Before this class I never would have actively thought about the process of nature writing, especially in terms of using digital tools. In the past, any nature writing I had done was for class assignments. While this was indeed a class, but this course made me think deeply about it and how we interact with the spaces around us.
In class we discussed how nature writing can occur in places such as bustling cities. The idea originally blew my mind. I had some difficulty seeing a place such as the Hoosac Tunnel as a place where nature writing can occur. But here I was, stepping forward suggesting it as a possible project of focus. And I wasn’t ready for this space to make the impact that it did.
Before this class, having any of my work visible to the rest of class would make me anxious, but in Storied Landscapes I knew my work would be on full display for not only my classmates, but anyone else who stumbles across it. This course gave me the confidence that I lacked in my writing, and my nature writing, and encouraged my creativity behind it.
Focusing on the Hoosac Tunnel has been an adventure. At first, I was confused about the course. I didn’t know what to expect or what I would be doing, or if I could even do it. Thinking about designing a website made me nervous because it was not something that I was familiar with.
Getting information on the Hoosac Tunnel proved to be difficult in the beginning. We do not have an archivist on campus so we had to go to the public library. Unfortunately, that means that we were not allowed to search through the material on our own. The process: ask, and hope there is something. So we asked. And we were handed a single book on the Hoosac Tunnel. We thought that maybe this was all that we would have to work with. It was hard to care about the project when there was nothing to work with. And our other option for a location that we could visit, was equally as difficult in regards to the information that was in the vault. It was hard, and it was frustrating.
Frustrated, we went back and asked the reference librarian if there was anything at all in the vault (the archive). This time, we had a different response. We were told there was “too much”– “too much” to pull. Since we were not allowed in the vault to sift through all of the material, we were directed to an online database that holds all of the information. We had a new problem: we suddenly had too much information. What was it that we were supposed to do with all of this information?
Unfortunately, by the time we were directed to the website, and by the time we were finding things we could do, we were excited with all the options we suddenly had before us. But what we didn’t have: was time. With this set back we were not able to do everything that we really hoped we would do for this project. We had so many brilliant, if I do say so myself, ideas that we simply no longer had the time to do. Our time cut sort by snowstorms and rain on the only days the two of us were able to get down to the space.
I thoroughly enjoyed being a part of the Storied Landscapes class this semester and can proudly say that through this class and some amazing teamwork, Erica and I have been able to create our Hoosac Tunnel site regardless of these roadblocks and plan to continue working on it past this semester. I am still very happy with the way the site has turned out by the end of this course and I’m excited to see it grow in the future. Having Professor Cooper and Professor Wiebe as the course leaders has been a blessing. They both were supportive and ready to help anyone in the class. Without Leah’s help I’m not sure I would have been able to even get this blog up and running.
This class has helped me developed skills that I didn’t realize I needed until I learned them and suddenly, so many doors have opened because of the skills I have under my belt. If I weren’t graduating I would have loved to take another COPLAC course.