Accomplishments

This is as much for me as it is for anyone else. When your life can be your project, picking out discrete products is, frankly, a relief. Obviously, the placesa and people are present here, but hard to put into words. I write this during my last week, trying to remember exactly what just happened.

imageBuilt From Crooked Timber

I am really proud of the effort that went in to making this website what it is. I’m going to keep working on it as something a little more than a professional diary. It still feels a little navel-gazey sometimes, so hopefully I can shift it towards being a place where people are introduced to useful concepts through real-world examples. The photos, the writing, the many, many interviews, some of them so awkward.

“An Aesthetics of Resilience: Design and Agency in Contemporary Coral Restoration” for Resilience: Politics, Practice, Discourse

If the era of the Anthropocene points to the fact that human action can destabilize earth’s systems, then it also points to the fact that human agency can refurbish and redesign those same systems or ecologies in the name of mutual survival. On Koh Tao, a tiny island in the Gulf of Thailand, a small cohort of tourists and conservationists collect, cultivate, and propagate endemic coral species on artificial reef structures. Koh Tao’s economy is dependent on the health of its local reefs to support its primary market, SCUBA tourism, but only one of the oldest dive schools on the island supports an active restoration and conservation program. The New Heaven Restoration and Conservation Program (NHRCP) maintains conservation efforts around the island in support of reef resilience and, subsequently, the island’s economic health.

By participating in this program, students and instructors alike re-form their relationship to global climate change as doubly active agents in the Anthropocene: first, they claim responsibility for the ecological impacts of anthropogenic climate change; second, they reform the life-path of coral fragments under their own scientific and aesthetic paradigms. As scientists, those running the program prioritize coral species’ genetic diversity and ecological needs. As conservationists, the narratives passed on to visiting students and conveyed through underwater sculpture perpetuate human investment in (and hope for) resilience. From coral nurseries to underwater sculptures, the NHRCP’s participants use coral restoration as a way to rework their relationship to global climate change and their own sense of agency made manifest in ecological design. Participants create lives for themselves under specific economic and social pressures through their fashioning of resilient, genetically diverse coral species. Their choices become an aesthetic of resilience.

You can request a draft of the full article here.

PADI Open Water Scuba Certification

In gaining a SCUBA Instructor certification, I learned more about PADI as an institution that I did about diving, per se, and the biases and economic models built into the dive education industry. Teaching in Brunei was the real challenge though, and so, so rewarding when I was in the water.

My placebooks and letters home

This year was filled with writing, diagramming, and trying to make clear to people from home how much I care about them. Maybe I didn’t need to, or this isn’t caring in a way that matters, but…I don’t think so. An old friend had a habit of greeting people with “I love you.” At the time, I was skeptical. Now, even if I don’t say it out loud, I want that to be part of my life. Placebooking is a way to give a little love to the daily things in my life, to myself.

Paintings, watercolors, that have been given away or sent home.

Traces of me, of what caught my eye, scattered around the world. Getting my hands back on a brush, since carrying around a throwing wheel is impractical.

How to drive manual, how to pull a shot of espresso, how to make stovetop coffee, how Baha’i mourn, when to harvest lemongrass, axis planting, how to make roti (miss you Vinna!) and put on a sari, how to make pumpkin curry, how to manage angry dive students, how to manage angry dive instructors, how to eat fish off the bone, DSLR Photography, how to

Coral Restoration Techniques

After all this, I’ve designed and built my own coral substrates and, mostly with NHRCP, tried my hand at a whole swath of coral restoration techniques. I’ve seen how they play out in different places. I’ve seen how they can fail. I’ve seen them sitting undisturbed after years, or just barely installed. This is one of the ways in which this year was so worth it.
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