Forty-five years have passed since the first publication of the Whole Earth Catalog. How shall we conceive of environmental learning all these years later? And how can we build on some of the important concepts from the first phase of environmental studies—place-based learning, bioregionalism, wilderness conservation, ecological restoration, natural history education, environmental justice, ecological economics, global environmental governance—while we confront the Anthropocene reality?
I've been considering six dynamic challenges that must be incorporated, internalized, and activated to expand environmental learning:
The urban planet
A cosmopolitan culture
Ecological equity and social justice
The proliferation of information networks
Virtual natural history
These are by no means inclusive categories. There are countless ways to think about environmental learning in the Anthropocene. In my view, environmental studies is necessarily adaptive and the conditions that inform its structure are always in flux. Let's launch the conversation.
Read the rest on Terrain.org.
Science Fiction is the theme of the newest issue of New Orleans Review. Editor Timothy Welsh opens the issue by asking "Why do we enjoy science fiction?" Then explores an answer: "Perhaps it is not the fantastic at all. Perhaps it is instead how science fiction is always in some way about the present. It is an exaggeration, a recontextualization, a defamiliarization. Science fiction takes some aspect of life in the present and blows it out to its logical extremes to see where things breakdown. The best science fiction gives us ways to think about our actual lived circumstances, unencumbered by material reality and with the perspective gained by getting a little bit of distance."
Welsh considers, though, that in our age of exponential advancements in science and technology, it becomes more challenging to see any great "distance." He then asks, "What distance is there to take as the stuff of science fiction rapidly becomes the stuff of our everyday?" That is the challenge faced by the contributors to this issue, and as Welsh notes, "though they take and use the tools of the genre, the alternative worlds they imagine do not seem so far off. . . . Perhaps we will find they are closer to home than we expect."
Contributors to this special issue include Sara Batkie, C. Wade Bentley, Scott Brennan, Gerry Canavan, Sarah Crossland, Michael George, Taylor Gorman, Jeremy Allan Hawkins, Daryl Jones, Greg Keeler, Paige Lewis, Michael Marberry, James Maynard, Lincoln Michel, Danielle Mitchell, Lo Kwa Mei-En, Emil Ostrovski, Elizabeth Lindsey Rogers, John Paul Rollert, Bethany Schultz Hurst, Adrian Van Young, and Lesley Wheeler.
First place: David James Poissant [pictured], of Oviedo, FL, wins $1500 for "Tornado." His story will be published in Issue 98 of Glimmer Train Stories.
Second place: Adam O'Fallon Price, of Iowa City, IA, wins $500 for "Our Celebrity."
Third place: Mary Kuryla, of Topanga, CA, wins $300 for "Not in Nottingham."
A PDF of the Top 25 winners can be found here.
Deadline coming up! Family Matters: September 30
Glimmer Train hosts this competition twice a year. It's open to all writers for stories about families of any configuration. Most submissions to this category run 1200-5000 words, but can go up to 12,000. Click here for complete guidelines.
I love Open Minds Quarterly magazine. Subtitled, "The poetry and literature of mental health recovery," I once used this publication in a composition course I taught themed "Understanding Disability." Not surprisingly, I was met with a great deal of 'unknowing' in that class as well as resistance (both reasons for teaching it). Students who used the word "crazy" soon stopped themselves and others from doing so, exploring what the word means in our society. Students who felt that people with depression should "just get over it" came to a more empathetic understanding of the complexities of this mental health issue. Open Minds Quarterly was one of the publications assigned in that class to help students learn, understand, and connect.
Editor Dinah Laprairie's Welcome in the most recent issue brought back those teaching memories. She writes about attending several festivals where she staffed tables to promote the publication, noting the responses from people who stopped by. "What is memorable," she writes of these encounters, "is the people who, unexpectedly, in picking up the magazine, get turned inside out by what they see.
Some go quiet and we see their breathing change, deepen. Something they read resonates, and we see something moving beneath their skin that yearns to come out. They read the magazine silently, and avoid eye contact with us.
Others are curious, pick up a copy, but once they glance at the content they drop it like it's hot, and quickly make their escape with straight backs and pursed lips, like they don't want to acknowledge they are eing chased by something.
Women will often return to the table supported by a friend, to look more closely. They whisper to each other.
And then there are those who are so relieved to find a magazine such as this that they make the confession they have been hiding, sometimes for years.
'My brother, he's bipolar.'
'My friend, she's had difficulties.'
'My son --'
It is an honour to witness these admissions. Something in what we do, in what our contributors have shared, has made it okay for someone to speak up about an unspeakable subject. Yes, the stigma of mental illness is slowly diminishing, but people are still afraid to broach the subject, to shine light on the dark places we'd rather leave dark."
Open Minds Quarterly definitely does not leave places dark, this newest issue featuring writing of a woman who meets her birth father for the first time - finding him homeless with signs of schizophrenia, another piece by a mother who undergoes electro-shock therapy, and poems wth titles like, "Aunt Dementia" (Jacqualine A. Hart), "Pain Scale" (E.V. Noechel), "Insomnia" (Maureen Comerford), "My On and Off Schizophrenic Friend" (Cecilia Tolley), "Suicide" (Maranda Russell), and "Freedom is not in the DSM" (Samantha Burton).
"More and more people are speaking up," writes Laprairie. "It takes a multitude of small efforts to open the conversation, but at some point the doors - the formal front doors and the everyday back doors - will be flung wide open."
Open Minds Quarterly opens those doors and invites both writers and readers to enter and exit freely.
Programs can be heard live for those in the Kansas City area, broadcast on KCUR 89.3 FM on Sunday mornings from 6:00 to 6:30. Broadcasts are then available for online streaming in the New Letters on the Air audio archives. Thanks to a Save America's Treasures grant from the National Endowment for the Arts and the National Park Service, all past programs - going all the way back to 1977 - are available on the website. Individual programs can be purchased as CDs or in MP3 format.