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A Natural and Cultural History Guide to the Blue House

August 3rd, 2017 | Posted by in Graduate M.Ed. Program

By Angela Burlile, graduate student in the Institute’s 16th cohort. 

During our Place-Based Learning in the North Cascades course this past summer, I discovered the power of place and the role that place has on our sense of self and the development of our ecological identity. A sense of place can be developed when one purposefully considers their relationship to the landscape and builds meaningful and personal connections.

Throughout much of the summer, we examined a pedagogy of place, reinforced through experiential practice and supportive reading material. In David Gruenewald’s, “Foundations of Place: A Multidisciplinary Framework for Place-Conscious Education”, he states:

“A multidisciplinary analysis of place reveals the many ways that places are profoundly pedagogical. That is, as centers of experience, places teach us about how the world works and how our lives fit into the spaces we occupy. Further, places make us: as occupants of particular places with particular attributes, our identity and our possibilities are shaped.”

I carried Gruenewald’s words and the idea of purposeful examination and connection to land with me as I moved into my new graduate residence at the Blue House in August 2016. Purchased in 2015 by the North Cascades Institute, the Blue House provides residential housing space for graduate students and staff. It was built in 1912 and currently sits on 7.7 acres of land, along the confluence of Diobsud Creek and the Skagit River.

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Facing Climate Change in the Pacific Northwest

April 7th, 2013 | Posted by in Naturalist Notes

North Cascades Institute former staffers and current friends Benjamin Drummond and Sara Joy Steele just launched four new films for their multimedia project, Facing Climate Change. Oyster Farmers, Coastal Tribes, Potato Farmers, and Plateau Tribes all explore global climate change through people who live and work in the Pacific Northwest, with an emphasis on how climate change will impact food production and tribes.

These stories came about after one of the project’s partners, the Climate Impacts Group at the University of Washington, released the Washington Climate Change Impacts Assessment. Chinese Teapots Wholesale Chinese Teapots Amber Spiral Bracelets
It’s an incredible resource with startling projections for how climate change will impact the Northwest’s future, but it’s also 400 pages and a lot of science to wade through. Benj and Sara’s goal is to put a face to projections like these and to bring new voices into the conversation.

» Continue reading Facing Climate Change in the Pacific Northwest

Cliff Mass explains Diablo Lake area weather

August 21st, 2010 | Posted by in Naturalist Notes

We were very excited to have Cliff Mass as one of our instructors for the 2010 Northwest Naturalists Retreat, and then thrilled when he posted a piece about the weather in the Learning Center’s neighborhood on his popular blog:

A green-blue mountain lake with towering mountains, snowfields and glaciers, as well as a fascinating meteorology–the is what I found during a pleasant stay this weekend at the North Cascade Institute this weekend, where I was one of the instructors for their Naturalist Weekend Retreat. The location of this beautiful facility is on Diablo Lake (see maps below), behind Seattle City Light’s Diablo Dam. A very pleasant place to take environmentally oriented classes or to use as a base for exploring the North Cascades.

The lake has a green-bluish tinge due to the very fine particles produced by the surrounding glaciers (glacial flour). Why greenish blue? Why is the sky blue? A similar reason–what is known as Rayleigh scattering of visible light. Very fine particles scatter short wavelengths (like blue or green) far more than longer wavelengths (like red or yellow). Thus the shorter wavelengths are scattered back to your eye producing the bluish or greenish tint.

Some of the most exceptional meteorological features of this location are the diurnal (daily) winds. Nearly every day in summer the winds pick up on the lake around noon, with the flow accelerating up to 12-25 mph, often producing whitecaps. The wind is from the west, flowing directly up the Skagit  River valley (see map above). During my stay I noted a strong correlation between this westerly wind and the pressure difference across the Cascades; when eastern Washington pressure fell relative to the west, the winds accelerated. Thus, the winds appeared to be gap winds, which are roughly proportional to the pressure difference across the gap. The interesting thing for me, is although the gap is very clear to the west (the Skagit River Valley), to the immediate east there is considerable blocking terrain until one gets to Mazama. But clearly the air rushing up the Skagit is going somewhere as it pushes to the east. Since the pressure difference increases during the day (eastern Washington heats up, air there becomes less dense, and thus the pressure falls), the wind strengthened late morning into the afternoon.