A Lengthy Discussion on Experiences with Environmental Awareness and Children

Well, according to my last post, this post was due about a week ago. On a related note, I have found that the combination of a never-ending to-do list and catching a cold is an effective deterrent for blog posts. However, my research into this issue has concluded that this deterrent only works for so long, thank goodness. But to the more important research…

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Rain Dances and Fairy Houses

Despite not getting a chance to interact much with the campers for the first couple of weeks, I was still able to take note of some techniques that seem to help develop ecological orientations while I waited for my turn. Many of these, particularly the following exercise, are actually examples of explanation plurality, invoking the magical and encouraging creativity to explain the mundane. Asking the interns to take a small intermission from our work, our instructor gathered both the young campers and interns in a circle to perform a rain dance. Placing some jade in the center of the circle and instructing us to take hands, he taught us the lyrics to a song he took from the writer, which is just one of her many hats, Starhawk, that went as follows (to the best of my memory):

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Living in “Ecological Time”

With the arrival of all of the interns and the start of the children’s camp this past Tuesday, Aspen T.R.E.E can really begin to settle into a routine, and I can begin to understand how this internship, and consequently my research, is beginning to take shape. Arriving by 9 A.M. at Aspen T.R.E.E allows the interns to have an hour of class time before the campers arrive. The subjects covered in class so far include the principles of permaculture, the development of edible forest gardens, and, as something not explicitly covered but I have an obvious interest in, ideas that help expand ecological orientations. I will expound on this more later.

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Week 1: Roots of Environmental Awareness

The Valley, the colloquial name given to the stretch of Highway 82 from Glenwood Springs to Aspen, Colorado by the people who live there, has fertile soil in more ways than one. With an incredible amount of activity centered around gardening and environmental awareness in this area, it certainly feels like this region is a hot-spot for investigating how individuals and communities begin to develop environmental awareness. Carbondale, for a town with ‘carbon’ in its name, ironically seems to be the most sustainable of the towns. But regardless of the impression its name invokes, it certainly does, from my impression of the town after a two-day visit, seem to be the shining diamond of the valley in terms of ecological awareness. For a town with the population size of a small college campus, it contains the largest communal gardens I have seen in person. Two of these gardens were run by communal organizations, the larger one being supported by church members. One garden I helped weed and plant in during my visit was a hybird communal-and-education-based garden, with its location right next to the Carbondale high school providing a perfect opportunity for a hands-on education in cultivation. It not only contained a wide diversity of plant life, but also a geodesic dome and a second greenhouse currently under construction. The final garden I visited illustrated the effect a few dedicated individuals can have as it, sitting in the heart of Carbondale, was just an empty dirt lot and an unintentional mud pit two years ago.

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Investigating Environmental Awareness at Aspen TREE

Greetings! My name is Richie Thaxton and I am a rising junior here at the College of William and Mary as well as a physics major. I have the privilege this summer to return to my beautiful home state of Colorado to conduct research at the environmentally-focused, non-profit organization Aspen TREE in order to learn how they cultivate an ecological orientation with those in, and those who work with, their organization. As it stands right now, I will be able to examine the development of ecological awareness in three different capacities: through education into environmental practices I and others working at Aspen TREE will receive, by teaching others, particularly of the younger generation, and at an administrative level.

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