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Blake Cote

I really enjoyed tonight’s webinar on food, farms, and fisheries. In particular, I enjoyed Professor Fisher's section on archeology and the long view of agricultural sustainability. It was interesting to me how she reminded us all that we are all entering a story that has already been in process. It was eye opening to hear about times in mankind’s history where humans have had to navigate periods of great environmental stress, and what we can learn from past sustainable agriculture as well as unsustainable agriculture. From all of the examples that she shared it seems that the common theme of the colonies and communities that failed was that they double downed on one specific form of agriculture or hunting and were not adaptable or flexible. When the climate crisis presented themselves, these colonies were not able to sustain themselves as they didn’t stray from their particular manner of acquiring food. The colonies and communities that did succeed were the ones that diversified their food acquisition methods. A question that I have, and perhaps it was just pure luck (or lack thereof), but how did certain colonies know to diversify their strategies and why did other communities choose not to? I also enjoyed Niquole Esters’s section on fisheries. It surprised me how much of the world’s population depended on seafood as a source of food intake. I know she spoke about what we need to do to reduce the health of marine environments, and maybe it was because of the spotty connection, but I would like to hear more about specifically what we can do on an individual level as well as a community level to aid in this restoration. Finally, I appreciated her ending quote that in general it is important to understand peoples’ differing perspectives and where they are coming from when making any decision.

Claire Jenkins

I really enjoyed the Food, Farms, and Fisheries Webinar this evening, especially since we have been talking about agriculture and have read about fisheries during/for recent classes. I gained a lot of knowledge from Professor Fisher and Niquole Esters during the first two presentations, and then was left with a more hopeful mindset after learning more about W&L's progress towards sustainability from Kim Hodge. Last week's Webinar focused on what sustainability is, with a lot of talk about implications for the future. However, Professor Fisher made me think about sustainability in a different way. When thinking comprehensively about sustainability, there is a lot that we can take away from the past and historical legacies. Archaeology allows us to examine the times of our past, and we can learn things from that past about sustainability when it comes to agriculture. Professor Fisher gave a few examples of times when some communities doubled-down and committed to one form of agriculture during climate crises and suffered, and when others were able to navigate these times well with more sustainable agriculture. When she talked about the Mimbres and the Zuni compared to other Native American tribes that suffered, she explained that these two groups were able to use the same technology, but in sustainable ways. This made me think back to Quiggin's article. He explained that we have the necessary technologies today that can allow us to maintain consumption without destroying the planet, we just have to figure out the right way to use them. As a society today, just like the people of the past, we have to be able to be flexible and adapt during climate crises. Professor Fisher made me realize that we need to be able to diversify in order to make it through period of climate stress. Focusing solely on a limited range of practices is risky and leads to rigidity traps. If we want to be sustainable in terms of agriculture in the long-run, we are going to have to start being more flexible. After hearing this talk, it makes me worried that as a society today, we are so committed to large-scale industrial agriculture and I am curious if there is any way that we can fix this.

Josh Fingerhut

I enjoyed hearing Professor Fisher talk about sustainability. Having taken her Environmental Archaeology course last Spring Term, the importance of learning from past human-environment relationships is very clear to me. Archeological findings show us examples of environmental approaches that worked and created long-term flourishing such as the approach of the Zuni. Archeological findings also show us examples of environmental approaches that caused societal collapse such as that of the Maya. My main takeaway from hearing Professor Fisher share her expertise is that there is a pattern between traditional approaches that worked and traditional approaches that didn’t work. Professor Fisher specifically noted that societies that emphasized flexibility in their agricultural systems lasted much longer than societies that doubled down on certain goods and fell into so-called “rigidity traps”. My question is: how can we take this knowledge of past successes and failures and incorporate it into our economic models? I think that we may want to use knowledge from the past as an indication that we should incentivize flexible systems both in agriculture and other areas of environmental resources such as energy. Such flexibility is likely to be less profitable in the short-term but important for the existence of society down the line. Therefore, I think this may be a good place for the government to step in.

AJ Mabaka

I really enjoyed Professor Fisher's portion of the discussion about sustainability. I think it would be interesting to discuss how we might better include tribal/indigenous knowledge in policy and practice regarding agriculture as some communities have truly exemplified a "recreate-able" and sustainable means of living/agricultural practices. Additionally, I was very captivated by Nicole Ester's section on fisheries. I thought that her answer to my question about overfishing, climate change, and the need for more sustainable fishing was fascinating. I feel as though enforcement (of international and national fisheries policies) is truly a serious issue, and as such I would love to discuss more with the class about means in which we might enforce or better yet, incentivize, people to harvest fisheries more sustainably.

Allyssa Utecht

After taking one of Professor Fishers introduction courses, it was really interesting to listen to her speak on her specific interests and studies. What really stuck out to me was her approach to the 'long view' of agricultural sustainability. I think often when we discuss sustainability, it is in terms of how our present and future actions affect the environment. However, Professor Fisher discussed how we can look to evidence of historical actions, especially through archaeology, to understand how past societies have navigated times of high environmental stress. We can study both sustainable and unsustainable past agricultural practices, and the evidence shows us that it is best to have flexible, adaptable practices focused on local ecology - a limited range of foods and practices is too rigid and risky. For example, by being flexible and adaptable with their agriculture, rural Mayan farmers were able to navigate an ecological collapse. Additionally, another thing that really stuck out to me was Kim Hodge’s anecdote about the intersectionality of community, sustainability, and personal life. She discussed how sustainability can be individual, and a way to connect with your community and your heritage.

Merritt McCaleb

I thoroughly enjoyed the webinar from Monday's webinar; I particularly found Niquole Ester's topic of fisheries to be the most fascinating segment. As I mentioned in this Thursday's blog post, I didn't really know that much at all about fisheries prior to attending, so I learned a ton. It makes me want to reach out to Chris Watt to both talk to him about his love of fishing and learn what he thinks of global fisheries and potential economic solutions. Additionally, I hadn't before thought of how fishing connects to some of the global goals that Ester talks about, such as the zero hunger initiative and gender equality, but it's interesting knowing that fishing provides so much more than a mere meal - it provides ways of life. Furthermore, I was intrigued about the role that Kim Hodge plays in sustainability at W&L. I remember sitting in my freshman dorm's common room with my friends and watching some older students from the Compost Committee collect compost from the bins. Thus, it was fascinating hearing the actual, numerical difference that their efforts, along with others' efforts, has played in sustainability at W&L - I realized that it really has made such a big difference. Because of that, I'm eager to learn more about and get involved in sustainability efforts at W&L.

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