My Story is This

Part of Your World

My Story is This: A Poem

I was given a project, a particular quest
To choose, discover, and define an interest,
To which my time I’d invest.

My Story is this:

I joined an environmental anthropology class, eager to learn and listen.
But little did I know I wasn’t merely listening… soon I’d be giving.
A blog was my format, and the world was my subject
as I struggled to discover my certain passion’s direct.
I wanted my project to have a hypothesis, nice and neat,
So I could wrap it up tight, finished, complete.
And then proclaim to the world, look what I’ve made!
I’ve read this, wrote that, it’s been a grand parade.
I wanted to blog about what made people care,
What made them love. And I wanted to share
Their various biographies,
In an attempt for climate change to become closer to reality.
But, my story…

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My Story is This

My Story is This: A Poem

I was given a project, a particular quest
To choose, discover, and define an interest,
To which my time I’d invest.

My Story is this:

I joined an environmental anthropology class, eager to learn and listen.
But little did I know I wasn’t merely listening… soon I’d be giving.
A blog was my format, and the world was my subject
as I struggled to discover my certain passion’s direct.
I wanted my project to have a hypothesis, nice and neat,
So I could wrap it up tight, finished, complete.
And then proclaim to the world, look what I’ve made!
I’ve read this, wrote that, it’s been a grand parade.
I wanted to blog about what made people care,
What made them love. And I wanted to share
Their various biographies,
In an attempt for climate change to become closer to reality.
But, my story is that I learned and realized much more.
And that nice and neat finishes are actually a bore.
For I want my story to continue forever,
I want learning to cease from my life never.

I heard stories, seen stories, read stories, and I’ve decided to try
To make this blog my own story, a story of mine.

I learned of a man who planted an entire forest.
I learned of the anthropocene, that we humans are geological forces.
I learned of Roy Scranton, and that accepting death,
Is the only way to fully love, having no regrets.
I’ve learned about perspectives, diverse world spectacles.
Tim Ingold has shown me the global, the spherical.
I Learned nature and culture are entwined,
Completely connected, no difference,
Equality in all types of life I find.
I learned about barriers, incredibly specific
Showing climate change doubt is not really scientific,
But drawn, out of fear for ideological harm,
That will alter all we’ve known in a huge angry thunderstorm.

I’ve had to answer the question: What change does the world need that only I can make?
What can I do, for good, for bettering Earth’s sake?
I learned about how conservation isn’t enough.
That science and politics separate isn’t enough.
I realized and saw these far reaching dichotomies,
between people groups, cultures, and entire cities.

I look at my peers, and how much they’ve learned
And I know this is why I’m here, I can not back turn.
I’ve fallen in love with my classmates projects,
About bugs, oceans, islands, and bees.
About thinking, hunting, discovering and cloned genes.
My story is that I admire the people around me.
I believe in them so much, and it truly astounds me,
When I see this hope here in the middle of Kansas,
I feel we can do this, what is stopping us?

Maybe what’s stopping us is society?
Or cultural emotion, trying to convince you and me
That what’s stopping us is fear, apathy or hesitation.
What could be stopping us is frustration,
Or fear of not meeting expectation,
Because we are a social institution, and work not in isolation.

I’ve learned about numerous conflicts, disasters and terrors.
Many, many times I’ve been wrong, depressed, and full of horrors.
When I read about Bhopal, please burry my heart.
I’m left shocked, shaking, and sick, difficult to restart.
But yet I look at my professor, my classmates, and their projects.
We’ve all fallen into the pit, we’ve all wanted to give up.
Yet we haven’t. We’re passionate; we are composionatlists.
(Tastefully Bruno Latour calls it)

That’s what we all have common in I believe,
We are all passionate about something to a certain degree.
This world may seem like a mess, but messes can be cleaned.
And I believe that by dwelling, and seeing, love will create stories.
And those stories will spread farther than eyes can see.

So what change does world need that only I can make?
What can I change that will last longer than my very time frame?
For change seem larger than individual, and its actually completely inseparable.
From the bigger part of a social level.
So in order to change, we must become aware I realized;
Aware of our very own “dwelling potential”.
I’ve realized that change requires confidence. Self acceptance.
And I found myself with a goal, a direction, now slightly different.
I’m learning in my project loving yourself is tough. But if you yet haven’t learned to love you, you need too.
Because you being you is enough.

My life I’m growing into has graciously given me a seed
This seed, I realized, is just what the Earth needs.
Love is the seed I’ve been given to plant.
Love is my project, my quest, my new personal stance.
I realized its through love that these barriers can crumble
Its through love, I believe, humanity will humble
Itself. Beginning to believe and see love, as Bruno Latour describes,
As a path for us to entangle, integrate and compromise.
Love, passion, and personal growth
Is what I believe is the climate change antidote.

My project has become a place for people to see
That love has been given to us all,
And love we can to spread, no matter our previous fall.
I believe in dwelling, loving, and story-telling.
This is no longer about finding who cares,
This about showing others their potential to care.
My story is not about finishing, with a nice neat little box
It’s about further, thickening, and expanding my plot.

My story is this:

I’ve learned about love, more than I could ever imagine
And from it ideas have been born, even a loving locally challenge.
I believe solutions are possible by pursuing to use love.
Because it’s a glorious gift we’ve been given from above.

My story is this:

Thank you for watching, listening, reading, and joining me thus far on my journey. Go out and love our world a little more today! 

Dwelling, Loving, and Story-Telling

My Story-Telling Area

My Story-Telling Area

A Story:

When I was younger I used to walk this path I made along the side of my house. I would pace, prance, run, or tip-toe, back and forth, barefoot for hours on end telling stories. The stories themselves were about anything and everything. What I loved to do was to tell them to my surrounding friends. See, the tree residing here was probably the best listener I’ve ever met; he never laughed at me. The ants were too busy to care, but they always had so much to do, so I didn’t mind. The little green vines growing along the ground would tickle me hello and listened as needed. The rocks usually remained silent, but I loved to pick them up and hug them (I felt they needed the self-confidence boost). Overall, I dwelled with my story telling area. I was faithful to it. I visited daily (usually more). I was engaged and happy and aware of every being around me.

A Problem:

We are having difficulty as a society to love our surroundings. When I look back on my five-year-old self, full of love and affection, I ask myself; what happened? What’s changed? Why don’t we love our surroundings like that? As I began to work on my goal for this blog: approaching the issue of climate change with love, I believed that by helping people learn how to love Earth, action against climate change would become possible. However, I’ve realized there is a larger issue at stake. We, as humans, can’t love Earth because Earth to us is an alienated idea. We do not feel or view ourselves as a working piece of Earth. This is now a problem. For is it possible to love a disassociated idea? Can we learn to love a globe we are alienated from?

A Perspective:

Tim Ingold in his essay Globes and Spheres from his book (Perception of the Environment: Essays on livelihood, dwelling, and skill) uses geometrical metaphors to describe two different perspectives of life here on earth; the Global Perspective vs. the Spherical Perspective. The contrast between these strongly highlights this issue of alienation we’re in. It clarifies why western society struggles to connect with climate change.

Global Perspective

Global Perspective

  1. Global Perspective (most commonly the Western View). Ingold describes global as a solid, opaque surface: “That is to say, they presume a world already constituted, through the action of natural forces, which then becomes the object of human interest and concern. But it is not a world of which humans themselves are conceived to be a part. To them, it is rather presented as a spectacle. They may observe it, reconstruct it, protect it, tamper with it or destroy it, but they do not dwell in it.” (Ingold, 2000). In other words a global perspective on life separates human from earth, weakening any possible relationships between the two.

    IMG_5530

    Spherical Perspective

  1. Spherical Perspective: The spherical world according to Ingold “…is one that rests on an altogether different mode of apprehension – one based on practical, perceptual engagement with components of a world that is inhabited or dwelt-in, rather than on the detached, disinterested observation of a world that is merely occupied.” This perspective views human life as within and a part of the surroundings. There is a very real relationship between human and environment creating engagement, attachment, and a home-like setting.

The prevalent variance between these two ideas is that the former is not perceived as a home, whereas as the latter is “a world that is inhabited or dwelt-in”. Is this ability to dwell the skill we need in able to love our globe?

If that is the case; what does dwelling mean?

In western societies I believe dwelling is often viewed as a noun: Dwelling: (n) a building or place of shelter to live in; place of residence. This definition coincides almost perfectly with the global perspective. Instead of seeing ourselves as part of this world, we view this world as a blueprint. It’s a place for our minds to build a structure. The structure then becomes labeled as a ‘dwelling’.

Building Perspective

Building Perspective

This idea of having to build in order to dwell is the definition of what Ingold refers to as the building perspective in chapter ten of his book. “It is assumed, in other words, that they must perforce ‘construct’ the world, in consciousness, before they can act in it…” The building perspective can be viewed as a subunit of the global perspective. If we see ourselves as separate from earth, building is the enabler to dwelling.

A Potential:

This viewpoint is the core of human alienation from climate change. We, as western society, have displaced ourselves from the true reality: all things dwell. Not one person, place nor thing in all of our existence has ever been or will be environment-less. We are dwelling, living, and functioning beings at this very moment. Dwelling doesn’t require a building step. As I walk to my car in the morning, I dwell. As I sit in a classroom taking frantic notes, I dwell. As I write this blog, I dwell. This infinite cycle of dwelling is the basis for Ingold’s dwelling perspective. And I believe, the key to finding connection to climate change.

Dwelling Perspective

Dwelling Perspective

Through Ingold, I’ve discovered dwelling is more verb-like. It is an inalienable right and ability gifted to all beings within Earth: Dwell: (v) to abide, remain, continue, linger.

To dwell is to remain steadfast, faithful to our surroundings. To dwell is to accept the gift of our life.

So if we as people are constanly dwelling, why are we alienated from Earth? How can dwelling reconnect us? What use will dwelling provide during a crisis like climate change?

The beauty in dwelling comes down to one critical notion: awareness. All people dwell. But not all people are aware of dwelling. I realized, through Ingold’s intricate writing, the beauty of dwelling blossoms when intentionality molds the foundation of our dwelling. As Ingold explains “We can now see how, by adopting a dwelling perspective – that is, by taking the animal-in-its-environment rather than the self-contained individual as our point of departure – it is possible to dissolve the orthodox dichotomies between evolution and history, and between biology and culture.” And maybe, possibly, even dissolve the dichotomies within our political, social, and cultural conversations?

The Dwelling Potential

The Dwelling Potential

If to dissolve these dichotomies we must adopt this ‘dwelling perspective’ what are our implications? Do you or I have an ability to adapt a perspective so counter to western lifestyle?

A Cycle:

I think we as humans have already experienced the dwelling perspective. I believe that within every being on Earth there is an ability to dwell intentionally. This is because I’ve seen people love.

I believe that everyone experiences momentary times when they become aware of their dwelling nature. That awareness produces a very profound connection and attachment to a particular surrounding environment. Love is the product. Love is the attachment, the connection we feel. Love is born when intentional awareness becomes mingled into our mindset.

The Dwelling Potential

The Dwelling Potential

How I acted in my story-telling area is similar to how Ingold describes living with a spherical view; “It is through such attentive engagement, entailed in the very process of dwelling, that the world is progressively revealed to the knowledge-seeker.” Engagement and love is the solution to our alienation. We have all loved. We’ve all experienced the moment when our own intentions intertwine with our dwelling. We’ve all witnessed the beauty that unfolds.

So, how can we love a globe we are alienated from anyway? Ironically, by loving. When we feel love towards something, someplace, or someone…that love is connected to an environment, a moment in time. It’s a moment of being. When we love, we are dwelling intentionally. We become like the five year old, telling stories in her backyard.

In order to begin reevaluating our alienation we must reflect on the moments we’ve loved. And share your experiences. Tell your story. Story telling is the tool to grow awareness, produce more love, and nourish humans’ ability to dwell.

Cycle of Dwelling

Cycle of Dwelling

I believe this cycle is the path to changing social mindsets and action. Awareness of our dwelling will create love. And that love will create stories, lasting longer than our own lifetime.

The most fundamental thing about life is that it does not begin here or end there, but is always going on.” (Ingold, 172)

Notes:

  1. Ingold, Tim. “Building, Dwelling, Living: How Animals and People Make Themselves at Home in the World.” The Perception of the Environment Essays on Livelihood, Dwelling and Skill. London: Routledge, 2000.
  2. Ingold, Tim. “Globes and Spheres: The Topology of Environmentalism.” The Perception of the Environment Essays on Livelihood, Dwelling and Skill. London: Routledge, 2000.

Earth Day Eve Tidbit: Featuring The Liberator Today

If you have read some of my previous posts, you’ve probably noticed I quote Lowell Bliss and his book Environmental Missions frequently…

As Bliss is one of my creation care role models, I’d encourage you to check out this article he wrote for The Liberator Today. He makes some rather exciting announcements about Earth Day.

http://files.ctctcdn.com/1686c99c001/4a257724-f648-4593-ab14-98f3478a27b8.pdf

Happy Earth Day!

Cloud Seeding: Yesterday’s Technology, Today

Now that the end of the semester is approaching, I’m getting burned out from writing so this post is going to be short, but interesting (I hope). As you can probably guess from the title, it is about cloud seeding. What’s that? I’m glad I presumed you asked that question and will proceed oblige my assumption with an answer.

Cloud seeding is essentially putting particles of silver iodide, dry ice, or any of a myriad of other types of bits that increase condensation into clouds to increase rainfall. The United States mainly uses cloud seeding to assist drought stricken areas, reduce fog at airports, and to decrease the size of hail in thunderstorms. Below is a video that shows some airplane action if you’re interested.

Since when have we been using this futuristic, Saturday-morning-cartoon-villain-trying-to-take-over-the-world weather technology? Well, the process was discovered in 1946 and a second method was patented in 1975 so if anything it’s futuristic in the sense that The Jetsons is futuristic but somehow even more retro.

The best part is that as far as we know it’s environmentally safe since the chemicals use have very low toxicity (no more than the toxicity you’d be exposed to with a silver tooth filling) and the accumulation is so low that it’s not even measurable over natural background levels. So as long as it’s not used on a massive scale we’ll probably all right. Oh, and we should probably keep it away from sensitive ecosystems since it may or may not affect them somehow? There’s no definitive answer on that yet apparently. There are suspicions that silver uptake could affect certain animals more and increase algae bloom in lakes but again, no definitive answers. It’s so tame in fact that after decades of using it that in the distant future of 2003 a National Academies panel said that there’s no good evidence that it even works. The Smithsonian article that cited that is about a study of cloud seeding maybe working out a little bit so an evil organization holding the world’s weather hostage from their secret volcano lair isn’t likely to happen in the near future.

Facing Our Feelings

DSC_0129A couple days ago I was spending time with some friends. We were lying outside, enjoying the weather while discussing our thoughts and hopes for the future. One friend expressed how many kids she wanted to have and what adorable names she’d choose. My other friends in the group joined in. Then it was my turn to share. I hesitated for a second as my stomach flip-flopped, but finally replied, “Oh, probably  two…”  But I lied. Deliberately lied. For my true answer was; I didn’t even know if I wanted children. Not in the sense that I don’t want kids, but that I couldn’t imagine living with myself, knowing that I had purposely placed a child on this planet in midst of an unknown battle for life as we know it.

Obviously this conversation doesn’t seem relevant right now. I shouldn’t spend my time worrying about future family planning as a university student…but something within me was terribly sad. I was sad, frustrated, and despaired for several reasons; First off being that since I have spent more time studying climate change, my reality differed from my friends. I struggled to even imagine what my own children in 1o years would look like. All I could think was “Would there be enough food them? Would the planet be safe enough to learn in? To play in? To imagine in?”. I was wounded by the idea that climate change had infringed upon me on such a personal level. I was frustrated to tears by the generations before me; being able to dream about a future family without a guilty conscience. Overall I felt slightly cheated out of a ‘normal’ life, but mostly sad. So sad, part of me wished I didn’t know the truth, I didn’t want to recognize it.

What am I trying to get out of this depressing story? Because believe it or not, I’m not trying to make anyone feel guilty, or sad, or upset. I don’t want to make you feel anything. What I want to do is show you that feeling is okay, and even more so, feeling what you feel is okay. Climate change is a huge emotional whirl wind. It’s scary, exciting, frustrating, terrifying, apathetic, denied, and overall uncomfortable. But no matter how science or media tries to portray it; climate change will be emotional.

Emotion revolving around climate change is an enticing topic for me, but today I want to focus simply on thinking about what we feel. There is no right or wrong answer, whatever you feel is you. Its not wrong to feel excited or scared. However, I do think its wrong to avoid your emotion all together. For if we can’t even confront ourself with climate change, how will we as a social entity?  Mary Pipher, author of The Green Boat: Reviving our Capszied Culture, in her Ted talk  seems to agree with this notion:

We all have a healthy and understandable desire to avoid feeling pain. Its part of our human inheirtance. We want to savor the occasional shrimp cocktail without thinking about ruined mango groves….Yet well escapism is possible, escape is not. We can not solve a problem that we can not face.”

Therefore, this is why I’m not upset about the tears I’ve shed numerous times in light of climate change’s reality. Its part of who I am, how I react. Its an experience we can all share. The only way to begin believing in hope for our future is to acknowledge the problem; the looming ‘monster’ locked within our house’s walls. Would you rather run, cringe, and ignore the monster as his hunger for attention heightens? Or should we instead turn around, shake our monster’s hand, in hopes to develop a friendship? For Pipher says “With awareness everything is possible. Once we stop denying the hard truths about our environmental collapse we can embark on a journey of transformation that begins with the initial trauma, the ‘oh shit moment’ and can end with transcendence.”

A Challenge, possibly greater than the game of chess.

A Challenge, possibly greater than the game of chess.

Think about how you feel about climate change, its situation, its stigma, its implications. How does this situation make you feel? Its not bad to feel hopeless; for despair is reversible and manageable. My sadness has now developed into a beautiful hope. A hope in our product to come. Imagine us as communities and social institutions solving this climatic problem. Imagine how beautiful earth and its inhabitants would be…That is an earth I feel every child would deserve to experience.

I’m 19 and have shed tears about climate change since I was eight. But, I’ve found so much hope, more than I ever dreamed possible along the way. Therefore I challenge you this week to sit down and feel. Feel any emotion your heart may cry out in the midst of our changing climate; be it despair, joy, power or anger. I encourage you to have hope if  your awareness causes pain or discomfort. Have hope in your ability to dwell with love and amazement towards the life we’ve all been given.

I just want to end with one of my favorite quotes from Lowell Bliss’s book Environmental Missions: Planting Churches and Trees as we embark on this journey of facing our feelings:

“To hope is not to dream, but to turn dreams into a reality…Happy are those who dream dreams and are ready to pay the price to make them come true.” 
Hope is to make a dream a reality.

Hope is to make a dream a reality.