Danielle Jordan is a Georgia native who grew up vacationing and traveling around Florida. She is excited for the opportunity to contribute to the work of the Florida Springs Institute this summer while learning more about the unique ecology of Florida’s springs. She is currently a PhD student and graduate assistant in the University of Florida Department of English where she studies the environmental humanities, critical theory, and speculative fiction and film. In her teaching and her research, she strives to show how narrative informs understandings of climate change and other pressing environmental issues.

Danielle is joining us through June as our Outreach Intern through the University of Florida’s Public Humanities internship program. Keep reading for her piece in this June’s Springs Vent.

Springs Ecology: Beyond the Logbook
by Danielle Jordan, FSI Outreach Intern

When I learned that I would be given the chance to intern with the Springs Institute this summer, I was ecstatic! As an environmental humanist, I spend most of my time studying how literature, history, and narrative inform the way we look at the natural world. This requires me to stay fresh on many major happenings in the sciences, but rarely is this my primary focus.

However, what I thought would be a nice change of pace is already shaping up to be much more familiar than I would have originally estimated. One of my first assignments with the Springs Institute was to review the ‘Springs 101’ material for the ‘Floridasprings.org’ web page. I was pleased to find that right there, alongside information about our state’s karst terrain and spring magnitudes, were a number of sections on Florida’s natural and cultural history.

Once again, I was reminded that these two seemingly different ways of looking at nature, through the sciences and through the humanities, are hardly as distinct as one might think. That is, one cannot overlook how Florida’s long histories of tourism, development, and injustices of race and class have influenced both the quality and quantity of our shared water supply.

In this early assignment, it became apparent to me that while springs conservation is often thought of as an issue of science, the best scientists and activists recognize that pressing matters of environmental protection are inseparable from human history. These two ways of thinking go hand in hand.

In turn, my brief “dive” into springs ecology also reminded me of the ways in which the humanities may borrow from the sciences. Vital organisms such as the Spotted Sunfish, the Bald Cypress, and my personal favorite, the West Indian Manatee all call our springs home. As a result, they all operate in conjunction with one another to sustain a vibrant springs habitat. Each role is vital, and the failure of even the smallest link can cause significant changes to the entire system.

After reviewing these basic ideas, I am reminded that to think ecologically is, in many ways, to think in terms of community, and lessons in community are perhaps important now more than ever. The challenge of securing the long-term protection of our springs will require the involvement of local citizens and activists from around the state. It will require the know-how and support of scientists and researchers of all kinds, and it also means that our lawmakers must act in good faith and on behalf of the public interest. We are an ecology of our own, but one that is hardly apart from that of a larger environment.

To return to my original idea, it is rarely the case that we think in terms of the sciences or the humanities alone. A sound future and the logic of ecology requires us to think of both at once.

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