ALFRED, NY to VAN WERT, OH

The Alleghenies are surely the most underrated hills in the Appalachians. I drove through their Northern flank while listening to "On Being" interviews with Brian Greene and then Janna Levin. I enjoy listening to these great minds discuss the insignificance and elegance of human existence. If the Alleghenies are a backwater, than surely so is the Earth. There are much busier places in the galaxy.

I stopped at Presque Isle State Park for a morning spin. From this peninsula you can look back on the bay side and see Erie, PA, explore lagoons in the middle of this narrow crescent, or walk the beach on the Lake Erie side. I've spent very little time on any of the Great Lakes. I must say they are more than Great, but rather stupendous inland oceans. North America once had a great internal sea. So many permutations of landmasses and water. Erie, PA is at the confluence of old Pennsylvania oil, canals, railroads, and Great Lakes shipping. It was a terminus for the original American West. 

The bike path traverses the peninsula. There were lots of people out on this sunny but brisk morning.  The first photo looks back on Erie. The second is a lagoon. And a third is a glimpse of the Great, rather Stupendous Lake.

 

 

 

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An hour later I arrived at Austinberg, Ohio where there is a parking place for the Western Reserve Greenway, a forty mile path, straight as an arrow, that cuts through forest, farmland, and small towns. It was cloudy and cool with an increasing threat of rain. I rode for an hour. The same landscape would have seemed so dull in a car. But on the bicycle it was interesting and compelling. The bicycle provides a perfectly scaled pace for getting to know a place. I feel as if I can stop almost anywhere, get on the bike, and enjoy a ride. 

The parking lot in Austinberg adjoins a mini-mart, a greasy sandwich shop and a dance hall! 

 

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It is an awfully straight ride, isn't it?

 

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And thanks so much to Ohio Parks and all the people who had the vision to develop this bike path.

 

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The path is notable, too, as crucial to the Underground Railway. There are numerous plaques along the way, turning the bike path into a hands-on historical museum. Jeffersonville, Ohio was a bastion of abolitionists. Hooray for good interpretation!

 

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After these two rides, I headed south and picked up US 30 across Central Ohio. After weaving through some shallow hills and meandering rivers, I arrived at flag as a pancake, bigger sky farm country, finally stopping amidst a grouping of windmills in Van Wert, Ohio where I stopped for the night. 

On the radio, I've been alternating between NPR, sports talk, and surfing local college stations. As for my own music selections, I've wanted road music, and thus far I've played Springsteen's new album, the Byrds sing Dylan, and the Dixie Chicks. Pistol Annie's are up next. I'm typically more of a jazz listener. On the road, I'm compelled to listen to songs about and from America. But there are many days of travel ahead. So who knows what music will enter the field?

As for music, my first destination this morning is Sweetwater Music. I've gotten a lot of musical equipment from them over the years and I'm thrilled with anticipation to visit their showrooms in Fort Wayne, Indiana.

Older NBA Basketball fans will know that the Detroit Pistons moved from Fort Wayne. I have a childhood memory of watching the Fort Wayne Pistons playing the Rochester Royals.

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Mitch Thomashow

Thomashow devotes his life and work to promoting ecological awareness, sustainable living, creative learning, improvisational thinking, social networking, and organizational excellence. Currently he is engaged in teaching, writing, and executive consulting, cultivating opportunities and exchanges that transform how people engage with sustainability and ecological learning. In August, 2011 Thomashow became Director of the Second Nature Presidential Fellows Program. This new program is designed to assist the executive leadership of colleges and universities in promoting a comprehensive sustainability agenda on their campuses. Fellows provide executive consulting on climate action planning, long-range financial planning, organizational leadership, curricular implementation, and community investment. From 2006-2011, Thomashow was the president of Unity College in Maine. With his management team, he integrated concepts of ecology, sustainability, natural history, wellness, participatory governance, and community service into all aspects of college and community life. This included construction of The Unity House, the first LEED Platinum President’s Residence in North America, and the TeraHaus, a passive house student residence, as well as comprehensive campus energy planning, an integrated approach to growing food on campus, and a new academic master plan. Previously from 1976-2006, Thomashow was the Chair of the Environmental Studies program at Antioch University New England. He founded an interdisciplinary environmental studies doctoral program and worked collaboratively to grow and nourish a suite of engaging Masters programs, geared to working adults. Thomashow is the founder of Whole Terrain, an environmental literary publication, originating at Antioch University New England, and “Hawk and Handsaw,” a journal of creative sustainability, published at Unity College. He serves on the boards of Orion Magazine and The Coalition on Environmental and Jewish Life (COEJL). Thomashow is a founding organizer of the Council of Environmental Deans and Directors (CEDD), a national organization that supports interdisciplinary environmental studies in higher education. He provides ongoing consultation to the Sustainable Endowments Institute and their new Billion Dollar Green Challenge program. His two books have significantly influenced environmental studies education. Ecological Identity: Becoming a Reflective Environmentalist (The MIT Press, 1995) offers an approach to teaching environmental education based on reflective practice—a guide to teachers, educators and concerned citizens that incorporates issues of citizenship, ecological identity, and civic responsibility within the framework of environmental studies. Bringing the Biosphere Home, (The MIT Press, 2001) is a guide for learning how to perceive global environmental change. It shows readers that through a blend of local natural history observations, global change science, the use of imagination and memory, and philosophical contemplation, you can learn how to broaden your spatial and temporal view so that it encompasses the entire biosphere. His essay (2010), “The Gaian Generation: A New Approach to Environmental Learning” provides provocative new concepts for teaching about global environmental change. Another essay (2012) “Where You At 2.0” reasserts the relevance of bioregionalism for digital age learners. A recent essay (2013),“Sustainability as Turnaround” is a case study of his work as president at Unity College. with mandolin.png His new book, The Nine Elements of a Sustainable Campus (The MIT Press) provides a framework for advancing sustainable living and teaching in a variety of campus environments. It will be available in January, 2014. Thomashow is currently working on two writing, networking, and teaching projects. Improvisational Excellence suggests that improvisation emulates the patterns and processes of the biosphere. It’s a series of essays linking play, music, and observing nature to the paths of everyday living. It is the philosophical basis for Thomashow’s workshops on global environmental change, music and nature, and ecological perception. Wilson’s Library is a series of prose poems depicting extraordinary moments during the history of life on earth. Thomashow lives in the hill country of southwest New Hampshire in the shadow of Mount Monadnock. He loves to explore the fields, forests, wetlands, hills, and lakes of Northern New England where you can often find him on his bicycle. His recreational interests include basketball, baseball, board games, jazz piano, electronic keyboards, musical composition and recording, guitars, hiking, and lake swimming.