Take an environmental scientist, a philosopher, and a poet. Put them together in a room and ask them to re-imagine connections between human culture and natural landscapes.
Is this a recipe for disaster? No, it’s just a challenge, says Kathleen Dean Moore, OSU philosophy professor and director of the Spring Creek Project.
Created through an endowment from an anonymous donor, the project is designed to explore the relation of humans to the rest of the natural world.
“That’s the idea behind the Spring Creek Project,” Moore says. “Bring together people with different background and perspectives–whether they are forest managers, artists, students, or scientists-and engage them in creative thought about how to live on this beautiful Earth.”
To encourage that cross-fertilization of ideas, the Spring Creek Project promotes what it calls “confluence communities.” These are groups of three or more people, preferably from different backgrounds, who get together to discuss themes that revolve around nature.
The centerpiece of the program is the Cabin at Shotpouch Creek, located on a 40-acre nature reserve and writing retreat in the Coast Range of western Oregon. The cabin serves as a meeting place for workshops and scholarly projects.
In addition to the cabin and confluence communities, the program offers a number of field courses and public events. There is also a Spring Creek Library, located on the second floor of Hovland Hall on the OSU campus.
Moore has high hopes for the interdisciplinary nature of the project. “We need to look beyond our own disciplines,” she says. “When we talk with people whose expertise is different from our own, creative new solutions and perspectives can emerge.”