Resettling the First American ‘Climate Refugees’

I was amazed at how much this community resembles the Bathtub in Beasts of the Southern Wild. The term used to describe these people is “climate refugee.” Read more about it here.



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Media Object: Food Fraud

I found this interesting two-part investigative report on Farm-to-Table Restaurants and Farmers Markets in the Tampa area. Laura Reiley, a food critic, discovers that most claims from these establishments are dubious at best, but that consumers are irresistibly attracted to food that has a story, even if that story is a fiction.

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Ecologies and Animals: A Graduate Mini Conference / Tues. May 3, 12-3 pm

Screen Shot 2016-04-26 at 11.12.24 AM

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Final Project Preview

I wanted to give everyone a heads up on my final project to see if anyone in our class had any ideas on how I can make it better.

I’m going to build a website that features pictures, descriptions, and archival records of places that are tied closely to Georgetown’s history of involvement in slaving. Specifically, I am interested in place as it relates to this history, and within that space I am most interested in looking at places where we believe slaves to have been buried (both places where they are presently buried and places from which bodies were disinterred).

I have collected things from the archives and I’m going to take pictures of cites in the coming days. I will then be writing small pieces which connect pictures, artifacts, and history.

I’m planning to set up the site so that it will encourage people to go out and look at these actual spaces in and around the hilltop. I’m also interested in including a feature on the site that will encourage individuals to share their own narratives related to this history and to share reflections about their experiences of visiting these sites. This seems like it could become a mess, but I think people at Georgetown will respect the site for what it is and honor the history being discussed by making appropriate postings. Do I have too much faith to think that?

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Trouble in the Water

I know we’re all pretty much done with the semester, but I thought this was too cool of an intersection not to share.

So everyone tuned in to music has been pumped about Beyonce’s album drop. It’s the second time in three years that she’s released an album without pre-release hype, but under this hype, Common (amazing lyricist and rapper) released “Trouble in the Water” with a special call for justice concerning the Flint water crisis.

What’s so amazing about this video is the collaboration of religion, environmentalism, and politics in a single poetic form. The video footage is just a bonus. If you’re not familiar with the Black religious tradition that frames this song, here’s the summary:

During slavery, spirituals were a lyrical code among slaves that communicated hope of emancipation or escape. “Wade in the Water” was a prominent spiritual that spoke about freedom connected to river beds. It connected the biblical exodus with the slave’s exit from the plantation. Wading through water prevented tracking dogs from following the escaped slave’s scent. The song was popularized by the Jubilee Singers in the early twentieth century. Hence, water has been a big deal in black religious practice.

The church scenes and lyrics in this piece just blow my mind, because it ties this water crisis with the long history of oppression and future environmental challenges, but because of that connection, the song refuses a tragic conclusion. It is militant and hopeful like the slave spirituals that recognized a bleak present without supposing a tragic end.

  1. I’ve included the link to the music video and Billboard’s write-up about the coming EP.
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Dangerous Art?

Hi fellow Tragic Ecologists!

I found this article and, in light of Tyler’s curatorial presentation last week, thought I’d post it for anyone who’s interested. According to a study conducted by a group of chemists, they found high levels of formaldehyde in the air surrounding Damien Hirst’s art. They reported that it was ten times higher than the normal (and safe) levels. Here is the link to the article that also includes a statement from Hirst.

If you’re interested in the actual write-up of the chemists’ study, here’s the link for that.

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Saturday Hike Update

Merry Earth Day!

If you’re coming to the hike tomorrow, awesome! If not, we’ll be live-streaming the hike on Periscope (a live-streaming video app from Twitter). Follow me @ProtoCinema and tune in around 10am to experience the ultimate simulacrum of nature.

Skunk Cabbage

Skunk Cabbage!



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Saturday Hike

This Saturday at 10 am is another opportunity to hike the Cabin John Trail with an awesome Master Naturalist (my wife, Nora). This hike will be approx. 3 miles over hilly terrain, so it’s not designed for kids younger than 12. Best of all- it’s free!

The hike starts at the Cabin John Park Play Ground in Rockville:

If you’re interested in signing up and want more info, go to this link:

Hope to see you there!

Tadpoles hovering around Spotted Salamander Eggs (white cloud) and other frog eggs.

Tadpoles hover around Spotted Salamander Eggs (white cloud) and other frog eggs in a vernal pool on the Cabin John Stream Trial.

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Childhood and Shelley

In his essay “On Life,” Percy Shelley evokes the wonder of life, the quality of being an animate entity in the environment, which he regrets as being often forgotten as one matures. He uses the metaphor of mist to assert that being overly familiar with the sensation of living, experienced through sight, touch, and smell, is what inhibits one from appreciating the depth and miracle of physical, transient life, as in “The mist of familiarity obscures from us the wonder of our being’ (633). He even suggests that childhood experiences of gaining knowledge of the world and self are the most intense, intimate moments in one’s life, in that children have “distinct and intense apprehension…of the world and of” themselves (635). What I find interesting is Shelley’s view of children having a holistic view of nature, being less inclined to having a fragmented, categorized perception of the universe. Reveries are total absorption of sensations, while impressions are fleeting. I do not know to what age range Shelley is referring to, but my single most vivid memory as a child has to do with zoning into a particular object from outside: red maple leaves plastered on the car window. Just this fragment of memory touching the car window and seeing that my hand was barely larger than the leaf. However, Shelley may claim that my piece of memory is a figment of what used to be a holistic reverie, no matter how electric I find the memory to be. I find it a traditional sentiment of Romantic culture, so far as I read in poems, to regret the inevitable transition from childhood to maturity, because childhood is associated with having an unfiltered, uncensured bond with one’s environment. While observing a child gaining awareness of things other than themselves is indeed fascinating (I remember being stunned to surprise as my parents asked me in exuberant wonder, if I was enjoying the view on our drive when I was around 5 or 6), this idealization of childhood perception of the self and the environment contradicts with the Lacan’s argument that crawling infants develop subjectivity by the pivotal awareness of estrangement, rather than mesmerizing absorption into the environment. While I am not trying to weigh Lacan over Shelley or vice versa, I do want to historicize Shelley’s point that childhood experiences with nature constitute as the most straightforward interaction people can have with their environment.

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