The Long Term Ecological Reflections Program

Campfire2003 – 2203

In a program that will continue for two hundred years, writers visit sites in the forest to create an ongoing record of their reflections on the relation of people and forests changing together over time.

The Long-Term Ecological Reflections project hosts writers’ residencies and other programs at the H.J. Andrews Experimental Forest in the Oregon Cascades, where participants can interact with research scientists as they go about their work. Their writings, which will form a collection spanning hundreds of years, will be gathered in permanent archives at Oregon State University, and are accessible via the web-based Forest Log: An on-line journal of poems, essays, articles and other creative reflections on the Forest.

Long-Term Ecological Reflections is a collaboration among the Andrews Forest Long-Term Ecological Research group; the USDA Forest Service; and the Spring Creek Project for Ideas, Nature and the Written Word, a program in the Department of Philosophy, Oregon State University. Like the National Science Foundation’s Long-Term Ecological Research program on which it is modeled, the Long-Term Ecological Reflections project will gather reflections for generations, assembling a long-term record of changing creative responses to an ever-changing landscape.

Long-Term Ecological Reflections is rooted in these beliefs:

  • That humanist writers should pay close attention to a particular place-to the mountains, rivers, people and the forests of the Andrews and its environs-because a close study of place will reveal broader truths that go beyond that place.
  • That we should study that place for generations and learn to perceive the temporal dimension-the presence of pasts and futures-through informed observation.
  • That storytelling and poetry, observation and experiment, myth and mathematics are all authentic windows on the world.
  • That there is an unusual richness and joy in the community of art and science, in the coming together of insights from many different perspectives and disciplines.
  • That there is wisdom to be gained; that the more we know about the natural world and the place of humans in the world, the greater our insight into how we ought to live our lives.
The creation of Mark Harmon’s “log decomp” study
The “Log Decomp” site years later