It was interesting to examine different objects — CO2 and trees — through the text this week after completing my own situated project on Japanese biofuels. I really like being able to focus in on a certain object because it allows for more depth into a particular topic. Our discussion on CO2 explored CO2 as a biophysical entity, an institutional dilemma, a political challenge, as green rhetoric, and as a catalyst for change.
Examining trees as an object of interest was particularly fascinating because I had attended a lecture the night before led by Dr. Nalini Nadkarni, an expert on tree canopies. Dr. Nadkarni did exactly what we read about: she took one object, trees, and found as many ways as she could to connect people to them. She explored recreational, aesthetic, spiritual, and social justice approaches to reach out to as many people as she could. Her successes include a “Treetop Barbie” with an attached informational packet on the importance of tree canopies, an initiative to connect athletics and science at her university, a partnership with local artists, musicians, and urban youth to produce tree-inspired art, botanically correct fashion, tree centered sermons for numerous religions, and most recently working with prisons to incorporate nature imagery into solitary confinement cels.
I think Nadkarni’s approach was so inspiring partly because of her incredible initiative. She was passionate about something and decided to make her ideas realities no matter how many times she was turned down. Her reasoning for these multidisciplinary approaches was that in order to advance all our goals in society, we needed to find ways to make our values connect with the values of others. Once we figure out that connection, we can mutually benefit.
On Friday, Liz Safran came to talk to our class. It was a great way to connect with her since she will be on sabbatical next year. She answered a range of questions from our general inquiries about the role of the Environmental Studies Department Director and classes offered to more personal questions such as what her favorite rock is. (She’s a sucker for the pretty ones)