Eco-Literacy Poem

I wrote a poem to the University of Regina. The poem links to the group project that I have been participating in. Our project is hoping to have recycling bins implemented into all dorms on campus. On Monday evening I knocked on doors hoping to collect signatures for a petition to show that there is a greater want for the recycling bins. I wrote this poem as a reflection of that experience.

A Dozen Floors

I walk these steps,
a dozen floors.
Catching my breath,
knocking on doors.

The subject of change,
that’s what I’m about.
When will you listen?
Maybe if I shout?

Your missions statement claims,
“we value managing resources responsibly.”
Yet on that front,
you are failing demonstrably!

To practice what I preach
is what I want to do.
At this moment,
my only obstacle is you.

Recycling is such
a small step you see.
We could change the Earth,
you and me.

It’s just the beginning
of a life we could commit,
to raising awareness
of the things we must omit.

I can teach you
the simple things we need to change.
I’ll widen your scope.
I’ll broaden your range.

The world will never be again
the way it was before.
We’ve polluted water, land, and air;
plastic coats the shore.

But maybe,
rehabilitation
is the next best
destination.

Getting there won’t be easy.
We all must do our part.
Recycling isn’t everything.
But it is a start.

And so until
the policies change,
values rewritten,
minds rearranged…

I will walk these steps,
a dozen floors.
Catching my breath,
knocking on doors.

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Visual Representation #2

This weeks prompt was; what will be your powerful acts of reciprocity with the land? What could you commit to doing/being? How will you act? What could it take for you to make a “leap” into action? This prompt was designed to go along with reading Robin Kimmerer’s short story “Maple Nation: A Citizenship Guide”, and our previous investigation of the Leap Manifesto. Both texts are a call to action of sorts, with the latter being a lot more upfront about it. Kimmerer’s “Maple Nation: A Citizenship Guide” appeals to your emotions, personifying the forest that surrounds her, and asking what we can do for it. The Leap Manifesto is much more upfront in the way it breaks down how we can change our lives for the betterment of the environment, and in turn, all living things.

Both texts spoke to me. The prompt itself offered space for a lot of introspection. When I first started thinking of what my act of reciprocity would be, and in turn how I would represent that I was stumped. I knew that whatever my act of reciprocity was, it had to be something doable. I didn’t want to make an empty statement. After thinking quite some time of ways in which I could cut back or change my habits, I realized that one of my current hobbies is already an act of reciprocity in itself. My great grandfather was a botanist, who loved gardening. This passion was passed through my grandparents to my father, and now to me. Our current garden at the farm is aproximaly 1/4 acre (1011 m², 10890 ft²). A lot of people don’t realize just how much difference a garden of any size can make. Not only are you reducing that amount of food packaging that you purchase and throw away, but your also reducing emissions used to transport produce to you.

My visual representation of this act of reciprocity is a simple jar of dirt. I origional wanted to grab some of the actual garden soil, but given the winter conditions had to settle for some bagged potting soil from last year. On the top of the jar I wrote a very shortened definition of reciprocity (one that I could remember). The sides of the jar were painted with the following food facts: on average, produce in North America travels 1200-2400 Km, for every 1 Kg of potatoes produced 2.9 Kg of CO2 is produced, for every 1 Kg of broccoli produced 2 Kg of CO2 is produced, for every 1 Kg of beans, 2 Kg of CO2, for 1 Kg of tomatoes 1.1 Kg of CO2, approximately 10 Kcal of fossil fuel energy is used for every 1 Kcal of food energy produced. My hope is that my simple jar of dirt will act as a reminder of the good that can be done with something as easy as gardening.

Visual Representation #1

This weeks prompt was “What does the environment mean to you?” When I first started thinking about how I would respond to this prompt I immediately thought ‘home’. For me the environment is my home. A good part of this is probably due to the fact that I grew up on a farm, surrounded by valleys, and was constantly exploring them. For me, being in nature and exploring the outdoors was second nature.

After reading Robin Kimmerer’s “The Sound of Silverbells” my idea for the project shifted a little bit. I realized that the environment is my home, but it is also the home of literally every other living creature. What the environment meant to we was still home, but it was now other creatures homes, and I wanted some way of showing the way in which all the environments are connected.

The idea for the globe came to me as the only way to showcase every environment, and the way that they are all connected. I also still wanted to draw attention to my home, and my environment which is what prompted the use of the road map, and the magnifying glass. If you were to take that magnifying glass and move it to other areas of the globe, however, you would find all kinds of habitats, and all types of environments that are existing beside and within each other. Everything is connected, and it isn’t until you zoom in and really pay attention that you notice little things, such as bugs and spiders living on the ground that you previously mistook for lifeless.

Creative Journaling – My Rules

The creative journal is something that is “more than a place for recording observations and data, [a] [creative] journal [is] a springboard to fresh insights and new discoveries about the natural world.” (Hammond, 2002, p. 34) After being introduced to the topic, given a prompt, and completing the readings, it became obvious to me that I needed a little more structure. I was honesty uncomfortable with the amount of ambiguity that the assignment offered and wanted some way to narrow my own throughts and expectations for my projects. I needed more rules! You’d imagine my delight when I found out that William Hammond, author of “The Creative Journal: A Power Tool for Learning” suggests that creating personal rules is a great way to start your journaling journey. I took the ambiguous rules that had been laid before us and tightened them up until I was comfortable with it. This is what I came up with:

  1. Use tools/techniques that I would often shy away from. One of the guidelines laid out by our professor was that we couldn’t use the same medium repeatedly. After hearing that, I knew I wouldn’t be able to get away with a simple magazine collage every week. Because of that restriction I decided that I wanted to take the bull by the horns and challenge myself to not only use different mediums (required) but attempt the mediums I am least comfortable with.
  2. Contemplate at least as long as it takes to create. What I meant when I wrote this down was that I wanted to spend at least as much time visualizing my projects, and thinking about them as I spent creating them. I don’t want to jump on the first idea that I have, and then spend the whole weekend making something that in the end doesn’t mean what I had hoped. If I am going to make something that takes me all weekend, I want to put in the time thinking it over, and know that it is what I want.
  3. Don’t settle for something simple, unless simple is the only answer. The rule forces me to think outside the box and move beyond my initial ideas, but also gives me the room to fall back on them if they turn out to be the right ideas. I just want to make sure the I don’t choose something easy when I could have given it a little bit more thought and created something truly amazing.
  4. Try to relate every topic to my core scientific studies (physics, chemistry). As a chemistry major and a physics minor I want to be able to explain things in a way that is relatable to the subjects. My hope is that by attempting to frame the journal entries in a way that is relatable to chemistry and physics I will be better prepared to make the same connections when I am in front of a class in the future. The truth is, every discipline can be linked to the environment in some way, it just has to be figured out.

Although the four rules that I laid out for myself are still a little ambiguous, I believe they will help me to stay centred when creating my journal entries. I also think that this will help me to develope a little bit of a theme around relating physics and chemistry to environmentalism.

References:
Hammond W.F. (2002). The Creative Journal: A Power Tool for Learning. Green Teacher, Fall, 34-38.