The Andrews Forest program of arts and humanities includes a variety of on-going activities. Some managed by the Andrews group are regularly scheduled (e.g., gatherings of writers and scientists at Mount St. Helens at 5-year intervals) and others are episodic (e.g., interdisciplinary “field symposia” of about 20 people who address topics, such as the meaning of watershed health). Other on-going projects promote networking among sites in science networks (e.g., the US Long-Term Ecological Research network and Organization of Biological Field Stations) that engage arts and humanities.
The Andrews Forest Ecological Reflections program is one member of a network dozens of sites of the Long-Term Ecological Research (LTER) network, Organization of Biological Field Stations, and National Association of Marine Laboratories that involve arts and humanities. The Andrews Forest program has contributed to networking among these sites by participating in organizing workshops and writing of proposals to fund further networking. In an important feature of this networking, Faerthen Felix, Associate Manager of the University of California’s Sagehen Creek Field Station in the California Sierras, manages the Art at Field Stations and Marine Labs blog to provide arts-science information relevant to these sites. The emerging national phenomenon of engagement of arts and humanities with sites of long-term ecological inquiry is described in this essay and on this webpage.
Between 2002 and 2011 the Reflections program hosted gatherings at the Andrews Forest and elsewhere to address issues important to society, such as climate change and watershed health. Many of these interdisciplinary retreats concluded with public events to test idea with a broader audience and ripple ideas widely out into the community. See brief descriptions of field symposia and other gatherings.
When the summit of Mount St. Helens fell away in the 1980 eruption, the landscape began telling a new round of stories-ecological stories, moral stories, poetic stories unfolding in a multitude of ways and begetting a host of new questions. What are the differences between wild disasters and human-caused disasters? What is destruction, and what is healing, and how are they related? What are the ecological analogues of hope and grief? How does a cataclysm create the conditions for its own recovery? How might we do the same?
At five-year eruption anniversary increments writers, artists, and scientists have visited the Mount St. Helens blast zone together to find those stories. Poet Gary Snyder and geologist Fred Swanson visited in 2000, and in the book Danger on Peaks (2004) Snyder describes his reencounter with the volcano for the first time in more than 50 years. In the summer of 2005, 20 creative writers, scientists, philosophers, and others gathered for four days of camping, learning, and sharing insights about the meaning of cataclysms and the sources of renewal. Their writings are collected in In the Blast Zone (2008, Oregon State University Press). In 2010 and 2015 a dozen writers joined the field pulses of more than 100 scientists for a week-long campout and program of field studies and sharing of findings. Some of the resulting works were published in the on-line journal terrain.org and are also available on the webpage of the Mount St. Helens Institute.