06 December 2010

Historical Ecology Wikiproject - seeking editors

Below is a copy of the email we sent regarding our new encyclopedic endeavor.


We are undergraduate anthropology students at the University of Alabama at Birmingham.  This past semester we took a course in Historical Ecology in which we were challenged to develop a project that enhanced education in the subject.  We chose to create a historical ecology wikiproject to unite diverse researchers interested in improving the quality and quantity of wikipedia articles relevant to the topic of historical ecology, and we invite you to join our efforts. 

Specifically, we hope to encourage fellow project editors to join us in researching and composing sections of articles on the historical ecology of their own regions - we have already begun work on a new historical ecology section for the Jefferson County, Alabama wikipedia article.  We are seeking anyone interested in investing time and effort into developing similar sections for their own location's wiki article page.

If we gather enough support and our proposal becomes an actual project, we hope over time the wikiproject will both foster a greater public understanding of human/environment interactions and also encourage dialogue between theoretically diverse researchers from many different bioregions.  If you have any questions, please feel free to contact us - our information is below.    

Here is the link to our wikiproject proposal page:  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:WikiProject_Council/Proposals/Historical_Ecology
For more information on wikiprojects, please visit: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/WikiProject

Thank you for your time, and we look forward to collaborating with you.

With all our regards and respect,

Anna McCown

Lindsay Whiteaker

Jake Delisle

18 November 2010

Upcoming Cultural Events at UAB

UAB in Nepal to host free screening of “Himalaya” Nov. 19
"Himalaya" is a story set against the backdrop of the Nepalese Himalayas. At an altitude of five thousand meters in the remote mountain region of Dolpo, this is the story of villagers who take a caravan of yaks across the mountains, carrying rock salt from the high plateau down to the lowlands to trade for grain. An annual event, the caravan provides the grain that the villagers depend on to survive the winter. 

Hello everyone!
Don't forget about the WSA Game Night tomorrow!
Date: Thursday Nov. 18th
6:00 PM
Place: I - House
Come and Join us :)

World Student Association

09 November 2010

More gathering adventures

Update on our booty from last week's gathering trips.

Wednesday we traveled a few miles east of Birmingham to gather cane and chert.  We scavenged a drainage ditch and discovered several viable (hopefully) pieces of chert, a few fossils, and pebbles for our indoor plants among the fill.  Also gathered some dandelion greens and wild onions to toss into a salad and some a few pieces of bamboo from a nearby canebreak.  

Jake has finished another piece of locally extracted greenstone as well, this time crafting a pendant necklace with in-laid glass beads.  

Friday we went to a sinkhole in the Springville/Oneonta area and collected a couple of bucketfuls of indigenous clay, with which we hope to simultaneously craft teaching materials for a southeast Native American module and holiday tribute for kin.  

Considering the "unimaginable" future...

The folks over at Worldchanging: Bright Green posted a 2007 TED talk given by their founder Alex:

He makes some interesting points about the future, namely that a sustainable one is unimaginable because we don't know how (yet) to integrate environmental and human rights concerns into something shareable with all cultures.  He then talks about the purpose of Worldchanging as providing information on how this future is already happening worldwide and gives several examples of local solutions in various parts of the global South.  Alex's examples show that solutions are most effective when they are  developed according to the context of the problems they solve - when they are unique to the environments in which they will be implemented.  Such ideas may not necessarily translate to a global scale because they are unique to specific peoples and places.  Our readings from our historical ecology class (taught by the righteous and glamorous Sharyn Jones) have been discussing similar issues in terms of activism in Environmental Anthropology.  As we all figure out how to navigate our paths to the future , it is imperative to remember that broad systemic changes must take place alongside local, grassroots, context specific movements in order for sustainability to become valued and pursued as a human right.   Through this blog and the blogs of our classmates (the garden girls and the the pescetarian project), we hope to work from both ends, documenting local and global movements for change.

Birmingham Food Summit Nov. 12-13

This weekend the Greater Birmingham Community Food Partnership is hosting the fifth annual Birmingham Food Summit.  All currently involved or interested in becoming involved with our local food system are welcome to attend to network, celebrate Birmingham's rich food culture, and talk about issues and solutions regarding food security in central Alabama.  

Activities include breakout sessions on a variety of topics including school lunches and community gardens, a bus and bike tour of Birmingham's community gardens, canning classes, a cooking demonstration, and a kid-friendly meal that costs $2.78 per person prepared by Slow Food Birmingham and Whole Foods Market.

Scholarships are available for the conference fees, but applications must be in by Thursday, November 11.  Registration for all attendees is required (register here).

Hope to see you there!!!

Changing Education Paradigms

08 November 2010

Upcoming Cultural Event at UAB

Wednesday, November 17 · 7:00pm - 8:30pm
Heritage Hall Room 102

Did ancient Maya prophesies predict an end of days coming in December of 2012? Is modern science collecting evidence that an apocalypse is indeed upon is? Or are modern spiritualists correct that we are entering a new age of enlightenment and peace? Renowned Maya scholar Dr. Edwin Barnhart will separate fact from fiction in his fascinating lecture, "2012: The End of Days?" on November 17, 2010 at the campus of UAB in Heritage... Hall Room 102 at 7 p.m. This is event is sponsored by the UAB Lecture Series Committee.

Maya Exploration Center Director, Barnhart has two decades of experience in Mesoamerica as an archaeologist, an explorer and an instructor. While working in Belize, Barnhart discovered the ancient city of Ma'ax Na (Monkey House), a major center of the Classic Maya Period. He mapped over 600 structures at Ma'ax Na between 1995 and 1997 before moving his research focus to Chiapas, Mexico. While working on The Palenque Mapping Project, he documented over 1100 new structures, bringing the site total to almost 1500. The resultant map has been celebrated as one of the most detailed and accurate ever made of a Maya ruin.

Barnhart received a Ph.D. from the University of Texas at Austin in 2001. He is a Fellow of the Explorer's Club and teaches National Science Foundation classes for college professors on Maya astronomy and sacred geometry.

For more information, please contact the UAB Office of Student Involvement in the Hill University Center Room 440 or call 205.934.8020.

03 November 2010

Refrigerate Without Electricity and Building Resilient Communities

Check out these great excerpts from YES! magazine, a publication devoted to solutions:

jar illustrationThe pot-in-pot cooler uses the evaporative power of water to draw heat energy away from the contents. In Nigeria, where 90 percent of villages have no electricity, these pots preserve tomatoes for 21 days instead of two or three days.
In a well ventilated dry area, place a small clay pot inside a larger clay pot. Fill the space in between them with wet sand and keep it moist. Cover the top with a cloth. Store produce in the inner pot.
As the water evaporates, it pulls heat out with it, making the inside pot cold.

From an article on how to build Resilience into a community:
1. Build skills. Many transition initiatives start with learning and teaching skills that are valuable to yourself and others, and that can be practiced without harm to people or nature. If you can repair something, make something, or grow something, offer first aid or do low-tech mechanics, raise farm animals or rig up a solar oven, you can meet some of your immediate needs and swap with neighbors.
Many people had these skills in our grandparents’ generation. Consider drawing on elders to teach the practical skills they know, perhaps swapping for the skills young people know.
Also essential are the interpersonal skills that help people work together to get things done and to resolve conflicts.
2. Learn to live within local means. Work toward replacing products and services brought in from long distances with things you can do, make, harvest, or repurpose locally. Consider introducing small-scale animal husbandry, nut and fruit trees, and food processing facilities. Develop local, clean sources of energy. Help restore natural systems so they can be productive and resilient into the future. Use resources frugally and efficiently, and design things to last and to be reused or repurposed.
Include culture and entertainment, and provide opportunities for local artists and performers.
Set it up so people with little cash are included from the start.  Develop means to barter, swap, and share. This will help restore your community’s economy, keep the flow of wealth local, and include the unemployed and low-wage workers.
This is a good time to look around and notice who your neighbors are, and to begin building systems of mutual support. This collaboration doesn’t need to be framed by dire warnings about the collapse of civilization. It can be as simple as sharing tools, planting a garden together, or holding a neighborhood potluck. If you start by reaching across class and race lines and across “culture war” divides, you will build a strong foundation for action. When things get difficult, the person who can offer the most may be the guy you argue with about politics but who knows how to fix things. Or it could be the young woman who knows how to bring people together in a song, or the grandmother who remembers how things used to be made by hand.
3. Imagine, adapt, celebrate. Building your personal resilience will increase the chances that you can help loved ones and the broader community during difficult times.
Get physically fit and healthy, and minimize dependence on high-tech medicine and pharmaceuticals.
Get out of debt.
Hone your ability to observe and think for yourself—turn off the pundits, talk to your neighbors, and make up your own mind.
Build a tolerance for uncertainty. A spiritual practice or a calming practice can help you remain centered in times of rapid change.
This may be a time of change, but it needn’t be a time of despair. After all, the enormously expensive (and destructive) way of life we have been living did not bring much happiness or health. By putting life-giving values first, we could well find more rewarding ways of living.
You can begin building more joyous ways of life by making the resilience work itself come alive. Encourage imagination and creativity. Have parties. Create liberated spaces. Celebrate at the drop of a hat. Communities throughout the world share music, dance, and storytelling, in secular and sacred contexts. From Appalachian square dances to Mardi Gras parades, from Native American Sun Dance to holy communion, gatherings and celebrations are the glue that hold a community together.

The Victory of the Commons

Some visitors to the blog have asked for more information on Hardin's Tragedy of the Commons and how it relates to One Th!ng.

Hardin's 1968 essay used the following hypothetical example to describe a negative phenomenon that he saw occurring throughout history: A socially stable community of herdsman all graze their cattle in a shared field ("the commons"). One cattleman adds one cow to his herd assuming his actions will have little to no impact on the shared grazing land and its users. The cattleman increases his profits by a small increment, but simultaneously decreases by the same small increment the amount of available grazing land for the rest of the cattlemen's herds. Other cattlemen also add one more animal to their herds, each thinking that "just one more" will not impact the surrounding herdsmen. The result: multiple herd additions lead to a significant decrease in the available grazing land in the shared commons, the land can no longer sustain the herdsmen and their cattle and all move on to consume other greener pastures.

It is important to note that Hardin was writing in defense of private property and his interpretations are therefore biased towards his own values.  Furthermore, he is not an anthropologist and fails to use any cross-cultural examples to support his ideas (in fact, economist Elinor Ostrom has since refuted his Hardin's theory based on evidence from Guatemala, Nepal, and other places and was recently awarded the Nobel Prize for her research).  Nonetheless, Hardin's theory explains how and why the negative effects of human activities can grow at exponential rates into unmanageable monsters and reflects how many members of our own culture still approach sustainability efforts: as a lost cause. However, if Hardin's theory is true regarding the negative actions of individuals, could positive actions produce opposite results?  Could a different perspective on the concept of the Commons help individuals from diverse cultural contexts unite and work together for causes they share?  We think so!  The Tragedy of the Commons can be the Victory of the Commons if we apply the same theory to our assumed "small" progressive actions.  Our decisions and behavior have repercussions beyond what we can ever know, but ruminating on the negative consequences of our actions can be overwhelming and ultimately is not productive.  By changing the way we live a little bit each day, recognizing what we all have in common as the species Homo sapiens sapiens - namely our planet Earth and the future of life on this planet - and working towards a sustainable future, we can change the world.

"The Tragedy of the Commons." Garrett Hardin (1968).

Upcoming Cultural events at UAB

Some interesting events happening around campus in the next two weeks for those not interested in homecoming festivities...

How can you help UAB stamp out hunger? 
The UAB Hunger and Food Security Initiative will host a luncheon lecture with David Beckmann, the 2010 World Food Prize Laureate, on from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 11 in the School of Nursing Rooms 1023-1024. All are invited to attend the event, "Every Student Has a Role in the Fight Against Hunger." A light lunch will be served. Event space is limited ,and registration is required at beckmann.eventbrite.com.

Camacho to discuss Freedom to Thrive Nov. 10
On Nov. 10 from 6 to 8 p.m. the Global and Community Honors Program, the UAB Interculture Committee and the UAB Leadership and Service Council will present a lecture from Sarah Camacho, the director of Freedom to Thrive, and a film screening of "Demand," a film from Shared Hope International. Freedom to Thrive is an organization that from a passion during her college years, Camacho started with the mission to eliminate human trafficking in the Greater Birmingham area through raising awareness, increasing collaborative service, and advocating for needed policies and resources.

Attend a free screening of “The Drummer”
Join the InterCulture Committee during International Education Week to view the Hong-Kong film "The Drummer" on Monday, Nov. 15 at 6 p.m. in HUC Alumni Auditorium. Free Asian-inspired foods will be available.

Harlem Nights to be held Nov. 17
Join BSAC for an evening of poetry, music and free food on Wednesday, Nov. 17 at 8 p.m. in the HUC Great Hall. This event will feature poems written by UAB students and readings of poetry and works by Harlem Renaissance-era writers.

Contemporary artists and exile topic of next dialogues
Jessica DallowPh.D., and associate professor of Art and Art History, will present "Contemporary Artists and Exile" at the UAB Discussion Book Dialogues at 11:30 a.m. Thursday, Nov. 18 in Heritage Hall Building Room 549. For more information contact Juanita Sizemore atjsizemor@uab.edu. This event is free and open to the public. A complete listing of UAB Discussion Book activities can be found online.

Foreign film screening and fundraiser to be held Nov. 9
UAB's Le Club F will host a free foreign-film screening and scholarship fundraiser Tuesday, Nov. 9 in the Hulsey Recital Hall. The film is director Jean Renoir's 1937 "La Grande Illusion," considered to be one of the first prison-break movies ever made. Doors will open at 6:30 p.m., and the film will begin at 7:45 p.m. Club F will sell raffle tickets starting at 6:30 for $1 each and proceeds will be used to create a study-abroad scholarship for French students.

02 November 2010

El Dia de los Muertos and Treasure Hunting

Spent the evening at the Bare Hands Gallery over on 21st avenue south celebrating the Mexican holiday that commemorates loved ones who have passed on through colorful art and dance.
Learn more here:

Afterwards we went dumpster diving at Window World on University. We are beginning to scavenge the city for materials for the biointensive garden we are planning. Tonight's run yielded four 2x4's, a decent piece of plywood, a 3 ft. long 4x4, and two windows. That is some serious loot gain with relatively little work.

We hope to acquire most of the materials needed for upcoming projects in a similar fashion.

Get out the Vote

One thing that makes a huge difference: voting. Even if it involves choosing the lesser of many evils, its worth it to ensure that there is less evil in office.

Find your polling place here:

More info about voting courtesy of moveon.org:

Election 2010 Voting Information - Share Widely
Today, November 2nd, is Election Day! Make sure to get out and vote. Voting is pretty simple, but if you have any questions, here's an outline of helpful information. Please share this information widely--forward this email, and post it on Facebook and Twitter. (Reading this on your mobile phone? You can get voting info here: m.google.com/elections)
Where and when do I vote?
- Find your polling place, voting times, and other important information at http://pol.moveon.org/votinginfo2010.html, using an application developed by the Voting Information Project.
- You can also get your polling location by texting "where" to 30644 from your mobile phone.
- These resources are excellent, but not perfect, so to double-check information, you can use the Voting Information Project application to find contact information for your state or local election official.
What do I need to bring?
- Voting ID laws vary from state to state, but if you have ID, bring it. To find out the details, check out your state's info athttp://www.866ourvote.org/state.
- You can also find more information by calling or checking out the website of your state election official. Look up their contact information here: http://pol.moveon.org/votinginfo2010.html/
What if something goes wrong?
- Not on the voter list? Make sure you're at the right polling place, then ask for a provisional ballot.
- Need legal help? Call 1-866-OUR-VOTE or email help@866ourvote.org.
- The League of Young Voters has put together a site where groups and individuals can post do-it-yourself voter guides. Check out your state here: http://theballot.org/
How can I help get out the vote today?
- Make calls to voters right from your home: http://pol.moveon.org/2010/call/start.html
And a quote to remind us all how important it is to vote today...
"Because if everyone who fought for change in 2008 shows up to vote in 2010, we will win this election, I'm confident that we will." --President Barack Obama