Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Peace and Consciousness

I love the holidays. Yesterday I saw three different people cut off an elderly woman three different times for three different parking spots AND at least two of the perpetrators saw the others ace this woman. The older woman was waiting for a parking spot at a local shopping area in Carrboro, NC. I actually said something to the last person who snaked her and the response (she was a college-age female) was that she was "here" before the woman was. Of course, there was a parking/security guard watching all of this; he intimated to me that his role was to make sure cars did not get broken in to, not to regulate traffic. Now for context, this is a very small lot (maybe 60 spaces) in a small "progressive" town next to Chapel Hill. The stores there are anchored by a local co-op (i.e., Weaver Street), an outdoor shop, and a fusion restaurant that's owned by the co-op's president. I could go on and on about these places and what irks me about them, but I won't. Suffice it to say that this is quite often thought of as a spot where "hippies", "liberals", and "individuals" hang out. From my experience it is local grocery store for wealthy residents of Chapel Hill and Carrboro, as well as a culturally sanitized space for white college kids to try their neo-liberal starter kits out.

For all practical purposes, it's a consumptive space with attendant ethos and consciousness. It's not anti-hegemonic and it's actually quite normative. Everyone gets along if they make purchases, don't feed the birds, and don't dance on the grass (I'm serious about this one). And, I'm not really sure why it's called a co-op, other than "members" occasionally get discounts on wine tastings and baked goods overstock. Shopping for holiday gifts amps the neo-liberal penchant for consumption just like everyone else, only the gifts are "green", expensive, and destroy resources "sustainably". It's still a violent act and attitude.

What would be a peaceable and peaceful alternative? And, how might a consciousness that's different spring to life in place of what we've got? Quite possibly, it has to happen in schools and other institutions (though these are still apparati of the dominate culture)...again, back to my question of "What are we educating for?". Nel Noddings' new book, Peace Education: How We Come to Love and Hate War, is an incisive treatise on the very psychosis that consumer culture gives us. I'd extend her analysis to suggest that this system of relating to others, the world around us, and the environment pretty much sets our consciousness up so that all there is to do is to objectify, consume, and desecrate. Philosophically, epistemologically rather, the frenzy/frustration/panic that makes one snake parking spots, flip drivers the bird (I got that one today too), rape, kill, ignore genocide, and bomb multiple countries simultaneously is the same consciousness that makes the ideological systems of our world function. It also makes us OK with destruction of the environment and the very land base that supports us.

Just some afternoon thoughts and ruminations as I try to figure different ways to be, and to think through what curriculum should be doing. More peaceable attitudes seems like a better inclusion than learning how to cite in APA format or what new ways tablet computing can be using to support digital humanities. Grinch out.

Friday, December 16, 2011


I start with a simple question: What sort of consciousness does it take to change the world? Yes, we need a changed world, now. But, too, what sort of consciousness has it taken at various times throughout time and space? And, how might we map such paradigmatic shifts in thought onto current times? One could even posit that, with 2012 mere days away (and 12/21/12 about a year away), this is an extremely apropos time for such meditations and (conscious) actions.

For me, it's this critical preoccupation with the environment and the ruin we are currently inflicting upon it. But, too, one can't simply say I want to stop environmental and ecological violence but neglect other atrocities (that are most always inextricably linked to our assault on the natural world and non-human others). It's a matter of social justice, if you will, where one cannot choose to dismantle certain forms of oppression (e.g., racism) while letting other forms of oppression slide (e.g., sexism). It's all things at once, all directions at the same time...better yet, seven generations forward and back...all our relations.

All that said, what would be the practice, beliefs, and texts and that would make this happen? What would not be? For me, pretty much everything our dominant culture is doing currently falls in to the "don't do this" category. Historically, there were other ways of being and ways of knowing that seemed more sustainable, but there were transformations or cataclysms or colonizing/colonializing that shifted or obliterated these paradigms. In broads strokes the eraser was imperialism and materialisitc conquest, but there' s a deeper seed---one that maybe was created to support imperial pursuits or vice versa. That seed is ideological in nature and had the effect of committed violence upon cultures and religions, peoples, non-human others, our natural world and its possibilities. This ideological seed (e.g., rationalism, Christianity, etc.) became a consciousness, a pathos, a contemporary compulsively destructive and violent psyche. It's a consciousness that will end us, probably sooner than later, if there's not some rerouting.

For next few blog posts, I'll try my hand at ruminating on how we might alter our consciousness and I'm open...I'm open.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Sustainability Polls and End of the Semester Iterations

It's the end of the semester and my dutiful students are crafting their final research papers analyzing behavior and environment. Supposedly all eyes are trained on how students' chosen environments might be made better, maybe even "sustainable" (for whatever that word means now and in the future). To that end I came across this article in the Oregonian and am wondering what thoughts may be.

I like it because of the slouching toward social science inquiry (our final course unit). There's a poll to assess the effectiveness of the Rose City's sustainability efforts...some of my students have used similar survey methodologies themselves and I'm interested in their comments.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Some Impromptu Iterations on Eco-Spirituality

Eco-spirituality is a problematic moniker. It's construction intimates a (false) partition between spirituality and the environment...which, to me, seems quite bogus. I would assert that for any spirituality to be viable, just, and essentially "good" it must include (maybe even privilege) the ecological/environment.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Brand and Big Tent Environmentalism

Stewart Brand has always been an environmental thought leader and progressive iconoclast. In this video he suggests a shift in the environmentalists' dogmatic approach, and describes a process of reasonable debate and experimentation. His iconoclastic proposals include transitioning to nuclear energy and ecosystem engineering, and are sure to provoke widespread debate. He has helped define the collaborative, data-sharing, forward-thinking world in which we live. Brand is the founder of the Whole Earth Catalog, the Global Business Network, the Long Now Foundation and the Well. Check this out!

Monday, October 17, 2011

Thoughts on 1491 (10/17/11 HW)

What is Charles C. Mann's central premise in his article, 1491? Provide a quote to illuminate your response. And, to wit, what does Mann's article suggest about the state of what we have historically considered (Western) knowledge? What is the relationship between scientific revolution and re-evaluation of Western knowledge and "development" (compared to the pre-Columbian Americas)? Feel free to suggest or link to outside sources or web sites.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Ill-Informed on Climate Change? What up, yo?

Why do Americans still resist the consensus among research organizations that humans are warming the globe. Check out this piece in Scientific American...it's a good example for our upcoming unit. Make some notes on belief in science, etc. OR post a comment below.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Bill & Dave

Bill and Dave...

Colorado and Environmental Literacy

This seems really cool, and much needed. Colorado has an environmental literacy plan, a coordinated strategy between PreK-12 teachers, environmental education providers, and leaders that aims to:

  • Restore and increase field experiences as part of the school curriculum
  • Improve state-wide access to existing environmental education programs and materials
  • Make connections with Colorado Academic Standards and 21st Century Skills to support classroom instruction
  • Create opportunities for enhanced and ongoing professional development of educators

Monday, September 5, 2011

Willie Nelson and Non-Factory Farmed Carnitas

Willie Nelson covering Coldplay for Chipoltle....cool and weirdly unsettling at the same time. All that said, it is basically good music, (really) nice animation, and shoots for a the supremely reasonable cause of eliminating factory farms.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Derrick Jensen Video (8/25 HW)

So, what do you think? Like? Dislike? Are there points that you dislike, but seem to be good points? Why do you feel this way? Post remarks below.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

In Class Writing 8-25-11


Read Bill McKibben’s blog post at: http://tinyurl.com/ydxo5v6 .

Next, identify one sentence that seems to characterize a main point that Mckibben is trying to get across to readers. Write this sentence below.

With this sentence in mind, answer the following two questions in 1-2 sentences each. Post your remarks to the class blog or use the space below to do this.

• Who is MciKibben’s intended audience (or audiences)? What statements or characteristics exist in the blog post or blog that suggest this audience?

• In what ways do you find McKibben’s argument to be compelling (or not)?

What questions do you have after reading the article?

Monday, July 25, 2011

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Panel on Clean Energy Innovation

A worthwhile view...below blurb excerpted from energyNOW!

energyNOW! Correspondent Lee Patrick Sullivan moderates a discussion on clean energy innovation with Grist.org's David Roberts, McKinstry CEO Dean Allen, Ross Macfarlane of Climate Solutions and Bill Rebozo of GridPoint. The event was co-sponsored by energyNOW and Grist.org.
Panelists discussed topics including the definition of clean energy, whether government can spur innovation in energy, the reliability of various energy sources and the smart grid. They also took some questions from the audience.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Rushkoff at WebVisions 2011 Jousting the Hegemon

WebVisions was over a month ago, but Rushkoff's talk is still apropos. Critical theorists out there you'll note the fellow traveler in Rushkoff's rant. You'll also note that he missteps in thinking that there can exist an easily identifiable counter-hegemony, one that he (critical theorist that he is) can "see" completely. Envision the fatal flaw of my beloved critical theory paradigm here, but swoon anyway.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Gary Snyder and "text"

On a more useful notion of text for these times:

“One of the formal criteria of humanistic scholarship is that it be concerned with the scrutiny of texts. A text is information stored through time. The stratigraphy of rocks, layers of pollen in a swamp, the outward expanding circles in the trunk of a tree, can be seen as texts. The calligraphy of rivers winding back and forth over the land leaving layer upon layer of traces of previous riverbeds is text.” (p. 71)

Snyder, G. (2003). The practice of the wild: Essays. Washington, DC: Shoemaker & Hoard.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Tom Cruise's Passion for Pedagogy

Tom Cruise...critical composition pedagogue!

Monday, April 4, 2011

Thoughts on Theory and Messy Penpersonship

I'd be interested to see an outline of proposed social science inquiry based on this chicken scratch...non-industrially farmed, of course.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

The Aurora: Striking Video

A pretty spectacular phenomenon...

The Aurora from Terje Sorgjerd on Vimeo.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Ag Awareness Week @ NCSU

So, following up on NCSU's Ag Week momentum...is there "awareness" through juxtaposition? How so? Two videos below might edify any takers on this question. The first is from "Portlandia" on IFC and the other is a talk by NCSU's own Tom Regan some years ago.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Some Helpful Hints from Food Inc.

Any thoughts here? 10 Things You Can Do To Change Our Food System.

Also, some further edification vis-a-vis the Food Inc. trailer.

Friday, February 18, 2011

First Nations Epistemologies on the Commons

What can we learn from First Nations peoples about sustainability? I have to believe that there are important practices and epistemologies that can be learned and honored from peoples and cultures who have a proven environmental consciousness. For instance, if we read Jimmie Durham or even Chief Seattle's purported speech there must surely be some takeaway for those of us looking to build a 21st century environmental consciousness. I recently listened to Jay Walljasper discuss his new book "Field Guide to the Commons" and I am curious about what a synthesis of Durham and/or Seattle would look like when applied to some of the suppositions Walljasper introduces.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Whilst Government Environmental Consciousness?

What sort of ethical or moral commitment does a government have to the environment? Does it matter if it's the federal, state, or local government? This story from Treehugger about the GOP's disdain for the EPA speaks to a certain contingent's notions about these concerns. Of course, I read the Treehugger account after a class discussion on public transportation, one that used Portland's TriMet as a jumping off point. Pretty cool TriMet video below.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Can a Spirit Bear Exist In The Hyperreal?

So, I wonder about the meanings that are made, symbolically and spiritually, in our everyday "environments". I especially wonder about what epistemologies have been levied upon us due to technology fetishism and detachment from our natural surroundings in favor of consumerist built surroundings (think detachment from and abstraction of nature here). It's for these reasons that I like the narrative of the spirit bear. Do we have these narratives today, or does our technology-driven industrialized scam only allow for consumerist fantasies articulated in the hyperreal?

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

The Tip of the (Melting) Iceberg: Another Anecdote of the Failures of Information Literacy

On the heels of the Derrick Jensen post, I wonder how many individuals can immediately identify where their drinking water comes from. That is, where is your watershed? How would you find this out? Google it? Try a search and see how "easy" that is. Can you get this information from your library or librarian? I'd argue that this is critical (information) literacy that we are missing. What research or practical questions are raised here? What, if any, academic disciplines offer a useful lens to examine this lack of information and broader environmental problems?

After you've tried this little exercise you may want to check out any number of resources, and even post what you find here. I've got a couple below.

The Global Water Policy Project and "Water: Adapting to a New Normal"

Adopt a Watershed web site

Friday, January 14, 2011

Derrick Jensen Bringing It, Per Usual

Wow...Derrick Jensen continues to inspire and to call people on their proverbial shit. If you care about sustainability and consider life to be a good thing worth continuing, you should watch or listen.