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1930 Chris Craft
The idea of cultural sustainability has a powerful draw to me as an "English teacher." Each course I teach - whether it's literature, composition, fiction, study strategies or skills level reading, the question emerges from students: Why does this matter? Why should we care? Why can't we just read and write what we want? Especially at the community college level, where folks are very much driven by their chosen career path, students question the validity of the "English" curriculum. They have every right to question this! The traditional response, of course, is that their college experience is building them up to be a powerful professional with excellent communication skills, who is well-read and capable of discussing in writing or verbally topics necessary for their field; adequate citizenship gets thrown into the conversation, as well. What does this mean to the 17-30 year old student in a mandated course? I'm not sure. That's why this idea of cultural sustainability means so much.

Engendering the interest in, and ability to document the world around us is one surface-level feature of sustainable culture. Earlier societies accomplished this through bards, later through the Bible and other written resources, still later through multi-media avenues. Currently, however, we have to wonder how our world of the living generations will be documented. We've learned a bit of mistrust for history texts as they are, and the internet is not necessarily the most durable option. Some students have the feeling that Facebook will save their stories, that future generations will glean their history from the pages of the internet, and that "my story doesn't matter anyway!" If a group doesn't have hope that others are interested in their culture, then they are less likely to be interested in that of others. Communication, and growth fail in this case. So, what do we do, and where do we go from here?

To begin the process of finding out what has been done so far with cultural sustainability, I grabbed a few quick internet sources and posted them in our Resources section under a new heading, Cultural Sustainability. As I continue to build the professional development presentation, "Poetry of Ecology and Farming" I intend to bring the idea of cultural sustainability into the foreground - what a better answer to "Why?" for a topic like this - or for other topics that include keeping past stories alive in durable, sustainable ways?     :)


For example, on another note, another topic - how else to get young folks interested in history than making it alive and loud? That may work for a small few, but at the same time - the culture of those who originally built and enjoyed these boats is almost forgotten. Bit by bit, each year more stories are lost.
                                                                                                Amanda Eason

 


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