What was your most significant experience in nature? Is there a natural place that you have worked to protect and maintain? Is there a place in nature that feels therapeutic to you in some way? Is there a place that helps explain who you are today as a person?
For this first mini project, you will write a reflection about a place in nature that is meaningful to you. “Meaningful” is broadly conceived here: it can be a place that’s central to your identity, a place that evokes nostalgia, a place that you associate with your activism. “Nature” is also broadly conceived– as we will explore in this unit, “nature” means different things to different people. To some, nature is the wilderness, while to others it’s a green park in an urban city. Since this class investigates the relationship between identity, place, space, and the cultural forces at work in any place, the prompt is deliberately broad so that you have the space (ha!) to make those connections in a way that is authentic to you. However, you may not write about your experiences with “nature” generally. You must pick a specific place to talk about.
Three important rules about your reflection:
1. Following the genre conventions of nature writing, you’ll want to use descriptive details, so that your reader can picture this place. Try to remember the sights, sounds, smells and other sensory details of the experience. Help the reader understand what this place feels like, smells like, what associations you have with the place. For nature writing to be successful, it has to evoke a sense of place.
2. Before you write, you’ll also want to decide why you have chosen this place: why is it meaningful to you? What personal associations and feelings do you have with this place? Nature writing is often deeply personal. Think about how GE Patterson’s poem is different from Alice Walker’s “Am I Blue?” in terms of what it reveals about the writer.
3. You’ll also want to make it clear to us why you’ve chosen to share about this place – what do you want us, your readers, to think about this place or your experience with this place? What’s your purpose in sharing it with us? The writers in this unit have varying purposes: to make arguments about what “counts” as nature or to make arguments about who has access to nature, to bring awareness, to reveal some aspect of the writer’s identity, etc. Two writers can write about the same place for different reasons. What’s your reason for sharing this place with us (besides the fact that it’s an assignment)? What do you want us to walk away thinking about or questioning?
The reflection should be at least 500 words long. It should be a polished draft – you should edit and revise it to the best of your ability before posting.