Fishing for ways to talk about what we do

Sue and fish

Blogger: Sue Nichols, assistant director. 




The Blank Looks are the worst.

The Looks are the bastard children of science, along with their ugly cousins, the Uncomprehending Stares, and the Furrowed Brows of Confusion.

The Looks and their motley brood stop over every time science isn’t clear about its intent, its purpose and its joy. Fortunately, they’re not groupies. Science is filled with clarity, lyricism and a passion and impact. The Looks hate that.

Weirdly – or perhaps appropriately, I was thinking about the Looks while fishing with Kiira Siitari this past week. We were MSU FlyGals, taking part in a program underwritten by the Boone and Crockett Club to foster a love, understanding and respect of flyfishing and outdoorspersonship (there’s a gender-appropriate mouthful).

 It struck me that the intent of FlyGals program isn’t so far off what we try to do at the center. Both work to strike a harmony between people and nature, to recognize the tight dance between two and to look at systems holistically to figure out ways to allow both to thrive.

Kiira was a good sport, breaking down what those words attached to the center and its mission mean in her world: Center for Systems Integration and Sustainability, and our mantra, Coupled Human and Natural Systems.

They make perfect sense amongst scientific peers. Clear and precise. But they’re a mouthful at a cocktail party or an elevator and too often you find yourself standing next to a Blank Look.

So Kiira and I are standing on the banks of the Au Sable River – two little human systems integrating with nature by way of some fish line.  She and the other MSU FlyGals talk about reaching over the fences of traditional biology and field work and touching industry and outdoor sports. How those on the other side have reached back and helped them. How cool it is to be looking for answers, no matter what degree they’re hiding in.

I’ve attached a little video clip of Kiira taking a shot at it. I think she does a good job. She also casts nicely.

She’s helping me launch the Human+Nature blog for our center – a place those of us on this quest to integrate and couple and mix up systems and rock sustainability can banish the Blank Looks. Instead, I’m inviting over the Admiring Glances instead. They’re so much better to hang with.



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