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  • Class Reflection #3-Feminist Movement 3/18
    I enjoyed the topic and the information, but did feel that the class was our least interactive and a bit lecture heavy. Since we all had the Power Point, we really did not need to have the text read to us. There were some things, like the pictures and the list of what made a “good” housewife, which would have been nice to discuss. Darcie seemed more than willing to listen and expand on our comments and I wonder if she really knew how we are able to interact during a web class. Maybe next class, she can be given a few tips and build in more opportunities for us to interact. She did eventually expand on the chat comments, so that was nice. Thanks Rena, for bring up some good questions. I also found that it was a bit distracting to have us all unmuted, since there was a lot of background noise. I think we should all follow Craig’s lead and mute ourselves if we have a busy household.

    On the subject itself, I did find the overview informative. I had studied most of the information, but it always nice to have a refresher course on some of this. I found the idea that pregnancy is treated as a disability interesting and a bit disturbing. I can see how it definitely makes like harder and that there are medical needs that come out of it, but I never thought I was disabled while I was pregnant and would have found someone calling me that offensive. It was definitely an inconvenience and uncomfortable, but I was able to function without accommodations. I understand that it being labeled as a disability expanded medical coverage and mother’s rights, but I still do not feel entirely comfortable with the language.

    I am looking forward to the next session and optimistic that we will have time to discuss the readings and topic.
  • I have been reading Barbara Kingsolver's Animal, Vegetable, Miracle for a book club I belong to. We've also read Michael Pollan's Omnivore's Dilemma, and I've read his other more recent book about food and eating seasonal foods and locally produced foods, and it all seems to fit right in with the environmental history piece. One thing I'm very pleased about with the Kingsolver book, is that she is raising her children with this idea of being socially and globally concious of where their food comes from and how it is handled before we get it. I'm really hoping that this is a movement that will increase in strength and power as time goes along. We are going to have to be more globally concious if we hope to give our children, grandchildren and future descendants a healthy world to live in.
  • I agree with Crystal that our last class was the most interesting for me as well. I started my life in AK as a firefighter more than 25 years ago then worked for almost a decade in a non-profit environmental law firm. Talk about an education in environmental issues in Alaska! I drew some flak from my more conservative friends when the firm took on the state on issues of compliance in the oil and gas fields in Cook Inlet and some Native corps. v. Traditional Councils on logging rights (Eyak), and still don't know where I sit personally on some issues. However, the laws must be enforced equally if and until there is the will to change them.

    I read with interest Cronin's article and would like to take a few minutes to comment, especially since others have expressed an interest in dealing more with the readings.

    Cronin draws on multiple facets of western attitudes to the environment. I appreciated his less-than-dogmatic approach to the issue of environmentalism in the U.S. In his conclusion he states that wilderness is more than a place, but also a state of mind. In nearly the same breath he says that "thinking ourselves capable of causing "the end of nature" is an act of great hubris. These two ideas seem incompatible at first. I've heard both expressed by opposing sides in environmental debates. Those that believe that we are too insignificant to cause the end of nature on this planet would not usually embrace the idea of "practicing remembrance and gratitude for nature. So I found it interesting that he wove the two ideas together. Not every Environmentalist would typically say that practicing thanksgiving is the most basic way to "...come together to make the world as we know it."
    They would argue for protection of those wild places, which Cronin is saying are constructed by us in the first place.

    As I worked my way through his article, there were a few places where I took exception to the path he took leading up to a point he was making. For instance, he refers to the notion of an unworked natural landscape as the fantasy of people who never had a connection to the land, who never relied directly upon it for their survival. I find this notion extremely elitist. It denies that non-urban working people have the capacity to care about or contemplate nature. Coming from a rural, agricultural and conservationist background, I object. It is the people who derive their survival and livelihood from the health of the Earth who have a deep, genuine and abiding respect for "her." To suppose that people who are working to survive lack the capacity to care is simply offensive. I agree that a person in the slums of Rio or Mumbai isn't thinking about preserving wilderness, but I believe that anyone, once their basic needs are met has the capacity to care.

    As he states later, we mustn't oversimplify our attitudes about what nature and wilderness are-it's simply too culturally, religiously, economically complex and issue for a simple black v. white position.

    In summary, I frequently found myself objecting to how he was making an argument, but agreeing with his conclusion.

    What is my "nature"? Nature is obviously the wild places and spaces we seek to preserve and into which we then plunk ourselves down. However, if we agree that nature is a construct of humans, then what about the pursuit of it in the form of a Zen water garden or an English country garden? While they are certainly not wilderness, are they any less worthy of being called natural?
  • Class Reflection #2-Leigh Anne Bonney

    I agree with Erin’s analysis of last week’s class being interesting from a local perspective. The environmental issues that we face in Alaska are complex and have shifted over time as our relationship with nature has changed. In Alaska we have so much land and resources and this creates a lot of natural resource management issues (which is an environmental history idea that could be explored). Looking back at our discussion, we brought up oil, fishing, mining, and many more Alaskan issues. Each of these issues has a historical, environmental, economic, and cultural component. For example, commercial, sport, and subsistence parties compete for fish and all have to be balanced with the environmental component of overfishing. The issue is also further complicated by national and world fishing issues, like farm fish competition and contamination of native stock. I felt that in class we just got to the tip of the iceberg on trying to place some of these issues into our discussion and it would be interesting to really delve into one topic using some of the information from our readings and discussion points and look at how the issue has changed as our view of the environment has changed.

    I do think that the time that we spent looking at the quotes under the heading “And this means what?” was not the best use of time. Some of the quotes were interesting, but it seemed as if the discussion we were having in chat was more engaging. I agree with Crystal that it would be nice if we spent more time with the readings. Hopefully we will have a chance to do so next class.
  • Tonight's class was by far the most interesting for me. Prior to the class tonight, I had no real understanding of what 'Environmental History' was, nor had I heard of it before.

    I read both article prior to the class, but found Cronon's article to the more interesting one. The main idea that I liked about his article was the idea of 'virgin land'. The territories of the United States were never 'virgin'. They may have been 'virgin' to the new white settlers, but not to the Native Americans who had lived there, hunted there, and had families there.

    Going back to commenting on the class tonight: I was in awe of the discussion. I tended to sit back tonight and listen 'read' as the class progressed and so many ideas were being discussed. One thing that I love about Alaska and Alaskans is that the majority of them seem to know about about their state, the environment, and the happenings of the state. Being born and raised in Michigan and living there until I was 22, I knew (and still know) little about the environment, the resources, etc. Being in Alaska for about 2 years, I am amazed at the amount of information that I know about Alaska. People are (in general) more aware of the resources that the state has, the government happenings and the public opinions of the people.

    I wish in class we would have had more time to discuss the articles that needed to be read for the class. I would have liked to hear classmates opinions about some of the points that were being made. Even though the article discussion was missing, the overall class discussion about environmental history was interesting.
  • Class Reflection (still not sure if I should post it here)
    I really enjoyed today's class. Living in Alaska people here are very in-tune with the environment (for the most part), we care about the land around us and want to treat it well. It is amazing even when I am teaching my 5th graders how much they know about the environment and the community around them. We have the Mendenhall Glacier in our backyard and 3 times a year we get to hike around it in the Dredge Lake wetlands. The kids learn about the various eco-systems living in just that small forest. I think about what my students down south in CA knew about the environment and unfortunately it was practically nothing.

    Kids are taught here that the land and wildnerness as a whole is not something to be conquered but treasured and treated with care. In Juneau people are very careful not to overpopulate certain areas and to keep much of the forest clean, safe and 'natural'. Although there are trails, and forest service cabins much of the community appreciates and adheres to the unwritten law of 'leave no trace'. Eventhough our footprint is always left in nature and is felt all the way down to the smallest life form. As a whole we really try to minimize that footprint.

    Todays class fascinating to me and felt so close to home. Most of our discussion that we had tonight are the same ones that are being discussed by Juneau residents as a whole. Possibly most Alaskans, however, I can't speak for them.
    I think about the Fourth of July parade when half of the town was rooting for Pebble Mine to be re-opened in their construction hats and quads and the other half was supporting the fisheries, etc. Very interesting argument...and the discussion seems to be ongoing each year. Whether it's voting on expanding the off-road vehicle trails to limiting the runs at EagleCrest Ski area. With nature right at our backyard, this discussion of environmental degradation strikes a nerve with many, many Alaskans.
  • Suzanne, I love it too. It helps me not to panic about missing something in class too, because I know I can go back later if need be.
  • A lot of these comments are so interesting. I especially want to think some more about what Patricia said, "I look at the natives living in rural Alaska and their view on the white man and to me I don't feel the same prejudice as I did when visiting the Blackfeet reservation. Is this because instead of taking them and putting them on specific reservations "we" let them keep their own land and lived among them eventually making them a part of the "white" way of life?"

    I wonder what life was like right after the Dawes Act? Or right after a trade was made of any kind. "Have I got a deal for you." Did the Native Americans ever feel like they got a good deal?

    Because I grew up in Alaska I see the changes happening SO FAST. In 1976 I spent 2 weeks in Anaktuvuk Pass. There was one phone in the village, there was only 1 or 2 modern houses, the rest were mostly sod still. There were no TVs, just radios. Now everyone has internet, there are taxis and a city bus, there's a very modern earthship type house there. It's amazing.

    James Nageak, a retired professor and inupiat eskimo, says they are losing everything---they took the money. Was it a good thing? They only got 45% of the state lands---was that a good deal? They got coorporations that they didn't know how to run and that are SO corrupt today it's not even funny. When the money runs out will they still think it was a good deal? What might be even worse is that the kids are now learning Inupiat in schools from books that were translated from English. The patterns of thought are western patterns--not the wholistic thought patterns the elders have.

    It's sad. Extinction is happening everywhere though. We are at the end of an era.
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  • Living and teaching in Alaska I have a much more in-depth perspective to Native culture than I ever did growing up and teaching in southern California. Their culture is still so real to these groups and some of the same feelings that were invoved in Callaway's book are still felt today (in Southeast Alaska particularly). The divide between tribes is very real and the competition and racism between natives and other natives as well as natives and 'whites' is very present.
    Callaway's book had such a depth to the knowledge and specific portrayals of natives and their side of the story. Hearing quotes from their perspective made their injustices all the more real.
    I do notice however that in my school and district we make a very conscious effort not to offend or mis-quote or mis-represent any tribe of people living in the area. It's too bad, because as a people verbal education of the people dominates so much over written education. This is a constant struggle with some tribal families to try to show the parents the importance of schooling.
    Thanks and see you in a couple weeks.
    Does anyone know where we are supposed to post our thoughts on the T-chart on natives and 'whites'?
  • Wow! Illegal immigrants... that really puts it in perspective. Makes you think about what is legal and illegal and what are "rights", anyway. Indigenous cultures have felt (and are feeling) the same crushing pressures from mechanized civilizations on every continent where they exist. No different anywhere. Perhaps even a LITTLE better than some other regions & continents where the "rule of law" isn't even given lip service. Ultimately if one looks at cultures as living bodies in which "individuals" are cells, then this animalistic tendency seems to make a kind of sense. The grizzly bear tends to drive the black bear out of any area where it enters...
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The Origins of Environmental Degradation

While Worster's writing is full of many ideas, one central feature of his work is the location of the origins of environmental degradation in capitalist world-views and modes of production that are as alive in the present as they have been in the past.  This admittedly Marxist and materialist interpretation runs counter to most historical narratives produced 'these days.'  What responses do you have for this point of view? Worster Toward.pdf

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