Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Attention restaurateurs

Classes started last week. I like to use that first week to get a run-up to the class topics. For example, in ecology lab, we don’t get right into field data collection. Instead, we go out and talk about some concepts of field ecology. I like to get the students thinking about overall concepts that we will start taking data on next week. I also take the opportunity to talk about the role sense of place plays in conservation. I explain that by helping people develop a stronger sense of place, we may be able to enhance their willingness to work toward conserving the features that make their place special to them. That leads to the need to have some people who actually live  in rural areas so that we have people on the ground to advocate for the conservation of those special features. That in turn leads me to describe how someone interested in conservation of natural areas also needs to be concerned about sustainable rural economic development, which wraps right back to sense of place.For the rest of the semester we talk technical details of ecology, not the environment and society aspects. This first week is my chance to discuss those latter features, which I explain are in some ways more important than the science, but are covered in other classes. Maybe a few of these future leaders in conservation will take the message to heart.

Some entrepreneur could help build sense of place here in our town by providing on-the-river dining. We are a river town, yet the closest place on the Michigan side to dine on a deck overlooking the St. Marys River is 15 miles or so downstream. We ate there this past weekend and the river made for great ambiance. I know people who go literally that extra mile just to eat on the river like that. It’d be nice to be able to eat on the river right here in town. Several of us are just waiting for a restaurateur to see that opportunity. In the mean time, we get to-go dinners or bring our own picnic dinners to one of our nice parks on the river. Works OK for hand held food, but a nice sit down dinner on a deck overlooking the river could be quite special.

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