In the summer of 2010 a team of Bucknell students spread out around the Marcellus Shale region in the Susquehanna watershed to listen and tell stories of how the latest resource-extraction boom in the northern Appalachians is transforming communities and cultural landscapes. Their work took them from country roads in northeastern Pennsylvania to forest paths in the north central part of the state, from the Haudenosaunee/Iroquois headquarters at Lake Onondaga to government offices in Harrisburg. This pioneering environmental humanities project sought to meld techniques of oral history, environmental journalism, policy analysis, and creative non-fiction writing. In the process, the students found a complex story of the costs and benefits of Marcellus Shale drilling. The five stories told here and the related mapping were the first result of a project that it is hoped will continue in future years with expanded connections of interviewing, writing, photography and GIS.
Haudenosaunee (Iroquois) Tadodaho Sid Hill and other native leaders in New York state, where there has been a moratorium on drilling, gave the team its charge when telling it this summer of the need for humans as ecological beings to consider land-use decisions based on the "seventh generation" of life to come, rather than just the "discovery" principle that has guided resource extraction in North America for centuries. These stories represent a first attempt by the Stories of the Susquehanna Valley project to articulate such an effort, reflecting a focus in emerging environmental humanities on developing ecopoetics in varied genres and media to help re-shape an ethos of habitation in local eco-regions.
Students Emily Anderson MA '11, Rob Duffy '11, David Manthos '11, Lexie Orr '10, Stephanie Quinn '10 formed the second Susquehanna Valley Writers Institute, a program in the Stories of the Susquehanna Valley project of the Nature and Human Communities Initiative at the Bucknell Environmental Center. They workshopped with acclaimed nature writer and Bucknell English Professor Chris Camuto, with Pulitzer-winning University of Maryland Journalism Professor Deborah Nelson, and with Bloomsburg University oral historian and Anthropology emeritus Professor David Minderhout. Bucknell German and Humanities Professor Katherine Faull, and Geology Professor Carl Kirby, worked with the students on historical-cultural and scientific aspects of their projects. English Professor Alf Siewers, Environmental Studies Professor Amanda Wooden and Nature and Human Communities Coordinator Molly Clay served as co-directors of the Institute. Thanks to Skip Wieder for helping to provide funding through the Forum for Pennsylvania's Heartland and the Degenstein Foundation.
LINK TO THE MAP (for optimal viewing, use Firefox)
ITEC members Janine Glathar and Michael Weaver teamed to work with faculty and students to help create a visualization space for these stories.
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