide from the air, and say that if everyone uses their product less land will have to be used as forest and we can grow trees there instead which will further help with carbon sequestration. And that’s cool, but something about a world where everyone just eats carbon neutral protein powder rubs me the wrong way. Like they make valid points about carbon emissions and all, but will people still care as much about carbon emissions without the connectedness to the natural environment that growing food provides? I don’t think they will. There’s something about looking at fresh food and knowing exactly where it was grown and what went into it that protein powder just can’t do, even if one does still know everything about it there’s still something missing in it that fresh veggies have. Also that last quote of the article claims the company is more efficient than plants which can’t be right. Plants had millions of years to evolve and perfect that process, if a human company claims to be better than that they’re incredibly cocky or don’t know what they’re doing.

This is the article link: https://www.cnn.com/2020/01/20/europe/solar-foods-solein-scn-intl-c2e/index.html

W1 Reading Notes

January 21, 2020

Page 14: Interesting quote, “But I am creeping slowly back into the East, back to America’s first West-making a reverse commute to the already explored land that has become, through negligence, through exploitation, and through its own chaotic persistence, explorable again”

Page 21: Enjoyed this diagram

Page 42:

Photo courtesy New Jersey State Geologist After the company failed in 1903, the Schuyler complex became derelict. This is how it looked by the 1940s.
Picture of the mine described here. Also found out more information from a Google result from a local newspaper covering the mine: http://www.theobserver.com/2013/12/mining-north-arlingtons-past/

Page 57: This author sure loves a weird mix of news mixed with personal experiences… like the bride and groom thrown into the story about the exploding tanks which was also thrown into the story about the hotels in the Meadowlands. After Googling, I found out that the mentioned Berry’s Creek is part of a superfund site. “The major contaminants in the Berry’s Creek Study Area are mercury, methyl mercury, PCBs, and chromium, which are at high levels in the water and sediment.”

Page 76-78: I found this whole section pretty entertaining: the receipt, the fear over water purification, the “We did the second trip because it seemed more ambitious.”

Pa 102: Ew… Reminds me of the scene from 2019’s Parasite.

Page 138: The roach issue of going from neighbor to neighbor to neighbor described here is the nightmare story I was told over and over again when in Japan… I tried Googling this to see if it actually occurs this way, but can’t find an authoritative source.

Page 163: After researching on Google what other pieces of Penn Station were found in the meadowlands, I found a copy of this New York Times article that pictured a fragment in the New Jersey Meadowlands dump (available here).

Notes on William Cronan’s The Trouble with Wilderness; or, Getting Back to the Wrong Nature: An interesting argument to review how we think of nature and wilderness–and ourselves as being separate from it. I think Sullivan might have a more realistic view of nature that lines up with Cronan’s argument: he doesn’t think of the meadowlands in all the ways that most people normally do. He puts himself into the meadowlands and considers the towns and people to be sort of part of the meadowlands, rather than separate beings. If we see nature as a small fenced off section to be occasionally visited, it can lead to irresponsibility and lack of action. We need to learn to honor the wildness and not think of it as some foreign thing; which in turn helps us live more eco-friendly lives by making us recognize the autonomy of the world around us.


Overall, I enjoyed Robert Sullivan’s sense of humor. Sometimes it was just weird, and the long lists were a bit of a mouthful. I enjoyed the bits of history and interesting stories that brought the Meadowlands to life and illustrated its past mistreatment, exploitation, and complexities. The ending was a bit odd and not the call to action I was honestly expecting. (Google searches in responses to pages 57, 42, and 163).