Earth Day Entry

For Earth Day, I wanted to investigate something new. I chose to write about my own feelings in a letter to a personified Earth. When I think of Earth day, I always think about how humankind misuses the resources she provides to us. I wanted to do something new and write a letter to “Earth,” apologizing for our mistreatment of her blessings. This reflection/letter was written on Earth Day in a sunny spot at the park on 5th street during a 10-minute free write. It was hard for me to find the words I wanted to use, so the writing was a bit difficult and emotional. Here is the transcription from my daybook:

 

Dear Earth,

 

I am so sorry that all of my brothers and sisters are so hard-headed and foolish. It is true that we are so blind to our surroundings. You provide us with so much – there is no way we could ever repay you for your selflessness and kindness. I try so hard to urge them to be wise and not take you for granted, but they just won’t listen. I know that you are so important and I value you greatly – but it is difficult to get others to hear my message.

I wish I could be more like you, strong and resilient. You seem to always replenish yourself, despite our constant urges to knock you down. I admire all of your qualities, and I hope that you are able to continue to withstand our detriments. My sons and daughters are going to need you in the future – it would be a shame for us to lose all of your benefits due to ignorance. The call to action and advocacy is not nearly loud enough for others to save you.

I want to take a moment to thank you for all you give to us freely. Without you, we would not have shelter, clothes, or even food to sustain ourselves. Our entire lives are based upon your existence, and yet we are so self-absorbed that we forget your worth.

I promise that I will continue to work hard to urge others to understand your importance. Please continue to be patient with us as whole – not all of us are bad!

 

Sincerely,

Kelly McLees

Final Portfolio: Polished Piece

Writer’s Memo: This piece of writing was inspired by the hiking experience I had with my Wilderness Writing class. The intention of this prose is to make the reader think about the experience of physical exertion during climbing a mountain, particularly in the differences between going up and going down. Differences can be seen in the inclusion of similar elements on each side of the piece, but with a different interpretation. This piece is a totally new style of writing for me and I really enjoyed and appreciated this experience. It certainly allowed me to step outside my comfort zone of “academic essays” and find a new way to express my findings. I found a new sense of creativity during this activity. When reading this writing, I really want the reader to feel the struggle of climbing up the mountain, followed by the ease of descent at the same time. I really liked the idea of contradiction throughout the piece. It was slightly difficult to compose my thoughts in this way, but it was very rewarding to see the end result.

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Arrival and Departure from the Top:

A dual reading about climbing to a mountain peak

Preface:

This piece of prose is based on my experience hiking up the Grandfather Mountain Profile Trail on February 14, 2013. As a part of an Honors College course for my University, I ventured six hours away from my comfort zone with 17 other individuals to participate in a five-day wilderness experience. Prior to the trip, my beliefs about wilderness were unexplored and underdeveloped. I wasn’t really sure what I considered to be wilderness, how big it would be, what it entailed and how we as humans interact with it. I didn’t exactly dread the trip, but I wasn’t really looking forward to it either. This hiking event was the first thing our class participated in while visiting Boone, NC. This trip allowed me the chance to explore my place in the wilderness in contrast with my place in the organized world. As mentioned in one of my previous writings: “Despite the arrangement that we follow in our world, we are also a bit loose and frayed at the ends – incomplete and wild, if you will. As beings, we are constantly perpetuating each end of our existence. We are both free and controlled, unrestrained and bound, molded and flowing. It is in finding ourselves and being at peace with the world that we find balance in the order of life.” This trip was a beginning point for many self-realizations.

Going UP

Going DOWN

I inhale deeply as the van rattles into reverse and crawls backward from the driveway. I am not nervous, but I am a bit anxious about the impending 3-plus mile hike up the side of the face of a mountain…This is going to be my first experience hiking in the cold – and I already know that I am not going to like it at all. The van halts in a gravel parking lot next to a sign that boasts, in bright yellow letters, “Profile View Trail.” I hustle out into the cold with my classmates; we are impatient to begin our ascent. We fumble with our gear and start our steady pace against the incline…

 

I inhale

as I struggle for steady footing on the ground above me. I want so badly to reach the top.

I fight for oxygen

when my body screams for rest. I know that if I stop this journey, I won’t continue.

I wrap myself a little tighter in my warm clothes.

Geez, it’s cold outside!

It is so hard to concentrate on the scenery

Because I am so focused trying not to bust my butt on the increasingly difficult terrain.

Why can’t my boots have suction cups?

I just want to find a good spot to put my foot!

I question

“Why in the world do I really want to reach the top?”

I complain to myself

as we reach each stopping point – how much longer is this going to take?

I see

the wind-blown ice crystals on the trees and slippery glass that cover the ground. I’m suddenly aware of the impending danger.

My hiking partners and I are silent.

We are too busy with the strenuous labor ahead of us to even entertain the idea of a conversation.

I cannot smell

Because the cold overwhelms my senses and overrides my ability to breathe. The increasing altitude doesn’t exactly help either.

I am not listening

to anything around me. I do not notice any noise or sound. I am in my own little bubble of concentration, pushing for my end result.

My peers say

they are getting tired and we must stop for a break. Upon hearing these words, my body protests for a break, also.

I feel like

my body is beginning to become used to the activity. I think my endorphins are kicking in and I seem to be getting a bit more energy.

My joints are beginning to hurt

from the continued stress and pressure on them at each step of the hike. I wonder how many days I’ll be able to feel the hike in my muscles.

My muscles feel

like they are going to swell. I can feel each expansion and contraction – but the burn hurts in a good way.

The wind

is still biting at my exposed flesh. Cheeks, fingertips, and nose turn bright red and start to tingle just a tad. I don’t think that’s good at all.

The snow

is a nuisance right now. It is blocking my vision and hiding the scary patches of ice on the path. It acts as an invisible cloak for the death traps.

My stomach lurches

at the thought of stopping to have a snack. I am scared that if I eat, I will feel nauseous. However, my hunger pangs get the best of me and I munch on some mixed nuts.

My companions and I take pictures of

the obstacles we conquer along our journey. We think they will serve as trophies when we are finally finished.

I think about

what it will be like when I get home. What will I tell my friends about this experience? Will I long to go outside more often?

I am grateful for

the fact that I was smart enough to pack layers. Oh yeah, and snacks. Snacks definitely make this trek more bearable.

I know

now that I am capable of doing much more than I think I can. I am slightly amazed at how much exertion my body can handle! Even with this tiny, 5’4” frame, I am doing the same distance the experienced boy scouts are!

My opinions of hiking

Are beginning to change a little bit. I am finding that it may not be something for just hippies and mountain men. I am still a bit too shy to admit that I am enjoying it, though.

It seems like an eternity

while I try my hardest to reach the peak. It’s almost like a goal that keeps moving further away the harder I push.

At the end,

I am a little disappointed at the view we see from the peak. I feel like I worked so much harder for so little in return.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I exhale

as I casually slide down the ice-worn forest floors toward the place where I began. This is so much easier than the incline!

I appreciate the air in my lungs

since it was so hard to obtain just hours ago during the difficult hike up.

I start to peel off layers as quickly as possible.

Wow, hiking makes you hot and sweaty!

I take a moment to appreciate my surroundings;

I particularly like the snow and ice that cover the ground and plants because they are not familiar.

Why can’t I be outside every day?

Being inside takes away my happiness!

I wonder

“How the hell do people hike the Appalachian trail?”

I complain out loud

because I just want to go home, take a shower, and have a nice, long nap.

I see

Much more than I saw while coming up. I notice the pretty evergreens and the iridescent colors that shine through the icicles on the boulders.

My hiking partners and I chat freely.

We talk about how pretty the surroundings are, our classmates and instructors, and the rest of the trip entails.

I smell

the evergreens, the water vapor that may linger in the air, and the crisp coldness that surrounds me. I appreciate the freshness.

I listen carefully

and hear the effervescent, cheerful gurgling at Shanty Springs mixed with the far-off chirping of birds in the branches.

My peers giggle

about the boys knocking down the icicles when we reach Shanty Springs. I really hope none of them get hurt, even if it would be a good laugh.

I feel like

my body is indifferent about the movement. Oh wait, just kidding. I think my body hates me for all of the expended energy. I must be out of shape.

My joints squeak

as the force and weight of my body makes my knees quiver. The decline of the ground really makes for a different sensation in my muscles.

My muscles feel

like they are fatigued. Now I remember why I gave up my dream of long distance running many months ago.

The wind

does not affect me anymore. I no longer worry about its effect on my uncovered extremities. I know that soon I will be in a warm environment.

The snow

is more enjoyable once it has been packed down by all the feet that trodded the path before mine. I am easily able to find my footing and traipse down the path.

My stomach grumbles

and I am almost surprised that I am so hungry so soon after lunch. I suppose that sandwich and those three mandarins weren’t enough to satiate me after that grueling trip. Who would have guessed?

My companions and I take pictures

of each other doing silly things. I think it is quite hilarious when a friend takes a picture of me munching on an icicle.

I think about

How much I have enjoyed this experience. I have learned a lot about my limits and my friends while I had the chance to experience nature.

I am grateful for

the warm house I will be able to return to after this walk. I dream about the fire that I will be next to within the next few hours.

I know

that I am up for the challenge of our next Wilderness Writing trip. I begin to ponder what other challenges may await me when I am faced with camping for a few days straight. I push that idea to the back of my mind quickly.

My opinions of hiking

Have changed drastically. I exclaim to those around me, “this is actually really fun!” They nod in agreement; I think their minds have been changed as well. This makes me laugh at my own typical, prissy nature.

It seems like just a moment

until I actually reach the (almost) sea-level ground again. It was almost as if I floated down the mountain.

At the end,

I feel refreshed and renewed. I feel an overwhelming calm as I pull my boots off and grin. I am finally finished with my pilgrimage to the top.

My sore muscles won’t allow me to do the dance of joy that I wish I could. We conquer the trail and arrive in the familiar surroundings of the gravel lot once again. Out of breath, I can’t even hold back my smile as I realize what I have just accomplished. I throw my pack on the ground start to rip off layers as quickly as possible. For the first time, I realize that my snow pants are soaked in dirt and that I am extremely sweaty and grimy. It almost seemed that I had forgotten the world even existed while I was up on the mountain. I wipe my brow and exhale a sigh of relief. I am unaware of the people around me for just a moment. My mind goes blank and then I think to myself, “That was the most fun I would never want to have again…”

Afterword:

My experience on this trip, along with intentional prompting and exploring, helped me find that I have a more solidified idea of wilderness than I previously believed. I found that I do not believe wilderness is size dependent. At each moment of this hike, I could have stopped and found something natural to appreciate. I found that it was my own ideas and perspectives that allowed me to find wilderness wherever I was. From the lizard on the ground at the well-traveled trailhead to the ice covering the rocks at the peak, I was able to appreciate nature’s value. Wilderness can be found anywhere, even on a snowy sledding hill at a highway intersection. Rather, I think wilderness may be governed by the lack of man-made structures and land alterations. I am still experimenting with this. I believe that the purpose of wilderness is neither to serve man, nor to serve itself. I think that there is a fine line of balance that we, as humans, must respect when we take from and alter nature. We must be cautious not to perpetuate a cycle farther than its means. Wilderness must be able to self-sustain. Wilderness offers many things to mankind. We are intricately interwoven with wilderness, whether we realize it or not. I do strongly believe that part of our well-being and health is tied in with our connection and understanding of nature. People who are very disconnected seem to be less stable and find less solace in the world.

****PLEASE NOTE: I am sorry that the columns do not match up perfectly! They copied and pasted from Microsoft Word strangely 😦

Final Portfolio: Wilderness Ethic Manifesto

  1. Writer’s Memo

This piece of writing was extremely difficult to coax out of my mind. The immensity of the ideas I had to sort through and consider really presented a struggle to the composition of this piece. With so many things that I wanted to include, I had to be sure that flow and composition were important to the center of my writing – this way the reader could follow along easily and make their own connections. The purpose of my writing was to be sure that the reader understands my position in reverence to wilderness at the ultimate educator and source of knowledge, as well as countless other resources. The content of my writing is based on my experiential learning, past experiences and connections, and on readings and studies from the WW course content. This paper is meant to be a synthesis of all of my feelings and thoughts toward the values of wilderness and my attitudes toward its future use. During the composition of this piece, I learned that outlines and note cards can be your best friends when trying to organize so many different ideas. In addition, it really helped to have immediate access to all my sources so I could continue to reread and reanalyze my thoughts. In going through this piece, I hope the reader can see my well-composed thoughts about nature’s value and my advocacy for a more thoughtful society.

  1. Prospectus

Particularly, I am interested in the effects of interaction with wilderness as a source of happiness. In our class of wilderness writers, we have a very diverse group of learners and personalities. Though all of us elected to take this course, some of us seem to be more enthusiastic to participate in outdoor activities than others. Does being outside more often really affect someone’s happiness? What does our experience in the wilderness/natural environment teach us? In addition, as Leopold and Noss question: does the size of the wilderness affect its impact on the human mind and its intrinsic value? I have developed my own ideas to find that wilderness is not dependent on any factors other than the constructs of the perceiving mind. In addition, the ultimate purpose of wilderness is to serve as the ultimate teacher for mankind.

I chose this question because I find it curious after participating in so many different activities, I seem to be happier and more understanding. I am interested in finding out if this can be attributed to my own spiritual connection with nature and wilderness, or due to my developed social relationships with classmates. I would like to know if Mosden’s notion of ecopsychology is one that is worth pursuing. Are we really cut off from true learning experience? I am finding that I agree with Dillard a lot in the respect that I do not feel wilderness is bound by size or location. I have experienced wilderness in some very interesting places and sizes during the duration of this course.

So far, I have pursued a few different avenues when it comes to developing my own ideas about wilderness. I have considered all of the values, services, and functions of wilderness as presented my Bergstrom’s article. I am beginning to believe that wilderness is a source of happiness for people because we use it for so many different purposes. I have also found that it depends on the consumer’s mindset as to whether they have a meaningful relationship with nature. After participating in the course readings and discussions, I do feel that I am ready to formulate my own statement about wilderness:

My ethics statement at this point is such:

Wilderness is a diminishing source of well-being for human kind that should be valued regardless of size, location, or alterations. The inclusion and availability of outdoor exploration and education is vital to the academic, social, and mental/emotional growth of every individual. The deficiency of true wilderness and its value as the truest educator is becoming increasingly significant to the happiness and fulfillment of humankind.

2.                  Draft

Innumerable questions have come to my mind during this journey and exploration of wilderness values. Fortunately, I have been able to construct my own understandings and interpretations via the readings and on-hands experiences provided by the Honors Wilderness Writing course. The most perplexing question I have faced in the course is probably considered very obvious: “What is wilderness, really?” The most important thing I have had to learn in my investigations is that every individual will have their own ideas and perceptions of what makes wilderness. Sometimes it has been difficult to read articles or participate in discussions with others who do not share the same views as I do. This has been an extremely valuable learning experience due to the acceptance and awareness I have developed in relation to environmental issues and wilderness conservation. I have truly learned to hold an academic discussion that examines sources with scrutiny, questions norms, and changes views. My strong personal opinions of wilderness directly influence my understanding of what wilderness provides to me and how I will treat it in the future. I believe that wilderness is an inherent part of our identity and that we cannot separate ourselves from our instincts.

As Jennifer Pharr Davis states in her book, Becoming Odyssa, wilderness “is a teacher like no other. It has no required reading, assignments, projects or grades. It has no expectations. It has no prejudice or discrimination. It doesn’t care about your socioeconomic status, age, gender, religious affiliation, race, ethnicity, education level, occupation, family, name, the clothes you wear or the car you drive. What a fantastic place for an individual to find out who she really is! (Davis 2011)” Furthermore, wilderness is an individualistic construct: every person has his or her own understandings and applications of wilderness within their lives and environments. My own life experiences and discussions with others about nature have led me to understand wilderness for its ultimate value: education. Without observing other animals within their environments, documenting changing phases and cycles of the Earth, and learning from nature, mankind would never have accomplished so much within our species. We are so far advanced as a whole – only due to the lessons that nature and its other inhabitants have taught us. Everything we own, create, consume, and conceive is related directly to the wilderness and its products. Wilderness teaches us to ‘disconnect’ from life and renew ourselves, to value diversity of Earth’s creatures, to stay healthy by eating and sleeping well, and to be observant and patient with others. On quite the other hand, our current society is structured in exactly opposite proportions. We are molded to pseudo-‘connect’ with others via technology, eat highly processed foods, interrupt our bodies’ natural cycles with medicines and caffeine, and to expect instantaneous gratification from others. We have strayed so far from where we really should be that we have completely forgotten about all of the benefits nature brings to our lives.

When we are able to connect and become a part of nature, we are able to gain knowledge from our outdoor experiences. One of the innumerable instances we can benefit from nature’s educational value is through field trips. One may consider a field trip in the traditional sense, but many more options exist outside of the school curriculum. A range of ages from toddlers to grown adults can explore new places and find out new things about the environment. A field trip may not always be a field trip in the stereotypical sense. No matter your age or ability, nature has lessons to teach all of us. Depending on our own life experiences and our understandings of nature, the things nature teaches us can vary greatly. If we ignore the call of nature and its generous wisdom, we will actively create a gap in our understandings of the world.

Instead of filling the void in our lives with empty technology and fruitless busy work, we should instead seek out our own answers about the world. Questions and statements about the real values of wilderness and nature have been posed by droves of authors, poets, photographers, activists, philosophers, scientists, and citizens throughout history. The environment has been a central point of intrigue and inspiration to mankind since the dawn of time; naturally, everyone has their own ideas and decisions about its value and structure. My own views about wilderness are similar to those of author Aldo Leopold: “Many of the diverse wildernesses out of which we have hammered America are already gone; hence in any practical program the unit areas to be preserved must vary greatly in size and in degree of wilderness” (Leopold 1949). I feel that the value of wilderness is not found in its vastness of size. Wilderness can be found in any space, large or small, as in Dillard’s story of the weasel. As Dillard sat in a suburban area, she still observed some truly ‘wild’ behavior of wildlife and felt uninhibited herself (Dillard 2013). This feeling of hers was not achieved due to the size of the land area she was on, but as a mental construct of her own. Like Leopold and Dillard, reputable scientist Reed Noss agrees: “wilderness, and natural areas in general, should be evaluated primarily in terms of their contribution to the broad goals of protecting and restoring native biodiversity and ecological integrity to our planet.” Rather than focusing on the immense size of the area, we should focus on quality of the land and the biodiversity it has to offer. In my mind, nature and wilderness are synonymous: I am able to find wilderness just like Dillard does, in the simplest of places.

Another factor that supposedly affects the concept of wilderness is the location of the land itself. For example, would we consider New York’s Central Park to be real wilderness? Despite the many man-made bridges, ducts, and other decorations that have been added to the natural landscape, there still exists a home to trees, wildlife, and plants galore. Just as a deserted forest, this environment is able to sustain itself and perpetuate its own needs without human interference. On a much smaller scale, I would also consider my sorority house’s front yard to be a natural wildlife setting. Though I can sit on a man-made porch and drink lemonade and listen to my iPod, I can still remove the buds from my ears and hear the birds chirping and watch the squirrels playing in the spring. Wilderness teaches me to focus on the present, the here and now; and it reminds me that each day is a blessing. It teaches me about spirituality and peace.

Lastly, I personally confronted the issue of wilderness virginity. Does the fact that the forests have been cut, grounds have been cleared, and crops have been harvested affect the wilderness’ educational value? My own answer to this question is no. The amount of truly untouched land left on our planet is extremely acute: less than 2 percent remains unscathed by human influence (Marsh 2005). If we based our understandings of wilderness on the virginity of the ecosystem, we would have to say that true wilderness in our world does not exist. I disagree with those who believe this because I feel that my paradigm of wilderness allows me to see wilderness in any natural setting – if I look hard enough. My definition of wilderness is fluid and ever-changing. It is based on one’s own mental construct and must be adaptable at all times. The wilderness still offers us the same lessons in any one of its forms; we must just be willing to listen to its call. However, I do not disagree that constant human expansion and consumption has taken a very serious toll on our wilderness and its natural resources. The environment has a beauty that we cannot comprehend – it always perpetuates and replenishes itself. However, the environment will only replenish itself with minimal human interference. In order to avoid losing the invaluable instruction that the  wilderness  provides, it is imperative that we as humans get our act together – fast.

The real issue I have found in my wilderness writing is not “what is wilderness?” but instead, “what do we do with it?” in order to continue to learn from it.  There are many different players on the field when it comes to environmental preservation, conservation, and use of natural resources. In a Wilderness Writing class discussion, we found that government agencies, privately-owned factories, energy consortiums, and even cities are fighting for the natural resources that our planet still has. With so much strain and demand on our means, how are we, as a whole, going to be able to support the Earth in the capacity it is accustomed to? Through my reflections and observations, I realized that I am more of a piece to the puzzle than I give myself credit for. I am a consumer, an advocate, and a statistic of the materialistic world. As a key constituent of the consumer lifestyle, what am I going to do to display my own wilderness values, change my mindset, and advocate for wise use of our planet’s bounty? More importantly, what will happen if our society does not see or disregards the impending doom?

Current dispute in the scientific world exists between human-centered and environment-centered land use. The majority of current land use, especially in the United States, is based on anthropocentric practices that deplete the land without worries about replenishment. Many humans believe that the land and its gifts exist as a resource to them to be used freely and with disregard for consequences. This indifference “has caused us to abuse the natural world in an attempt to separate ourselves from the natural world completely.” In order to create a more sustainable and healthy world, our civilization needs to realize that “nature is at our service, but not in the way that we have thought of it” in previous years (Mosden 2002). The happy medium survives in the even balance between human use and preservation: wilderness is flawless and self-sufficient without human interference, so we must try to intervene only when necessary and leave resources for many generations to come. Though this may be easy to say, it becomes extremely difficult to formulate a well thought out plan with so many conflicting views vying for attention. Just within my close group of peers, we all disagree about the most important values of wilderness. While I advocate for the wilderness as an educator, others may advocate that wilderness is a resource supply, economic booster, or a scientific cradle (Cordell 2005). I believe all of these opinions are detached from the emotional connections that are innate to us as mankind. We must not overlook the essential bond that we share with the wilderness.

The United States Wilderness Act of 1964 defines wilderness as “untrammeled by man, where man himself is a visitor who does not remain” and also a place that exists on “5,000 acres of land” (US Wilderness Act 1964, Sec. 2c). While I agree that it was important for the United States government to define wilderness in order to appropriate its conservation and measurement efforts, I feel that this understanding is too narrow to fit my stand on nature. My understanding is that at this point, the United States was striving to find efficiency in taking care of our natural resources for the sake of our nation’s economy. Again, this is too constricted to encompass all of the educational value that wilderness offers. It is important to see the wilderness as a whole for its total values, rather than as capital to be used for our own personal gain. Too many individuals pillage nature for its natural resources, wildlife, and other extrinsic values without replenishing them or caring about their damaging effects. We must remember the educational, spiritual, and intrinsic values as well.

There are many other uses for our environment and the wilderness outside of reaping natural resources. Natural surroundings also serve purpose for recreation, wildlife, and science (Leopold 1949). The intrinsic and extrinsic values of wilderness extend further than aesthetic appeal to include social, economic, ecological, and ethical benefits (Bergstrom 2005). Social benefits of nature are among some of most overlooked. Not many people realize the true value of wilderness – or even its healing and restoring properties. Nature has the power to cleanse the soul and repair the psyche after life throws us curveballs. The intentional separation between humans and the natural environment is creating a rift that is not going to be easily fixed. In response to this rift, there is a new field of psychology that deals with the lack of nature’s influence in our daily lives. This ecopsychology states that increased levels of depression and fulfillment deficiency are “a direct result of our lack of knowledge about ecology and contact with nature” (Mosden 2005). There is increasing concern that the effect of the disappearing wilderness will be much more profound than most people anticipate. I believe that straying from the teachings of wilderness, we are opening the doors to destruction and failure.

    While individuals interact with and participate in nature-based activities, they are not only building their basic knowledge, but learning wise use practices and how to be advocates for a better world. The scaffolding of activism and support on top of simple understandings about our world sets the tone for a more self-sufficient, healthy, and symbiotic environment. Without this understanding, we will continue to perpetuate our negative behavior toward the treatment of nature. Similar to author John Robbins, I believe that we, as humans, have an infinite capacity for either destruction or for creation. As a whole, we are leaning toward being “fundamentally selfish” beings that are propagating each other to be “accomplices in the status quo” (Robbins 2010). Rather than viewing wilderness as pure capital, it is imperative that we take a step back and see it as an entire organism before it is too late. At the most extreme case, humankind will destroy the natural resources and biodiversity we speak so passionately about. I believe this will be due to our extensive “education” and “promotion of awareness” that is not backed up by action and meaningful changes to our beliefs. Despite our empty promises of change, we must open our eyes before we doom our future generations to being robbed of the world’s truest education and inadequate resources for future use.

    As I believe wilderness has the capacity to educate all those who seek understanding, so others see wilderness as capital, recreation, science, wildlife, or spiritual fulfillment. If our society is able to turn toward “moral sensitivity, education and cooperation”, we will be able to accomplish our goals of wise use (Robbins 2010). If we want to protect our wilderness and conserve the biodiversity that provides us with so much information, each individual of our society must be dedicated to the cause. We must become reactionaries and revolutionists in order to spring our nation into action. In doing so, we will not only save the wilderness, but also our health and quality of life.

3.                  Working Bibliography

Cordell, H. Ken., John C. Bergstrom, and James M. Bowker. “Chapter 9: The Net Economic Value of Wilderness.” The Multiple Values of Wilderness. State College, PA: Venture Pub., 2005. 162-77. Print.

Davis, Jennifer Pharr. Becoming Odyssa. Beaufort Books, 2011. eBook.

Marsh, Bill. “Little Land on Earth Is Left Untouched.” The Seattle Times 31 July 2005, Nation & World sec.: n. pag. Print.

Robbins, John. n. page. <http://www.huffingtonpost.com/john-robbins/spiritual-living-human -na_b_627166.html>.

US Wilderness Act. 1964. To establish a National Wilderness Preservation System for the permanent good of the whole people, and for other purposes Public Law 88-577, 88th Congress, 3 September 1964

In-Class Text Citations and Annotated Bibliography

Bergstrom, John. The Multiple Values of Wilderness: On Organizing Framework for Wilderness Values. State College: Venture Publishing, Inc., 2005. p 48 – 55. Web. <http://www.srs.fs.usda.gov/pubs/ja/ja_bergstrom001.pdf&gt;.

This piece of writing is helpful in the formulation of my manifesto because it provides an organized interpretation of what wilderness has to offer. Many individuals are very narrow-minded and only consider wilderness and the natural environment to be valuable for resources. They often overlook the other values that are intrinsically tied to the wilderness, as reflected in this article. Though lengthy, this article provided me with some new insight into how important the wilderness really is to my everyday life. In addition, this editorial thoroughly and carefully outlines the attributes, functions, and services that tie into wilderness. The meticulous breakdown of information in this writing allows for the reader to acquire an easy understanding of the diverse profits offered by nature.

Dillard, Annie. “Living Like Weasels.” . Virginia Commonwealth University. Web. 2 Apr 2013. <http://www.courses.vcu.edu/ENG200-lad/dillard.htm&gt;.

This simple, short piece of writing offers a brief glimpse into what being “wild” really is. In particular, this article really helped me to think about what wilderness is and what it is really made up of. Dillard’s story provided me with a conflict of my own to solve: can wilderness occur in a suburban area as Dillard suggests? Or is wilderness confined to large expanses of land as defined by our national laws? This story is rather captivating, especially when Dillard taps into the instinctive and intuitive nature of animals. I think this will be a good contribution to my manifesto when comparing human attributes to those of the wild.

Leopold, Aldo. “Wilderness.” Sand County Almanac: and Sketches here and there. (1949): p. 210 – 213. Web. 2 Apr. 2013.

                   I feel that this article is valuable to my manifesto because of its accurate description of the origins of wilderness. Leopold references the wilderness as a tool used by man to create civilization that is now very rare to find in untouched form. Leopold’s artistic style of writing really appeals to the reader’s emotions and sympathy toward the depletion of wild resources. Leopold uses his article to influence the reader’s views about nature serving more than just one purpose: he touches on wilderness being used for recreation, science, and wildlife. Also, Leopold uses his article to advocate for more wise use of wilderness for the sake of these three main areas. Though this is a dated article, I feel that it is still an accurate and relevant portrayal of the state of wildlife in our nation.

Mosden, Kari. “Can Ecopsychology Save the Wilderness Debate?.” GATHERINGS: journal of international community for ecopsychology. (2002): n. page. Web. 3 Apr. 2013.

        Mosden skillfully weaves this article to provide a fresh outlook on the mutual dependence of wilderness and mankind. Prior to this article, I had not even considered that my health and well-being could be based on my own connection to the environment. In this article, Mosden discusses the relevance of a new field of psychology, called ecopsychology, which focuses on human relationships with the environment to promote well-rounded life experiences. Mosden also presents a unique argument about anthropocentrism and the views of nature as a service to man. She gives the reader brief insight to the differences between anthropocentrism and environmental perpetuation beliefs. She asks the reader to consider: is it necessary for humans to interact with the environment? This article was very thought provoking and helpful in bringing a new topic to the table.

Noss, Reed. “Soul of the Wilderness: Biodiversity, Ecological Integrity, and Wilderness.” International Journal of Wilderness. 2.2 (1996): p 3-8. Web. 2 Apr. 2013. <http://wildernesswriting.files.wordpress.com/2012/01/noss.pdf&gt;.

In this article, Noss presents an important idea: wilderness values and views can change. Noss takes the time to explore and reflect on his own understandings of wilderness before and after considering the effect of size on land classification as wilderness. Noss presents views that state all different kind of land must be valued for their diversity and independent value – this is an opinion that I highly admire. I think that this reading is useful to my own writing because this scientist is a writer that is skilled in composing his feelings and their changes over time.

Manifesto Draft

Innumerable questions have come to my mind during this journey and exploration of wilderness values. Fortunately, I have been able to construct my own understandings and interpretations via the readings and on-hands experiences provided by the Honors Wilderness Writing course. The most perplexing question I have faced in the course is probably considered very obvious: “What is wilderness, really?” The most important thing I have had to learn in my investigations is that every individual will have their own ideas and perceptions of what makes wilderness. Sometimes it has been difficult to read articles or participate in discussions with others who do not share the same views as I do. This has been an extremely valuable learning experience due to the acceptance and awareness I have developed in relation to environmental issues and wilderness conservation. I have truly learned to hold an academic discussion that examines sources with scrutiny, questions norms, and changes views. My strong personal opinions of wilderness directly influence my understanding of what wilderness provides to me and how I will treat it in the future. I believe that wilderness is an inherent part of our identity and that we cannot separate ourselves from our instincts.

As Jennifer Pharr Davis states in her book, Becoming Odyssa, wilderness “is a teacher like no other. It has no required reading, assignments, projects or grades. It has no expectations. It has no prejudice or discrimination. It doesn’t care about your socioeconomic status, age, gender, religious affiliation, race, ethnicity, education level, occupation, family, name, the clothes you wear or the car you drive. What a fantastic place for an individual to find out who she really is! (Davis, 2011)” Furthermore, wilderness is an individualistic construct: every person has his or her own understandings and applications of wilderness within their lives and environments. My own life experiences and discussions about nature have led me to understand wilderness for its ultimate value: education. Without observing other animals within their environments, documenting changing phases and cycles of the Earth, and learning from nature, mankind would never have accomplished so much within our species. We are so far advanced as a whole – only due to the lessons that nature and its other inhabitants have taught us. Everything we own, create, consume, and conceive is related directly to the wilderness and its products. Wilderness teaches us to ‘disconnect’ from life and renew ourselves, to value diversity of Earth’s creatures, to stay healthy by eating and sleeping well, and to be observant and patient with others. On quite the other hand, our current society is structured in exactly opposite proportions. We are molded to ‘connect’ with others via technology, eat highly processed foods, interrupt our bodies’ natural cycles with medicines and caffeine, and to expect instantaneous gratification. We have strayed so far from where we really should be that we have completely forgotten about all of the benefits nature brings to our lives.

Instead of filling the void in our lives with empty technology and fruitless busy work, we should instead seek out our own answers about the world. Questions and statements about the real values of wilderness and nature have been posed by droves of authors, poets, photographers, activists, philosophers, scientists, and citizens throughout history. The environment has been a central point of intrigue and inspiration to mankind since the dawn of time; naturally, everyone has their own ideas and decisions about its value and structure. My own views about wilderness are similar to those of author Aldo Leopold: “Many of the diverse wildernesses out of which we have hammered America are already gone; hence in any practical program the unit areas to be preserved must vary greatly in size and in degree of wilderness” (Leopold, 1949). I feel that the value of wilderness is not found in its vastness of size. Wilderness can be found in any space, large or small, as in Dillard’s story of the weasel. As Dillard sat in a suburban area, she still observed some truly ‘wild’ behavior of wildlife and felt uninhibited herself (Dillard, 2013). This feeling of hers was not achieved due to the size of the land area she was on, but as a mental construct of her own. Like Leopold and Dillard, reputable scientist Reed Noss agrees: “wilderness, and natural areas in general, should be evaluated primarily in terms of their contribution to the broad goals of protecting and restoring native biodiversity and ecological integrity to our planet.” Rather than focusing on the immense size of the area, we should focus on quality of the land and the biodiversity it has to offer. In my mind, nature and wilderness are synonymous: I am able to find wilderness just like Dillard does, in the simplest of places.

Another factor that supposedly affects the concept of wilderness is the location of the land itself. For example, would we consider New York’s Central Park to be real wilderness? Despite the many man-made bridges, ducts, and other decorations that have been added to the natural landscape, there still exists a home to trees, wildlife, and plants galore. Just as a deserted forest, this environment is able to sustain itself and perpetuate its own needs without human interference. On a much smaller scale, I would also consider my sorority house’s front yard to be a natural wildlife setting. Though I can sit on a man-made porch and drink lemonade and listen to my iPod, I can still remove the buds from my ears and hear the birds chirping and watch the squirrels playing in the spring. Wilderness teaches me to focus on the present, the here and now; and it reminds me that each day is a blessing.

Lastly, I personally confronted the issue of wilderness virginity. Does the fact that the forests have been cut, grounds have been cleared, and crops have been harvested affect the wilderness’ educational value? My own answer to this question is no. The amount of truly untouched land left on our planet is extremely acute: less than 2 percent remains unscathed by human influence (Marsh, 2005). If we based our understandings of wilderness on the virginity of the ecosystem, we would have to say that true wilderness in our world does not exist. I disagree with those who believe this because I feel that my paradigm of wilderness allows me to see wilderness in any natural setting – if I look hard enough. I propose that rather than being based on size, location, or “virgin” status, the definition of wilderness is fluid and ever-changing. It is based on one’s own mental construct and must be adaptable at all times. The wilderness still offers us the same lessons in any one of its forms; we must just be willing to listen to its call. However, I do not disagree that constant human expansion and consumption has taken a very serious toll on our wilderness and its natural resources. The environment has a beauty that we cannot comprehend – it always perpetuates and replenishes itself. However, the environment will only replenish itself with minimal human interference. In order to avoid losing the invaluable instruction that the  wilderness  provides, it is imperative that we as humans get our act together – fast.

The real issue I have found in my wilderness writing is not “what is wilderness?” but instead, “what do we do with it?” in order to continue to learn from it.  There are many different players on the field when it comes to environmental preservation, conservation, and use of natural resources. In a Wilderness Writing class discussion, we found that government agencies, privately-owned factories, energy consortiums, and even cities are fighting for the natural resources that our planet still has. With so much strain and demand on our means, how are we, as a whole, going to be able to support the Earth in the capacity it is accustomed to? Through my reflections and observations, I realized that I am more of a piece to the puzzle than I give myself credit for. I am a consumer, an advocate, and a statistic of the materialistic world. As a key constituent of the consumer lifestyle, what am I going to do to display my own wilderness values, change my mindset, and advocate for wise use of our planet’s bounty? More importantly, what will happen if our society does not see or disregards the impending doom?

Current dispute in the scientific world exists between human-centered and environment-centered land use. The majority of current land use, especially in the United States, is based on anthropocentric practices that deplete the land without worries about replenishment. Many humans believe that the land and its gifts exist as a resource to them to be used freely and with disregard for consequences. This indifference “has caused us to abuse the natural world in an attempt to separate ourselves from the natural world completely.” In order to create a more sustainable and healthy world, our civilization needs to realize that “nature is at our service, but not in the way that we have thought of it” in previous years (Mosden, 2002). The happy medium survives in the even balance between human use and preservation: wilderness is flawless and self-sufficient without human interference, so we must try to intervene only when necessary and leave resources for many generations to come. Though this may be easy to say, it becomes extremely difficult to formulate a well thought out plan with so many conflicting views vying for attention. Just within my close group of peers, we all disagree about the most important values of wilderness. While I advocate for the wilderness as an educator, others may advocate that wilderness is a resource supply, economic booster, or a scientific cradle (Cordell, 2005). I believe all of these opinions are detached from the emotional connections that are innate to us as mankind. We must not overlook the essential bond that we share with the wilderness.

The United States Wilderness act of 1964 defines wilderness as “untrammeled by man, where man himself is a visitor who does not remain” and also a place that exists on “5,000 acres of land” (US Wilderness Act, 1964, Sec. 2c). While I agree that it was important for the United States government to define wilderness in order to appropriate its conservation and measurement efforts, I feel that this understanding is too narrow to fit my stand on nature. My understanding is that at this point, the United States was striving to find efficiency in taking care of our natural resources for the sake of our nation’s economy. Again, this is too constricted to encompass all of the educational value that wilderness offers.

There are many other uses for our environment and the wilderness outside of reaping natural resources. Natural surroundings also serve purpose for recreation, wildlife, and science (Leopold, 1949). The intrinsic and extrinsic values of wilderness extend further than aesthetic appeal to include social, economic, ecological, and ethical benefits (Bergstrom, 2005). Social benefits of nature are among some of most overlooked. Not many people realize the true value of wilderness – or even its healing and restoring properties. Nature has the power to cleanse the soul and repair the psyche after life throws us curveballs. The intentional separation between humans and the natural environment is creating a rift that is not going to be easily fixed. In response to this rift, there is a new field of psychology that deals with the lack of nature’s influence in our daily lives. This ecopsychology states that increased levels of depression and fulfillment deficiency are “a direct result of our lack of knowledge about ecology and contact with nature” (Mosden, 2005). There is increasing concern that the effect of the disappearing wilderness will be much more profound than most people anticipate. I believe that straying from the teachings of wilderness, we are opening the doors to destruction and failure.

    While individuals interact with and participate in nature-based activities, they are not only building their basic knowledge, but learning wise use practices and how to be advocates for a better world. The scaffolding of activism and support on top of simple understandings about our world sets the tone for a more self-sufficient, healthy, and symbiotic environment. Without this understanding, we will continue to perpetuate our negative behavior toward the treatment of nature. Similar to author John Robbins, I believe that we, as humans, have an infinite capacity for either destruction or for creation. As a whole, we are leaning toward being “fundamentally selfish” beings that are propagating each other to be “accomplices in the status quo” (Robbins, 2010). Rather than viewing wilderness as pure capital, it is imperative that we take a step back and see it as an entire organism before it is too late. At the most extreme case, humankind will destroy the natural resources and biodiversity we speak so passionately about. I believe this will be due to our extensive “education” and “promotion of awareness” that is not backed up by action and meaningful changes to our beliefs. Despite our empty promises of change, we must open our eyes before we doom our future generations to being robbed of the world’s truest education and inadequate resources for future use.

    As I believe wilderness has the capacity to educate all those who seek understanding, so others see wilderness as capital, recreation, science, wildlife, or spiritual fulfillment. If our society is able to turn toward “moral sensitivity, education and cooperation”, we will be able to accomplish our goals of wise use (Robbins, 2010). If we want to protect our wilderness and conserve the biodiversity that provides us with so much information, each individual of our society must be dedicated to the cause. We must become reactionaries and revolutionists in order to spring our nation into action. In doing so, we will not only save the wilderness, but also our health and quality of life.

3.                  Working Bibliography

 

Cordell, H. Ken., John C. Bergstrom, and James M. Bowker. “Chapter 9: The Net Economic Value of Wilderness.” The Multiple Values of Wilderness. State College, PA: Venture Pub., 2005. 162-77. Print.

Davis, Jennifer Pharr. Becoming Odyssa. Beaufort Books, 2011. eBook.

Marsh, Bill. “Little Land on Earth Is Left Untouched.” The Seattle Times 31 July 2005, Nation & World sec.: n. pag. Print.

Robbins, John. n. page. <http://www.huffingtonpost.com/john-robbins/spiritual-living-human -na_b_627166.html>.

US Wilderness Act. 1964. To establish a National Wilderness Preservation System for the permanent good of the whole people, and for other purposes Public Law 88-577, 88th Congress, 3 September 1964

 

 

In-Class Text Citations and Annotated Bibliography

 

Bergstrom, John. The Multiple Values of Wilderness: On Organizing Framework for Wilderness Values. State College: Venture Publishing, Inc., 2005. p 48 – 55. Web. <http://www.srs.fs.usda.gov/pubs/ja/ja_bergstrom001.pdf&gt;.

 

This piece of writing is helpful in the formulation of my manifesto because it provides an organized interpretation of what wilderness has to offer. Many individuals are very narrow-minded and only consider wilderness and the natural environment to be valuable for resources. They often overlook the other values that are intrinsically tied to the wilderness, as reflected in this article. Though lengthy, this article provided me with some new insight into how important the wilderness really is to my everyday life. In addition, this editorial thoroughly and carefully outlines the attributes, functions, and services that tie into wilderness. The meticulous breakdown of information in this writing allows for the reader to acquire an easy understanding of the diverse profits offered by nature.

 

Dillard, Annie. “Living Like Weasels.” . Virginia Commonwealth University. Web. 2 Apr 2013. <http://www.courses.vcu.edu/ENG200-lad/dillard.htm&gt;.

 

This simple, short piece of writing offers a brief glimpse into what being “wild” really is. In particular, this article really helped me to think about what wilderness is and what it is really made up of. Dillard’s story provided me with a conflict of my own to solve: can wilderness occur in a suburban area as Dillard suggests? Or is wilderness confined to large expanses of land as defined by our national laws? This story is rather captivating, especially when Dillard taps into the instinctive and intuitive nature of animals. I think this will be a good contribution to my manifesto when comparing human attributes to those of the wild.

 

Leopold, Aldo. “Wilderness.” Sand County Almanac: and Sketches here and there. (1949): p. 210 – 213. Web. 2 Apr. 2013.

 

                   I feel that this article is valuable to my manifesto because of its accurate description of the origins of wilderness. Leopold references the wilderness as a tool used by man to create civilization that is now very rare to find in untouched form. Leopold’s artistic style of writing really appeals to the reader’s emotions and sympathy toward the depletion of wild resources. Leopold uses his article to influence the reader’s views about nature serving more than just one purpose: he touches on wilderness being used for recreation, science, and wildlife. Also, Leopold uses his article to advocate for more wise use of wilderness for the sake of these three main areas. Though this is a dated article, I feel that it is still an accurate and relevant portrayal of the state of wildlife in our nation.

 

Mosden, Kari. “Can Ecopsychology Save the Wilderness Debate?.” GATHERINGS: journal of international community for ecopsychology. (2002): n. page. Web. 3 Apr. 2013.

        

        Mosden skillfully weaves this article to provide a fresh outlook on the mutual dependence of wilderness and mankind. Prior to this article, I had not even considered that my health and well-being could be based on my own connection to the environment. In this article, Mosden discusses the relevance of a new field of psychology, called ecopsychology, which focuses on human relationships with the environment to promote well-rounded life experiences. Mosden also presents a unique argument about anthropocentrism and the views of nature as a service to man. She gives the reader brief insight to the differences between anthropocentrism and environmental perpetuation beliefs. She asks the reader to consider: is it necessary for humans to interact with the environment? This article was very thought provoking and helpful in bringing a new topic to the table.

 

Noss, Reed. “Soul of the Wilderness: Biodiversity, Ecological Integrity, and Wilderness.” International Journal of Wilderness. 2.2 (1996): p 3-8. Web. 2 Apr. 2013. <http://wildernesswriting.files.wordpress.com/2012/01/noss.pdf&gt;.

   

In this article, Noss presents an important idea: wilderness values and views can change. Noss takes the time to explore and reflect on his own understandings of wilderness before and after considering the effect of size on land classification as wilderness. Noss presents views that state all different kind of land must be valued for their diversity and independent value – this is an opinion that I highly admire. I think that this reading is useful to my own writing because this scientist is a writer that is skilled in composing his feelings and their changes over time.

Wilderness Prospectus

Particularly, I am interested in the effects of interaction with wilderness as a source of happiness. In our class of wilderness writers, we have a very diverse group of learners and personalities. Though all of us elected to take this course, some of us seem to be more enthusiastic to participate in outdoor activities than others. Does being outside more often really affect someone’s happiness? If so, how can you measure happiness? In addition, as Leopold and Noss question: does the size of the wilderness effect its effect on the human mind and its intrinsic value? I have developed my own ideas to find that wilderness is not dependent on any factors other than the constructs of the perceiving mind.

I chose this question because I find it curious after participating in so many different activities, I seem to be happier. I am interested in finding out if this can be attributed to my own spiritual connection with nature and wilderness, or due to my developed social relationships with classmates. I would like to know if Mosden’s notion of ecopsychology is one that is worth pursuing. I am finding that I agree with Dillard a lot in the respect that I do not feel wilderness is bound by size or location. I have experienced wilderness in some very interesting places and sizes during the duration of this course.

 

So far, I have pursued a few different avenues when it comes to developing my own ideas about wilderness. I have considered all of the values, services, and functions of wilderness as presented my Bergstrom’s article. I am beginning to believe that wilderness is a source of happiness for people because we use it for so many different purposes. I have also found that it depends on the consumer’s mindset as to whether they have a meaningful relationship with nature. After participating in the course readings and discussions, I do feel that I am ready to formulate my own statement about wilderness:

Wilderness is a diminishing source of well-being for human kind that should be valued regardless of size, location, or alterations.

In-Class Text Citations and Annotated Bibliography

Bergstrom, John. The Multiple Values of Wilderness: On Organizing Framework for Wilderness Values. State College: Venture Publishing, Inc., 2005. p 48 – 55. Web. <http://www.srs.fs.usda.gov/pubs/ja/ja_bergstrom001.pdf&gt;.

This piece of writing is helpful in the formulation of my manifesto because it provides an organized interpretation of what wilderness has to offer. Many individuals are very narrow-minded and only consider wilderness and the natural environment to be valuable for resources. They often overlook the other values that are intrinsically tied to the wilderness, as reflected in this article. Though lengthy, this article provided me with some new insight into how important the wilderness really is to my everyday life. In addition, this editorial thoroughly and carefully outlines the attributes, functions, and services that tie into wilderness. The meticulous breakdown of information in this writing allows for the reader to acquire an easy understanding of the diverse profits offered by nature.

Dillard, Annie. “Living Like Weasels.” . Virginia Commonwealth University. Web. 2 Apr 2013. <http://www.courses.vcu.edu/ENG200-lad/dillard.htm&gt;.

This simple, short piece of writing offers a brief glimpse into what being “wild” really is. In particular, this article really helped me to think about what wilderness is and what it is really made up of. Dillard’s story provided me with a conflict of my own to solve: can wilderness occur in a suburban area as Dillard suggests? Or is wilderness confined to large expanses of land as defined by our national laws? This story is rather captivating, especially when Dillard taps into the instinctive and intuitive nature of animals. I think this will be a good contribution to my manifesto when comparing human attributes to those of the wild.

Leopold, Aldo. “Wilderness.” Sand County Almanac: and Sketches here and there. (1949): p. 210 – 213. Web. 2 Apr. 2013.

                   I feel that this article is valuable to my manifesto because of its accurate description of the origins of wilderness. Leopold references the wilderness as a tool used by man to create civilization that is now very rare to find in untouched form. Leopold’s artistic style of writing really appeals to the reader’s emotions and sympathy toward the depletion of wild resources. Leopold uses his article to influence the reader’s views about nature serving more than just one purpose: he touches on wilderness being used for recreation, science, and wildlife. Also, Leopold uses his article to advocate for more wise use of wilderness for the sake of these three main areas. Though this is a dated article, I feel that it is still an accurate and relevant portrayal of the state of wildlife in our nation.

Mosden, Kari. “Can Ecopsychology Save the Wilderness Debate?.” GATHERINGS: journal of international community for ecopsychology. (2002): n. page. Web. 3 Apr. 2013.

        Mosden skillfully weaves this article to provide a fresh outlook on the mutual dependence of wilderness and mankind. Prior to this article, I had not even considered that my health and well-being could be based on my own connection to the environment. In this article, Mosden discusses the relevance of a new field of psychology, called ecopsychology, which focuses on human relationships with the environment to promote well-rounded life experiences. Mosden also presents a unique argument about anthropocentrism and the views of nature as a service to man. She gives the reader brief insight to the differences between anthropocentrism and environmental perpetuation beliefs. She asks the reader to consider: is it necessary for humans to interact with the environment? This article was very thought provoking and helpful in bringing a new topic to the table.

Noss, Reed. “Soul of the Wilderness: Biodiversity, Ecological Integrity, and Wilderness.” International Journal of Wilderness. 2.2 (1996): p 3-8. Web. 2 Apr. 2013. <http://wildernesswriting.files.wordpress.com/2012/01/noss.pdf&gt;.

In this article, Noss presents an important idea: wilderness values and views can change. Noss takes the time to explore and reflect on his own understandings of wilderness before and after considering the effect of size on land classification as wilderness. Noss presents views that state all different kind of land must be valued for their diversity and independent value – this is an opinion that I highly admire. I think that this reading is useful to my own writing because this scientist is a writer that is skilled in composing his feelings and their changes over time.

Final Portfolio: Plants, and Snakes, and Field Notes, oh my!

Writer’s Memo:

This particular composition was possibly the most fun writing that occurred in the class. I really enjoyed the systematic, detailed way to record my observations and feelings. Being able to take part in more then one kind of field notes helped me to broaden my horizons in writing. The content of these three pieces is variable based my surroundings in three different locations. The first set of field notes was based on a two-column genre with a fictional interpretation afterward, the second set was based on just a two-column setup, and the final set was based on the Grinnell Method. Inn this experience, I found that my favorite style of field notes is the Grinnell Method since it includes location. Location is vital to the field note taking process because it allows the writer to revisit that spot at another time to make further observations. The purpose of this field notes is not necessarily for a reader to analyze, but rather for the author themselves. However, these field notes could be useful to any reader for a scientific study, as we found through the ProjectNOAH website. The purpose of these field notes in my opinion was a learning experience for me to discover a new way of recording my surroundings and making sense of my own thoughts.

Field Notes Set 1: River Park North (found in previous post tagged “Field Notes Archive”)

Field Notes Set 2: Hebron Rock Colony

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Field Notes Set 3: Tulsa Landing – Close to Halifax, NC
*Using the Grinnell Method

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Field Notes Contributed to ProjectNOAH:

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Field Notes Reflection:

Field note taking is certainly an art. There are many conditions that must be fulfilled in regards to environment of the field note taking in place, as well as the actual content of the Field Notes themselves. I believe it is very important for us, as citizen scientists and observers of the world, to be aware of our surroundings and how they change over the course of time. This can really help us as individuals to realize our own impact, as well as the impact of outside forces  on nature as a whole. It helps us put together the smaller pieces of the puzzle by keeping our eyes peeled for discoveries.

In order to establish the best quality of field notes, it is obviously important for the author to be focused on the area and their surroundings. Also, the author must be aware of the purpose of their Field Notes – so they can focus on accomplishing the goal they have set. Is the author trying to gain information about a particular subject? Is the author looking to make a new discovery? Is the author trying to establish their own meaning from a sequence of observations? A clear path (or lack of path) will help to clarify or condense the efforts.

There are also many factors that must be included in Field Note Taking to make an entry complete and well-rounded. Through my own note-taking, I have found that I believe the key components of a Field Note Entry are time, date, location, description of organism being observed, and (minimal or extensive) conditions of observation (ie: surroundings/environment/weather). A good picture of the observation can only be painted for the reader if all essential components are covered. It is necessary for a reader to be able to visualize and experience from afar by tapping into their five senses. I have found that it helps if I write down my immediate reactions to my observations and then come back to them later. It is always surprising when I find out if my immediate reactions are right or wrong. For instance, I wrote a lot about the cold at River Park North during my first set of field notes. Later, I found that I was certainly correct – the temperature was in the 30s that day!

In accordance with my necessary components, I was able to record the time, date, and location very accurately with a wristwatch and a GPS coordinate locator on my phone in my field notes from our canoe trip. This was the most accurate description of location I have been able to provide and it helps to pinpoint my place so I could revisit that particular point later – if I so chose. This also allows me to revisit my conclusions and ideas for further examination. In addition, my descriptions of organisms are particularly good in my field notes from the River Park North. Being provided with ample time for reflection and processing is another key component to the Grinnell Field Note Taking method that I used during my last set of field notes. I found that reviewing and adding to the piece many times helps me to establish a more concrete piece of writing. For example, in my field notes from River Park North, I made sure to include all of the obligatory information while expressing the surroundings by using my senses and many descriptive adjectives. Later, I was able to write a narrative based on my field notes because I had spent so much time in each phase of creation. I really knew my material, so it was easier to create a new product from my observations.

From what I have read, written, and seen about the purpose of field notes, I have have gathered that they have many purposes. Taking field notes is not something that should be underrated or forgotten, but rather, field notes should be taught and valued. Taking field notes, no matter the method, allows the author to capture more than just an image on a camera screen or an audio note about a subject. Field notes allow the author the chance to record text and images as they see them in a real relation to the world. I have found that in learning field notes for this class, my note-taking style for other classes has adapted significantly. For example, when I hear one of my professors say something new or significant, I may abbreviate the phrase over in the margins of my notebook and draw a sketch that reinforces my ideas and opinions. I find that I am more organized and that it is easier for me to remember content now!

In the explorations of a few different types of field note taking, I discovered that scientists use different methods for different purposes and subjects. If a scientist is studying a group of indigenous people or indigenous plants, their methods may change. Plays stay still enough to draw a sketch and make longer observations – whereas most people don’t! My favorite method of field note taking has turned out to be the quick observation method. I like to be able to record each thing I observe, while writing a brief observation about it in the other column. I think this is my favorite because it forces me to make quick judgments and think about things instinctively. This usually results in my best work, and even better reflections later.

Reflections of a Winter Wonderland

Two major factors that influenced my experience and perceptions of wilderness:

  • The weather and the changes in weather made me realize that we are not controllers of the environment: we are just subject to its forces. It made me feel small and insignificant in comparison to the power of the elements and the wildlife outside that are forced to endure nature’s path.
    • The wind made me feel a bit bitter about the trip at first, since it seemed to be so bone-chilling. After a few hours on the first day, my companions good attitudes made me forget about the wind altogether.
    • Coming from a place that doesn’t receive much snow, this particular phase of weather is quite intriguing and exciting to me. I really enjoyed creating my footprints and playing in the white fluff.
    • On the other hand, ice underneath snow is something I knew I wasn’t fond of. My experience and perspective were definitely altered when I realized the tangible danger that exists alongside the beauty of a natural setting.
  • Particularly, the aesthetic beauty I was able to experience was what affected me profoundly. The ability to see such a clear view and inspect the wonder of nature really took me away from the day-to-day. Being outside and experiencing the wild with all of my senses was a complex, yet freeing capability.
    • The views we were able to acquire through our hard work hiking were extraordinary! The depth of the colors and the detail of the uncut forests below, combined with the valleys and rock formations were enough to make you rethink enclosing yourself with walls all day.
    • When we were able to visit the Hebron Rock Colony, the vastness of the area and the massive boulders made me feel powerless and insignificant. I stood, just in awe, many times, just taking the scenery in.
    • When we were able to go sledding, even though we were in a very populated area, I was able to see wilderness in the area surrounding us. This drew me to the conclusion that I do not feel wilderness is size-bound.

Prior to our trip, I hadn’t really thought about my perceptions and constructs of the wilderness. However, since I have been prompted and asked to contemplate my own definition, this is what I have found through my own experiences and our readings/studies:

  • I do not believe wilderness can be bound by a size. Wilderness can be found anywhere, even on a snowy sledding hill at a highway intersection. Rather, I think wilderness may be governed by the lack of man-made structures and land alterations. I am still experimenting with this.
  • I believe that the purpose of wilderness is neither to serve man, nor to serve itself. I think that there is a fine line of balance that we, as humans, must respect when we take from and alter nature. We must be cautious not to perpetuate a cycle farther than its means. Wilderness must be able to self-sustain.
  • Wilderness offers many things to mankind. We are intricately interwoven with wilderness, whether we realize it or not. I do strongly believe that part of our well-being and health is tied in with our connection and understanding of nature. People who are very disconnected seem to be less stable and find less solace in the world.

Genre Study

For my polished essay piece, I will be writing an adaptation/mixture of a dual-voice poem and expository style writing. For my genre study, I am searching for exemplary pieces of poetry and prose so I can further my understanding before writing my own.

The first piece I found is located here. It is a dual-voice poem written to inform the audience about two very different perspectives about being a Marine. The audience is anyone interested in finding out more about the challenges of being a Marine. The context of the poem states two very different view points about the importance and validity of the organization itself. The poem is structured in such a way that the opposing sides almost war with each other.

The second piece I found can be located here. It is also a dual-voice poem that expresses two sides of a ‘devil’ and an ‘angel’ student in the classroom setting. The purpose is to entertain the audience while epitomizing the good and bad qualities of a student. I imagine the audience of this poem to be other students or possibly a teacher. The context of the poem provides two voices springing from the same source. Reading both of the sides of the poem at the same time provides the audience with a unique understanding and the structure allows a sharp contrast between the sides.

The third and final piece of prose I found can be seen here. It offers an idea unique from the prior two arrangements I read. The purpose of this piece is to inform the reader about an impending dangerous situation through an interesting layout. The structure of this piece relates two seemingly unrelated subjects together with their relationship involving a third. The audience of this piece is intended to be the general public. 

I think that this particular genre will allow me to serve my purpose in these ways:
– Provide a unique viewpoint to the reader about the ascent and descent of the mountain in dual form.
– Challenge myself to write and experience a new kind of genre
– Help me, as the author, to organize my thoughts about this experience effectively
– This genre will alow me to write from two conflicting viewpoints and see both sides of an argument
– This genre may encourage me to branch out and experiment with other new forms of writing

Photo Edit – FTW or Fabulous Fail?

ImageImagePrior to this experience, my photo editing skills extended only to the instagram app on my iPhone. Above is the original and below it is the edited version. I ended up using the default photo editing software on my mother’s HP computer. I played with cropping, lighting, tint, highlights, and shadows. I ended up cropping the photos to portray an equal balance of winter on the left and water on the right. Then, I adjusted the colors to be a bit brighter and concentrated so the photo could portray more warmth. I especially love the balance and the sparkle of the light off of the water. I am very pleased with the result of my efforts.