Thoughts on wildness, and the scientific method On May 5th, 2019, I received an honorary Doctor of Science degree from…2019 | Richard Carstensen | 9-minute video
A new mantra for Discovery naturalists
Since our founding in the late 1980s, several expressions have served our naturalists, leaders and members as pithy summarizers, reminders, mantras, or mission statements. The earliest, maybe, was Everything is a track! Another, invented by a Merli-protegé, was Keep your space, save your face, a devil’s-club-mindfulness chant. Also important to our early evolution was Northrup Frye’s advice: Don’t ask who am I; ask where is here? Or something equally ‘writerly.’
Always eschewing statements when a good query’s handy, we more recently adopted Why do we live here? I first used this to title a 20-minute presentation to a 2012 teachers’ conference on place-based education. At that point, it was primarily a natural history, beginning with emplacement of gold in the early Age of Mammals. Not much about precontact Northwest Coast culture. But that changed when Discovery began assisting in classes by Goldbelt Heritage Foundation.
Why do we live here? Our 63-page Goldbelt/Discovery course manual by this name describes a ground-breaking synthesis of natural and cultural history in 2013. Our semester class for highschool students was an early collaboration between Goldbelt Heritage, Discovery Southeast, and UAS.
Why did Áak’w Kwáan live here in the depths of the Little Ice Age? Why do we continue to live here in the age of Costco and electric cars? Why (and when) did Aangóon, isthmus town (thumbnail, right) become established on the spit enclosing Xunyéi, northwind tidal current (Mitchell Bay)?
Since 2013, that guiding question, Why do we live here, underlies almost everything I do these days. For example, in June 2018, Steve Merli and I taught 2 complementary courses for teachers on local landforms, and on habitats and succession. Throughout, we kept bringing attentions back to the human connections to these classic natural history studies. So, not only what geologic forces created this place, or what biotic trends led to this unique forest or wetland habitat—-but who lived or foraged here, and why?
In this section
Slideshow in two parts Kaxdigoowu Héen, going back clearwater has been one of my favorite places since I first explored…2019 | Richard Carstensen & John Hudson | slide show in 2 parts: 38 & 22 minutes
‘Lost village’ of Áak’w Kwáan Every Tlingit Kwáan in Southeast Alaska has at least one ‘lost village,’ known in oral history…2018 | Richard Carstensen | 33 pages
The central chapter in my 2013 publication Natural history of Juneau trails, pages 29-36, is a summary of deep and…2013 | Richard Carstensen | 7 pages (full publication, 72 pages)
Presentation for Evening at Egan On November 9th, 2018, I gave the second in a series of 4 lectures for…Nov, 2018 | Richard Carstensen | 36 minutes
My most-thumbed book For the past quarter century since its publication in 1994, this has been—hands down—the most often-opened book…1994 | Pojar & MacKinnon, eds | 528 pages
Factors in village site selection People on the land, yesterday, today and tomorrow. In early 2013, Goldbelt Heritage Foundation (GHF),…2014 | Richard Carstensen | 63 pages
Faith of cranes: finding hope and family in Alaska. (Mountaineers, Seattle) Review from the Fall 2011 issue of Discoveries Some…2011 | Hank Lentfer | 179 pages
Name as story; name as narcissism 2013: Over the past few years, I have grown increasingly interested in cultural differences…2013 | Richard Carstensen | 5 pages