My tree should be saved because it is an integral part of the food chain. Squirrels and black bears rely on the Bur Oak’s massive acorns, and without them the squirrels and bears would not get fat before the winter. If the squirrels and bears can’t stock up on acorns before the winter, they will die. So cutting down my Bur Oak means you kill a bunch of squirrels and black bears as well. Deer and porcupines also rely on Bur Oaks for their twigs and leaves. We all know porcupines are an integral part of Dickinson’s campus, so don’t be a jerk and starve the baby deer anSAVE MR BURd porcupines.

Bur Oaks live to be 200-300 years old! My Bur Oak is only a couple decades old, so therefore he is just a baby and no one likes baby killers. Bur Oaks are also fire resistant. I bet no one else’s tree is fire resistant! Bur Oaks are also very drought resistant and considering the fact that we are running out of water, we need as many Bur Oaks around as possible so when all the other wimpier trees start dying, we will still have Bur Oaks to filter our polluted air. Humans can also eat acorns if they are roasted (raw acorns can tear up a human’s stomach), so when humans start running out of food, we can also eat from the Bur Oak. So pretty much Bur Oaks will solve all of our problems.

The moral of the story is that if you cut down my Bur Oak, you will be forever haunted by starving squirrels, black bears, porcupines, and deer, and we will run out of trees as we run out of water. If you cut down Bur Oaks, all the other trees will die and therefore our air will get more and more polluted, which will eventually lead to the deaths of almost all the species on this planeSAVE MR BURt.


SAVE MR. BUR!!!!!!

Save Mr. Bur

There are so many trees in the world that cutting one down won’t make a difference. Right? Wrong. We are running out of trees at an alarming rate, so every tree left standing is a tiny victory in itself. Every tree has value and every tree has worth, but sadly a lot of people value consumerism and money more than trees.

Trees have a use-value far more important than paper, wooden chairs, or houses! Sure, trees can be cut down and made into cool things that we use everyday, but don’t we have enough STUFF? As Gould said, a use value is “anything that satisfies a human want” (Gould 1943:96). There are use-values that aren’t material things, but sadly this is ignored nowadays.

Over the course of my relationship with Mr. Bur, I have realized that he has a lot to offer. Although he doesn’t talk much, Mr. Bur and I have gotten to know each other pretty well. When it was hot out, he let me sit in his shade. When I had work to do, he let me lean against his trunk so I could read my books more comfortably. When it was a beautiful day out, he gave me a nice spot to lay and people-watch. Once we became friends, it was almost as if I had my own spot on campus that no one knew about. I introduced him to a few friends, and he let me watch his squirrel friends play on his branches, which I always enjoyed. Mr. Bur definitely has a use-value to myself as an individual.

Mr. Bur also has a use-value to the local environment. As everyone in Carlisle knows, there are a lot of squirrels in this town. A lot. Mr. Bur selflessly let his squirrel friends eat his acorns so that they could get nice and fat for the winter. Mr. Bur had a lot of acorns, and the squirrels relied on him heavily. If he had been cut down, the squirrels would not have had enough nuts and would have suffered through the whole winter. Mr. Bur is useful to the campus because he is beautiful. Without him, Morgan Field would look a little barer, and we all know prospective students and their families love foliage. Mr. Bur definitely makes Dickinson a more attractive campus in every season. The global ecosystem needs Mr. Bur as well. His leaves filter carbon dioxide out of our air, and give us the oxygen we need to breathe. He supports insects, squirrels, and birds, all while he cleans the air we breathe. He does a lot for the ecosystem, without asking much in return. All he asks is soil for his roots. The world needs Mr. Bur for all of these reasons. If he was cut down and used to make another thing, that is all he would become. He would no longer feed squirrels, no longer support birds, no longer offer shade on hot days, and no longer give beauty to the campus. Is that thing really even comparable to all of the things Mr. Bur already does? I think not, and you should too.

Mr. Bur in the Winter

Mr. Bur in the Winter


Catton & Dunlap discuss the paradigms of HEP and NEP, which both offer different outlooks on trees and their potential values. Firstly, Catton & Dunlap define a paradigm as “an image shared by members of a scientific community telling them the nature of their science’s subject-matter” (250). Each of these paradigms therefore creates different images of trees, and what the nature of trees is. Each paradigm has a different outlook on how humans interact with the ecosystem. Biologists define an ecosystem as “the interacting biotic community and its environment” (Dunlap & Catton 251). HEP and NEP each look at the interaction between humans and their ecosystem (or the lack thereof) in order to argue what is most important. Each of these paradigms would view my tree, Mr. Burr, in a different way.

The first paradigm, Human Exceptionalism Paradigm (HEP) represents a world view that makes it difficult to recognize the reality and full significance of environmental problems and constraints we now face. The HEP paradigm does not mean ”that Homo sapiens is an ‘exceptional’ species but that the exceptional characteristics of our time (culture, technology, language, elaborate social organization) somehow exempt humans from ecological principles and from environmental influences and constraints” (Dunlap & Catton 250). HEP argues that humans are superior to all other species on this planet. Because we have technology, culture, language, and elaborate social organizations, HEP argues that we have become exempt from taking responsibility for our environmental impacts. Therefore, we have little incentive to protect the environment because HEP does not recognize that the human way of life cannot exist without the environment around it. Just in the last century, human societies have begun to have an unprecedented and dangerous impact on the global environment, and have done little to counteract these negative impacts. HEP ignores the ways in which the environment influences human society, because it argues that humans are exempt from trying to fix it. HEP doesn’t talk about the adequacy or inadequacy of natural resource supplies as a result of our “resource-hungry technologies” (Catton & Dunlap 257). HEP argues that these technologies we have developed are more important than the ecosystems that they destroy. In summary, HEP ignores the ecosystem-dependence of human societal life.

NEP, or the New Environmental Paradigm, is the second paradigm discussed by Catton & Dunlap. NEP argues that human societies “necessarily” exploit our ecosystems in order to survive. NEP acknowledges that there is no way around this fact, but some societies exploit more than necessary to sustain life. Societies that aim to prosper to the extent that it overexploits the ecosystem will likely end up destroying the entire ecosystem. The inevitable truth is that excessive prosperity achieved through the exploitation of the ecosystem will eventually lead to the demise of the human race. For the human race cannot survive without the surrounding ecosystem. NEP argues that we must restructure how our resources are distributed in order to allow everyone access to a safe environment. NEP brings attention to how redistribution may mean “leveling down” due to resource limits. This means that those who overexploit resources must reduce their consumption in order to allow others to have access to the same resources. All industrial societies rely heavily on exhaustible resources, and the exploitation of these resources means that some people are left without. Environmental Sociology has emerged as a way to better understand the relationship between human behavior and the physical environment, and it adopts the NEP paradigm. Fundamental characteristic of environmental sociology is the importance attached to the environment as a factor that can influence and is influenced by human behavior. Environmental sociology examines the relationship between the physical environment and the social complex, and how humans exploit this relationship and the problems this creates.

Artsy Bur OakI definitely agree with the NEP paradigm. NEP acknowledges that humans are can impact and are impacted by the surrounding ecosystem, and as a result, we have a huge responsibility to take care of it. The problem with HEP is that it ignores the fact that the exploitation of these natural resources will eventually end when they are gone, and humans will inevitably perish as a result. NEP argues that we must take care of our environment so that it can take care of us, as it has for thousands of years. Following a NEP paradigm is the only way to ensure that this earth and its ecosystems will continue to support human life for thousands more years…. If the HEP’ers haven’t already doomed us.

Field Notes- Part 3

Today when I went to visit my tree, it really looked like fall on Morgan Field. It is November 11th.

It is 12:30, and there are lots of students out. I count more than 20 in my first five minutes. Most of them are wearing backpacks or carrying purses. I assume they are going to class or the library.

My Bur Oak has lost most of its leaves now, and they are covering the ground I am sitting upon. It is chilly today. My phone says it is 52 degrees. I am wearing jeans, boots, and and a sweatshirt. I have not seen anyone that was not wearing long sleeves or a jacket.

I have seen about 10 squirrels. I can definitely tell that they are getting ready to hibernate. They all look much fatter than they did when we came to campus in September.

Someone just walked their dog past me- maybe they were a professor. The dog was some sort of German Shepherd mix.

The sun is coming in and out of the clouds, making it feel rather cold at times. Today is one of the first days that has really felt like fall. We had all those hot days in a row last week, so this colder weather feels nice.Mr. Bur and Drayer

The leaves on the ground feel damp. I wonder if it rained last night, or if it just them decomposing.

The flow of students has slowed down since most of them are in class now. A class session starts at 12:30.

I wonder how much longer my tree will have leaves.

Fieldnotes Under My Bur Oak

It is 2:45pm on Sunday, November 1st. I am sitting on the ground in the shade of my Bur Oak. It is unseasonably warm today, which I was not expecting. My phone says that it is 70 degrees outside. There is little to no wind, so it feels even warmer.

There are a lot of leaves on the ground around me. I would say about 50% of my Bur Oak’s leaves have fallen. The leaves are a mix of brown and yellow. It very much looks like fall on Morgan Field today because of the fallen leaves.

There is a group of three students sitting on the lawn about 50 yards from where I am sitting. They have a blanket spread beneath them. Two of them are reading books, and the third is on a laptop. They are all dressed in jeans and t-shirts.

There are students coming and going from the residential buildings to the HUB and academic quads. It is a Sunday afternoon, so there are no crowds of students as there are on weekdays. There have been almost a dozen bikers that crossed Morgan Field and the surrounding sidewalks in the past 30 minutes. I also saw 2 girls going for a run.

I counted about 10 squirrels in the 30 minutes I spent sitting under my Bur Oak. I did not see any acorns under the tree today– only the tops left behind. The squirrels aMr. Bur and Drayerre still active since it is still warm, but soon they will begin hibernating.

I can hear birds singing, but I can tell there are fewer than there were just a month ago. I cannot tell what kind of birds they are.

Daylight savings time started last night, and even though it is only mid afternoon, the sun is beginning its descent.



Field Notes with Bur Oak (Oct. 13th)

It is Tuesday, October 13th at 9:15 AM, and I just sat down next to my tree on Morgan field. The ground is a little wet from the rain we got this week, so I brought a blanket to sit on.

It is mostly cloudy, there is a decent amount of wind, and it is a little cold.

Large groups of students are moving in all directions. I counted more than 30Oct13 Bur Oak students. The students are wearing backpacks. Most of them are headed towards the HUB and Academic Quad.

Most of the students are wearing jackets. Some are wearing raincoats, some are wearing sweaters and sweatshirts.

Some students are talking to each other, some are walking alone. My guess is that they are headed to either breakfast or class. Many students are holding coffee mugs, which I assume is coffee or tea.

By 9:30, the flow of students thinned out. Knowing the class schedule, it is probably because the students are already in class since there is a class period that starts at 9:30am.

The wind has remained constant, which has caused leaves to start falling from my Bur Oak. The leaves range from dark green to brown. The leaves have just recently started to change here in Carlisle, so I bet the leaves will be falling at higher rates in the coming weeks.

A squirrel approached the tree, and circled around the base of it a few times. I had not noticed many acorns lying around, and neither did the squirrel. The squirrel then scurried up the tree and climbed among the tree limbs.

There is no one else sitting out on Morgan Field at the moment. A young man just came out of Drayer, got his bike from the bike rack, and rode it toward the HUB.

An elderly man is walking their dog across Morgan Field. The dog is probably a mix of Golden Retriever and some other kind of dog. The dog has long, brown hair, and its owner is wearing a black jacket, jeans, and a black hat. I have never seen this person before. The dog seems old, as it is not running or playing.

The sun just came out, and it now feels much warmer. I am not sure of what the forecast is for the day, but it is prettier out now than it was earlier. The wind is still going but the sun has definitely warmed the temperature.

I have class soon, so I packed up my notebook and blanket, and left my tree for the day.

Emotional Sounds

Today while sitting with Mr. Bur, I spent some time just listening to the sounds on Morgan Field, and thinking about how they made me feel. For the first half of my time with Mr. Bur today, I listened to the sounds of the modern world. For the second half of my time with Mr. Bur, I focused on the natural sounds.

For the first half of my time with Mr. Bur today, I tried to pick out the sounds I heard that came from the modern world. The first thing I heard were cars. Bur is located near Drayer Hall, and from my spot underneath him, I can see both College Street and High Street. High Street is the main street in Carlisle, and as a result, there is a constant stream of traffic traveling up and down this road. The traffic isn’t particularly loud, but it becomes this constant background noise on Morgan Field. I also heard a lawnmower coming from somewhat far away that added a constant buzzing to the noise-scape. I also heard either a fire engine or ambulance’s sirens, but I never saw which it was. All of the manmade sounds of modernity that I heard while sitting with Mr. Bur were the sounds of everyday life, but when I focused in on them and thought about what they meant, I realized how stressful these sounds are. These sounds from the modern-technological world are around us everyday, but we never really stop and realize how removed from nature these sounds truly are.

For the second half of my time, I switched to listening to the sounds of nature around me. It wasn’t very windy, but I could still hear the rustling of the leaves of Mr. Bur and the trees around him. When I focused on this sound alone, I realized that it had a noticeable calming effect on me. Focusing on the sound of the rustling leaves forced me to stop thinking and worrying, which I d

on’t do enough. I have an extraordinarily busy schedule, so taking the time to sit and listen to nature is not something I get to do very often, so the calming effect was very noticeable. I found myself focusing my breathing and relaxing my muscles—an exercise I learned in one of my psychology classes that I hadn’t done in awhile. I could also hear birds today, which I really enjoyed. Most of the time when I hear birds, I usually ignore it and easily tune it out. Today I made a conscious effort to really listen. Like the sound of the rustling trees, listening to the birds really calmed me down. I spent  half of my time with Mr. Bur today focusing in on the natural sounds around me, and it did relax me, but it also made me feel sad. I felt sad because I realized how much I ignore these sounds. I am often so busy and so preoccupied with my ‘to-do’ lists and homework that I have no extra room in my head for rustling leaves and birdsongs. This is a sad way to live life, but it is the way of life for so many people in this modern world.

Aldo Leopold lived his life somewhat detached from the modern world, and instead surrounded himself with the natural world. Not everyone has to live their life like Aldo Leopold, but I think that it is very important for people to take time out of their busy day, or even week, to return to nature. If people were to devote even just a little bit of their time to getting back in touch with the natural world, I believe they would first feel the same sadness I felt today, but then over time, I think it would be very beneficial. Modernity has brought with it a great deal of anxiety and stress, and based on my experience today, I think that spending time reconnecting with nature could be a very effective way of reducing this stress.

Bur oak bark

Bur oak bark

Leopold, Aldo. 1949. “A Sands County Almanac.” Oxford University Press.

Observing the World Through Mr. Bur’s Eyes

As a student of social science, I know how important it is to be observant of the people and spaces around me. I am able to be the most observant when I am alone in a quiet place because I have little to distract me, which allows me to absorb more information and notice little details. I do not have the best memory, so I have found it very useful to keep a notebook with me whenever I am doing observations. I took a qualitative methods course, which helped me develop my observation skills, and I first used a notebook for observations in that class.

I think that Leopold operates in a similar manner when he is observing things in nature. He keeps extraordinary detail, which he is able to do because he keeps a notebook. He is also usually alone in a quiet place when he makes his observations. His essay is remarkably detailed, which makes it interesting to read because you can almost picture being there. I hope to be able to write like that, and I think developing strong observation skills is very important when developing writing skills.

Today I went and sat under my tree (Mr. Bur) for a while, and tried to see how many observations I could make. In the time I sat with Mr. Bur, I counted 22 people who walked by him. It made me wonder how many of those people actually noticed Mr. Bur when they walked by him each day.

Bur Oak in the RainMr. Bur’s leaves are still mostly green, but a few have started to turn a little yellow. I am really excited to see how he looks in a few weeks, as the weather turns cooler. Mr. Bur has furry acorns, but I only counted 12 around his trunk today. The campus arborist, Mark Scott, told us on our tour that the bur oak produces a lot of acorns, but that the squirrels on campus do a pretty good job of collecting them. It is still warm out, but winter is just around the corner. The squirrels are preparing for the approaching winter, and Mr. Bur’s acorns are essential to ensure the squirrels survive the winter.

Different types of qualitative and quantitative data can tell me a lot about how Mr. Bur interacts with the campus and how the campus interacts with him. There was a small amount of acorns around him, which means the squirrels heavily rely on him. Twenty-two students walked by him in the hour I was there, meaning lots of students encounter Mr. Bur each day, even if they don’t notice it. Mr. Bur’s leaves are beginning to turn slightly yellow, which means that fall is coming. Sitting with my tree today was a lot more interesting than I thought it would be. It makes me wonder what types of things he has seen in the years he has been at Dickinson.


Leopold, Aldo. 1949. “A Sands County Almanac.” Oxford University Press.

The Life of Mr. Bur

Mr. Bur is approximately 45 years old, which makes him a very young man in Oak-years. Oaks typically live to be 200-300 years old, with some reaching 400 years old! Despite his young age, Mr. Bur has been around for some very important events in American history, and he always enjoyed listening to the Dickinson students discussing them on Morgan Field.

Mr. Bur was born in the ’70s, which was a very exciting time in campus. In 1973, Roe v. Wade legalized abortion, which generated a lot of excitement and discussion on campus. The campus was delighted when Sandra Day O’Connor was sworn in as the first woman Supreme Court justice in 1981, but saddened after the Challenger exploded 73 seconds after liftoff in 1983. Everyone on campus had their eyes on the Soviet Union in 1987 when Ronald Reagan called for Mr. Gorbachev to “tear down this wall” and open up Eastern Europe to  political and economic reform. Mr. Bur was very saddened to hear of the massive oil spill caused by the oil tanker Exxon Valdez, and he really worried for all of the wildlife up in Price Edward Sound.

The 1990s were a very turbulent time for the U.S., and Bur Oak Dickinson’s campus was buzzing with political debates and discussions. In 1992, Desert Storm is launched to drive the Iraqis out of Kuwait, which leads to a lot more problems in the Middle East down the road. The Cold War finally ends in 1992, but this triumph is overshadowed by the L.A. riots following the death of Rodney King later that year. In 1993, (the year Micki was born), the World Trade Center is bombed, causing a lot of anger and sadness among Dickinsonians. Tragedy strikes again in 1995 when news breaks of the Oklahoma city bombing, and in 1999 after the Columbine High School shooting. Mr. Bur and the rest of Dickinson mourn the loss of those bright students.

September 11, 2001 brought shock, disbelief, anger, and sadness to Dickinson at the very beginning of the new school year. Mr. Bur has never seen such sadness on campus. Shortly after the attack, the U.S. and Britain launch air strikes against the Taliban, and the Iraq War begins in 2003. Hurricane Katrina slams into Louisiana in 2005, and is the most costly hurricane on record. In 2007, more than 30 students are murdered in a mass shooting at Virginia Tech. Mr. Bur is very saddened by this event especially because of the love he has for Dickinson, and he cannot imagine what that school is going through. In 2008 and 2009 the U.S. experiences an economic crash, which has a huge global fallout. In that same year,. the U.S. elects its first African American president, Barack Obama.

In 2010, ‘Don’t Ask Don’t Tell’ is repealed, and many Dickinson students are very excited by the news. Also in 2010, gay marriage and adoption is legalized, which is celebrated on campus. Hurricane Sandy rocks the Northeast in 2012, which affects many Dickinson students from that area. The heartbreaking Sandy Hook shooting took place in 2012, and more than 20 children ages 6 to 7 were killed. The following year, in 2013, there is a bombing at the Boston Marathon. One bomber is killed, the other is arrested and charged.

Mr. Bur has seen many sad events in his life, but he has also seen such great promise in the students who graduate from Dickinson College. Mr. Bur is very happy to have been planted at Dickinson, and is looking forward to spending the rest of his long life at Dickinson.




Meeting Mr. Bur

Mr. Bur is a beautiful Bur Oak (Quercus macrocarpa) on Dickinson College’s campus. He stands approximately 45 feet tall, with a diameter of about 16 inches. He is presently in good health, and enjoys providing shade for the students, professors, and faculty who cross Morgan Field. Mr. Oak greets the residents of Drayer Hall each and every morning as they head towards the H.U.B. for their amazingly delicious breakfast from the dining hall or SNAR. Mr. Oak loves summer more than any other season because he knows that he is most appreciated on those hot, humid days when people stop and rest in his shade. He enjoys the fall because he looks beautiful, but it also makes him sad to see his leaves turn because he knows that means that winter is coming.

Winter is a cold and lonely season for Mr. Bur, and he is not looking forward to it. His Dickinson friends will stay bundled up inside, and will no longer appreciate him for his shade or pretty leaves. What keeps Mr. Bur going through the winter is the knowledge that spring is just around the corner. In the spring, Mr. Bur regrows his leaves, and they are a lively green. The inhabitants of Dickinson see this as a wonderful sign because it signals the start of spring, and they once again venture outside to enjoy Mr. Bur’s shade.

Aldo Leopold writes in the hopes of inspiring people to respect the land and environment around them, an idea he calls “land ethic”. Mr. Bur also likes this idea. He hopes that people listen to Aldo and treat their environments with care and respect, especially at Dickinson where he lives (1949

Bur Oak Trunk

Bur Oak Trunk

). Leopold also writes about his hunting party killed a she-wolf in the hopes that it would make game more plentiful. What Leopold then realized was that if you remove one part of an ecosystem, the whole thing is impacted (1949). Mr. Bur is important in this way as well. He produces plentiful acorns, which squirrels need to survive. He hopes that those who enjoy squirrels will also see how important and vital he is, because he feeds the squirrels. Aldo Leopold even wrote specifically about Bur Oaks. According to him, they are the only tree that can stand up to a prairie fire. This is because of its corky bark that acts as armor. Leopold even says that engineers got the idea of insulation from these oaks (1949:27).

Mr. Bur is a beautiful tree located on Morgan Field in front of Drayer Hall. He is very close to one of the walking paths, so many people walk beneath him each day. I look forward to seeing how he changes in the fall season.


Leopold, Aldo. 1949. A Sands County Almanac. Oxford University Press.