Flying Fish

Making Connections
by Nicole Carlozo -- October 18th, 2010

Sometimes life requires pause, especially when I find my graduate studies spilling into other areas of my life. When the boundaries are blurred between academics and what lies beyond campus, I know I’m at Duke for a reason.

I’ve slowly realized that all aspects of life are connected, and the past few weeks have surely confirmed this conclusion. While studying for my Economics midterm, I found myself relating various concepts to my Coastal Law class.  Meanwhile, I’ve listened to my Coastal Law TA relate coastal development, tourism, and land use issues to the Down East community of North Carolina – the very same community I’m researching through my assistantship. Over and over, my work and classes seem to connect. Why, then, am I still surprised when the same thing happens in life?

I’ve often observed biological linkages and acknowledged the essential overlap between science and policy. I even chose to attend graduate school to gain an interdisciplinary perspective of environmental issues, through science, policy, economics, and communications. This week, however, I witnessed linkages between these topics and the Durham community.

Over the weekend, I set my projects and midterms aside for a few hours to visit Ganyard Hill Farm. The land had a warm, homey feel to it, especially to a Marylander familiar with back, winding roads and fields upon fields of corn. The day was filled with cotton picking, barnyard animals, a hay ride, and meandering through pumpkin patches.  As I sat on a stack of comfy hay with fellow Nich Schoolers, I couldn’t help but notice the changes happening around us. We passed through the parched fields in a long, red tractor bed and a cloud of dust floated over from the farm’s edge. One glance was all we needed to notice the development occurring at the farm’s borders.

We questioned our guide, and he stopped the tractor for a moment, leaning back to regale us with tales of the farm and the family who owns it. Then, in a matter-of-fact way, he acknowledged the impending development. His message: When the price is right, the family will sell. I knew he spoke the truth. I’ve seen the exact same thing happen near my home in Harford County, Maryland.

Fast forward to a DukeFish lecture I attended later in the week, where coordinating director of the Northwest Atlantic Marine Alliance (NAMA) spoke about small-scale, local fishing communities and the need for their involvement in protecting marine biodiversity. She drew comparisons between U.S. small-scale family farms and small-scale fishermen, and questioned the benefits of more “efficient” food systems.  NAMA’s massage: scale matters. I couldn’t help but think back to the owners of Ganyard Hill Farm. Then my mind wandered to the local fishermen I worked with on Maryland’s Rhode River in 2008.

All of these people are connected, whether they know it or not, and it has been so fun dotting the line.

Tractor at Ganyard Hill Farm

Tractor at Ganyard Hill Farm

Fishing in the Rhode River, Chesapeake Bay

Fishing in the Rhode River, Chesapeake Bay

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