January 16, 2011
January 11, 2011
I'm taking a 2 week program called the Conservation Leadership Practicum. On the first day, we took a field trip to visit Dorrance Ranch, which has the highest point in the area, giving a great view of Monterey Bay (from Big Sur to Santa Cruz), the Salinas River, Salinas, and even over the inland mountains over to the white-peaked Sierras in the East. The Dorrances have an easement on the land with the Nature Conservancy, which limits the ability to develop the land, and requires grazing animals to be grass-fed in perpetuity. Hearing Steve Dorrance talk about his life experience, why they decided to go this route, and looking out over the farmland below (some happy, green, organic fields; lots of dormant, empty, even plastic-covered fields that reflect the "scorched earth" policies of the FDA), was so inspiring. It made me remember the conservation goals I set for myself when I was in vet school. Namely, helping Kentucky farmers/ranchers to go grass-fed and/or organic. What I learned, however, is that external forces are unlikely to be very helpful in making this sort of transition. It seems to be a cultural change that comes from the impetus of the younger generations, and from within the 'scene'. I think of our friends Adam and Rae who are organic farmers outside Louisville. Adam's family have been farmers for generations, but he is the one to have spear-headed the organic farming aspect. Rae is new to farming (within her family, anyway), but is gung-ho about the benefits that non-"conventional" farming give rise to.
Golden Eagle atop an oak.
Steve Dorrance surveying the land.
Overlooking Monterey Bay.
Farmland and Salinas River below.
"Scorched Earth" where no wildlife can live. )o:
Our CLP class.
Includes MIIS students, PhD students from elsewhere, professionals from Bhutan and China.
Photos by Colleen Beye's camera.
January 6, 2011
I am really enjoying my time off from school right now. Lots of time at home with Ben, plenty of time to work on pendants, ability to visit friends, and reflecting on my life. This past semester has been amazing for me in many ways. Mostly, school has been such a blessing. I am impressed continually with the amount of dedication that my professors have to teaching at MIIS (several of them commute 2+ hrs each way a few times/wk!), and to helping students land their dream job.
In one of my classes I read something like this:
There are 2 types of non-creative writing: 1) Academic, which includes scientific and research papers, and whose audience is other academicians; and 2) Policy, whose audience is policy makers.
All my life I have written academic papers. I appreciated the rigor, but have always been frustrated at how little room there was for creativity and problem solving in this type of writing. It was always so cut and dry, right and wrong, unforgiving, and I became exhausted trying to make suggestions to deaf ears about how to improve a situation. I had many people in undergrad see my creativity and wonder why I was going into science. But no one ever pulled me aside to suggest policy. It's the perfect marriage between rigor and evidence-based practice, with creativity and philosophy. I feel so grateful to have landed in a program that fits me so well. When I chose this school, I was mostly attracted to the first 2 words in the program title, "International Environmental Policy," but I am now firmly sold that the 3rd word is equally as important for my own soul growth. I am still a bit bewildered that in 30 years surrounded by intelligent, helpful, encouraging folk I was never really educated about this sort of opportunity, but ah, well. I am glad to be here now, learning all the new information about how to write policy papers, how the policy realm works, and so on.
The Commute Ends
The commute to and from Gilroy this semester started off fine: it's a lovely drive, and I used the car time to listen to some of my readings (yay, Kindle! It reads me the PDFs I have to read for class). But eventually it was just too much. I stayed in Monterey with friends (thank you guys so much!) once a week, and that helped, but sitting in a car 2 hrs/day definitely cut down on my sleep, exercise, and enjoyment of life. Plus, Ben and I still don't know anyone here in Gilroy. All our friends are either in the Bay Area or down in Monterey. So...
We found an apartment in Monterey just 4 blocks from school, on the same street as some of my classmates! It's cheaper than where we are now in Gilroy (bye bye lonely luxury apartment), and it has a fireplace. I know my classmates are looking forward to some kitty-petting time (coming from vet school, I'm surprised how few of my classmates have pets here. I might be the only one!!), and we're looking forward to more shared dinners, easy study sessions, volunteering (at the Aquarium?), and more visitors! We were very lucky that our current landlady was so cool about us breaking our lease (she's moving into our apartment, actually, that's how cool this apartment is), and super lucky to have scored the apartment we did in Monterey.
January 5, 2011
January 3, 2011
Crazy story about 7 poor sisters with long hair. Short version: they joined the circus and became rich and very weird. Long version here. My personal favorite part about one of their husbands: "Castlemaine was handsome and charming but had a few eccentricities of his own, like addictions to opium and morphine, and the unnerving hobby of shooting the spokes out of wagon wheels from his seat on the Sutherlands' front porch. Impressive though his marksmanship may have been, local farmers were unhappy with this practice."