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I remember a similar experience while I was a student at the University of
Washington in Seattle. The Forestry school actually cut down a large
cluster of cottonwoods, not to make room for anything, but because some
people complained about the cotton falling from the trees..... That remains
a turning point in some of my thinking about what motivates actions on the
part of many people. Also, it made me more aware of what we celebrate. For
example, in Seattle, the Douglas Fir Tree is essentially the cornerstone of
all resource value, having been the impetus for most early non-Indian
settlement. Chances are good that you live in a house with wood from a
Pacific Northwest Douglas Fir. Regardless, you will find no place where
Douglas Fir trees are celebrated in Seattle. I recently pointed this out in
a forum with a popular garden design magazine and supporters of non-native
gardens came out of every corner to inform me that other plants were more
worthy of attention (pretty/easy to care for/not intrusive.....).
Apparently, people need to plant around them those trees and shrubs and
flowers that give them pleasure, not those which grow best on a particular
piece of land.
One starting point for you, not necessarily younger students, would be to
check out the work of Ian McHarg (sp?). His book, Design With Nature, was a
great revolution for landscape planners in the 70s and most people who
think about site specific/habitat specific planning are thinking from his
The basic idea from his stuff is to look at all the layers you can that
might be obvious on a particular landscape. Soil. Native plants. History.
Water. Wildlife..... Take all needs into account.
With kids, at an early age, I've done some of this, using LEGOS, those
playful building blocks. They are interesting in that you you can plug them
in and plug them out, changing your mind. So, the deal is to let the kids
play with the LEGOS the way they do at home, but with the challenge. The
small landscape you may wish to play with is a forest. Use the LEGO trees
in a set and place them in a uniform sized space, then give kids options of
"developing" the site. Let them decide to keep or not keep the trees. The
computer game, Simcity and Simpark does this in a more elaborate fashion.
I'm pretty simple minded, so I still cling to ideals like that I found in
Giono's THE MAN WHO PLANTED TREES. Go out, fix the earth.....
On 30 October, Barbara Justiss wrote:
My partner and I team teach at Texas Tech University, in a
practicum class appropriately named the ARTERY. We have been teaching a
unit based on the concept of a TIME CAPSULE. Students produce artworks from
a variety of time periods, and for an exhibit, they will choose artworks
which will be placed in a TIME CAPSULE. We have been having a difficult
time connecting the concept of the lesson with Ecological issues. It
occurred to us, however, that the lessons had everything to do with
ecology. The Earth could be considered a very large TIME CAPSULE and we are
all leaving artifacts for future generations to "discover." It really all
depends on whether or not we want them to find art or garbage as our
Karen Keifer-Boyd, Ph.D.
Texas Tech University
Dept. of Art, Box 42081
Lubbock, TX 79409-2081