All posts tagged: Environment

Content focused on the environment or the idea of environment.

Hawaiian Island Topography Large

Atlas of Remote Islands: Fifty Islands I Have Never Set Foot On and Never Will

The first place I ever felt at home in was on an island. My grandparents lived on Cheung Chau, an island ten kilometers southwest of Hong Kong. Literally translated as “long isle”, Cheung Chau is shaped like a dumbbell, its two granite masses joined in the middle by a sandbar. As a child I spent weekends and summers there fishing and swimming, and even now the scent of saltspray and sewage sends me back to that grimy old fishing village. This fondness for islands stayed and deepened. When I moved to Canada and started to read English I found myself drawn to Earthsea, the fantasy archipelago world of Ursula K. Le Guin. On each of her conjured isles laid not only magic and adventure, but moods intrinsic to and defined by geography. I connected to Astowell, last land before the open sea; Gont and its snow-capped peak rising up like a sharp spire; Osskil, raven realm, icebound and alien. Many times I have sailed in my mind to the shores of Selidor at the westernmost edge of the world, that …

Albatross at Midway

Midway: A Message from the Gyre

The trailer for Midway: A Message from the Gyre has been out for a few years now, but I only came across it last week. Even though I was familiar with the Great Pacific Garbage Patch and knew about the plight of the albatross on this remote atoll, I was unprepared for Chris Jordan’s unflinching look at death and dying, of chicks bloated with plastics fighting for each breath, at beak and feather and sinew giving way to a grotesque nest of bottle caps and butane lighters, still discernable. It’s hard to watch: Midway is steeped in heartbreak and grief, as with so many environmental tales of our time. It forces us to face the reality of the situation, our complicity in this unfolding tragedy. Yet Jordan’s steadfast focus does not seem to linger on guilt, but rather revolves around awe. Pitching the film as “a love story for our time from the heart of the Pacific”, he also captures these birds in the full flight of life, wayfarers who spend most of their lives soaring …

Cheung Chau Beach

On Place and Loss: Flyway’s Shells

Regular visitors of Ekostories may have noticed that I haven’t been posting as much over the past few months. It’s not that I’ve run out of things to write about or stories to explore. Actually it’s been the opposite! Over the last little while, I’ve been channeling my energies towards other creative ventures, but they still revolve around the same themes I’ve explored on Ekostories for years – the power of stories; the intersection between science and art; notions of nature; the influence of culture; journeys of identity. Many of those endeavours are starting to come into fruition, so starting today and over upcoming weeks and months, I’ll be unveiling them here, along with new and original essays on beloved tales. First off: I’m excited to announce that Flyway, a fantastic Iowa State University-based journal focused on writing and environment, has published one of my creative shorts, Shells. If you’re looking for poetry, fiction, nonfiction and visual art that “explores the many complicated facets of the word environment – at once rural, urban, and suburban – and its social …

Beyond Hope

Beyond Hope, by Derrick Jensen

“But what, precisely, is hope? At a talk I gave last spring, someone asked me to define it. I turned the question back on the audience, and here’s the definition we all came up with: hope is a longing for a future condition over which you have no agency; it means you are essentially powerless.” (Derrick Jensen, Beyond Hope)

Bart the Mother Wordle

Escapades in Ecology: Simpsons’ Bart the Mother

“Hi, I’m Troy McClure. You may remember me from such nature films as “Earwigs, Ew!”, and “Man Versus Nature: The Road to Victory.” The Simpsons started life as a quirky satirical parody of the typical American middle-class family three decades ago and has since become a cultural touchstone for entire generations of viewers. There’s not much the longest running sitcom in US television story hasn’t spoofed and parodied, and that includes humanity’s relationship with nature. Season ten’s Bart the Mother is not the only environmentally themed episode of the series, but it is my personal favourite. As the last episode voiced by the legendary Phil Hartman (RIP), Bart the Mother is not only an intriguing and hilarious story about the consequences of introduced species, but also explores the mentality with which we engage with the world around us.

Tharu Village

Reflections of Nepal: The Tharu of the Terai

We felt a mixture of excitement and anxiety after learning the finalized details of our volunteer placement: We were to work with and learn from the Tharu people, an indigenous group who inhabited the Terai region of Nepal. Arriving after an eleven-hour bus ride to the small town of Lamahi in Dang District, we were once again reminded of the country’s spectacular geographic diversity. This land of red dust and flat farmlands, far removed from any tourist attractions, was to be home for the following three weeks. It could not be more different than the mountain vistas of the Himalayas or the congested and bustling streets of Kathmandu.Knowing next to nothing about the land and its people, we tried to be receptive and perceptive to our surroundings and our hosts. In turn, we were rewarded with a wealth of information regarding Tharu history, culture, and worldviews and how their intimate bond with place and land has profoundly shaped their past and present relationships with nature, culture, and self.

Reflections of Nepal: Escaping Kathmandu

Despite its relatively small size and landlocked location, Nepal is a staggeringly diverse country in terms of geography, ecology, and culture. Six weeks are insufficient to experience everything the nation has to offer. Nevertheless we tried our best. We sampled daily life in modern Kathmandu, trekked through the intensely beautiful Annapurna Conservation area, become immersed in the culture of an indigenous people in the mid-west plains of the Terai, and explored a myriad of unique habitats within Royal Bardia National Park. Here is the first of our stories. The writing style is inspired by one of my favourite pieces of travel literature (and a future Ekostory), The Log From the Sea of Cortez by John Steinbeck and Ed Ricketts. Like The Log, this upcoming series of essays represent a collaborative effort between my partner and I, borne out of the collective ideas, conversations, anecdotes and impressions that sprang forth from the trip. I hope they prove to be interesting and insightful.