Save your adventure

Thoughts on journaling are squirreled away in 3 sub-subcategories of JuneauNature. Some, below, are here in Media types>Journals. Others are in Tools>Journaling and Tools>Field sketching. This section on journal media includes a few that were produced during consulting jobs around Southeast. So it might be helpful to preface the whole array with my philosophy on who “owns” a journal.

I started journaling around the time I dropped out of college and decided to become a mountain man. Since the mid-1970s, I can pretty much look up where I was and what I was learning for any month or season. Not many naturalists journal anymore, which is a shame.

Back cover of my rite-in-the-rain journal from a trip to Chuck River in 1985 with my mentor, the hydrologist Dan Bishop, and his ironman sidekick Leigh Smith. Leigh was the instigator for this shoulder patch design, which we never got around to ordering for Dan’s consulting business, Environaid. More history is in Mediatypes>Bishop-Environaid, and in Nature>Habitats>Aquatic>Moving water.

I journal indiscriminately, whether for work or play. In fact, my ‘play’ journals are probably longer on average than the ‘work’ journals. At ‘work,’ an intriguing negotiation plays out over the course of some consulting projects. Typically, I’m hired for a rather narrowly-defined ‘deliverable,’ such as field assistance and GIS on botanical surveys. This leaves little time for journaling, which has to happen later, ‘on my own nickle.’ That’s fine by me; I’m grateful to each client for the opportunity to explore new watersheds and provinces. I recognize my broader natural history interests may have little relevance to project goals and budgets.

What happens next varies by client. Although I ‘own’ the journal at that point, I’m unauthorized to share it in cases where, say, a developer might feel blindsided by release of ‘insider’ inforrmation. I share at least a portion of the draft journal with the client, who may respond in 3 ways. The journal is either:

1  Inappropriate for distribution. Prospective developers, for example, have a rigid set of hoops to jump through, and a journal, like Pandora, could spawn additional hoops. I honor this request, and keep the journal only as ‘raw material’ in my personal library.

2  Useful as an internal document, not shared outside a set of collaborators. It’s either accepted as a gift from me, or purchased, usually at a reduction from my normal consulting fee. (After all, I write it primarily for my own edification.)

3  Useful and releasable to the public. One example is the Mud Bay journal, written on contract with SEAL Trust, one of the links below. Another is the Soule journal, which our client purchased and uploaded to the public record.

Philosophically, this range of reactions to an informal (even quirky) but extremely detailed natural history report raises questions about how we as a society react to ‘information.’ In science, theoretically, all information is good. In advocacy, information is good or bad depending on whether it supports our campaign.

In reality, I’ve seen both responses from both ends of the science-vs-advocacy spectrum. Some “scientists” (perhaps an overly generous title?) suppress or even censor others’ findings. And sometimes project advocates conclude all cards should be dealt face-up. In the latter scenario, the community (and advocate!) ultimately, wins.

My manifesto on journaling is called Recording nature: Field journalling as raven goes global.

Another great edited collection on the beautiful utility of journaling is Field notes on science & nature, Canfield, ed, 2011.

In this section

Trail-mapping at Aansadaak’w (Kupreanof)

In May, 2017, I ferried down to the tiny town of Kupreanof, just across Gánti Yaakw Séedi, steamboat pass (Wrangell…

2017 | Richard Carstensen | 100 pages

Sen Brothers in Aangóon

Natural & cultural history of  Xutsnoowú Aaní Because our names both end in “sen,” National Geographic journalist Doug Chadwick began…

2012: updated 2023 | Richard Carstensen | 247 pages, 20MB

Teachers at Dakáa Xoo (Inian Islands).

Dakáa Xoo, among the sleeping man, references a hero story important to the Xunaa Tlingít. The Inians guard the bottleneck…

2016 | Richard Carstensen | 56 pages

2013 flight to south Tàan (POW)

In June, 2013. I got a chance to fly to Teey Tahéen, (West Arm Kendrick Bay), under Gijòok Shàa, golden…

2013 | Richard Carstensen | 11 page excerpt

A week at Soule River

In July, 2009, I assisted with field surveys for a proposed hydro project near Hyder, on the Canadian border. My…

2009 | Richard Carstensen | 85 pages

Sweetheart lake flights

In 2011 and 2012, I helped survey proposed hydro facilities at Sweetheart Lake and estuary, about 40 air-miles south of…

2011&12 | Richard Carstensen | 25 page excerpt

Mud Bay survey for SEAL Trust

In June, 2013, Diane Mayer of Southeast Alaska Land Trust asked Koren Bosworth and me to survey and describe wetlands…

2013 | Richard Carstensen & Koren Bosworth | 64 pages, 12MB

Teachers at Kanak’aa (Seymour Canal)

Since 2001, under the initiative of our friend John Neary (then with Admiralty Monument; now at the glacier visitor center),…

2017 | Richard Carstensen | 68 pages, 11 MB

Kaxdigoowu Héen: Three days on clear water

In 2013 I participated in a 3 day teacher’s conference called STREAM: a Pedagogy of Place. During this “place-based” conference…

2013 | Richard Carstensen | 7 pages