Friday, March 31, 2017

Poetry Poster: Last Chance

Poetry
Art and Environment
by Edward Hessler


This is the last chance to order the 2017 National Poetry Month poster.

I received this announcement only a little while ago so maybe today is the last chance or tomorrow but it is drawing nigh.

You can request it here as well as see a small version of what it looks like.

I've had various experiences with my orders but received one this year (first time). I immediately gave it away to a real poet who hadn't ordered one.

Friday Poem

Poetry
Art and Environment
by Edward Hessler

Derek Walcott

The poetry blog Harriett reports that "we awoke today (March 17, 2017) to discover that poet and playwright Derek Walcott has died." He was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1992 and seems to have received every other prize and honor one could possibly imagine, including a MacArthur "genius" award in 1981.

The link above includes links to a few of his poems, including the first one ever published in Poetry, Becune Point.

Here you may read Sea Grapes.

Hilton Als once wrote a long profile of Walcott for The New Yorker. A column he wrote on the occasion of his death is worth reading if you'd like to know more by someone who knew him well.

April is National Poetry Month and poems will be flying from all directions. Garrison Keillor (remember him?) wrote a wonderful piece on actually writing a poem no matter how difficult it seems. It is a guide to the writing of a first poem and is a how-to-do-it for men.

The late "Badger Bob" Johnson, was a legendary and much revered college, international, and professional ice hockey coach. He had a great greeting no matter the season: "It's a great day for hockey." With thanks to Coach Johnson, it is fair to say that every day is a great day for poetry.

Coach Johnson was born in Minneapolis, played ice hockey under John Mariucci and was the coach of the University of Wisconsin ice hockey team from 1966 - 1982. He also was the coach of the Pittsburgh Penquins and led them to the 1991.

Finally about Harriet. It honors and is in memory of Harriet Monroe, the founding editor of Poetry Magazine.  You may read more here.

Thursday, March 30, 2017

Microfiber-catching laundry balls are coming soon!

CGEE Student Voice
Water & Watersheds
by Jenni Abere


The Rozalia Project has been working toward a solution for plastic microfiber pollution for about a year, and has now developed a prototype for the Cora Ball. This ball, made from recycled plastic, is inspired by coral. Its little arms and fronds are designed to catch small floating materials in the washing machine, such as plastic microfibers but also including hair and natural fibers.

In order to produce the Cora Ball on a large scale, the Rozalia Project needed to raise at least $10,000. Their kickstarter campaign began on Tuesday of this week, and within 3 hours they had raised the $10,000 needed. By today, they have over 1,000 supporters and nearly $45,000.

You can still send some money their way - for $20, they'll send you a Cora Ball, expected to ship in early July. With all these supporters, it may take longer to fill the orders, but the Cora Ball should also be available for purchase this summer.

I supported the campaign, and I'm excited to get my Cora Ball this summer. I still have a few questions and concerns about this product; for instance, what percentage of microfibers does it catch from a load of laundry? A video on the kickstarter page shows the ball floating at the top of a load of laundry, so presumably it's not catching any fibers from the middle or bottom of the washer.

Compared to the Guppy Friend laundry bag, another micro-fiber catching invention, I don't see how the Cora Ball would capture even a majority of microfibers from a load of laundry. However, every little bit will help! Microfibers are just a symptom of a much larger problem: our dependence on, and addiction to, plastic.

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Portraits of Birds

Art and Environment
by Edward Hessler


Karl Martens, a San Francisco born artist, observes in Alice Yoo's profile in My Modern Met, that "In painting and calligraphy, the first stroke is the most important. It comes from nothing and manifests something."

Martens paints beautiful portraits of birds from memory, using Chinese and Japanese calligraphy brushes and water colors. The paper, some of it handmade and often very large, is spread on the floor and he stands above it, legs spread and upper torso bowed, painting until the bird tells him that it is done. When details require, he paints while on his knees, bending over the painting. For some of the details he uses charcoal and smaller brushes.

[Photo by Jennifer Pack]

His paintings seem to me to come to grips with the essence of birdness.

In this short video you can see and listen to the artist Karl Martens talk about his art and his technique. The paintings are a result of a somewhat uncertain process due to the nature of the paper and the way it and the watercolors interact.

The video is also found in Yoo's profile.  The links are worth following and include wonderful art by other artists.

h/t 3 Quarks Daily

Monday, March 27, 2017

Taking STEM Outdoors

Early Childhood
STEM
Environmental & Science Education
by Edward Hessler


How do you help young children connect nature play, outdoor experiences, and STEM learning?

Teaching STEM Outdoors: Activities for Young Children by Patty Born Selly provides some suggestions. The book will be available from Amazon May 16, 2017.  It is currently available from the publisher, Red Leaf Press.

Patty Born Selly, the author
Ms. Born Selly is an instructor in Hamline University's School of Education. She was willing to respond to a few questions.

How would you describe a playful learning experience?

Anything! As long as there is joy involved, there is likely learning happening. Joy and delight open our minds up to be more receptive and more responsive, and so really whenever children are playing, they are learning....they may not be able  to articulate what  it is exactly that they are learning, but they are learning nonetheless.

What is the value of such learning experiences?

It's my very strong opinion that we need joy and delight in our lives! Learning, in particular, is one area where these qualities seem to get 'pushed aside' or seen as less important, even a hindrance to the serious work of education. But joyful learning really matters and makes a difference! It is more memorable, more personal, and frankly, more fun.

Your book, its activities, describe/infer what you mean by STEM for early learners. Please provide a thumbnail summary.

In this book, the focus is less on the content associated with science, tech, engineering, and math, but more about the processes and practices associated with those disciplines:solve problems, things like asking investigable questions, constructing an argument from evidence, trying new and different approaches to solving problems, discernment, representation and use of models to aid in thinking or communicating. These are things children do when they play.  I'm a firm believer in developmentally appropriate practice, and tailoring content to fit the age and developmental level of your students. But all students can engage in the practices associated with STEM-no matter their age, developmental level, or physical ability. This book helps teachers and other adults understand how children naturally engage in those practices during their play, and it helps the adults learn to see how children engage in those practices, so that they can recognize that young children really are learning all the time.

What is the aim (aims, if you prefer) you have for the STEM side of your book?

Well, since most of the most important advancements in STEM came as a result of someone's curiosity and wonder, this book hopefully will serve to bring back curiosity and wonder as a very legitimate and necessary part of "doing STEM"... I want to help teachers see and understand the practices associated with the STEM disciplines, and to recognize how easily and how frequently young children engage in those practices. This will (I hope) help teachers understand that by supporting play and being intentional about how young children engage with the natural world, such as through asking productive questions, providing a variety of materials, and — in some cases, just getting out of the way — they are in turn supporting the development and comfort with the practices that we commonly associate with STEM.

What is the aim (aims, if you prefer) you have for the Nature side of your book?

This book is a shameless plug for the natural world as THE best place for young children to be. In nature, children are immersed in a context with stimuli that is at once soothing and stimulating, calming and exciting all at the same time. This provokes curiosity and wonder, as well as a profound sense of curiosity and joy-which is so important. I want this book to convince teachers that nature, with its rich diversity of stimuli, is a place where children belong — there, they learn in a variety of ways, including through their bodies, their spirits, as well as their minds, to be the curious, creative people we all know them to be.

My hope is that this book makes it easier for teachers to 1-go outside more often, 2-recognize the many different ways in which children are already engaging in "STEM Thinking' and 3-get out of children's way and let them play — they are doing enough just by playing and loving the earth-being curious and wanting to learn more.

Sunday, March 26, 2017

Global Pandemic and Virus Quiz

Health
STEM
by Edward Hessler


How much do you know about global pandemics and killer viruses is the subject of a short quiz from NPR.

Virus illustration, Pixabay

I learned something and perhaps you will as well. One I missed I could blame on the fact that I am not a moviegoer but that excuse is "weak as water," as Mrs. Slocombe frequently announced on the British sitcom "Are You Being Served." There are other ways of being aware and I wasn't.

Most of us like short quizzes although students who take them for different reasons may and often do disagree.  It is more fun when they don't count!

Here it is and no pencils are required.

Saturday, March 25, 2017

The Scale of the Universe Boggles

Environmental & Science Education
STEM
Mathematics Education
by Edward Hessler


On February 15, 2017 I posted some comments about light speed in an attempt to help in thinking about large, really big numbers.

Deep time is another way of conceiving space (and thinking about large numbers) — the cosmos from one end to another. It takes lots of time to get from here to there.

When I wrote the first post I considered including a comment made by the late Stephen Jay Gould in a lovely book he wrote, Time's Arrow, Time's CycleSo, here it is:
An abstract, intellectual understanding of deep time comes easily enough — I know how many zeros to place after the 10 when I mean billions. Getting it into the gut is quite another matter. Deep time is so alien we can really only comprehend it as a metaphor.

So I come at the idea of thinking about big numbers again, thanks to Michael Strauss, an astrophysicist at Princeton who made these observations in a great essay in Aeon.

A flight from Dubai to San Francisco is about 8000 miles (12874.75 km).

That distance is roughly equal to the diameter of the Earth.

The sun's diameter is just over 100 times Earth's (1287475.2 km).

The distance between the Earth and the Sun is some 100 times larger than this or some 100 million miles. (12874752 km)

That distance represents the radius of the Earth's orbit around the Sun and is used as a fundamental unit in astronomy, the Astronomical Unit (AU).

The spacecraft, Voyager 1, was launched in 1977. It has been zipping along ever since at 7 miles per second. It is now 137 AU from the sun after 40 years. I doubt very much that I would have been close had I been asked to make an estimate.

Voyager's journey [Wikimedia]

NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory
 maintains an odometer in kilometers and astronomical units which can be checked anytime.  This seems a good place and time to stop using kilometers and use AUs. The nearest star is Proxima Centauri, about 270000 AU out there. 270000 AU is ~4.25 light years.

This number provides a reference point for thinking about cosmic distances. The average distance between stars in the Milky Way galaxy is about 4 light years.

Professor Strauss's essay may be found here.  He notes that the universe always escapes even the most-imaginative science fiction. He also makes a plea for a cosmic perspective.

This is another way, a delightful way, to consider the solar system, the galaxy and the universe from Monty Python.

Friday, March 24, 2017

Friday Poem

Poetry
Art and Environment
by Edward Hessler


This Friday's poem is by Ben Okri. It is titled To an English Friend in Africa.

Mr. Okri is a winner of the 1991 Booker Prize for his novel The Famished Road.

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

World Poetry Day: Yesterday March 22, 2017

Poetry
Art and Environment
by Edward Hessler


The north end of the Hamline Campus was shut-down yesterday for electrical work. All buildings were locked and access to the blog was not possible for me.

I missed an entry for World Poetry Day.

Here it is and it includes biographical information.

A Small Sample of Common Names for British Moths

Biodiversity
by Edward Hessler


In a review of  Paul Waring's and Martin Townsend's "Field Guide to the Moths of Great Britain and Ireland (Third Edition), Caroline Moore of the Spectator (18 March 2017) wrote about how evocative common English names of moth are.

Consider apples. Ananas Reinette. Black Gilliflower or Sheep's Nose, Cortland, Chenango Strawberry, Black Oxford, Ashmead's Kernel, Belle de Boskoop, Sops of Wine, Maiden's Blush...
(Full disclosure: I was raised in Chenango County, NY.)

The moth names are simply too lovely not to share.

"Maiden's Blush, Beautiful Golden Y, Speckled Footman, Grass Emerald, Neglected Rustic, Silky Wainscot, Setaceous Hebrew Character (a moth obviously named by a country clergyman — like the Quaker, the Nonconformist, the Conformist and the Gothic). One can feel across the centuries the excited wonder of the enthusiast who named the Merveille du Jour — still marvellous, intricately patterned with glistening silver and black and peppermint green. And one can sense the frustration of those who named the Suspected, the Uncertain, and the Confused. Poor souls, they did not have Waring and Townsend to hand."

Maiden's Blush [Wikipedia]

A fact/factoid I didn't know and really had no way of knowing is that there are more than 2500 breeding species of moth in the United Kingdom and only 59 breeding species of butterfly. If asked, I wouldn't have expected this large a difference.

The review is beautifully written and starts with a very funny anecdote.

Sunday, March 19, 2017

New Drawings and Paintings from Conrad Gessner

Biodiversity
Art and Environment
History of Science
by Edward Hessler

Swiss naturalist Conrad Gessner (1515 - 1565) is known as the founding father of zoology, a term and college major that has nearly disappeared as its many branches have become more dominant in the curriculum and research more specialized. He is the author of Historiae Animalium (Accounts of Animals), the first published work that included not only descriptions but also illustrations.

The work, developed from 1551 - 1558, was a heroic effort to list and describe every animal in the world. It was based on many sources and the result is that mythical animals are included — but as described in the biography linked above, Gessner also placed a new emphasis on direct observation rather than the hand-me-downs which had been used for centuries.

Gessner's illustration of a rhinoceros [Wikimedia]

In 2012, Florike Egmond discovered a 16th-century collection of drawings and water colors which had been collected by Gessner. The Guardian has published some of these lovely drawings and paintings.

Professor Egmond is the author of the recently released Eye for Detail: Images of Plants and Animals in Art and Science 1500-1630.

h/t: Gordon Murdock

Friday, March 17, 2017

Friday Poem

Poetry
Art and Environment
by Edward Hessler

St. Patrick's Day [Wikimedia]

This is a day for the Irish and Irish wannabees. So a poem by an Irish poet is required.

Eavan Boland came to the United States from Ireland in the mid-90s.  She is professor of creative writing at Stanford.

Here is some information, pictures, and videos about St. Patrick and St. Patrick's Day.

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Just Passing Through

STEM
Environmental & Science Education
by Edward Hessler


Neutrinos have no mass, no charge and no energy. They can do a very odd thing. They pass through "stuff" (matter mostly) unimpeded, including us, without almost any interaction. When they do interact they give off energy which is how they are detected.

First neutrino observation [Wikimedia]

So how do they pull this off? Symmetry provides a short explanation from a Fermi Laboratory physicist speaking over an animation.

Here is the Wiki entry on neutrinos. IceCube is the South Pole Neutrino observatory, a collaboration consisting of 300 members, 48 institutions (includes the University of Wisconsin and the University of Wisconsin River Falls)  and 12 countries. The home page provides all kinds of information about the research as well as life there.

Can't leave without a couple of somewhat lame neutrino jokes.

— A neutrino walks into a bar and orders a drink. He asks the bartender for his bill and the bartender says, "For you, there's no charge."

— A neutrino walks into a bar and orders a beer. The bartender says, "we don't serve neutrinos here." The neutrino says "I was just passing through."

Thanks for the jokes.

Monday, March 13, 2017

Should We Peek

Ethics
Biodiversity
Sustainability
by Edward Hessler


Do you ever think about giraffes?

Or about one in particular, April?  You likely know about her. April is 15-years old, expecting, and lives at Animal Adventure Park, Harpursville, N. Y.  This event is being livestreamed.

A one-day-old giraffe [Wikimedia]

The few times I've seen references to the YouTube livestream camera feed I've experienced a twinge.  Doesn't she deserve to be left alone and deliver her calf in privacy?  Surely we can wait a few days for a picture of her calf. Do we have to see everything? And if/when we do what have we missed of great importance?

I was reminded of a controversy on photographing animals in the wild, in this case owls. The place? Minnesota. Should they be baited so that an extraordinary shot of a wild animal, in the wild, can be shot? See below for links on this controversy.

It also made me think about The Miracle of Birth exhibit at the Minnesota State Fair.

And this is where I left these thoughts.

Fortunately for me, Barbara J. King does not. She is a favorite contributor of mine to the NPR blog 13.7: Cosmos and Culture. Her day job is as a professor of anthropology at the College of William and Mary. Professor King and her husband are, it can be said, "animal people."  In particular, they are keepers of cats—homeless and abandoned cats. Some rough numbers: half a dozen in the house, nearly a dozen in a spacious yard/pen, a couple of strays and a half dozen at a nearby colony.

King recently wrote about April, a result of her husband wondering aloud "why it was thought OK to violate April's privacy that way." Her quick and first response was that "privacy doesn't mean much to animals." However, she didn't dismiss his thoughts. I love that she said she has learned not to do that!

In a coincidence that one hopes would happen, glad about the occurrence, the day following this brief exchange she read an essay that honed in on the question of whether animals have a right to privacy. It is from a new book, The Eye of the Sandpiper: Stories from the Living World by Brandon Keim.

She writes "suddenly, my ethical questions have multiplied." And my goodness did they as have mine.

I'm not going to write anything more or let you jump to the end of her splendid, thought provoking essay. Instead, I ask you to consider your answer to the question raised by her husband.

Where do you draw the line? Play a little with the idea: what animals, situations, in the wild, domestic critters, yard critters...? Is it important to know anything about them before you capture them on "film" to share with others? What are some criteria you think should be a guide?

Then, please read King's essay, Does a Pregnant Giraffe Deserve Privacy? Professor King interviewed Brandon Keim and this, plus her wonderful thinking open a door that may have never occurred to you to consider.

Has your answer changed?

Now to the question of baiting owls in order to take photographs that are sometimes said to be "in the wild." There is a report on MPR,  March 13, 2017 on this issue.  In addition, Laura Erickson also wrote about this on her wonderful blog For the Birds in February 2014.

Sunday, March 12, 2017

Fields

General
by Edward Hessler

Ursula K. Le Guin [Wikimedia]

Author Ursula K. Le Guin was asked twenty questions by the Times Literary Supplement, March 4, 2017.

Below is an answer that any of us who are in love with fields, old fields will appreciate. It is another reason I like her. The entire interview is a delight.

What will your field look like twenty-five years from now?

My field? What is my field, I wonder. My favourite field is the one below the barn at the old ranch in California. I hope in twenty-five years it looks just the way it does now, all wild oats and chicory and foxtail and voles and jackrabbits and quail.

Check Le Guin's website for excerpts from short stories, a biography, and a map of Earthsea.

Friday, March 10, 2017

Friday Poem

Poetry
Art and Environment
by Edward Hessler


Today's poem, Kissing in Vietnamese, is by Ocean Vuong.

I'd forgotten how much I like it until I read it again a few days ago.

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

International Women's Day

Environmental & Science Education
History of Science
by Edward Hessler


It is March 8, International Women's Day and the Google Doodle is up to its usual high standard.

Sarah Larimar who writes for the Washington Post wrote an article a few days ago about the LEGO corporation which plans to develop a set that celebrates the contributions of NASA's female pioneers. It has lots of pictures and lists the women who will be included.

Here is the Lego Ideas Page on the project.

And here is the announcement from the United Nations about this day.

I hope someone is wearing red today. I'm not unless wind-reddened cheeks count!

Da' wind it blows and it gusts.

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Building Bridges 2017: Uprooting Injustice

CGEE Student Voice
by Jenni Abere


A group of Hamline students and faculty devoted this past Saturday to attending the annual Building Bridges conference and workshop at Gustavus. This year's theme: Uprooting Injustice: Fostering the Growth of the Grassroots Movement. The Hamline contingent was comprised of Environmental Studies, Social Justice, and Women's Studies students (the perfect combination to get really excited that Winona LaDuke was sitting near us at dinner).

The conference started with a talk from Nekima Levy-Pounds, a lawyer and St. Thomas professor who has coordinated Black Lives Matter and the NAACP in the twin cities. She is also a mayoral candidate for this year's election in Minneapolis. She spoke about her experience as a legal observer in Ferguson, and then how she become involved in Black Lives Matter protests in the Twin Cities.

After lunch there were a number of workshops to choose from. I attended one on improv from the Theater of Public Policy. They talked about the format of their shows, and how people with different views can come together and laugh. Then we did several exercises and games that could help you on your way to acting and improv, or could simply help you improve the dynamics of your group.

The next workshop was a presentation about Implicit Biases, including the test created by Harvard. The audience got a little hung up over whether greeting a mixed gender group of people with "Hey, guys" is a micro-aggression. I think the conclusion we came to is that a male term can become a neutral or default term more easily than a female term could. Consider, for instance, greeting a mixed gender group of people with "Hey, ladies." This seems implausible. Yes, the term "guys" has expanded in meaning and I use it with my female friends, and will continue to do so — but the interesting point is to consider why this has happened with male terms and not female terms.

The featured workshop of the evening was from Naomi Natale, the artist behind One Million Bones. She spoke about that project as well as her other social engagement art. We were invited to consider what silence can mean, and to write about a time when we were silent and wish we hadn't been.

After dinner, the keynote speaker was Winona LaDuke. She spoke about her experience with DAPL and Standing Rock. She calls it the Dakota Excess Pipeline, which is some terminology I may have to adopt. One thing that will stay with me is a chart of declining profits for top American oil companies since 2011. Oil is becoming more difficult and more expensive to access. LaDuke shared success stories of small communities and reservations gaining energy independence from wind and solar installations. Her take-home point: "If they can do it, you can do it."

Monday, March 6, 2017

Pop Quiz: Komodo Dragons

Biological Diversity
by Edward Hessler

Komodo National Park [Wikipedia]

Today's Google Doodle celebrates the 37th anniversary of Komodo National Park.

It includes a quiz and also information about this large lizard. The animated dragon holds up your score at the end.

Friday, March 3, 2017

Friday Poem

Poetry
Art and Environment
by Edward Hessler


Today's poem is by Denise Levertov.

About her mother, Levertov once said, She was a pointer-outer. She pointed out clouds, and she pointed out flowers. She started one off looking at things.

And about writing, One of the obligations of the writer is to say or sing all that he or she can, to deal with as much of the world as becomes possible to him or her in language.

Thursday, March 2, 2017

The hierarchy of waste

CGEE Student Voice
Waste Diversion
by Jenni Abere


Everyone has heard the phrase "Reduce, Reuse, Recycle." In fact, you've probably heard it so often that it's become meaningless green-washing to you.

However, you may not have heard that the order of these three words is essential. That is to say: Reducing is preferable to Reusing, which is preferable to Recycling. Think about it with regards to a plastic water bottle. The best option is to reduce the number of plastic bottles you need, by drinking tap water and using a reusable water bottle. The next best option would be to reuse the plastic water bottle several times before you dispose it. Then, when you do dispose it, make sure you recycle it.

Another important thing to note when distinguishing reducing from reusing is that for every pound of waste you produce, there are seven pounds of waste "upstream" in the manufacturing in the item. Therefore, it is better to have only one reusable water bottle as opposed to three, even if none of them ever get thrown away.

The simple "Reduce, Reuse, Recycle" concept has been expanded into a more complete hierarchy of options when it comes to waste.

The upside-down triangle represents that most waste
should is preventable. Disposal is the last resort. 
This hierarchy is as follows, from most preferable to least preferable:
1) Prevent
2) Minimize (Reduce)
3) Reuse
4) Recycle or Compost
5) Energy Recovery (Incineration or Waste to Energy)
6) Disposal (Landfill)

This hierarchy has real policy implications. Minnesota bases its waste management policy on this model, and the state incinerates much more waste than other states. "Energy recovery" and "waste to energy" are certainly terms that greenwash the practice of burning garbage, but the process has some advantages over direct landfilling, such as improved water quality.

If incineration were actually the second-to-last resort for all waste, the impact on air quality would not be as severe. I think incineration's place above landfilling has to be put into a context where the majority of waste has already been prevented or diverted, so that the reliance on incineration and landfilling in minimal.

The other thing to note here is that "prevention" is distinguished from "minimization." I conceptualize this as more of a structural change. Going back to the water bottle explanation, prevention might be an institution deciding to no longer sell bottled water.

A recent change at Hamline means that receipts no longer print automatically, preventing a great deal of paper waste and chemical pollution in the environment. This is a great example of prevention.

This waste hierarchy is a great way to expand on the simplified "Reduce, Reuse, Recycle" paradigm, both in your own day-to-day decisions and for institutional and policy changes.

President Trump's Address to Congress

STEM
Society
Environmental and Science Education
State of the Union
by Edward Hessler


For the past seven years the National Academies of Sciences has provided an annotated guide to State of the Union addresses. The annotations are to reports published by the NAS.

This year the President's address was to a joint session of congress. A president's address during his (so far in the United States) first year in office is never called a State of the Union address.


One of the reasons I like these in contrast to other annotations which focus on facts and other matters of the address, is that these show the relationship to policy and science as reflected by reports prepared by the NAS. Many of these reports are developed at the request of members of congress. Absent, of course, from the president's remarks was any mention of global climate change.

By the way, I'm always surprised by how quickly all of the various reports are produced. National Public Radio journalists provided a thorough review.

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

What a Wonderful World

Biodivesity
by Edward Hessler


Over at Why Evolution is True, Professor Coyne calls attention to a David Attenborough clip.

On BBC One, Mr. Attenborough recites a Louis Armstrong song, What a Wonderful World accompanied by clips from his BBC Series. What a wonderful planet we inherited. Now so much of it is at grave risk.

Attenborough's voice is so pleasant and the images are enough to make one's eyes mist.

You may view it here.

I must include Mr. Armstrong singing this song. It was recorded in 1967.

Thank you, Professor Coyne.

Unseen Work

Sustainability
Environmental & Science Education
Reduce Reuse Recycle
Society
by Ed Hessler


The educated person is "one who has fully grasped the simple fact that his (sic)self is fully implicated in those beings around him, human and non-human, and who has learned to care deeply about them."—J. Glen Gray

Hamline University recently announced a change in office cleaning procedures.  "Common spaces will be cleaned and vacuumed but we are now responsible individually for cleaning/maintaining our cubes. This means we will empty our own trash and recycling into common containers and vacuum as needed. A vacuum cleaner will be available for your use (describes location)."

None of this is inconvenient. And maybe it is about time although I hope it doesn't put people out of work but instead lightens their load. It should have one immediate effect: reduced use of plastic basket liners. I hope it will lead to another: more recycling.

Lessons from the Night is a short film that follows a night janitor in her office rounds. Maia Wallmer was an Arabic translator in her native Bulgaria but while on assignment in Melbourne (Australia), political turmoil at home forced her to remain.  She found work as a janitor.

Ms. Wallmer is bright, reflective and works hard as you will observe in this likely low-paying, barely acknowledged or appreciated job. It is also solitary work in what appears to be a gloomy environment. The artificial light is harsh and edgy without any softness. I doubt that any employees who know her, if they even cross paths, have any idea of her past.

Diorama of Memphis Sanitation Workers Strike [Adam Jones, Ph.D.]

Our lives impact the environment in many ways. Work is one; cleaning another. It is easy to miss the links between them as well as the people. Lowering the impact on the environment of work and cleaning-up involves many challenges. There is at least a master's thesis there.

A line from David Orr's essay, The Liberal Arts, the Campus, and the Biosphere came to mind. Orr noted several "indifferences" students learn while in college. He wrote they "also learn indifference to the human ecology of the place and to certain kinds of people: those who clean the urinals, sweep the floors, haul out the garbage, and collect beer cans on Monday morning."

It is too bad that Studs Terkel is not still present to interview her for a second or third volume of Working, a book about what working people do all day (not much there on the night workers). Of course, it is about a world that likely no more exists but it remains a great and important read. He was a wonderfully gifted observer, interviewer and reporter.

A 100th Birthday

Poetry
Health
Environmental & Science Education
Art and Environment
by Edward Hessler

Robert Lowell [Wikimedia]

Knopf Publishers celebrates the 100th birthday today of Robert Lowell with one of his poems.

Lowell is defined by his art and his lifetime illness (manic depressive) and he is the subject of a new biography by Kay Redfield Jamison, an expert in mood disorders. Dr. Jamison is a professor of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, at Johns Hopkins Medicine.

There is a link to an interview with Professor Jamison about her new book in the link above to his poem and also a link to Jamison's book, Robert Lowell: Setting the River on Fire.