Table of Contents for A Cry in the Night: A Brief History of the Wolves in North America and a Call for Resurgence

Table of Contents for  A Cry in the Night: A Brief History of the Wolves in North America and a Call for Resurgence

Introduction

Narrative-driven and one of the more personal chapters of the book.

Part 1

(A brief history of the wolves in North America including the effect of settlers from the mid-1600s, recovery and rehabilitation efforts by environmentalists from the 1960s, and modern-day conservation efforts):

Chapter 1: Legend, Lore, and Legacy: The History of the Wolves in North America

How did wolves originate in North America according to both factual evidence and Indigenous lore? How reciprocal was their relationship with the environment and other species? This primarily context chapter discusses some of the scientific origins of wolves and their characteristics. However, that flows directly into their earliest history of wolves in North America and briefly begins the narrative by expounding on their interactions with the Indigenous Americans and how they lived in harmony with people and other species. This chapter lead ups to the start of the 1600s when the colonization of America was beginning. The scientific analysis of wolves draws from multiple sources and centers on their instincts, hunting methods, pack relationships, and habitat. Still, the Indigenous American views of the wolf are the true core of Chapter 1 because of their positive and reciprocal relationship with the wolves.  Throughout many Indigenous American stories, there is an appreciation of the shared origins and destiny for man and creatures alike, and the wolf is viewed as a being to respect—he is even humanized and considered as a brother in many cases.

Chapter 2: Malicious Monsters: The Colonial Impact and the War on Wolves

This narrative chapter unfolds the destruction of the environment and the direct attacks on wolves and other predators by colonial conquerors. Since colonizer propaganda viewed the natural world as something that needed to be tamed or eradicated, the United States government created a campaign for the “War on Wolves.” Wolves were depicted as nuisances at best and terrorists at worst; never mind that this country was their home and that settler society perpetrated acts of terror on the native peoples and wildlife. Few people stood up for the wolves, and alleged environmental leaders like Theodore Roosevelt deemed them “the beast[s] of waste and destruction.” Countless photographs document the destruction of the species, showing pelts piled high for victory and profit. Americans considered the acts as a betterment to society and themselves; they were, after all, only protecting their families and livestock. To this day, the wolves are the only species to be purposefully forced into near extinction by man. By means of systematic annihilation, the US government won its war on the wolves. The most common American wolf breed, the gray wolf, was all but eradicated while the others trailed closely behind. Once roaming the lower 48 states, they were confined to sparse parts of Michigan and Minnesota. By 1960, the wolf population was scarcely 300.

Chapter 3: Answering the Call of the Wild: Deliberate and Coincidental Human-Wolf Interactions

How often have human interactions with wolves been detrimental to the participants? This break-narrative chapter focuses on personal encounters with wolves in the wild and the humans who dared to answer their call. It spans from the days of Lewis and Clark all the way to a modern-day New Zealand couple (the Thayers) who, with their dog, spent an entire year within 100 feet or less of these wilderness sages. The latter example is the key illustration because the Thayers observed the dynamics of three specific packs and discovered many human-like qualities during their daily activities, and then they left the year-long experience unharmed. To include varying views, this chapter discusses some dangerous interactions, but it explains how rare those were and how humans usually instigated them. Finally, there are also brief excerpts of fictional and/or ancient tales of wolf-human interactions, such as Native American histories and stories like The Jungle Book.

Chapter 4: Defending the Predator: The Subtle Journey from Resurgence to Silence

What caused some Americans to starting fighting for the species they had been fighting for centuries? This narrative chapter introduces the table-turning effect of the environmental awakening in the 1960s. Aided by the migration of some packs in Canada, the timber wolves were resilient and created the first natural revival of the species. The comeback could hardly be considered flourishing, but the pack numbers remained steady and expanded back into parts of Wisconsin. This revival paired perfectly with the environmental awaking kick-started by Rachel Carson in the 1960’s and the Endangered Species List that was soon to follow. By 1970, select interest groups stood up for the wolves. Still, wolves in other parts of the country struggled, namely the Mexican gray wolf that faced extinction down by the US and Mexico border. Next, it details the fallout during the 1980s and the turn from environmental awareness. The chapter closes with the current situation today, including the open hunting of wolves and other predators in many states as well as the toll people are taking on the environment. The latter portion of the chapter is heavily sourced from current online publications and government documents.

 

Part 2

(The benefit of wolves to our ecosystem and what will happen if things do not change or worsen, and suggestions to sustain and grow the wolf population):

Chapter 5: A Natural Antidote: The Wolf’s Critical Role in Restoring the Environment

Why should people care about the plight of the wolves? This context chapter explains the positive impact wolves have on the ecosystem and therefore society: what impacts one species impacts another, and so on. It is extremely research and science-driven and includes a section on the transformation of Yellowstone after wolves were reintroduced. Yellowstone had experienced a 70-year absence of wolves. Upon their return, they triggered what is known as a trophic cascade. The occurred because the wolves brought balance to the grazing animal population, which, in turn, allowed the foliage to return in places where it was previously eradicated. When the herbivore populations were abundant, they had slowly begun eliminating other herbivores through competition due to lack of resources. Other predators found balance, too, as the coyote populations decreased and the foxes increased. The wolves’ kills also fed many scavenger species who are careful not to let carcasses go to waste. Humans benefit not only through the resurgence of national parks, but also through the cleaner air and increased vegetation.

Chapter 6: And Then There Was One: The Captivity Program and Reintroduction Challenges

After dropping to the point of extinction, how did wolves begin to make a comeback in the wild? How are they faring today? This continuing narrative chapter explains the process of reintroduction efforts from the mid-80s to the present. It still incorporates hard data like wolf populations throughout rehabilitation and the exact processes used by scientists and reintroduction experts, but it also continues the narrative by discussing on-going efforts today and the challenges wolves and their protectors face. Wolves have clearly made a comeback, but if the 300 million plus population in America today was weeded out to a meager 180,000, most people would not call it a success and stop efforts at 500,000. People have spent decades repairing the damage they caused to the wolves and their habitat only to still be hundreds of thousands away from the original population. It may be impractical at best and impossible at worst to believe there is a chance for the population to reach pre-settlement numbers, but at the rate environmental awareness is dropping in both popularity and funding, even the 5,000 wolves who have struggled to revive are increasingly at risk.

Chapter 7: The Magic Pack: The Return to Glacier National Park

What has rehabilitation been like for the wolves? This break-narrative chapter closely follows a specific wolf pack. The gray wolf was officially given protection under the Endangered Species Act (ESA) in 1974, allowing recovery to begin in new territories once populated by wolves. The public realized, albeit too late, the damage they had done and the uphill battle they now faced. Rehabilitation of any species is a trying process, and the Mexican gray was not saved in time. The gray wolf subspecies was declared extinct in 1980. Four males and one female were captured prior to the demise in hopes of a successful captive-breeding program. The ESA was instrumental in assigning biologists to preserve the genetic stability and diversity of the Mexican gray wolf. Meanwhile, the northern gray wolves thrived under the new laws. Known as the “Magic Pack,” these wolves became a symbol of what the natural world was and inspired the love of thousands. It will encourage readers to view the wolves in a direct narrative and personal light as it illustrates the struggles of a reintroduced pack. Emphasizing the wolves’ names and their relationships should also show the readers a human side that they should not be able to detach from easily.

Chapter 8: An Alpine Line: The Tipping Point Between Man and the Natural World and Visions of Equilibrium

What does a world without wolves and a dying environment look like? And how do we stop it from happening? Is it the responsibility of the people to make the small day to day changes to protect the wolves, or does it simply require protesting and petitions, making it ultimately the responsibility of the lawmakers and industry leaders? The final chapter is a narrative that is strongly based on my own conclusions and projections given the history and research to this point. The chapter will open with specific actions that must be taken by the following groups: citizens, organizations, and the government. After the suggestions, it will paint the picture of two possible futures: one with wolves and one without. Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring greatly inspires this, only it will be my personal views and consider the changes that have happened in the past 60 years since the first environmental awakening. I will end the chapter with the hypothetical future without wolves because I want that climax of emotion prior to my epilogue.

Epilogue

It reiterates the steps people must take on individual levels to better the future of the wolves and the environment (and, ultimately, ourselves). It is part conclusion and part call to action.

Book Proposal for A Cry in the Night: A Brief History of the Wolves in North America and a Call for Resurgence

Book Proposal for A Cry in the Night: A Brief History of the Wolves in North America and a Call for Resurgence

They were all over my bedding, bleeding into my childhood roleplaying and drawings, adorning my shelves, pouring out of my toy boxes. Yellowish and amber eyes—more human than beast—accompanied by thick coats of neutral colors that provided perfect camouflage against the backdrop of their woodland habitat stared back at me, my childhood fantasies breathing life where there was none. Ninety percent of them were named White Fang because an eight-year-old lacks knowledge on the like of naming wolves, and in such cases plagiarizing Jack London seems perfectly acceptable. I suppose most children are drawn to animals at one point or another, especially due to the non-human main characters that cover the DVD cases of most animated movies. Little girls especially, I am told, are often drawn to horses, puppies, and kittens.

I love all the above creatures and will be the first to tell you I’d chose an animal’s company over a human’s most of the time (they are the best conversational partners), but something in me was drawn to the wilder nature of forest creatures. Wild horses, tigers, mountain lions, and foxes were some of my favorites, but wolves inspired a feeling in me unlike any other. They were more like cats than dogs, it seemed, fearless and self-aware. I knew they were dangerous, but every time I gazed into the eyes of one (through a screen or page, of course) I never saw savagery. Rather, they seemed to have respect for the natural order of things and a cunning that was outmatched.

Often shown as the antagonist in media, I cherished the film Balto and books like London’s The Call of the Wild because they showed a pure and reverent side of wolves. They were still fierce, but beautiful; dangerous, but just; protective, but loving. It never occurred to me that the guardians of the forest needed protection from my kind, so feeble and detached from their world.

It’s estimated that up to 500,000 White Fangs once ran free across the land we call home. All species see influxes in population; what happened to the wolves was a different story. Today, the species that once numbered fewer than 300 has rebounded to over 5,000. It’s a small victory, however, when one considers that number in comparison to the initial thriving numbers of the species. We continue to diminish this natural space needed for wolves and all wildlife to roam, impacting everything from food sources to shelter. Multiple states are currently pushing acts—proposed out of fear and greed—that would allow people to hunt wolves freely again. We are only a few mistakes away from causing irreversible damage. Since reintroduction efforts have gone so well, many people have written wolves off their concern list, considering the species flourishing and happy.

Perhaps many do not realize the precipice the wolves balance on or the indirect ways we are destroying their chances of survival. Sometimes the most harmful act is not animosity, but ignorance. Wolves are a keystone species and they play a crucial role in the “trophic cascade” and contribute to a harmonious ecosystem. Since the damage to the national forests cannot be undone, the Wildlands Project proposes a concept called the “rewilding” of America. If it’s successful, many unused rural areas and forests would return to the natural state, including the removal of fences which would allow the natural food change for species like bison and wolves to ensue. A harmonious relationship with nature is possible. Many people are simply unwilling. Perhaps wolves are out of sight, and therefore out of mind. Or perhaps we see them as savage killers and a threat to those around them, disrespecting life and destroying everything in their path.  And oh, the irony, for that is merely a reflection of what we see within ourselves; that is exactly what we have done to the wolves and the environment for the past several hundred years.

WHAT HAPPENED TO THE WOLVES AND WHY WE SHOULD CARE

            This book aims to derive meaning from the madness. It’s easy to argue positions, to throw out numbers, to hypothesize about the future. But I believe people do have hearts, and drawing an underlying meaning or playing this out considering the human condition can make it relevant or real. I want to take this from being just another issue or political debate and make it a matter of ethics on a deep and primal level. Wolves are a crucial part of our ecosystem and if we do not do something to address the mistreatment that has been ongoing for hundreds of years, we will wipe out yet another species and add a notch on the belt of mankind’s destruction.

1600-1960: The Settlers and the War on Wolves

Long before settlers staked their claims in 1607, wolves, like the indigenous American people, flourished in the land. Although some remind fearful of man, many lived in harmony and were even domesticated. Between 250,000 and 500,000 ran free in packs, cohabitating easily with the native people and wildlife. Wolves were an important symbol in Native American culture, signifying strength and beauty. Some stories told of the brotherhood between wolves and men and the power they could draw from one another. Even after extensive settlement—establishment of cities, the Industrial Revolution, the massacre of native peoples—wolves still found sanctuary be retreating further into the forests. Flash-forward to the beginning of the twentieth century: Americans were unrelenting in the conquest of the New World, or what remained of it. Forests were felled at alarming speeds, food sources began to deplete, and pollution started contaminating the atmosphere. All of this encroached increasingly on the natural habitat that sustained America’s vibrant ecosystem, but predators like the wolves suffered at the hands of direct attacks, too.

Continuing in the settler propaganda that viewed the natural world as something that needed to be tamed or eradicated, the United States government created a campaign for the “War on Wolves.” Wolves were depicted as nuisances at best and terrorists at worst. Never mind that this country was their home and that the settler society perpetrated acts of terror on the native peoples and wildlife. Few people stood up for the wolves, and alleged environmental leaders like Theodore Roosevelt deemed them “the beast[s] of waste and destruction.” Countless photographs document the destruction of the species, showing pelts piled high for victory and profit. Americans considered the acts as a betterment to society and themselves; they were, after all, only protecting their families and livestock. To this day, the wolves are the only species to be purposefully forced into near extinction by man. By means of systematic annihilation, the US government won its war on the wolves. The most common American wolf breed, the gray wolf, was all but eradicated while the others trailed closely behind. Once roaming the lower 48 states, they were confined to sparse parts of Michigan and Minnesota. By 1960, the wolf population was scarcely 300.

1960-Present: Resurgence

Although the war had ended, many hunters still sought out the remaining few packs huddled in the northern extremities of the country. Aided by the migration of some packs in Canada, the timber wolves were resilient and created the first natural revival of the species. The comeback could hardly be considered flourishing, but the pack numbers remained steady and expanded back into parts of Wisconsin. This revival paired perfectly with the environmental awaking kick-started by Rachel Carson in the 1960’s and the Endangered Species List that was soon to follow. By 1970, select interest groups stood up for the wolves. Still, wolves in other parts of the country struggled, namely the Mexican gray wolf that faced extinction down by the US and Mexico border.

The gray wolf was officially given protection under the Endangered Species Act (ESA) in 1974, allowing recovery to begin in new territories once populated by wolves. The public realized, albeit too late, the damage they had done and the uphill battle they now faced. Rehabilitation of any species is a trying process, and the Mexican gray was not saved in time. The gray wolf subspecies was declared extinct in 1980. Four males and one female were captured prior to the demise in hopes of a successful captive-breeding program. The ESA was instrumental in assigning biologists to preserve the genetic stability and diversity of the Mexican gray wolf. Meanwhile, the northern gray wolves thrived under the new laws. Known as the “Magic Pack,” these wolves became a symbol of what the natural world was and inspired the love of thousands.

The struggle continued throughout the 80’s, and this time the red wolves, a smaller wolf species that resembled coyotes, died out save for the handful in captivity. The captive-raised generations were first reintroduced into North Carolina in 1990. Grey wolves still fought on as the packs multiplied up North. Outdoors enthusiasts and wildlife researchers started noticing trends in wolf sightings in the Cascade Mountains of Washington, confirming the successful growth rates and migration trends. By the mid-nineties, a total of seven states including Alaska confirmed active wolf populations. Yellowstone received its first “wolf transplant” in 1995, and the Nez Perce Nation was a crucial aspect of reestablishment efforts. The government continued to evolve the acclimation programs to ensure successful transitions between captivity and the wilderness.

The Future

Wolves have clearly made a comeback, but if the 300 million plus population in America today was weeded out to a meager 180,000, most people wouldn’t call it a success and call it quits at 500,000. What about the longevity of the human race? Even in an identical scenario, our race would be better off by sheer numerical values. We spent decades now repairing the damage we caused to the wolves and their habitat to still be hundreds of thousands away from the original population. It may be impractical at best and impossible at worst to believe there’s a chance for the population to reach pre-settlement numbers, but at the rate environmental awareness is dropping in both popularity and funding, even the 5,000 we have struggled to revive are increasingly at risk. I believe there are two overarching questions driving my book:

  • Wolves, and much of the American environment as we know it, were nearly eradicated until the environmental awakening in the sixties and seventies. Despite the progress and new laws, we are now—forty years later—en route to where we started. What changed to make Americans so careless and selfish again? What happened to the environmental protests of our parents and grandparents? What happened to the fight against the industry in favor of our land, animals, and well-being? Why has progress been little to none on the Homefront, the New World?
  • Following question one, question two beckons the answer as to what the solution is. What is necessary to snap people out of their cyberspace (I acknowledge I write this hypocritically from a laptop—technology can be used for good, it just often is not) comfort zones and act? Is it the responsibility of the people to make the small day to day changes to protect the wolves, or does it simply require protesting and petitions, making it ultimately the responsibility of the lawmakers and industry leaders?

WHO WILL WANT TO READ THIS BOOK AND WHY NOW IS THE TIME TO ACT

            My content is not aimed at environmental scientists and wolf researchers (although I’d hope they’d enjoy it), but rather environmentally conscious adults and people with a love for wolves or animals in general. I’m a connoisseur of this genre, and so I’m hoping to bait that niche group of readers who are already concerned about our world and what we are doing to it. It’s broad enough to grab those who aren’t necessarily die-hard save-the-wolves-junkies, but specific enough to draw those readers in. Therefore, the correct target audience is environmentally aware liberals, specifically those who are educated and interested in current affairs. Although my goal and dream would be to reach those who don’t care, realistically, readers that err towards that conservationist way of thinking are going to be most likely to pick up a book that recommends we respect non-human life.

The purpose of my book, then, isn’t to prove the opposition wrong and turn them. Instead, the goal should be to hook like-minded conservationists and empower them to make a difference. It makes more sense to strengthen an able and skilled fighter than to force a couch potato to turn off the TV. There has been an influx in conservation readership due to increasing environment concerns via the news, and there is also much controversy surrounding President Trump’s proposition to slash a significant amount of the EPA’s budget. It would be wise to take advantage of this momentum and use the Trump administration’s anti-nature propaganda against them.

The time for this book is now because the clock is literally ticking for wolves and their home. Every day people contribute, directly or not, to the decline of the natural world. Every minute we act in a way that harms the environment. Dangerous acts are being proposed. In 2011, the government began confiscating their protection under the Endangered Species Act, which allowed the individual states to make their own decisions regarding the wolves. Over 4,200 wolves had been slaughtered in just six states during the first half of 2016. Sport hunting and trapping wolves are both popular and legal in Idaho, Montana, Wyoming, Minnesota, Wisconsin, and Michigan. It’s time for a second environmental awakening, and wolves should be the symbol of the beauty of the natural world. If we destroy it and them, we will ultimately destroy ourselves.

Many activists and authors have tried the sniper (blurbs in the morning news) and drive-by (written articles) approaches to this topic, and although it may derail the average nature-appreciator from his fair-trade coffee neatly stored in an eco-friendly mug, these mediums do little to inspire the reader after the five-minute encounter. Books that are written on wolves are typically appreciative or scientific in nature and unlikely to share mankind’s dirty secrets. If these popcorn forms of media aren’t enough to draw in new supporters and only repeat information the emotionally involved ones, I believe a deeper and more insightful method is needed. If a reader is willing to invest the time in this book, to get caught up in the drama that is the history of the wolves, and to stand beside them and make a change, then this book will have achieved its purpose.

WHO THE AUTHOR IS AND WHY SHE IS QUALIFIED TO CARE

My juvenile fascination with wolves and nature never faded, but it was raised to a new level when I began taking courses at my local community college. A persuasive speech class followed by an environmental science class led me to uncover the atrocities of our food system, the guinea pig testing of humans with harsh chemicals, and the detrimental impact industry-hungry humans have had on the environment. The more I unearthed, the angrier I became. My anger turned to passion, which turned to further research. I have been blessed with teachers who have strived to show me the truth and encouraged me to examine more on my own. When it became evident to me that the forests and animals I loved were in grave danger, my tree-hugging Oregonian spirit awoke in me a desire to speak out for the voiceless.

I have been told that I’m a leader. An inspirer. But what I want to do is build a wall of protection around my sacred place and make the government and industry pay for it. The trees cannot cry out. The birds cannot protest. The rivers cannot relocate. The mountain lions cannot defend themselves. They need guardians. I want to emphasize that plural because one guardian just simply isn’t enough. If I evoke such inspiration in people and can coerce them into following my bidding, then I implore people to stand up for their earthly home. Regardless of what you believe, we are responsible and tied to this world and we do serve a purpose in it.

Wolves became symbolic of my environmental passions this past year because they are how I see the natural world: dangerous, beautiful, meaningful, and worthy of protecting. Even if you aren’t the outdoorsy type and you prefer penthouses to cabins and skyscrapers to mountains, the environment plays an intricate role in your survival and well-being. Be it a selfish motivation or not, people need to realize that they are in a symbiotic relationship with the natural world. Still, the environment is too broad an organism to be the face of this call, so in an attempt to preserve it all, I deem the wolves worthy representatives of nature in America. They are intricately woven into its purpose and their story makes them the perfect poster child for raising awareness. The wolf symbolizes everything America once stood for: independence, strong family/friend bonds with those in your community; a fresh start in new territory; establishment and sustainability with respect to the surrounding world; a natural and cooperative order of leadership established by the pack. But like the decline of American values, the wolves and their habitat are ever diminishing.

Due to the nature of this book, I believe passion and drive are of the utmost importance. Much of my twenty-five years have been spent in close proximity to nature and, given a choice, I never live without at least one non-human creature in my humble abode. I have completed copious amounts of research on wolves, and as of recently, I have been actively following and researching their stability (or lack thereof) and how it is tied directly to the environment and current events. I’m an undergraduate student at The University of Colorado Denver set to graduate this December with a major in English Writing and a minor in Political Science. I plan to work for an environmental non-profit after graduation and write freelance on the side, so I will likely be making this research and similar topics a life-long obsession. Finally, I will also be volunteering with the Colorado Wolf and Wildlife Center to gain first-hand experience and information for this project.

Sample Chapter for A Cry in the Night: A Brief History of the Wolves in North America and a Call for Resurgence

Sample Chapter for A Cry in the Night: A Brief History of the Wolves in North America and a Call for Resurgence

The year is 2040. The predators were the first to go, and the wolves the first amongst them. Mankind wanted to eliminate all the competition connected to food sources, and these carnivorous beasts did little to better society. As a result, the grazing animals began to overrun what meager amounts remained of the green matter. An ever-increasing population forced people to turn towards the only remaining fertile lands across the globe: National Parks.

Once protected, these sacred lands became a highly-sought commodity that caused riots. Prey continued to encroach on the lands and began to perish; people had scarcely enough land for themselves, let alone their livestock. Had more research been poured into innovative food greenhouse technologies like hydro-gardens, they may have stood a chance. But that, like the wolves and climate change, had been tossed aside for luxurious lives. As the remaining animals grew bolder and cities stretched their cement claws into the woods, an unhealthy chemistry sprouted and disease struck both man and beast alike. Scientists had long ago discovered the impact of predators on the trophic cascade—amongst other environmental dangers like deforestation and chemical emissions—and the deviations that would impact soil bacteria, water availability, biodiversity, and countless other ecosystem structures that stimulated food growth while keeping the environment habitable and healthy.[1]

Malnutrition spread and real food became scarce, so the processed food industry began to cash in on chemical dinners while simultaneously emitting more toxins into the air through their factories. People were born into sickness now; it was a potent mixture of ingesting chemicals through diet and breathing them in through the atmosphere. The world begged for foliage growth to feed livestock and cleanse the air, but there was no way to sustain such life. Scientists released new studies showing the benefit of predators. Perhaps, albeit risky, predators could have prevented part of the environmental destruction. Research groups scanned countless horizons for the tracks of a mountain lion or wolf. It was too late, however, for none remained, long-driven out by hatred and selfish ambition.

Years passed and scientists had yet to find a way to recreate the magnificent beasts. The complete extinction of a species, unlike other environmental impactors, was irreversible.[2] The air grew denser and filled peoples’ lungs with dark matter that splattered when they coughed it up on the sidewalk, parched from the water shortage and weakened from malnourishment. The few nations in power hoarded their remaining sources while their brothers died. There was no relief or pleasure for them, however, for luxury had ended. No one had the time or energy to read books or watch films. Many had lost loved ones. Work became survival. Sleepless nights plagued the masses. And art found no inspiration in an unnatural world, for the brooks ran dry, forests became deserts, and the wolf no longer serenaded the night.

***

Although there is evidence to support this fictionalized prophesy, there is no guarantee that the eradication of wolves and other predators will spiral downwards into an inescapable doom. There are those who argue that the impact may be minor, or even non-existent. People could come up with innovative technologies to combat the domino effect and, perhaps, those technologies will fare better than current attempts to popularize green living. Perchance, the whole concept of environmental conservation is nothing more than a Nation Inquirer façade, or as conservative host Glenn Beck puts it, a “reminder that humanity must be controlled, manipulated and even destroyed for the good of the planet.”[3] But what if it is not? An unchanged path could chart a worse future. Even an outcome half as detrimental as the mock scenario would be a devastating blow to humanity and life as we know it. Is that a chance we are willing to take? Is our future, our children’s future, something to haphazardly gamble with? The Earth’s ultimate demise should not be carried out willingly by the hands that call it home. Alas, the destruction of nature is not a new fad, and the wolf has long been the poster child of this targeted annihilation.

The destruction of the wolves was a global phenomenon, but North America arguably championed the raping of natural resources, species, and people. Long before settlers staked their claims in 1607, wolves, like the indigenous American people, flourished in the land. Although some remind fearful of man, many lived in harmony and were even domesticated. Between 250,000 and 500,000 ran free in packs, cohabitating easily with the native people and wildlife.[4] Wolves were an important symbol in Native American culture, signifying strength and beauty. Some stories told of the brotherhood between wolves and men and the power they could draw from one another. One Cheyenne story spoke of a valiant wolf who came to the aid of two women and two children who barely escaped the Sand Creek Massacre. The wolf had been tracking them for hours, and the woman believed he saw them as prey. When they surrendered themselves to him, though, the wolf took pity on them and brought them meat that nourished them so they could make the journey to safety.[5]

Colonial mindsets did not view wolves with such grace and it was not long before conflicts would start a battle between men and wolves that would last centuries. The New World, regarded as property that needed to be claimed and exploited, needed to be cleansed of anything that would prohibit prosperity and endanger the newcomers or their livelihood. The wolves and their predator brethren alike became easy targets, but Euro-American settlers had a special interest in wolves. For one, wolf killing was the culmination of two colonial conquering methods: legends and assets. A wolf pelt was both a bragging right and a trade item. Rumors spread quickly about the alleged atrocities committed by wolves; it was a new kind of folklore, but one far different from the stories the Indigenous Americans told. Wolves were painted as corrupt creatures that attacked the livestock of struggling farmers and stole babes away from their mothers’ breasts in the wee hours of the morning. It was not long before they became symbols of evil. While the deer were “stand-ins for ‘God’s persecuted…’, wolves symbolize[d] the ‘fierce blood-sucking persecutor.’”[6] Euro-Americans continued to mercilessly slaughter the creatures for years, driving them back as the colonial process took hold of the country.

Even after extensive settlement—establishment of cities, the Industrial Revolution, the massacre of native peoples—wolves still found sanctuary by retreating further into the forests. Flash-forward to the beginning of the twentieth century: Americans were unrelenting in the conquest of the New World, or what remained of it. Forests were felled at alarming speeds, food sources began to deplete, and pollution started contaminating the atmosphere. All of this encroached increasingly on the natural habitat that sustained America’s vibrant ecosystem, but predators like the wolves suffered at the hands of direct attacks, too. Continuing in the settler propaganda that depicted the natural world as something that needed to be tamed or eradicated, the United States government created a campaign for the War on Wolves.[7]

Wolves were depicted as nuisances at best and terrorists at worst—never mind that the land was their home and that settler society perpetrated acts of terror on the native peoples and wildlife. Few people stood up for the wolves, and assumed environmental leaders like Theodore Roosevelt deemed them “the beast[s] of waste and destruction.”[8] Countless photographs documented the extermination of the species, showing pelts piled high for victory and profit. Americans considered the acts as a betterment to society and themselves; they were, after all, only protecting their families and livestock. To this day, the wolves are the only species to be purposefully forced into near extinction by man.[9] By means of systematic annihilation, the US government won its war with the wolves. The most common American wolf breed, the gray wolf, was all but eradicated while the others trailed closely behind. Once roaming the lower 48 states, they were confined to sparse parts of Michigan and Minnesota. By 1960, the wolf population was scarcely 300.[10]

Although the war had ended, many hunters still sought out the remaining few packs huddled in the northern extremities of the country. Aldo Leopold was one of the last government wolf hunters. In 1944, as the last of the wolves died out, he noticed the havoc man had wrought on the natural world. His essay, “Thinking Like a Mountain,” included many themes that would soon be proven by science. He stated, “I now suspect that just as a deer herd lives in mortal fear of its wolves, so does a mountain live in mortal fear of its deer.”[11] Leopold noted, like many researchers today, that the removal of wolves from nature was far more dangerous than their predator instincts. Rachel Carson, a scientist and nature-lover, would carry similar thoughts to a broader audience through her book Silent Spring in the 1960s. It resonated with thousands and spurred Americans on towards an environmental awakening. The environment finally became a political concern shortly after, and the remainder of the decade saw two major acts passed: The Endangered Species Preservation Act in 1966 and the Endangered Species Conservation Act in 1969. Although these acts were a step in the right direction, they were found “to lack the necessary teeth for effective enforcement,” and so congress passed (with nearly unanimous support) the Endangered Species Act in 1973.[12]

Specific species of wolves were given protection under the ESA in 1974, allowing recovery to begin in new territories once populated by wolves. The public realized, albeit too late, the damage they had done and the uphill battle they now faced. Rehabilitation of any species is a trying process, and the Mexican gray was not saved in time. The gray wolf subspecies was declared extinct in 1980.[13] Four males and one female were captured prior to the demise in hopes of a successful captive-breeding program. The ESA was instrumental in assigning biologists to preserve the genetic stability and diversity of the wolves, and the captive-raised generations were first reintroduced into North Carolina in 1990. Free of human interference, a handful of gray wolf packs multiplied up North. Outdoors enthusiasts and wildlife researchers started noticing trends in wolf sightings in the Cascade Mountains of Washington, confirming the successful growth rates and migration trends.[14] By the mid-nineties, a total of seven states including Alaska confirmed active wolf populations. Yellowstone received its first “wolf transplant” in 1995, and the Nez Perce Nation was a crucial aspect of reestablishment efforts.[15] The government continued to evolve the acclimation programs to ensure successful transitions between captivity and the wilderness.

Wolf numbers today stand around 3,500 in the lower 48 states and 60,000 in the untouched wilds of Alaska and Canada, but a combination of conquering lust and general apathy towards the environment has once again put them in a treacherous place.[16] One driving factor is that the reintroduced wolves began picking off small bits of livestock which allegedly posed a direct threat to farmers. In 2011, the state of Idaho declared a state of emergency due to the small influx in wolf hunts, stating they were a threat to the local citizens, even though the two plus decades that have spanned since reintroduction efforts in the 90s have not witnessed so much as one wild wolf-related injury in the lower 48 states.[17] Hunters, farmers, and unwitting citizens fear wolves will eat all the livestock and grow so prolifically that they will eventually threaten the lives of people. There is something bigger stake below the surface, though, and it threatens financial interest and grabs the attention of politicians: “the protections wolves require in the West can run counter to the interests of industrial agriculture businesses and the oil and gas industry, both of which want to operate on land that is currently subject to protection because it’s wolf habitat.”[18] Plain and simple, wolves are one of the many creatures in the way of the great manifest destiny. If they are protected, so is the environment. Their fates are poetically intertwined.

The wolves, and nature in its entirety, are just one of many creatures that are negatively impacted by the current administration. Even now, “a witch hunt is already underway for federal employees who support the science of climate change…protections for the 640 million acres of public land…are already being stripped away.”[19] Recent events include dangerous law proposals such as on January 17, 2017, when Republican Senators introduced a bill nicknamed, “The War on Wolves Act.” It shares eerie similarities with the campaign used against wolves over 100 years ago. If passed, S.164 will not only remove ESA protections from wolves in Minnesota, Michigan, Wisconsin, and Wyoming, it will also strip citizens of the right to challenge it in court.

While many people are not directly against the wolves and their resurgence, they have done little to aid their plight. Even though the average liberal believes in global warming, few take the actions necessary to prevent it or care about it when going about their digitally and consumer-driven lives. Concern for wolves, and many other endangered species, is limited to brief moments of empathy combatted by months of apathy. People are too detached from nature right now to give much daily thought to the well-being of other creatures. It is also easy to forget how much the politicians one votes for impact the environment, especially on local and state levels. It comes naturally to most to vote for what benefits them—what gives them the best tax break, the most control, the cheapest products, etc.—and in doing so, mankind casts the needs of other people, species, and nature to the wayside.

People in today’s world, at least in America, often succumb to selfish desires which debilitate their ability to give a second thought to the dilemmas of others. It is made evident through their voting and consumer choices. As far as solutions go, a huge part of it is getting the right people in office. However, that starts with the citizens themselves. The decision to protect wolves seems logical. According to Wes Siler, journalist for Outside, “If killing wolves results in increased wolf conflict for farmers, if wolves pose virtually no risk to human life, and if they’re essential to ecosystem rehabilitation in the West while bringing in tens of millions in tourist dollars, then remind me why we’re going to spend a bunch of taxpayer money killing them?”[20] It is highly illogical, regardless of one’s political preferences.

But what can be done to sway those who disagree, whether out of spite or indifference? For one, there must be more options to convince people who stand in the way of conservation efforts that the wolves and the environment are worth protecting. The ESA originally got passed because certain species became a face of the movement[21]; they were a symbol, much like the wolves need to be now. The ESA presently has many flaws, though, and a recent study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences last year “found that the vast majority of endangered species are getting just a fraction – around 20 percent – of the funding needed to recover their populations.”[22] Unless something happens drastically with citizens’ mindsets, the wolves are once again facing probable extinction—not to mention the rest of the environment.

Perhaps, hope for the wolves can be found in a new political science theory sweeping the environmental and welfare-centered organizations: Integral ecology, or the idea of seeing everything as interconnected parts of the large machine known as life. Environmentalism and conservation will have greater odds of being accepted by all when people see an underlying benefit and understand that their actions impact the environment, which, when it completes its full circle, ultimately ends up coming back to impact the people. It is a sort of physical karma that cannot be undone mid-cycle. Unfortunately, America’s selfish and occasionally dogmatic culture has lead people to focus on their consumerism and to toss hard science and data out the window in favor of a view that fits their wants.

Since people cannot always be reasoned with by facts, two things must transpire for the wolves to stand a fighting chance. One, people need to truly understand the benefit of wolves on society and nature. Not only do wolves stimulate the economy and cause little to no threat to mankind’s food and well-being, they also directly impact almost every aspect of the environment. For example, a recent Ted Talk by George Joshua Richard Monbiot, an author and rewilding activist, detailed exactly how wolves can impact massive organisms like America’s rivers[23]. Second, social media and other technological platforms should integrate more pro-nature marketing and easier access to green living. How can people help make a difference if they do not know? Nearly every person in America knows everything about fast-food and department sales, but how many people are truly educated on the current status of endangered species and the effects of fossil fuels? One may be only an internet click away from unlimited knowledge, but something must drive a person to that point of research. Green living and conservation advertising should be dropped in during television show breaks and plastered across city billboards, not ads for diabetes-inducing pastries masked with artificially colored frosting and wrapped in excessive amounts of harmful plastic.

A forecaster of the future, Albert Einstein summed it up best when he said the following: “the goal of all theory is to make the…basic elements as simple and as few as possible without having to surrender the adequate representation of…experience.”[24] In light of the wolves’ dire circumstances, Einstein’s words of wisdom can be interpreted as follows: for any change or theory to be effective, it comes down to understanding the present time and presenting information in a way that most people can easily digest, all while maintaining an understanding of the multiple viewpoints people have. The key is discovering successful, non-abrasive ways to combat these varying viewpoints. Change for the wolves will not happen overnight, but people cannot idly stand by and let them or the environment continue to suffer without a fight. And to win this fight, activists must create more allies, not more enemies. We must once again become protectors of the wolves and our world, or we will all face the same fate.

Bibliography

Beck, Glenn. “Environmentalism Part IV: The Biggest Hoax of All Time.” Glenn Beck. April      22, 2016. Accessed April 26, 2017.        <http://www.glennbeck.com/2016/04/22/environmentalism-part-iv-the-biggest-hoax-of-          all-time/>.

Casey, Denise, and Susan G. Clark. Tales of the Wolf: Fifty-One Stories of Wolf Encounters in     the Wild. Moose, WY: Homestead Pub., 1996.

Coleman, Jon T. Vicious: Wolves and Men in America. Yale University Press, 2008.

“Did We Only Bring Wolves Back So We Can Kill Them Again?” Predator Defense. Accessed   April 22, 2017. <http://www.predatordefense.org/wolves.htm&gt;.

Dutcher, Jim, Jamie Dutcher, and James Manfull. The Hidden Life of Wolves. Washington, D.      National Geographic, 2013.

Kaufman, Mark D. “Wolves are targets in the Endangered Species Act.” Scienceline. May 03,      2017. Accessed May 06, 2017. <http://scienceline.org/2017/05/wolves-targets-     endangered-species-act-modernization/>.

McIntyre, Rick. A Society of Wolves: National Parks and the Battle Over the Wolf. Stillwater,      MN: Voyageur Press, 1996.

Meadows, Donella H., and Diana Wright. Thinking in systems: a primer. White River Junction,   VT: Chelsea Green Publishing, 2015.

Monbiot, George. July 2013. George Monbiot: For more wonder, rewild the world [Video file].   Accessed May 01, 2017. <https://www.ted.com/talks/george_monbiot_for_more_wonder     _rewild_the_world>.

Moskowitz, David. Wolves in the Land of Salmon. Portland, OR: Timber Press, 2013.

Shivik, John A. The Predator Paradox: Ending the War with Wolves, Bears, Cougars, and           Coyotes. Boston: Beacon Press, 2014.

Siler, Wes. “Trump’s Presidency Means the End of Wolves in the American West.” Outside         Online. January 19, 2017. Accessed April 22, 2017. <https://www.outsideonline.com         /2151411/trumps-presidency-means-end-wolves-american-west>.

Smith, Douglas W., and Gary Ferguson. Decade of the Wolf: Returning the Wild to Yellowstone.  Guilford, CT: Lyons Press, 2012.

Thayer, Helen. Three Among the Wolves: A Couple and Their Dog Live a Year with Wolves in    the Wild. Canada: Sasquatch Books, 2006.

White, Annie B. GrayWolfConservation.com – Wolf History in U.S. Accessed April 22, 2017.             <http://www.graywolfconservation.com/Wild_Wolves/history.htm&gt;.

Zielinski, Sarah. “What Happens When Predators Disappear.” Smithsonian.com. July 18, 2011.   Accessed April 26, 2017. <http://www.smithsonianmag.com/science-nature/what-     happens-when-predators-disappear-32079553/>.

[1] Zielinski, Sarah. “What Happens When Predators Disappear.” Smithsonian.com. July 18, 2011.

 

[2] “Did We Only Bring Wolves Back So We Can Kill Them Again?” Predator Defense.

[3] Beck, Glenn. “Environmentalism Part IV: The Biggest Hoax of All Time.” Glenn Beck. April 22, 2016.

[4] White, Annie B. GrayWolfConservation.com – Wolf History in U.S.

[5] Casey, Denise, and Susan G. Clark. Tales of the Wolf: Fifty-One Stories of Wolf Encounters in the Wild. Moose, WY: Homestead Pub., 1996, 20.

[6] Coleman, Jon T. Vicious: Wolves and Men in America. Yale University Press, 2008, 46.

[7] “Did We Only Bring Wolves Back So We Can Kill Them Again?” Predator Defense.

[8] White, Annie B. GrayWolfConservation.com – Wolf History in U.S.

[9] McIntyre, Rick. A Society of Wolves: National Parks and the Battle Over the Wolf. Stillwater, MN: Voyageur Press, 1996, 58.

[10] Moskowitz, David. Wolves in the Land of Salmon. Portland, OR: Timber Press, 2013, 178.

[11] Dutcher, Jim, Jamie Dutcher, and James Manfull. The Hidden Life of Wolves. Washington, D. National Geographic, 2013, 123.

[12] Smith, Douglas W., and Gary Ferguson. Decade of the Wolf: Returning the Wild to Yellowstone. Guilford, CT: Lyons Press, 2012, 24.

[13] White, Annie B. GrayWolfConservation.com – Wolf History in U.S.

[14] McIntyre, Rick. A Society of Wolves: National Parks and the Battle Over the Wolf. Stillwater, MN: Voyageur Press, 1996, 92.

[15] Smith, Douglas W., and Gary Ferguson. Decade of the Wolf: Returning the Wild to Yellowstone. Guilford, CT: Lyons Press, 2012, 28.

[16] Siler, Wes. “Trump’s Presidency Means the End of Wolves in the American West.” Outside Online. January 19, 2017.

[17] Dutcher, Jim, Jamie Dutcher, and James Manfull. The Hidden Life of Wolves. Washington, D. National Geographic, 2013, 125.

[18] Siler, Wes. “Trump’s Presidency Means the End of Wolves in the American West.” Outside Online. January 19, 2017.

[19] Siler, Wes. “Trump’s Presidency Means the End of Wolves in the American West.” Outside Online. January 19, 2017.

[20] Siler, Wes. “Trump’s Presidency Means the End of Wolves in the American West.” Outside Online. January 19, 2017.

[21] McIntyre, Rick. A Society of Wolves: National Parks and the Battle Over the Wolf. Stillwater, MN: Voyageur Press, 1996, 27.

[22] Kaufman, Mark D. “Wolves are targets in the Endangered Species Act.” Scienceline. May 03, 2017.

[23] Monbiot, George. July 2013. George Monbiot: For more wonder, rewild the world [Video file].

[24] Meadows, Donella H., and Diana Wright. Thinking in systems: a primer. White River Junction, VT: Chelsea Green Publishing, 2015, 5.

Serious Non-Fiction Development: Part 7 of a Semester’s Reflections

Serious Non-Fiction Development: Part 7 of a Semester’s Reflections

*Please read Serious Non-Fiction Development: Part 1 of a Semester’s Reflections for an explanation of this series. This week’s post is a response to a reading from an insightful book on successfully publishing serious non-fiction. Below is the question prompt followed by my response.

For your blog/project assignment, make a simple list of your book’s chapters: give a working title for each chapter and a tentative, very short summary of what each chapter will cover. At this point, try to keep the chapter summaries to just 2-3 sentences each. In addition to summarizing each chapter’s scope, go ahead and indicate which type of chapter it will be, using Rabiner’s three categories: context chapter, narrative chapter, and break-narrative chapter. Lastly, after you make your table of contents and brief chapter summaries, finish your blog post with a statement about which part(s) of the book you’ll be drafting for your sample chapter. Give a couple reasons to explain why you have chosen to focus on that portion of the book.

I must admit this assignment intimidated me more than I anticipated. It’s typical to approach school assignments from a small mindset that’s hedged in by the safe walls of education, so looking at this like an actual project, a real book submission, is unnerving. Still, I’m looking forward to plotting out how this would break down. I’m currently unsure of which chapter would be best-suited for my sample chapter. Hopefully, this assignment will decide for me.

Introduction-

Self-explanatory, and Rabiner said “you don’t need to explain what will be in the introduction or epilogue.” It will, however, be narrative-driven and one of the more personal chapters of the book.

Part 1 (A brief history of the wolves in North America including the effect of settlers from the mid-1600s, recovery and rehabilitation efforts by environmentalists from the 1960s, and modern-day conservation efforts):

Chapter 1: Legend, Lore, and Legacy: The History of the Wolves in North America

This would mostly be a context chapter discussing some of the scientific origins of wolves and their characteristics. However, that would flow directly into their earliest history in North America and briefly begin the narrative by expounding on their interactions with the Indigenous Americans and how they lived in harmony with people and other species. This chapter would lead up to the start of the 1600s.

Chapter 2: Malicious Monsters: The Colonial Impact and the War on Wolves

This would be a narrative chapter and unfold the destruction of the environment and the direct attacks on wolves and other predators by colonial conquerors. This chapter is the backbone of the argument because it’s the direct cause of the wolves’ plight as well as all the environmental problems we face today. It will hint at the future impacts our ancestors’ actions caused and raise many questions that will not be fully addressed until the end of the book (here’s a hint: the malicious monsters are not the wolves).

Chapter 3: Answering the Call of the Wild: Deliberate and Coincidental Human-Wolf Interactions

This would be a break-narrative chapter that focuses on personal encounters with wolves in the wild and the humans who dared to answer their call. It will span from the days of Lewis and Clark all the way to a modern-day New Zealand couple who, with their dog, spent an entire year within stroking distance of these wilderness sages. I’m also considering including fictional or ancient tales of wolf-human interactions, like Native American histories and stories like The Jungle Book.

Chapter 4: Defending the Predator: The Subtle Journey from Resurgence to Silence

This would be a narrative chapter introducing the table-turning effect of the environmental awakening fronted by the likes of Rachel Carson and other public intellectuals in the 1960s. It will then describe the fallout during the 80s and the turn from environmental awareness. The chapter will close with the current situation today, including the open hunting of wolves and other predators in many states as well as the toll people are taking on the environment.

Part 2 (The benefit of wolves to our ecosystem and what will happen if things do not change or worsen, and suggestions to sustain and grow the wolf population):

Chapter 5: A Natural Antidote: The Wolf’s Critical Role in Restoring the Environment

This will be a strict context chapter that explains the positive impact wolves have on the ecosystem and therefore society—what impacts one species impacts another, and so on. This one will be extremely research and science-driven and will include a section on the transformation of Yellowstone after wolves were reintroduced.

Chapter 6: And Then There Was One: The Captivity Program and Reintroduction Challenges

This is a continuing narrative chapter and will discuss the process of reintroduction efforts from the mid-80s to the present. It will still incorporate hard data like wolf populations throughout rehabilitation and the exact processes used by scientists and reintroduction experts, but it will continue with the narrative feel discussing on-going efforts today and the challenges wolves and their protectors face.

Chapter 7: The Magic Pack: The Return to Glacier National Park

This is a break-narrative chapter closely following a specific wolf pack. It will force the readers to view the wolves in a direct narrative and personal light as I illustrate the struggles of a reintroduced pack, and emphasizing the wolves’ names and their relationships should show the readers a human side that they hopefully won’t be able to detach from easily. This should be successful after reading (in chapter 2) about how mankind put them in this detrimental situation in the first place.

Chapter 8: An Alpine Line: The Tipping Point Between Man and the Natural World and Visions of Equilibrium

The final chapter is a narrative that is strongly based on my own conclusions and projections given the history and research to this point. It will paint the picture of two possible futures: one with wolves and one without. I want to end the chapter with the latter because I want that climax of emotion prior to my epilogue.

Epilogue-

Like the introduction, this section has a clear purpose. That being said, I intend to reiterate the steps people must take to better the future of the wolves and the environment (and, ultimately, ourselves). It’s going to be part conclusion and part call to action.

 

For the sample chapter, my instinct is to draw the first portion from chapters 2 and 4 (what I’m talking about) and the second half from chapters 5 and 8 (what I’m saying). This will give me historical grounds to build upon and a scientific approach to stabilize my claims, ultimately resulting in a sound diving board for my argument: the need for wolves and what life will look like without them if we do not acknowledge the errors of our ways.

An Honorable Harvest: Rediscovering a Reciprocal Relationship with Resources

An Honorable Harvest: Rediscovering a Reciprocal Relationship with Resources

Contrary to popular belief, resources in this world are limited. Some are irreplaceable, and when misused will be lost forever. Others can suffer a loss of quality due to overuse. Still, some, though seemingly unaffected by mass consumption because of abundance, are simply taken for granted with no thought given to the indefinite future of the resource. Robin Kimmerer, a Professor of Environmental and Forest Biology at the State University of New York College of Environmental Science and Forestry, states that there is a hidden problem, too, one that is undetected by the scientific scope of analysis: all the resources in the world are a gift, and treating them as anything less is an atrocity. The connection between dwindling resources and a lack of respect for those resources cannot be ignored, for when you value something, you respect it. “When we rely deeply on other lives,” Kimmerer argues, “there is urgency to protect them.” (177). To get back to a harmonious relationship with the natural world and its resources, people must adopt the mindset of Indigenous peoples of the past. This respectful relationship can only be accomplished if people consume resources with practices of reciprocity and awareness to the longevity of those resources while reflecting on the necessity of using them in the first place.

One such practice to change the mentalities of people from that of entitlement to that of thankfulness. Kimmerer is no stranger to harmonious relationships with nature as she has been taught to respect even the voiceless forms of life: “I explain why I’ve come and ask their permission to harvest, inquiring politely if they would be willing to share.” (175). When the leek bulbs she intended to harvest for dinner with her daughters (a symbol of empowering them with food from their homeland) appear withered and sickly, Kimmerer kindly returned them back to the soil, taking their unsightly conditions as a sign that they were not ready to harvest—a far cry from the common settler mindset which promotes the disposal of any resource that is underperforming. When she returned several weeks later, the leeks yielded an abundant harvest and were ripe for the taking. She believes the left side of the human brain is an analytical tool used to judge the state of the resource, such as its health and abundance, while the right side of the brain is used intuitively to sense whether it is the right time to harvest based on spiritual and emotional messages (Kimmerer 178). Kimmerer uses the story to illustrate that there are enough resources when men are not greedy, and by remaining patient and responsive to the resources and their Creator, people will have enough. Mankind, she argues, must “take only that which is given.” (177).  By simply acknowledging the resource and expressing gratitude for it, one can be inspired to live by needs as opposed to wants.

Another practice revolves around the quantity of resources taken from the land. Kimmerer reflects on the early bounties of Turtle Island, flourishing due to the native practice of never taking more than half of the resources (181). Even the half rule subsided when necessary, specifically in instances when the resource was growing sparse. It was better to go without for a short time than to have that resource lost forever. When colonists settled there, they balked at the alleged laziness of Indigenous people for wasting the resources and under-harvesting. What they did not realize is that the natives better understood the ecosystem and how the resources fit into place. To modernize the concept, Kimmerer also shares a story of an Ojibwe family who harvested rice from their canoes while allowing half of it to fall into the water below. When a well-meaning guest offered to reconstruct the harvesting method to guarantee a more successful harvest, the family declined, explaining that the rice fell into the water to provide seed for the following year while simultaneously providing sustenance for the ducks and other creatures in that region (Kimmerer 182). What the guest and many settlers do not realize is that there is mutual benefit in only taking what one needs. Not only do the breathing creatures survive from the same resources, they land and plants themselves require some of the resources to remain intact to prepare the bounty for the next season. Stripping the land of resources may provide short-term benefits, but it is hardly a sustainable or humane solution. Convenience is not always the answer.

Many Indigenous people derive their resource consumption practices from an aural set of loosely defined rules called the Honorable Harvest. The phrasing and ideas vary from culture to culture, but they revolve around the idea that one should understand nature and resources, have a reciprocal relationship with those resources, take only what one needs and use every bit of it wisely and not wastefully, and to continuously give thanks for the resources (Kimmerer 183). By following these rules, Indigenous people of the past believed the Earth would be sustained indeterminately. Where many environmental regulations today are based solely on the biophysical realm, Indigenous peoples designed their guidelines using both logic from the physical world and intuition from the metaphysical world (Kimmerer 183). Colonist cultures have taken drastic measures, intentional or not, to undermine this relationship and, consequently, the Earth has grown barren in many regions, negatively affecting numerous peoples and ecosystems throughout the world. It seems a simple enough practice, taking only what one needs. But people often give into selfish desires, especially when they regard the land and its resources as ill-worthy of life and longevity. There is also a problem surrounding the definition of enough and what it means to everyone, especially when one’s needs get tangled up in one’s wants (Kimmerer 184).

How much does any one person need? Cleary, the suggested concept of taking no more than half is to be combined with some cognitive conclusions about personal sustainability and the amalgamation of resources that are nearby. Kimmerer suggests that knowing how much to take may be easier than one thinks. She illustrates this concept by explaining how people are taught at a young age to take just enough interpersonally. “If you are visiting your sweet grandma,” Kimmerer says, “and she offers you homemade cookies on her favorite china plate, you know what to do.” (184). The average person would take one, express much gratitude, and take just enough to be respectful of the grandmother while leaving some for others who may wish to partake. Why, then, would people see fit to treat the Earth and its and resources any different? These resources are gifts from the Creator, intricately woven in a complex system that would yield gifts indefinitely if respected and treated with care and gratitude. If one barged in and took all the cookies unsuspectingly, and the china plate for good measure, the grandma would not only be heartbroken but also uninclined to bake cookies in the future. Natural resources react in kind. Once pillaged and depleted, resources are likely to straggle in quantity and quality at best and vanish altogether at worst.

It is easy and common for today’s North American people, founded on settler entitlement, to shrug off any environmental concern as tree-hugging hallucinations conjured up by those fearful of technology and success. Mankind is the top of the food change, they argue, and it is their ordained right to steal and pillage whatever they desire. It is Darwin’s survival of the fittest united with colonial conquest, all wrapped up in a package that promises never-ending luxury for all people. The problem is that luxury and convenience, at the levels promised by first-world propaganda, will sustain few people for a short amount of time. The effects of these lifestyles are already taking a toll on the resources, and it is a despicable thing that the less-fortunate feel the adverse effects first. Still, no one is safe from natural resource depletion, be it food, water, or energy. If people are going to restore the remaining resources for daily essential needs and a small handful of wants, they must return to the Honorable Harvesting methods encouraged by Indigenous peoples. These ideas do not need to be replaced by better technology for most of the answers are already known. Respect and renewal, not obliviousness and artificiality, are the correct responses.

Even though many people are removed from the harvesting and production processes, they can still make sustainable choices by what they shop for and who benefits from their purchases. Was that pound of beef locally sourced from a grass-fed cow, or was it an abused animal with a poor and chemical-based diet where all proceeds support a mega-industry? Was that shirt manufactured by synthetic fibers at a toxic plant in a foreign country, or was it comprised of organic materials in abundance and produced by a small family business downtown? Was that water consumed through multiple plastic bottles, tossed in the trash while they remained half-full, or was it consumed in its entirety through a reusable container? These daily decisions matter, and if more people took them seriously there would be a significant renewal of resources. Still, it is not enough to simply be mindful of purchases. If people remain fully removed from the natural world, their resolves will weaken closely followed by their votes made with their purchases. The artificial lighting and walls, the convenience of the shopping system, the detachment from the source—it is enough to distract even those with the best intentions. There must be interaction with the land, even if it is in the simplest of ways like hikes and small gardens; how can one respect something he or she does not know or understand? Then, the resources will be enough to sustain multitudes of people, all the while returning people to the mutually beneficial relationships with the Creator and land. Only through this mindset will people be truly nourished physically, mentally, and spiritually.

 

Works Cited

Kimmerer, Robin Wall. Braiding Sweetgrass: Indigenous Wisdom, Scientific Knowledge, and the

Teachings of Plants. Minneapolis, MN: Milkweed Editions, 2016. Print.

A Coastal Girl’s Journey to the Mountains and Her Undying Obsession with All Things Furry

A Coastal Girl’s Journey to the Mountains and Her Undying Obsession with All Things Furry

“There is pleasure in the pathless woods, there is rapture in the lonely shore, there is society where none intrudes, by the deep sea, and music in its roar; I love not man the less, but nature more.”

-Lord Byron

            I have cared for the environment and animals as long as I can remember, but looking back, I can see clear nuances that affected my view of nature as I grew. At some point in my journey, my interest in the environment changed from that of casual admiration to a fiery passion for something I both respected and wanted to preserve. My love for animals has been a driving factor, but I have recently begun to see the day-to-day impacts caused by excessive consumption. My Oregon home is a cherished place to me due to its easy access to nature, and I have adopted Colorado as my second home for similar reasons. It is frightening to imagine a society stripped of natural resources and accessibility to nature, and I am thankful for the people and circumstances that have shaped my life to make me a person who seeks cooperation and harmony with the environment. After all, I have always been taught that we are stewards of this world and all in it, and therefore we must treat the environment with love and care.

My mother’s side of the family remains a mystery due to the unknown identity of my grandfather and the circumstances she was raised in, so for this reflection, I will focus on my father’s side. From what I recall, the Herolds (my maiden name) immigrated from Germany sometime during the early 1800s and settled in what is today North Dakota. I believe they were primarily farmers, raising cattle and chickens, living off the land, working in mills. The story I know best begins with my grandfather, Claude Herold, when he met my grandmother, Mary Jayne (a young woman of French and English descent mixed with some Niitsitapi or Blackfoot Indian), and they moved out west and settled in Oregon. Grandpa became a logger at the local mill in Coos Bay and Grandma worked as a CNA at a hospital. They had four children and owned several hundred acres inland. Staying true to their roots, they raised cows, chickens, goats, horses, and the like, as well as maintained multiple gardens. Grandpa eventually built a shop a hundred yards from the house because he loved working with his hands, and he also added an entire half by hand to the original house they purchased using lumber from the mill he worked at. The Herolds lived simply and liked their space, valuing family, faith, and hobbies above all else.

My father, Richard Herold, was more academically and artistically inclined than the rest of his family, and he attended the University of Oregon in Eugene to study history. He met my mother, Cristie Sanchez (a young woman born in Los Angeles to a full-blooded Italian woman and a mystery father) a summer later, and when they married they settled in the center of Oregon’s city life: Portland. My dad simultaneously served as a pastor and began pursuing a Master’s, and my mom quickly became pregnant with me. I was born in the city and grew up surrounded by culture and buildings. I remember little things about Portland, like how colorful it was in spirit and how easily accessible recycling and inner-city transit systems were. The city always seemed alive, but I developed a special interest in nature at a young age. Books and stuffed animals were my best friends, and I treasured trips to the aquarium and summer campouts. I begged for a pet constantly. We still frequently visited my family in the country, however, and when I was about six years old, we moved back to my father’s hometown. We still lived in the city—if you could call a town of 15,000 people that—but my three younger siblings and I could visit the country almost every week.

My grandparents lived only 20 minutes from town, and my father’s brother and his family ended up purchasing the land just down the road from them. My cousin, Emily, was my best friend, and all of us lived and breathed the outdoors. I spent countless days running through fields, riding horses, picking up chicken eggs, raising animals, helping my grandma in her garden, hiking, climbing trees, swimming in the ocean or rivers or lakes, dancing around tidepools, and only the Lord knows how many nights under the stars. If I was not outside, I was reading. I loved many classic books (stories and writing are my other passions), but I also spent many hours reading about forests, wolves, tigers, and horses. I finally got my first pet, a Siamese cat I aptly named Nala, and that only strengthened my lifelong passion for loving and protecting as many animals as I met. In summary, much of my childhood relation to nature was like a young, spring romance filled with only the fondest of memories.

Around my sixteenth birthday, my family moved to Colorado Springs. I was bitter about leaving home, but Colorado’s mountains eventually won me over, whether I would like to admit it or not. My nuclear family has never been as nature-dependent as my extended family, but we still spent the weekends out camping and hiking. It was not until my first year of college that I felt a true passion for sustainability and the environment. I was taking a public speaking class and ended up doing a final persuasive speech on our current food system in America. The findings disgusted me, and my then boyfriend and I made the decision to switch to primarily organic, humane, and local-sourced food. My education continued to further my interests, and future environmental science and writing classes gave me a hunger for a sustainable lifestyle. We made choices to recycle, to reuse more, to waste less food, we and tried to purchase environmentally-friendly items for both hygiene and household. We also rescued three pets, with hopefully more to come. I am currently in the process of making more hygiene and household items homemade and natural, and now that we are married we are trying to plan a sustainable future for our family. Ideally, we hope to have land and a small house one day and use it sustainably, much like my family back in Oregon.

Although my inclinations towards preserving the beauty of creation are somewhat innate to my being, I accredit my family and upbringing to fully raising up those passions. Had I not been taught to respect the environment and animals from a young age and been constantly encouraged to spend time outside and read, I do not believe I would care for it the way I do now. The leaders in my life (my parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, and now my husband) have always lead by example, quietly commanding respect and inspiring me to have the same for the world we live in. Do not litter. Be gentle to animals. Go outside. Treat others the way you want to be treated. Take care of your belongings and land. Everything in this life is a gift. We connect to each other and to our Creator best when we cast aside the mediocre possessions of this world and focus on what really matters. Nuggets of wisdom like these were passed down through my family subtly but intentionally, and it paved the way for my desire to have a harmonious and cooperative relationship with the environment around me. If I can live a life that reflects that, and persuade others to do the same, perhaps then I will have fulfilled my role as steward.

Battle for Beauty: A Memoir

Battle for Beauty: A Memoir

*This story is may be unacceptable for young padawans as the content is mildly disturbing.

Please don’t go,” I plead under my breath while I attempt to concentrate on the lines in front of me. The papers crinkle in my hand as Cindy warns the kids they only have five minutes to go. Nicole asks me in her mousy, three-year old voice, “awre you coming wif us Befferny?” Part of me tries to resist staying in. I entertain the idea, but I know deep down the battle is already over. I force a smile and say no. Jakob rushes by, his gi and white belt in tow. I wave goodbye and wish the kids good luck at practice. The door slams shut, and I peek through the mesh curtain until I see the minivan clear the driveway. I sit back on the futon for a moment and pretend to read my sides again. Ten seconds later I’m standing by the cupboard. My actions are mechanic now, as I reach in with mixed feelings of guilt and excitement.

I don’t recall the exact moment my thought process became unhealthy. I was a skeptical, but happy, girl with little to no concern about my image. It was a slow fade into oblivion, something so gradual and blurred that by the time I came to my senses, I could no longer see the shore. My mom foresaw the warning signs, and whether her approach was brash or not, I would have been wise to heed her insight. Instead, I found a way to better mask the truth, deceiving myself and others. I recall little moments leading up to the climax, such as deep yearnings for perfection and an overwhelming desire to be anything but unwanted. The beauty pageant that took place the summer after my high school graduation planted the first official seed, for making top-ten overall in the competition was nothing short of failure in my eyes. Something was wrong, but I wasn’t aware what aspect of my being I needed to correct. Nothing seemed feasible at first, but one day it occurred to me that I had the utmost control over my food intake, and therefore my looks and body.

The Fall after my pageant I began restricting my daily meal consumption. I started creating forbidden foods like cookies, chips, and soda, and lowered my daily calorie intake significantly. Standing a few inches over five feet, and weighing a little over one hundred pounds, I had absolutely no need to take such drastic measures. This illness, though, if one can call it that, is anything but logical. Since the absence of daily meals is somewhat hard to conceal, I conjured up what I believed to be clever tricks that convinced others I was eating normally. This would entail pushing food around on my plate to make it appear less in volume, sneaking bites into a napkin that I kept hidden between my legs at meal time, and taking my food to eat somewhere secret so I could throw it away or flush it down the toilet. It all sounds rather morbid, but I convinced myself of quite the opposite more often than not. It was the only feasible way to gain an ideal image while appeasing society’s standards of food intake.

I vividly remember a day a few months into my restriction period when my mom’s suspicions could no longer be silenced. We had ordered pizza for dinner, a longtime favorite of mine, but I was quite traumatized at the thought of consuming those horrid fats and calories. I crept off with a little piece up to my room, and then promptly threw it away. I went to great lengths to disguise the slice by wrapping it in napkins. I went to the mall briefly and returned to my room later that evening only to be met with shock and anxiety. My bare toes curled and tugged at the beige carpet as I hugged my arms closer to my body. The sun had already set on that brisk November evening, but I didn’t feel the chill as my eyes drilled into the stale piece of pizza resting atop some papers that were spread across my silk purple comforter. I slammed my bedroom door, which caused my picture frames to shake. A pencil fell silently to the floor. I dropped my Aeropostale bag on the ground and reluctantly stepped towards the out of place conglomeration.

My mom had googled pages burdened with eating disorder warnings and descriptions -all pointing to anorexia- and left the printed sheets under the piece of pizza. In addition, there was a hand written note filled with a mother’s angst and concern about my habits as of late. I rushed downstairs and told her she was making a big deal and that I just wasn’t feeling well. She stood her ground, adamant that I was too skinny. Our anxious words turned into a huge fight, and the subject became moot for a period of time. I don’t blame my mom, or anyone else for that matter because a full-blown eating disorder was bound to follow my obsessive compulsions. However, in some way, direct or not, the realization that others noticed my skimpy eating habits was partly what steered me towards bulimia. Purging became my ticket to eat food in front of people, a lot of it, and still remain the weight I wanted. I could even lose weight this way. Before I knew it, I was spiraling downwards, out of alignment with the control I ironically desired in the first place.

After the encounter with my mom, I was mortified at the chance of being caught. It would devastate my family and friends, and worse, put a halt to my successful weight loss program. I managed to fend onlookers off for a while by utilizing my normal tricks, but knew is was only a matter of time before I was confronted again. The body can only tolerate so many limitations as well, and without die-hard dedication, one can easily lose heart. One evening while my family and I were watching J.J. Abrams’ new rendition of Star Trek, I was again tempted by my arch-nemesis: pizza. My morale didn’t fare as well this time around. I gave in and consumed the calories my body had been desperately needing. Satiety didn’t sit well with me, and I started having panic attacks. I kept myself composed and excused myself from the family film, feigning ill. My bedroom door closed and I frantically searched around the room. Operating solely on emotions, I grabbed my trash can and stuck my fingers down my throat. The experience was humiliating, painful, and practically unsuccessful the first time around. Yet, the process hooked me like a drug and left me feeling far better about myself afterward. I finally had control.

I started getting to a point where I would purge after nearly every meal because I was paranoid about weight gain. Once I learned the food could be emptied immediately afterward consumption, I started eating larger portions to satisfy my cravings and trick my body into thinking it was full. I pretended the term bulimia didn’t exist for quite some time, but curiosity eventually got the best of me. I found myself poring over websites laden with life-threatening conditions related to the addiction. It was enough to frighten me into submission, and I managed to quit cold turkey for roughly two weeks before my Los Angeles journey where I had aspirations of studying acting. I thought I was cured. As expected, however, bulimia returned with a vengeance. I would have a day off every once in a while -usually due to circumstance, not choice- but I binged and purged most of the time.

I would begin my morning with an extremely healthy, yet meager, meal, only to binge and purge that afternoon and evening. The binges grew in both volume and time frame. I went from a binge consisting of  a dozen cookies, all the way to a binge session containing three bowls of cereal, a quesadilla, two sandwiches, half a jar of peanut butter, as many cookies as I could get my hands on, a couple slices of pizza, six cereal or protein bars, half a gallon of milk, mac and cheese, pudding, chicken, and loads of chocolate. Unfortunately, that list is not exaggerated in any way.  A binge flipped a switch in my head that made me consume anything within reach. I became careless and absent-minded mere minutes into the process. The food would stop tasting like food, and I’d enter a numb state of mind. My binges would typically start with a trigger food, like cake, but halfway through I’d eat healthy food, items recently thrown in the trash, even food I didn’t like if nothing else was available. My bank account suffered too, for I would often make special trips for guilty pleasure items that would never sit in my body longer than a few hours.

 I pull out a bag of mini Oreos and savor the first few bites. Perhaps it will be enough this time around. Just in case, though, I need to drink some milk because it makes the vomit come up easier and semi-coats my throat and teeth from the bile. I grab some peanut butter, eating spoonfuls at a time. There’s a large pancake wrapped up in the corner. Why not? I locate another package of cookies. I eat over ten, dipping some of them in peanut butter. Then I munch on some snack bars. Cereal. Some macaroni and cheese. I don’t bother heating it up. I make two sandwiches, chugging milk in between. I pull out a bag of my special purchased food. I begin inhaling the donuts: chocolate iced and apple fritters. I rotate the flavors in case I can’t finish them all. I normally eat until I reach the point where I’m in so much pain, I can barely move and already feel on the verge of throwing up. Sometimes I stop sooner because of lack of food or time. Sadly, today is not one of those cases. I enjoy my apathy and the bliss of the binge; the taste of the food in my mouth.

            Realizing I can’t physically hold anymore, I slink down to the floor, contemplating what to do as if I have a choice. I try to postpone the purge as long as possible, but finally, realize I need to get it over with. I grab the plastic bag from my shopping trip and set it in the bathroom trash can. I layer four more to prevent leaking. I prefer to purge in a toilet, but lately, I have been causing clogs and I don’t want to raise suspicions. Even though I’m home alone, I lock the door to the bathroom. I pin up my hair, make sure paper towels are nearby, turn on some quiet music in case someone walks into the apartment, and pop my retainers in; a pathetic attempt to protect my teeth. I check my stomach in the mirror so I can keep track of how much it deflates. I then stand and bend down, or occasionally kneel. I take two fingers, or three, depending on my gag reflexes that day, and stroke the back of my throat until I feel something come up. It’s a nasty, painful process that worsens with time. I hate this part, but I’m almost robotic as I do it.

I am satisfied as I see the pile of vomit growing bigger, watching and checking each item food off mentally as it comes back up. I don’t stop unless nothing more comes up, my stomach looks thin enough to me, or I physically can’t do it anymore. Then I wipe off my face and hands and let my hair down. Wash my hands and arms. Adjust my make up. Tie off the bag. Rinse my mouth out with water. Clean my retainers and soak them. I learned along the way that brushing right after is bad, so I rub toothpaste on my teeth with my finger and swish it around. I then rinse with either mouthwash or baking soda and water. I drink lots of water to restore all that I lost. Put on some chapstick. I check to see if anyone came home, and then I tiptoe out to the dumpster with my vomit sack. The whole process takes anywhere from twenty minutes to two hours depending on the size of the binge. Today it took an hour and a half. Now I’m physically exhausted and somewhat high on the empty feeling. I always tell myself it is the last time. It never is.

Recovery was not an easy path to walk down. I tried for nearly a year and a half to correct my eating habits on my own. I purchased countless books, created meal plans, and joined online support groups. I utilized every method but the one I needed most: talking directly to another human being about my problem. Assured of my capabilities, I strove to overcome bulimia alone. More-so, I was petrified and ashamed of someone finding out my secret. People would never view me the same again. I prayed about and hoped for recovery on a daily basis. Time transpired, and I had my little victory moments where I would make it through a few days without a relapse. I never made it more than a week, though. Eventually, Los Angeles became too much of a financial and emotional burden for my taxed body, and I reluctantly returned home, hoping the familiarity of family and friends would be enough to cure me. My condition only continued to worsen, though, and I was running out of options at an accelerating rate. I tried to scare myself into change by remembering dangerous side effects. My voice was getting ruined. My teeth could fall out and rot. My stomach was getting torn up. My esophagus could erupt. Heart failure. Yet, all those dangerous side effects weren’t enough to stop me, not even the possibility of death.

The following spring I sat on the corner of my mom’s bed and mentioned I wanted to talk about something. At a loss for words, I shoved my edition of Bulimia: A Guide to Recovery awkwardly at her. She said she already knew, and that counseling was probably going to be the best option. Four years and many relapses later, I’m ninety-nine percent free of my eating disorder. It will always by my Achilles heel to an extent, but I no longer live in fear of food, nor do I let weight control my life. Somewhere along the way, I realized that I was created to be more than a number, a look, or a like on Facebook. My self-confidence doesn’t need to spawn from external factors, including labels I place on myself.

I don’t know the exact reason I went through years of pain, whimsically chasing unrealistic beauty goals. I also don’t understand how I survived, and with so little damage to my body. I do believe there’s a purpose in it all. I’ve experienced tremendous growth and wisdom due to my burden. Control is an illusion, and mankind, myself most assuredly, would be wise to understand that. External beauty is fleeting, therefore time spent bettering one’s heart and soul is the only sound investment. Finally, food is sustenance; nothing more, nothing less. I anticipate helping others one day. Eating disorders are an epidemic in modern society, and many don’t escape the grip of bulimia or anorexia without support and assistance from another human being. If the story of one broken and confused girl can help another, I will be satisfied. I want to whisper to her and let her know weight and looks do not echo in eternity.