1. When staying in a hostel over top a trendy brew pub featuring nightly live music, BRING EAR PLUGS!
  2. The store, Ingles, is pronounced “IN-GULLS” not “EEN-GLACE,” and it is a general – not a latino – grocery store!
  3. Baby wipes are an essential item to pack for any ASB trip – you never know when you’re going to be covered in mud or when you’re going to have to “go” along the side of a road!  HA!
  4. If you find your canoe headed for a tree, a rock, or a stream bank, it is absolutely the sternman’s (i.e., person in the back of the boat) fault…it is also her responsibility to correct the course of the boat!
  5. Although we traveled all the way to Asheville, NC to learn more about the environmental and human health impacts of coal ash, we discovered that Pennsylvania ranks #1 in the United States for coal ash generation and that there are 3 coal fired power plants with potentially dangerous coal ash disposal sites in Northampton County.
  6. Environmental justice is a profoundly anthropocentric ethic, meaning that human beings are the central moral concern.  However, I believe that, although “justice” is a human creation, there is a way to extend the definition of environmental justice to include non-human beings.  Animals, plants, and even mountains have intrinsic value and are owed ethical obligations.
  7. The most challenging aspect of any social or environmental movement is finding ways to drive the people of the community into a state of positive action – organizing the ambivalent majority into an engaged, committed, united and more forceful whole capable of making significant change.  As Sandra Diaz of Appalachian Voices put it, getting the community on board can be like trying to ignite a wet match – at times, success may seem hopeless but, with persistence and patience, you CAN make it happen.  This trip has shown me that, although mobilizing a community to achieve positive change is incredibly difficult, the most effective means of bringing people together are the simplest ones – community gatherings with food and fellowship (e.g., community gardens, picnics), communication through art (e.g., DeWayne’s Peace Garden, Jonathan Santos’ music), education (e.g., canvassing – examining public perception and providing accurate information about the issue), and providing green spaces and wildlife areas where members of the community can find peace, solitude, and their own personal relationship with nature (e.g., the campsite along the French Broad).
  8. Although anger, fear, and sorrow are generally considered negative human emotions, these feelings – when properly channeled – can be the catalyst for positive change.  Like the story of how Green Opportunities began in DeWayne’s backyard, we often decide to make a change when we are at our most uncomfortable.  I like the way M. Scott Peck put it in his book The Road Less Traveled, “The truth is that our finest moments are most likely to occur when we are feeling deeply uncomfortable, unhappy, or unfulfilled. For it is only in such moments, propelled by our discomfort, that we are likely to step out of our ruts and start searching for different ways or truer answers.”
  9. The Gilded Age was a period in American History after the Civil War characterized by enormous industrial and economic growth.  The term was coined (in part) by writer Mark Twain in a novel he wrote that satirized greed, materialism, and political corruption in public life.  We learned about the Gilded Age during our cultural day, but came to discover the deeper relationship between consumerism and environmentalism in the Peace Garden.  Shakespeare said it best: “to gild refined gold, to paint the lily, to throw perfume on the violet…is wasteful and ridiculous excess.”  For me, DeWayne’s artificial flowers symbolize this concept.
  10. The Bengali poet Rabindranath Tagore wrote, “I slept and dreamt that life was joy./ I awoke and saw that life was service./ I acted and behold, service was joy.”  Like so many of us, I get caught up in my own life and driven to acquire more knowledge, more honors, more respect, more things.  Self, self, self.  We think these “things” will bring us happiness, but, like the effect of a McDonald’s Happy Meal, we are briefly satisfied but left wanting more.  Being of service through ASB is a wonderful reminder that service IS joy – generosity, love, and compassion are sustainable forms of nourishment for the soul.  We only have what we give.
  11. I really appreciate all of the passionate people out there (especially my students) who are enthusiastic about environmental and social movements and motivated to change the world.  In an academic setting, we often have discussions about how the world could be a better place when communities, governments, and businesses change the way they do things.  However, the Peace Garden was a reminder that the first and most important step in creating positive change in the world is to take responsibility for and begin changing our own actions.  Jonathan Santos reminded us of this fact with his song, “Changing the World by Changing Me.”  DeWayne reminded us with all of the mirrors strategically placed throughout the garden, asking us to reflect on our own contribution to the changes we’d like to see, and the painted image of Mahatma Ghandi at the center of the garden reminded us that he said, “Be the change that you wish to see in the world.”

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