Friday, July 27, 2012

Back to the Fields

Photo: (c) Ashley Costa
July is ending as June did, with an Environmental Geography (GEOG 130) field trip to some real fields -- the organic fields of Colchester Neighborhood Farm in Plympton. The visit during the first summer session was so successful that we decided to visit with students in the second session. This time, we had less rain and more active livestock! In fact, our group was greeted immediately by Dapple, the guard donkey who actively protects the farms sheep, goats, and chickens from canine and raptor predators.

Connie Maribett (second from left above) operates the farm with her husband (and BSU adjunct geography professor) Ron. She spent some time with the group, answering questions about the farm and its partnership with New England Villages. As described in more detail in the June post, this discussion was a perfect compliment to the readings and classroom discussion. It is also helpful, given some of the unpleasant global realities examined in this course, to learn about constructive steps being taken at the local level.

See more photos of the outing -- with further commentary -- on Flickr. Most photos in this series are by geography major Ashley Costa.
Photo: (c) Ashley Costa
On the way to the farm, we briefly visited the historic Oliver Mill Park in Middleboro, an early industrial site that includes one of the earliest and best-known herring runs in southeastern Massachusetts.

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Friday, July 6, 2012

From Parking to Park

This view caught my eye yesterday, as I walked toward the commuter rail station to spend a morning in Boston (you can read about that outing on Environmental Geography). Because of construction involving the pedestrian underpass, I had taken a bit of a detour and was approaching the rail station from the vicinity of the Moakley Center, when the Geography Department's weather sock caught my eye (see detail below and an April post about the weather station itself).

The tremendous pile of sand and gravel occupies what was a useful but barren parking lot just to the east of the railroad tracks. Campus planners have removed that lot, replacing it with tiered parking at the edge of campus. The result will be a campus center that is more inviting for pedestrians, skaters, and bikers. The park that replaces the parking on both sides of the underpass will be cooler in the summer, warmer in the winter, without salt and sand blowing in the winds. Additionally, the relocated parking lot (close to the building itself) will incorporate vegetated swales and retention basins that will reduce flooding, maintain ground water, and improve the quality of surface water. This will make the parking lot itself a destination for mini field trips in our department's water-resources and environmental courses.

Detail of Science & Math Center, showing Geography
Department wind sock.
At almost the same moment I took the photo above, my colleague in Student Affairs, Dr. Tony Esposito, took the following photograph from the top of the Science & Math building. The new parking lot will be in the portion that is to the left of his photo, with access to be through the university's new main entrance next to the railroad tracks on Plymouth Street. The walkway between Kelly Gym and St. Basil's Chapel will be pedestrian only, a great improvement in safety.

Incidentally, the number of parking spaces on campus will not change, as the parking structure offsets all lost parking spaces.

Click to enlarge