Transitions

Dr. Elliott Campbell will be administering the ProsperousWayDown website for the summer. Elliott recently received his doctorate from the University of Maryland, studying with David Tilley and received a MS degree from the University of Florida under Mark Brown, both of whom studied with H.T. Odum. Elliott’s grandmother is Betty Odum, widow and longtime collaborator of H.T., and father is Daniel Campbell, a senior researcher at the EPA, so it is safe to say ecology is in his blood. He is now a post-doctoral researcher at the University of Maryland. We can look forward to diverse viewpoints on the website this summer, from different regions, generations, and backgrounds.

BirdGirdHeader

  • I welcome hearing from Elliott, but surely, we’ll still get a good dose of Mary? Is there a back story you can share regarding this change?

    • Hi, Jan. I’m not done, just taking a well-deserved break. I need to get back in shape, and we have a slow-travel trip planned for that. Bike to Whittier, get on the ferry, get off at Bellingham, and bike to Yellowstone. That should do it. And I’m angling for more diversity on the website, other voices . . . . I will be posting about our slow travel, at least.

      • EcoReality is very nearly on your route. If you’d like to make a detour through the Salish Sea and see what we’ve been working on here, let me know!

  • Brian

    Mary, Have a great vacation. Loved the Jurassic Park systems diagram at the end of last week, even funnier HT made it.

    Dr. Campbell, I hope you make a worthy adversary. J/K

    BTW are you guys not from the smartest family line ever?

    Brian

    • Thanks, Brian! We were taking a family vacation together in the summer of 1993, and HT drew the diagram for my then 6-year old daughter after we went to the movies on a rainy day. Some of the details were lost on my daughter at that age, but I figured emergists would be delighted.

      I’m the dumb one of the family. Have you ever bumped up against true genius? Charles Bowden wrote about it in the book American Rebels:

      “I’d never met a genius before or thought much about the term save that it meant someone who was pretty damned bright. But in Odum’s case I realized its true meaning, the ability to see the world afresh, without any filters and to hammer out a meaning and organization from this mish-mash of impressions that bombard all of us. At one point, over another beer, Odum sketched out how much energy Leonardo Da Vinci’s Mona Lisa had focused, all those human beings tramping to Paris to see this one rectangle [which I am preparing to do], all the millions more studying prints of the same face, and so forth. It was more illuminating than my first acid trip….A former student said …. Odum gave us a systematic way to understand that natural and human systems must be managed for mutual benefit, or both will diminish and threaten human society as we know it. I remember questioning him back in the seventies about how we could devise a decent society in the face of diminishing cheap energy, particularly the shrinking supplies of fossil fuels we love to mainline. He looked at me and said with a smile, “It’s as much fun to walk down the mountain as walk up the mountain.” I thought, hey, that’s glib. And then, toward the end of his life, [actually written in the early 1980s] he wrote, along with his wife, Elizabeth, a book responding to my dismay. A Prosperous Way Down (2001) details how the soft merging of natural and human systems could work as the cheap oil slips from our grasp…. Odum did not teach me to think outside the fabled box, he seemed ignorant of the existence of the box. For the first and last time in my life, I was with an academic who lived the life of the mind….They all [Hamer, Abbey, and Odum] taught me that there is no excuse for not grappling with the world and trying to both understand and improve it.”

      If you’re sitting within the irradiation of that type of genius, it’s easy to sound intelligent. The ideas spun out of his brain like a unanchored fire hose, in every direction. Have a great summer!

  • Elliott Campbell

    I have some big shoes to fill, but fortunately Mary has already done amazing work on this blog, providing a comprehensive primer on emergy, systems ecology, and the prosperous way down along with her enlightening regular posts. During Mary’s absence I will attempt to continue providing timely, interesting, and informative blog posts from myself and from others well versed in systems ecology and “the prosperous way down”.

    The first blog post will be up this weekend on the challenges of communicating the prosperous way down, both to the public and students in a university setting. The schedule of posting may vary depending on when I get contributions, but I will aim to maintain Mary’s biweekly Saturday posting schedule.

    Additionally, while I have no memory of the diagram itself, I do have vivid memories of the rainy day trip to see Jurassic Park with my cousins and H.T. (or “Granpop” as we called him) and his excitement, along with ours, for the film. It was very cool to see his systems diagram of Jurassic Park, I particularly enjoyed the differential equations, with the loss due to the explosion of the island labeled as “boom” and the flow representing the dinosaurs eating the scientists. Who knew a systems diagram could be hilarious?

    Bon voyage to Mary, I will try my best to maintain the high standard of quality she has established and, worse comes to worst, she will be returning in August 🙂

    • “The first blog post will be up this weekend on the challenges of communicating the prosperous way down, both to the public and students in a university setting.”

      One of the most interesting things to me about this blogging process has been what I chose to write about. That process was inductive/intuitive, while the actual writing process was deductive/rational, to a certain extent. For the deductive writing process, take the principles you want to highlight, apply them in some timely fashion, provide some analysis, and provide some applications at the individual scale for immediate use in the near term. But the intuitive choices of what to write about–that’s a fascinating analysis in and of itself, influenced by the broad list of potential topics, the principles that need airing, what’s currently going on in the blogosphere, and what the dreamscape has processed the night before.

      I look forward especially to Elliott’s generational perspective, having watched some of it from my daughter’s frame of reference. The radical value system of an opposing worldview is handed down from parent to child, and then applied within the constraints of the (rapidly) evolving larger system. How that happens is another potential post in an endless stack of options . . . .

  • Brian

    @Elliott, Mary once referred to the fact her father brought her up as a sleeper emergy agent. Maybe you don’t remember the diagram for a reason!?!

  • Holger Hieronimi

    Gracias – Thanks
    this is a really great blog – need translations in spanish
    thanks for all these great posts, I think this blog has an important function to translate the sometimes complex ideas of Odums work –
    Thank you, mary, for all your great articles
    i´m looking forward to the work of Elliottt

    saludo desde México