Ecoliteracy Braid

To me and my classmates,  ecoliteracy is created by the willingness and dedication to learning about the environment and the practices that invoke sustainability, and the lack of ecoliteracy can lead to disaster. I think Capra would agree. He says “in order to build sustainable communities, we must understand the principles of organization that have evolved in ecosystems over billions of years. This understanding is what we call ‘ecological literacy’” (Capra, 10). But more than that, ecoliteracy means educating those around you, whether it’s your descendants or your siblings or your neighbors, about ecological issues and sustainable practices. Like the rancher in my poem who has “shared his knowledge . . . with his children and his grandchildren and his great-grandchildren” (Froshaug, 40-45) to the benefit of his descendants who get to “share his love of the environment” (Froshaug, 46).    But does being ecoliterate mean pushing your ideas onto the people around you? Can you educate those who do not want to be educated? Hanna Hansen expresses that her experiences with D was “frustrating, challenging, heart-wrenching, and undeniable ” (Hansen, 1-2) as she “seemed to find a way to question [her] morals, to challenge [her] opinions or to straight up argue with [her] about all ways [she] was wrong” (Hansen, 2-4). Can you go overboard in the quest to help others become ecoliterate and sustainable? Is there a way to push too hard? Joel Wright’s letter uses scare tactics to convince the addressed to “watch out for the wrath of mother nature” (Wright, 1). He warns of the many ways that earth can harm us. He claims that “she’s [Mother Nature] is mean to us, because we are mean to her” (Wright, 16). This is a claim that effectively forces us to think about how are actions are effecting the earth and the need for us to “stop giving her heat.” [Wright, 17]. His poem shows the many negative consequences that can arise when people are not ecoliterate.  But is fear the most effective tactic? Does being ecoliterate mean scaring the people in our lives into taking actions that invoke sustainability? Are ecoliterate people obligated to guilt others into sustainable practices?

 

Sources

Capra, Fritjof. “Sustainable Living, Ecological Literacy, and the Breath of Life.” Canadian Journal of Environmental Education 12.1 (2007): 9-18.

Wright, Joel. “Eco-literacy Letter”; https://joelwright9.wordpress.com/2016/09/21/eco-literacy-letter/

Hansen, Hanna. “Love letter.” https://hannahansenblog.wordpress.com/2016/09/21/love-letter/

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Ecoliteracy Poem

The Rancher

His weathered hands

tap unconsciously against his coffee mug

And silently tell a story.

They tell the story of a man

Who has spent many hard years

Earning a living off the land

By studying

And respecting

And loving

The environments around him.

They tell the Story of a man

Who has helped countless baby calves

Enter the world safely

And has mourned the loss of countless baby calves

he couldn’t help

They tell the story of a man

Who has carefully studied the patterns of the native prairie grass

And knows which grass is tame enough

To get the Momma cows through the spring

And knows which grass needs to be saved for summer

And knows exactly how to get the most nutrients from a pasture

without overgrazing

And knows which coulees will provide the best shelter from violent winds

And knows which dugouts will still provide water through a drought.

They tell the story of a man

Who has laboured through numerous autumns

Making

and hauling

and stacking

Enough bales to feed his cows for the winter

He has cautiously predicted the condition of the upcoming season

And carefully calculated the feed he needs to make it through.

They tell the story of a man

Who has left the warmth of his kitchen

On cold winter mornings

And embraced harsh blizzard winds

As they bite at his cheeks

So his cows won’t go hungry

They tell the story of a man

Who his shared his knowledge

His experiences

His passion

With his children

And his grandchildren

And his great-grandchildren

So they too can share his love of the environment

They tell the story of a man

Who has dedicated his life

To protecting his cows

To learning his land

To ranching

 

Originally I was writing this poem to represent all ranchers. I believe that as a whole ranchers need to be ecoliterate in order to be successful. The land and the environment plays a large and direct part in this occupation. Therefore, it is necessary for a rancher to be dedicated to learning about and preserving their environment. However, as I wrote this poem it became clear to me that the rancher in the poet was one rancher in particular, my great-grandpa Anderson. This man has been a prime example of an ecoliterate person. He has spent his life as a rancher and as an aggravate for agriculture. He takes pride in his land and his cattle and has worked hard to preserve both. He has passed down his knowledge to his descendants and has helped many of them to also become ranchers. He has inspired many, including myself, to appreciate the privilege of getting to experience nature.

Commonplace Blog #1- Storying the Environment

creative-journal-entry-1

In the Big Muddy Badlands in southern Saskatchewan lies the UoverLazyS Ranch. Nestled between clay hills and neighbored by the American border, this land is rich with history. It has been home to herds of wild buffalo and tribes of Indigenous people and then outlaws and then settlers and now it is home to my family.

When I think of what environment means to me, I am taken to my family ranch in the middle of nowhere. This ranch has many special spots that are perfect for connecting with the environment. There is “Cactus Hill”- the hill behind our house- where my siblings and every kid who ever visited during my childhood and I spent hours climbing and visiting and picking flowers. There is the “Tree Forts” where my cousins and I used our imaginations to create various elaborate adventures. There is the “Willow Coulee” where many people have come to camp to experience the badlands and connect with nature.

But one of my favorite places on our ranch is a side hill in the “Calving Pasture.” The ranch is widely decorated by all sorts of wildflowers throughout the spring and summer seasons. However, during the first couple weeks of July this particular hillside comes to life with nearly every wildflower Southern Saskatchewan has to offer. There’s a rainbow of flowers all snuggled in together with no segregation. The Saskatchewan Prairie Lily is my favorite of the flowers and it grows in abundance here. They dot the hillside- their bright orange and yellow leaves standing proudly in amongst the purple and blue and pink of the smaller flowers. It is on this hillside that I have felt the deepest connection with the environment and with my home.

Because this little hill is far from any road, the best way to reach it is on horseback. Just this last weekend my four year old mare, Lola, and I rode through the hills to this spot. The flowers are gone for the year but the tranquility and harmony this spot radiates remains throughout the seasons. As my equine partner and I stood overlooking this sacred hillside I felt the true comfort that only being home can bring me.