I Am, We Are, Our Roots.

In Trace, Lauret Edith Savoy writes about origin and history and how these tie into the American landscape. Savoy talks about how race and slavery have impacted the landscape of America and how, even now, “vestiges of slavery’s landscape and architecture still lie in plain sight in the city.” Something that really caught and sustained my attention was how Savoy described herself as the link between the place of her birth or beginning of her own conscious existence to her roots that stretch years into the past. This brings to my mind the thought that our personal roots are intertwined with the historical and origin based roots of our nation’s history.

In my reflection of the discussions we’ve had in class, as well as the readings we were given- specifically Savoy’s- I have developed an overwhelming curiosity about the nature in which my personal roots have intertwined with the roots of nation. My family history has never been laid out for me in a clear manor. Whether due to confusion, forgetfulness or plain uncertainty, I’m not sure, but I do know that my family, just like every family, has a history. I began to scrounge around for pieces of information that I had acquired about my family over the years. Usually, when trying to think about my history, I only look at the family members, but, in using the same strategy as Savoy, I’ve found that engaging with the landscapes that these family members have interacted with in the past is new, helpful territory. For one, I know that my Mother was born in Virginia and that Her mother, my grandmother, grew up on a small farm in Culpeper, Virginia. This fact is just a beginning that I hope will lead to a better understanding as to how my past and my roots fit alongside the roots of this nation and these landscapes. So, when Savoy says, “The past and its landscapes lie close”, it drives me to think as though I am on sort of treasure hunt where the treasure is my connection to the past. I want so badly to engage with my history and I recognize that, as I begin to find more, there is going to be disheartening evidence of oppression, segregation and enslavement, but that fact makes this objective even more important. To understand our foundations, we must acknowledge and be knowledgeable about even the most disgusting truths within our past. Savoy says that “the past and its landscapes lie close” and she also says that “They linger in eroded scattered pieces, both becoming and passing into what I am, what I think we are.” What I gathered from this statement is a sense that though our past is broken, maybe in more than one way, it will always connect us to who we are as individuals, as well as who we are as a nation.

Savoy, L. E. (2015). Trace a journey through memory, history, and the American land. Berkeley: Counterpoint Press.

My Chesapeake Ethic

I grew up 15 minutes from the Inner Harbor in Baltimore City Maryland. We often went downtown to visit the Harborplace and Gallery Mall. We would go on walks along the redbrick to watch the boats and cruise ships, but we were always warned to stay away from the water. Not just because we could fall in and drown, but because the water is dirty. Growing up in Baltimore, you learn quite fast about the lack of cleanliness and safety within the Bay’s waters. The Bay is dirty. If you ask any native Baltimorean, they are likely to tell you that anyone ill-advised enough to swim in those waters is sure to get sick. In my mind, the entirety of the Chesapeake Bay was like the water that wades in the Inner Harbor; Dirty.  This is a small-minded idea that had lingered in my head until I came to college. When I was exposed to the Chesapeake on a larger scale, I discovered that not all of it is like the Baltimore Harbor.

Still, the place I grew up did impact my overall perception and ethic of the Bay. “The Three Criteria” drawn out by Vincent Ryan Ruggiero coincide with my experiences growing up and learning within Baltimore. Obligations, Ideals, and Consequences have been shaped by my place of origin.

In elementary school, I was taught that the Chesapeake Bay was an estuary in trouble. I remember being a part of a production in school called “The Legend of the Bay”. A story of a group of kids who accidentally travel back in time to when the bay was cleaner. It was supposed to teach us about the Bay’s problems with pollution and solutions to the problems. Though the play was very two dimensional in its efforts to inform the public and students about the issues that reside in the bay, it was successful in instilling the ideal that compassion for my city, as well as the Bay, would be seen through my efforts to improve the Chesapeake. My obligations, at least at a minimal level, include the cleanup and restoration of the Bay. I was responsible, personally, for preventing myself and others from littering to reduce the amount of trash that got swept into the estuary. And the consequence of these actions, if I were to follow through with them, would be, in general, a better world.

My Chesapeake Ethic currently stems from these ideas I was introduced to in the elementary school and so on, but they have become more complex as I have learned increasingly more and my eyes have been opened to the diversity and complexity of the environments surrounding the Bay. And, If I’m honest, the basis of my ethic hasn’t changed much because I still believe that a healthier Chesapeake Bay would lead to a better world.

 

Reference

Ruggiero, Vincent R. (1997). Thinking Critically About Ethical Issues. (4th ed.). Mountain View, CA. Mayfield Pub. Co.