#EnvHist Worth Reading: February 2022

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Every month I carefully track the most popular and significant environmental history articles, videos, audio, and other items making their way through the online environmental history (#envhist) community. You can read all of our past #EnvHist Worth Reading lists right here. Here are my choices for items most worth reading from February 2022:

1. Breaking up: ice loss is changing one Anishinaabe fisherman’s relationship with Lake Superior

In this article on The Narwhal, Jolene Banning looks at the relationship of Anishinaabe to Lake Superior or Gitchigumi and its ice, focusing on the experiences of Anishinaabe fisherman Phillip “Benny” Solomon. The article opens by reflecting on Solomon’s memory of driving his car across Gitchigumi in 1984. Today the increasing lack of lake ice during the winter months, makes this and other activities impossible. Over the past forty years, Banning writes “Benny has noticed a lot of changes to the lake. He’s had to set his fishing net out farther and farther each year: nearby rivers and streams are drying up or becoming noticeably shallow, and docks are being extended as shorelines grow. ” Looking at the history of Anishinaabe along the shore of Lake Superior, Banning shows that only does this decrease in ice effect the Anishinaabe economically, it also affects their cultural and spiritual relationship to the lake.

2. Oral histories battling climate change

This piece by Melody Hunter-Pillion is part of the National Council on Public History’s “Our Climate Emergency” series. Focusing on oral histories provided by Black residents living in North and South Carolina, Hunter-Pillion argues that “Through oral history, local knowledge may help identify climate change and complement scientific knowledge to develop resiliency and adaptation tools for coastal Carolina.” This emphasis on the importance of local knowledge provides a strong argument for the interdisciplinary usefulness of oral and other histories to climate scientists, policymakers, and resource managers, etc. Hunter-Pillion also examines the distinctive ways in which Black people in the region have embraced a non-linear understanding of history that rejects the progress narrative of white supremacy and emphasizes the connectivity of past, present, and future.

3. Snow Jobs and Snow Stories

In this piece for The Safina Center, Jacqueline Scott reflects on Canadian winters: their beauty and enduring cultural significance, as well as the wealth of outdoor activities that the season provides. Scott, an avid snowshoer and cross-country skier, asserts that outdoor recreation is a key gateway to environmental consciousness and care. However, despite the fact that snow is free, Scott points out that “in skiing and snowshoeing, it is usually white faces that mess about in the stuff. Black faces are noticeable by their absence. Winter outdoor activities, like so much else in outdoor recreation, are racialized hobbies.” Part of Scott’s doctoral research focuses on the Black experience in snow-based recreation. Scott looks briefly at the history and contemporary status of both skiing and snowshoeing and the circumstances that have affected Black participation in these sports.

4. Threshold Podcast: Coalbrookdale

Season Four of Threshold Podcast is underway. This season focuses on the struggle to limit global heating to 1.5 degrees Celcius over pre-industrial levels. “Time to 1.5,” they state “grapples with the responsibility and privilege of this pivotal moment in human history.” Episode Four of this season, “Coalbrookdale,” looks back at the rise of industrialization in eighteenth century Britain and traces the mass fossil-fuel energy acceleration that led to today’s climate woes.

5. Describing Nature: Aspects of the Linnean “Society Papers” Collection | Alex Milne

This webinar recording features Alex Milne, archivist at the Linnean Society and the “Society Papers” collection, dating back to the society’s founding in 1788. “The ‘Society Papers” collection consists of manuscripts and artworks read at meetings of the Society and it presents a window into the varied work of our Fellows and how ideas were communicated across the globe,” they write. During the webinar, Milne looks at specific examples from the collection to examine their creation and importance, as well as their aesthetic intrigue, providing a fascinating window into a corner of natural and environmental history, as well as the history of science.

Remember to follow the #envhist hashtag and NiCHE (@NiCHE_Canada) on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram to keep up with the latest environmental history content.

Feature Image: “Lake Superior Ice” by NOAA Great Lakes Environmental Research Laboratory is marked with CC BY-SA 2.0.
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is an environmental historian of Canada and the United States, editor, and digital communications strategist. She earned her PhD in History from the University of Saskatchewan in 2019. She is an executive member, editor-in-chief, and social media editor for the Network in Canadian History and Environment (NiCHE). She is also a working board member of the Saskatchewan History and Folklore Society and Girls Rock Saskatoon. A passionate social justice advocate, she focuses on developing digital techniques and communications that bridge the divide between academia and the general public in order to democratize knowledge access. You can find out more about her and her freelance services at jessicamdewitt.com.

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