Well thanks to Anna Sturrock's boisterous (the neighbors even knocked on the ceiling urging us to keep quiet because we were having so much) presentation, I started really questioning the methods by which we know what we know about the natural world. And in that questioning, I was amazed and inspired by the developments and shifts in thinking about tracking.
First, I am not a scientist, I took no notes (in fact I was working behind the counter as the presentation was occurring), and I am one who would rather deal in truth rather than facts. So please take all of my comments with a grain of salt. And if something doesn't add up, well, please leave a comment and correct me. My ego isn't so big it can't take a hit every now and again.
What struck me the most about tracking of fish was the huge room for error in our knowledge base. Tracking originally started with eyesight. Scientists go out into the world, count, map, and track on that map. This led to huge gaps in our understanding of fish migration as our eyes are imperfect, the frequency with which we can observe is limited by time, and the depth or murkiness of water limits sight. These gaps create bias, which then informs understand. This loop can create great misunderstandings of our natural world and these misunderstandings start to influence policy. (Anna didn't mention this; it is something that struck me in reflection.)
Modes of tracking fish evolved over time and became more nuanced. These modes of tracking morphed from eyesight to putting tags on fish to satellite tags. With each new mode, more information was learned and our understanding of migration patterns deepened. Suddenly, scientists were able to understand that migration is dynamic and changing. What seemed so simple simply because our eyesight is limited became something complex.
Still, the policies used to "govern" nature have not shifted with this new understanding, with this emergent complexity.
To me, this seems analogous to our current reality. (Again, not something Anna mentioned, but something that strikes me as I write and reflect.) We are living in a time of incredible polarization. And in that polarization we are not letting new information help shape our understanding. We are stuck still only observing with our eyes.
Now, I know this has little to do with the actual lecture. (You can check out Anna's slideshow below for more on that.) It does, however, play into why I do what I do, and specifically underscores what 14 Black Poppies is all about: building dynamic understanding that evolves and rooting that understanding in personal interactions.
I would never have come to this realization without the aid of Anna's lecture. I have thought long and hard about what 14 Black Poppies does. Most of the time, I say "we produce community, arts, and wellness cultural events", and that is a fact. But the truth runs much deeper. 14 Black Poppies is dynamic and evolving. It is something that helps us see the talents in our neighbors.
And I am incredibly lucky to have had Anna share her talents with the audience in attendance, which included me. I am glad to count Anna as my neighbor.