Reading Artifacts: Ursula Franklin,
E. U. Washburn’s Story: Uncle Abe: David Lee,
Ways of Seeing, Ways of Knowing: Gary Holthaus,
Two Poems: Tina Johnson,
“Scientist Ursula Franklin opened her presentation at the 1997 Sitka Symposium by saying that our human wish and need to know comes from our need to cope–with any number of situations. With this simple statement delivered with her characteristic clarity, Ursula pointed out that the Symposium’s broad theme, Ways of Seeing, Ways of Knowing, did not just pose a range of possibilities for how we see the world and understand our lives, but was tied to our very survival. That survival ranges from day to day decisions to plans and dreams of our individual lives to the long-term well-being of our communities.
Perhaps we had never thought of the work of the Island Institute quite so literally as an effort to help people survive. But coping can be a complicated business sometimes, and may require a willingness to ask hard questions that don’t have easy answers–to come by or to accept. Some of those questions are very private. Others are necessarily public and involve the nature of our connections to other people and the places we live. Some can be addressed by the objective inquiry of science, as Ursula went on to describe for us. Others have meaning only when tied to direct experience. Still others need the ardent attention of our imaginations. As colleague and poet David Lee noted in his remarks that followed Ursula’s, poetry is a concentration and distillation of language and imagination that allows us to cope as well as survive. It allows us to save ourselves…
The ideas, stories, and poems of last June’s Symposium provided that kind of focus for our attention. They reverberate in our minds–and are likely to for some time. It isn’t possible to convey them all, but we’ve captured a few and offer them for your reflection…”