Still Thinking About SEJ2013

I can say with confidence that if I had gone to a four day conference of physical therapists or my wife to one of pharmacists, we would not have been reading about it in the papers.

This is not the case for the Society of Environmental Journalists conference in Chattanooga earlier this month. While I’m still looking at my notes, others are writing from theirs and the word out to a wide audeince, and I can benefit from their more elaborate recollections of the when, where and what. Below are three such articles.

Sohn: Society of Environmental Journalists conference generated buzz on what Chattanooga’s doing right | timesfreepress.com

Hemlock Extinction Looms over Tennessee Forests | Extinction Countdown, Scientific American Blog Network

Tennessee’s fragile Cumberland Plateau ecosystem threatened by human interaction, scientists say | NOLA.com

I was fascinated at the intense interest and multitude of questions from two dozen journalists who hiked down Fiery Gizzard and stood in awe around a living, healthy sixty foot hemlock.

Most had never heard of the adelgid, or would they recogise an Eastern Hemlock. Most had never had their forest go gray and bare as we have here on Goose Creek, and known the loss of this once-prominent forest citizen. John Pratt and Mark Schleifstein both include details of this hike in their pieces linked above, and Mark from NOLA has a video from Shakerag Cove.

Hemlocks Alive in Fiery Gizzard

I was especially pleased that Jon Evans and David Haskell–biology faculty from Suwanee–were what I call “holistic” biologists and this was apparent in their narratives as field trip leaders.

You can hear what I mean in the video on Mark’s piece where Jon asks his listeners to use not just their eyes and ears, but to open up their imaginations to past and future, to underground networked growth that is imperceptibly slow but vital and threatened by changes in the air, soil and water of the Cumberland plateau.

I have several more chunks of meeting notes to wade through in my own review and may record my reflections here for you to read over my shoulder.

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About

Fred First holds masters degrees in Vertebrate Zoology and physical therapy, and has been a biology teacher and physical therapist by profession. He moved to southwest Virginia in 1975 and to Floyd County in 1997. He maintains a daily photo-blog, broadcasts essays on the Roanoke NPR station, and contributes regular columns for the Floyd Press and Roanoke's Star Sentinel. His two non-fiction books, Slow Road Home and his recent What We Hold in Our Hands, celebrate the riches that we possess in our families and communities, our natural bounty, social capital and Appalachian cultures old and new. He has served on the Jacksonville Center Board of Directors and is newly active in the Sustain Floyd organization. He lives in northeastern Floyd County on the headwaters of the Roanoke River.

1 Comment on “Still Thinking About SEJ2013

  1. I had forgotten that Tsuga was the Latin name of the hemlocks until I saw it in the Pratt blog. Your connection with hemlocks runs deep.

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