I have been back from ISSRM for a week, but haven’t had time to reflect on the final day of the conference, or the day of energy team meetings that followed. The second day concluded with a great beachside picnic on Lake Superior, on one of that lake’s few very still days. The horizon was just a haze, without even the typical mirage of something beyond. I enjoyed numerous pasties (in honour of the Cornish miners who settled the copper-rich area), some frisbee with Jim Robson, new appointment at USask, and great covers by scholar Paul van Auken’s band up from Oshkosh, WI.
Saturday at ISSRM began with a keynote by Riley Dunlap on climate change denial, after which I enjoyed a diverse session on risks and hazards. At lunch a dramatic storm rolled in, keeping me from Allan Curtis‘ session on farmer identity, though I did make (damply) the rest of his well-chaired session on agricultural adoption and transitions. The final session I attended featured Dylan Bugden‘s new thinking about power and justice in energy siting, which developed into a great discussion, though I had to miss Tom Beckley’s follow-up on the NB citizen jury as a result.
Sunday the energy group met for breakfast at local Finnish diner Suomi for some of the local speciality, pannekakku (a custardy pancake) and some more ‘distinctive’ Michigan table service. Then back to Michigan Tech and various spots for meetings and meals, as well as attempting to remedy my then dramatic caffeine deficiency (so sad I discovered 5th and Elm so late in the trip!), culminating in a nice pizza meal at the Ambassador. The shuttle came early, which was good since I discovered upon getting to the airport that my return ticket had been mysteriously cancelled. They found me a route home, though longer than planned, but I was glad to take it.
A great first day at ISSRM in Houghton, MI, with most of our affiliated folks presenting. Yan Chen, Taylor Cudney and John Parkins all did a great job launching off the Energy Landscapes mini-conference (as organizers have called it), in the session I chaired in the morning. Simon Greenland-Smith presented his analysis of our Nova Scotia marginal land survey data in the afternoon, and Kate Goodale and I both presented posters in the evening. Afterwards, the generous folks at the University of Saskatchewan School of Environment and Sustainability organized a get-together for Canadians on the Keweenaw Waterway, a semi-natural channel cut between the peninsula’s lakes in the 1860s to expedite boat traffic. It was a beautiful drawn-out sunset in another long day.
I’m enjoying a stopover in Chicago on the way to the ISSRM in Michigan. The city has always been of interest to me, as a once-aspiring architect and child of the 80s, but this has been my first chance to visit. I re-watched Ferris Bueller’s Day Off on the flight here (happy 30th birthday), and headed straight for Frank Lloyd Wright sites in Oak Park upon arrival. A real highlight of my visit has been the Art Institute of Chicago special exhibition America After the Fall: Painting in the 1930s. This expertly curated and described exhibition explores the response of artists to the ‘fall from grace’ that America felt after the stock market crash of 1929: some looking backward to pastoral ideals and others conveying dust bowl realities; showing stoic tradition or grotesque modern life; and documenting the dominance of industry in landscape and economic life conveyed as utopias (in some work sponsored by corporations) or the opposite by socialists. The industrial (Charles Sheeler, Charles Demuth) and agricultural (Grant Wood, Alexander Hogue, Marvin Cone) landscapes were particularly compelling to me: telling of fears and hopes, as well as ambivalence. Functional landscapes were in eye as well as in mind as I travelled Chicago by L-train (elevated), which provides a great view of the working parts of the city, as well as its unique features such as the dominance of brick construction, steel bridges (including old drawbridges) over its many rivers, and water towers (which may have something to do with the Great Fire of Chicago, ca. 1871). I was also reminded of urban/nature juxtapositions at the wonderful Garfield Park Conservatory, where the marvelous fern room brought relief on a very hot day, in how the City Garden meadow beautifully framed industrial buildings. I look forward to returning to Chicago, maybe in a cooler season.