“How can we name such tall mountains after things so small as human beings. Decolonize the mind” – Winona LaDuke
Our very own Mount Rainier, which you can see from the UPS campus on a clear day, was originally named Talol meaning “mother of waters” in the Lushotseed language spoken by the Puyallup tribe. Since Ojibwe Native American environmentalist and activist Winona LaDuke spoke at the Race and Pedagogy conference last semester, her words have stayed with me as I’ve explored the Pacific Northwest’s natural environment.
Last semester I took an Intro to Backpacking course where we learned the basics of camping. We learned to cook with an MSR whisperlite stove, tie strong knots, how to use a compass, topography, and plan the logistics of a trip, wilderness ethics, but of course the most important part was simply enjoying nature in a respectful way. Outdoorsy stuff is quite new to me as someone who has spent most of her life in the city, but since hiking through the Andes on the trail to Machu Picchu last semester I haven’t been able to get enough of it. This course was a lot of fun and a good way to begin a life-time enjoyment of the outdoors.
At Puget Sound we celebrated Earth Week just a few weeks ago. One of the events was a demonstration of how much waste our campus produces a week, which I can imagine to be A LOT. It reminded me of the Anthropocene.
I first heard about ‘the Anthropocene’ when I visited the Deutsches Museum in Munich with my good friend Joscha. It is essentially the age of humans. An new geological era marked by innovation, industrialization, and massive, irreversible, environmental destruction. The exhibition covered topics such as urbanization, human-machine interaction, and of course explored the consumption of insects as a future alternative for human nourishment. It really made an impression on me, made me more aware of the actual impact of our everyday sustainability efforts, and also just how deeply the course of humanity has left a footprint on the environment. If you have the chance to check out this exhibition I highly recommend it.