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Eco-Literature: Nature as Subject & Object

By: Leo Funa

Each text portrays how the sustainability of a livelihood has been threatened, and in the Anazasi’s case, completely extinguished. Opperman asserts that eco-literature “attempts to transcend the duality of art and life, human and the natural, and to work along the principle of interconnections between them.”  I believe that this notion was properly expressed throughout these particular readings. Both texts enhanced my understanding of sustainability by using literary concepts to illustrate the palpable effects of the ecological crisis.

In Devil Deer, Anaya depicts nature as object in relation to the presence of humans. She utilizes the contradictory forces of humans and nature as the driving force of the story. While the hunter Cruz was considering the signals that the environment was sending him, his thought process shifted towards his particular needs as well as his obligations towards his family. This was a manifestation of the nature/culture dichotomy discussed by Opperman. There is an inherent divide between the particular wants of humans and the natural world and this was superbly executed through Anaya’s portrayal of Cruz’ ambiguous emotions. Also, I felt empathy for the hunter’s condition, one of being jarred out of contentment by the harsh realities of the natural world. Cruz “felt no celebration in taking the life of the buck,” which signifies a form of personal displacement within him.

In Upper Grand Gulch, Zwinger examines the land and tragic history of the Anazasi. In this case, Grand Gulch in Utah functions as the subject – the land itself is the primary storyteller that is accompanied by the musings of a narrator (Zwinger). I was impressed by the ability of the author to weave the land’s history into the striking collection of imageries used to describe the place. Zwinger’s use of salient descriptive aspects such as handprints that “seem more than an innocent glee” and “the feeling of an open, warm, peaceful world” helped me visualize the wonder of this hallowed land. I was struck by one particular line in the text, a line used by Zwinger to ponder the saga of the Anazasi – “there must have been good living here, before the mistrust, the hunger, the fear, the bad times.” Reading this made me wonder: are future generations going to be describing us in a similar fashion?

There is a stark contrast between the overall tones of each piece. On the one hand, Devil Deer has a manner of gloom and an enveloping feeling of dread throughout the story. On the other hand, Upper Grand Gulch is remarkably joyous with an attitude of veneration towards the land. Zwinger’s choice of words added an air of mysticism to the text that Devil Deer, despite its foray into the world of dreams, failed to capture. I do believe that Devil Deer is very effective in conveying its message through the use of fear and gruesome imagery; however, the feeling of positivity emanating from the ending of Upper Grand Gulch is more adept at helping me envision a brighter tomorrow. Hence, Zanaya’s feeling of perpetual serenity towards the land resonated more with me.

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By: Kelsey White

In each text, I have considered looking into the lens of sustainable development and sustainable living offered by each author in the context of Oppenheimer's theories on eco-literature. Both texts progressed my understanding of sustainability by concepts to foreshadow and threaten future economical downfall. Both pieces feature indigenous cultures in the American Southwest from different time periods in which the sustainability of a live hood has been threatened. The idea of nature as a subject versus an object comes to play in the stories when the talks about hunting begin. Humans consume nature in every way from meat, to water, to fur, to resources.

I can connect with the narratives from my own personal understanding of sustainability and they way I live today. I have been vegetarian for 2 years; however, I do not judge others for eating meat or harming nature. I became vegetarian strictly for health reasons, as there is a long history of cancer in my family. Although I am strong in my beliefs, I do not look down on others that do use nature's resources.

The two pieces lead with a different mood and vision of life on the land. The feelings in each ending elect a different outcome. One offers a more powerful impetus for change and a deeper understanding of our relationship to the natural world. There is vivid contrast in the outlook and tone of each text. Devil Deer embodies tragedy and an unfolding feeling of sadness throughout the text. I think that Devil Deer is most effective in translating a message through the use of harsh imagery to illustrate economic downfall. I feel that this method of writing grasps the reader with fear and stimulates the mind to ask further questions.

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By: Erina Sookiasian

Through both readings assigned, a powerful messaged was clearly written, that the very nature of our home, is slowly diminishing. First with Anaya's story of the "Devil Deer," we see that the deer have gone scarce from not only over consumption, but the lack of wild life anymore. "He had gone into the forbidden land, into the mountain area surrounded by the laboratory fence. There where the forest had glowed at night and the earth vibrated to the hum of atom smashers, lasers, and radioactivity." The end of the story Cruz was deeply affected by his findings, that what he knew best, what he has been taught by the generations before him would alter his cultures history which scared him. Then in Zwingers story, "Upper Grand Gulch," we see a man portrayed as a traveler among the people with little attachments to each place slowly "exhausting local resources," or "putting a heavy strain on them," because again it is what these people know best. At the end again we see another making pottery because it is what they know to do best and is all that they can do to survive.

Both stories ended with the people forced to adapt to their environment, but i felt Anaya's story made a greater impact because we often let these big business men come in and tear down our green natural land in exchange for cash flow rather than praising the land given and enjoying it. Showing the effect all the radiation had on the buck shows that we could be next. It's not like it hasn't happened before. Rather than just thinking of the environment as trees being cut down, or animals dying off, we must take a look at the bigger picture and see that everything around us is being affected by these changes, whether it is a growing population in Zwingers story or not. We are quickly exhausting our resources leaving only room for experimental projects that only cause harm. Our relationship to the natural world is a bond that cannot be broken, because without our forests and natural life we would cease to exist, until we find another alternative, until then we can only dream of a more sustainable life here on earth.

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By: Ramon-Alberto Alejo

Devil Deer by Rudolfo Anaya stood out to me the most. The way the author told the story was very vivid and easy to follow. In this reading, nature as a subject versus nature as an object collides together the moment the talk of hunting began. The fact is, we as human beings consume a piece of nature one way or another in order to sustain our lives. Many of us have are not even closely aware of the process of getting food to our table. Rudolfo illustrates the life of the hunter early in the story when he discusses how they stay up late at night eager to kill a buck the next few days. “The men were excited. The old men talked of hunts long ago, told stories of the deer they had seen in the high country sometimes meeting deer with special powers” (p. 275. While the hunters enjoy, the deer hypothetically count their final days.

Although I am not a hunter and I have never hunted a deer in my life, this story reminds me of the type of malice society places upon people they hardly even know. Too often, it appears that many are quick to judge other without knowing who they really are, or maybe not even knowing who they are. Unfortunately this sometimes ends in death. Similar to the story of the elephant man, the deformity of the deer brought fear and negativity to the local towns men. Even at a deceased state, the deer was labeled a Devil Deer. “His friend had been up on the mountain all day. And he had killed a devil deer”. (p. 279). Truth is, this deer did not asked to become an object of a sport, didn’t ask to be effected by the mysterious laboratory, and did not try to attack even when being attacked. This devil deer was labeled based on its looks not its actions.

I am not a vegetarian and yes I do consume meat on a daily basis. I am aware how hypocritical it may be to say that I care for the well being of the animal, but when portrayed in the way Rodolfo had done, I cannot help but to feel bad for the animal. Earlier in the story, the author mentions the hunter’s knowledge of the amount of deer becoming scarce; too many hunters and not enough deer. With that being said, it would be a good idea to input change in the aspect of finding other earns of consumption. Something that is more available to the community. Food is indeed a necessity but the hunters had turned necessity into wrath and competition. A deeper understanding, even more me, is very much needed.

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Eco-Reader's Theater: Sustainability as Artistic Discourse

By: Roaldin Fernandez

All of the given reading assignments that we have read so far have the same overall conceptual ideal on approaching sustainability.  However, some may have different types of frameworks on how to approach or achieve a sustainable world between the ecology and humans.  For example, I would challenge Barthelme's idea that change creates fear in "The School" because it is unknown with Solnit's "Hope In the Dark".   Here Solnit expresses the idea that darkness is beautiful because we cannot see the future, it is mysterious.  It is not predetermined and because of this there is not just one outcome but also multiple ones, we have control over it by our actions.  The majority of these readings expresses or refers to sustainability as being successful in terms of moving forward.  Stegner says that progress is not only seen as moving forward but staying put in one spot and become familiar to it.  Instead of constant movement where you do not connect with the land, by staying still you will admire your surroundings.  Another contradiction can be Lynn's religion that says that Christianity is to blame for having an ecological crisis, versus Andrew’s discourse on the three E's.  Which of these will be more successful in achieving sustainability, religion or education?  Religion comes from the heart while education comes from the mind.  It can be argued that religion will succeed because it comes the heart were emotions lie such as affection and love that can be applied towards the environment.

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By: Erina Sookiasian

All the readings we have done in this semester tie in with the idea and principles of sustainability. With the Eco-theater, I think Edwards 3 E's embody the theater as a whole, especially since it is children’s theater and education is a key factor since they are the future generation so it is our duty to educate them to the best of our abilities. I think George Moore's poem called the "Trails," would be a cool idea for a play. It can portray one’s journey and how everyone not only carves their own path in this world (like we are all taking a new path by taking this sustainability class, exploring new ideas) as well as leaving our mark or "scar on the earth" like Moore says in his poem. The poem also represents that everyone’s path is not easy, just like the road to becoming more sustainable is still a new thought or concept and its a new path that few have explored. With this perspective or analogy in mind, it presents sustainability as a learning discourse that has its challenges and contradictions, but despite all obstacles, there is always a way, and if not, we can always create a new way.

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By: David Huerta

I find Solnit's work to be the best approach towards opening the Eco-readers'-Theatre. Her approach gives way to think of the possibilities that are shadowed by fear or doubt. She applies a retrospective of sudden shifts and turns from dark events that one would not really see beyond. The most positive outcome is the one that everyone looks forward and sometime the negative outcome is neglected. Solnit shares a realistic point of view. To accompany her work, I would use Edwards' work that displays approaches to the topic of sustainability. By breaking down such large topic into simple steps, this allows information to be thoroughly disgusted and practiced. This dense material starts to continue the same realistic approach that Solnit had introduced at the beginning.

Finally to wrap things up with a more artistic point of view, I would insert a poem from our previous poets but I have not yet decided which one. The decision lies between having the poem read as a beckoning light of hope or continue as the hardheaded realist that cannot be taken down as the stone tower that annihilates all possibility of ever changing.

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By: Armig Boghigian

Every assigned reading we have had has connected in some way even if they differ in their outlook on the given matter. I would connect Barthelme's story to reader's theater by connecting children's dialogue. Education is a main pillar of sustainability and portions of this short story will mesh with many other author's perspectives as a backbone for its importance. Snyder's "Axe Handles" can be very well combined with "The School." Both reading's show that knowledge is embedded in children's mind and as their life continues their comprehension of the teachings may have a strong impact on them. The future will depend on children, the present is now and the future starts today. I would include portions of Rebecca Solnit's writing and Lynn White, Jr.'s writing. I would incorporate the positive outcomes that sustainable practices will lead to with the inevitable struggles that will pave the path we are on. Without making troubles an end point for our efforts, I will use Solnit's hopeful words as a means for creating helpful ideas. People have been and are still the reasons for unsustainability but this should not deter us from working towards a sustainable future.

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The Poetic Instant: Beautiful versus Sublime

By: Erina Sookiasian

Kearny says, “A poem does not unfold or evolve; it is ‘knit," as a writer or poet myself, I agree on the style of writing, that it is words interlocking is a unique way creating multiple meanings, or a different meaning for each person that reads it. He takes the idea of "vertical time" and applies it to anyone "the most scattered and disunited being achieves unity." Poetry is not about right or wrong or the deeper meaning we try to give it. It all depends on the writers opinion, perspective, and how they felt that morning when they wake up.

The poems seemed basic to me, they did not send guidelines, just a general understanding of nature and the human nature of people. Moore's poem on the trail gives the reader a sense of adventure, a fell to explore and leave our own 'scar' on this earth. We pave our own trails, no two are alike, but if two roads were ever to cross paths, merge, or become parallel then there is a chance to come together and make the global change we are hoping for.

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By: Ramon-Alberto Alejo

According to my understanding of the reading, Kearny states that Bachelard defines the poetic instant as a “harmonic relationship between opposites” (p. 38). To further support the theory, Kearny explains Bachelard’s idea of Vertical Time. Vertical time is the principle of an essential simultaneity in which the most scattered and disunited being achieves unity…the continuity of sequential time. Time no longer flows, it shoots up” (p. 38). I personally have been involved in spoken word presentations and I support many other artists as well. When I listen to a good piece that is spoken into a crowd, I start to imagine the words and see the picture painted by the poet. In this moment, time stands still, the poet proceeds to take that moment and heighten the emotions of it with carefully selected words and descriptions. This description of good poetry coincides with the idea of vertical time. A harmonious interaction between the beautiful and sublime, although often seen as two complex entities, would be considered Poetic instant if the joining of the two is successful.

In the poem by Jeffers, paints a picture of a rock that as seemingly been through much tarnish due to weather, but because it is a rock it has been able to withstand its tribulations because it is strong. Perched upon the rock is a bird that also symbolizes strength and in addition symbolizes beauty. In my opinion, this is an example of poetic instant, because it creates harmony between the simple rock that has gone through much wear and tear and the beautiful bird, its commonality is its strength. Also, the poet does well in taking his moment and this image and heightening it to another level so a reader can imagine the beauty it signifies. This in essence is Vertical time.

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By: Roaldin Fernandez

Poetry is the study of principles or values of the current moment.  Poetic instant unifies all the important principles in one single moment that makes time travel straight in one direction rather than a flow of various paths.  A real poem stops time and introduces vertical time and a harmony between opposites, it create two emotions that are the beautiful and the sublime. The beauty of it is that every principle or entity that are not unified come together into place naturally transforming various principles into one coherent principle.  As where the sublime is the passing of time around oneself, were the environment of opposing ideals contradict the vertical time that one is currently in.  You change and in a sense are enlightened while everyone else stays the same and do not have the same agenda.  Nature should be seen as the poem.  As Bachelard describes it will create a singular ideology that creates vertical time where principles fall into place naturally between humans and the natural environment.  This will change the view of the ecology from an object to a subject.

The multiple poems are guidelines in terms of vertical time because they all head towards the direction of the unification of the outer and inner which are humans and nature. In "Axe Handles" the axe and the handle when put together help shape growth.  It is a cycle where the materials of the axe are taken from nature that is transformed into tools that in turn help shape the environment.  Thus it is growth within a cycle. The rock in "Rock and Hawk" is a natural element that is strong; it has been tested by challenges and is still standing.  The rock's meaning as well as the falcon's never changes; it always stays true and should replace the cross as a symbol for a religion.  However, these poems do create the opportunity for different vertical times because each person will interpret these poems differently from others.  It will perhaps create opposition rather than unification.

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By: Armig Boghigian

Bachelard believes that poetry is vertical and so it only has meaning in height or as I interpret it, as a moment in time that does not linger forward. It only has meaning in that instant, when it is read. Beauty and the sublime are often are connected, but they can also exist independently of each other. A poem according to Bachelard would be categorized as sublime because it is something that raises your senses, or emotions to a higher level.

With ecocriticism, literature can be understood as an aesthetic and cultural part of the environment. Since literature consists of “meaning, value, language, and imagination” it is connected with metaphysics. Metaphysics and poetry allows the understanding of unfamiliar and sometimes difficult ideas. Humans and nature can merge as objects and subjects through poetry because it attempts to create a relation to emotional situations.

“Rock and Hawk” by Robinson Jeffers illustrates how humans and the natural world are connected. They will only survive if they recover the vision of the complex itself, to consider with clear-eyed, personal indifference the health of the whole. “But this; bright power, dark peace; Fierce consciousness joined with final Disinterestedness;” states that human self-interest must be overcome. We must show a deep concern and concern towards nature in order to prosper. This poem expresses the need for global change.

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Modern Sustainability in California

By: Edward Wilkinson

Greenberg clearly states that California is leading the way in becoming sustainable when comparing it against the other 49 states. By living sustainable lifestyles, communities are created with a goal of evolving in a way that is as sustainable as possible, Greenberg says, co-evolving. This to me makes perfect sense; we need to evolve as a world, not just as humans. Without the ability to live symbiotically with the natural world, we are undoubtedly doomed, if not already. California is doing this through many different aspects including technology, architecture, politics (laws / regulations) or government, lifestyles, etc. By implementing into all parts of life California is able to take a huge step forward in the right direction, but as Solnit would say it must be continuous.

Market-oriented sustainability is when businesses use sustainability to gain a competitive edge from consumers in the western or modern world looking out for sustainable companies that will help build a better future. Greenberg says, “urban and corporate managers realize they will lose their competitive edge if they don’t incorporate sustainability in their brand”. Market oriented sustainability is a key factor in our world becoming more sustainable. I think this because without it humans would find it hard to come up with their own ways to implement a more sustainable life style. With more and more business producing sustainable products, services etc, all the humans have to do now is support these companies and along with them implement sustainable lifestyle and eradicate our over consumption / population problem. Becoming sustainable has long been lacking the ability to pull thru, but now with money pushing it, it should continue to improve and together make a better place for the next generation.

Greenberg also talks about eco/justice–oriented and vernacular all of which play important parts such as the environment. However without market-oriented sustainability I believe all of these would not be as successful, as they don’t have the same money (in other words power) behind them.

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By: Armig Boghigian

California has played a big role in promoting sustainability globally. California may be seen as more of an ideal than a place to some because it is filled with possibilities. Through eco-oriented organizations and social movements in Northern California, a special label has been granted for that portion of the state. Greenberg says to unify the state we must take a step back and ask ourselves some basic yet vital questions. By answering questions such as "what is to be sustained and what is not? And who gets to choose and who does not," she comes to the conclusion that sustainability is inherently political in essence. She suggests that integration of forces may help the state move towards a unifying goal.

Corporations view sustainability as a market strategy that creates a competitive advantage. Market-oriented sustainability is a form of sustainability that is seen as a means for capital growth, and according to Greenberg, it has become a dominant form in California. A principle she states is "the role of the state is key" (64). She believes that force from the state and social movements will help communities and so, together we can create a sustainable society aimed towards all focuses.

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By: Roaldin Fernandez

             Sustainability through commercialism calls out for California's landscapes that are iconic such as its coasts and farms.  It has always been this way due to America's history of manifest destiny.  The cities on the east were more developed and transformed its surroundings to a very urban environment simply because there is a much more deeper history of human inhabitants.   Where the west was seen as natural land due to its smaller density of urban footprint and uninhabited lands.  This created an image of a balanced sustainable framework between humans and nature in the west and as a result forged a branding out of it. 

Capitalism has converted sustainability from an ideal to a branding name for economical gain.  It has than transformed into "green capitalism" by politics and businesses such as food justice becoming national due to to low income cities such as Oakland.  They created a movement of alternative ways for food equity, access and diversity or distribution. It is now an internal growth and if companies don't embrace it they will lose their competitive edge.  "The sustainable future we seek to build depends entirely upon whose sustainability we are talking about"(p 57).  There are many sustainable models in competition which each other that represent the ideals of people.  These ideas contradict other ideas from other communities making it hard to use a singular universal framework.  We have to find a goal while evaluating what is worth sustaining and what isn't, but who gets to choose and who doesn't?  This creates a political problem for sustainability.  Greenberg's goal is to destabilize the singular understanding of the word "sustainability" and collectively express the many layers of sustainability.  Ecotopian and social justice have to be merged for it will help pick what is relevant in an urban society filled with multiple entities that most are even obsolete.  This will narrow down what is needed to become a more sustainable society.

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By: Maro Mkrtchyan

Greenberg uses California as a prime example of a sustainability ectopia. The legacies are examples given from the history of California and its ecofriendly cities in San Francisco. In addition she credits citizens of California as being one of the first to strive for utopian idealistic cities where nature, humans, and technology can coexists in harmony. Adding to the legacy are names mentioned if professors and even governors are all participating in the achievement of this goal throughout history.

She defines "market driven sustainability" as a new evolving branch of sustainability that flows over into the consumer economy of capitalistic California and its affect on competing with the original definition of ecological sustainability. She is basically referring to the branding used by corporations with the word "sustainability" or it's implications. Her research makes me thinks that we have too many contradictions or powers at play when talking about sustainability and it needs to be better defined or understood in order for the goal of sustainability is achieved. We need to figure out what we really want to sustain.

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Hope in the Dark

By: Leo Funa

Solnit refashions the concept of darkness as a necessary tool in evoking response. Human existence is embedded with darkness but not in the manner in which the term implies. This concept of perpetual gloom is a lens through which people must view the world in order to anchor their future actions. The irony in Solnit’s definition of darkness is that it somehow illuminates human self-actualization by forcing us to react to change. It allows us to adapt and create pockets of light of social activity through small increments of positive transformations. This darkness is a cloud of despondency originally meant to hinder true progress but is a required evil necessitated by our shared apathy. It is not intended to be an incomprehensible sensation of dread, rather an intangible deterrent to man’s collective cynicism.

Solnit envisions the idea of home as the paradise that we all seek, the authentic conclusion in man’s journey towards desired change. According to her, this principle of arriving at the destination is inappropriate because it is impossible to determine the tangible effects of activism without the onset of time. Home will always be an abstraction that is unattainable because the purpose and meaning of activism lies within the journey itself. The beauty of the fight lies in the process of celebrating the little victories – the temporality of each victory is what makes it meaningful. However, she also offers the contradictory notion that perfection, despite being rigorous in its demands, serves as a means of grounding ourselves in the reality of the darkness. There is an inherent danger in becoming too idealistic in our activism, and the “stick” of perfection that we need is one that strikes our perceived notion of paradise out of the equation. Nevertheless, this sense of perfection is rooted in the deep feeling of loss, which therefore implies that this perfection we seek is rooted in the belief that it can be attainable once more.

The selected principles function within Solnit’s framework by focusing on the process of creating instead of settling into the comforts of mere rhetoric. Instead of establishing a concrete and restrictive endpoint, these sets allow values and methodologies to naturally develop towards something greater than themselves. It seems that the goals of these principles is not to attain paradise but to attempt to construct a dynamic process that is a paradise in itself. By acknowledging the inherent limitations of the entire movement, these principles are able to stay rooted in reality whilst remaining flexible for possible changes. The common theme of these sets of principles is shared responsibility, which indicates that this form of activism is one built on empowerment and human industry.

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By: David Huerta

Solnit reframes darkness as the unexplored, the possibility of having greater shifts that could or could not be foreseen. She does not frame it as the genetic thought of apocalyptic ends. It is not the typical daydream for a bright future but more of a realistic understanding that the future contains more than comfortable outcomes. This is what Solnit is referring to when she states that “it’s always too soon to go home.” You cannot come to conclusions when the curtains have closed, when the first sight of the credits appear because then you do not see the aftermath.

Conclusions are not always set in stone, yet Solnit mentions that perfection can bring out possibility. “Perfection is a stick which to beat the possible,” it can be said that perfection is a sort of faith that absorbs the possible from the ideal of the impossible. It is contradictory when you cross the two. One takes the side that nothing is finished and the other states that the possible is reached through perfection. If you take them as steps (like the selected principles), then these two ideas that Solnit rises establish a system which one pushes for perfection and possibility while the other does not take the results at face value. With this sort of filter, the selected principles that are mentioned in Edward’s work function in phases that cannot come to perfection but can only reinforce the goal of doing so. It turns into an iterative process where things work towards getting better but will not reach perfection.

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By: Thien Nguyen

Solnit, along with Virginia Woolf, views darkness as inscrutable rather than terrible. Solnit associates darkness with hope and future. She states that to hope is to gamble and the desire on the possibility for brighter future is better than to mourn and be gloom about.

Solnit’s statement that “it’s always too soon to go home” describes the feeling of giving up when it is convenient. People are more likely to give up and feel unmotivated when they fail to reach their goals. Another discussion that matters is the perfectionists’ points of view and how it relates to the constant thrives. Perfectionists are people who stop taking actions when there is at least a minimal flaw in a goal. There needs to be an absolute state of mind and an end to such a goal. When that is compromised by other superfluous factor, they stop. The mentality connects to the following quote: “perfection is a stick with which to beat the possible”, because perfection pertains to a sense of absolutism and that sense of behavior, carried on by people, fail to be applicable toward the natural world that contain many flaws like cruelty, violence, and destruction. This is why the possible even on mundane routines can be scrutinized by such judgment. As of result, the contradictory ideas in the construction of an intellectual/emotional framework for movement for change need a constant reminder that “this is earth. It will never be heaven” (p. 7). This notion correlates to why it more important about the journey rather than a destination. It is better to be winning than have won something that marks an end. In conclusion, a steady journey into a dark future illustrates the unbroken hope that is in an individual’s mindset when they are conflicted with the present in figuring out the future.

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By: Roaldin Fernandez

Darkness is seen as a good thing for the future because you cannot see the outcome.  There is no light or yellow brick road that has been laid out for one to follow towards a specific goal; it is mysterious. It is not predetermined, you create the journey and that makes it beautiful rather than terrible.  Earth will never become heaven because of mans nature to be competitive and create violence.  Species have to go extinct and new ones emerge while the strong survive, it is the order of things.  Humanity has to many flaws by nature and it will be impossible to reach perfection and create a perfect world between the eco system and people. However we can reduce the devastation but never fully eliminate it.  Perfection creates an ongoing pursuit to which one would never reach the finish line, we can reach ninety-nine percent but never one hundred.  Many people believe that there must be a goal in order to reach perfection.  According to Solnit, "paradise is not the place in which you arrive but the journey towards it.”  During the journey towards perfection as Solnit describes, one would eventually fall to errors and rise from learned mistakes. That within itself is a flaw, so in other words the idea of perfection being the journey shatters.

The selected principles of Edwards go in hand with the concept of darkness presented by Solnit. The frameworks by different countries such as the Netherlands or states such as Minnesota and Hannover have created a journey to arrive towards a goal.  That goal is foreseen but the journey a shadow with multiple routes to take in order to achieve the goal.  The people create the journey and that makes it beautiful, the notion of achieving the goal by creating the journey itself is satisfying.  That goal for a sustainable environment won't be perfect because in order to fix one entity in nature you will harm another sector.  It is impossible for the journey or goal to be perfect for humans and even nature are flawed.

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What is Sustainability?

By: Thien Nguyen

In the first chapter of Pragmatic Sustainability, Paul Thompson describes the dual principles for pragmatic conceptualization of sustainability, which are “functional integrity” and “resource sufficiency”, in the following sense:

Resource sufficiency, first, they measure the rate at which a given production or consumption practice consumes resources. Second, they estimate the stock or store of resources available (p. 5). Functional integrity, a practice that creates a threat to the system’s capacity for reproducing itself over time is said to be unsustainable. (p. 5) Functional Integrity, in my understanding, describes the virtues or principles that can be applicable to the conceptualization of sustainability.

In other words, functional integrity integrates the philosophical approach to morals and ethics. What the author meant about functional integrity is any system of behavior and actions that would both compromise the characteristics of sustainability and contradict the system from within.

Resource sufficiency, similar to Thompson’s description, highlights the empirical effects that the humans leave changes for the future generation such as geological, climate, and resources. Resource sufficiency and functional integrity apply to practical and value based considerations because the duality exist as fundamental and systematic guideline without contradicting its sub systems such as cultural, political, and ethical. The two principles serve as the input while the systems add up under its guidelines.

Non-substantive sustainability serves part of the functionality of sustainability as a movement due to the majority’s understanding, in a superficial way, of sustainability. Some might say this is a contradiction but Thompson concludes it as a paradox and the forever twiddle with the deeper meaning of sustainability.

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By: Edward Wilkinson

Functional integrity is the capability for something to rejuvenate itself over time. While resource sufficiency includes equilibrium in the intensities of creation and depletion of a resource or chemical, such as carbon dioxide, over a given amount of time. Non-substantive sustainability can come across as vague, as he entails what sustainability means on a bigger scale, with its main objective to drive social sustainability agendas to a wider audience.

I agree with Thompson's take on non-substantive sustainability, as without it sustainability won’t reach a wider audience. However I did find that Thompson's research was excessive and explained in great detail, almost making it complicated. His philosophy of decisions made now will create how our future is later clearly the main thing that sticks out to me as I prescribe to this theory. We have seen in the past where humans have excessively over used certain natural resources that have ended in them becoming obsolete. In order for us to be truly sustainable we must be able to use resources in moderation in order to preserve and continue to use them.

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By: Samvel Simonyan

While reading this I was caught off guard by how Thompson defined the terms “functional integrity” and “resource sufficiency.” He describes these terms by saying “we can answer in terms of resource sufficiency be measuring the rate at which murder consumes human lives, and the number of victims available.” I believe that resource sufficiency means that there are a lot of resources to do anything that we want. Since there is murder happening to humans, there are a high number of victims available to do it. Then he goes on saying “We can answer in terms of functional integrity by determining whether murder threatens the human population’s ability to reproduce itself.” By this he means that is the integrity of an object of living creature in jeopardy or can it still function even with its habitat being destroyed. I think what “non-substantive sustainability” means is that people talking about sustainability and yet they don’t know what it means because there are many versions and ideas about sustainability. It’s a very broad term to go up to someone and start talking about sustainability. Just like we did the exercise in the statistics class. Sustainability can be energy, technology, education, economy, ecology, etc.

Sustainability is something that needs to be done and not just theorized. Action is needed in order for something to happen and for it to move forward. I also do agree that the past is needs to be considered because people back then didn’t have cars and engines to move from place to place. Look at the Egyptians and how they built the pyramids without any machinery. In order for the planet to become sustainability or come close to being it, we need to take a step back and look at the world again.

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By: Armig Boghigian

Thompson believes resource sufficiency is to maintain sustainability when there is a decline of resources. He claims it is utilitarian in nature. He believes that there is a need in policies since their implementation can take account of local circumstances. The policies can be contextualized and adapted with appropriate monitoring and evaluation.

I agree with him, in terms of "non-substantive sustainability." He states that there is no way to understand sustainability without getting our hands a little dirty. He believes we won't know anything about it unless we implement it into our daily lives. Political and organizational causes that have been labeled "sustainable" are seen as a non-substantive cause to the author. The word alone does not signify a change, it does not signify right or wrong. There should be something about the word that brings a positive meaning to society. Assumption should not be an issue when it comes to sustainability. Yet, I believe it is a step and it is worth the chance. All these labels are intended to promote social action and so, I believe labeling an issue may cause awareness, though it does not signify change.

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The Sustainability Revolution: The Four Spheres

By: Leo Funa

The foundational aspect of contemporary sustainability that resonates most within me is equity/equality. We live in a world where resources are allocated to the wealthy instead of fairly distributing these to those most in need. Thus, it is hardly surprising to observe the widespread apathy and cynicism amongst humans today. I believe that equity is at the heart of the Sustainability Revolution, for this core aspect is intimately associated with the key proponents of the movement – people and communities. Concern for one’s neighbor, grassroots community building, and the equitable provision of resources are just some of the methods available to us in solidifying equality as a pillar of sustainability.

In effect, equity generates another E that is critical to the sustainability initiative: empowerment. The long-term viability of communities will be ensured through dynamic participation and equitable distribution. It is essential to create a global culture wherein every individual has a voice in the management of the planet’s resources. More often than not, people feel powerless against the machinery of governments, politics, and world leaders. Less developed nations must be afforded better opportunities to partake in the betterment of the global community. An inclusive community of proactive individuals will tremendously impact the quality of human life and will create a ripple effect towards future generations.

The beauty of contemporary sustainability lies in the act of placing value on what we as a society consider worthwhile; the movement was born from a collective judgment that the environment, society, and economy were valuable and warranted our supervision. These three dimensions are all parts of a whole, and the Sustainability Revolution seeks to unite these parts by a charting a course towards progressive growth.

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By: Valentina Vardanyan

"Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day.  Teach a man to fish you and you feed him for a lifetime." This Chinese proverb is a personal favorite of mine and I always try to incorporate it into my daily life on multiple levels.  I keep this in mind when I am learning something new and when I am teaching someone else (whether the concept is simple or complex).  Each day as I am growing and evolving, I am starting to comprehend the meaning behind the power of education.

In Edwards three E's the most significant and relevant in regards to sustainability is education.  Since the Sustainable Revolution is a fairly new concept for the masses, providing a comprehensive outlook on the subject will hopefully bring enlightenment.  As he explains in the article, the movement is on a global basis and consists of many organizations in various subjects all with the common purpose to sustain mother earth. The beauty behind this reform is that it applies to each human being living on Earth and each individual has the ability to make a difference in any subject that pertains to him or her on a personal level.  Thus, once you become involved and educated in your subject you natural become concerned with other topics in relation.

I have been in the fashion industry for a total of eight years, and the more I started educating myself in sustainability the more I noticed the waste and harm that was being produced by this single industry. I slowly became overwhelmed with helplessness and depression because I felt like I was contributing to this appalling business.  I started conducting more research in order to figure out how I could possible make changes; I realized that the only answer (with the limited amount of education in sustainability) was to make personal changes.  I was constantly going back and forth between corporations and smaller companies – fashion corporations were stable yet made me cringe with their politics and smaller companies were financially unstable, yet held favorable principles and ethics. It was difficult finding a happy balance and I finally came to a conclusion to continue my education at Woodbury.  I hope to further my understanding in sustainability to be able to apply it to my creativity and past experiences to make changes on a larger scale in the fashion industry.

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By: Erina Sookiasian

"We must not be afraid of dreaming the seemingly impossible if we want the seemingly impossible to become a reality” – Vaclav Havel. To me, this quote means that in the past we have worried too much about the future and are unsure of how to be more sustainable. But if we fast forward to today, it is clear that a change is needed to be set in motion and instead of everyone just talking about change and protecting this planet. Sustainability should be a prime focus throughout every community in order to ensure that we will have a comfortable future for future generations.

While going through this reading, I felt that education applied most to my life as well as equity/equality. By teaching the next generation about the 3 E's it will better prepare them for life and provide them with a better understanding of why we should use natural resources wisely and for students to gain an understanding as to why we must all make a change to better this world. With equity/equality, I also feel is a part of everyone’s life in local communities, due to the community coming together and deciding that a change was needed in grocery stores to eliminate the use of plastic and paper grocery bags. So we can see that the planet does benefit from neighbors working together for a greater cause.

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By: Roaldin Fernandez

Sustainability has become a major discussion during the past years due to different pattern changes in the environment that affect multiple aspects in everyday life. Social, cultural, economical, medical, and architectural aspects are constantly changing and creating profound effects on nature. Out of all the examples that Andres Edwards presents, mostly I can relate and believe that the most important aspect is when he describes about education.

During my 5 years at Woodbury University, I have noticed that people tend to disregard the overall cleanliness of the campus.  This tends to happen more with architect majors due to the array equipment and materials used for projects. Once in a while, students will laser cut materials that are not permitted to cut in the digital fabrication lab because it creates toxins that are released in the air.  This past summer there was an incident where a student didn't appropriately use one of the machines and ended burning a laser cut machine that completely caught on fire.  All of that flame created a hazardous environment inside the fabrication building.  Luckily it was at a smaller scale because if it had been on a macro scale than it would have serious consequences.  That is why having an education on sustainability is the most important fundamental part of keeping a clean environment.  Just as Andres Edwards describes that education is the catalyst for understanding the three Es that he is describing. Education comes first, it is the foundation and without it the three Es would not exist.

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The Importance of Place

By: David Huerta

My childhood memories can only retain so much from what I had experienced while I resided in Mexico. As a child, I would walk to the commercial center of Mexicali, Mexico with my aunt Luz. At the start of our walk we would cross a bridge. Under that bridge there was this murky river that had a foul smell, yet I would embrace that smell as a child. It was an odd smell yet it was not repulsing. It reminded me of the smell of moisture, that of a wet mop that had been used to clean. As I would cross, I would intake that smell. Its strangeness would make me visualize the sudden collapse of the bridge and I falling into that cloudy water. It was river that was branded into my memories regarding Mexico. Although it was a smell not regarded with being pleasant, it composed many of my memories.

Over the course of time things change and maybe it is inevitable. The city started to get remodeled and one of the beginning projects was to cover that river. Along with the covering of the river, the landscape changed with it. Roads were built along the side of the concrete caps of the river. The scenery changed with the aim to beautify the area. I was no one to make any decisions and maybe many did not want the river to expose such a smell. It all changed but every time I visit, you are caught off guard and a small hint of that smell entrances me.

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By: Valentina Vardanyan

The first place that came to mind when I read this story was Armenia.  After moving to Los Angeles, I have returned for vacation on several occasions and noticed the development of the country throughout the years.  Along with the development and progression, the country faced negative and counterproductive elements as well.

From my perspective as an adult, the changes were not completely positive and the most disturbing thing I witnessed was the concept of bottled water.  Armenia, a country known for its abundance of water from natural springs is truly neglecting its gift from nature by incorporating the concept of bottled water. While this may seem normal to those of us living in America, this approach is in fact a step backwards in sustaining natural resources.  Almost everyone in Armenia has access to clean drinking water that flows in from multiple springs throughout the entire country.  In addition to providing water to all households, there are public fountains that supply clean drinking water all day and night, therefore, it is nonsensical to produce and sell bottled water in Armenia.

I am truly concerned both for sustaining natural resources and because Armenia is my personal getaway.  After each visit, I truly feel refreshed since the air is crisp and the landscapes beyond beautiful. In addition to the pure and cleansing water, a significant amount of the food grown is organic.  All of these natural elements combined provide my mind and body with a detoxifying force that is very pleasurable.  Water is the main source of life and hopefully the wealth of nature will soon be acknowledged and there will be a movement against bottled water.

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By: Mihran Tashchyan

I attended a private Armenian school in Sherman Oaks, California during the first nine years of my educational journey. This school was called Merdinian Armenian Evangelical School, and until this day it is very important to me. After I graduated from the 8th grade, I moved to a different school due to a lack of viable high schools at Merdinian. I frequently visited my first school and slowly saw the number of changes it was going through. The main change was the decrease in the student population - what was once a school of 400 kids dropped to only 200-250 students within the past few years. The number of faculty members was cut down as well. The institution that helped developed me as a child into my teenage years was on the brink of "extinction." It was only recently that Merdinian took a turn for the better. An anonymous alumnus provided a significant donation that allowed the school to develop and sustain the foundation that it was built on.

This change in the overall ability of Merdinian to function created a fear within me because I have my childhood roots planted in the classrooms and the playgrounds of this institution. It was in this place where I formed lasting friendships, strengthened my religious values, and most importantly became aware of my culture and its history. It is my hope that the school remains for future generations of Armenian kids who want to start on the right path of life towards a brighter future.

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By: Armig Boghigian

Up until 3 years ago, my grandparents lived only 2 miles away from my family's house. I have so many fond memories of when my uncle would drop my grandparents off at our place for the day. We spent the day playing various card games, talking, and enjoying the wonders of the garden. I remember how active and happy we all were during these events. When it was getting late, they would tell us that they should head back to their house; my dad would declare that he would give my grandparents a ride home but they often declined because they would rather spend the time walking together. My sister and I used to break out crying because we wanted to go with my grandparents, and most of the time my parents would allow us to. I always felt like it was the greatest hour of the day. They would tell us stories about their pasts whilst describing our surroundings as we strolled along the usual route. Sometimes we would find a stranded grocery cart and my sister and I would hop in and goof around – the one constant was that we never failed to stop and glance at the passing trains on San Fernando Road.

My grandparents’ house was my second home. There was always an aroma of baked goods, and you could sometimes make out the faint noise of the television that was always on a maximum level of 3. I used to dangle on the railings of the covered stairs, which were on the right as we entered the warm and cozy home. My grandpa's coats and hats were on the wooden rack to the left near the big wall mounted heater. The backyard was where we spent most of our time, listening to stories, and running through the grass. We made sure we did not step on any plants (because we would get scolded), but nevertheless I felt most free in that area of the house. I miss that home; many years have passed and things have changed, as they often do. Since my uncle, his wife and children chose to move in with them, my grandparents decided that it was time to buy a bigger home. The new home felt different, as my grandparents only settled in the rear house. It's funny how things that used to feel so familiar and warm only remain as distant memories.

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