Save KD

KD is the most important tree at Dickinson, that is for sure. I didn’t know it either at the beginning of the semester, but she is for sure a crucial part of this campus and needs to be saved

She needs to be saved for more reasons than just our personal connection. As I enter and exit Stern every Tuesday and Thursday morning, I am greeted by this small but important tree and reminded constantly of how closely she is connected with the beautiful scenery that makes Stern so special, and all of the small animals that depend on her. Although she isn’t the youngest tree out there, she is still in the middle of her life and deserves to live the rest of it to the fullest. Her historic value is important to Dickinson because she has been around longer than other trees on the Quad, and therefore has more sentimental value than others do. More people are likely to connect to KD because of the amount of time she has been around.IMG_2735

Although her leaves have fallen, and she looks quite bare and cold, it is important to remember how beautiful and lively she is when in full bloom. She adds hope and fresh air to an area of the Dickinson academic quad that needs it the most. When in full bloom, she is the positivity that this campus needs. When in full bloom, she looks snow-capped, making her one of Dickinson’s most unique trees. As spring turns to summer, she is as green as can be. She is truly the best of both worlds, as she represents all different types of beauty that a tree could possibly offer.

IMG_2722.JPGKD, a Kousa Dogwood tree, is native to Asian countries. Therefore it is important that she stays where she is, left unharmed, because she is located right in front of Stern, which is home to the East Asian Studies department. Thus, KD further educates the students that walk into the building ona daily basis, creating an environment that mimics that of an Asian country. She creates a more authentic environment at Stern and supports an educational environment.


Use-value of KD

KD’s use value is dependent on perspective. At an individual perspective, or my perspective, KD on a daily basis does not satisfy much of my human want. I go about my day-to-day life without thinking much about her. As I hustle and bustle around campus, KD does not necessarily satisfy my daily wants. However, without even thinking about it, KD is contributing to the air I take in, as she emits oxygen that I can breathe in.


To the local environment that KD exists in, which would immediately be Stern and the Academic Quad at Dickinson College, KD satisfies several wants. First and foremost, KD satisfies the aesthetically pleasing look that Dickinson College strives for. She adds a look that is pleasing to the eye, especially when her leaves are in full bloom. The other want that KD fulfils in her immediate local environment is her contribution to the other living things around her, especially to small animals. Whether it’s squirrels, small birds, or insects, these creatures make use of KIMG_2723D on a daily basis.

To the global ecosystem, KD is just one tree. However, she is very important and satisfies several wants on a global-scale, as she is a specific type of tree that contributes a certain element to the world that not every tree can. KD is a Kousa Dogwood, and probably one of the only ones in Carlisle, PA. This means that she is representing her species here in Carlisle, while maintaining her reputation around the world. In this ecosystem, KD is constantly giving back to the environment. She is contributing to the lives of other living things around her.

KD satisfies several wants all of the time, but never really expects anything in return. One day, KD may be tired from giving and giving, and could break down because it is just too much for her to handle. The good news is for KD, though, that the facilities staff here at Dickinson is dedicated to taking care of her and will do all they can to make sure that KD is in pristine condition. If only more of us students would take the time to consider the well-being of the trees we are surrounded by on campus…



In Catton and Dunlap’s article, they explore two concepts of environmental sociology.

  1. Human Exceptionalist Paradigm (HEP) – applied to traditional sociology’s worldview; that homo sapiens are exceptional characteristics of our species somehow exempt humans from ecological principles and from environmental influences and constraints.
  2.  New Ecological Paradigm (NEP) – human societies necessarily exploit surrounding ecosystems in order to survive, but societies that flourish to the extent of overexploiting the ecosystem may destroy the basis of their own survival.

IMG_2724 2


In other words, in HEP, human-environmental relationships are unimportant because humans and the environment are unrelated, whereas in NEP, there is a focus on a tight-knit relationship between humans and the environment, both directly impacting one another at all times.

With regards to KD, the Human Exceptionalist Paradigm would consist of KD standing in isolation to the humans that surround her on a day-to-day basis. She is completely unrelated to them. In the New Ecological Paradigm, KD and all humans around her co-exist on an equal playing field, and any action by humans will directly impact KD’s life in some way.

I believe that the New Ecological Paradigm is more relevant to KD because she exists in the heart of Dickinson’s academic quad. Anything that we do as humans to change her environment will impact her. If we build a new structure that blocks the sun that she may usually get on a daily basis, that might impact her growth pattern. This is just one example, but I believe that KD and the humans that walk by her on a daily basis are directly intertwined and that all actions taken by humans can impact her in some way.



Dunlap, R., & Catton, W. (1979). Environmental Sociology. Annual Review Sociology, 5, 243-273. Retrieved November 28, 2015, from JSTOR.

Field Notes 3

After missing out on KD for about a week and a half, I was surprised to show up to find her branches bare. KD looks like an entirely different tree this time of year. She is brown, barren, and looking quite alone.

I sat down at 9:15 am. It is cold and crisp. The squirrels are very lively at this time of morning, most likely preparing for the winter. One hops close to KD’s trunk, then scurries away toward Old West. The rest of them are out and about, climbing all the other treesexcept KD. The other trees surrounding her are like skyscrapers in comparison.


9:20 comes around and the pedestrians pick up the pace around me, likely everyone is heading to their 9:30 classes. All I can hear are some quiet conversations, because it is too early in the morning for loud ones. There isn’t much wind, and there are no more leaves, so I am left without the peaceful sound of KD’s leaves blowing in the wind.

Between 9:20 and 9:30, I hear the sound of the Stern front door closing behind students as they enter the building for class.

I love the red adirondack chairs in the distance. They remind me that while I am alone with KD, I am still a part of Dickinson’s campus.

It is about 9:40, and I don’t see much movement. In the distance, I see cars stopping at the intersection of West Louther and North West Streets. There are constantly cars moving between these streets, as it is a very busy intersection.

Until next time!

Field Notes 2



 To my surprise, KD’s surroundings are beginning to change. When I first sit on the cement wall in front of Stern, I notice that she is now surrounded by fallen leaves, giving some more color to her setting. The leaves have fallen of of a very large tree closer to Stern, which actually takes a lot of attention away from KD, who is tucked away not only further from the entrance but behind this magnificent orange-colored tree as well.

At 11:00 am, I arrive back to where KD always is. I sit and watch. Today is not as cold as it has been for the past week, so it is a good morning to sit with her. I watch as squirrels hop by, stopping occasionally as if they are taking in the world around them, and then they continue to hop on. To my surprise, I do not hear as many leaves blowing in the wind this time around. Maybe this is because many of the leaves have already fallen, or maybe it has something to do with the lack of wind today.

11:15 hits, and the Denny bells begin to chime. They ring loud throughout the academic quad, a familiar tune that I can’t quite name.

There are only a few pedestrians that pass by me, most likely because it is a Sunday morning. As 11:30 nears, I see more and more people on their way to brunch, cozied up in their sweatpants and sweatshirts. What a beautiful morning to sit by KD.

Field Notes 1


At 10:00 pm, I sat by my tree to take in the world around us. I notice there aren’t many squirrels are out, and maybe it is because it is only getting colder so they are starting to stock up for the winter. The first thing I hear is the sound of the breeze through the leaves on the trees. It is peaceful and quiet. The sound of the breeze reminds me of something you would put in a soundbox in order to try to fall asleep.

To my surprise, there are colorful leaves sitting underneath KD’s shade, all over the ground. They aren’t her leaves, so they must have been blown by the wind off of a nearby tree.

Usually there are a lot of cars passing by, but because it is not early enough for the morning commute and not late enough for the afternoon one, it leaves me with more opportunity to listen to the natural world surrounding KD.

The first 2 minutes of peace is broken up by the sound of a child crying, across the academic quad with his family.

There are only a few clouds in the sky, and it is just warm enough to wear a long-sleeve shirt and pants, chilly enough to wear a jacket. It’s one of those picture-perfect fall days.

At about 10:15, the human foot traffic begins. Students hustle by Stern, on their way to and from class. It is the day before fall pause, so everyone is super chatty and smiling ear to ear. This is a major disruption in what was just my peaceful start to my morning.

5 minutes later, the area is swarmed with people. 10:20 comes around, and the pathways surrounding Stern and KD are filled with traffic in all directions. It is good to see people happy, but nobody even notices KD.

All throughout this time, my favorite sound has been that of the birds chirping in the trees. While there are none on KD’s branches, I know they are in close proximity.

I won’t see KD again until Tuesday or Wednesday, and I am curious to know if the leaves will change color at all, or if they fall off the branches.


It is 10:30 am on a warm, Sunday morning in October. I can sense the natural world all around me. For so many reasons, I feel relaxed. There is not a cloud in the sky, leaving KD and me in peace. It is a crisp morning, and I can feel the cool breeze on my face, and I see the KD’s leaves blowing gently with the wind. I really hear nothing except my own thoughts. The natural world stays silent.


As the clock strikes 10:30, the Denny bells ring across the academic quad and echo through the limestone walls. It is a familiar tune, and I like the tradition of the bells. However peaceful they are, they do disrupt the natural silence I had before. Behind Stern, I can hear cars speeding by and coming to a stop, and then starting again. I hear students passing by, talking to one another on their way to brunch. These sounds coming from the world around me interfere with my silent space with KD.

It is almost frustrating to sit here, trying to concentrate on KD in her natural space in peace, but to be disrupted by unnatural noise like the sound of vehicles. It is a reminder that while KD may seem alone in her silent and peaceful space in front of Stern, there are so many man-made interferences. Although the Denny bells are a nice touch, it is interesting to think that they are still man-made and disturb KD’s silence.

Thinking with KD

Everyone thinks best under different conditions. For some, a loud and busy settings helps people concentrate while others need to be isolated in a place so quiet they could hear a pin drop. Here is a list of the physical conditions under which I think best:

  1. My ideal thinking space must be well-lit
  2. My ideal thinking space should be a good temperature. Not too hot, not too cold.
  3. My ideal thinking space should have a minimal amount of distractions, such as other people or even noises. I am so easily distracted that even being in the same space as someone could disrupt my thinking.
  4. My ideal thinking space should be odorless because, let’s face it, when someone is sitting in class next to you eating a bacon egg and cheese sandwich, you can’t concentrate. The smell is distracting (and sometimes repulsive).

When I sat with my tree fotreer the first time, I realized that it actually provides a space that aligns quite closely with what I would identify as an ideal thinking space. It is, for the most part, a quiet space. All I can hear is the occasional sound of the leaves blowing in the wind, or, because the only thing separating it from the street is Stern, I can hear the sound of some cars passing by. There is a nice concrete ledge next to KD that is a good place to sit and think. With my legs dangling off the side, I am able to take in the space surrounding me. There is no true odor to this space, just the crisp, fall air – fresh enough to concentrate. The ledge is shaded, but there is still enough light for me to be able to clear my mind.

Celebrating 20 years


In 1995, KD’s seed was planted just to the right of the Stern patio. She has seen many generations, two decades to be exact, of Dickinson students and faculty pass by, either walking into or out of Stern, out of East College or Old West, or walking home towards West Louther Street.

Like me, she grew up in her early years as just a small plant with the influences of Blues Clues and other Nickelodeon tv shows. It was really great to be young in the 90s. Disney movies thrived, and a new era of pop-music was born. Lucky for me, KD and I got to experience it all together –we just didn’t know one another.

When she was just two years old, the beloved Princess Diana of Wales died in a tragic car crash. This is news that completely shocked the world, but both KD and I were too young to comprehend at the time. Something positive that happened in 1997 was the publication of the first Harry Potter novel, written by J.K. Rowling. This was also a big year in my life because it was the year that my only brother was born. A year later, when KD was three, the movie Titanic became the most successful movie ever, and U.S. President Clinton was impeached. Still too young to understand these major events in history, KD continued to grow in peace in her perfect patch of soil. I was still staying at home with my dad, because he was a stay-at-home dad with my brother and me.

The turn of the millenium brought not only more memorable events but also more life-changing ones. Perhaps the most terrible event of the 2000’s came in 2001, when on September 11th the United States was the target of a devastating terrorist attack. KD was surrounded by a community deeply saddened by the amount of loss from which the world had suffered. I know that I was in 2nd grade at the time, and I was sent home early from school that morning. My mom had to drive home from Missouri because all flights were cancelled. In that same year, Apple launched the iPod, which would forever change the way students walked by her. With their earplugs in and eyes on their iPods, so began the technology-obsession. When she turned nine years old in 2004, Mark Zuckerburg launched Facebook, what would later become a world-wide trend. In 2004 I was ten years old– finally double digits! I was in fourth grade, so Facebook was not even an option for me, although my friends started to get MySpace during 5th grade.

When she could start to comprehend the world she lives in, at age twelve KD watched as the world began to suffer from a major economic crisis. I was in 7th grade at the start of the crisis, but still too young to completely understand. I do recall many of my parents’ friends losing their jobs. Two years later, in 2009, Barack Obama was sworn in as the 44th President of the United States of America, the first African-American president to do so. Though I wasn’t able to vote in this presidential election, I was able to vote in the next election (2012 – Romney vs. Obama).

I graduated from high school in 2012, and started my career at Dickinson that fall. Although I passed by KD almost every day, I never truly noticed her. Then, on September 4th 2015 during the fall of my senior year at Dickinson, I was introduced to her. From this day forward KD and I will share many moments together, and I know that each event that impacts my life will likely impact hers in some way as well.

Meet KD

It was a beautiful day in the beginning of September when I was introduced to the magnificent Kousa Dogwood tree in front of Stern. Dickinson’s arborist, Mark Scott, was kind enough to elaborate on some of the specifics of the tree, and I was enlightened by how much one tree could have an impact on our small community. I decided to give this tree a name — KD. She is approximately 20 years old, so I am only a year older than her! KD is 15 feet tall, which is an average height for her type. Most Kousa Dogwoods are anywhere from 15-20 feet tall. She is a small deciduous tree, meaning she loses her leaves seasonally, or in this case her fruit. This Kousa Dogwood tree grows fruit during the fall, which is a pinkish-red in color. KD is actually native to Asia, but she can also (clearly) be found in the Northeastern part of the United States.


Something that I find interesting is the amount of people that walk in and out of Stern every day, or that walk by Stern towards the intersection of North West Street and West LoutherStreet, without even noticing that this tree exists. The fact is that there are likely a handful of different species in Carlisle that actually depend on this tree for several things, such as shelter or food.

In Aldo Leopold’s A Sand County Almanac, he discusses types of tree species that he is drawn to. He says, “I like the red dogwood because he feeds October robins… I like the hazel because his October purple feeds my eye, and because his November catkins feed my deer and grouse” (72). I believe that based off of these attractions, Leopold would like the Kousa Dogwood tree. Not only is it another type of dogwood tree, but it also blooms (white) flowers that are pleasing to the eye. It grows fruit when in season, which will feed many different species in its surrounding neighborhood. Just as his oak trees feed the grouse in his backyard, the Kousa Dogwood is a food source for other species as well. KD is such an important resource.


Leopold, Aldo. A Sand County Almanac. New York: Oxford UP, 1949. Print.