“Anchors to the world I created for myself…”

AllinaDayFrom Thomas:

Thursday January 21, 2010

Photo credit: Copyright 2009 Nikki McClure, with permission granted by ABRAMS Books For Young Readers

It was the second day of my new environmental psychology class for undergrads at Lewis and Clark College. I offer examples of various kinds of environmental psychology and ecopsychology. I talked about the influential researcher Robert Cialdini and his well-known Petrified Forest Study. We talked about Paul Stern and Gerald Gardner and what exactly the steps are to, as the scientists say, an “environmentally-relevant behavior.” And then, to bring this all home to the students, I talked about an interview I heard on the radio that morning, between author Cynthia Rylant and Nikki McClure, a papercut artist and illustrator from  Olympia, WA whose images are popular in Portland.  They had just collaborated on the children’s book All in a Day.

McClure was talking about how she found her inspiration for the illustrations and she said something I thought was profound—and relevant in a class that looks at things like environmental identity. McClure said: “I looked out my window to the birch trees that I planted in my front yard when I was a starving artist. They were like anchors to the world I created for myself.” Anchors to the world she had created: What better way to describe the importance of the landscape, or our spaces for us, for our identity.

Published by Thomas Doherty

Psychologist Thomas Doherty's work on environmental sustainability and health has been featured in publications like the New York Times and in talks worldwide. Thomas consults with individuals and organizations through his business Sustainable Self. He was the founding Director of the Ecopsychology Certificate Program at Lewis & Clark Graduate School and Founding Editor-in-Chief of the peer-reviewed academic journal Ecopsychology. He lives in Portland, Oregon.

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