Iowa State University Research Park

Oh, it’s a beautiful day in the heartland! The other morning I went for a drive (been trying to wake up at 5:45 am and STAY up lately) and wound up at the ISU Research Park. This photo, believe it or not, shows part of the landscaping…very natural looking. Maybe I’ll wind up working out here, who knows?! I’d have a nice view for enjoying my lunch outside, don’t you think?


“Where is the green?” you ask. Well, if you have a true passion for green, for what plants do, this is IT….the reason for it all, what keeps it all going and yes, it’s actually pretty ugly, unless you are into tans and earth tones! The soybean fields are turning yellow now in the midwest, and when they are ready to harvest, they look like this, leaves shriveled and dead, little dry fuzzy seed pods full of hard nuggets of creamy gold. The source of animal feeds, soy milk, tofu and hundreds of other things that I am not even aware of. Our native ancestors probably ate corn and beans and buffalo. We drink most of our corn as colas sweetened with corn syrup and eat cow fed with soy meal. Anyway, I love the harvest. One of these nights I’ll have to go for a drive to see the combine lights at night and hear the whir of the harvest being gathered in.


It’s one of those between-summer-and-fall days that you wish would never end! It’s warm, probably pushing 80 degrees F, but there is a good breeze too, the tree tops are swaying, the sun plays hide and seek with the clouds and all the insects are playing their little hearts out before the first frost creeps up on them. A few leaves have fallen, enough to scuff through a little when you walk down the street and one can see flashes of red, yellow and orange peeking out from the mostly still green trees. The crab trees that line the back drive are full of little hard red apples and occasionally as you drive around town you can see a real apple tree loaded down with red jewels!

Sustainability Research

Steven took me to Cafe Diem this week to work on my research proposal. He’s a good guy! Many of you would know that I have been trying to write this proposal, for….well, over a year. The approach to the research has changed several times, and I have had various cases of writer’s block, family wanderings, heart medicine side effects and just plain enjoying life too much, but now I am revved up and ready to go…I think! Here is the current version of my summary, for anyone who might be interested!

How Have Sustainability Activists Developed?:

Life Course Influences and Processes that Brought Five Individuals to Collective Action for Improving Sustainability within an American University

My research proposes to use a qualitative methodology to discover life course influences and processes that brought individual members of the Iowa State University Council on Sustainability (ISU COS) to collective action for improving sustainability within an American university. I will interview at least five of the founding members of the ISU COS using an open ended interview guide. One and possibly more one hour interviews will be conducted, recorded and transcribed for each respondent. The interviews will be designed to elicit the story of how each member became aware of sustainability issues and then felt moved to participate on the COS. Respondents will be invited to submit additional written material if they choose and will be asked to review transcripts of the interviews, the later analysis and conclusions, thus becoming active constructors of the conclusions. Individuals’ stories will be examined using a narrative analysis approach, acknowledging the fact that it would be impossible for me, as the researcher, to verify that influences and processes described by the respondents did indeed happen and had the effects described. However, collecting and analyzing these rich stories of sustainability pioneers may suggest further, more specific social, cultural and psychological influences and processes to study using a less subjective methodology. Finally, using appropriate techniques for protecting the anonymity of the respondents, the results of my research will be shared via my masters thesis and possibly professional journals. It is my hope that my research will suggest ways that future sustainability activists can be nurtured and cultivated throughout the life course.


This little patch of countryside is a five minute drive from my apartment. Here are some pics for you from a late summer walk!

Have you ever walked in a field that felt like a grasshopper popper? (think popcorn popper with bugs instead of corn kernals!)

I don’t think Steven was as excited about the grasshoppers as I was, but he does have a passion for walking!

To make a prairie it takes a clover

and one bee, —

One clover, and a bee,

And revery.

The revery alone will do

If bees are few. –Emily Dickinson