Friday, December 28, 2007

One Giant Leap

I am watching a movie called, "One Giant Leap" which was on demand on Comcast this morning. It is all about art, nature, culture, future, and the consumer culture. Its great. So far, I am loving it. A quote...

"A lot of our youth, they're affected by some very potent and powerful imagery out there you know, like the NBA, like Michael Jordan, Sony, the golden arches, bk you name it they're there, those symbols they rule, they are dominating our landscape, culturally. So I'm in the business of sharing other dominant cultural imagery as well and saying, 'hey, lets not forget about these things - beacuse they are who we are.' Most people done' even want to be Mali, they don't want to be Polynesians, no they want to be what is coming out of the square in the corner of their lounge. they want to be like Tupac, and Puffy Colmbs and these other people. Because that's more attractive than being Mali. There's millions of dollars poured go into making that so. we ain't got no resources like that, no. we just have cooky fellows like me who just carve sculptures for the rest of their lives, and laugh in the face of the wisdom of society and say, 'hey, i'm going to do it this way.'"

It is a cultural snapshot, with music, quotes from artists and poets, from celebrities and regular people. Beautiful and inspiring. I just ordered it off of the website which sells it, so I can show it to other people.

I first heard this song, not knowing it was part of this project, about 5 or 6 years ago. I'm excited that I was able to find it on you tube. Enjoy. I've posted the lyrics below.

When I look back over the years at the things that brought tears to my eyes
Papa said we have to be wise to live long lives.
Now I recognize what my father said before he died
Vocalize things I've left unsaid
Left my spirit unfed for too long
I'm coming home to my family where I can be strong, be who I plan to be, within me
my ancestry giving me continuity
Would it be remiss to continue in this way?
would you rather I quit?
Come with that other shit making people's hips sway
Lip service I pay but I'm nervous
I pray for all the mothers who get no sleep
Like a lifeline I write rhymes cause my compassion is deep
For the people who fashioned me my soul to keep
And this is who I happen to be
And if I don't see that I'm strong then I won't be

This is what my daddy told me
I wished he'd a hold me a little more than he did
But he taught me my culture and how to live positive
I never wanna shame the blood in my veins
And bring pain to my sweet grandfather's face
In his resting place I make haste to learn and not waste
Everything my forefathers earned in tears
For My Culture

Fall back again,
Crawl from the water,
Water to air,
You'e on you're feet're feet again

(Robbie Williams)

"Hello dad, remember me,
I'm the man you thought I'd never be
I'm the boy who you reduced to tears,
Dad I been lonely for 27 years
Yeah that's right, my names Rob,
I'm the one who landed the popstar's job
I'm the one who you told look don't touch
I'm the kid who wouldn't amount to much
I believe in the senses sight and sound
I have always been too loud
Won't you help me drown it out
I'm what I feel
And what I'm feeling is surreal
I'm a mass of spinning wheels
Always digging in my heels
now I've got the faith to


(Maxi Jazz)

Lace up your boots we're going back to the roots
Speaking to my ghetto youths freak freaking for loot
And nice things better check what your future brings
It's now and your forefathers for the know how
Go now into the world without hatred
Use your head
If the needle is wise be the thread
And weave ancestral wisdom yours by birth
Spreading the Lord's word over this broad earth

Thursday, December 20, 2007

moment of repose

The ride into Keene this morning was long and beautiful - the snow whipped around and fell in huge chunks - groups of snowflakes clinging together, ganging up on the drivers. The trip was, to most, hazardous, but to me, serene. I had no worries about what time I would arrive on campus, and just took the time that I was slowly pushing through the slush to look around. I remember the first week that I came up to Keene, the utter warmth, the bright red sunrise, and now we've gone around the sun a bit. The morning dawns gray, reflecting the falling snow, and erasing the distinction between land and sky.

In both classes today, we had time to unwind and reflect upon the semester. In Language of Nature, we read our semester's work and wrote about our goals, experiences and future aspirations. It was a calm and lovely way to wrap up the semester.

In Foundation of Environmental Education, there was an air of suspended sadness, as if the fun we had together would end after we walked out the door. Each of us read a sentence from our personal philosophy papers while tossing around a colored spool of yarn. By the end, we were all interwoven, and the diversity of our responses was amazing. We each got to keep a piece of the bright, rainbow yarn, and I've begun to make knot patterns out of it so that I ca keep it on my backpack as a keychain and reminder of my first semester.

I think I will be posting some key things form my philosophy paper later, but the sentence I shared was pretty representative of what I learned both in Foundations and in Language of Nature.

My goal as an educator is to fill in the gaps in our education that exclude, omit, or marginalize our place in relationship with nature, and to bring humans and nature back in closer proximity, to inspire passions and encourage responsible action.

I believe this is my purpose, and I am very thankful at the end of this part of the journey that I have come this far, and been so engrossed in the experience.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

weather outside... delightful

A quick update while I plan the rest of my afternoon. I've finished my State of the Systems project with what I hope was great success. We hunkered down and really nailed the presentation, did some last-minute research, etc., and looked prepared, coordinated and on top of things. I even had a classmate come up to me and say they wish they had been in my group. I'm very happy it went off well, and I'm doubly happy that its DONE.

Today I have to make a quick jaunt over to McDonald Lot to take some photos of our prism sampling area, make a map, and play with some of the data that Sam sent me. I'm not looking forward to that at all.

I'm also "assembling" my portfolios for Language of Nature and Foundations of Environmental Education. This is not bad, except I have to edit my Philosophy paper & rewrite my Nature Encounter Essay. I am looking forward to tackling those tonight. (I've already put together what I need to do for Language of Nature except for the paper part, so that's a plus.)

I also have to do laundry today and make another batch of pizzelles to bring up to keene. After last night I'm already only left with 3 dozen! I figure that while I let the laundry go I can edit the papers.... at least that's the plan for now.

This week is my last week of classes for the semester. I'm excited yet, sad. I'm going to miss my Keene buddies! I've made a lot of new friends and I can only hope that some of them are in my classes in the spring.

In other news, I'm getting excited about christmas since there's been no shortage of snow up here... finally, a year where I can look outside and at least pretend that its a "normal" winter! (P.S. check out the picture of the HUGE white pine that I came across while walking around Eliot. Crazy!)

Thursday, December 13, 2007

language of the flowers

I was looking for a poem to read in my language of nature class, and typed in "poems about language" in Google. The first poem that came up was by Shel Silverstein, author of several children's poetry books like "Where the Sidewalk Ends." I think it's a great poem, and it fits well with our class discussion on the origins of language being from nature.

Forgotten Language (by Shel Silverstein)

Once I spoke the language of the flowers
Once I understood each word the caterpillar said
Once I smiled, in secret, at the gossip of the starlings
And shared a conversation with the housefly in my bed.
Once I heard and answered all the questions of the crickets
And joined the crying of each falling, dying flake of snow.
Once I spoke the language of the flowers...
How did it go?
How did it go?

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

unencumbered numbered words

Merriam-Webster, today, announced the "word of the year." I was barely paying attention to the local, Maine news as it breezed over the world news, as it was a mere reading of the Google News top headlines for today. But my ears perked up when I heard what the word was. Are you ready? Previous years have featured integrity (2005) quagmire (2004) and who can forget last year's truthiness?

This year's word of the year: w00t

w00t (interjection)
expressing joy (it could be after a triumph, or for no reason at all); similar in use to the word "yay"

For those not familiar, this is a term which was borne of video games, specifically the online role-playing ones which take in teens and college students and keep them there for ages. This isn't a word, either, its an abbreviation or shorthand for an exclamation of joy. My gaming roomate says that it originiated in the day of "Quake" and stood for "we owned other team." What makes this one special? People say it randomly, everywhere on the internet. The two 'o's in w00t are actually zeros, a hitchiker from a digital conversation.

Does that it is about technology make it a word that is worth a dictionary like Merriam-Webster honoring it? It could be argued that many other technological words have come into our culture in the past few years that are worth recognizing, and to prevent "new" words from coming into our language is counter productive. I agree that terms like google and blog have now become part of our vocabulary, whether we chose them to be there or not. But their purposes, origins and meaning far outweigh this immature online slang. Even the newscaster who was describing it used it incorrectly about three times, before awkwardly shrugging.

Words that act as a critical lens like quagmire or democracy, or reflect on our lives like truthiness, blog, google or tsunami are welcome to be picked as representatives of the current year. But I fear that letting w00t win this year just opens a Pandora's box. It is a symptom of a culture whose next generation is in danger of being permanently attached to television screens.

I think that by letting this type of slang and abbreviated gaming talk enter our daily discourse, we're somehow losing other pieces of our language, detracting from meaning and eliminating the very purpose and use of our beautiful words which already exist.

"The most important aim of newspeak was to provide a means of speaking that required no thought what-so-ever. It uses abbreviations or clipped conjunctions in order to mask or alter a word's true meaning. For example, words such as Miniluv and joycamp, allow the speaker to speak without actually being forced to think about what they were talking about.. or at least, not as much as if they were required to use complete phrases such as "Ministry of Love" or "Forced Labor Camp". These words just roll right off the lips before the speaker can even contemplate what he is really saying." -George Orwell, 1984

I believe it is the purpose of my life to touch at least as many kids as I can, to prevent them from ending up this way. Wish me luck.

More on this later... for now, sleep!