Essay #3: A Working Landscape

Jacalyn Pauer's essay, "Designs in the Land: Meandering Through the Nature/Culture Divide" in Cal Poly Land: A Field Guide, pages 200-203, leads us from the natural landscape through the arch at the Architectural Area to a landscape of human use and impact. Our walk today traverses many such Cal Poly landscapes, showing both the enhancement and degradation of nature employed "as a means to reach our own ends." (See map on 234)

Starting at the Feed Mill and Abbatoir, where the rich natural riparian environment has been paved, channelized and polluted, we pass over Brizzolara Creek, where the California State Fish and Game Service has just installed a "fish ladder" to make it possible for the endangered Steelhead (p.129) to migrate upstream to their ancient spawning grounds.

On the north side of the creek, site of the early 1900's Bartolo Brizzolara barn, we find the Bull Test area, where bulls from all over the state are tested and ranked for feed/weightgain ratios. Those which place highest earn their owners hundreds of thousands of dollars for each vial of their semen. This is also the site of Student Housing North, a planned student residential community of 2700 students, slated to open four years from now.

We walk west to Drumm reservoir, a water bird sanctuary and site of the Irrigation Training and Resource Center (ITRC), a million dollar facillity funded by the State Water Resources Department and a consortium of large Central Valley Growers.

We follow the natural swale northward through a wetland and over a knoll at the base of Caballo Peak to Indonesian Reservoir, passing a USGS online seismographic sensor and some ancient Chumash bedrock mortars. Below the uphill flowing inlet to the Reservoir, we make our way through the Equine unit, the Horticultural greenhouses, and the golfcourse turf experimentation fields to the Arboretum. In this entirely artificial natural garden, we rest, reflect, and discuss some of the issues raised in Pauer's essay.

Our reading, walk and discussion prepare for this writing assignment--a report on one interesting place at Cal Poly intended for submission as a feature article in the Mustang Daily. Its objective is to make readers aware of a place on campus, interest them in it, and educate them about it.

Possible topics:

Your information will come from three kinds of sources: 1) your own observation 2) documents like the Field Guide, Cal Poly Land website, and paper or digital documents provided by departmental spokespeople and 3) conversations with students, staff and faculty who are involved with the place.

This essay contains some descriptive and narrative elements but its primary intent is expository--to inform. We'll be examining several expository modes which should help you explore your subject and organize your essay.

Possible ingredients:

This essay may also contain some of your personal musings about the place.