July, 2008 Archive

Think Global, Write Local: Sustainability and English Composition

Thursday, July 24th, 2008

A Presentation to the UC/CSU/CCC Sustainability Conference
July 31-August 3 2008


Ecocomposition is a new subfield in teaching English.*

I’m motivated to practise Ecocomposition by two principles, the first enunciated by David Orr in 1994: “All education is environmental education,” the second by George Orwell in 1946: “When I sit down to write ¦, I do not say to myself, ˜I am going to produce a work of art’. I write ¦ because there is some lie that I want to expose, some fact to which I want to draw attention, and my initial concern is to get a hearing.”

An essential element of Ecocomposition is local knowledge–engagement with one’s own particular place and time. Preparation for Ecocomposition requires teachers to be interested in their surroundings”the academic institution as not an ivory tower, but rather a physical, economic and political entity in history, situated on the land and in the community.

In keeping with these principles I’ll talk about Ecocomposition locally rather than abstractly: my experience of teaching it during the last three years here at Cal Poly.

In 2005, as the environmental crisis deepened and the Sustainability movement grew, I thought I could make an impact by reaching first year students and by framing the subject matter in the context of rhetoric”that is, the power of persuasion. So I designed a section of our first quarter required English composition course and called it Writing About Place


Wedding Ceremony for Emma and Travis

Saturday, July 19th, 2008

Processional”Guitar music by Elijah

  • Groomsmen and Groom
  • Bridesmaids
  • Bride and father


Wedding is great Ischel’s crown:
O blessed bond of board and bed!
‘Tis marriage peoples every town;
High wedlock then be honoured!

(Shakespeare, As You Like It, Act 5 with slight modifications)


Welcome to you all and thank you for attending this marriage ceremony. I’m Emma’s Uncle Steven, and I’ve been honored to be invited by her and Travis to conduct it.

The act we are about to perform together is universal. The words we repeat”some from the Bible, some from Shakespeare”have been uttered over and over for thousands of years. They lift us out of the flow of past, present and future into an interval of sacred time.

The space where we’ve assembled is sacred as well. Thousands of miles from home, we’ve all flown here through the air and endured an arduous jungle voyage to the edge of a foreign land and an unfamiliar sea, where ancient people erected fantastic cities devoted to ceremony and ritual.

It is this presence that the bride and groom will revisit whenever they remember their wedding in later life.



Friday, July 4th, 2008

Hi Verandah

Thank you for the invitation to the fortieth anniversary celebration at Packers Corners and for your handwritten note. Jan and I would love to attend, but regrettably that date coincides with our yearly pilgrimage to Lund British Columbia where we established our own total loss farm thirty eight years ago.

Your invitation has spurred me to delve into the collection of relics of our days in Vermont I’ve stashed in a file cabinet, and has brought our stays there both in the period 1968-70 and our visit with you and Marty in 1993 vividly back to mind, accompanied by great gasps and sighs.

Forty years seems a particularly powerful interval. Perhaps the the rounder number of 50 will be as strong, but I suspect by that time many more of us will have dropped out of sight and those who remain will be pretty unsightly. We attended the 68-08 Columbia Strike Reunion in May, getting together for wonderful times with Peter Behr and Linda (Grace) Leclair.

I’ve scanned and uploaded a few pictures from 1968 and 1993 on my Flickr site.

I imagine you’re overwhelmed with archived documents, but let me know if you’re lacking The Occasional Drop of 4 October 1968, 19 December 1968 and 21 December 1969. They are here in good condition.


Idaho Trip, June 19-30 2008

Friday, July 4th, 2008

Jan and Steven and Ian travel to Idaho to visit Joe and Amy and Ethan and Abel. They drive Reddy and stop at Yosemite Valley, sleep over in Tuolumne Meadows, and pass bomb disposal site in Hawthorne NV. On the way back home they stop for lunch in Sacramento. Slideshow