Landscapes - People - Global change

Tag: travel

Clear crossing

A stunning clear crossing of the Rockies enroute to Adaptation Canada.

A stunning clear crossing of the Rockies enroute to Adaptation Canada.

I’ve broken my flight strike to head to Vancouver for the Adaptation Canada meeting, and if you’re going to expend the carbon, at least have a window seat and a clear day. Candy to a geographer. The transect across from Edmonton on the last leg was fascinating, from fields and shelterbelts and intermittent riparian buffers, to oil and gas pump sites cut out of forests, to forestry cutblocks and then into the Rockies proper. On descent towards Vancouver an amazing panorama opened up of the Fraser Valley and its mix of agriculture and industry and development. Vancouver’s new train in from the airport was a real boon, as was not having to put on my parka, hat or mitts, brought just in case. You could easily identify the visitors on the streets: smiling and coatless among the bundled locals.

Berkeley arrival

A Berkeley snow storm - trees in bloom.

A Berkeley snow storm – trees in bloom.

Very happy to be in Berkeley, east of San Francisco, for a few days at the Spatial Data Science for Professionals ‘bootcamp’. It is a welcome opportunity to reboot my own spatial skills to include open data and software. It is term break here, so quiet, and thus a lovely time to explore the campus and environs. Despite the fact that yesterday was a snow day at home, everything is blooming here: when the wind blew the white blossoms (left) across the road, the contrast was cruel. The similarities between the climate in California and parts of Australia were evident in the prevalence of eucalupts, including a grove of tall gum trees.

Closeup of bluegum bark in a grove at Berkeley

Closeup of bluegum bark in a grove at Berkeley

Met rangelands scholar Lynn Huntsinger for a lovely early supper of French cuisine, including a giant Nicoise salad, at Bistro Liaison. An early jet-lagged night meant an early morning, so I’m killing the pre-dawn hours with catching up on Trump’s most recent executive order to dismantle environmental controls (Thank you, Gina McCarthy), and a paper review for Rangeland Ecology and Management.

Departure day for the Falklands

The long range forecast for the Falklands shows it really is British.

The long range forecast for the Falklands shows it really is British.

Still a long list of to-do, but later today I depart for a month in the Falkland Islands, a British Overseas Territory near Patagonia, to talk to livestock farmers about their landscape and how they manage it. This is work funded by the OECD Cooperative Research Programme, with additional support from Dalhousie’s Supplemental Sabbatical Leave funding, as well as my SSHRC on sustainable grazing. There is patchy and expensive internet coverage, so I don’t expect to be able to blog often, but I will when I can.

 

Dr. Sherren’s Day Off

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.

Industrial buildings for the Garfield Park Conservatory behind the natural meadow of its City Park

Industrial buildings for the Garfield Park Conservatory behind the natural meadow of its City Park

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