Literature Appetizer

The Animal's Lawsuit Against Humanity: Literature Appetizer

The Animal's Lawsuit Against Humanity: Literature Appetizer

This is one of my favorite pictures of my father. Last week while my family was in Florida Dad asked me if I wanted to go and see the animals he saw earlier that day. Being that I love exploring ecoregions with my dad, we stepped outside to the local pond.

We saw at least a half dozen types of birds (including egrets), fish, and mammals. But in the pond, my father told me, was a red eared-slider turtle that got close to him earlier that day. We went to the same location and within a minute this little turtle came up real close.

Ramp Hollow: Literature Appetizer

Ramp Hollow: Literature Appetizer

What’s the unifying story of Appalachia? What common theme can you find time and time again in these mountains? Many people would answer coal. And while that is a big part of the story, Ramp Hollow: the Ordeal of Appalachia by Steve Stoll showcases an even deeper story: one of the privileged taking from everyone else.

In terms of who has privilege, we often base the conversation around skin color and gender, and understandably so. Many people are denied jobs or pay based entirely on race and gender. But privilege can come in many other forms, and although hardships can be different, often they “rhyme.”

Literature Appetizer: The Geography of Childhood by Gary Paul Nabhan and Stephen Trimble

Literature Appetizer: The Geography of Childhood by Gary Paul Nabhan and Stephen Trimble

I hated being outside growing up. All I wanted to do was sit on the couch and watch Dragon Ball Z and play Super Smash Brothers Melee. But even my childhood self, who had great opposition to the outdoors, still holds the places I grew up near and dear to my heart.

I remember waking up every morning seeing the ridge line. I remember the trees in the back yard where I would run under when it was too hot. I remember walking out on Mammoth Lake when it was frozen with my dad and sister.

Literature Appetizer: The Omnivore's Dilemma by Michael Pollan

Literature Appetizer: The Omnivore's Dilemma by Michael Pollan

The more I age, the more I realize how generous my parents were (and still are) by raising me. One of the ways their generosity shinned was through every night, sitting down for supper. Even though I was an extremely picky eater, Mom would always make sure there was food on the table that I could eat. I didn't even have to think or worry about how food was getting to the table.

Now that I'm living on my own I eat the majority of my meals alone. While this is not always positive, one of the things I really enjoy is experimenting with food. I'm now able to see what kind of food I get day in, and day out.

Literature Appetizer: Dwelling With the Land: Cultivating an Ontological Ethos by Tim Bock

Literature Appetizer: Dwelling With the Land: Cultivating an Ontological Ethos by Tim Bock

Over my years of teaching about the environment, I have been fortunate to meet so many different people; from a farmer from Maine who is the best skier I know to the leading expert on native bees in Washington. With many of them I have also had long philosophical talks (usually with a drink or two). The book Dwelling With the Land: Cultivating an Ontological Ethos  feels like the book form of those late night conversions.

Tim Bock is a dear friend of mine from working at Lutherlyn. Currently he lives near Grove City with his wife, dog, and a plot of land. By just taking a walk through his back yard, you can get a feeling for his core philosophy. Yes there are sections that he has plowed the land for farming. But he has also set aside a large part of it for the organisms to shape it as they see fit. Tim gives the best summary of his book on page 3:

Literature Appetizer: The Cloudspotter's Guide by Gavin Pretor-Pinney

Literature Appetizer: The Cloudspotter's Guide by Gavin Pretor-Pinney

At Allegheny College I took one art class: Drawing 101. I really dislike saying "I can't draw" but I was definitely one of the worst in this class. One of the phrases that stuck with me from my professor was "draw what you actually see, not what you want to see." When you actually start to see what is around, instead of what you think you see, the trees never are one-large-straight-trunk but rather a twisting formation of bark and branches. The Cloudspotter's Guide by Gavin Pretor-Pinney got me to appreciate clouds for what they are, instead of how I imagine them to be.

Literature Appetizer: Silent Spring by Rachel Carson

Literature Appetizer: Silent Spring by Rachel Carson

When I went to the Rally to Restore Sanity a few years back, one of my favorite signs stated "Give me moderation or give me death!" They weren't asking for extremism on any side. Rachel Carson's Silent Spring embodies this sentiment today. Even though it part of the foundation of the environmental movement, she didn't call for mass legislation or radical movements.

To be honest, even though I have been studying environmentalism and how to teach it since college, I had not formally read the book until this month. Each one of my professors would ask "who all have read Silent Spring?" and I would raise my hand, since everyone else was. I knew the gist; Carson was arguing against DDT, but I didn't realize how moderate of a viewpoint this book is in 2017.

Literature Appetizer: Reason for Hope by Jane Goodall

Literature Appetizer: Reason for Hope by Jane Goodall

Our world is in pain. From deforestation to wars, the needless killing of life is widespread. The more I personally learn about this pain, the more reason I have to give up hope. But Jane Goodall sees it differently. Despite the pain, despite the challenge, she sees four specifics reasons why we should still have hope.

In her autobiography Reason for Hope, Dr. Goodall takes us through a lifetime of wisdom. From the forests of Africa to New York City, she shares about her own personal struggle and joys with following the hopeful path. If you are feeling burnt out from work, the news, or anything, this is a fantastic read to keep hope.

Literature Appetizer: Urban Forests by Jill Jonnes

Literature Appetizer: Urban Forests by Jill Jonnes

On a lazy Sunday afternoon, I lay in a hammock as the clouds drift by over the island. As I finish my book, I look up at the two amazing trees supporting me. Not only are they holding my weight above the ground, but are also giving me fresh oxygen to breathe. They reduce the erosion of the island where I work. Even deeper, they challenge my mind and my being to think in new and creative ways. They stand as testaments to time and wisdom.

Literature Appetizer: The Chemistry of Alchemy by Cobb, Fetterolf, and Goldwhite

Literature Appetizer: The Chemistry of Alchemy by Cobb, Fetterolf, and Goldwhite

My sense of wonder with chemistry didn't start in the classroom, or with the help of a teacher. It all started because I was bored.

I'm roaming around my 7th grade school library, bored out of my mind. I was supposed to pick a new book to read, but since I hated reading I was haphazardly taking books off and skimming them to find an easy read. When I opened one of those books, I saw a strange and wonderful picture full of strange symbols and images. I saw my first alchemical image.