WHY LAND JOURNALS?
Once in his life a man ought to concentrate his mind upon the remembered earth. He ought to give himself up to a particular landscape in his experience; to look at it from as many angles as he can, to wonder upon it, to dwell upon it.
He ought to imagine that he touches it with his hands at every season and listens to the sounds that are made upon it.
He ought to imagine the creatures there and all the faintest motions of the wind. He ought to recollect the glare of the moon and the colors of the dawn and dusk.
—N. Scott Momaday
When we enter the landscape to learn something, we are obligated, I think, to pay attention rather than constantly to pose questions. To approach the land as we would a person, by opening an intelligent conversation. And to stay in one place, to make of that one, long observation a fully dilated experience. We will always be rewarded if we give the land credit for more than we imagine, and if we imagine it as being more complex even than language.
In these ways we begin, I think, to find a time, to sense how to fit a place.
— Barry Lopez, The Rediscovery of North America
Like all real treasures of the mind, perception can be split into infinitely small fractions without losing its quality. The weeds in a city lot convey the same lesson as the redwoods; the farmer may see in his cow-pasture what may not be vouchsafed to the scientist adventuring in the South Seas. Perception, in short, cannot be purchased with either learned degrees or dollars; it grows at home as well as abroad, and he who has a little may use it to as good advantage as he who has much.
— Aldo Leopold, A Sand County Almanac, p. 174
WHAT IS A LAND JOURNAL?
Pick an ‘ili (a small division of an ahupua’a), a place you enjoy visiting. If possible, it should stretch ma uka – ma kai, so that it includes kuahiwi and kai . If you are a boarder, pick a place at home and plan on also doing some assignments here on campus.
Write 300 words (about two handwritten or one typewritten page). Double-check for spelling, punctuation and grammar: make your journal simple, eloquent and correct. Land journals will be due approximately every two weeks. I will post due dates on the board.
Repeat the word “organization” to yourself as you write. Organized pieces of writing
- have a beginning, middle and end.
- use transition words to help the reader understand the overall plan and understand how your ideas in one paragraph relate to the next paragraph.
- repeat key words to help unify the piece.
- are not so utterly organized that they might as well be lists
- are a delicate balance between coherence (organization) and variety.
Stay in the objective mode — Writing in the objective mode means that your job is to communicate information, not opinions. Of course, the details you select will suggest your feelings and opinions. Think of your writing as a camera or mirror, just recording what is there in front of your nose. This kind of writing is like the writing you find in a news story or in a science textbook. Here are some guidelines:
- Without being too obsessive about it, avoid personal pronouns (I, we, you, us). Mention yourself if necessary, but never become the center of your piece. What you are describing is the center. In other words, get away from the “it’s all about me” mode of writing.
- Avoid opinions. They just refocus attention back on you rather than on the subject of your writing.
- Avoid “loaded” words that suggest or imply your feelings. This includes even innocent comments like “The sunset that day was beautiful.”
Include lots of details — Most good pieces of writing, whether they are objective or not, depend on details. Most people (your readers) prefer to be shown rather than told. They want to reach their own conclusions when they read something by another person. Your job is to use details to help them experience what you experienced, without actually having been there. Here are some guidelines:
- Showing details are specific. Don’t just say there was some grass. Say whether or not it had been cut recently. Say what kind of grass is was. Say if it had brown patches or not, or maybe a huge bare patch revealing sand underneath, with tendrils of green trying to reclaim lost ground. Are the edges straight and neat, or messy? If you mention ants, are they red or black ants? Are they following each other in a long trail?
- Showing details can imply feelings. Rather than telling your reader that the sunset was beautiful, say that the undersides of rippled clouds first reflected gentle orange then deep purple
(DUE APPROXIMATELY EVERY TWO WEEKS)