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Maia O
Dec 03, 2022
In #UnleashValues
I was extremely confused when I got the email Kai Chan sent us requesting that we bring influencers to our first class. My first thought was, "what class did I sign up for again?" I was scared when I later learned how integrated social media would be for this course. There is something very private about our social media presence; it is a cultivated image of how we wish to be perceived by others. Being asked to produce content for a class about ecology and the environment greatly scared me. Not because I am shy about expressing myself, but because I didn't want to produce content for an app I hate. I used to feel very differently about expressing my political opinions online, but after the black lives matter protests, I felt very disillusioned. Not that social media is not a great way of disseminating information, but watching targeted police violence all over Instagram changed how I felt about social media and the role of activism on Instagram. I think another thing people in our generation struggle with is thinking that caring is cringe, and publicly admitting you care enough to post about it is double cringe. But why do we believe it is cringe to care? Do we see the act of posting as an inauthentic performance? Do we implicitly understand posting won't get us to where we want? Should you even care about what other people think? I often think about this when I am debating deleting my Instagram page. I think this class opened my mind to online activism. I also believe that I have become a more concise writer when creating activist material. Watching everyone create their campaigns was very inspiring, and exploring these ideas in an academic space with other passionate students was enlightening. I enjoyed listening and learning from my classmates and watching them become more confident in their own opinions.
Being Online, Activism, and Change content media
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Maia O
Nov 20, 2022
In #UnleashValues
TW: Depression, Death I was having a really hard time coming up with something to write about this week. I have a lot of thoughts about death philosophically as a human. It is hard to decipher what is valid coherent thought and what is more emotionally rooted. This makes it hard to write about academically. Geriatric depression has had a huge influence on my family and the way we deal with death collectively. Almost every single one of my grandparents had a level of severity that shortened their lifespan. I cannot express how deeply this influenced my view of death in traumatic ways. But I have had the ability to expand my view of what death and aging mean. Specifically, when I talk about geriatric depression, I am talking about when elder people start openly lamenting, accepting, and accelerating their death when they are not terminally ill. I think a huge cause of geriatric depression in this generation of elderly people is their lack of understanding of their mental health. Another issue, I think, is also how generally ableist and ageist our society is. Disabled and elderly people are the most vulnerable people in society. We have emotionally and systematically neglected these groups for a long time in western society, and we need to change this. If aging and disabilities were destigmatized and supported in our society, I believe geriatric depression would be less prevalent as we would be less terrified about what being disabled or elderly means. You can still live a normal, happy, full life if you are disabled or elderly. I believe we should enable this as systematically as possible. Changing our societal relationship with death means becoming more comfortable with the states before death, and understanding that being closer to death does not automatically mean you should resign yourself to wait in agony. Supporting people with cognitive and physical disabilities goes a long way for supporting aging, as when you age, you may develop these disabilities; this does not have to decrease the quality of your life. Our healthcare needs to become more encompassing in this aspect of our lives.
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Maia O
Nov 04, 2022
In #UnleashValues
Remembrance day is approaching quickly. Recently I saw cadets at save-on here on campus selling poppies. I was surprised because this was still during October, a day before Halloween. Remembrance day is a massive deal for commonwealth nations as it commemorates all soldiers lost during world war 1; this day also serves as a day to remember all Canadian soldiers lost in wars Canadian veterans participated in. It is common to buy a poppy from a cadet selling poppies; this money goes to charity to support veterans and veterans' families. But I wish to envision a world where veterans are supported regardless of the money raised by poppies. The government should willingly support a population of people who they themselves ordered to war. The poppy is traditionally made from felted pressed plastic, but now they are transitioning to a biodegradable poppy; you will probably not see any yet this season being distributed as they are currently phasing out the plastic poppy. The poppy is typically worn one day or one week out of the year; it is a sign of patriotism and unity that unites us to commemorate people lost in brutal warfare. At the same time, having this sign also be a disposable piece of mass-produced garbage disrespects veterans and the poem Flanders Fields (such a beautiful and sensitive poem does not deserve to be commercialized like this). Obsession of patriotism's performance blinds us from meeting veterans' needs and makes us feel better about the work we are doing. Before we also took the opportunity to switch poppies to biodegradable, this holiday of remembrance would produce large amounts of poppy-related garbage (pins included). Instead of the cadets being forced to sell small plastic flowers to raise funds for veterans, the government can adequately support these programs. We should evaluate how plastic is used in cultural activities like this more; I think we can start to read a lot about our cultural traditions that also involve extreme levels of industrial cooperation.
The Future of Poppies and Disposable Patriotism content media
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Maia O
Oct 28, 2022
In #UnleashValues
Well... It's the week I have been waiting for... I have a lot of thoughts on capitalism as a system. I think the idea of financial autonomy and the choice of where to spend that money is something we value a lot as humans because we believe that this freedom is vital to our enjoyment of life. But I don't really feel like my freedom as a consumer is even respected. My view of capitalism is a lot narrower and less expansive than what is tradition I don't feel free when I have to choose from various flavours of vitamin water to get my daily dose of flavoured sugar water (why is there a sex flavour? I'm not joking about this). Freedom is only granted under the system of capitalism when you have money as a surplus. Capitalism actually provides us with an idea of false choice as well to make us believe that we would have more choice and autonomy in this market than we actually do. Many of these different brands presenting a diversity of product are owned by the same conglomerates I want to envision a world where corporations cannot have a global presence, and brands had to be localized to the country. This end of global monopolization would create smaller chains of production and more localized production. I think this would grant more autonomy to developing countries over their own financial freedom rather than having to rely on other global partners for investment. I think we need to make a stronger effort as a world to control the economy on a global level. I do not believe there is a centralized authority that deals with monopolization on this scale but developing the world's economy as a whole like this would be beneficial to many humans and ecosystems on earth.
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Maia O
Oct 21, 2022
In #UnleashValues
Fire can have some exciting effects on the fertility of forests and ecosystems. Usually, fire results in the deposition of ash into the soil without the soil being burned too much. If a forest has unusually dense and dry humus, this will be burned, too; this can profoundly affect the soil's microbiome. Deposition of ash chemically changes the soil; if there are pH changes, this can change the amounts of ions available in the soil as organic residues present in the soil will release nutrients during a pH change. This interaction has been known since maybe even before humans fully understood agriculture. Using this method for forest management has consistently resulted in fertile forests for years. This fire can also be seen as a primary function of the nutrient cycle and should not be ignored if we scientifically understand the basis of this fertilization function. Fire as a natural force should be seen as good in the correct context; we should celebrate this effect! Our identity as a province is built on our fertile forests, so we should integrate fire biology into our management practices on a large scale! This helps us manage the risk of dangerous massive forest fires and fertilize our forests. I think BC has had a terrible record with forest management in the context of climate change. Increased severity of forest fires may be one of the most visible and prevalent impacts of climate change we will face in our province, we should not be ignoring these signs, and we should choose to manage our forests in a more sensible way for our future.
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Maia O
Oct 14, 2022
In #UnleashValues
I am a 4th-year Integrated sciences student integrating microbiology and environmental sciences. Integrated sciences is already a strange program most people are unfamiliar with, but within my program, Integration with environmental sciences is very rare. Within microbiology, there is a solid environmental niche; the rest of microbiology is devoted to medical or pathological studies surrounding microbial interactions with humans. This beginning dogma of studying things close to humans first and the environment second comes from the root that microbiology was foundational to the beginning of medicine. Now that we understand the importance of microbes to our biogeochemical cycles, it is time to expand the field of microbiology to represent the global diversity of microbes better. I have a vision of a field of microbiology that is not focused on medical or human relations to microbes and takes a universal ecological approach to study this unique branch of the tree of life. I want to change how microbiologists relate to microbes and encourage an environmental approach to studying microbes worldwide. I think more grants should be made to support the growing field of environmental microbiology, and we should take a larger stand to advocate for better integration of environmental sciences. Environmental microbiology should also be advocated more to younger microbiology students to present the diversity of microbes to the next generation of microbiologists. I believe that this push for diversity in the study field would also push for more innovation relating to microbiology. Having more environmental microbiologists concerning soil studies would help us develop the future of agriculture for Canada. We need to invest in soil studies and environmental microbiology; this is the best way to study soil as an ecosystem holding life rather than a medium to grow plants.
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Maia O
Oct 07, 2022
In #UnleashValues
Living next to the ocean is a huge part of Vancouver Island culture. It is easy to see a body of water as a boundary, but before the island became colonized, many indigenous peoples saw water as a part of their land and not as a border to their existence. This is evident in the spread of the Halkomelem language (one of the many indigenous languages native to here), as it spreads around the island's waterways and even up the Fraser River. The Ladysmith harbour serves as the boundary between the town of Ladysmith and the reserve on the peninsula. The physical boundary of water always placed a huge mental distance between the town and the reserve. Although the reserve is technically still attached to the island, it is very easy to see the other side of the peninsula; it is very easy to pretend that the indigenous people who live on the stz'Uminus reserve (anglicized as Chemainus) are on their own island. This has led to a prevalent culture of racism and "otherism" in Ladysmith, and even though we share a harbour that they have the rightful ownership of, we still see them as the other. This harbour is also used for industrial purposes and is probably most notable for the self-unloading log barges. A self-unloading log barge is a specially designed barge that dumps a load of logs into the water for sawmill storage. These barges are disruptive, as they dump hundreds of tons of lumber into a small harbour ecosystem. This interconnection of the lumber industry to the harbour can be easily visualized by a satellite image of the harbour, where you can see all the floating logs. As someone who grew up in Ladysmith, it was not normal to question this setup. What stands out to me now is how visually disrespectful this practice is to the stz'Uminus people. Before Ladysmith was founded, the harbour was used for fishing salmon and finding bivalves to eat. Now that it has been heavily industrialized, that is impossible. I want to advocate for more stringent regulation efforts into industrial harbour use in cases where the harbour rightfully belongs to an indigenous population. I think, locally, indigenous peoples need to be incorporated more into conversations about waterways. Nationally, I think we need to have a serious conversation about how reserves were created to isolate indigenous populations and not respect their philosophies of movement and governance. I think a shift also needs to change in "island culture". I want to start a change to decolonize island life and incorporate more indigenous philosophy into our unique island culture. If you know anything about the island, a resounding majority of people living there are white. Engaging in indigenous culture is not integrated into this post-colonial "island" identity, and I think ideas about water from indigenous cultures could unilaterally increase the quality of life on the island for indigenous people.
Water and Boundaries content media
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Maia O
Sep 26, 2022
In #UnleashValues
Hey everyone, I have been seeing some discourse about the political axis on the board. I wanted to present a clear distinction between what it feels like to be uncomfortable versus victimized. The reason I present this information is because these two feelings are very important to distinguish when speaking politically. I saw some people present the idea that conservative people may feel uncomfortable in academic spaces expressing their ideas. I do not necessarily think this is a bad thing. Being uncomfortable may be unpleasant, but it is not akin to political persecution. Being in an uncomfortable state is beneficial to growing and actually allows you to deepen your knowledge of your own ideology better. When I am placed in an uncomfortable state I am questioned, but not victimized. I may feel uncomfortable explaining my ideas and being questioned, but I am not persecuted for them. The moment my personhood is questioned, is when I become victimized. I do not believe conservatives are being victimized in this way, and even accentuating discomfort into victimization lends them more credence than some conservatives deserve. Conservative ideology deserves to be put under the microscope and questioned just like any other ideology. To me, many prominent conservative politicians are very quick to jump and say they are victimized when they are not. This is a political ploy, and it works. If you pretend you are in an ideological war the only way to win is to present yourself as the victim. Conservatives are very cognisant of this, this is why many popular conservative conspiracy theories rely on victimization. One clear example of this Donald Trump currently claiming he is a victim of a political conspiracy theory to plant classified documents at Mar-a-Lago. Conservatives also use this ploy to equate their discomfort with the actual victimization of their political victims to silence them. One example of this is migration. Rather than actually allowing people who seek asylum into the country (in the US), conservative politicians unilaterally opt to send these people to detention centers and criminalize their legal behaviour. Then, in the same breath, they claim that the border is under siege. We do not live in a "leftist" dominated world, I have to say it because it is true. Believing otherwise is not accurate.
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Maia O
Sep 23, 2022
In #UnleashValues
© Roy Langstaff/agefotostoc I grew up on Vancouver Island, which I see as a small microcosm of BC itself. You can find the classic BC industries here doing work, mining, logging, fishing, and some small fruit farms litter the island. If you grew up in a small town, it would be economically dominated by one industry; for us in Ladysmith, it was the sawmill; before it was the sawmill, it was the coal mine. BC, as a province, was built on the ideology of being a trade colony; we were the jewel of trade for our rich resources. Extraction began as soon as colonization began. The land was taken, lines were drawn without consultation, and industry won over indigenous sovereignty. This photo is inside the Legislative rotunda in Victoria; it depicts the core industries that economically developed BC as a province. The painting depicts mining, fishing, fruit picking, and logging. These paintings loom over us and are central to our governance, as they are central physically in the legislature. Even present in the photo is our coat of arms motto. "Splendor Sine Occasu" Which ironically translates to splendour without diminishment. I cannot contain my confusion at this. Are we really that delusional at this level to believe that our industries aren't diminishing our natural splendour here? All industries iconized in these paintings have apparent negative impacts on our "splendour"; we have known this since the beginning of these industries. Even some of these industries conflict with each other. For example, the overfishing of salmon has led to a disastrous ecology crisis that directly impacts forest health. Less salmon returning to spawn directly affects the nutrient balances in our forests—specifically, nitrogen levels. Our dogmatic industries rely on cannibalizing each other slowly. This slowness, I think, adds to the cognitive dissonance between splendour and diminishment. I think the "splendour" described here is also a poor description of the word abundance. Indigenous peoples on the island lived in abundance because they were dutiful land managers. Before colonialism, Indigenous peoples had complex civilizations and societies with rich cultures based on the natural and managed abundance of local ecology. It was this intimate connection with the land that created their culture. It was this sensitive understanding of the ecology that created this abundance for them. Our significant industries ruined this connection and profited off of it, possibly permanently ruining the connection between land and indigenous peoples. I want to imagine a world where this natural abundance can be returned and our industries nationalized to the point of disengaging profit motives. After this, we must push for a post-colonial industry model that returns the autonomy of indigenous peoples and rightful resources. We need to consider industrial reparations seriously in this country and decolonize our view of our industries. Major industries like fishing and forestry have shown that sustainability is not a concern. I would argue that extreme measures to integrate indigenous knowledge into management efforts would increase the value of our industry and save us in a sustainability sense. We will never enjoy absolute splendour without diminishment until we decolonize the industries that reap the abundant splendour and diminish it with no consequences.
Post-Colonial Industries of British Columbia content media
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Maia O
Sep 16, 2022
In #UnleashValues
Recently I watched a debate of Chomsky vs Foucault on youtube, these two philosophers are huge figures in contemporary leftist philosophy and I found a particular part where Chomsky speaks about optimism and the future very enlightening for this week's discussion in class. Foucault's main ideology pushes away the idea of an understandable human nature that can be defined through sociology and psychology. This idea is built around the fact that sociological and psychological tools are built through systems of oppression, colonialism, and class oppression. Using these defined tools of academia and institutionality approaches a place where we try to attempt to solve sociological and psychological societal problems with a toolkit that may not help us. Chomsky disagrees with this and proposes that we should at least try making the world a better place rather than just observing systems of oppression and waiting for a class war to start. Chomsky argues that we are able to scrutinize our tools effectively to understand the real effects of our goals. Of course, I am simplifying the main message a lot, but this tension between Chomsky and Foucault's ideas really resonated with me. Thinking about this dialogue in the context of this class, there is the Foucaultian ideology of sensitivity and analysis of the world without engaging in fear of the consequences. There is also the choice to be optimistic about the future and make change for the better, which is the idea Chomsky presents. The still and frozen analysis of society and culture must be balanced with the actionable future that we want to make. I think Foucault and Chomsky's ideas can coexist to create a future where we are always self-scrutinizing our motivations for making the world a better place and the effects of our goals as well. I think in Chomsky's argument, there is a very valid lesson to take away for environmental action, critique must be matched with action. It is not enough to wait for chaos to consume everything and rebuild. We must refine the academic tools we have and assert reality over fiction. My vision for the future respects this. I want to start a change within academia to present itself as more actionable, equitable, and understandable to the public. I think obviously, I wouldn't be starting this change, but I feel as if scientists often try to pull away from more integrative social methods for contextualizing work. One really cool example of anti-colonial science in action is the CLEAR lab in Newfoundland!
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Maia O
Sep 16, 2022
In #UnleashValues
Hi everyone, I am a member of the UBC ENVR 430 class and I am super excited to share our class with this forum! I am a 4th year integrated sciences student integrating microbiology and environmental sciences specializing in soil sciences. I am super passionate about ecology, activism and the integration of anticolonialism into sciences. Biodiversity is the natural property of a communities fortitude, and yet biodiversity is something that is the antithesis of industry and human organization. Humans and our world are governed by industry, and not biodiversity. I will try not to start writing my manifesto here, but I do hope to be able to explore the world of climate change by integrating knowledge about the insidious nature of industrialization and colonialism and what the future could look like. Sorry for unleashing some communist ideology, but I guess this is the forum to do it #UnleashValues
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Maia O

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