22 August 2014

Adding a Voice

Some things are so exciting that they need to be said out loud.

I'm celebrating the submission of a paper I co-authored to a scholarly journal. Last weekend, my co-author and I put the finishing touches on the paper, which discusses how critical rhetoric can be used to analyze news media messages about the environment. The paper represents a potential contribution to communication theory. It is also important to me personally because it would be my first published article if it is accepted. As a result, I thought I would commemorate the submission with a video discussing the paper. Watch it below:

It's a wonderful feeling to contribute to the discussion of environmental communication with a paper that provides ways of identifying voices often ignored in conversations about the environment.

17 August 2014

Tinder Moments with a Canine Companion

The search for a fetching date just got a little closer to success.

With apps like Tinder, which uses Facebook profiles to bring together users seeking love, dating in the Internet age has taken on new dimensions, and a dog-adoption campaign hopes to take advantage of these new matchmaking tools. Dogs from Social Tees Animal Rescue now appear on Tinder, giving them a chance to find potential owners. Check out a video for the campaign below:

The adoption campaign is as innovative as it is adorable. We look for the right fit in a pet just like we seek a good match in a human partner. However, until now, the pets have waited for us to make the first move. Using Tinder allows them to go out and mingle, and with those cute faces, they're not likely to be single long.

We live in a world of social media. So much life, including romance, takes place in that world. Therefore, it makes sense that adoptable pets are also going there to find their dream people.

Dating can be rough, but in this case, it can also be Ruff, and that's a pretty good thing.

13 August 2014

A Brush and a Lick with the Future

How many licks does it take to get to the center of nature? The world may soon know.

We haven't always had great interactions with nature even when we had the best of intentions. For instance, we thought zoos would help inform people about and connect with the environment, but the disruptive impact of zoos on the animals that live within them has made us question just how much good they do.

Thankfully, today's technology affords us opportunities to watch and experience nature without making it captive. Want to see a marmot up close and personal? We can show you that. Watch the Greenpeace video below:

The intimate interaction (can't get much closer than being licked) with the marmot suggests the dawning of a new future for our connection with nature. If we can't go see an animal in the wild on our own, we don't have to capture it and put it in an enclosure; we can glimpse it through videos as it goes about its life in natural settings. This gets us a lot closer to a true understanding of nature.

And who doesn't want to learn from nature? After all, we went to the owl for an answer to that question about Tootsie Pops.

08 August 2014

Greenpeaces of Rhetoric

Rhetoric and Legos have a lot in common, and thanks to Greenpeace, one of those things is the environment.

A key trait shared by rhetoric and Legos is the ability to construct something elaborate out of connected pieces (of language or blocks, respectively). Much like Legos construct whole worlds, rhetoric builds our world. As we define and frame events, decisions, actions, and our surroundings, we put together understandings that become the world we live in. For example, the Lego brand has partnered with Royal Dutch Shell to build Lego worlds complete with Shell's corporate symbols and oil operations. As the partnership brings Shell into the rhetoric of Legos, it reinforces the oil company's standing as a major part of our world.

We can also deconstruct both rhetoric and Legos, and Greenpeace has done exactly that with a video example of critical rhetoric. Watch it below:

LEGO: Everything is NOT awesome from Greenpeace on Vimeo.

Critical rhetoric challenges dominant forms of rhetoric and attempts to expand our understanding of the world. By taking the symbols of Shell and Lego, including the song, "Everything is Awesome," and raising questions about them, Greenpeace deconstructs the world the two companies had built and replaces it with a different world. In the world put forth by Greenpeace, the partnership between Shell and Lego is neither innocent child's play nor "awesome." Rather, the partnership is corrupting and, above all, threatens the environment, a threat Shell and Lego had neglected to include in their world.

A critical approach to rhetoric works by disconnecting the pieces of dominant rhetoric and reconnecting them to form a bigger picture of the world. Lego should know a little about that. Greenpeace sure does.

04 August 2014

On the March

Global warming's impacts continue to grow, but the public pressure to address it is on the move as well.

More and more frequently, we see the influence of warming on our planet. In June, I blogged about the release of the National Climate Assessment and the efforts to communicate its findings, which show global warming already at work. Last month, record-setting wildfires, fueled by dried out forests, hit my home state of Washington. These fires are just the latest chapter in the expanding story of global warming.

Another story continues to unfold along with global warming though. As temperatures increase and the climate changes around them, people throughout the world remain committed to pressuring governments to address the issue. The People's Climate March, scheduled for New York City (and other participating locations) on September 21, represents the latest installment of the worldwide effort. Check out a video about it below:

Aimed at moving the participants of the United Nations' climate summit to action, the march brings together people representing many different organizations. The wide-ranging support demonstrates that while binding, international agreements remain elusive, concerns about global warming aren't going away (and neither are the people who voice those concerns). For more information about the march, click here, and even if you can't attend the NYC march, you can still plan your own to support it.

Ready! March!

02 August 2014

Unfamiliar Thoughts in Familiar Waters

I've seen that creek many times, but I'd never before looked at it the way I did last month.

I have a special creek where I go to fish and deeply connect with nature. I've been going there since I was three or four years old, so it's an old friend. It's also a big part of who I am and how I see the environment.

For all the amazing things they give us, old friends also bring challenges. The early experiences with them heavily influence how we see them later, sometimes preventing us from picking up on new things about them. Also, they color our interpretation of the people, places, and things we encounter later in life, setting limitations on our understanding of the world.

Both of the challenges related to old friends apply to my creek. The memories I have of it come to the forefront of my mind whenever I am there. Consequently, each new experience of it mixes with the old ones. I am also certain that my understanding of streams and the environment in general builds off my early experiences at the creek. For example, when I was younger, I thought about the environment as a set of individual pieces. "There's a creek," I would say. "There's a mountain." I didn't really think of them as continuations of a larger whole. I thought about my creek as a separate entity occupying a specific place of its own, and the same thinking continued to influence my understanding of environmental elements for years.

This July, I experienced my creek in a new way. I didn't see it as a creek but rather the product of an interaction of environmental features extending to the atmosphere. I was no longer walking in just a creek bed. Instead, it had become part of a larger, living system of environmental connections. The canyon through which it runs funnels water to it from miles around. That water comes to the creek on its continuous cycle around the world and through the atmosphere, connecting the creek to the oceans, the land, and the clouds.

I think that truly seeing my creek's place in the larger complexities of the environment is literally a watershed moment: For the first time, I really understand what a watershed is, and I now have a new way of looking at my old friend and the rest of the world.