Displaying items by tag: University of Tennessee

Friday, 26 March 2021 14:58

The orphaned mayonnaise jar of Fort Sanders

What stories could the lonely Fort Sanders Hellmann's jar share about its weekend excesses?

Whites addition 1886 tn1The early Fort Sanders neighborhood is shown here in the late 1800s. Many, but not all, of the architectural period homes have been demolished.  Wikipedia

(Note from the author: This piece is about my neighborhood — Fort Sanders in Knoxville near the University of Tennessee. I wrote this for my environmental journalism class with Dr. Mark Littmann. We were tasked with writing a sketch about the world around us. I wanted to paint a picture of what I see outside every day when I walk around Fort Sanders.) 


There’s a half-full jar of mayonnaise in the front yard.

Its lid is gone, nowhere to be found. Next to it are a trio of Bud Light Premium glass bottles, lounging in the mud.

Up the street are two smashed cans, three Styrofoam to-go containers, and a smattering of cardboard, all left out in the cold to weather the harsh judgement of Sunday morning.

Every few feet more treasures appear. Cans, bottles, broken glass, clothes, needles, and old furniture. None of it looks out of place here. The green crab grass grows through the pull tabs and gray squirrels play with leftover food on the sidewalk.

Nothing is where it should be, but it all feels right; it's an extra blanket of junk tucking the earth in for bed.

Except for the mayonnaise jar in the yard.

Collecting these treasures off the street feels hopeless. The moment a piece of garbage makes it into the trash bag, two more pieces appear.

Memories of Saturday night are left out in the gutter, no one to share them with. It happens every week. Stories of a fun night with friends cast aside into the storm drain. A nice meal left out in the rain. Cigarette butts from a moment alone.

What story does the mayonnaise in the yard have to tell?

Published in Voices
DAILY TIMES:  UT professor chronicles rise of animal rights movement

A University of Tennessee professor traces the origins of the animal rights movement in the 19th century U.S. in a new book, “A Traitor to His Species: Henry Bergh and the Birth of the Animal Rights Movement.”

Ernest Freeberg, head of the history department, chronicles how the action of one man who stopped the whipping of a trolley horse in New York City ultimately led to the modern animal welfare movement and the advent of laws punishing cruelty to animals.

Henry Bergh, who founded the Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Animals in 1866, was derided as an extremist and misanthrope by his contemporaries, but his philosophy and moral approach to animal welfare eventually became prevalent in American society.

Published in Feedbag
Monday, 18 January 2021 23:08

Marking points in time: The Hal DeSelm Papers

 Deselm 004
 Hal DeSelm takes a break during an outing in the Smoky Mountains in the 1970s.  Courtesy UT Tree Improvement Program
 

A life dedicated to the flora of Tennessee

Dr. Hal DeSelm clambered around the crest of Cherokee Bluff in the heat of a late Knoxville summer 22 years ago. The Tennessee River flowed languidly some 500 feet below. Beyond the river stood the campus of the University of Tennessee Agriculture Institute. The towers of the city center rose to the northeast beyond the bridges of the old frontier river town.

DeSelm was not interested in the views of the urban landscape below. He was interested in the native trees, shrubs, herbs and grasses that clung to the ancient cliffside with firm but ultimately ephemeral grips on the craggy soil.

The retired UT professor, a renowned ecologist and botanist who died in 2011, had been sampling the terrestrial flora of Tennessee for decades. The life-long project took on a new urgency in the early 1990s, when he accelerated his data collection in hopes of writing the authoritative guide to the natural vegetation native to the forests, barrens, bogs and prairies of pre-European Tennessee.

Between 1993 and 2002, DeSelm collected 4,184 data points from 3,657 plots across the state. Many of those plots have since been lost to development, highways, and agriculture, or overrun by exotic species, but he assembled an invaluable baseline of the native landscape. Many of the sites he recorded have since been lost to development.

Published in Earth