Show and Tell

Reading Group started something new this week — Show and Tell!  Each person brought an article or essay to share with the group.

Even though nobody collaborated beforehand, we could find veins of the same themes through all of our selections: the importance of sound decision-making, the glory of trees and foresters to care for them, the resiliency of nature, and the joy we all feel when writers personify the natural world.

Joe started things off with a commentary from The Forestry Source titled “The Story of Forestry: Passion for Service to Humankind and for the Forest.” In it, James E. Coufal discusses the origins of forestry, and how certain management choices have, for better or for worse, changed how the general public thinks about foresters.  Joe also taught us about type A and type B practices.  Our conclusion: forestry needs some better PR.

Then, fittingly, Louie read an excerpt from The Two Towers in which Merry and Pippin meet Treebeard.  As J.R.R. Tolkien’s personification of trees, the Ents acted slow and deliberate.  Beautiful.  They were also in a special predicament — during a war in which they wanted to stay neutral, they had to take sides, at least for the trees’ sake.

Tina took us down from the canopy and into the soil with a reading of “This Compost” by Walt Whitman. It begins with macabre images of carcasses, “sour dead.”  But after Whitman geeks out about well-nourished plants for several lines, we realize that, “yes, decomposition’s really horrifying, but how awesome is it that we can EAT stuff from it and not DIE?!”  Incredibly awesome.

What chemistry!
That the winds are really not infectious,
That this is no cheat, this transparent green-wash of the sea, which is so amorous after me,

From soft organics, the brave reading group explorers ascended to the Sierra NevadaSierra Nevada, learning from John Muir’s graceful prose in a Mountains of California excerpt. He describes the slow, glaciated process of carving a mountain in the terms of his time — as predestination, from their appearance to the soil created from erosion.

And finally, Steve kept it real with an art piece titled “I want a dyke for president.” Why not?  What’s wrong with exposing vulnerability?  And wouldn’t it be great for the environment and social justice if our president had some perspective on the issue, like coming from a place soaked in toxins?  Decisions might actually be made for the people.  But can we have a “real” person as president, when the media knocks on someone for not wearing an American flag lapel pin?

This is reading group’s thing.  We think.  If you like thinking, you might like us.

The Reading and Media Group meets every Thursday at 7 p.m. in the second floor lounge of Memorial Union. This week we’ll eat lemon cookies. New readers are always welcome.

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