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Trees, Moss, and Compostable Cutlery: A Final Reflection, by Jamie Shapiro

When I signed up for the Community Adventure Program, I had no idea what I was getting myself into. I thought I would be taking hikes, maybe learning some skills, perhaps volunteering in the "community." And here I am now, committed to helping solve a problem I didn’t even know existed until a few months ago. Here I am, committed to reducing my ecological footprint. And the astonishing thing about it…I actually want to. I now have a genuine desire to do something good for my environment. What motivated me to come to this realization, you ask? Was it the camping, the hiking, the vast expanses of untamed beauty? Was it the quotes, the inspirational movie? No, I think not. Although I enjoyed all the aspects of this class, it was the Action Project that motivated me to do something about the place in which I live. Don’t get me wrong however, I wasn’t particularly interested in zero waste when we started, or even now for that matter. It is not zero waste that is motivating me right now, nor is it the foul state of our earth, or how wastefully I am living. It is the people I saw in this class, living out what we was said in those quotes. People who live with purpose.

The two overnights we went on were extremely enjoyable for me and were very unique experiences as far as camping goes.  I have been backpacking many time, almost every year since I could lift a pack, but I never knew how to hang a bear-hang, scatter the ashes of the fire, dig a sump hole, or sleep under a tarp…correctly that is. It’s funny to think of that as it seems I have been doing these things forever. Perhaps that’s the mark of a great wilderness class, to do something twice, and make it seem like a hundred.  Probably the only thing I would have changed about the trips would be to hike in further in, but do to the structure of the class, I realize that this would be impossible. I loved the structure of independence that the trips were based on in terms of eating and sleeping. It definitely made me feel much more self-reliant and confident. My favorite part, however, would have to be the blindfold drum exercise.  I felt completely detached from everything except my feet, my hands, the earth and the trees. I think one of the most important things I realized, not in terms of “skills,” but in terms of perspectives, was that the object of camping is not to make the woods feel as comfortable as your living room, but rather make yourself the “living room,” and the world your woods. I like the idea of home within oneself, rather than an exterior home. That way everything can be a home, which can be as comfortable as you feel.
Our Action Project was probably my favorite part of the class, just because I have never done anything like that before, and it seems like something everybody should. I think an Action Project should be required to graduate from high school. If I ever start a high school, it will be like that. Concerning zero waste specifically, I had no idea it even existed until this project. Learning about the issue was great, and applying it worked fairly well.  It was fun watching movies about it, hearing people talk about it, and then actually doing something. I think we should have pushed a bit harder, maybe set higher goals for our class to work towards, but the goals we did set were completed with style and grace. I loved what Alex Carr did to the flyer: he really took control of that project, and I think it was the best of anything we did. The skit was also quite good, but I’m not sure the audience understood what a fantastic job we really did. The Boulder Farmers Market rocked, I was surprised how many people were interested in what I/we had to say. I would talk to people, expecting to hear a polite “oh that’s nice,” but instead I would hear about their day, where they went to high school,  or how much they loved the environment. Shocking. The shirts are also way rad. I wish we could have done more with businesses, but I guess it’s never to late to do something myself.  I think it changed how I view environmental issues affecting the community in an optimistic, positive way. I had always been extremely pessimistic about the quality of the environment, but after seeing how much is really being done, at least in Boulder, and how many people care, I can’t help but see it as an issue that is changing for the better. I can’t say my views about high school students in the community have changed quite so much, however. I had rather high expectations for the class, as well as myself, which weren’t exactly fulfilled.  What I can say is that a group of thirteen high school-age humans can accomplish just as much as the same amount of people in any age range, if not more. I think forming a habit of caring about the state of the planet might be exceptionally beneficial for society as a whole. I learned that making a change is extremely difficult, but also that it can be a good time. What can I say, being helpful makes me feel as though I have a purpose. I think we have set a great foundation for future CAP classes, mostly in our furthering of knowledge, connections, and that sweet flyer. I liked doing that Action Project and I know we reached some people outside the class; maybe ours will be the ripple that starts the revolution.

When I think of the Community Adventure Program class as a whole, I am reminded of how much we really accomplished. We went on hikes, we had philosophical discussions, we talked about the environment, we read Doctor Seuss, we tackled zero waste, but overall, if I had to think of one word to describe the class as a whole, I would say inspirational. Everything we did was about becoming inspired. We hiked and camped to appreciate the wilderness, to become inspired by the outdoors. We talked about our inspiration. We campaigned about our inspiration, through talking to people at the Farmers Market, through the flyer, skits and T-shirts. We become inspired. Inspired to change. Inspired to be the change. Inspired to be. The class as a whole, when I take a step back, was about making young people inspired.

When I think about my personal ecological footprint, it makes me want to go live in a cave somewhere, and live off of fungus, and create absolutely no waste. Unfortunately, as that’s not going to happen, some more reasonable measures should be taken I think. I always bus to and from school, which is good, but I could just as easily bike. I think I do moderately well, in terms of environmental effects, at least for my lifestyle. I always recycle, at least when I can, I reuse plastic bags, and other reusable items. I could do better, however, seeing as if everyone lived likes me, we would use seven point five planets. A big part of it, I think, is simply including the environment in my personal ethics and morals, making it something I stand for. I think if everyone thought of themselves as environmentalists, they might become environmentalists. The biggest personal motivator is always your own opinion. You are your harshest critic and that can go to work for you in a situation like this. The more I have begun to think of myself as environmentally conscious, the guiltier I feel when I act out of this ideology. That would be a great step, at least for me, in saving the world, which is basically at stake.

In conclusion, I would just like to say that I genuinely got something out of this class. I’m not saying it was life changing (although isn’t life life changing?) just that it had a positive impact on me. I’m also not saying that Figures 1 didn’t have a positive impact on me, because it did. All I’m saying, really, is that it inspired me, more than if I had taken Russian Revolution, or some such class. It shaped me for the better, what better praise could there be?

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