The Purpose of Wilderness and Our Place In It

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Agenda for 2.20.13

Values of Wilderness Discussion

Clustering (10 minutes):  From Bergstrom et al’s Figure 1 – choose one particular Wilderness Function, Service, or Value.

Put a word you’d like to explore in the center of a piece of paper and put a circle around it. As fast as you can, free-associate or jot down anywhere on the page as many words as you can think of associated with your center word. If you get stuck, go back to the center word and launch again. Speed is important and quantity is your goal. Don’t discount any word or phrase that comes to you, just put it down on the page.

Webbing (5 minutes):  Finding associations and themes within clusters

Using the results of your cluster exercise, now draw lines between words that associate together in some way in your mind.  Label these subcategories.  What categories arise from your analysis?  What does this tell you about how you value wilderness?

Wilderness Values discussion (45 minutes): Why is wilderness important? What are the values of the wilderness?  How do they relate to each other and within what context? What do Bergstrom and Mosden say about valuing wilderness?  How can a sound understanding of wilderness values help us as individuals, as a society, and as human-kind?  What are the consequences of different values of wilderness?

Write Invite – Personal Wilderness Values (15 minutes): Using Bergstrom et al and Mosden as food for thought, write a response through a comment to today’s agenda about how and why you value wilderness and what services, functions, or values is offers you personally or elsewise.

Workshop – Genre research and polished piece writing (60 minutes):

Using your laptop, research and find at least three examples of writing within the genre you have chosen for your polished piece. Describe them either in your daybook or on your blog.  How do these pieces exemplify your chosen genre? List at least 5 main points of this genre that will help you in your writing.

Genre Discussion (20-30 minutes).

Homework:

Before next class, using lists, narrative, and other literary devices, please write a short reflection (min. 500 words) of your experiences on the previous trip.  How did your experience with wilderness (inclusive or place, activity, weather, thought, etc) influence your understanding of the definition and purpose of wilderness?  What did you notice about the wilderness you were in?  Does it fit your understanding or definition of wilderness?  Did your understanding of wilderness and its values change through your experiences? How did your experiences contribute to making meaning and significance of the wild? Submit this assignment to the blog before the start of class next week.

Be prepared to come and share your thoughts on the trip and contribute to a discussion on making meaning and significance out of our experiences in the wild for next week.

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14 responses to “The Purpose of Wilderness and Our Place In It

  1. I find that wilderness is more than just a simple connection for me. It is inextricably intertwined with who I am as an individual and how I interact with those around me. I try to respect the vastness and formidable nature of wilderness by being understanding and aware of the dangers it carries. It has always been important to me to understand the fine lines between danger and beauty, as well as consumption and sustainability. I value wilderness and its preservation in the sense that I try to only take what I need and to promote the careful use practices in others.

    I found that from our two readings, I really agreed with Mosden’s writing. I feel that this author really related to my sense of frustration with mankind’s attempt to control and mold nature. I do not necessarily believe that human presence inherently destroys the credibility of nature. Rather, I think that humans should release themselves from the egocentric perspective that they should be able to control the construct and composition of real wilderness.

    I value wilderness for many reasons: Firstly, if offers a sense of accomplishment through my physical abilities. When I am able to hike, walk, run, or participate in any outdoor exercise activities, I find myself to be proud of what I can do. I feel strong and able; I cannot find quite the same feeling in any gym or fitness center. There is something about being outside in the wilderness that allows me to have more freedom and breathe just a little deeper. Finding obstacles like rocks, trees, and grass are much more rewarding to me than running on a treadmill and getting sweaty indoors.

    In addition, I appreciate wilderness for its closeness to divinity and spirituality. Being a religious person, I do feel closer to God and to what creation was really intended to be when I am out in wilderness. I feel that I am not bound or restrained by norms and societal themes; I am able to truly be myself and appreciate the silence and solitude. Within this feeling, I am able to meditate and find a serene sense of self, helping me to adjust to the pressures and seemingly “false” pressures and uncertainties.

    Also, I appreciate wilderness because it provides us with all natural resources and raw materials that we need to accomplish agendas and build our construct of society. As humans, we are not always aware of the easy expiration and “shelf life” of these resources, and I am thankful that even though we deplete them, they continue to give without qualms. It makes me just a little sad that the environment has no say in what we do; we just take for our own advancement.

    Wilderness offers a place to rejuvenate and conquer woes, a place to renew faith, a place to gather food and materials, a place to connect with other organisms and individuals, a place to feel at peace with our purpose as a piece of the environment. We, as humankind, need to spark awareness before it is too late…

  2. Wilderness provides many services to me. The main function that it supports me in is personal development. This development includes spiritual, physical, and mental growth. Through wilderness I am able to push myself in all of these categories when I am not able to in normal society. This is because our society today is so distanced from wilderness due to industrial expansion and technology. When going to the wilderness these handicaps are not present, so I have to be able to succeed on my own. When going in groups the main aspect that I am able to strengthen is my physical abilities; however, when in solitude I am able to expand into the other two categories. This is possible by having to use only my knowledge and mental fortitude to complete a task. As for the spiritual aspect, I am not able to fully connect with my religious beliefs or spiritual being unless my surroundings are silent and uninhabited by other humans. This is because wilderness humbles even the most arrogant people due to its vastness and most peoples’ inexperience.
    To truly answer one’s questions about life, they must feel humbled because then one can know that they could never have created the wilderness that exists before them.
    In society wilderness is valued for its services towards our production and resources. Without the trees, minerals, and other objects found in the wilderness, we would never be able to produce our technology such as the cellphone and computer. Wilderness is also used as an escape from societal pressures. This is due to the reversion back to our meeting our innate needs. When camping or hiking this is all that one has to worry about, this fulfillment redirects our causes of stress to something else; when one returns to society from the wilderness, they feel refreshed and chained because now these pressures they once feared now do not effect them in the same way. That is why ecopsychology is becoming a credited profession; humans are meant to function in the wilderness just like any animal. By separating ourselves from the wilderness we replace the normal natural stressors with synthetic stressors such as school and job performance. When one returns to the wilderness, these original stressors are reinstated and actually feel relieving because it stresses more on the physical instead of the mental. Also when the stressors focus more on the physical, we can use our relaxed mental state to ponder and find answers to questions that we could normally never consider when in society. This again due to the point that when in society one is constantly pressured mentally to perform at their highest level intellectually, so all mental activity is spent on societal pressures instead of spiritual discovery. This is why the wilderness is used mainly as a spiritual barrier, or supporter for me.

  3. Out of the two readings, the piece by Bergstrom et al entitled ‘An Organizing Framework for Wilderness Values’ resonated with me the most. As you know based upon my comments in classroom discussion and other postings (if youve read any of those), I find wilderness to be a very spiritually connected place in my consciousness. Growing up in a subdivision next to hundreds of acres of woods, I have always had a disposition to venture into the wilderness. I most often used the woods as a tool for escaping the stressors of middle school and continued this practice into high school. From a psychological background, I have learned that one identifies themselves with the items/devices they use for escape in trying times. Many people turn to marijuana, alcohol, sex or other frowned upon devices, whereas some people turn to sports, shopping or volunteer work; I turn to the woods. I believe that my predilection to escape into the towering poplars, hemlocks and oak trees behind my neighborhood has ingrained a sense of calamity in the wilderness within my psyche. That being said, I relate my psychological makeup heavily to my spiritual wellbeing; thus making the wilderness a perfect sanctuary for spiritual growth and contemplation.

    As stated in the Bergstrom piece, “Wilderness areas also provide a setting where people can contemplate the inspirational qualities of nature and may experience ‘spiritual revival, moral regeneration, and aesthetic delight'”. This ties greatly to my understanding of the wilderness in general. Nature inspires me to become, consequently, more self-actualized (Abraham Maslow)- meaning that when I am in the wilderness, I am drawn closer to the inner essence of my consciousness- my TRUE Zach. Nature begs me to dismember my desire to succeed on a socially acceptable level; thus helping me get more in touch with my more meaningful personal morals and values. Nature flaunts its immensely majestic beauty to me any time I am in contact with a natural source. Whether that be a tree, a flower or even a blade of grass, I am constantly reminded of the innate gloriousness of what nature has to offer.

  4. “We are a product of nature and we cannot, and should not, deny that relationship; it has proven itself harmful to try to do so.” -Mosden

    Our connection to nature is something that our species adamantly tries to deny, out of our own fears for being trapped in conditions that we have moved away from for so long. I believe that the wilderness is very essential to one’s own mental and physical well-being because, while we have adapted far out of the limitations of other animal species, we were born from the wilderness. We have grown far too comfortable in an illusion of safety in our civilized world, and a wilderness is where we force ourselves to relearn that safety is merely a fallacy. In situations like climbing up Hebron Rock Colony, it is very possible to fall into the water and drown, or find yourself completely lost when exploring a large, undeveloped region. A wilderness (and I am talking true examples of wilderness, not a well-tamed park with electrical plug ups around every corner), forces us to reassess the fact that we are not invincible. We are at the mercy of powerful forces when in the wild, which we cannot ignore. In civilization, we wear seat belts, keep guns, stick to the “nice” parts of town, and cling to our distractions to keep our illusions of comfort- when it is completely possible that we will not wake up the following morning. To me, this is the greatest benefit of a true wilderness: it forces us to think about our petty fears and concerns. Wilderness forces us to consider the purpose of industrialization. This purpose, in my mind, is out of an instinctual need to eliminate fear and danger- a need which has grown so immense that it is likely to fail. Nature allows us to embrace fear and utilize it to a benefit, rather than ignore it and regard fear as a terrible, taboo thing. These feelings really stem from my experience at Hebron. That was the first time in my life that I have truly been afraid of the forces nature can offer. And yet, after embracing the challenge, I felt far more happy and content with myself than I ever would staying in the safety of the indoors. Fear is a natural part of any organism’s life- all creatures are born with an innate desire to live and a fear of death. But we have allowed our need to protect ourselves to grown to an unprecedented and dangerous level. We deny the emotion as much as possible, offering up the health of our minds and bodies in return for something manufactured and ultimately temporary. The life of the civilized world is as long as the life of mankind; without humanity cities would come to ruin, and the wilderness would grow over what we have desperately worked so hard to build.

  5. Humanity is egocentric. Many take from wilderness without a second thought. But is that necessarily wrong? Should we not take opportunities afforded to us? What immediately comes to mind is The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein. The main character supposedly takes the tree forgranted, however, the tree sees no problem in this. Many people find this book to be sad, but from these readings, and our class discussion, I find that there are probably many people who rejoice in the fact that those things are there, ready and willing to be taken. My opinion would be modified to say that, yes, they are ready to be taken; however, they are not to be taken advantage of. Common sense, in my humble opinion, will always take you far.
    We are in an age of technology and industry, and we tend to look past the fact that as we progress, we are selfishly depleting our land and natural resources. I am not one that would rather live without modern conveniences. I think that if we were to suddenly get rid of all things we brought up, humans would go into a state of shock, especially Americans. Would we even survive it? I dare say that we actually stop and look at what we are doing. Society needs to care about the land and resources that we still have.
    Another topic that came up is the regeneration of the wilderness that we have ruined. Everyone kept talking about ways to get forests, trees, healthy ecosystems back. When the conversation took strides toward helping the environment with modern technology, I decided that I strongly disagree. Sometimes one just needs to stick their tail between their legs and walk away, realizing that they were wrong. Nature will take care of itself. Nature will prevail without human intervention, and though it may take generations, nature will not suffer so long as we don’t pass the point of no return.
    The point of no return… what is the point of no return? At what point will there be no way to save the planet that we call home? And even if we pass that line, will we notice that we have done so? We already know that the extinction of species will not open our eyes, as that is going on all around us. Maybe the impending threat of global warming will do the trick. We as a society need to find a way to come to an agreement about the predicament that we have put ourselves into. It was said that one person cannot make a difference. While I see what they are saying, I disagree. One person can cause many people, who cause many more people, to act. One person with a solid opinion, a solid reason will have the ability to sway hundreds, thousands, millions.
    Nature is a thing of beauty. It is almost all give, while humanity is almost all take. The wilderness is not to be taken for granted. They say you don’t miss something until it’s gone, and I think we will have this feeling if we run our resources dry. Because, in the end, that’s what nature is. Resources. That’s how we as humanity view the wilderness, as resources. I don’t know if my, or our view will be strayed from this. Someone can love the wilderness for recreation, for spiritual guidance, or any other reason, but the big picture shows that it is being depleted for things we either need, or think we need.

  6. I value wilderness because of the physical challenges, the spiritual growth, and the animal and plant habitats. In Mosden’s article there is debate whether we should preserve the wild for our own sake, or for the wild’s sake. I believe we should preserve it for both reasons. I don’t understand why there has to be two sides, because the wilderness benefits humans and other living organisms in the wild. For me I think we should preserve the wilderness for its physical challenges and spiritual growth. In the wilderness we can explore, find adventure, discover, learn, observe, be active, and challenge ourselves. We can climb to reach new heights, and see things we have never seen before, such as mountaintop views or various rare plants. We can take paths that satisfy the adventurous side in us all. By observing and being conscious of our senses we can learn new things. Challenging ourselves physically out in the wild is good for our bodies, our desire for entertainment, and also our mental health. Physically challenging ourselves can help our mental health by reducing stress that our everyday lives out of the wild causes. The wild provides us with a place to grow spiritually by showing us parts of nature that have not been touched by man. We can connect with God because we are viewing his creation on this Earth. It also gives us tranquility for us to have deep thoughts that are hard to attain in our everyday lives with all of the distractions, such as technology. Without these distractions we are able to focus on our own thoughts and put full attention on what is really needed. The wild should also be preserved for its own sake for numerous reasons. The value I think is important is the animal and plant habitats. The wild needs to be preserved to benefit the many species of plants and animals that live there. Animals such as bears and mountain lions need space to roam and be free without any restrictions like cages or fences. If we don’t preserve the wild there may be plants that cannot survive elsewhere, and thus might become extinct. The animals need the plants, and the plants need the animals. Human interaction can have a negative effect on these habitats, and so the wild should be preserved. My wilderness values: physical challenges, spiritual growth, and animal and plant habitats, all support both sides of the debate mentioned in Mosden’s article. I don’t believe there is reason to take sides because the wilderness needs to be preserved for its own sake as well as ours.

  7. Wilderness is something that I use as therapy. It has a special way of working out my kinks and the stresses of everyday life. Although I have had many wonderful experiences in nature with friends and some with family, I do not feel that my connection with nature can be attributed to my family or to society but that it is something built into me. I am drawn to specifically to water and if there is a lack of that I turn then to wide open spaces to clear my head. I do not necessarily feel that I am a nature person since my definition of fun is not hiking or camping for days on end but I do feel a strong connection with nature spiritually. I am calmer and more relaxed when I am in nature. I admire and appreciate all of the things that are set before me. A strong example of that was the Hebron Rock Colony. It is impossible to see such an amazing creation and not look upon it in wonder and awe. My own religious beliefs also lead me to appreciate nature and its enormity. These are the things that I most enjoy about nature on a personal level. I also think that nature is there not for us to destroy on useless things that we use for our own entertainment but on things that help us survive. I think that nature is there for us to discover things such as natural medicines and remedies. The scientific part of me feels that when we analyze nature in all of its parts down to cells and prokaryotes, nature becomes even more amazing. We begin to realize the truth in the fact that we are all connected. No matter how hard we try to fight it we are connected to every piece of the world around us. We always have been. We attempt to distance ourselves through our brick walls and cell phones but we don’t realize the depth of our connection. Our emotions mirror those of animals that we think lowly of (like chickens). Our deepest values are the same as those of every creature that we encounter. We know that it is wrong to kill one another unless it is for some extreme reason such as defense just as every animal knows that they should not kill one of their own species as well. We group together like most creatures do. I honestly believe that we have so much more to learn from the wilderness around us than we have to offer that same wilderness. Wilderness would adapt and continue with or without humanity, just as it always has and always will whereas we cannot continue without the wilderness.

  8. Wilderness has a different meaning to everyone. For me, its main purpose is a means of escape from the artificial stresses society puts on us. In the wild, creatures have simpler needs. In one of the first pieces we read, Dillard wrote about how she longed to be able to live like the weasel, focusing on survival rather than the drama that clouds our day-to-day lives in society. Like Dillard, I think it would be much easier to ask the questions “what is for dinner” or “where I am going to sleep tonight” than play the he said, she said games that make up the majority of the problems we face from day to day in the “real world”. Although camping or hiking does not exactly put me in a life-or-death situation where my need for sustenance drowns out the drama of humanity, being outside in the wilderness does provide a temporary sanctuary from it. It allows me to separate myself and a few like-minded friends from the pressures of having too much information available to us through television, Internet, and even human interaction with undesired individuals. If I go into nature in a bad mood, more often than not I come out without it. If I go into nature feeling relaxed, I usually experience some sort of self-discovery while I am there. It is usually when I am feeling down that I feel the most drawn to the wild, though. Perhaps stress releases a chemical in my brain that reverts me back to a more primal state of mind. Perhaps this calling is literally God beckoning me to the woods, knowing that isolation from my problems will leave me more willing to communicate them with him. Regardless of its origin, I am thankful for this “call of the wild”, and I feel truly sorry for people who do not feel drawn to it as I am. The fact that not everyone is drawn to the wild perplexes me, actually. It seems to make sense that mankind would revert back to a simpler time when the one it has created gets overbearing, but in discussing this concepts in class it is evident that few people share this feeling. I suppose this is where the true beauty of wilderness lies though; it has a different meaning and different purpose to everyone. Some argue that the wilderness is here to serve us, others think we should serve the wilderness. I, like Mosden, believe it should be left alone…that we should coexist with it. From an evolutionary standpoint, we were once “part of” the wilderness after all, so what gives us the right to remove ourselves from it now? I am not trying to make the argument that humans are still wild, as we are far from it, but I do believe that in order to fully appreciate nature and for it to serve its full purpose to us, we must regard it as equal to what society has created, if not greater than it.

  9. After today’s discussion, I’m very confused about my stance towards wilderness. I think wilderness has different meanings and values for everyone, which is why there are multiple debates towards wilderness. Wilderness definitely serves as a meditation ground for everyone. Mosden’s point of human’s failure to include themselves in nature does prose a lot of problems. I think this is why there’s so much depression and stress in the world. People are disconnected from the place where they came from. Every once in a while we need to go back to the uncorrupted land to find out motives and discover ourselves. One’s true personality, intuitions, and motives will become apparent if he or she is alone in wilderness, experiencing challenges and learning from mistakes, without the influence of society.
    Our discussion made me consider “the call of the wild.” After hearing stories of people’s connection with nature, I really think there is some intuition programed in people’s brains. For example, I couldn’t imagine feeling angry about leaving the wilderness, but one of our classmates truly felt this way. He felt as if it was his calling to be outside. Imagine how stressful and agitating it is for that person to be stuck inside all day because of lack of wilderness on this college campus.
    For me, wilderness is about taking a little vacation. It’s getting away from the stress of being confined in a box with artificial light. I like healthful benefits of nature, such as vitamin D absorption and releasing endorphins. I don’t necessarily need to do this alone. I really enjoy building relationships in nature, bonding with friends and family as we work through challenges, talk out problems, make connections with our experiences and each other. However, I also enjoy wilderness as a place to regroup my thoughts. After an argument or frustrating experience, I often have the urge to go for a walk outdoors. There’s something about the fresh air, the vastness, the sunshine, and/or the starry night that wipes away my worries and stressors. Lately hearing the birds chirp in the morning has made me excited for warmer weather and spring, like a sneak peak of the joys to come. It’s as if the box I was confined in is let free. Like Mosden says, “it’s our connection to nature that keeps us healthy, keeps us human.”
    Today’s debate and the Bosten article have reminded me that everyone views nature differently, but the majority of us agree that wilderness or nature should be preserved in some way. Preservation is essential for our own physical, mental, and spiritual wellbeing. Bolsten’s article reminds us of wilderness’s role in preservation of ecosystems and biodiversity, which is all about balance. Like we discussed today, there’s a boundary between what’s still a natural, renewable resource and what’s man made. Not only do we need animals in the world to replenish our bodies, we also need plants to produce oxygen. Those plants need us to consume the carbon dioxide, and those animals also need the plants for food and oxygen as well. Wilderness is a place where people can ignore their differences and realize that we are all interconnected and interdependent on one another.
    As you all can see, wilderness takes on many aspects, personalities, values, and experiences. We must continue to immerse ourselves in the wild to create our own definition and stance towards it.

  10. My values of wilderness are centered in the social and personal aspects. There is so much bonding that can stem from wilderness and nature, especially when it pertains to culture. I think boy scouts is a prime example of this because it specifically takes a group of boys, teaches them teamwork and skills, all while being a part of nature and sometimes the wilderness. It is also a cultural thing to be a part of boy scouts, whereas other countries do not have boy scouts. The final task completed in this group is becoming an eagle scout which is valued in our society. It is definitely something to put on your resume when applying to college, but it stems from wilderness. I find this interesting that as a society we are so technology driven and fast paced, but that we can value the significance of becoming an eagle scout. Another social aspect is when families take their children and pets out to camp and bond. The children soon value wilderness for its importance to them individually and associate it with the happy feelings of being with family or friends. The point that humans are most definitely a part of wilderness comes from Mosden piece that humans evolved with other animals and that we are as much a part of the wilderness as any other animal. Humans are extremely social creatures and we should understand that being a part of nature and with other humans is valuable. While wilderness can be a very social aspect, the personal values it holds are just as significant. Going out into nature can hold a spiritual aspect that you may not be able to attain by being in a group. Feeling the wind on your face, hiking up a mountain, and listening to the sounds nature makes can make you feel a part of nature that you might not pay attention to if you were with a group. It is with that you can make peace with an issue you’ve been struggling with internally or simply relax in a way you cannot do inside. I value it in both aspects. I love being outdoors with friends, doing activities together, and bonding out in the sun. However, after stressful months of classes and homework, I enjoy spring break to go to the beach and sit outside by myself and listen to the sound of the waves. I enjoy it so much more when there are less people alongside me at the beach, whereas otherwise I may not hear the sound the waves make crashing into the pier or the sound the seagulls make flying overhead. I love hearing the rain because it is calming to me. All of those things are ways I like to enjoy nature and calm myself, but they do not qualify as wilderness in my eyes. So my point is that my values in wilderness (or simply nature) are related to the social and personal benefits it has.

  11. Wilderness evokes different values for me depending on what part of wilderness I am in. I value wilderness for the ability for self-discovery. Only in the wilderness am I truly able to figure out odds and ends about myself that I would’ve never reflected upon in other situations. The wilderness allows me to push my limits. It gives me the ability to try things I have never done before, thus knocking over some walls I have put up as limits to further expansion. For example, rock climbing at Hebron Rock Colony. I would have, before our trip, probably signed it off as too dangerous and never ventured a thought about it again. But now that I have pushed my limits and broken down the barrier I had put up about feeling unsafe, I have the desire to want to continue finding different places to climb and push my limits. I think that newfound desire is part of my self-discovery. I wouldn’t have ever had a desire without the challenge, trial and triumphs, that wilderness has put in front of me.

    One reoccurring experience that I have with the wilderness is Cross-Country running. Whenever I am stressed out or have to work out a personal issue, I always seem to go outside to run. The best runs are the ones where I run through the woods or on an old beaten trail. The further away from civilization I can get, the better. The first couple steps are hard, but usually after about a mile I have gotten far enough that I’m away from society. Running through the wilderness clears my head and allows me to think straight. Not only is it nice to run alone, but also some of my lifelong relationships have been built with friends who are willing to pick up and run out in the wilderness with me. Not only do I connect better with people who have gone through my same struggles throughout the run, but also they usually offer advice, which helps me to come to terms or figure out and solve my problem.

    I firmly believe that it is important to preserve the trails for not only my own wellbeing but for other people’s abilities to connect with nature. I know each person has a different connection to nature, but I strongly feel that each person, especially Cross-Country runners, can truly attest to the bonds formed with nature. Only in nature can I experience the adrenaline rush that comes with surging up that hill and going around a bend just to see more woods in front of me or a wide open fields to run through. Without the aesthetic beauty that running though these trails provides, not a soul would bother traveling the trails. It’s important to preserve the trails because I feel that, in a way, the wilderness provides a way for people to deal with their issues, and learn to better understand themselves. What’s a better way to contemplate problems than with the singing of the birds and the sun beating down on your back as moral support for whatever conclusion may be drawn?

  12. From Bergstrom’s paper, I realized that pretty much everything is interconnected, spiritually, recreational, historically, emotionally, educationally, culturally, etc. even more so than I originally thought. I think of wilderness as a sense of being. It’s unrestricted and completely free. You should be able to find yourself in complete solitude in wilderness. Wilderness is not fenced in or commercialized. It’s not meant to be a field trip or a state park where there are opportunities for destruction from society. I believe that in today’s world, there’s not much true wilderness, especially in America. We have national parks, like Yellowstone, which used to be completely wild, before western civilization took place. I think it’s great that you can find solitude, social time, think spiritually, and have recreation in nature, but really, if you can do that easily, I don’t think it’s wilderness. Now, for instance, Antarctica… there is no human population there. That is complete wilderness. Wilderness is where you can get lost and stay lost without park rangers scouring a national park for you. Wilderness is very dangerous if you don’t have extreme preparation. How do you prepare for something like that? I really don’t know. That’s the scary part. I feel like people make historical wilderness into state parks so humankind can experience nature without having to risk a lot for it. In “The Wilderness Debate,” I’m definitely in agreement with the belief that “true wilderness is a place that is completely unaffected by humans, an area that is untouched and pristine.” However, I don’t necessarily agree with the aspect of that quote that says, “…a place where humans are not allowed.” I feel like I’m the only one with this opinion, and I don’t even really know why I feel this way. Therefore, I didn’t bring it up in class…it was just too “out-there.” So, during the class discussion today, I contributed to the discussion by the way I feel about nature, which is most people’s idea of wilderness.
    I believe that nature is interconnected with everything. Recreation, spiritualism, family, education, history…all the categories Bergstrom mentioned in his paper. I think society is the reason for the destruction of wilderness. I feel like the people who would rather be indoors all the time instead of outdoors perpetuate the destruction of nature.
    Nature, for me, is a more spiritual connection than any other. When I’m in nature, surrounded only by land or water, not tons of other people, I feel at free and at peace. I’m relaxed, and the rest of the world, all the stress, just fades away. Strenuous terrain makes me push myself harder. It makes me feel accomplished, more proud than I feel when I get a good test grade.
    Some of the reasons I feel so connected with nature and the idea of wilderness is due to my specific personality and my family. Being more introverted than others, I like being in quiet. I like being by myself most of the time more than being with other people…especially when I’m in nature. Being in places like New York City, a shopping mall, basically wherever there are huge crowds, I feel almost claustrophobic. I’m out of my element and I really don’t like the stress I feel. Being alone in nature is the absolute, complete opposite of that. Being raised in a family of Boy Scouts, I’ve gone on camping, hiking, and kayaking trips since I was little. Despite being the only girl, I always had the time of my life. Being exposed to nature throughout my life, I definitely feel has played a role in shaping my feelings of the outdoors.

  13. I value wilderness because of the personal satisfaction and enjoyment it gives me. Ever since I was young, I would go hiking with my parents and occasionally my grandparents through various trails in Maryland and Virginia. I also attended a nature camp every summer, and when I was too old to go to the camp, I volunteered as a camp counselor. These activities taught me to appreciate the wilderness in a variety of ways. Hiking provided me with adventure. Climbing up rocks, taking unknown trails, and reveling at the spectacular view only achievable from the top of a mountain gave me an opportunity to have adventures that were very different from anything I experienced living in my suburban neighborhood. The wilderness also provided me with novelty. If you never experience the wild, you can spend years seeing nothing but the same old buildings and trees. In the wilderness, there is always something new to see. When I went to the Grand Tetons, I saw mountains that were higher than anything I had ever seen in Virginia. Then, when I went to Yellowstone National Park on the same trip, I saw geysers and other geothermic activity that was completely foreign to me. There were fantastic pools of hot water that sparkled with a variety of colors, and mud that was constantly bubbling up from the ground. The smell of sulfur permeated everything, but it was worth it. However, one does not have to travel great distances to see new and exciting facets of the wilderness. When I went to park in West Virginia during the winter, I saw herds of deer on the golf course in the snow. I had never seen that many deer together in one place, and it was truly unique experience. Being able to see new and unique animals in their natural environment is another part of the wilderness that I enjoy. In the Grand Tetons I was fortunate enough to see a wild black bear while hiking a trail. The bear was in almost a perfect location as far as safety went; it was across a wide stream a good distance away. I could clearly see the bear, but I was not concerned for my safety. On another hike in the Tetons, I saw a moose, slightly off the trail and hidden in the woods. If I’d wanted to, I could have run out into the woods and touched it. These experiences were exciting, but they were nothing compared to seeing the bison of Yellowstone. Seeing bison for the first time was a shock. They are huge, majestic creatures and they were incredibly different from anything I had ever seen before. As my families’ rental car drove through the congested roads of Yellowstone National Park, the bison would literally come right up to the cars. If one of the bison had wanted to, I am sure it could have easily flipped one of the cars that were stuck waiting in traffic. In the wilderness there is always something new and exciting to see, and that’s why I enjoy is so much.

  14. Modsen’s piece opened my eyes to understanding Begstroms piece more. I had wondered why humans were not considered part of the wild just as all animals were and why our way of living was viewed as so distant. People look at our technology as a bad thing but it cannot all be categorized as bad because not all of it has negative effects on the environment and some benefits the environment more than it hurts it even if it does negatively affect the environment at some point.
    We are not the only animals to use technology and some people forget that. Monkeys use sticks to open nest and steal food from other animals. How is this any different than us using a can opener to get to beans? I don’t think it is, ours may be a more advanced way of doing it but that does not make it completely different. “We are a product of nature,” stated Modsen. So, why are we not considered nature? Many individuals say our technology separates us but we were able to create technology because of our previous knowledge gained through interacting with the wilderness.
    I believe that the wilderness was created for our enjoyment and our pleasure. It is our playground to do what we please with. With that being said we need to watch how we use it to make sure future generations can play with it too when we hand it down to them. We I interact with the wilderness it is usually through skiing, parks, fishing ponds, etc. This has all been created for us to us as an outlet of enjoyment. These were made for us because the wilderness is ours to use.
    As we use the wilderness at our disposal we sometimes use too much of it than we should. This is why we have activists who strive to call all people greedy and shout how every our society makes forward step; we take through the wilderness and on it. Day by day our society destroys more and more of the environment but we do have solutions.
    We found out long ago that the human population grows exponentially while our food grows arithmetically. So this means that our population cannot be supported by our current environment. So a lot of us will die every generation due to the environment. But we don’t see hundreds of thousands of people dying due to starvation. Why?
    This is because we have learned to manipulate the environment to our advantage. We do this manipulation through biotechnology advances. We didn’t have enough food so we created a way to produce more food. We didn’t have enough room for a large field so we created a way to produce more food on a smaller space. As we advance we adapt more to our environment.
    This is what we were meant to do. Use the environment for us. That is why we are self-aware. We have grown out of evolving because no matter what we evolve to we would realize that we were evolving as we did so.

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