Getting Outside in a Changing World
“It matters what matters we use to think other matters with; it matters what stories we tell to tell other stories with; it matters what knots knot knots, what thoughts think thoughts, what descriptions describe descriptions, what ties tie ties. It matters what stories make worlds, what worlds make stories.”
-Donna J. Haraway, Staying with the Trouble: Making Kin in the Chthulucene
It’s Tuesday, the weather just shifted cooler,
and I’m thinking of Donna Haraway’s ideas about staying with the trouble. It isn’t always solace to go outside, when being outside reminds you of what’s changing: unseasonably hot late August days with awhiff of smoke from above Spirit Rock on the breeze;the blissful brimming of the creeks a reminder of the unknowable way this changing world will remake itselfin answer to our actions. It can be tempting to avoid the burned-black line on the horizon, to stay in the cool cave of my room setting down a recently completed book just to pick up another.
I’ve done plenty of such cocooning this summer, and it has an important place, but I’ve also been pushing against that impulse. I’ve been walking the hour and a half from Fairfax to San Rafael for work, watching the flowers bloom and dry and cede to the next flowers, and the cactus fruits over Sir Francis Drake Boulevard ripen. I’ve been pausing in a day of errands to scurry up Baltimore Canyon and wonder whether today’s a day when the fog river will pour over Tam or not, and how the redwoods feel about the whole thing. Dropping in on Liz’s BlendEd course on wilderness, I got to listen to Matthew Johnson of the Federated Indians of Graton Rancheria speak on the past, present and future of his ancestral lands, and to hear former Park Historian Dewey Livingston wade into the complex history of ranchers out on the Point Reyes Peninsula. All these encounters remind me of the importance of being in this world: playing, witnessing, serving, exploring, engaging deeply and multimodally with this extraordinary place we live.
There’s nothing like assembling a catalog—calling on your community to dream up 30 trips in alittle less than a week—to remind me of the wondersof our home. In the next 4 months, MA students have the chance to surf at Stinson, rock climb in Sonoma, cook in the garden, backpack in the Sierras and the Santa Cruz Mountains, kayak in Tomales Bay and Elkhorn Slough, and hike or run or meander alongtrails and beaches throughout the Bay Area. I urge youto peer through the pages of this catalog and imagine yourself out there, whether for the first or thousandth time, learning your edges and how to push them, building new friendships and encountering new angleson the wild, urban, rural, industrial, suburban, andinterconnected places and spaces around us. I invite you out, to join us, to build and live new stories, to seewhat and who we are becoming.
To borrow Julie’s simple, perfect catchphrase:Get Outside, MA!
Leslie Beach (‘04)Interim MA Outings DirectorFall 2019