Write a 2-3 page brainstorm on the assignment.
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PrefaceHere is a news item from last year:
“A Lake in Florida Suing to Protect Itself” (New Yorker Magazine, Elizabeth Kolbert)
In an effort to protect herself, Mary Jane is suing. The lake has filed a case in Florida state court, together with Lake Hart, the Crosby Island Marsh, and two boggy streams. According to legal papers submitted in February, the development would “adversely impact the lakes and marsh who are parties to this action,” causing injuries that are “concrete, distinct, and palpable.”
A number of animals have preceded Mary Jane to court, including Happy, an elephant who lives at the Bronx Zoo, and Justice, an Appaloosa cross whose owner, in Oregon, neglected him. There have also been several cases brought by entire species; for instance, the palila, a critically endangered bird, successfully sued Hawaii’s Department of Land and Natural Resources for allowing feral goats to graze on its last remaining bit of habitat. (The palila “wings its way into federal court in its own right,” Diarmuid O’Scannlain, a judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, wrote in a decision that granted the species relief.)
Still, Mary Jane’s case is a first. Never before has an inanimate slice of nature tried to defend its rights in an American courtroom. Depending on your perspective, the lake’s case is either borderline delusional or way overdue.
“It is long past time to recognize that we are dependent on nature, and the continued destruction of nature needs to stop,” Mari Margil, the executive director of the Center for Democratic and Environmental Rights, said in a statement celebrating the lawsuit.
“Your local lake or river could sue you?” the Florida Chamber of Commerce said. “Not on our watch.”Full article is here: https://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2022/04/18/a-lake-in-florida-suing-to-protect-itself?
PROMPT: For this project you will produce two kinds of writing—using two different genre—that use this news item and your response to it as a point of departure.
Part 1: Mini-Essay Patterning Your Work On Another Author
Choosing either Luiselli or Chew-Bose as your role model, create a mini-essay (1000 words) that borrows some of their moves to explore the idea/questions you see as most important in this news item. You want to kinda “channel” another author as you process the information about unusual situation of a lake appearing in a law suit as the injured party. How would Luiselli turn this situation into something she could write about? How do you think it might appear in a Chew-Bose piece? We’ve spent a lot of time with each author so draw on your familiarity with their purpose, their style and their voice, perhaps even their attitude!
Part 2: Persuasive Flier
Using the information set forward in the article any other research you might feel you need do, create a “Save the Wetlands”-type flier aimed at the lake environment’s other constituents of nature (e.g., animals, insects, microorganisms) that argues, as the does legal case, for the rights of Nature. This is, of course, somewhat a farcical* document because non-human animals cannot read, so your real audience is humans and you are trying to persuade a general audience that all living creatures have a right to exist and to thrive on a par with the rights that humans grant each other.
To help you with the “animal rights” argument, you can watch the philosopher Pete Singer’s TED TALK or the United Nations’ declaration of universal human rights or various other websites that summarize the pertinent points, like this one.
*A farce is a comic dramatic work.
Suggestions for Your Process:For Part 1:
How does Luiselli get going on her project? She discovers an injustice in the world and feels an empathetic connection to the people feeling the greatest impact of that injustice. So, she 1. researches the situation to understand what led to the injustice and how people have misunderstood the situation, and then 2. she finds a bureaucratic document that she uses to “scaffold” her exploration of the issue. How does Chew-Bose get going on her project? She seems to group her memories with people and her experiences with objects (films, etc)…..
For Part 2:
I’ve given you a reference article you can return to: “Seeing the Text.” What are the ways that a flier uses layout to orient the reader to the topic and how it breaks down?
The Purpose of WP#1
Obviously, this is not a traditional writing assignment. So, why am I asking you to do something this strange? Two reasons:
The two parts required in this project permit you to see how the same information can be “re-mediated” (that is, reorganized and redesigned) for a different occasion and audience.
The first part (where you are borrowing an approach, perhaps a voice/style, from another author to process something for yourself) gets you to see that writing does not wait on you to feel you have something to say. All you need to write is:
to be engaged by something you experience or see in the news&
be willing to experiment with borrowing an approach, a form, a style that you learned by reading and studying another author.