As I enter the New Year writing my gratitudes in the early morning hours of darkness, sanctuary, and solitude, I think of you and this community. I am so deeply grateful to and for each of you reading this. I am profoundly grateful for our connection across the miles, years, landscapes, and seas. We came into each other’s lives through a spectrum of experiences. You, your presence, and your incredible spirit enrich my life and world in exponential ways. Thank you and thank you for sharing your life path with me. I read and cherish every comment. I always hope to respond to each. Sometimes other things in life pull me away. You taking the time to write and connect lands in my heart. I know how rich and full all of our lives! I thought I’d create this piece with all of the Dewdrops pieces from 2022. I reread all of your comments. What marvelous gifts of spirit and heart—such a reflection of you.
Wishing you and yours a wonderful new year! The chapter of of this New Year is ours to write.
Much love and deep gratitude,
Stories of Language, Landscape, Wildness, Beauty, Imagination I sit in the early morning time of sanctuary and solitude, candlelight and coffee, darkness and dreams. My journal fills with an ever-growing list of Dewdrops pieces that to write—all swirling around language, landscape, wildness, beauty, and imagination; the most recent trip to the ranch; Lilyology; Scholarly Personal Narrative; translanguaging; beauty; books; family; and so very many other musings and bits of beauty.
The past few months have been a time of many presentations, writing, and sharing of ideas. My passion for all things language, landscape, wildness, beauty, and imagination continues to grow. I spoke recently about these ideas and stories…
TESOL Convention—Layers of Ideas, Friendship, and Love I hope to share the spirit of the time, as well as some ideas that I took away. TESOL has been a big part of my life for many, many years and in multiple ways. I believe my first TESOL was in Salt Lake City, 2002. Throughout the intervening years, TESOL serves as a foundational stone in my own professional understandings about all-things-multiple-language-acquisition. Ever since my first meeting with the Bilingual-Multilingual Education that segued from the meeting to salsa dancing in New York City, I knew I met my people. Professional colleagues became dear friends.
Creative Processes—Follow the Spark I always love learning about others’ creative processes in all forms. I learn, I study, I weave some of those elements into my own. I find creative processes makes my heart smile and my spirit soar. I share some of my own creative processes here in hopes of contributing to all of us who love these. My own processes take multiple forms with some common threads. They almost always begin with that energy spark of an idea that can happen anywhere and at anytime. Yes, it can be while I’m writing in my journal, often they happen when I’m running, and they are also equally as bound to happen while in the grocery store looking for my favorite tea.
Running Deeper Into Language We know that language is not learned, it is acquired through relevant and meaningful use. As I listen to the narrative, I focus on the story, as well as the pronunciation and cadence. Initially, I let myself look up three unfamiliar words in one run. To look up more would’ve made my runs take too long before the work day. So, for approximately 1 – 1.5 hours a day, I listen to gorgeous, oral Spanish. The voice of the narrator mades a difference. I’ve listened to listen to a sample first, so it’s a narrator that I like. Now, I have some real favorites. I have listened to books from Spain, Mexico, Chile, and Argentina. Thus far, the narrators come from the country of origin, so speak with the particular rhythm and pronunciation of each country. I love this.
Wink Ranch — Photo Journal 2022 Mom and I made a quick dash to the ranch together on her way back from Tucson. We headed out early for the drive to the ranch. The sun peeked over the horizon just as we crested the hills around Las Vegas, New Mexico. Daddy called a little later and asked, “Am I speaking with Thelma or Louise?” Up through the mountains of New Mexico, over the plains of southern Colorado, and up to the sagebrush valleys of Wyoming, we drove. We in the Southwest have enjoyed amazing rains this summer, which has helped our drought-scorched country immensely. New Mexico hasn’t had our traditional summer monsoon rains, nor the heavy snows of winter for the past few years. The Rio Grande River is nearly dry. Here, some photos of our time, both of the land and the ranch and the bits of beauty around the ranch house that I love.
Language, Culture, and Land: Lenses of Lilies in Langscape Magazine At a pond’s edge, a woman muses about waterlilies as metaphors for mother-tongue languages and their power to anchor story, wisdom, and heritage.
Waterlilies hold a special place in my heart. I did not grow up with them, though. I grew up on a remote ranch amid the sand, rocks, cacti, and dry beauty of the Sonoran Desert in the southwestern United States. I love the intense heat, the plants that thrive on periods of drought interspersed with torrential rains, and the vast open horizons that cup the wide basin of the desert…Little did I ever imagine that those read-about and imagined waterlilies would have a profound impact on both my professional and my personal life. More…
Running on the Ranch: The Road Less Traveled I love running on the ranch. There isn’t always time to run when on the ranch, but I always hope that there will be and arrive with my running tights, shoes, and gear. I am used to and love the expansive views and horizons of my high desert running trails around around in Santa Fe. The prairie of the western South Dakota plains holds a whole different kind of space. Surrounded by sheer prairie, there is a sense of running under the great blue bowl of the sky above.
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.
Día de los Muertos—Altar as Landscape, Love Lives On Mom’s hope chest creates the foundation for the altar. As I placed each piece, I had to smile. When my Grandma Mary embroidered Van Gogh’s Sunflowers, when my Great-Grandma Grace ground the coffee before dawn in the sod hut on the ranch, never could they have imaged these pieces where they are now. The landscape of our altar reflects the landscape of my life. Yo soy fronterista. I am a woman of the borderlands, as used by Gloría Anzaldúa. My life is one of a fronterista, where worlds overlap: prairie and Southwest, rural and international, landscape literature and linguistic human rights. Here on the altar, prairie and farmland come together with the Southwest; German, Welsh, Irish, and English with Latino; Protestant with Catholic; past with present. The worlds, each with a distinct culture, come together to create the mosaic of the whole.
A Shared Cup of Christmas Tea We were all set to be on the ranch with Grammie, Bop Bop, and the Wisconsin Winks this Christmas, but the record setting cold hitting the Great Plains put an end to those plans. “We don’t want our family traveling in these conditions,” Mom and Dad let us know. And, they made that call even before the entire state of South Dakota closed all travel. Predicted temperatures of -70 including the wind chill factor anticipated for this week. The North Pole has nothing on the Wink Ranch!
A Wink family tradition for Christmas is to read the gorgeous book A Cup of Christmas Tea by Tom Hegg. While this is titled Christmas tea, the story holds for all traditions. This is a human story of roots, memories, and love. I thought that I’d read to you.
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.
Did you take up running recently, Dawn?” I was asked recently.
“Not really,” I smiled. “It’s been 35+ years now.”
I started running when I began college and no longer played high school sports. Running was just so easy, and inexpensive, to pick up. I didn’t have to go anyplace else or be anywhere at a certain time. There were no monthly dues. All I needed was a pair of running shoes and out the door. I’ve been running ever since. I’ve run in several states, a few countries, and with a number of running strollers. I’ve run the cement sidewalks of Chihuahua, the cobbled streets of Oaxaca, through the dense green of Germany, and the humidity and heat of Costa Rica that made me feel like I was running in a sauna.
Throughout these many years, I have never run while listening to anything except the musings of my mind and, for many years, the musings of the babies and toddlers in the strollers that I packed with books, toys, and goldfish. I loved, and continue to love, the time away from all to simply sink into whatever thoughts may come my way. Everything I have ever written has been mused, crafted, and refined while I run. Many of the emergent ideas came to me first to the rhythm of my footfall. Running has been my steady companion through good times and bad. Many a tear has been shed along the trails, along with laughter, dreams, planning, and more than a few choice words as I suddenly remembered something that I had forgotten or needed to be done. Through every season, I always ran in silence, until about a year ago…
About a year ago I started to listen to audio books in Spanish when I run. Some backstory—our family are big listeners of audio books. This began with cassette tapes of stories for the kids. We grew into hundreds of CDs of The Lord of the Rings, Harry Potter, and more stories and books than I can remember. The kids and I listened to books-on-tape (as I still call them) constantly—in the car, in our home, before bed. We all still have audio books going. Those free Audible credits are gold in our family
About a year ago, the thought came to me to start listening to my audio books in Spanish on my runs. I let that thought simmer for quite a while, but it didn’t go away. So, I started listening and have since that time fallen in love with this new rhythm.
We know that language is not learned, it is acquired through relevant and meaningful use. As I listen to the narrative, I focus on the story, as well as the pronunciation and cadence. Initially, I let myself look up three unfamiliar words in one run. To look up more would’ve made my runs take too long before the work day. So, for approximately 1 – 1.5 hours a day, I listen to gorgeous, oral Spanish. The voice of the narrator mades a difference. I’ve listened to listen to a sample first, so it’s a narrator that I like. Now, I have some real favorites.
I have listened to books from Spain, Mexico, Chile, and Argentina. Thus far, the narrators come from the country of origin, so speak with the particular rhythm and pronunciation of each country. I love this. I love sinking to the familiar sharp staccato of Mexican Spanish, hearing the crispness of Chilean Spanish, the iconic “zzzhhhh” of the “ll” in Argentina, and the “th” of the zeta and “c” of Spain. I have wondered what influence this may have on my own Spanish pronunciation. This, I do not know. What I do know is that the adventures throughout time around the the Spanish-speaking world in the past year deepened my fluency and fluidity in Spanish. I feel it.
For those of us who live in the world of languages, we know that language acquisition most effectively happens when there is a combination of natural acquisition and focused learning. The vast majority of my focus is on natural acquisition. I do season this with some specific learning when I hear something in the narrative that gives me pause, which usually revolves around the grammar rules that my high school Spanish teacher (aka Mom) says I rarely had much interest in, as long as I could communicate. I now dive into the details of the subjunctive and other grammatical puzzles that peak my interest. My Spanish teacher will be proud!
Aquí, hablo del tesoro del libro EL INFINITO EN UN JUNCO, escrito por Irene Vallejo:
This experience of sinking deeply into Spanish story for the sheer beauty of the language and narrative is one that I treasure. While running the trails of New Mexico, I have walked the streets of Madrid during the Spanish Civil War, revisited Berlin in the final days of WWII, absorbed Isabel Allende’s wisdom through a character, walked the literary streets of Barcelona at night, and so very much more.
As a learner of languages and teacher of language acquisition, this experience fills my writer’s spirit and informs my understandings of language.
This is a journey of joy, learning, and discovery.
What book shall I listen to next?
Last week, I defended my dissertation proposal, “Exploring Stories at the Intersection of Landscape and Linguistic Literatures through Wildness, Beauty, and Imagination: A Scholarly Personal Narrative.” This review was delayed several months due to all happening in the past year and then the pandemic and all of the professional and family-moving-home dynamics.
The Zoom review reflected perfectly the essence of so many of our experiences in the past months—Zoom was just not playing well with others. One of us was suddenly bumped off and then the Screen Share button for my presentation wouldn’t work. I called Luke in the next room with a simple and loud, “Help!” Luke finagled a different way for me to share my presentation and we were off.
I am extraordinarily blessed in my Dissertation Committee: May Elawar, Jennifer Wells, Luci Tapahonso. Each phenomenal woman brings worlds of unique lived experiences, expertise in a spectrum of fields, and an engaged heart. Our time together was one of deep conversation about the ideas, clarifying questions, visions and potential possibilities for the unfolding of the dissertation itself. All tremendously exciting. My committee passed the proposal. Now, of course, must pass through the Dean and Provost for official acceptance to advance to PhD Candidacy. Many, many candles lit.
In essence, what I hope to do with my dissertation is convey the research and knowledge found within the fields of ecolinguistics/linguistic human rights and holistic resource management into the genre of landscape literature through creative prose, specifically through the lenses of wildness, beauty, and imagination.
This idea came to me many years ago and the ember has grown since. I am passionate about linguistic human rights and ecolinguistics. I am passionate about landscape literature. I am passionate about the ranch and the holistic, global methods of holistic resource management. I read widely within each of these fields and want to bring all together into an integrated whole with language as an element of landscape as the unifying theme. Now, the journey enters the next stage. I dive into my 25+ years of journals and why I write in my journal. Piles and piles of journals to identify and codify the themes of language, landscape, wildness, beauty, and imagination.
While discussing with Luke and Noé this next chapter of writing my dissertation, the following conversation took place:
Me: In my dissertation book, it says I need to get rid of the unessentials from my life to focus on writing.
Luke and Noé (look at each other): That’s us!
Me: Don’t worry, I already did that years ago. You two made the cut.
Luke and Noé (looking at each other): It could still happen. We better be useful! You make dinner. I’ll clean the yard.
Me (slow smile…): Excellent plan. Keep that thought.
Luke and I talk a lot about writing, words, books, ideas, life. We were talking about grammar the other day (as one does over coffee, while watching the birds in the birdbath), and Luke mentioned his delight of discovering the em dash (—).”The em dash, the sexy comma.” Yes!
The birdbath and tiny bird sanctuary that we’re creating in the backyard continues to bring exponential, crazy amounts of joy. Here is my view from my writing room.
I spend a lot of time looking at this view and thinking, planning, dreaming, organizing this next chapter of writing the dissertation and future book. Right now, a tiny hummingbird lifts from one hummingbird mint bloom to the next to sip nectar. Especially after the last year and the unanticipated delay of my proposal defense amidst all, I am very grateful to have completed.
I celebrated by laying down for a short rest afterward—(sexy comma) and fell asleep for a three hour, sleep-of-the-dead nap. Three hours! I woke and asked Luke if he wanted coffee. He looked at the clock, “How about dinner?” It was 5:00pm!
Best way I can think to celebrate.
In other events of the past few weeks, I share the following definition:
Parotidectomy (pa-RAH-ti-DECK-tomy) (n)/ An increased appreciation of colorful, bright scarves. (Reference also found under PRADA-dectomy).
This was a few weeks ago. All good.
Onward to write!
Dear Dewdrops Community, I hope this note finds you well and safe in these wild times. Please know how much our connection means to me, always and especially now.
My current work explores the connections between language and landscape through the lenses of wildness, beauty, and imagination. I live in multiple worlds, as so many of us do. One of my worlds is that of creative prose and narrative with a focus on landscape. Another world that I am passionate about is the academic world of Linguistic Human Rights and ecolinguistics. I now intertwine these worlds together, with the hope of enriching each with the beauty, research, knowledge, and wisdom into the other. Into the creative prose of landscape literatures, I bring language as element of landscape and the research of Linguistic Human rights and ecolinguistics. Into the academic world, I express knowledge and research through creative prose.
Here the works found in such journals as Orion, Emergence, Terralingua & Landscape, braid with the ecolinguistic and Linguistic Human Rights research of Tove Skutnabb-Kangas, Robert Phillipson, and Sune Vork Steffensen and the powerful prose of Terry Tempest Williams, Pam Houston, Amy Irvine, Robert MacFarlane, and Craig Childs.
If exploring language, landscape, wildness, beauty, and imagination interests you, I’m creating a Twitter community with this focus.
While I’ve had a Twitter account for years (@dawn_wink), I really haven’t spent much time there. Or any time there. As I dive deeper into my current work, I’ve discovered world of kindred spirits in academia, creative writing, and readers who love wildness, beauty, and imagination. My own space is one where these worlds and ideas mingle.
In that space, art, nature writing, academics, creative writing, gorgeous prose, and photography thread together. Anything that resonates with me as conveying an essence of language, landscape, wildness, beauty, and imagination.
Orion Magazine | Speaking of Nature: “While it’s true that words are simply vessels for meaning, without meaning of their own, many cultures imbue the utterance of words with spirit because they originate with the breath, with the mystery of life itself.”Finding language that affirms our kinship with the natural world with Robin Wall Kimmerer.
Emergence Magazine: Coyote Story: “THE SKY ON that day was the color of the paper on which I write this story.”
Knowable Magazine: The Fragile State of Contact Languages These linguistic mash-ups are at high risk of extinction. The race to save them is a matter of time, with more at stake than words.
Raven’s Time: Critical Literacy in the American Southwest “The raven looks out the window from the corner of my desk.” A piece on place, landscape, language and healing.
Orion Magazine | Together Apart A series of letters from isolation. Every week under lockdown, we eavesdrop on curious pairs of authors, scientists, and artists, listening in on their emails, texts, and phone calls as they redefine their relationships from afar.This first exchange is between Amy Irvine and Pam Houston
The beauty of a mosaic of languages. SIL International @SILintl “Today, about 75% of the world population speaks approximately 8% of the world’s languages. Conversely, 25% of the world’s population speaks the remaining 92% of the world’s languages. This represents about 1.8 billion people.” Dr Michel Kenmogne, SIL Ex Dr
Veins of Turquoise: Migration, Immigration, Language “Let us create turquoise in the political and social fissures surrounding immigration and languages, as the land does amidst geographical eruptions. If turquoise is the stone of spirit, of healing, of prosperity, of protection, of journey, of safety, and of homecoming, then let us bring it to the land and our people.”
Linguistic Rights Are Human Rights: A Hope for a Future of Linguistic Diversity / Smithsonian Folklife. “Yet my hope for the future goes beyond this: it is that every soul, whose existence happens to manifest itself on the planet, continues through the generations to bring something new into the world, retains their individuality, develops their own sense of humor, and tells their own unique story in a distinctive way.”
Wild Waters: Landscapes of Language Terralingua. “I listened to the desert. I listened to water. This is what I heard.”
Discovery of this world of kindred spirits would have been welcome any time, but right now with the pandemic and all of our social and travel restrictions, I feel a sense of an opening up the world. This discovery infuses a sense of energy and expansiveness.
So, if you’re interested in exploring these ideas, please join me on Twitter at @dawn_wink. There’s a whole wide world of language, landscape, wildness, beauty, and imagination out there to explore!
One of my great joys of this summer in this time of social isolation and working remotely from home has been the birdbath and hummingbirds right outside my writing room window. Watching these birds and their antics, which I can see from my desk, brings me crazy amounts of joy.
This little spot has become the happen’ place! Robin comes every day to splash and cavort. A big white wing dove has taken to doing full-on cannonballs! Tiny songbirds flutter around and wait their turn, often descending in groups of four of five, dipping their little wings into the water and then fluttering and dancing around.
The hummingbird mint blooms around the birdbath and at least three hummingbirds have made their home in our yard this summer. They sip from the blooms throughout the day, diving and whizzing about. This swirl of birds throughout the day… crazy amounts of joy.
“Connectedness allows people to heal,” said Dr. Perry. “The American Dream has resulted in relational poverty. The independence espoused by the American Dream has resulted in a relationally fragmented society. We’ve lost our connectedness to each other and our connectedness to the natural world.”
So began the two-day symposium by Dr. Bruce Perry, a specialist on neuroscience and childhood trauma, that I had the great good fortunate to attend here in Santa Fe in September, brought by Dr. Jennifer Duran-Sallee, Director of The Early Childhood Center of Excellence at Santa Fe Community College and the LANL Foundation.
“The American Dream, and the relational poverty we suffer as a result,” said Dr. Perry, “underlies our vulnerability to life’s stressors. The compartmentalization of our culture has resulted in material wealth, yet poverty in social and emotional relationships.
“For thousands of generations, we lived in small multi-generational ratios of 4 present adults for every 1 child. We now live in a society where children interact with fewer and fewer adults and have increasingly fewer opportunities for emotional and relational growth.”
Dr. Perry referred to his promiscuity when it comes to theoretical tools and we spent two days spanning the spectrum of the details of neuroscience and their impacts on children and society.
The importance of early childhood, highlighted Dr. Perry, cannot be overstated and the vital roles that “safety, predictability, nurturing, and play have in shaping who we become as people, and in turn what that means for the health and welfare of a culture.”
The essence of the detailed, cutting-edge neuroscience highlights the role of the brain in social and emotional health. Dr. Perry articulated how the relational landscape in children’s lives is changing. “Children have fewer emotional, social, and cognitive interactions with fewer people. Why does this matter?
“This matters for a number of reasons. This poverty of relationships is extremely important, because of the normal neurobiological networks that you have in your brain and body that help you regulate your physiology, your stress response networks. These networks regulate whether your pancreas works, how vulnerable you are for diabetes, and how your heart works. These networks regulate how every part of your brain works, the part of the brain involved in moving, the part of the brain involved in forming relationships, the part of the brain involved in empathy, in compassion, in creativity, in productivity.
“Every single part of the brain and all the rest of your body are influenced by relational interactions.”
“Your stress response systems and the neurobiological networks are co-organized with the neurobiological networks involved in forming and maintaining relationships. Relationships have a key role in global health, creativity, and productivity.”
If a baby receives predictable love and attention for the first two months of their lives, this is a more powerful influence in emotional health than the impact of negative experiences in their lives for the next 10-12 years.
I am not an expert in neuroscience. The wealth of neuroscience research shared made me want to hold and love babies, read endlessly to and with children, weave generations together around conversation, presence and love, blow up electronic devices parents use to raise their children in isolation, hug, talk, hug some more, read, mentor, listen deeply, read with kids, engage with empathy and compassion, create intergenerational communities—and hold and love loads more babies and kids.
This piece reflects the tippy-tip of the top of the iceberg of Dr. Perry’s ideas. If they resonate with you, please read and listen to more of his work.
Incredible and what the world needs.
Below some bits of beauty from my walk to and from the conference center and my car.
Speaking of the heart of relationships in our lives, our Santa Fe Community College family wishes our dearest Gerry Harris the best in the new chapter of her life back in the UK with her grandchildren. She is missed more than words and our hearts sing that she’s with her own beautiful babies, large and small.
They say, “Home is where the heart is.” If this is true (and I believe it is), then my heart beats in more than one place.
I’ve written of my landscapes of the heart on the ranch, in Santa Fe, and Arizona. Another place of pulse that I have not yet written so much about are the nearly 20 years lived in Davis, CA.
I was beyond blessed to return to University of California/Davis for the Association for the Study of Literature and the Environment Conference 2019 for a time of idea exploration and reconnection with deep roots.
First, the UC/Davis Campus—the arboretum where I studied, read, and ran for years.
The quad with inevitable bikes in the Bicycle Capital of the US:
I presented with the panel “Beyond Retreat: (Re)thinking Pastoral Landscape in the Posthuman Turn” (Chaired by Stefano Rozzoni, University of Bergamo. Gratitude to my professor, Dr. Jennifer Wells, for connecting me to this organization and Stefano). I presented on “Pastoral Landscape Through an Ecolinguistic Lens.”
My doctoral work focuses on exploring the relationship between language and landscape through the lenses of wildness, beauty, and imagination.
Ecolinguistics and linguistic human rights ground this work.
Ecolinguistics explore the role of language in the life-sustaining interactions of humans, other species, and the physical environment. The first aim is to develop linguistic theories which see humans not only as part of society, but also as part of the larger ecosystems that life depends on. The second aim is to show how linguistics can be used to address key ecological issues, from climate change and biodiversity loss to environmental justice (Skutnabb-Kangas & Harmon, 2018).
Linguistic human rights can be defined as “only those language rights . . . which are so basic for a dignified life that everybody has them because of being human; therefore, in principle no state (or individual) is allowed to violate them” (Skutnabb-Kangas, 2008, p. 109).
At the end of my presentation I posed these thoughts to muse:
Language as natural element of landscape.
Language diversity as element of ecological diversity.
Diverse linguistic landscapes as integral for global sustainability.
When not immersed in all things literature and ecology, it was a time of reconnecting with deep roots and friendships. My final years in Davis were all about babies, babies, and babies—having them, holding them, loving them.
Because of these baby years, when I found myself at the Farmer’s Market in Davis Central Park a newborn (grandson of a deep-roots-bookclub-friend) I felt all of the places where my heart beats slide together.
Skutnabb-Kangas, T. (2008). Linguistic genocide in education or worldwide diversity and human rights?” Hyderabad, Telangana: Orient Blackswan.
Skutnabb-Kangas, T. & Harmon, D. (2018). “Biological diversity and language diversity.” In The routledge handbook of ecolingistics. New York City, NY: Routledge.
In the last post about The Power of Story by my mom, Joan Wink, I shared that I’d originally intended to try and convey the whole of the book in a single post. What was I thinking?! The more I read, the more ideas about what to write about I scribbled in my journal. One of the stories that leapt out was of Wyatt’s (my son and Mom’s grandson) path to reading.
This journey taught Mom and me that there is no single path to literacy. This has enriched our understandings about literacy, kids, and schooling ever since.
To provide some context to the story, I read to the kids aloud for hours a day since birth. We read aloud at least 2-3 hours a day reading for years and years. (Sometimes we read more—the kids were quiet, we were cuddled-up sitting down, and I was so tired!) These times are some of my very-favorite life moments.
According to literacy research, Wyatt should have started reading spontaneously sometime before Kindergarten. He did not. Throughout Kindergarten, then First grade, and then into Second, we continued to read aloud, and Wyatt continued to not learn to read. Mom and I spent hours talking about what might be happening. None of this made sense. What I did know, and this was not from any literacy research that I’d read, was that whatever was happening was part of Wyatt’s path. It was sheer mother’s intuition and had nothing to do with being in education. Thankfully, I trusted this, as you will discover.
Mom includes Wyatt and my journey in The Power of Story (Libraries Unlimited, 2018, p. 24-37).
Hell has officially frozen over. This is what I muttered to myself as I stood in line about to purchase my first pack of Pokémon cards for Wyatt. Pokémon intuitively appalls me. Wyatt’s peers have been collecting the cards for years, but I refused to by any for Wyatt.
“Mom, you and all the girls’ moms are the only ones who don’t allow Pokémon,” Wyatt told me earlier one day. I remained unmoved.
“Then one day, one of Wyatt’s friends came over to play. He brought his binder full of Pokémon cards to show Wyatt. I remember thinking, ‘Oh, no. How quickly can I get them away from those cards and onto the trampoline?” Except that Wyatt spent the next two hours reading those cards. He and his friend sat on the living room floor going over every letter and word in detail. As I dried dishes in the next room, I became aware of Wyatt’s efforts to read all of those cards. Wyatt usually shies away from any attempt at individual reading. Now he sat poring over letters and words, trying to make meaning.
“He’s reading!” I thought to myself. The next day I purchased Pokémon cards.
“I continued to read with Wyatt and his brother and sister. Our stories grew more and more complex, and Wyatt used extremely complex oral language.
He loved the complex action stories, with hints of the super natural; for example, I have read aloud the J. R. R. Tolkien series and Redwall series, the entire Harry Potter series (four times!), umpteen Norse, Celtic, and Southwestern myths and legends to all three kids, but still Wyatt’s teachers told me they would have to intervene to help him begin to read. I agonized and reflected: Could it be that these stories were too intimidating for Wyatt to try to read by himself? Were the books simply too big, the print too dense, the visual clues too infrequent?”
At this point, Mom suggested that perhaps the Captain Underpants series might be more approachable to him. I was aghast. We read Tolkien, Jacques, and C.S. Lewis. We did not read some weird little dude running around in his tidy whiteys! But, I was desperate and Mom sent Wyatt a box of Captain Underpants books and forbade me from interfering. Wyatt descended gleefully into the graphic novels whose primary focus are the sounds of bodily functions.
“BENCHMARK #3: PULLING WYATT OUT OF A SCRIPTED READING PROGRAM
‘Mom, I’m so stupid. I’m just so stupid. I don’t understand any of this stuff.’ Wyatt threw his head down on his folded arms at the kitchen table and cried.
‘What are you working on there, Wyatt?’ I asked. I sat down beside him to look at the worksheets of homework spread out i front of him. Black and white dittos filled with line after line of words broken down into incomprehensible parts. Slashes, dots, and hyphens turned words into a trail of shrapnel. “Wyatt, I don’t understand how to do any of this either, honey. Not a thing. You’re NOT stupid. This reading homework is stupid.’
The next day I pulled Wyatt out of school to homeschool him for the remainder of the year.”
Wyatt was mid-way through 2nd grade. I had no idea what I was going to do. None. This was not an academic decision, this was a mom’s decision following her intuition. Mostly, I read aloud to him. We certainly did nothing academic. I knew anything even remotely like a reading program would be the kiss of death forever for his love of books and stories. So, whatever Wyatt wanted me to read, I read aloud, us cuddled-up together.
Two days ago, I walked through Wyatt’s room and discovered him lying on his bed reading aloud to himself. On my way through, I realized that he was reading Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone. I feigned casual nonchalance and kept walking until I was out of his room and on the other side of the door…when I immediately and silently started jumping up and down pumping “Yes! Yes! Yes!” into the air with my fist. Remember, this was the kid who couldn’t read two months ago.
As I walked up the stairs, different scenes from the past flashed through my mind—of the countless times I’d encouraged Wyatt to read, to be met with stony silent tears; of the previous couple of years of complete and total refusal to try to read; of my awareness during that time that if I asked him to read, the entire mood of our time would change, would go from one of togetherness, happiness, and enthusiasm, to one of sadness; of the inevitable feelings of failure on both of our parts. And tears, always there were agonized tears involved, whenever Wyatt was asked to read.
Those memories floated back to me again that night when Wyatt and I cuddled in bed together; he was reading aloud to me Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone. “Oh, don’t worry, Mom, I’ll just read this. You don’t have to read anything tonight. Here we go.” He read to me, page after page, complete with inflection and enthusiasm. He drank in the storyline, adventure, humor, and mystery.
I discovered that Wyatt is definitely a sight word reader. He is like his mommy, sounding words out, and phonics only serve to confuse us both. Wyatt sees a word the first time, learns it, and from then on knows that word. I’ve learned when he’s reading aloud and stumbles on a word, if I just say it aloud immediately, he’ll look at the word, read it, and move on. the next time we encounter that word, it will flow fluently from his lips. If I encourage him to sound it out, disaster follows; he gets very frustrated; the soft, warm, fun mood of our reading disappears; and he doesn’t commit that word to memory for the next time it’s read.
What do I attribute his newfound literacy to?…Well, obviously, the hours and hours and hours spent reading aloud, everything from children’s books to adult fiction, greatly influences the rapidity with which he now gains reading fluency. Some of this event, I do believe, it also just part of his inherent nature Wyatt never crawled. He sat for nine months, then one day stood up and started running, almost identical to his literacy journey.
Ultimately, though, it took me being ready to throw my beliefs about what we should be reading out the window, and being open to books that captured Wyatt’s fancy that he would read independently…namely…Tra la la!…that weird little fellow in his BVDs, Captain Underpants. Wyatt was so busy giggling at the delightfully disgusting adventures of these characters, with the words actually readable to him in small sections, that he completely forgot that he couldn’t read—in fact, he hated to read. Instead, he remained captured and engaged, reading about one deliriously appalling thing after another, giggling and exclaiming “Eeeeeeewwwwwww” happily throughout.
Now, he’s reading about Harry Potter flying about on his broom high above the Quidditch field, in search of the golden snitch. And along with Harry, Wyatt, too has learned to fly.”
Many years have passed since this journey. The power of story lives in Wyatt. He continues to be a voracious reader. Wyatt is a college student at Adams State University, with a major in Wildlife Biology and minors in Programming and Computer Science and Adventure Leadership. Wyatt loves rock climbing and just qualified for the National Competition.
Wyatt embodies all of the qualifies of the heroes he loves to read about. Wyatt teaches his grammie and mom, who adore him, a lot about literacy—and life.
Today is Wyatt’s 22nd birthday.
It is with tremendous pride and pleasure that I share Mom’s latest book, The Power of Story (Libraries Unlimited, 2017) with you. It is FABULOUS!
Yet, I get ahead of myself. I always assume that anyone who knows me, also knows my mom, Dr. Joan Wink. For those who do know and love her, and those who are yet to know and love her, let me share a little about Mom.
First, the professional:
Joan Wink is professor emerita of California State University, Stanislaus. Since retirement in 2007, she has been an adjunct professor at Black Hills State University, South Dakota State University, and in the Global Education Master’s Program of The College of New Jersey in Mallorca, Spain.
Dr. Wink completed her Ph.D. in Curriculum and Instruction (Texas A&M, 1991), two masters’ degrees from the University of Arizona (Spanish, 1981; Educational Foundations/Bilingual, 1985; Spanish and English undergraduate degrees from Yankton College 1966.
Joan continues sharing, writing, and speaking nationally and internationally. Joan maintains an active website and blog, WinkWorld. She has published widely in scholarly journals and is the author of Critical Pedagogy: Notes from the Real World (4 editions), A Vision of Vygotsky with LeAnn Putney; and Teaching Passionately: What’s Love Got To Do With It? with Dawn Wink.
There is a scroll of international accolades for Mom that rolls out and reaches into the horizon.
And here’s the woman her family and friends know and why The Power of Story sings with wisdom, power, and truth. Mom’s life is composed of stories—stories of love, stories of pain, stories of joy, stories of loss, stories of resilience, stories of students around the world, and stories of friendship and roots decades deep.
Yes, Mom writes as the internationally renowned scholar that she is. And, what makes her writing, teaching, and living so powerful is all is based in real, lived experiences. The stories in this book made me laugh, cry, reach for my journal, drink some wine, informed my instruction as a professor, then laugh and cry some more for the sheer humanity that threads every sentence and every story of this book.
Mom does not write from some Ivory Tower of Academia. Mom writes from our cattle ranch on the Great Plains of South Dakota, summed up best when she called me while writing the The Power of Story. “I was working on Chapter Three and then the bulls got out on the highway. Wink and I ran to the pickup and headed out into the blizzard to try to get them off the highway. We barely made it up the lane through the snow. Took several hours to get the bulls back in, including your dad coming back for the four-wheeler and then both of us heading out. A couple of near misses on the highway. Your dad’s out feeding the horses now. Diving back into Chapter Three.”
The behind-the-scenes story of The Power of Story is one of family and the ever-present realities of writing on a cattle ranch. Just when a writer sits down to write, the bulls get out, the pump blows, the well freezes, the horses get out, the heifers get into the wrong pasture and have to be moved, the hay baler quits, there’s a hailstorm in the hay field, and…
This is the reality that grounds and lifts every page of this book.
The stories of this book are real.
Now, if you are interested in dry data and prescribed curriculum, this is NOT your book. If you are a reader, lover of words and language, a parent or grandparent, a teacher of students of any age who wants to sink into story-after-story of how to create a love of reading, the research about why woven seamlessly within, then this is your book.
I‘d originally thought that I would write a single piece on The Power of Story.
Then, I started reading it. By chapter Three (when the bulls got out on the highway), I’d already laughed, cried, taken notes for my own teaching, written on sticky notes on what to connect about with the kids, and scribbled in my journal about language, literacy, and story.
So, I’ll be sharing here some of the stories that made me laugh, cry, reach for my pen to remember to share with my students about literacy, reach for my phone to call and share with the kids, or just sit and stare out the window while I pondered.
First, a story: If You’re Not From the Prairie by David Bouchard