This semester, I’ve written a series of columns on environmentally sustainable actions perfect for individual efforts. Changing our own transportation, living and consumption habits will indeed be imperative to reducing emissions and renegotiating a more sensitive relationship with the planet. However, as much as these individual measures are necessary, on their own, they are just as certainly not sufficient.
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For those who have them, grassy lawns exert a stranglehold over our lives. During times of peak growth, they need mowing weekly. Depending on the conditions of where you live, they may need regular watering as well as applications of fertilizers and pesticides. If the grass dies out – as it often does – lawn curators must replant and tend to new grass to mend the hole in the green blanket.
American houses are big – some of the biggest in the world. On top of that, they are growing; when suburbs were first being developed in the post-World War II era, 983 square feet was the average home size. By 2018, that figure had jumped to 2,623 square feet. The rise of the so-called “McMansion” in the United States is a logical outgrowth of trends of increased consumption. Today, owning a large home is perhaps the single greatest status symbol in our culture.
If for some reason you wanted to squander your college career without exposure to the nooks and crannies of Athens, you probably could. With a little planning, your academic life could be confined to Ohio U’s campus. Your consumptive life could roll out on Court and State Streets, and your social life could reside in the bars and on Mill Street. The only snag to this strategy: it wouldn’t be much fun.
Maintaining an aquarium is, by all accounts, an excellent hobby. Aquariums are calming – the residents’ jerky yet somehow methodical movements pull you into a concentration where all that exists are them and you. They are grounding – caring for something as minute as a fish or snail reminds you that humans do not hold a monopoly on the value of life. And, perhaps most importantly, they implicate us in a mutual system of balance that can be extended to many other aspects of our lives.
Cars are a foundational part of American life. Companies like General Motors, Fiat Chrysler (now Stellantis) and Ford are thought to be essential to American manufacturing. Owning a personal vehicle has even become equated to images of the American Dream and individualistic grit.
During the pandemic, asking our friends, neighbors and co-workers the question, “How have you been?” is imperative – the pandemic has imperiled mental wellbeing for many of us, and a simple check-in can go far in breaking cycles of dark, destructive thoughts.
For those who celebrate, Valentine’s Day is an exciting way to reaffirm and display one’s love for their partner – a very laudable expression. The Day of Love, however, also implies more stressful sentiments: preparations for the day are notoriously frantic – think of all those rom-coms where someone scrambles at the last minute to make sure everything goes just right.
Ask any student what they cherish most about going to Ohio University, and perhaps the most likely response will be the simple beauty of the campus. OU’s brick buildings, colonial architecture and scenic landscape combine to present a familiar yet uniquely elegant look that could’ve been the inspiration for any cliché college movie.
Many of us would like nothing more than respite from the realities of vitriolic politics, a pandemic and the taxing demands of day-to-day affairs. These actualities serve to deracinate us from ourselves and the nuances of our surroundings. Instead, they plug us into a terrain of constant fear and detachment. In modern times, an agenda of reconnection is paramount, and, for me, a key mode of reconnecting with myself and the moment has been watching birds.
45% of 18- to 22-year-olds suggest that they are “completely addicted” to social media, signifying a higher rate of addiction than any other age group. Importantly, that statistic was captured in April 2019 – well before the pandemic began. Because the pandemic has curtailed opportunities for face-to-face socialization, it would not be irrational to conclude that today’s number of young adults addicted to social media may be even higher.
Biden is moving full speed ahead with his transition process as his inauguration nears. A major part of this process is, of course, the development of a cabinet. Recently, Biden’s decision to select Pete Buttigieg as Transportation Secretary has drawn criticism for Buttigieg’s lack of experience in transportation: “Briefly being mayor of a town smaller than Fargo, North Dakota, does not qualify you to be Secretary of Transportation,” reads a typical tweet from the Gravel Institute.
In Ohio, the Republicans’ national shift toward the right combined with Gov. Mike DeWine’s insufficient but still tangible response to the COVID-19 pandemic signal a precarious standing for DeWine in his next elections – primary and gubernatorial – in 2022. In effect, it’s likely that Ohio’s next governor will hail from the far right.
The holidays which nations decide to elevate matters. While nearly all holidays nationally celebrated in the U.S. are a reflection of Western values and culture, two stand out as major glorifiers of Eurocentric imperialism: Columbus Day and Thanksgiving. Every year, it seems a debate flares up around each of these holidays about whether we should continue to celebrate them.
Thanks to the advent of telecommunications (namely email) and web-based classroom management tools (namely Blackboard), professors and students can – and do – contact each other at all hours of the day and week.
From climate change to racism to healthcare and beyond, the government is totally out-of-touch with the American public. That can only be post-democracy in action.
Political platforms are confusing and often disingenuous. We broke down what they’re really going to do in office.
In making America “great” again, Trump wants to fuel the economic fire lit by Reagan and neoliberal policy, or he wants to revert America to an explicitly and legally oppressive state — or both.
Republicans have usurped American Democracy. In 2018, Pew found that 31% of Americans identified as Democrats, and 26% identified as Republicans. An additional 38% called themselves independents. Research shows, however, that most independents still favor one party. When Pew dug deeper, it found that 45% of independents lean toward Democrats, 34% of independents lean toward Republicans, and only 18% of independents are truly independent.
President Donald Trump has so far refused to commit to a peaceful transition of power. If he loses the election and declines to leave office, that would be unprecedented in American Democracy. Still, this seems to be the route that Trump is taking.