Breath of Clarity

September (2015) Thoughts

The field-study component of my semester abroad brought a collection of difficult and beneficial contemplation. Academic information was hard to grasp from week one, as entering the program without taking a sustainability introduction course led to struggle following many of the presentations’ individual arguments. Although, upon reflection, it became clear that to understand even a few concepts from each lecture served me well because it all contributed to understanding the importance of interdisciplinary consciousness. To base a mission on the details of a single perspective is unproductive. This trip showed that the most insightful projects are fueled by a strategy that combines multiple points of view. The strength lies in the individuals’ willingness to be resiliently thorough and not settle for trade-offs. The trip showed me that collaboration is the maximization of different strengths. Most importantly, from a policy standpoint, there is a solution to coexistence more satisfying than compromise. The key is looking at the tasks from a wide enough perspective, allowing for interconnection of seemingly different values to be evident.

My experience overlooking Tasman Sea from our lodge enhanced my understanding of approaching situations holistically. This was the most physically elevated level I ever looked at a large waterbody. The duration of time between when a wave first starts to build and then finally crashes seemed so much longer from a high vantage point. In contrast, the morning we went to surf on the same water, it was difficult to see out as far. There was so much more sensory engagement with the space. As a result, the two activities brought contrasting benefits. Swimming was refreshing and exhilarating, while journaling was calming. It really enforced the important of balance in the ways we decide to spend our days. Too much contemplation or an excess of adrenaline experiences can make us overwhelmed. Perhaps it’s valuable to keep moving and stay busy so that we can alternate between the two. My tendency to spend too much energy on introspection made me a little rattled. However, the reflection was useful because it allowed me to signify memories’ present relevance.

The conception of memory-scapes as a tool for understanding landscape’s beauty resonated with me. At the Ngati Rangi marae, Keith discussed that ancestors are essential to learn about because they reveal stories about our habitat’s evolution overtime. From a more micro-level, knowledge of our individual past experiences breeds a high sense of self-understanding. Experiences involve everything we ever mentally processed. It includes our exposure to external stimuli, as well as our impressions of that material. In order to develop, we need to be aware of all that content. It’s scientifically proven that regular use of marijuana negatively impacts memory formation and access. Even a temporary euphoria wouldn’t be worth the destructive impact of the substance because it inhibits self-understanding. We become increasingly less familiar with ourselves. Therefore, staying aware improves the relationship we hold with our own minds. Adopting this change in lifestyle may be difficult in its initial stages. However, it can be combatted with a clear understanding of habitual activity as opposed to exceptional instances. The key is making the habitual choices that improve self-understanding. Nga’s regular visits to the river makes him more attuned with all of its qualities. It’s amazing that, when Nga expresses his deep connection, the theme of the speeches is gratitude. It shows that to appreciate biodiversity we must first listen to it.

The quaker settlement portrait activity showed me to look closely at each area of the face in order to recognize diversity. It was interesting that the exercise was focused on high intensity visual stimuli absorption, rather than the drawing itself. It demonstrated that, even within a within a single human species, there is so much variation we’ll notice by taking the energy to observe it. When Nga walked us around the retreat cabin center, the frequency we stopped to discuss the healing benefits of native plants there shows that there is a substantial collection of life-giving material. To conserve it, the first step is to understand its current existence and condition from the most realistic perspective possible. This thorough quality of looking at the environment applies to Mike Joy’s lecture about the water statistic legitimacy. The Massey University professor explained that it’s important to evaluate each characteristic of the data, instead of just accepting the way in which the information is presented. For example, Joy discussed that New Zealand water sustainability conditions appeared strong based on the (A,B,C) grade-levels. However, when Joy explored what constituted each of those category standards, it was clear that the requirements were loosened by intention to show the public the problem wasn’t that bad. Changing the evaluation methods can alter the statistics, so when environmental sustainability improvement is projected on paper it’s important to observe where that information is derived from. Without thorough analysis of all a graph’s components, we cannot authentically understand the truth of the physical material it represents and which issues need attention.

Reviewing the entire Treaty of Waitangi text from the blue book showed me that a root of the power-dynamic issues was the language translation discrepancy. The treaty had both an English and Maori versions, in which all three articles articulated slightly differently in terms of the specific words not necessarily translating directly. In the first article, the English text states that Maori ceded sovereignty to the English Crown. Under the Maori text, Maori gave up the right to completely govern their own. The two groups held intentions that weren’t expressed clearly from the start. The British viewed it as movement to establish colonial government, while Maori chiefs classified it as a morally binding act with no transfer of authority over their tribal areas. Due to the fact that the two versions are different, there is no way to verify a single accurate interpretation of it and there is immense governance issues as a result.

However, New Zealand’s modernized approach to co-governance is from a multi-cultural mindset, as opposed to efforts to assimilate the natives into a European way of life. The National Cycling Center of Excellence served as a micro-model of the co-governance principle, as the center’s accommodation of all different type’s of people made it so much more individuals could thrive. The various steepness sections of the track symbolizes the ‘accessibility to all’ concept conveyed by the speaker. The organization’s main priority is understanding the needs of each individual who walks into the venue. They excel as a company because they recognize the co-existent various ways of viewing the sport. The Woven Universe: Rangatiratanga me te Kawanatanga article demonstrates that the disagreement about spiritual values needs to be recognized before legal framework formation. It’s essential to build a basis of understanding on foundational philosophical (nature of reality, ethics, and epistemology) perspectives because they reveal insight into cultural values, which underlie the purpose of political discussion motivations. The different ways to approach environmental sustainability concerns can actually create a wider breadth of strategy in terms of taking action.

The visit to explore Jeanette Fitzsimmons’ living space was worthwhile because she exemplified serenity from the position of an environmental activist who is still true to her values. As former co-leader of the Green Party, she spoke to us about the frustration that comes from a life-time of trying to make change at the policy level. By re-directing her energy to the permaculture farm maintenance, Jeanette is making change by conducting her own existence as a model. Environmental consciousness is most authentically shown through adjustment of lifestyle habits. The diligence Jeanette showed to make every last area of their home sustainable is admirable. It makes her reasons for a passion in environmental science feel worth the listen, especially while speaking to people who are unfamiliar with the academic field.