There is a perfect example of a sustainable community that has thrived through billions of years. In this community, living things balance one another, they create networks to help one another, and they have adopted patterns and relationships in order to sustain throughout generations. This example is seen by doing the simple act of stepping outside. The ecosystems in our natural world possess this principle of sustainability that, as Capra argues if humans model, we will be able to come closer to understanding and implement sustainable living. Unfortunately, much of the natural environment is used to our disposal creating a hazard in equilibrium. Ecoliteracy, as I see it, is the ability to not only be aware and understand, but to form a bond to the natural world. It’s like having a healthy relationship; two people are on the same terms and have the same values and ideologies. On the flip side, an unhealthy relationship creates inertia which results in the acceptance of the current state of whatever your situation is.
The statement that resonating with me the most in the Capra reading was at the very end with regards to educating children on ecoliteracy before they become “marinated” in technology and a materialistic culture. I do want to state that technology is not a bad thing, in my opinion, and can greatly contribute to the environment in positives ways. However, it is the culture of technology in youth that seems to be detrimental. Some of my fondest memories as a child was playing outside and experiencing the outdoors. As technology becomes more and more integrated into young children’s possession, the thrill of nature seems to be disintegrating. Obviously, this is not the case for all children, and parents and educators who are passionate about the environment and ecoliteracy have control over this. But on a larger spectrum in Western culture, I think that the appreciation of nature needs an extra push. My creative journal represents the idea that a child, filled with creativity and the want to explore, is being trapped in a culture of technology and materialistic wants that limits this. I purposely drew the child on the water to emphasize just how obvious our natural environment is and how easily accessible it is to our own learning opportunities.
The environment, through my eyes, encompasses the different types of ecological surroundings on our planet. What does it means to me? Basically everything.When thinking about the environment, initially nature and ways to respect it comes to mind. I think of what I do to contribute to the environment such as be conscious of the energy I consume, recycle, not use plastic bags, and have a vegetarian diet. After that, I dig deeper in my understanding and realize that there are many different types of environments and things to consider. Hens, my creative journal represents what I see around me and my feelings towards those images. I visited Calgary, AB and Banff National Park over the weekend where I became inspired by my surroundings in which I drew. I then began to recall other environments I’ve been in and drew those through my perspective.
After reflecting on the almost automatic motions my hand was sketching, I decided that the environment is the natural and manufactured worlds we live in and the interaction between the two. The relationship between these two worlds is why I think environmental education is important. When I write down the words “awareness,” “respect,” “sustain,” and “conserve,” what am I really talking about? Conserve what? Surely it’s more then just being aware of how we use/reuse resources from the earth? Well, David Orr (2004) introduces some things our future health and prosperity depend on that pertain to the types of things I was intentionally implying such as climate stability, resilience and productivity of natural systems, beauty of natural world, and biological diversity. Why these things are important is what I think the bases of environmental education is.
Applying knowledge in practical ways by using the mass amounts data and resources we have to incorporate the environment in every discipline is a way that we can take knowledge and environmental education to a realistic level. What would anyone/thing be if there was no environment? Why do people care more about stem cell research than the science of land health? I would argue that it is these type of questions that form a bases of the ongoing learning process about the environment. When referring to managing the earth, Orr makes a point that I want to conclude with that, in my opinion, is what we as humans need to understand,
“What might be managed is us: human desires, economies, politics, and communities…It makes far better sense to reshape ourselves to fit a finite planet than to attempt to reshape the plant to fit out infinite wants”(p.9).