23 June 2014

P6 spotlights Nature's Bakery Cooperative in Madison, Wisc.

Principle Six (P6) shines a nice little light on Nature's Bakery Cooperative, an east-side Madison, Wisconsin, local food staple for the past 44 years. The article Cooperatively Baked in Madison explains the bakery's business model (consensus-based decision making) and some of their best-selling goods.

I worked at Nature's Bakery for a few years, the last in a long string of jobs I held prior to getting into graduate school and on the scholarly track... Sometimes I'm not sure which was harder.

17 June 2014

National Wildlife Refuge Top Picks

The folks over at Plain Adventure have put together a list of their Top 10 National Wildlife Refuges.

These sometimes overlooked natural areas provide vital habitat and recreation for animals and their human admirers. So many great places, including the Wichita Mountains NWR in Oklahoma, Charles M. Russell NWR in Montana, Bosque del Apache NWR in New Mexico... Okefenokee, Kenai, Chincotegue, Kilauea Point. Familiar names, perhaps. Incredible environmental treasures - absolutely.

One they must have forgotten, and an all-time favorite of mine, is the Upper Mississippi River National Wildlife and Fish Refuge. Flowing through the driftless bluffs of Minnesota, Wisconsin, Iowa and Illinois, the UMRNWFR is a river sanctuary suitable for the dreams of ol' Huckleberry Finn himself.

10 June 2014

Writing from a place-oriented framework.

Three underlying aspects of place-based research described by Van Patten and Williams  (2008) can help guide reporting and writing from a place-oriented framework. As much as all three of these assumptions can be present in the construction of a place-based narrative argument, it seems, the resonant power would be multiplied exponentially. 

The first of these primary assumptions is place as “material form.” In other words, grounding a story in the spatial-temporal context or setting within which people conduct the happenings of their daily lives. Meet people “where they’re at” in terms of localized information and time-sensitive progress.   

Second is a matter of scale. This can be addressed both social and geographically. The story is happening either in the home, the town, the corn field, the watershed, the wind channel... somewhere specific. It is bounded in space, ranging from local to global. Also, socially, be aware of whether it is a matter of individual perceptions, small group perceptions or macro-level assumptions about what a place is, could be, "should" be, or should not be? Such levels of abstraction can be explicitly stated or otherwise made clear in the construction of any meaningful narrative arc. 

There is also the relational aspect of place. This is the cognitive landscape of meaning-making that constitutes a fundamental way “through which we make sense of the world and through which we act” (Sack, 1992, p.1). As a story is grounded in personal lived experience at an appropriately cast geographic scale, it must also take into account the social, historical, and cultural context surrounding the people and their environmental issues. 

In these times of post-postmodern flux where “the jet, the ‘net, and the fast food outlet” (Gieryn, 2000, p. 463) have added to a sense of placelessness, connections back to the physical and social landscapes that root meaning in individual experience can help combat the malaise of late modernity so often felt and discussed.

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Van Patten, S. R., & Williams, D. R. (2008). Problems in place: Using discursive social psychology to investigate the meanings of seasonal homes. Leisure Sciences, 30(5), 448–464.

Sack, R. D. (1992). Place, modernity, and the consumer’s world: A relational framework for geographical analysis. Johns Hopkins University Press.

Gieryn, T. F. (2000). A space for place in sociology. Annual review of sociology, 26, 463–496.