Tag Archives: urban

Virtual Conference Report: Day Nine (29 Oct, 2009)

Beowulf.firstpageBy Paula Bowles

Today marked the penultimate day of Wiley-Blackwell’s first Virtual Conference. As I am sure you will all agree, thus far, each day has contained many gems, and today has been no different. Eileen Joy’s (Southern Illinois University Edwardsville) keynote lecture: ‘Reading Beowulf in the Ruins of Grozny: Pre/modern, Post/human, and the Question of Being‐Together’ looks at the aftermath of the Russian bombing of Chechnya through the lens of Beowulf.

The two final papers of the conference were provided by P. Grady Dixon (Mississippi State University) & Adam J Kalkstein (United States Military Academy) and Nicole Mathieu (CNRS, University of Paris). Their papers respectively entitled: ‘Climate–Suicide Relationships: A Research Problem in Need of Geographic Methods and Cross‐Disciplinary Perspectives’ and ‘Constructing an interdisciplinary concept of sustainable urban milieu’ have looked at indisciplinarity from a geographical and environmental perspective. The final publishing workshop was ‘How to Survive the Review Process’ by Greg Maney (Hofstra University).

Although, the conference is due to end tomorrow it is not too late to register and take advantage of the book discount and free journal access. Each of the papers and podcasts will remain on the website, and it is hoped that you will keep the comments coming in.

Cubicle-phobia in the 21st century

cubicleThere is nothing new about a concern for losing touch with nature. “When we get piled upon one another in large cities,” wrote Thomas Jefferson to Uriah Forest, “we shall become corrupt as in Europe, and go to eating one another as they do there” (p. 479 in J.P. Boyd (Ed.) The papers of Thomas Jefferson). Cannibalism or not, Europe seems to be doing just fine.

Yet New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof recently took a break from Darfur and wrote two get-back-to-nature pieces. The first is a report on Richard Louv’s book detailing “nature-deficit disorder,” which along with obesity and autism is what Louv suggests will happen to kids who are stuck indoors. Kristof’s second piece describes “how to pry yourself and your family off the keyboard and venture into the wild.”

The implications of needing access to nature are rather unpleasant. Namely, those who recreate the most are white and middle- to upper-class – the same people who can both afford to hike and camp (“Try the ‘ultralight’ gear,” suggests Kristof), and who have the means and leisure to leave the city.

Nevertheless, some wilderness lovers both praise the essentialness of their experiences, and account for why they sleep under a tent while a guy in Philadelphia sleeps under an overpass. Attribution theory explains how people link the outcome of having access to nature (and others’ lack of access) to internal rather than external attributes. Kristof’s how-to guide is meant to give people the extra motivation for that trip to nature. And rather than because of structural conditions, Louv suggests a major reason children stay away from nature is fear.

Kristof’s how-to guide is said to be for readers who responded to the first article, “Camping in the woods sounds gloriously refreshing! But I wouldn’t know where to begin, and, ugh, what if I get eaten by a bear?”