Here you will find compiled blog posts, stories and assignments, from ESCI 302-030 (Winter 2019) students at the University of Regina. We welcome respectful, yet challenging comments and questions towards contemplating ecological issues, environmental education, and how these relate to conceptualizing ourselves as part of nature as well as environmental educators.
My visual representation is a collage of pictures that I have taken around my acreage. I am lucky enough to live in an area where there is a lot of wildlife and several different environments to explore. One of the areas around my house is actually a nature conservation area. I have only explored it a couple times in my life, but I wish to go explore it more. Relating to the reading “The Sound of Silverbells” by Robin Wall Kimmerer, I often don’t take the time to connect to my environment like the medical students when they went on their camping trip. Although all of these natural environments are constantly surrounding me, I don’t think I appreciate it as much as I should. Not everyone has the opportunity to live in such a beautiful area of Saskatchewan like I do and not everyone gets the chance to see the things that I see everyday, so I definitely need to spend more time enjoying and appreciating the environment that surrounds me. One thing that I do like to do every once in a while is go for a walk down the roads that connect to my house. I do this by myself and I focus on being diconnected from the online world and even my school work for a short period of time. I think this allows me to connect to my environment a bit more, but I do think that I could appreicate my environment much more than I currently do.
The article “The Creative Journal: A Power Tool for Learning” by William Hammond helped me decide what I wanted to do for this first creative piece. Because I have never done an activity similar to this one, I didn’t really know where to start. Throughout his article, he suggests many things. One thing that he suggests is that “the environmental education journal helps connect the journaler develop a personal connection to the local environment.” This helped me analyze my connection to the environment and how the environment effects my everyday life. It helped me realize that there are so many beautiful sights of the environment that surround me each and every day. Hammond also suggests a few different ideas for creative journals including object and picture collages. I put these two suggestions together to make this super personal idea of the environment and how it has impacted my life, even when I don’t realize it or fully engage with it.
I have kept a journal for a few years now so I was excited to incorporate it into one of my classes. I chose a blank page from my garden planning section and sketched a few of my favorite plants that I grow year after year. When I was instructed to consider my environment, I imagined the environment under the soil which is why I also included the roots, worms, and microbes in my sketch. Water is important to the plant growth so I included water drops. When I am in my garden at the peak of the season, I tend to sit quietly on the ground just to connect with and listen to my surroundings. I almost always feel my grandma’s presence in my garden. She taught me how to garden and was very special to me. If I sit quietly, I can hear the sprinkler, usually on in the back corner for the pumpkins, and birds. Sometimes the birds will land and walk around me without fearing my presence. I don’t hear traffic since I live in a small town outside the city. I can smell the fresh soil and different plants depending on where I sit. My favorite plant to smell is tomatoes. I observe the smallest pieces of my environment including the bugs crawling in the soil.
This reflection process reminded me how lucky I am to have been encouraged to connect with my environment. The Sound of Silver Bells story was very informative on how people can become so absorbed in their daily lives that they forget to step back to observe their surroundings and count their blessings.
While reading The Sound of Silverbells by Robin Wall Kimmerer I began thinking about the environment and the way it makes me feel. On page 219 Kimmerer says “when I hike, I like to do it quietly, just looking, just being there.” This quote really stuck with me, when I’m in nature I like to just observe and listen to all the beautiful sounds. I thought about all the times I have been able to sit quietly and watch and I always remember feeling peaceful. The environment is very interesting when you sit and observe, I realized that things placed in the settings were random, or scattered. By this I mean that nothing ever seemed perfect, the environment is filled with imperfections. It is important to learn from these imperfections in the environment and see the diversity that exists throughout. I started looking back at my pictures of the times I spent in the environment; some were away on vacations, others in park by my house. All the pictures I saw reminded me of the same peaceful feeling which inspired my first visual representation.
I collected all the pictures I had of the environment that I took, all of experiences in nature that made me feel peace. I began to arrange them into the word Peace, the most resonating feeling for me in the environment. I cut the pictures and placed some sideways, and others upside down to symbolize the imperfections that are seen in nature.
My visual representation this week was inspired by a quote from The Sound of Silverbells “The earth is so richly endowed that the least we can do in return is to pay attention.” When I read the line I felt a sense of remorse. We owe so much to the Earth and the bare minimum we can do is appreciate it. I realized lately I had been so caught up in my own world and my own routine that I had not taken time to simply pay attention to the environment around me. I decided this week I was going to change that. The following morning I made time in my day to walk to a nearby park. I remember as a child this park felt like a second home, I was here almost every summer evening. I would spend hours rolling down the little hill, collecting rocks by the pond and making friendship bracelets out of dandelion stems. Now I rarely came to this place.
During my walk I picked up pieces from the park to use for my journal. I found rocks buried in the snow, pinecones scattered beneath the tree and fallen brown leaves. Near the end of my walk I found a bench on top of the hill. I decided to sit down and simply pay attention to the environment around me. Listening to the birds chirping and interacting with their environment I observed how they were connected to their surroundings. Like constellations in space connecting one start to the nex it seemed like there was an invisible line connecting one thing to another here on earth. The falling rain connects the sky to the earth. It gives life to plants like trees in the Amazon and algae in the oceans. These plants then produce the oxygen that we need in order to breathe and stay alive. To me, the environment is a place we share and something that connects us to things greater than ourselves.
The hot afternoon summer sun shines down on my freckled cheeks, kissing them more and more as the minutes pass. In a grubby sundress I take in the surroundings while a stillness sits around me. I find a dusty stain on the dress’ trim as I help pick peas from the garden. With the waves of prairie summer wave hello, my hair feels like it could be aflame. My blonde locks are hit by the rays, blinding the dullness into strands of red and gold. Two rows away, my grandmother is knelt down, picking the weeds out from the stems of her enormous garden.
After what seems like hours in the hot sun, my eyes catch the bright packaging of birdseed slumped by the porch. I suppose my grandmother must have used it earlier to fill her collection of bird feeders. Sneaking over, I grab a hand full, stuffing it into the garden gloves I had been using. Within seconds, a dusty hand pats my shoulder. The jig is up I think, but grandma is just going in to get us lemonade. Rushing to hide the evidence, I lay the bird seeded glove under the coverage of a nearby rhubarb. Moments later grandma returned with a sweating glass of sour sweetness. As the flavours dance in my mouth, I notice the rhubarb being rampaged by birds. One of the birds looks right at me, seemingly thanking me for the cool spot for her to eat on the sweltering day.
The main theme that I interpreted from the reading “The Sounds of Silverbells” was the importance and beauty of nature. Every person has their own definition of nature and what it means to them. Some see it’s importance over it’s beauty and vice versa; others see something completely different. For me however, for as long as I can remember, I have always been fascinated by the beauty of nature making this the strongest connection that I able to make to the text. The reading emphasizes that the main character in the story wanted her students to recognize what more nature has to offer than just biology. As her students are studying pre-med, biology is a large area of their studies. This story takes us on the journey and discoveries made throughout the camping trip; we are able to observe a lot of learning but on page 221, the main character discloses her anxious feeling of failure. She worries that the students did not retain the nature aspect of the trip, only the biology information they were given. The text is concluded with her students spontaneously singing “Amazing Grace.” The singing of this song reassured that the message of the importance of nature had been attained on the trip.
For my visual representation of this reading, I wanted to create a picture using pieces from an old magazine. I wanted to do this because nature is very unique. No two forests, or jungles, or even parks look the same anywhere around the world. Every tiny little piece of paper that I used to make up my visual representation is different. No two are the same just like in nature. As I was reading the text, I kept thinking back to the camping trips I taken. I attempted to recreate the scenes of Banff, Cypress Hills, and Duck Mountain in my visual representation by incorporating a mountain, a river, trees, flowers, and of course the beautiful sky.
Creative Journal Blog #1 – Keep Our Earth Clean!
In the pictures you find below is my visual representation of a time I felt connected to the environment. Last summer, I was out in Nelson B.C. visiting a few of my friends. One day we decided to go on a hike in the mountains and I found this Gatorade bottle, like the one I show in my pictures, laying on the ground. I picked it up and placed it in my backpack. This recent memory made me feel really connected to the environment because I felt I was doing a good deed and helping protect the environment from waste. The little things count. I know it is a very small gesture but the Earth is our home and we have to keep it clean and we have to find proper ways of disposing or recycling our garbage and use our resources wisely. We can’t destroy Earth we have to work with it and respect it. What you do with the resources now can affect the future. The environment to me means home, so we need to treat it right and respect it and by doing that we can do things as little as picking up one piece of recycling like I did or else we are going to leave a huge mess for future generation. A clean future is the right future.
As Kimmerer speaks in her recent chapter we just read, she mentions and talks about how the world is a gift. As humans, whenever we receive a gift we treat it with respect and we are thankful for it. By doing things like keeping the environment clean and recycling are types of ways we show that we treat our world and environment as a gift.
The environment to me is what is in these pictures, breathtaking moments that you will live with forever. The environment is such a beautiful and mesmerizing place, I love adventuring and seeing the world around me. I have gotten all of these amazing pictures on a trip across the country. I recently went on an amazing adventure with someone special. I flew to Boston, Massachusetts to see my loved one who was living there and after a few days we drove home from there all the way back to our original hometown Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan. It was an awesome experience and I am so thankful that I got the opportunity to see different parts of our world and environment, from big big mountains and lots of trees and forests, to dry flat Saskatchewan. I feel so connected to these pictures and it gives me the feeling that I am right back there living in that beautiful moment when I look at them.
When I read The Sound of Silverbells, I really felt when she said “The world is so richly endowed that the least we can do in return is to pay attention.” I think this is so true because people just take it for granted, they are not connecting with their world, nor do they care about it. Some people don’t take the time to stop and smell the flowers, when they should. I also connected with her when she said she likes to hike quietly, just looking, just being there. I am the same way, when I am somewhere new, walking around and feeling out the new environment, I like to take in every moment, smell the air, look at all of the amazing things around me, and cherish that I get to experience and live in this environment. It means so much more to me than just dirt and grass and trees, I see the world as a beautiful place and I will never forget the amazing experiences I have had in it.
Environment: “the surroundings or conditions in which a person, animal, or plant lives or operates.”
Looking: stars or satellites? My father William has always been mesmerized by the sky. The sky holds many things stars, storms, the sun and satellites. All the things the sky holds may be natural or man-made. William has always said the sky changes; that it never looked this way when he was a young boy. He chases the storm and follows the rhythm of the thunder. As a young girl my father would beg for me to come along his journey of chasing. This was his dream to be a storm chaser; wasn’t really realistic. After many years of watching the sky with my father; it had me thinking. What exactly are we looking at? what exactly is out there? what does the sky have to do with me?
On clear nights these questions always acquire within me. Am I looking at a beautiful night sky or am I looking at what man-made had made it? Am I part of the night sky? What does the environment and the night sky have in common? What does the environment mean to me? Do I just look at the environment? Do I make my footprint?
Comparing myself with the sky( being the environment). That the sky is this beautiful arrangement of stars though it will never be clear if it is stars or satellites. That your part in the environment isn’t clear as well. Do most people know their place in the environment or do they have an idea of how they want to present themselves in environment? When do you classify yourself as environmentalists? Is recycling enough?
What does the environment mean to me? The environment to me means that you can try to take care of it and play your part. I recycle which I think is a good first step. But due to certain circumstances and the way we live today it makes it harder not to leave a footprint. We have transportation, and everything is packaged, etc. It is hard to change and to make a difference. The kick start is the hardest start and that is why there is many people who don’t start. Some people don’t care, some people have to make big personal sacrifices and some relay so heavily on these products they cannot cut it out of their lifestyles.
Environment education to me means the setting in which you are teaching in or being taught in. That the environment drastically effects the thinking process of students and teachers. That everyone learns differently; some may like a very quite place or some may need to work in groups. If the environment is always quite the children will never learn to get out of their comfort zone. The environment is very important because it reflects on learning. Environment may also mean that you associate the classroom in a more worldly approach. That it is us and the world together; that we can’t live without it. That we need to understand the beauty and learn about our home.
Not directly quoting but comparing to Silverbells. Silverbells demonstrated that their is a difference in information and observation. That the instructor was trying to teach the students about the environment with facts after facts. Rather then letting the students figure it out on their “own”. The instructor felt that the students didn’t really benefit from the instructor. The students found their own peace in the land, that observing the beauty of the Earth is a benefit. We have so much information about our world but rather then strictly getting information weaved into our heads; that we need to break free. We know the information but now we need to show affection and appreciation for our planet. WE on our own need to take time for our Earth. Earth is good, Earth is great.
Wall Kimmerer, Robin. (2013). Braiding Sweetgrass: Indigenous Wisdom, Scientific Knowledge & the Teachings of Plants. Minnesota, MN: Milkweed Editions.