New article asks if field journals can help us walk toward care

22 02 2018

Sometimes the best gifts come as requests.  In June 2016, I was asked to give a keynote field journal workshop for a group of tourism educators gathering to think broadly about care–care for their students, for themselves and the land that we walk, whether as residents or tourists.

Photo credit: Jessica Silva

Being asked to give this keynote gave me permission to explore the history of field journals for what is known about the links between creative practices such as field journaling and care.  The paper that I wrote describing these links (as well as the directions for a page spread in five exercises) recently came out and the publisher has provided a link for 50 free downloads. You can find the article here:  http://www.tandfonline.com/eprint/TXih7dc9eU2xpEUf6asF/full

And the unpublished version (with colour images) can be found here (scroll down to where it says PDF)

http://tru.arcabc.ca/islandora/object/tru%253A1644

I’ve always valued my field journal as a tool for paying attention, but writing this paper help me understand why field journals can be so much more.  Tourism educators (and others) talk about worldmaking or the processes by which what we do in the world shapes how we  see the world.  Goodman (1978) originally defined worldmaking as arising from the internal referencing inherent in any human activity whether it be science, art or craft. Much of it is unconscious, but every once in a while, something jars us out of the normal flow of our lives into “noticing.”  Such interpretive encounters, suggests Kellee Caton (2013, p. 345, quoting  Schwandt 2000) “always risk our previous ways of seeing the world.”  Many have argued that what most needs jolting is our perception of the boundary between nature/culture as this artificial boundary (unsupported by empirical evidence) limits our ability to to connect to and care for the natural world.

Here’s where I get excited.  By mixing science and art, drawing and text, outward and inward attention, I think illustrated field journals invite the interpretive encounters that can help challenge this  nature/culture dualism.  As a practice, illustrated journaling is not just embodied, skilled, and creative (all attributes that have been linked with care), it’s also inherently place-based.  Thus, my thesis is that illustrated journaling  predisposes our worldmaking so as to recognize existing connections between people and place.  In doing so, illustrated journaling facilitates the deep attending to the world that I believe is an important, and necessary, first step toward care.

Finally, speaking of not just care, but gratitude too.  This paper is dedicated to my “litter-mates”—the extraordinary group of field journalers who gather each summer to carry this tradition forward. I am grateful to journal within your midst and I have learned from you all.

References cited:

Caton, K. (2013). The risky business of understanding: philosophical hermeneutics and the knowing subject in worldmaking. Tourism Analysis, 18, 341–351.

Goodman, N. (1978). Ways of worldmaking. Indianapolis: Hackett Publishing.




The Form of Water in Winter

18 02 2018

Our recent trip to Moul and McDiarmid Falls in Wells Grey had me thinking about

 

 

Here’s some of what I found:

 

and finally,

Together, the page spread in my journal looks like this:

 




(Re)visiting above the treeline

17 02 2018

More than a year ago now, writer and naturalist John Tallmadge and his family came from their home in Ohio to visit, giving me the excuse to relish Wells Gray above the treeline.  Today as the snow falls–small and white and insistent–these pages give a glimpse into the other side of our yearly orbit.

I came home from our visit brimming with the smells and colours and sounds and textures of an ecosystem at its floral peak, straining and blooming to do what’s necessary before the cold returns.  Of the many gifts good visitors bring, the one I value most is their fresh eyes.  The landscape of Wells Gray is not one I inhabit, but over the last twelve years, it has become part of my yearly round and it’s good to be reminded of the splendour that awaits.




South West Coast Path, Cornwall

10 07 2016

From a snug fisherman’s cottage in Mousehole, we explore southwest along the trail, curving our way through shrub fields of bracken and honeysuckle and Apiaceae species.  Where the hard granite is exposed, sea thrift and Lotus and a beautiful purple blue flower I can’t identify, soften the hard crystals.  On our first full day in Cornwall, the reality of this trail exceeds any expectation I had from my snooping last winter with Google Maps.  By the time Marc and I return along  the footpath through farmers’ fields (the footpath gated and stoned between dairy barns!), my leg muscles are comfortably sore and I feel the rhythm of this landscape beginning, ever so slightly, to imprint.

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Deer Park Farm, England

5 07 2016

A conference brings me to England and then it is an extraordinary pleasure to spend days wandering the steep contours of Deer Park Farm in Devon.  After the last several years showing and talking about field journal art, I am rediscovering the joys of playing (thinking less about product and more about process) in my field journal.  The English countryside is hedge-rowed and exotic, at least to my North American sensibilities.  Outside Ash Tree Cottage windows, Coal, Great, and Blue tits visit the feeders, along with clown-coloured Goldfinches (how unlike ours) and Eurasion Nuthatches. In travel, the familiar becomes exotic.
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A Solstice Challenge

16 12 2015

solstice sunrise_question_smallMy friend Frank Ritcey and I are working on a social engagement/book project called “The 12 Labours of Your-name-goes-here-ules”.  It’s like the 12 Labours of Hercules but all the labours are linked to activities in nature.  As part of this work we’re gathering all that we can to mark the Winter Solstice on Monday, Dec. 21 from the TRU “Knoll”.

We’ll meet at 7:45 AM in Parking Lot T (just beside the Trades and Technology Building) and walk up to the Knoll.  Bring a pen and paper and we’ll have extra, as well as profiles of the eastern horizon available!  Bring your kids and let them begin work on “The Sun also Rises” labour! Follow us on Facebook at: https://www.facebook.com/groups/12labours/. 

AND, for those not in Kamloops, Frank and I challenge you all to find your Solstice sunrise.  We’d love it even more if you shared images of your Solstice sunrise with us on our Facebook page!

mapsolstice

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 




Dewdrop Excursion

19 11 2015

The possibility of bighorn sheep in rut lured Marc, Maggie and me out to Dewdrop Range several weekends ago.  November’s beginning in Kamloops is as fickle as March’s ending: sporadic warmth belying cold’s imminent possibility.  Rather than climbing up into the hills, we dropped down over the side towards Kamloops Lake and found a hidden valley–really just a eroded gully–with more than enough natural history to keep us busy for most of the day.

dewdrop_xsectionSelaginella and Homalothecium grew in dense mats atop a talus slope; a Hairy Woodpecker gleaned from, of all things, a mullein stalk.dewdrop_woodpeckervs

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

As the day wore on, the sun slipped behind and then in front of clouds, casting long shadows across steep slopes.

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Running this way and that, bighorn tracks and scat litter this landscape.dewdrop_bighornscat

When it is time, I pack up pens and paper, brushes and paints, feeling the deep satisfaction that comes with paying close attention to the more-than-human world.  A good way, I think, following our new dog Freya up and out of the valley, to spend a Sunday.

hidden alley_freya_vsm




Summer Leavings

16 11 2015

Mtswanson_view_smallView across the North Okanagan from the Mt. Swanson Overlook

 

Now, when the first snow flies, the leavings of summer I find earlier in my field journal warms my skin and me reminds me of the linkage between the seasons.  Winter–summer: different positions on the same orbit.  It’s a thought hard to hold as the the wind blows hard against the house and big snowflakes fall.  I think so often of my field journal as the tool that allows me to explore the present.  Today I am reminded how it can also bring the past forward:  a week removed from normal time, surrounded by family, on the north end of Okanagan Lake.  This valley is terrain I shared with my sister and brother in our childhood and it feels right to be back here with my siblings and our extended families.  Over the course of a week we make time for beachside reading, bird walks along field margins, and a uphill climb through the wetter forest leading up to Mt. Rose and Mt. Swanson.  It’s a landscape I know better in memory than in current time, but the view from the Mt. Swanson has surprisingly pull–even now more than 35 years after I once called this valley home.

meadow_view_small

The fall of Short Creek, cascading down over steep rock is rivaled only by the incline of the wooden steps climbing its height.  What a surprise to find crossbills and pine siskins gleaning insects from the watery seeps lining the cliff face.  It’s not until I read my notes from our last climb that I remember how hot our visit here was with last summer’s record breaking heat.  In summer I wished for the chill of winter;  as winter descends, I long for hot August.  Is this what I do?  Wish away my ability to revel in the present?

short_creek waterfall_small

 

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Finding Place in Golden, BC June 19-Sept 9

12 06 2015

 

AGOG Poster Baldwin June 2015_small




Laura’s Collection

10 04 2015

Take a look!  One of my illustrated essays just came out in Terrain.org–a favorite journal of mine!  I’m unabashedly pleased.

http://terrain.org/2015/nonfiction/lauras-collection-finding-community-through-field-work/

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