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Archive for May, 2014

  • Goodbye Stony Brook! Thanks for the memories! on May 24th, 2014

    As a member of the Class of 2014, I would like to wish everyone farewell.  It has been an amazing 4 years and I will miss everyone and everything so much!  Yesterday’s graduation could not have been better. For all the graduates – good luck! For all current students – keep it up (you will be graduating in a blink of an eye!).












    I was so happy to take pictures with all of my favorite professors and say goodbye to all the friends I have made over the years.  I will remember all the friendships, lessons, cultures, feelings, and literatures that I have encountered and experienced.

    Though I may have gone a bit overboard with graduation ceremonies! I attended the Cultural Analysis & Theory graduation (I am one of three graduating Comparative Literature majors). I was awarded the “Honors Award” in addition to receiving departmental honors for my thesis. I also attended the European Languages and Literatures graduation for my minors in Classical Civilization and Medieval Studies. Finally, I ran and made it to the end of the English graduation (yes I have a third minor in English…) and was able to take photos with my English professors and my graduate student mentor!

    Thank you Stony Brook for making such a positive impact on my life…I will never forget this.

    Signing off ~

    Caterina Reed (official alumnus) <3

  • Ending on the Right Foot on May 17th, 2014

    Hey Stony Brook!

    Despite the finish line finally within my sights, it’s hard for me to grasp the fact that I am officially no longer an undergraduate here at Stony Brook University. Graduation is just a week away, yet I feel as though it was just yesterday that I was frantically scanning a crumpled campus map in search of my freshman-year Psychology class (which was in Javits. The fact that I could not find it is still slightly embarrassing). My four years at Stony Brook University have SPED by faster than Usain Bolt dashing down the track in a 200-meter race (admittedly, this is only 19.19 seconds. But still…).

    And today was my last “day” of school…

    After a morning spent at the gym, eating scrambled eggs, proofreading, dog walking, and checking social media, it was finally time to head to The Brook. After stepping my 45-minute commute from Centerport, I slowly stepped out of my Hyundai, stretched my legs, and looked around South-P. “Will I ever see this parking lot again?” I wondered.

    After the Express bus ride to campus, I went to visit Dr. Harold Walker, Professor and Civil Engineering Program Director. Dr. Walker had helped me develop and execute a Senior Environmental Studies major Honor’s Thesis research project on people’s environmental attitudes, awareness, and behavior (it’s pending approval!), and I wanted to thank him for all of his help. We discussed what I had learned from the research process (arduous, but worth it overall), graduation plans (brunch afterwards with the family), and my goals for the future (SBU’s MS in Journalism specializing in science and environmental reporting). I left feeling very nostalgic yet excited for the next chapter of my life to begin.

    Next up, it was to room Chem. 370, the de-facto Sustainability Studies Program film theater for Dr. Heidi Hutner‘s SBC 325: Environmental Literature and Filmmaking class’s Final Exam/Film Festival. As one of the class TA’s, I was eager to see all the students’ hard work! Fellow TA Justin Fehntrich did an extraordinary job of piecing the films together and creating an awesome intro/ending to the series. Justin also made it easy for viewers to follow along with the films, listing the titles of the individual films and their respective student filmmakers in a stack of nifty little pamphlets that had an ornate green tree with a curlicue root system on the cover of each. It was very professional. I thought, “That guy thinks of everything.”

    The films were more incredible than I could have ever imagined. The students’ passion–extended over myriad environmental topics, from fracking to farming–shone on-screen! These films are soon to be uploaded to YouTube, so I will provide you with the link when they go public. Student blogs, which are as awe-inspiring as their films, can be found here.

    After class I stopped by theSustainability Studies Program offices to meet with the program’s hardworking Program Coordinator Ginny Clancy. I just had to thank her for everything she has done to help me achieve success! Which is a lot.

    Sustainability Studies Program Peeps! (From left, SBC 325 co-teacher and filmmaking expert Dave Chameides, Professor and Director of Sustainability Studies and SBC 325 professor Dr. Heidi Hutner, SBC 325 TA Justin Fehntrich, Sustainability Studies student and soon-to-be graduate Shameika Hanson (back), ME (SBC 325 TA and soon-to-be graduate), and Sustainability Studies student Cory Tiger!

    Sustainability Studies Program Peeps! (From left, SBC 325 co-teacher and filmmaking expert Dave Chameides, Professor and Director of Sustainability Studies and SBC 325 professor Dr. Heidi Hutner, SBC 325 TA Justin Fehntrich, Sustainability Studies student and soon-to-be graduate Shameika Hanson [back], ME [SBC 325 TA and soon-to-be graduate], and Sustainability Studies student Cory Tiger!)

    Believe it or not, by two o’clock, my day was not over yet. Over to the School of Journalism I was to go to interview as a graduate school candidate. With my application all set, the interview was the next step, hopefully bringing me closer to a coveted spot in the SBU MS Journalism program. Yet as soon as I stepped foot inside the Library: BEEP BEEP! The fire alarm sounds. Of course.

    Finally, about twenty minutes later, I made it to the School of Journalism. After apologizing profusely for my tardiness (fire drills happen), I met with Professor Elizabeth Bass, Professor and Graduate Program Director Richard Ricioppo, and Dean Howard Schneider. I got an awesome tour of The Newsroom, with its cutting-edge technology and access to breaking news 24/7. My heart was pounding. I knew this was where I was meant to be; learning, hands-on, all the essentials and more to environmental and science reporting. Fingers crossed, I hope I get accepted!

    At approximately three-thirty pm, classes and interviews and tours and talking and smiling and thanking and reminiscing were over, at least for the moment. It was time for me to call it a day–my last day as an undergraduate–and head home to do a couple of dog-walking jobs. It was really difficult to leave. 

    Resigned to the fact that it was finally all over, I took an Express bus back to South P and climbed back into my Hyundai. My drive home was spent thinking about the day and the past four years of my life as an undergraduate student at Stony Brook University… Next Friday, I’ll graduate with an Environmental Studies major focused in Environmental Law and Policy, and a minor in Environmental Humanities focused in Environmental Writing (and, hopefully, with Honor’s credit as well).

    Though I’ll miss the fun of my four undergraduate years at Stony Brook, I am truly thrilled with the prospects of a future in science and environmental journalism…and, if I am admitted to the MS Journalism program here, I actually won’t be leaving so soon after all!

    However, in regard to my last day, I am confident that I ended on the right foot :)

    Congrats to my fellow graduating SENIORS OF 2014!!!!!! WOOT-WOOT.

    See y’all in your caps and gowns ;)

    peace. love. run.



  • Finals, Term Papers, Graduation?! on May 3rd, 2014

    Hi Everyone,

    As you all know…classes are coming to an end and the end of semester jitters are sky-high.  Because of all the snow days, M/W classes are officially ending on Monday, May 12th, but some professors are not following that mandate. So for some of you, last day of M/W classes are May 7th!

    I wish everyone luck with their papers and finals, and most importantly, I hope those who are graduating are able to get into the graduate school of their choice…or have a job lined up!  It’s a bit stressful to think of papers, finals, job applications, and graduating all at the same time, but I know that as Stony Brook students we have been prepared for everything!

    If you one of those graduating seniors, like myself, here are just some tips:

    1. Classes are almost over, don’t let that senioritis control you…go to class!
    2. Make sure you have your cap/gown, commencement tickets and/or senior ball tickets
    3. Thank your family, friends, advisors, professors, or anyone else who has helped you on your college journey
    4. PREPARE and EDIT your job or graduate school applications in advance and make sure someone looks it over to eradicate mistakes
    5. IF you haven’t already…visit the Career Center for all your career concerns (resume, cover letter, interviews, business cards, networking, graduate school…and more!)
    6. RELAX – you did it! Graduation in 3 weeks!

    Woot! Go SBU Class of 2014!

  • Sustainability Studies Spotlight: Presenting Dr. Jesse Curran! on May 3rd, 2014

    Hey Stony Brook!

    I don’t know about y’all, but I am so excited that it finally feels like springtime around here at the Brook! Bluejays and robins are singing, the sun is shining, and daffodils and tulips are blooming…

    Flowers always remind me of gardening–something that I’ve always loved but never have really had a knack for (as a licensed wildlife rehabber, I am much better at tending to the needs of animals than the needs of plants). But, as a student in the Stony Brook Sustainability Studies Program, I have learned that spending time outside in the dirt–amongst fruits and veggies and flowers and worms and mud and rocks and microbes–is inherently healing and healthful, no matter what you are (or aren’t) able to successfully grow in the ground. I learned this both in the field–by working in the Stony Brook Heights Rooftop farm a few semesters back as well as volunteering at a local organic farm–and also in the classroom, namely, by learning from Sustainability Studies Program professor Dr. Jesse Curran.

    As a student in Dr. Curran’s SBC 203: Interpretation and Critical Analysis class last year, I remember our many meaningful discussions on the more philosophical side of the environment. Among the many things I learned–the physical interaction of the human body with and within the  environment can lead to a greater understanding not only of one’s physical self, but of their psyche and the whole universe that spins around them. Dr. Curran is a huge advocate of getting out in nature as a means of finding oneself–namely, through gardening/farming and yoga.

    Stony Brook Sustainability Studies Program professor Dr. Jesse Curran exercises her green thumb installing home organic raised-bed gardens with her husband Dylan...all over Long Island!

    Stony Brook Sustainability Studies Program professor Dr. Jesse Curran exercises her green thumb installing home organic raised-bed gardens with her husband Dylan…all over Long Island!

    Recently, I asked Dr. Curran to elaborate on her green thumb–it turns out that she and her husband own, literally, a home-grown small business–and on the connections she sees between yoga and the environment (she is an expert yogi!). Dr. Curran’s detailed responses to my dual inquiries can be found below–they’re well worth the read!

    Dr. Curran on growing a sustainable business:

    When I studied abroad in Italy, Lena Buroni, the lovely elderly lady I lived with, had what she called her orto. “Orto” in Italian refers to a kitchen garden, and because Lena lived in an apartment complex, she had a little square of earth elsewhere where she did her gardening. Years later, while Dylan (my husband) and I were travelling through Japan, we noticed how yards were used; lawns were non-existent and even the smallest spaces were converted into kitchen gardens. And so, HOGS: Home Organic Gardening Service actually began over a dinner conversation. In the spring of 2011, Dylan and I were musing on our travels, bemoaning the shady-yard of our apartment, and were still on the wait-list for a community garden in Huntington [in Suffolk County on the North Shore of Long Island]. We love talking big ideas and found ourselves saying how “someone should really start a company that installs gardens on front lawns…”  At that moment, I think, we both realized that we needed to be that someone.

    The next day, we asked friends with homes and sunny front yards what they would think if we dug up the lawns for raised bed vegetable gardens, and they were enthusiastic, and HOGS was born. Dylan gave up his work doing foundation contracting in the city and dug in, literally, full time. He has a diverse background in construction, carpentry, landscaping, organic gardening, and tree-removal, and he put his skills, experience, and passion for doing something proactive in the face of our precarious environmental situation to work.

    I was delighted because part of my dissertation work examined poet-gardeners and the importance of “living metaphors,” or poetic language that continues to open and make connections. Like a good metaphor or a healthy seed, HOGS grew by itself. People were interested—and Dylan has installed well over a hundred gardens, as well as a range of season-extenders, rain-catchment systems, and composting systems. And we always had (and have) the grounding sense that encouraging organic gardening was good in and of itself—that it is important work—and a way of contributing to the health of both people and place (and we continue to quote Thoreau’s virtue ethics from “The Bean Field” to frame these ideas).

    Having a small business surfaces all kinds of interesting questions—most importantly, what type of business model is sustainable both ethically and economically? As a CCE master gardener, Dylan is very committed to service and outreach—and has done workshops at community centers, yoga studios, libraries, etc.—and he prioritizes working with clients who want to learn and get their hands dirty.

    What is perhaps most exciting about HOGS is the way it connects us to a network of other passionate agriculturalists on Long Island. We have also noticed how, within even one season, a well-planned garden can, in a very real way, contribute to the emotional and physical health and well-being of the gardenerand it teaches much about process-orientation, systems-thinking, and local economy. Over the past several years, we have become more interested in permaculture design and adapting sustainable systems for the suburban home. And this year, Dylan’s big initiative has been to plant edible perennials and fruit trees. HOGS keeps on growing!

    Dr. Curran on yoga and the environment:

    Yoga and environment! Wow, what a question. This is a topic I write extensively on—and one that figures much into my scholarly research on the relationship(s) between poetic language, ecological thinking, and meditative philosophy. And although I teach hatha yoga asana (or postures), I am perhaps even more interested in the yogic philosophy that surrounds the physical practice. In a 1849 letter to his friend H.G.O. Blake, Thoreau wrote “Depend upon it that, rude and careless as I am, I would fain practice the yoga faithfully. . . . To some extent, and at rare intervals, even I am ayogi.” Why did one of America’s most beloved environmental thinkers identify himself as a yogi?

    Thoreau’s work at Walden involved intense self-reflection and practical critique of, and response to, what he identified as being awry in antebellum America. As many people know, more than the physical practice, yogic philosophy is an ancient system of self-discipline and ethical action. When we think about our environmental problems, many of them are rooted in out-of-control consumption patterns; hence, the need for self-discipline and ethical action.

    Yoga and meditation offer opportunities to become mindful and aware of one’s own tendencies, which is the first step in changing and evolving one’s tendencies. As one of my favorite eco-theorists, Tim Morton writes, “Meditation is yoga, which means yoking: enacting or experiencing an intrinsic interconnectedness.” It seems to me that it is important to both enact and experience the “intrinsic interconnectedness” that underlies ecological theory. Yoga’s emphasis on breathing helps illustrate this point; we often forget we’re breathing, and so, perhaps we forget how intimately we are connected to theplanet and one another.

    On a much more practical level, the physical practice cultivates a sense of grounded health and well-being, which I think is important for environmentalists and other people passionate about social justice. On a personal level, my yoga practice has helped me to gain confidence and perspective as writer, teacher, and as a participant in a community; daily, it allows me to practice social virtues such as gratitude, equanimity, patience, generosity, and compassion. As sustainability advocates, we often quote Gandhi’s powerful advice concerning the necessity of being the change one wishes to see in the world. Yoga, although by no means the only path, provides an integrative method for working with one’s mind and body in order to become an empowered, grounded, mindful, and compassionate human being.

    Thank you, Dr. Jesse Curran! I hope you enjoyed reading this interview as much as I enjoyed hearing Dr. Curran’s reflections. A well-deserved #supergreenstatus for a supergreen person! 

    Keep your eyes peeled for Dr. Curran’s classes in the coming semesters…sign up and I will guarantee you will come out a more grounded, balanced, and well-rounded person. Expect at least a couple of outdoor classes, deep discussions, great reading, and maybe even some yoga

    All for now! Happy studying for finals ;)

    peace. love. run.