Friday, July 3, 2015

Venice Beach, Los Angeles
Growing up in Southern California, I have had the privilege of only being an hour away from Los Angeles, beaches, mountains and more. Throughout high school and college my free time (and paychecks) have been spent in Los Angeles or on the warm Southern California beaches along the coast. During California's hot summers you can catch me strolling through Venice Beach, grabbing ice cream in Santa Monica, visiting Los Angeles' art museums, and mostly attending music festivals and concerts. Coincidentally, spending the summer in Menomonie has offered me a wonderful opportunity outside of research. As a music festival junkie, I will be attending Euax Claires music festival in two weeks with Lisette Solis! We are so excited to be doing research that we love and getting to partake in our hobbies out in Wisconsin. 

Spending my free time in and near these beloved Southern California cities has made me long for sustainable practices, where my friends and I can enjoy ourselves and simultaneously breathe in the beauty of Southern California instead of its smog. While it's unfortunate that Los Angeles and its nearby cities are filled with air and water pollution, living in Menomonie has now, more than ever, made me curious about what has been done locally and statewide to resolve the environmental hazards that plague my state. Watching the beautiful lakes and rivers of Menomonie slowly turn green in the past week has reified the importance of keeping landscapes and cities clean and healthy, not only for preserving the beauty of the city or the biodiversity of our earth, but for appreciating the artistry that is sustainably cohabiting with the natural environment and sharing our unique ways of doing so with others.

Research in Menomonie is providing me with an insight to how systemic environmental change occurs, and who is included in this conversation. I have been introduced to the language and nuances of local and state politics that either allow or prevent environmental regulation, and chatted with local residents and council members of Menomonie and Dunn County who have expressed concern and desire to help clean the lakes. Even more admirable is the persistence and passion concerned residents have towards Lakes Menomin and Tainter, and I am inspired by the amount of dedication and collaboration there is to share knowledge, conversation, resources, and more in efforts to clean the lakes. Although I have been a part of campus clubs and activities, being in Menomonie has challenged me to apply my knowledge and skills to real life situations and experiences-something not many get to experience on my college campus. I hope to take these experiences back with me to Southern California and advocate on my campus for more student collaboration with my local community, spreading and sharing of knowledge, communication, and collaborative action that supports all concerned and affected. The passion I see here in Menomonie to fight continuous pollution of the lakes and the reasons for doing so are those I hope to mimic and instill in myself and others fighting environmental issues in Southern California. 

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