Tuesday, April 29, 2014


A friend of mine recently posted this photo onto her Facebook page with the caption, "'People gather water from a huge well in the village of Natwarghad in the western Indian state of Gujarat. More than 1 billion people still lack access to clean drinking water. [2003].'" 
This photo had an immediate impact on me and I had to share it. The other day as I considered my future as a college student, I somehow came across an odd concern that I wouldn't have water at my disposal in my bedroom at any given moment. I worried that I'd have to get up in the middle of the night and walk all the way to a communal bathroom or to a vending machine or a water fountain nearby, and at the time, this was a legitimate concern.
However, upon being shown this photo, I felt extremely embarrassed. Here people stand patiently, carrying empty jugs or leaving them on the ground nearby as they wait for a chance to fill up with water. The area looks deserted, surrounded by sand and rubble. They have no clean water in their homes, nor can they leave their dorm rooms and walk several feet to the nearest water fountain. They have walked for who knows how long to seek water in the depths of a well surrounded by sand and rocks. 
We often hear of the issue that a huge number of people face regarding a lack of clean water, but it's hard to understand the repercussions of that issue until we see it firsthand. This photo is the closest I have come to actually witnessing the issue. It's easy to hear about people without clean water in their homes and still somehow assume that it magically appears in a simple process when they go out and seek it. It is evident from this photo, however, that this is not the case. This issue is one that is easy to neglect because water seems to be such an everlasting commodity for us. It is not until we witness people struggling to find water through photos like this one that we can start to grasp the severity of the problem and its effects on real peoples lives.

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Image of Sea World

In a recent discussion, topics came up regarding ecocriticism and our society's understanding of nature, the environment, etc. We deeply discussed the effects that children's stories and experiences have on our youth's perception of nature and animals, and how past experiences have affected our own perception. Today, a specific place came up in conversation: Sea World. What child doesn't love Sea World? It's a place where families go on vacation trips to watch magical whales and dolphins. It's a place we go to view and connect with nature.

In fact, at one point, this was Sea World's main sell in their advertisements: "Touch the magic" was the tagline of a large advertising campaign. "Make contact." In the eyes of the public, Sea World is a place to connect with nature. Sea World's image is that of a place where we can view animals living in their natural habitats. But as is stated in an essay by Susan G. Davis, "Sea World's nature is not only highly artificial but also standardized." Sea World's image and our perception of its purpose are largely untrue. Much like a museum, somebody arbitrarily chooses what will go on display and in what type of setting, for how long, etc. SeaWorld is also funded by large corporate sponsors. There are numerous commercial draws to the theme park other than the "nature" including concerts, arcades and roller coasters. Even if the nature aspect of SeaWorld were spot on, it'd be hard to believe that the park was doing its job of "connecting humans with nature" due to all of the distractions that bring in more paying customers.

Perhaps we aren't connecting to nature at all, but rather we're enchanted by the spectacles surrounding the animal exhibits. I don't believe that SeaWorld or any other "natural" theme park is truly teaching any child or adult about nature or animals' natural environments; it's all planned (rather poorly) and made popular by the extravagant activities surrounding the exhibits and the magical looking advertisements. There may be certain efforts by Busch Entertainment and Anheuser-Busch to bring education on marine life and nature to classrooms, but in my opinion, even this seems promotional.

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