Friday, April 27, 2007

...Bambi clarification...

Just to clarify-
I think Walt Disney's contribution was helpful in trying to reconnect people to nature or at least the 'idea' of nature, BUT I think the inspiration for his idea (Pop Chalee's work) should have been credited.


Discrepancy in the Origins of 'Bambi'

As I mentioned the other day in class, there is a Native American art exhibit at the Johnson (hopefully some of you looked at it today) and one of the painters is supposed to have inspired the idea of 'Bambi' in Walt Disney. The artist is Pop Chalee and the painting is Enchanted Forest 1983. I think it's interesting that the roots of this 'fairy tale' originate in Native American culture. Here's what the blurb on the Johnson pamphlet states...

"Given the widespread popularity of Walt Disney productions, it is not surprising that Taos Pueblo artist Pop Chalee's work has been dismissively labeled as 'Bambi art,' or imitative of the stylized, wide-eyed animals popularized by the Walt Disney Studio. HOWEVER, Pop Chalee first began painting forest images in 1936; the Disney studio did not begin sketches for bambi until 1937, and the film was not released until 1941. In fact, the artist commented, 'Bambi was born here-Walt Disney bought one of these paintings of the forest scenes, and he made Bambi out of one of the deer.' Although Pop Chalee's style has been fully appropriated into American popular culture, reexamining the artist's original goal-to foster an understanding of her people through art-helps us to appreciate Pop Chalee's paintings as particular cultural expressions of a deep respect for the natural landscape of the Taos Pueblo. Her eerie and imaginative woodland scenes are truly powerful visual images in their own right." Hannah Steinberg

I looked up a couple resources to check out if you are a skeptic or just want to learn more about this topic.

John Villani. Southwest Art. Houston: Aug 2001. Vol. 31, Iss. 3; pg. 222, 4pgs
Cesa, Margaret. The world of Flower Blue: Pop Chalee: an artistic biography. 1997. Sante Fe: Red Crane Books. call # E99. T52 P663 1997 + Olin Library

Ironic, an older white man gets credit for the initial composition of a Native American woman's artistic ideas. This society never ceases to make me laugh at it's obsurdity.


Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Leave No Trace Song

For those of you who wanted a musical way to remember (or teach) the LNT principles, here you go. I learned it from a friend when I was teaching environmental education, so I'm afraid I can't give you the proper credit. For more serious information, go to the LNT website at

(to the tune of Row, Row, Row Your Boat)

Sack, sack your trash
Put it in a bag
Pack it our upon your back
'Cause leaving it's a drag

Sniff, sniff, sniff the flowers
Leave them where they grow
Endangered plants you pick today
Your kids may never know

Camp, camp far away
From the fragile shore
And when you do you'll save the lake
It's clean water we're working for

Cook, cook, cook your food
On a backpack stove
Save the snags and save the trees
'Cause wilderness is gold

Dig, dig, dig a hole
About 3 inches down
When nature calls, bury your waste
And leave it underground

Wash, wash, wash with no soap
Hot water works just fine
Rise 100 feet from streams
It's your water and it's mine

Leave, leave, leave no trace
With your camping gear
'Cause no one, no one in the woods
Wants to see you've been here

Think, plan, and be aware
In nature's fragile place
In wilderness we're visitors
Protect this unspoiled space.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Does science have an inherent bias?

Based on the following excerpt from Michael G. Barbour's essay from Uncommon Ground, "Social, political, and economic climates create and structure institutions, such as universities and granting agencies. Ecologists accomplish their research through such institutions; thus culture can bias research," it seems that Barbour has identified an inherent given in the scientific world. In essence, the point that Barbour is trying to put across is that science can never be fully interperted and explained without human influence. The world is as we see it, and we interpret things as such. And building on this, some reserach even goes as far as to try to prove that ideas such as global climate change do not in fact exist, when most scientific data illustrates otherwise. Furthermore, all too often stories of bending the facts and of adjusting correlations are making the research related news, and some of these cases may even be considered breaches in integrity. So, I beg the question is the exmaple I just cited (and others likes it) exmaples of trying to interpret information and data as Barbour says any scientist does regularly, or is it a bending of the facts and an effort to prove facts in one's favor?

Monday, April 16, 2007

Black Maria Films

If you all didn't get enough of the titillating thrill of Edison's Black Maria Studio films during class today, the 26th Annual Black Maria Film and Video Festival will be playing at Cornell Cinema on Tuesday, April 24 at 7p in the Willard Straight Hall theater. Enjoy!


Sunday, April 15, 2007

Impact of Bicycling on the Environment

A few lectures ago, Professor Tantillo mentioned there are people who claim that bicycling is harder on the environment than driving. I think I have found the paper he was talking about:

Karl T. Ulrich

The basic idea is that bicycling increases human health and longevity, which in turn increases the population's strain on resources.

Have fun with that one!

~Katie Hansen

Friday, April 13, 2007

The Bonasa centric world view

In class I confessed that Bonasacentrism was my own denominational form of the environmental religion.

For a brief summary of Bonasacentrism's "articles of faith," see the link at the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries website to "Ruffed Grouse Habitat Management."

Clear cuts are good. Kill a tree, feed a grouse.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Double-sided pages

I didn't bite in lecture but here's my opinion about double-sided pages...
Professor Tantillo said something to the effect of he realized that the grader could just staple a blank sheet at the end of the paper for comments, but this would have an effect on the paper's readablility. We take for granted that we are entitled to good readability, regardless of whether it is good or bad for the environment. How important is readability, or any of the other luxuries that we take for granted? What about saying "driving a hybrid car might be better for the environment, but it won't be as powerful," or "sure I could get by with just using one light, but turning on a second would make the room brighter," or "I could save water by taking a shorter shower, but it wouldn't be as enjoyable" ? They might seem trivial but I really think that all those types of things add up, and at some point it's going to be important for us to take them seriously. Plus, it's not really decreasing your quality of life that much to make small changes like taking shorter showers.
Of course if you start to debate whether hybrid cars are really better for the environment, or if printing single-sided term papers will save grouse, etc. then it gets more complicated. My point is just that we tend to use more than we need, and we're so used to it that we don't realize that what we think are necessities are really luxuries.

Monday, April 9, 2007

The Biltmore from another prespective

Like Leigh, I also grew up in North Carolina. My family used to go out the Biltmore almost once a year - one year we'd go out for the Festival of Flowers, which is going on around now, and another we'd go either in the Fall or Winter to see the fall colors or tour the house. However, I didn't have that same sense of conflict in the juxtaposition of the house and the gardens. To me, it was almost a seamless flow between them. Although I was surprised to realize the conditions of the land before the gardens and planning, you can still see how much work goes into shaping the landscape now. I guess I always thought the gardens were carved out of nature, but now, they are just as fabricated as the house itself.

The Biltmore House is imposing even from a distance (if anyone has seen the terrible movie "Richie Rich" with Macaulay Culkin, they used the exterior of the Biltmore mansion in the movie). But I felt that it was not as overwhelming once I was inside - half of what I remember from the tours was the entertaining spaces that obviously proclaimed the wealth and social status of the owners - imported cultural artifacts, elaborate tapestries, 4 completely outfitted dining rooms - but the other half was the secret passageways, kitchens, and service staff quarters in the lower portion of the building. It was nothing grand, but I always thought it was interesting how even a house like that needed things like people doing the laundry.

Like the house, the gardens demand extensive support staff. Even now on the busiest days of the year, you cannot walk through the gardens without seeing at least a few people working in them. There are secluded paths, but there are also the green houses which contain a collection of plants whose diversity rivals the nick-knacks in the most cluttered rooms in the house. Orchids, topiary, and all manner of things scream elegance - and once you've been there enough, you realize that this image is completely crafted - as soon as the flowers start to fade, they pull the plant and put in a new one. Once you move farther away from the house, it feels as though you are more in touch with nature - the landscape starts to look natural. But then you look up a hill and realize you are looking at 15 species of Azalea.

But the landscape fits the house. Even though it is a monstrosity, it matches the grandeur of the landscape. Especially near the house, the gardens are so perfectly manicured - not a twig is out of place. In my memory, it feels very much like the Gardens in Versailles, if you've ever been there. They always told the stories on the tours about how the road leading up to the house was made windy on purpose, so that when visitors finally saw the house after coming out of the trees, they'd be awestruck by the sight of this massive house situated in the middle of a view of the North Carolina mountains, and as a visitor, I'd say they achieved this.

I am not saying that this connection between the manufacture of the gardens and that of the house should be negative. To me, that was part of the greatness about the Biltmore. It was all overwhelmingly beautiful, and I saw the connection between the landscape and the house. Each interested me separately, but it was great to wander out on a patio in the house and look off into what is now Pisgah National Forest. And it was fun to be running around in the gardens and look up and realize how much garden there was between you and the house - I used to feel like I was playing near a castle. Especially now knowing what Olmstead did to craft the land to what it is today, I am even more impressed with the elegance of landscaping that they managed to achieve.

It's interesting how the same place can evoke such drastically different responses... But if you are interested in the Biltmore should check out their website: This has all sorts of information about the house, the gardens, and the history, including a virtual tour of the gardens...

Canada's Perspective

Does anyone know how Canadians reacted to the American experimentation with "our half" of the falls? We have heard so much about all the tests and measurements made on the American Falls, and how it was dried out for a long period of time for this purpose, but what did the Canadians think of this behavior? More generally, what were the main themes in Canadian philosophy and popular attitude toward Horseshoe Falls?

Thursday, April 5, 2007

Disillusioned in Dixie...

Hi Everyone,
So, I am from North Carolina, so of course, as every good North Carolinian does, I have gone with my family to the Biltmore Estate. Of course, we try to avoid it at Christmas when it is decorated to the nines and draws toursists from all over the country (or so we like to think). In any case, from my trips to the Estate, I only remember a few things, as I was probably too busy trying to act too cool for the whole family-vacation thing. One thing I remember is the huge bowling alley and the huge pool, both of which are inside the house. Another was a room dedicated entirely to portraits in huge frames that were twice the size of the actual painting. I also remember shuffeling through cordoned off paths through the house, following closely on the heals of the previous eager tourist. Finally, the thing that I remember the most is the gardens, especially the butterfly gardens. There were wide paths to walk on, shrubs that somwhat led to a sense of privacy, benches to relax on, beautiful flowers to enjoy without the hindrance of a tourguide whispering over your shoulder that you can't use flash photography inside the building. Maybe this is the Nat Res major in me, but all of this leads me to think: What came first, the house or its landscaped surroundings? If it was the house, then how did such a gaudy product yield such a sereen surrounding landscape? If it was the gardens, then how could such a gaudy (at least to me) house ever be juxtaposed against such peacefulness? Were Olmstead's ideas radical enough to accompany such a house or is the house too radical for the gardens? How on earth have these two very different attractions come together as a major tourist site?

Mountain Top Removal Coal Mining

Mountain top removal coal mining was brought up in lecture last week. The Department of Natural Resources graduate student association is sponsoring a lecture on this topic, and you are all invited to attend.

Appalachian Treasures
Mountain Top Removal Coal Mining: Destruction of Environment and Culture

Sandra Diaz, Field Coordinator for Appalachian Voices

Tuesday, April 10, 6:30pm

125 Riley Robb

(Reception at 5:30 in 304 Fernow Hall)

Contact with questions.

Wednesday, April 4, 2007

The Ledge

I found this story to be very interesting the way it develops the characters so well, even for such a short story. However, I am rather confused to what the major theme of the story is. I mean is this a tale of man versus nature, a man's relationship with his family, or something deeper? I could not find an answer to this question, no matter how many times I reread certain passages. Nevertheless, I think it is undeniable based on past reviews of the story, that "The Ledge" has something to do with man and his place in nature. So, I beg the following question of the class: what is the underlying theme that makes this short story analysis of man's place in nature?

Power vs. Goodwill

While reading Seely Houk, I was angered quite a bit, not because of his killing, but because of the blantant disregard for human beings. I have always believed that people need to treat nature responsibly and with deep respect, but humans are apart of nature and they cannot be dissolved from the equation. In Seely Houk, I was saddened to see that while trying to do good by hiring deputy game protectors, the needs of people were clearly ignored. Immigrant or not, no one was considering a better way of dealing with the Italians who were trespassing- they simply denounced them. It seems to me that this is a rather biased sketch and once again the wealthy "take all." I was also sad to see how power and wealth are much larger motivators than goodwill and love for the environment. The US society is a perfect example of this inequality, but just because it has become the status quo to seek wealth and power over moral integrity, does not mean it should remain this way. Seely Houk should have been, as deputy game protector, looking out for the interest of nature, but instead he sought the money that he would get from his arrests. He exerted his love of power over the Immigrants by using the public hatred of them as an excuse to arrest them, thus making more money. It is however, reassuring to know that not everyone found this acceptable and Houk was brought to court. It seems to me though that wealth and power are currently winning the struggle and overshadowing the good. There needs to be a major shift in the current paradigm and more emphasis needs to be placed on moral imperatives rather than green paper with faces on it.