Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Stormy Weather

  For the Floridiana Book journal, I decided to write about the fiction novel, Stormy Weather, by Carl Hiaasan. I came across this story in highschool and I ended up creating a presentation for my sophomore year english class based on it. The book is set in Miami, Florida and it takes place during and after Hurricane Charlie. This novel tells a story of tourists, native Floridians, scam artists, and insurance adjusters as they interact in it's aftermath. Hiaasan is a very sarcastic writer which makes this book fun and upbeat but the majority of his characters had a somewhat annoying quality to them. They were either dull and boring or purposefully ignorant; neither of which I found attractive to read about.
     Within Stormy Weather, in addition to the criminals, there is a newlywed couple, Max Lamb and Bonnie Lamb, who split up because the groom is inclined to take photos of the storm instead of wanting to go to Walt Disney World with his new wife. There is a character named "Skink" who was a former governor of Florida who ends up kidnapping Max Lamb in order to drive home the point that the natural ecology of Florida must be preserved. The various characters and subplots eventually intersect in the novel and come together to form a witty novel with a great ecological message.
Word Count: 226

Any Last Words?

Colloquium was a class that I had absolutely no interest in and was completely dreading...and for good reason. Although the field trips were a break from the once-a-week monotony that was group activities, Ted talks, and video discussions, it was still tedious and boring Even though I enjoyed the getaways, I found it completely irrational and unreasonable to have to ride the school bus to our destination as if I was in fifth grade again. As adults we are fully capable of arriving somewhere on time and without supervision, it was almost patronizing that I was unable to meet up with my group and instead had to travel and extra hour to campus and back just to take a bus somewhere that was twenty minutes from my house.

The abundance of group work and group presentations was equivalent to a needle in the eye: painful and useless. I work five days a week and the majority of my group partners also had a full schedule, so it was increasingly difficult to find times to meet up and write a coherent paper or put together a presentation with a random group of students who have a million other things on their plates at that moment.

Although I didn't enjoy that class, I thought it's service learning component was helpful for graduation and volunteering outside was a rewarding way to earn those hours. It turned me on to the food forest and it's mission and accessibility, and I have attended a few harvests since my volunteer date.

Over all, Professor Headen was terrific but the subject matter and strict rules for the course were dull and over-bearing.

Word Count: 275

One for the Birds

Corkscrew Sanctuary was my favorite field trip by a land slide. Not only did I learn a great magnitude of information about the area and wildlife but I was able to see deer, owls, wood storks, cardinals, alligators, etc. first hand which will be remnant in the hierarchy of my memory for decades to come. Red Lichen sprinkled the trees and shrubs and the soft, existential song of the local birds echoed throughout the canopy. When walking from the grasslands to the tree dome I briefly and suddenly had an unusually visceral, and metaphoric 'vibe' if you will, as if I had entered a little part of heaven.

The Sanctuary was founded in 1954 and is approximately a vast 14,000 acres. It contains the most capacious virgin Bald Cypress forest in North America. It is an attraction spot for tourists, photographers, and bird watchers. The boardwalk was formed in the wake of a series of controlled burns to form one of the five habitats that are located in the sanctuary, and it is frequently altered to make room for the incoming and presently growing cypress trees. In the near future I plan on visiting the Sanctuary again but this time I will bring my camera and capture the relentless magic of nature.

A meaningful quote:

We believe in the wisdom of nature's design. We know that soil, water, plants, and wild creatures depend upon each other and are vital to human life. We recognize that each living thing links to many others in the chain of nature. We believe that persistent research into the intricate patterns of outdoor life will help to assure the wise use of earth's abundance. So we will be vigilant to protect wilderness areas, refuges, and parks and to encourage good use of nature's storehouse of resources.
-statement of Audubon philosophy from "Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary, a Self-guided Tour of the Boardwalk," 1960.

Word Count: 314

Nature's ECHO

ECHO (Educational Concerns for Hunger Organization) is a non-profit, inter-denominational Christian organization located on a demonstration farm in North Fort Myers, FL. ECHO exists for one major reason, to help those working internationally with the poor, especially in the area of agriculture. The program provides help through education, innovative options, and networking.
Education: They offer internships and hands-on training and workshops
Innovative options: Seeds of underutilized crops and their technical response unit
Networking: Annual conferences/ community gatherings
It was extremely interesting to walk through the ECHO farm. The class was introduced to many “old-school” agricultural inventions:stoves, looms, water-purifiers, etc. from the nineteenth century. I connected many of the plants and ways of farming (permaculture) to the service learning hours that I performed at the FGCU Food Forest (meringa, jujubee, tomatoes, citrus fruits). It was nice to be able to take the information that I gained from volunteering and apply it to ECHO's message.
ECHO started off during the early 1980's. The farm that we visited was created with a land grant for global farming and they currently offer a seed bank, bookstore, and farm tours at their location on Bayshore Road. They are primarily and openly a Christian organization, which I find to be somewhat controversial for those who would like to volunteer to help other countries or simply take a workshop to start sustainably farming or gardening on their own. Religion really shouldn't have anything to do with wanting to help feed the world.
Word Count: 245

To Grandma's House We Go

      I have been a resident of Lee County for twenty years and I have spent the majority of my summer, and winter breaks for that matter, walking up and down Fort Myers Beach, laying on the sand, and kayaking on the water. Naturally, I was excited to take a tour of Mantanzas Pass and learn about the history of the island. Our host was fantastic! She had homemade sea-grape jelly and crackers prepared for us, as well as M&M cookies, and lemonade. She spent a majority of her time with us speaking about the bridges and their construction/ reconstruction, the many storms that plagues the island, as well as the original settlers of the island and the few original houses that are left. Walking through the pass was peaceful and quiet. There was an array of birds and a few noticeable fish swimming along the edge of the kayak bank. It is definitely somewhere I plan on kayaking to in the future to absorb the sun, take in the scenery and wildlife, and eat an organic lunch.
      Conservation 20/20 is a program that was mentioned. It was founded in 1995 and it's mission statement is as follows:
     “To acquire properties of environmental significance, restore those lands to their natural state and condition, manage them in an environmentally acceptable manner and provide public recreational opportunities that are compatible with protecting the natural resources.”
     Those involved in the program were and are concerned with conserving Florida's land that was originally set aside for conservation.
Word Count:252

Snack City

I have always been one for snacks and since I was a child my favorite has always been Pepperidge farm Goldfish. Goldfish contain the following ingredients:
         Wheat Flour Unbleached Enriched (Flour, Niacin, Iron Reduced, Thiamine Mononitrate, Vitamin B1), Riboflavin (Vitamin B2), Vegetable oil (Canola oil, Soybean oil, Milk , Salt, Contain 2% or less of the following: Yeast, Leavening, Baking Soda, Monocalcium Phosphate, Sugar, Spice (Onion, Powder)
  •  Reduced Iron- Product of rust that has been "de-rusted" by applying elcetricity and hydrogen
  • Folic Acid- Product of bacteria treated with multiple acids until only Folic acid is left
  • Annatto- Is made from achiote tree. It is mostly used to color cheeses orange (like cheddar). In its pure form it tastes lightly sweet and peppery. Some people say that it tastes similar to nutmeg. Annatto is one of the top 10 food allergens in America.
  • Soybean Oil- Oil is squeezed from the soybean when it is pressed.
Pepperidge Farm is a division of  the Campbell's Soup Label. They have come up with eighteen different flavors and multiple different shapes. They were originally manufactured in Sweden and then introduced to America. T
heir Goldfish catch phrase is "The Snack that Smiles Back", which goes along with what they write at the top of the ingredients listed on every bag: "Made With Smiles". Goldfish are a relatively healthy snack but they are still not organic or natural. They are processed. I feel that Pepperidge Farm makes a good effort with their slogans, commercials, and games on their boxes to rope in children and parents who are looking for a cheap cracker.
Word Count: 270

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Bring it Around Town

I grew up in Down Town Ft. Myers. I can remember thrifting through uninteresting stores as a child with my family; my grandmother in particular. We would sit and talk with the dock master on First Street and walk up and down Main. In the fifth grade I took a field trip to the Edison home and Ford Estates so I had a bit more background knowledge on the Down Town area than most. My weekends are usually spent at the City Tavern and I have tasted almost every flavor of Pizza that Down Town has to offer. I find it strange how I still visit almost every week but the activities that I partake in are so much different from those that I took part in before; where I used to attend art and flower festivals, I now head down town for after-hour frivolities and maybe an occasional tattoo. I was excited for this field trip. Maybe to find out a little more about this place that I seem to spend so much time in. Although I had already heard a majority of the information, I still took away a few key points. For instance, I never realized that in the "Unlikely Friends" art piece, there were so many references to Florida life, and I was delighted to finally know the history of the old theater. I also became aware of a number of new, local clubs and bars that I would be interested in going to. The aspect of personalization that our professor put in to explaining the history of down town as well as activities that specifically appeal to our age group was refreshing. It made the whole experience of this "madatory field trip" much more enjoyable.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Neighborhood watch

My neighborhood is bustling
Children are running to the park across the street
My dog is digging up the infertile soil in the yard
The sun is shining
The clouds are nonexistent in the bright blue sky
I can feel the grass growing, the trees talking
They are whispering the sweet sounds of the wind
The water in the canal is rippling with the breeze
Calling me to soak up the rays and bask in between the waves
It wants to whisk me away, downstream to the retention lake
It's littered with capri-suns and lunchables
From the children who were never taught better
Never educated on sustainability
Who are only concerned with living and laughing and playing
It could end up being too late for them
Too late to change and save our neighborhood, our world. 

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

An Interesting Feat (#2) Ugh. Walking through mud up to my knees was definitely not something that I was looking forward to while taking this course. Fortunately, it was the only uncomfortable aspect of our first field trip during the Campus Tour. I ended up learning quite a bit about the natural ecosystem that is part of Florida Gulf Coast University's campus. Our field guide discussed the devilish melaleuca and it's role in our campus environment as the foe to the mangrove; she pointed out to us the red lichen that was actively present on the majority of the mangroves. I learned that this specific type of lichen filters the air and the water surrounding it and makes it some of the cleanest water and air in the area. It was almost a little discouraging to see such a peaceful and thriving portion of land so close to such an urban school area. There was very distinct and ever-present noise pollution that brought down the morale of my experience. I would have preferred serenity and silence. Compared to a number of my other travels (Colorado, Kentucky, Tennessee, North and South Carolina), I realized that silence is much more difficult to experience due to the urbanization of the majority of Florida within about a fifty mile radius of FGCU's campus. I think that if our field instructor was a bit more interactive with the class and we had performed at least one activity while on this tour, it would have been more significant to me. Just specifically explaining different components of the ecosystem was interesting, but the message and a number of the organisms and animals that she pointed out to us would have stuck with me more.
Word count: 288

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Qualms About Colloquium(#1)
Upon entering this course, I had no idea what to expect. Although I do support the notion of sustaining the environment for future generations, I dislike the idea of having to take a required course that has nothing to do with my major. Don't get me wrong, I will make an effort to be interested in the subject material but aside from the tranquil aspect of being "alone with nature" I have never been too interested in plants or bugs...or sweating. I kayak almost every week and I believe that Colloquium may help me become more "in-tune" with nature, and by association, myself. I took a course that seemed similar to University Colloquium a few semesters ago, "Environmental Humanities", and it is possible that the dull pace of that class has influenced this unenthusiastic attitude that I have about unrealistic expectations of single-handedly saving the planet.  However, I do believe that this course will give me insight to many individual's ecological reservations about logging or disrupting Southwest Florida's delicate ecosystem. This knowledge may be helpful to me in the future if I ever decide to construct a home or company.
Word Count: 190
Staton, Laura. Sustainability. Photo. Reputation Forward. 4 Sep. 2012. 10 Jan. 2013. <http://www.reputationforward.com/2012/09/tell-your-sustainability-story.html>.