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  • Lorelle VanFossen 11:46 am on December 6, 2014 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: anthropology, common read project, , , , journalism, , , sociology, student site, wordless wednesday, writing, writing assignments   

    Reminder: Wordless Wednesdays Ideal for Writing Assignments 

    Calling all English, journalism, philosophy, sociology, anthropology, health, medical, science departments and others looking to include Garbology in your curriculum, check out the Garbology Common Read site for students and teachers, specifically the Wordless Wednesday category.

    Each Wednesday, an image is presented encouraging students to comment. The comment may be just a comment, an idea, concept, poem, or a written or visual assignment inspired by the image.

    The images come from a variety of courses and resources covering garbage collection, recycling, e-waste, specific types of garbage, people living and working in garbage, and the science and history of garbage management, studies, and collection.

    If you would like to suggest an image for usage on the Common Read site for Wordless Wednesday, please let us know so we may include it in this ongoing series.

    If you choose to use an image for an assignment, we would love to know that as well to help us manage comments on that site.

  • Lorelle VanFossen 11:06 am on October 17, 2014 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: commentary, discussions, , essays, , language, language arts, prose, writing   

    English: Garbology Prose 

    The author of Garbology: Our Dirty Love Affair with Trash, Edward Hume, won a Pulitzer Prize for reporting on the US military in 1989, and was a writing workshop high school teacher in Cerritos, California, so he knows a thing or two about writing prose.

    In the first chapter, Hume describes the giant mountain of garbage created daily by the garbage accumulated and processed outside of Los Angeles this way, referring to the compacting of the garbage into cells, blocks of trash.

    Big Mike sculpts such a mound not in a month or a week, but in one glorious day, every day, as he and his colleagues dump, push, carve and build a pinnacle of trash where once there were canyons. He is king of a mountain built of old tricycles and bent board games, yellowed newspapers and bulging plastic bags, sewage sludge and construction debris—all the detritus, discards and once valuable tokens of modern life and wealth, reduced to an amorphous, dense amalgam known as “fill.”

    The football-field-sized plot at the center of activity atop Puente Hills is called a “cell,” not in the prison-block sense, but more akin to the tiny biological unit, many thousands of which are needed to create a single, whole organism. As with living creatures, this cell, titanic as it is, represents a small building block for the modern landfill—the part that grows and reproduces each day. A dozen BOMAGs, bulldozers and graders swarm over this fresh fill every day, backing and turning and mashing and shaping, their warning gongs clanging and engines roaring in a controlled chaos, mammoth bees crawling atop the hive. Their curved steel blades raise up and blot the sun, then drop into the sea of trash and push it forward, waves of debris flowing off either side as if the dozers’ blades were the prows of a schooner fleet, complete with the flap and quarrel of seagulls overhead, their cranky squawks drowned out by the diesel din. A sickly-sweet smell of decay kicks up when the cell is churned this way, and the thrum and grind of the big engines can be felt in the ground near the cell. The noise induces sympathetic vibrations in the chest of anyone nearby, creating the uncomfortable sensation of being near a marching band with too many bass drummers.

    From the chapter excerpt published on Huffington Post in 2012.

    In two short paragraphs, we are there, watching the behemoth dozers dance with the daily trash, molding and squeezing 13,000 tons of garbage into a 15 ft deep rectangle the length and width of a football field. We smell it, we feel it, it vibrates our body – all the senses are touched.

    Bringing beautiful prose to garbage takes a mastery of the language.

    Garbology: A PAST Foundation Educational Program produced by the Solid Waste Autority of Central Ohio covers the adoption of Garbology as a school-wide project, and cited the English class reading of William Rathje’s book, Rubbish and listening to guest lecturers from Mexico describe how their country handles waste and waste management. The English curriculum recommended in the book include Socratic discussion on changing how we generate trash, review and dissemination of garbage in the news, and a poetry competition following the prompt from Rathje’s book, “In sight, Out of Mind…”

    California State University at Northridge English Department published several creative writing and English essays on Garbology from their English classes citing two student essays. Jenny Dullas wrrote a letter home to her Dad for her English 113A class about changing their shopping habits and Pamela Palencia’s essay on an ocean of garbage beautiful commentary on a photograph:

    Isolated in an ocean of grey, none others present but the clear loose plastic that surrounds the abandon wooden boat. A wooden boat whose appearance looks like rusty, ancient handles bars from a forgotten bicycle. This immense amount of waste floating on a grime-filled body of water is motionless. His hope is trapped in the surroundings of multiple junk food wrappings and pieces of ivory paper. As youth lets the sadness from these grey waters touch his fingertips, youth is slowing losing all hope. A child rests at the front of his lonely, faded boat, viewing the poison that is being fed to this world known as Earth. A boy is at his edge, his climax, his tipping point of desiring a healthy home, a better life. A child with an inferior lifestyle attempting to paint his desired future in a pond instead is blurred by the unsanitary trash that lies beneath him. Eternal trash covers the gift of beauty of blue crystal seas like a darkness covering the gift of sight of a child. The sea of scraps is a variety of different shapes and sizes of plastic. Long, narrow, big, or small it does not matter its appearance because plastic is danger. This danger swims in a pond that was once a home to fishes, a delightful view to people, and a reflection of the cloudy light blue skies. It is now hiding under the toxic garbage we put there like the filth hidden underneath one’s fingernails.

    Putnam Northern Westchester BOCES Curriculum Center on Education for Sustainability offers a lesson overview on “Talking Trash” with an outline on how to consider what our culture perceives as waste and how cultures can live sustainably within a natural environment for the art and music classes for English Language Arts. The lesson plan includes a list of study and talking points on Garbology.

    A student in the UW Garbology project shares her views on garbology including examples of keeping a trash log, documenting and analyzing the trash Mara generates during her school and home life, then describes the three benefits she’s gained from doing garbology, a good example of a summary writing project and analysis.

    A search through Tumblr topics on Garbology reveal many articles and posts from students and teachers on the topic, often featuring lessons and assignments as students report on their findings.

    Almost all Garbology projects involve writing and research, digging deep into the facts, history, and science of our trash. There are stories about our lives and trash everywhere, from hoarders to recyclers to employees in the garbage industry to every day people coping with the confusion of what to do with all the trash they generate and collect.

    If your class is writing about Garbology, please share the questions and discussions you will use in class to help other teachers see the potential in the subject matter.

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