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Can blogging be sustainable?

It's about a year since I last blogged.  When we got the new IRIS website up and running, it was great fun to learn about blogging, but it actually took a lot of time to write and fact-check serious blogs (as opposed to simply churning out drivel).  It's been a challenge to get people associated with IRIS to commit to blogging and to sustain it.  This challenge has given me insight into why social networking sites such Facebook, and the sms-driven Twitter, are so appealing.  Having said that, while you CAN post to these sites really quickly, I also think that far too many people (including members of my family and a lot of students and older people that I know) spend far too much time on these sites; there is a very addictive quality about them.

My issue with finding time for blogging, is that, not only do I have lots of "Administrative Duties" (around here, the Director is as likely to be taking out the trash as to be schmoozing with VIPs), but I also lead active field-based research projects, supervise graduate students, write papers and book, carry out peer-review for journals and governments, and serve on many external bodies - plus I have children (teenagers need as much time and attention as toddlers) and a husband who is on the road a lot.  So, my blogging about sustainability had to be sidelined.  But, no more - I have decided that I will be doing less intensive and more twitter-like blogging, that is much more frequent.  Why?  Because a large part of my job is about being a Connector in a Gladwellian, Tipping Point, sense. The more that I participate in sustainability-related conversations, the more I have come to realize that many concerned people remain hugely unaware of many important issues that relate directly to their concern about sustainability. Additionally, because IRIS is about sustainability in an academic setting, IRIS members - including myself - are also Mavens or information specialists (again, see The Tipping Point).  For example, my research on why many forests in southern Ontario are falling down and are NOT sustained forest ecosystems, is producing new information and knowledge (see photos of Rondeau Provincial Park, and the low density of trees, due to deer browsing on the twigs of saplings, resulting in long-term mortality of high woody species i.e. trees).

So - as a professor, who cannot resist giving homework - today's assigned reading is Malcolm Gladwell's Tipping Point - but if you don't have time, the Wikipedia page on this one is just fine.

Dawn Bazely


Invasive Species

On the final evening of the YSTOP program, students were asked to identify environmental issues they had learned about during the week, and then, in groups, to write about an issue of their choice. The following is what one group wrote about what they had learned about invasive species. They had learned was about invasive species in a session with York grad students Corinne Sperling and Margot Sloan, which included a scavenger hunt to locate invasive species on the York campus.

Ever wonder how dandelions started growing in our country? Well, a dandelion is an example of an invasive species, meaning Canada is not its native country. It could have been brought over by boat, car, plane, etc. There are many examples of invasive species in Canada, including Norway Maple, Norway Spruce, common teasel, Japanese knotweed, dog-strangling vine, white clover, white poplar, lilacs, ivy, common tansy and the garlic mustard plant. Oh, and that grass you see all over Canada? Yeah - that's an invasive species, too, called Kentucky Blue Grass.