Tim and I went to the woods today

Greetings from Charlotte, NC!

My family is taking a quick trip south of the Dixie line before school resumes and I could not be happier! After 9 weeks in the wilderness, I still would trade skyscrapers for trees any day. And surprisingly, Charlotte has both really close to one another.

As the title suggests, today, my brother, Tim, and I went to a nature preserve. Initially we wanted to see a plantation (you know, to see and condemn the horror that is American history). However, the plantation was closed, and instead we went to a nature preserve – probably the best to maintain my currently optimistic state of mind.

At first, I was nervous Tim would not have as much fun as me just roaming through the woods, and that fear kind of mellowed out my engagement with my brother, raising my engagement with nature and observation. After a while, Tim started to play around with my camera though, which brings some of these photos:

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I can’t really decide if these photos are funny or impressive, but I enjoy them all the same.

In addition to the much-needed play-time Tim made even from my nervous state, I got a lot of time to think about the difference between local and global environmental protection. Tim and I were at a city-protected nature preserve, and only those woods were free from city-planning, house-building, and other human reasons for cutting down trees. However, those trees are still privy to global environmental processes (climate change, air pollution, etc) that we can’t regulate via privatization. Now, this is a very well-understood case of Tragedy of the Commons. However, I still think about how our interaction with scales of environments changes. For example, this nature preserve is used for casual trail runs and is driven to. In Maine, nature was everywhere, and was used either to “follow the stoke” as one camper at MRO frequently said, or to drink or smoke or, plainly, do illegal things in. So, the scale of the nature gives each human alternative senses of freedom, and the subsequent choice of how to use that freedom.

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There is definitely more research on this, but how the scale of the plot of nature influences our behavior towards it, as well as our understanding of the health of that natural system in the midst of global environmental change, is relevant to how we approach sustainability in general. More specifically, that idea is relevant to how we redefine our relationship with nature in a sustainable way.

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Adding to the title, Tim and I also went to the Bechtler Museum of Modern Art today. Although the art is something I have much less understanding of, there was an exhibit on the dichotomy of artistic spirituality and religion that plays into what this blog is all about. Most of the art of the exhibit was intriguing because of the stories behind it, and the experiences of the artists that gave them spirituality. Likewise, I am discovering that only through experience with the natural can we gain sufficient spirituality to be truly passionate about nature, rather than just interested in it. I am beginning to believe, as I touched upon last year, that spirituality must be the true root of environmentalism. This spirituality looks starkly different from modern environmentalism, in that spirituality is not loud, gaudy advocacy. Rather, spirituality is an internal fire to seek what is better. It has integrity. And it comes with experience. Those three things make the foundation for environmentalism that transcends (or at least tries to transcend) bias, prejudice, intellectual myopia, and laziness.

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Ironically, building that kind of environmentalism is just like art. It’s abstract. That is why we need to ask questions, even if briefly meditated upon. Those questions build our intentions, experiences, and spirituality.

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Onto more woods!

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