Sustainability and Sense of Place in the Sonoran Desert/Sense of Place

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Component One – Sense of Place

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The Discussion forums for this Component were based upon excerpts from the course textbook, A Natural History of the Sonoran Desert, 2nd Ed. (Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum; Dimmit, Comus, Brewer, eds.; 2015). Our guest lecturers in both years were AWC Professor of Art Brad Pease, who has made regular extensive explorations of the Baja Peninsula in Mexico, taking numerous photographs and interacting with the population, and Professor of English Ellen Riek, who has a very extensive history in developing and implementing Sense of Place curricula across several post-secondary institutions.

A. Arizona-Sonoran Desert Museum, “Welcome to the Sonoran Desert”

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Guiding Questions

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What did you find in these readings that directly contradict common assumptions about what a desert is?

Do the readings imply that many of us have a limited or even wrong view of the relationship between humans and nature?  Do they seem to be promoting a particular world view or ideology?  If so, what kinds of adjustments to our current practices might we need to make in order to match the suggested outlook?

In what ways is our understanding of the natural world deepened by the insight that "some widely distant parts of planet Earth show certain broad-scale similarities"?  In what ways is our understanding deepened by the insight that these identifiable regions themselves contain examples of "global-scale habitats called biomes" and they they, in turn, are subdivided into smaller categories called communities?

Student Discoveries 2021

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Many people are misguided in their perceptions of the natural world, or have no regard for it at all. It has become increasingly apparent that many are ignorant to their impact on the environment. Every day humans consume and produce waste at an alarmingly high rate. Without an understanding and willingness to improve the way we think about consumption, waste, and the environment, our beloved biomes and communities are sure to deteriorate completely.

The readings imply that we as humans tend to not connect to nature or even realize that there is more to nature than what most realize and that our ignorance to it has affected and harmed nature. Even they mentioned in their first books they also misjudged nature and did not find it to be as wonderful as they do now, but now they realize that humans blind relationship with nature is killing it.

The desert is not simply a sandy place, but it encompasses a wide variety of characteristics that are unknown to others. As humans, we have a limited understanding of the relationship between humans and nature.

There are two things that humans are ignorant of and as a result, rare patterns in wildlife are displayed: the first one is that there exist unexpected chains of dependency in nature that have wide prevalence, and secondly, the actions to help the wildlife are often superficial and as a result, its effects do not create the original harmony of the species and biomes that was normal before the beginning of the anthropogenic mass extinction.

Many people have a misconception about what a desert is, and usually characterize it as a dry landscape with diminished life. The readings directly contradict the common assumptions about the desert because, in fact, the Sonoran Desert has a great variety of species and habitats within it and on its borders.

This story about the biological community of the Sonoran desert flips almost everything I thought about the Sonoran desert upside down. In my mind I had always pictured the desert as just that, an inhospitable land where only species that have adapted to live there can survive. It feels pretty weird to think that this same place was once a densely wooded forest. But I guess it makes a lot of sense considering that it is also full of fertile soil.

The desert is home to many animals and plants, and it could be our home as well. As stated earlier, I feel like the readings imply that we do not comprehend the shared relationship humans have with nature. I do not think it is their ideology, but instead, they promote us (the readers) to look at the bigger picture and not be so close-minded and notice the little details that make, for instance, the desert.

Before reading “A natural history of the Sonoran Desert”, I thought deserts were mostly deprived of life. I never really took the time to appreciate and learn more about the environment that I live in. When I think of desert, I think of the flat plains made up of dry sand and land. Turns out I was completely wrong. There are many different climates, types of plants, freshwater fishes, and insects at all live in our desert. Depending on the region you live it can even get so cold not plant can grow there. I’ve always thought rainforests were the most diverse regions. I no longer have the same views after doing a bit of research.

As someone who’s lived in the desert all her life, I believe most humans have the wrong views of nature especially the desert. Often most movies don’t depict the brewing life the desert has to offer. The promotion of certain biomes and communities over others leads many people to have a certain idea that the desert is always hot and dry. For example, the desert is one of the most well-known biomes. By learning more about grassland, chaparral, forest, tundra, and woodland people will learn to appreciate the beauty this place has to offer.

Student Discoveries 2020

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What makes a desert a “desert” is determined with the Potential Evapotranspiration (PET) which is a test that determines the amount of rainfall that an area gets and how much of the rainfall is evaporated.

The desert is more than what most people think it’s not just a dry, desolate wasteland, or has water available for short periods. The desert is more than that, a more positive definition could be “ a biological community in which most of the indigenous plants and animals are adapted to chronic aridity and periodic, extreme droughts, and in which these conditions are necessary to maintain the community’s structure.” Many people imply that living things, such as animals and plants, struggle to live in the desert due to their harsh conditions. In reality, these beliefs are inaccurate.

I believe the book is trying to capture the beauty and essence that the Sonoran Desert represents and the animals that live within. Therefore, promoting the readers to explore the Sonoran Desert and see the beauty for themselves.

Taking this class has lent me a greater appreciation of the similarities and differences of these biomes, how animals evolved in them, and how we all evolved in turn. Knowing there are different regions, with different but strikingly similar life, has made me feel more connected to these global communities and makes me feel even more compelled to help preserve them.

It is true that a desert has a lot of areas with mostly sand and dry but it does have a lot of life that thrives there and are adapt to its characteristic arid climate.

The insight stating that “some widely distant parts of planet Earth show certain broad-scale similarities” broaden our understanding of the natural world in the sense that it opens the start of the idea talked about in the book about how different elevations and latitudes have different impacts. This alluding that similar latitudes and elevations will produce the same or close to the same biomes even if they’re across the world.

We are under a common misconception that the climate in the desert is harming life forms. In reality, the species that reside in the desert have adapted to the hot, dry climate. Being oblivious to these details limits our knowledge which is affecting the way we treat our environment.

In the first chapter “Welcome to the Sonoran Desert” it gives an overview of what the Sonoran Desert is, what it contains, and who it contains, culturally.

A lot of people have this well known misconception that a desert is simply sand and cacti. A desert is much more than what we can visually see, it has a whole ecosystem growing within it. The fauna and flora that flourish in the desert are those of a special kind. Not many animals can survive in the blazing sun and heat, but those that can, thrive on the desert's conditions that they like to call home.

To be honest, whenever a cartoon or show would have a desert setting, I would skip the channel as I viewed the colors as dull and boring. Even when traveling across certain parts of Arizona, I would never take the time to look out the car window and observe the desert in which I live in. However, reading "A Natural History of the Sonoran Desert" challenged what I knew (especially the second chapter), and made the Sonoran Desert more interesting to me.

The misconceptions about the Sonoran Desert being barren and lifeless underestimate and do not do it justice.

There are so many different aspects to the Sonoran Desert and many people don't see what an extraordinary place we live in. In the Sonoran Desert almost every binome is represented and that is a very important thing. Learning about these different aspects of the Sonoran Desert has enlightened me on what I have been missing out.

One of the most common assumption of desert is that deserts are dry and sandy and there is almost no type of rain fall so the plant and animal or any type of life in the desert suffers because of this. But this assumption is far from the truth. According to the book, “Although many people visualize deserts as dry, desolated wasteland, the term actually defines a wide spectrum of landscape and plant and animal population density.” And what we have seemed to have forgotten is that these animals do not suffer from the extreme heat they either adapt to the heat or they are made for it.

One of the most common assumptions that contradict about what a desert is that it is the driest with their being close to none existence of life. This type of assumption is quite common and to some degree can happen if we continue to abuse the environment the way that we have been doing. However, while this may be true the desert has an abundant amount of life with one possible possibility behind that assumption being due to the decrease in the animals and plants that our in our habitat. I do believe that the readings do suggest that we have a limited view of the relationship between humans and nature because much of the population doesn’t treat nature with the amount of care that it needs. One of the things that needs to be different from the current practices that we do is using a smaller quantity of the resources we do have but most of all finding different resources that can be used instead of using nature all the time. On one final note the way that we treat the environment affects the way that we function as a society because the resources that we use comes from the environment so if it continues to be neglected we will not have any resources left to use.

B. Arizona-Sonoran Desert Museum, “Biomes and Communities of the Sonoran Desert Region”

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Guiding Questions

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What special significance does a riparian community have within a desert that it perhaps doesn't have in any other bioregion?  What does that special status imply in terms of choices that humans must make on behalf of such communities?  Can you think of any particular examples of ongoing inappropriate choices?

The northern and southern halves of the Sonoran bioregion are both desert areas - but for different reasons.  What are those 2 reasons?  What are the 2 different types of rains that fall on the region?

Do these readings say anything surprising about the classification of any of the subregions of the Sonoran Desert?  Do they imply anything surprising about the general enterprise of classifying bioregions, or even more broadly about scientific classifications?

Student Discoveries 2021

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An important aspect to the desert that is instrumental to the existence of life-forms is the riparian community. The riparian community is commonly found along the banks of rivers; however, these zones are also found in marshes, lakes, and washes...without mindfulness and active protection of these communities, the accumulation of human waste and no rain fall may have detrimental impacts on them and the life-forms they protect.

The lower Colorado part of the Sonoran desert is very dry and what we experience here in Yuma with only 3in of rain annually, while the Arizona upland experiences more rain and colder temperatures which  makes sense because much of it is at a higher elevation.

The implication of how the classification of bioregions work and how scientific classifications work, imply just how broad and diverse nature can be interpreted due to the great diversity of geography and biota found here.

The idea of biomes as presented in the readings portrays a sense of connection not just to the place where we reside but to the places that are similar all around the world and the care they must be given to preserving what makes them unique and characteristic, it also shows that the interactions between the different elements on a biome are so intricate that they must be divided even further to illustrate an accurate understanding of our surroundings.

The most surprising thing about the Sonoran Desert's subdivisions is that Arizona uplands are described as thorn scrubs rather than deserts and it is the only subdivision that experiences hard winter frost, making it hard for low-elevation species to survive.

These readings say very interesting things about the classification of the subregions of the Sonoran desert and it is amazing to know how intricate these classifications can be. Usually when thinking of a dessert, all people think about is a land full of sand, but there is so much more.

For instance, I understood the differences: one visually where the “dominant elements of the landscape are two life forms…. legume trees and large columnar cacti.” and it also supports many other life forms species. The two different types of rains are equipatas (winter rains) and las aguas (summer rains). The reading does mention some reclassification of part of the Sonoran Desert as thorn scrub.

Because the Sonora Desert has many different types of latitudes it has a variety of species, plants, and climates. Due to the high elevation, the Tundra has extremely cold winters for which ground-hugging woody shrubs are adapted too. There are certain plants and animals from the rainforest that are also able to survive in the Sonoran Desert. The seven subdivisions were classified based on diversity and vegetation. Riparian communities can occur in any biome depending on whether there is ever-lasting water near the surface. For example, banks of rivers, shorelines, marishes, or lakes. This type of community is special because it contains a huge source of water and nutrients. Some inappropriate choices concerning the riparian communities would include the over-pumping of groundwater. One of the characteristics of the Sonoran Desert is the amount of rain and what season it falls on. The North Pacific bring “widespread, gentle rain to the northwestern two-thirds" (pg.13) from December to March. While Summer monsoon brings wet tropical air resulting in aggressive thunderstorms to the southeastern two-thirds. In Spanish, the winter rains are called equipatas and the summer rains are called las aquas. I was surprised by some of the classifications because I didn’t know some of biomes and communities could even be considered a desert. I never knew the Sonoran Desert contained tropical forest. Although, this place can go through a dry season when it rains many plants prosper creating foliage. It is the only of seven biomes/communities to grow flowering epiphytes.

Student Discoveries 2020

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The Sonoran Desert is broken into 7 subdivisions being the Lower Colorado River Valley, Arizona Upland, Plains of Sonora, Central Gulf Coast, Vizaino, Mangdalena and Foothills of Sonora to each have their similarities and differences.

The significance of the riparian community is that they include "dry washes." These dry washes in the Sonoran Desert take up less than five percent but hold ninety percent of birdlife in its region. This special status implies that we need to help protect these small communities. Some examples of us destroying these communities are when the government starts constructing in these regions. There are two halves for the Sonoran desert because from December to March, the storms hit the northwestern half; and from July to mid-September, they hit the southeastern. The two types of rain that fall are " gentle rain to the northwestern," and "violent thunderstorms to the southeastern."

Reading about the characteristics of each subregion, it was quite surprising to discover that the Arizona Upland is the coldest and highest part of the Sonoran Desert. In fact, it is the only region that experiences hard winter frosts making it impossible for many lower-elevation species to survive in this area.

Along wetter climates riparian communities exist but perhaps play a less vital role in the biome. The glaring elephant in the room regarding these communities would obviously be our choices surrounding climate change.

Understanding that regions are divided into biomes shows us how diverse a place can be. How different climate and vegetation can be in a region shows us that biomes are unique in so many ways. Then dividing those biomes into communities shows that the lives that live there are adapted to that specific region.

The riparian communities have more of an effect within a desert because they are along a flowing stream which is a water source to the life forms that live in the desert. This community allows for the population of arid species to grow despite the extreme climatic conditions.

I think the most interesting this I read thus far was the statement, “Almost all of the world’s biomes occur in the Sonoran Desert Region.” (page 6, paragraph 2).

Each biome has within it, different environments for different types of species. The desert, in this case, has few to no trees, tons of woody shrubs, and none to many succulents, despite what people may think. Unfortunately, at the rate humans are destroying the earth, it doesn't seem likely that many of these things will be around much longer. The impact us humans have on the planet has been increasing for years, but quite recently it has sky rocketed and we are close to no return. We need to take responsibility for our actions, before it's too late and start picking up the pieces now.

When people hear desert they think of dirt, rocks, snakes, lizards, lack of water and a hot climate. What people don't know is the desert is so much more. There is a wide variety of plants, animals, and weather conditions that a desert can have. The book gives a different look at the ecological and cultural patters that shape one of the most complex deserts and that is the Sonoran Desert. Reading about the different biomes and communities this particular desert has is proof of what a complex region it is. Interestingly, all of the worlds biomes occur in the Sonoran Desert. This is very interesting because the Sonoran Desert is actually small compared to all the biomes in it. The reason so many biomes exist here is because of two reasons. First is because the region is on the West side of the continent near 30 degrees latitude and most biomes occur in this close proximity. The second reason why the Sonoran Desert has all of the biomes is because the great topographical relief here that creates the cold, wet climate that allows biomes in the North to come farther down South. From December to March storms originating in the North Pacific bring occasional rain to the Northwest. Starting in July and ending in mid-September is the monsoon season that brings surges of violent thunderstorms in the Southeast. The two names for these are equipatas (winter rain) and las aquas (summer rain). The damage humans are doing to this planet will have a costly effect on all parts of the different environments here. If we are to make a change it needs to be now and everyone has a part to play in making the world a more healthy place to live in for future generations.

From what I understood, the northern half of the Sonoran bioregion is classified as a rain shadow desert, while the southern region is a horse latitude desert. Because the southern region stands on the 30 degree north latitude, it is considered a horse latitude desert, and the northern region is a rain shadow desert because mountains alter the winds direction which causes the wind to warm and dry the area. Due to the conditions of each halves, violent thunderstorms fall on the southern region, and gentle rain falls on the northern region.

Due to the fact that these riparian communities vastly differ based on the elevation, latitude and dry conditions they cannot be classified as one community but rather multiple communities with similar characteristics.

The fact that riparian community also contain dry washers in deserts might be one significance.

The northern Sonoran bioregion is considered a desert because of its frostlike temperature which is due to the mild winters that it experiences as well as the animals originating from the southern area of the Sonoran Desert. In regard to the subregions of the Sonoran Desert I believe that they all hold a similarity in some way or form due to them all experiencing a type of weather whether be a cold or a hot one. It was also interesting to see the way that the plants and animals of those regions experience and deal with the weather changes

C. Brad Pease, AWC Professor of Fine Arts

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Description 2021:

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Professor Brad Pease knows that sense of place is often connected to people and he ensures he has a distinct memory of the people he meets. His camera is perfect for capturing each person he meets in his journeys throughout the Baja Peninsula.

Professor Brad Pease’s experiences with the Sonoran Desert, specifically with Baja California, brings about an interesting factor that I did not know exists in the desert. His explorations, discoveries, connections give an insight on the many wonderful things that the Sonoran Desert holds.

He focused on the elements that made his journey and adventure, his jeep with which he shared many experiences, his camera that represents a passion to capture the world without altering it which is what I could consider one of the most ideal ways to appreciate and interact with nature, and lastly the people he encounters throughout the way.

Brad Pease gave us a presentation that gave us a better idea of what Baja California is like. Throughout his adventures and the people that he has met, Pease is a well of knowledge about the land and has first hand experience with a lot of it.

Reflections 2021:

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A sense of place does not even have to be the place you consider your home, or where you have lived the longest. It can be anywhere and it can have memories tied to it through the objects you carried with you along the way or used at a particular time, but it can also have memories tied to it through the people you encountered and got to know along the way.

the Sonoran Desert is so diverse in its terrain and ecosystem it hard to imagine how they decided what was part of the Sonoran Desert and what is not. Also, the question of what classifies a land as a desert because some of their terrain shown in his phots go from sandy desert to a beach to some areas that are more grassy and full of trees.

The beauty within the desert not only comes from its wondrous landscapes or its captivating wildlife, but from the rich culture that lives within its land.

One way in which I was fascinated is his process to decide which areas to explore, he mentioned that he focuses on different places every year mainly the ones that are deserted and represent his intrepid spirit, in addition to that the way in which he captures the world with his images reflects humanity leaving behind nature. Nature becomes just an object left aside the memory which resides in it lost its value in the eyes of an ignorant world that focuses on an illusionary and superficial level of progress...

Watching the presentation made me want to take a trip to Baja California. I don’t think that I have ever gone that far down, I only ever remember going to Acapulco and Mazatlan. And even those are big cities that have nothing to do with actually exploring the land and getting to know it’s geography and history. I hope one day I can be like Prof. Pease when I'm driving somewhere and I see a path that diverges from mine, I can take just for curiosity.

Professor Pease visited places where tourist do not usually go to and was able to explore these less traveled destinations. Which I have noticed is something that most people do not commonly do. I think that Mexico has one of the greatest landscapes in the world and the fact that other people are able to engage and appreciate their beauty makes me feel happy.

I honestly have always thought of the earth change as just a typical climate change and during his presentation he mentioned how it also changes the chemical components of the earth. It left me wondering how is it that earth changes could change the chemical components of the earth when they are deep within the soil? Would it be possible that it is changing slowly and that just when there is a drastic change in temperature, we notice it?

As someone who mostly travels to Baja California, some of the pictures professor Brad showed were very familiar. The locals at the beaches are always friendly and willing to help in case anyone gets stuck in the mud. It’s truly a beautiful place to visit during the summer. The food and weather are the best during this time. After the pandemic is over, I will defiantly visit again. This time I try and take pictures of the landscape and nature. I find it interesting how professor Brad was able to gift locals some pictures of themselves after years have gone by. One day I will make an effort to travel and make good memories and experiences like professor Brad.

Description 2020:

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What our guest speaker Brad Pease spoke to us is about his own experiences he had in the Sonoran Desert and also how on the Mexican area of the Sonoran Desert there is a very strong culture that protects and respects nature.

People that live in Baja California just dump the dead animals, and they don't bother to bury them. Mexico has been really good at protecting areas. Brad Pease gives an example of when camped too close to a protected area, and they made him move locations to help preserve the land.

Brad Pease talked about the many trips he has made to Baja California and what he has seen.

Professor Brad Pease focused on the environment, culture, and ways to protect certain places. This presentation gave us a better understanding of Baja Californias as a whole.

He talked to us about how he would take pictures of the people and places in Baja California and would then return the pictures years later to the people in the photos.

Professor Brad Pease travels to and from Baja California. He takes his jeep and explores the peninsula. He explained in great detail, some of his adventures and the discoveries he's made.

Professor Brad Pease went into great detail about his adventures in Baja California. One of the adventures he mentioned was driving out in the desert and coming across an area of animal bones scattered across the area. Pease mentioned that many animals that weren't up to standards to sell or kill for meat were left in the desert to die. Many of the animals were left tied up and did not have a chance to escape. All throughout his journey Pease ran into a variety of different people. He had to learn how to communicate and respect the area he was in. For example, in one town there was a group of men who were in charge of watching over the waters to make sure people weren't taking more than what was allowed. Hearing about his different adventures helps put together images of what the area is like and how people can do a better job at trying to protect the environemnt.

I especially found one story he told to be very heartwarming. He takes photos of people he meets on his travels, develops them when he goes home and when he eventually returns to the area, he looks for these people and gives them the photo.

What left a profound impact on me was when the speaker talked about the "descansos" which are the memorials placed across the roads of Mexico to remember those who lost their lives in a crash.

Reflections 2020:

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Brad Pease is a brave explorer of Baja California, Mexico. He goes where the wind blows and may encounter problems along his journey, but that is not going to stop his thrill for adventures.

Pease conveyed a very genuine sense of awe and respect for the Sonoran and approached it with both wonder and an adventurous nature.

Building a wall can restrict plants and animals from being in their natural environment. Professor Pease also shared his story of how Mexico cares very deeply about protecting the restricted habitat areas. Tourists don't always respect the preserved areas and it can cause a great deal of harm to the ecosystem there.

Brad Pease said "All roads end up going to the same place, I like to call it the magic of the Baja", spoken as a true adventurist. I hope one day I too can go about and explore new places. Off of his presentation Brad Pease has learned so much through eating to know the locals and learning he just of each area. It was truly inspiring.

After the Brad Pease presentation it showed me how involved people like Pease are. Learning about the different people and communities in Baja California was very interesting. It was also fascinating to hear about the different interactions he had with people in the community.

Brad Pease presentaion was about his journey through Baja California and honestly his presentation did not show the amount of courage it takes to keep going back with his little Jeep after having died on him multiple time. Brad Pease is on brave man, he saw a lot of difficulties in Baja California and amazingly that was the least of his concern, instead he talked more about the community and the people, and the pictures he took of them.

Other areas across the world have always been more interesting to me than the Baja California region - places with more green and water. However, after Pease's presentation I respect Baja California and it's culture surrounding it way more. There was something beautiful and poetic about Pease's presentation that won me over.

Brad Pease has had the pleasure of being able to be able to go to Baja California in Mexico in which he always loved to do and likes to visit most often. He also has a jeep sheep in which he always takes with him when he goes to Baja California by which is a protected area. One interesting fact that I thought was interesting was that Valle de cirlos is a native protected area and that Baja California is cooler at night but it is advised not to drive due to animals grazing at night.

Ellen Riek, on A Sense of Place (visiting speaker, 2021)

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Dr. Riek explained what “Sense of Place” means to her and how Flagstaff, AZ, is the first place she thinks of. She explained that all of her children were born in Flagstaff and this has tied her and her family to this place. Even though they do not live there anymore, they have this permanent connection to this city.

Dr. Ellen Riek put into perspective the way in which we, as humans, perceive the world. She brought a different light to the subject and reinforced the teachings that we have been receiving from our Honors Colloquium course.

Dr. Ellen Riek gave us a presentation titled “Identifying, Development & Nurturing a Sense of Place” which without a doubt was my favorite presentation for the following reason. This presentation focused on memories, who we are, what is important to us, and why it is important to us.

I think that we already had a similar talk about Sense of Place, maybe in one of the discussion boards. Dr.Ellen Riek told us to take a picture of a natural place the students cared about and put it as our background. She taught us about the importance of these connections to our environment.


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...we tend to separate ourselves from the landscape and nature when in reality, we are very much a part of it. When we separate ourselves from nature in this way, we choose to ignore nature and use it for our own benefit. However, not everything is meant to be used up, many things are meant to be preserved. When we stop thinking about nature as something we can take from, we will be better off and so will the planet.

I think a lot of that has to do with the fact that we are not just trying to survive anymore. When we are camping or in a survival situation, I think we more so think of ourselves as a part or a pawn in nature and have to work alongside it to survive, but when we no longer need to survive because there are others who do that for us, we then think of ourselves as not living with nature but just in it.

Many times we feel as though nature is here to work for us, that nature should be the one to change its ways in order to accommodate us, when in reality it should be the other way around.

The reason why I believe this was so important is that it perfectly showed us who we are and how those places we have visited, those in which we grew, and those to which we desire to go form a large portion of who we are, our aspirations and purposes. It makes us conscious that some of the things that make us unique or even allow other people to identify us are a result of the prolonged interaction with those places, and that is what we often call a sense of place. Which is a simple yet beautiful definition.

I still believe that it is very important for people to be able to develop an understanding and attachment to nature that is always surrounding them. It is difficult for people to speak out and fight for a cause that they themselves do not really care about. I feel like if everyone had a special place for them that they wanted to protect, ti would make fighting these climate issues much easier.

Understanding the importance of a sense of place can help us appreciate some of the ecological aspects of our city and community. These aspects do not only provide meaning to place, but they also help differentiate it from another area. As far as I am concerned, we should be able to care about the architecture, landscape, and cultural representation of the place we live in because this is what makes it unique and special.

She afterward shared with all of us her motto/favorite quote, which I believe stated the following, "You cannot know who you are until you know where you are." She mentioned how part of the problem we have with our relationship with the environment is that we tend to separate ourselves from it. I believe she is right, even if we hate to admit it. Every day we become less engaged with the environment because "we do not have time" or to some people simply not caring but mainly as one of our previous presenters mentioned the lack of information, they have regarding the topic is the main issue.

For many years to come, Dr. Riek encouraged her English honors students to complete an environmental research project they would be tied to their majors. Students would model their project and just tell what they know without sources out of the top of their heads. When Dr. Riek moved to AWC she had her students record this 3–4-minute podcast at the radio station. 

Dr. Reik believes we can’t be a writer unless we know who we are. Currently, she wants her students to have a rich description when describing their sense of place. Several students are doing their projects on the Yuma, Winter haven, San Pascual, and across the border. They are working on the achieves to cite their sources. They will also complete a webpage and a podcast to go with this assignment. We can adapt and apply these skills in real life.