I have followed the work the International Ecolinguistics Association through the past years. I hoped to attend their conference one day, but life was rich and full of much else that needed tending. This year as the request for proposals for the conference went out, I decided cast my fate to the winds and submit a proposal to present at the upcoming conference at the University of Graz, Austria.
I decided that if my proposal was accepted, I would figure out a way to attend. My proposal to present on “Ecolinguistics Through Wildness, Beauty, and Imagination—Transdisciplinary Research Through Scholarly Personal Narrative and Lilyology” was accepted.
The stars aligned and I followed.
The beauty of place, inspiration of ideas, spectrum of experiences, and connecting with others created a feast for all senses. One particular delight that surprised me was exploring the cobblestone streets of the city. I lived in Germany for a year and attended the University of Göttingen for one year while studying International Relations. I spent Christmas in Austria with dear friends. This was many years ago and I rarely have opportunities to speak German and have not been in Germany or Austria since. I didn’t anticipate the cascade of memories exploring the city would bring back and loved that feeling.
I arrived in Graz mid-afternoon on a gorgeous fall day and immediately headed out to explore. A landmark of Graz is the fortress with its iconic Clock Tower, first mentioned in the 13th century, perched on a hill overlooking the city. I headed in that general direction and happened upon the stone staircase zig-zagging up the cliff. Up, up, and up the staircase climbs. A runner passed me as he headed up the steps. And me without my running clothes! As I ascended the stone steps the cityscape unfolded and expanded, until at last I reached the top. I stood and drank in all.
One of the elements that I savored about the conference was how multigenerational and multinational the attendance and presentations—from prominent leading scholars of several decades, to those of us around my generation, to a whole younger band of emergent ecolinguists bringing new perspectives and lenses to these ideas. The generational span exchanging experiences and ideas created a vibrant, rich environment! The conference program is included at the end of this piece for you to explore.
In addition to the ideas shared through presentations and conversations, our time included meeting with a representative within beautiful interior of the Town Hall.
We took an excursion to the mountains of the local wine region of Syria, where we looked out toward Slovenia.
Conversations and connections flowed throughout all. I pulled out my journal as I waited to board the plane home—so very much to write about.