This chapter outlined the struggles of a graduate student and her battles against westernized ideology. I think this chapter highlights the damage that a narrow scope of understanding and appreciation can do. The committee belittles the graduate student because a lack of transdisciplinary thought. Because of this, her discoveries are wrongly dismissed. The use of transdisciplinary research could lead to a more well rounded and complete solution. The very science and results basis of westernized thought might work well with the traditional methods of raising crops. However, this would require both parties to value the other's perspective. I think this is a major issue in western culture.
The tendency of western culture to dismiss every other culture and knowledge basis can be seen through many historical examples. One that comes to mind are the Native North American tribes that once living in what is now California. Over hundreds of years, they learned the importance of controlled burns to control wildfires. Now, Californian wildfires have never been worse. A western perspective would argue that their own knowledge is above that of other cultures. In this case, this could not be further from the truth. Via a deep understanding of nature and seasons, Native American people were able to learn things that still challenge us in modern times. Obviously, the dismissal of alternative perspectives is a toxic practice that only leads to the destruction of knowledge and a misinformed superiority complex
The increasing prevalence of man-made snow presents many issues to the modern day winter athlete. It is evident that winters have been shortening and temperatures rising causing many resorts and trail systems to turn to snowmaking. The issue is most noticeable when the 2022 Winter Olympics, the biggest winter competition in the world, relies solely on the use of snow blowers. In fact, the region hosting the Nordic racing historically gets low snow. This beggs many questions. What does it mean to be a winter sport, when natural snow is not even necessary? How much can we as a human race attempt change the natural weather patterns and change the planet to suit our needs?
It is ironic, to me, that ski resorts have become so reliant on snow making. The energy and water required to make snow only worsen the effects of climate change. In this way, ski resorts are only digging their own grave. This issue may show how capitalism may not be equipped to handle planetary problems. In theory, ski resorts should be on the cutting edge of environmentalism to prolong their business and profits. Unfortunately, most resorts are preoccupied with the short term problems and cannot see that their lifespan is quickly shrinking.
Over the course of our 2022 race season, we have explored many beautiful landscapes. With the help of Christi, Rachel, and fellow athletes, I have been able to learn about these environments as well as the people that call them home. Many small mountain towns have many similar characteristics. Crested Butte, Midway, and Leadville all seemed similar to me until the coaches were able to give me the context that I needed.
While many of these towns boast scenic ski resorts and more AirBnB's than actual homes, in the case of Leadville, this was not always the story. Leadville was a different kind of mountain town when both Christi and Rachel lived there. Surrounded by vacation towns, Leadville was home to many of the people supporting the ski resorts. This meant that a large portion of the town would commute hours everyday to towns like Aspen and Breckenridge.
These days, Leadville is experiencing a boom. Many people are moving to this secluded mountain town in search of an undiscovered Colorado paradise. This means that many of the original residents of Leadville have been pushed out to surrounding towns. Now they commute into Leadville to work.
This raises many questions regarding the nature of boom and bust towns. Are people really only allowed to live in a town based off the whim of a rich upper class? The people working restaurants and hotels should not have to change their entire lifestyle in order to support the people that necessitated that change in the first place. Ultimately this is a complex and multifaceted challenge that helps me to view these mountain towns in a new light
Blog Post #3: Mishkos Kenomagwen: Braiding Sweetgrass - Melding Science with Indigenous Ways of Knowing
This chapter discusses a variety of topics that pertain to our discussion of transdisciplinary research. One of the key points that the author talks about is the idea of the rigorous mold of the scientific process and how when she arrived at the idea of researching sweetgrass. She wanted to combine indigenous knowledge with the scientific aspects of botanical research, however this proved to be difficult given the nature of academia and the strict scientific method that allowed for little deviation.
This chapter helps to explore how we can utilize transdisciplinarity as tool within the scientific community. One way that this may be achieved could be to utilize participatory acton research (PAR), in this context with the basket weavers, and the biologist conducting the experiments on the sweetgrass. In my mind this may allow for the basket weavers to hold a higher position with the research and allow them to interpret the data that was collected that may aid in their basket weaving. This would allow both the scientists to collect the data needed for the experiments, but also heighten their appreciation for the sweetgrass by looking at it through the lens of the basket weavers.
The notion of transdisciplinary research looks different in many contexts and I believe that the rigid scientific method has its place in academia as it always has. However, there are instances where it may decrease the diversity to which a potential experiment may help a particular people, or hinder. Through the context of our class I believe the incorporation of many different disciplines can develop different aspects of each of the researchers, which will be beneficial in creating well rounded people and researchers as well.
-Silas Goetz for Dysbiosis to Pluriversebiosis
In this chapter a female graduate student is belittled by her committee for relying on traditional knowledge to support that tending and selective harvesting of Sweet Grass will help the population grow, while an undisturbed population will slowly deteriorate. I believe that this result is a combination of westernized outlook on traditional means of life, as well as a lack of transdisciplinary experience.
It is not uncommon for traditional medicine, agricultural practices and ways of life to be easily dismissed in the modern era. Rooted in the early colonization of America and the rest of the Western and Eastern World; anything that was not in line with European methods were deemed crude, and rudimentary. Despite being crafted to near perfection for thousands of years. As the modern age of science appeared anything that was did not have peer reviewed backing was thrown out. This mindset is still not uncommon today, which resulted in my disappointment while reading this chapter of Braiding Sweetgrass it did not surprise me.
What did surprise me was the committees lack of knowledge on pruning, selective harvesting and crop management practices. While simultaneously dismissing traditional practices for being without extensive research or proof of results; they have immediately dismissed common practices in westernized agricultural. This is due to the committee's lack of transdisciplinary knowledge and narrowmindedness. Fruit farms across the world do not let their orchards grow wild and untended to produce the most fruit, as the graduate committee would suggest, they carefully prune and tend trees maximize output. Often this will include removing some of the fruit while it is immature, allowing the remaining fruit to grow larger and healthier.
Had this graduate committee had a broader range of knowledge they would not have been so dismissive. I would assume they would still as for more documented experiments to be administered to add to the greater scientific literature; but they would not claim that the proposal didn't even have any "theoretical framework".
Getting to ski at Happy Jack the Wyoming Ski team is very lucky in the fact that we are able to ski on natural snow for the entire season. One might find it strange that it is lucky for a ski team to ski on natural snow; but as the trend in snowfall continues to decrease the amount of time skiers are spending on manmade loops are steadily increasing. I remember not too many years ago manmade snow loops were something to get on early in the season, pre-thanksgiving skiing. However now it seems almost every USSA or FIS race we have attended were racing on a hard pack manmade concoction.
This Christmas I raced a 10km race around a 1.6km loop. At US Senior Nationals by the end of the week what was not the ski course the grass was poking out. It is only by some miracle the Sun Valley super tour was on natural snow as all the natural snowfall landed only a week before the races. It seems as if the trend for any race venue to be able to reliably host races is to have a well-established snowmaking system in place.
Thankfully the race locations used for USCSA races are held at high-altitude heavy snowfall areas, such as Leadville Col. and the Grand Messa, so for now our 'regular' season races have been held on 100% natural snow. But the question must be asked, how many more years until the USCSA's natural snow safe havens also fall victim to climate change?
Throughout our travels around the western United States and soon to be Eastern United states. Our coaches Christi and Rachel have challenge myself, along with all of my teammates to analyze the complex social and environmental challenges faced by the many ski towns and resorts that we travel to race over the course of the season. To me the social aspect is the most interesting whereas the environmental is the most shocking. Many of our races are held in small, beautiful mountain towns nestled in the foothills of breathtaking mountains and buried under enormous snowfall. It is often the case that half of these houses within the town void of families; Air BnB's make up at least half the real estate and the houses that are not open for short time lodging are mini mansion easily worth over a million dollars. As beautiful as the mountain towns are its hard to shake the feeling of a gentrification and a cardboard main street that could fall down at any moment revealing the façade. It's clear that there is a lot of new money within city limits, and you cannot tell where those that keep the town supported live. On the other side of things, it is shocking how from weekend to weekend the weather that use to be so reliable can change so fast. One week we will be racing in frigged temperatures worrying about athletic and cold endused asthma and the next we will be discussing if we should race in T- shirt. As an Ecological Studies major I have been aware of climate change for quite some time and have studied it extensively within the classroom; but this winter it has become more apparent then ever of its drastic effects upon the world.
Mishkos Kenomagwen: The Teachings of Grass, a chapter in Braiding Sweetgrass - Melding Science with Indigenous Ways of Knowing, by Robin Wall-Kimmerer examines the disparities between traditional scientific knowledge and the indigenous ways of knowing.
Throughout this chapter Robin mentions that she and her graduate student have had to challenge the current way of thinking within academia to observe sweetgrass and the people that utilize it to understand and appreciate these indigenous perspectives.
Part of their trouble was that they wanted to conduct observations that were outside of the traditional scientific method. To do this they first needed approval from the research committee. She states that there were challenges related to getting the research approved because it strays from the traditional scientific method. The purpose of this experimental study is to understand the plant without sticking to a rigorous method, but rather listening to the grass and understanding our relationship with it.
The utilization of transdisciplinary research for Robins study may look like asking those that are the basket makers what their management of the sweetgrass is. This would allow for a perspective shift and enable the researchers to engage is disciplines outside of academia. Additionally, while the book aims to break from the traditional scientific method, it may serve them to apply PAR to their experiments in the form of qualitative research questions and utilize coding of responses to understand the indigenous perspective through a different lens. These are a couple of ways that the author could utilize transdisciplinary research methods within the context of an academic setting.
-Silas L. Goetz
Mishkos Keher nomagwen: The Teachings of Grass, a chapter in Robin Wall-Kimmerer’s Braiding Sweetgrass , illustrates the story of a graduate student researcher wishing to incorporate meaningfulness into her work. She decides to focus in on sweetgrass harvesting methods, and how such methods effect the surrounding environment. She is at first ridiculed, but ultimately shows that harvesting actually increases the health of sweetgrass fields, as opposed to just letting them sit.
The woman's research was inspired by those in the local native community, who had often talked of the best way to harvest the grass. One thing was certain between them all though, that harvesting the grass was better than letting it sit.
Had transdisciplinary research approaches been used in this research, the histories of the harvests could have been discovered as well. Furthermore, differing points of view could have aided in determining the actual biological reasons for why the plants did better with harvest, rather than just settling on that conclusion.
The research could have much more easily been done transdisciplinarily had the academic board sponsoring the research believed in such methods. The board was quite dismissive of any non "hard data" research, especially toward the generational stories of the native communities.
John Henry Paluszek is a new recruit to the UW Nordic team coming from a stellar career at Castleton University where he won Overall Individual National Championship accolades twice, 2019 & 2020. Due to COVID the 2021 National Collegiate Ski & Snowboard Championships were cancelled giving John Henry an additional year of eligibility. With a desire to continue his studies and to ski John Henry transferred to UW in the fall of 2021 to pursue his Masters degree in Botany. While learning and working in the Weinig Lab John Henry has trained hard through the summer and fall and started his career in Brown and Gold at a series of pre-Olympic Super Tour races, the United States National Championships, and regional NCAA Division I races..
He has been slowly lowering his US Ski & Snowboard points through this series of races and has been extremely competitive both the Super Tour races and the NCAA Division I races.
This past weekend was his first opportunity to test his speed against a United States Collegiate Ski & Snowboard Association field at the Colorado Mesa University Invitational at Grand Mesa, Colorado. In the skate sprint he showed the Rocky Mountain Conference why he is the defending National Champion by dominating the qualifier and every sprint heat. Finishing the day easily winning the A Final.
In the 10km Classic race he skied with another UW skier, Kaj Taylor, and Western Colorado Universities Albert Hesse. He tried several times to pull away from the other skiers but they held on with persistence until the final 200 meters where John Henry was able to use his superior sprinting ability to take the win. This double win helped the men take the team titles for the weekend in what looks to be a great rivalry between UW and WSC.
When he’s not on the ski courses or in the lab John Henry has been leading a qualitative research study to examine the effect of the pandemic on ski training and racing for the past 2 years. He and the rest of the skiers who are conducting this study have received a grant through the Haub School of Environment and Natural Resources to help fund their research.
We are extremely proud both of John Henry’s ski accolades and his scholarship. The true scholar athlete John Henry ROCKS OUR WORLD!!