The Big Here
July 13, 2006 5:27 AM   Subscribe

"You live in the big here. Wherever you live, your tiny spot is deeply intertwined within a larger place, imbedded fractal-like into a whole system called a watershed, which is itself integrated with other watersheds into a tightly interdependent biome. At the ultimate level, your home is a cell in an organism called a planet. All these levels interconnect. What do you know about the dynamics of this larger system around you?

30 questions to elevate your awareness (and literacy) of the greater place in which you live.
posted by Hartster (31 comments total) 8 users marked this as a favorite
Well, technically, if you want to get all "ultimate level", you really have to go past the planet to the solar system, galaxy, universe, multiverse, etc. :)

Cool link though. Neat ideas of things to look up.
posted by antifuse at 5:56 AM on July 13, 2006

I like this for some reason. I'd like to see a non-nature-based set of questions; of the many systems we live in, nature is a declining force.

Questions like "What does your bank use your savings for?", or "What's the name of your local police chief?", or "Exactly where are your friends, right now?".
posted by hoverboards don't work on water at 6:13 AM on July 13, 2006

Some good questions there. Makes me feel ignorant knowing I can only answer the first one without looking something up.
posted by Serial Killer Slumber Party at 7:26 AM on July 13, 2006

... nature is a declining force.

... which is a bit like saying "Reality is a declining force."
posted by lodurr at 7:36 AM on July 13, 2006

I knew all but one (who uses your recycled goods). Of course I'm an ecologist so it's sort of my job to know plus my house is on top of an underground river, 2 miles form the nearest fault and I was just at the beach yesterday so a few of those were gimmes.

... nature is a declining force.

It makes me incredibly sad to see that.
posted by fshgrl at 7:43 AM on July 13, 2006

I live in the big here and long now, apparently.
posted by Eideteker at 7:49 AM on July 13, 2006

I live in the big here. You live in the big there. Lousy therefolk.
posted by jonmc at 7:51 AM on July 13, 2006 [1 favorite]

This is a tiny town, and we don't want you comin' round...
posted by Smart Dalek at 8:27 AM on July 13, 2006

good stuff! fav'd!
posted by moonbird at 8:34 AM on July 13, 2006

We city kids don't know 'bout these kinda things.
posted by kozad at 8:35 AM on July 13, 2006

I generally think of myself as very knowledgable of my home, yet I could only answer 13 (out of the total 34)... not bad, from what I gather, but could still use some improvement...
posted by WhipSmart at 8:38 AM on July 13, 2006

I answered almost all easily, but I work in water engineering so it's my job to know these things. As hoverboards hints at, I wouldn't be able to answer questions about some other systems quite so readily.
posted by green herring at 8:46 AM on July 13, 2006

Where does the pollution in your air come from?

From all round?

I mean, I didn't know urban pollution was supposed to travel in circumscribed currents.
posted by funambulist at 8:55 AM on July 13, 2006

... nature is a declining force.

Yup, but someone forgot to tell nature....
posted by fluffycreature at 9:11 AM on July 13, 2006

... which is a bit like saying "Reality is a declining force."

Which, frankly, is true! (Although I initially meant only that the weather, water table, tides, moonphases, food supply and local flora place restrictions on our lives less than ever before).
posted by hoverboards don't work on water at 9:49 AM on July 13, 2006

It expands and then it will collapse.
posted by jouke at 9:54 AM on July 13, 2006

29) Where is the nearest wilderness? When was the last time a fire burned through it?

This one was just too easy for me. We fled SoCal's Sawtooth Complex fire day before yesterday and are watching the smoke coming from the San Gorgonio Wilderness as I now sit on my sister's veranda. It's an impressive view.
posted by buggzzee23 at 10:04 AM on July 13, 2006

I could answer about half of these for my childhood home, and almost none of them for my current home. I guess living in a big city instead of a tiny town, I'm simply far more detached from stuff like this.

On the other hand, it was a whole lot easier to answer the recycling question based on my hometown with 'Recycling? We don't recycle?' and the trash question with 'Over there, across the highway into the big pit we dump it in' and the sewage question with 'Into our septic tank'. Just because the answers were easier doesn't make them better.
posted by jacquilynne at 10:08 AM on July 13, 2006

Living on an island requires understanding eco limits (trash, sewage, water, extinction, energy, history, etc.) Surfing, fishing, water-life require knowing tides, moons, sunsets, storms, etc. This quiz should be required of everyone living in (or even visiting!) Hawai'i.

'Mainland mentalities' are deadly to island life (ex: using the California model for building freeways!). BUT ... is this true for all "heres" -- are your places also threatened by in-migration of people who have no understanding of (or concern for) the limits of your "here"?
posted by Surfurrus at 10:22 AM on July 13, 2006

Stand in the place where you live/Now face north/Think about direction/Wonder why you haven't before
posted by hydrophonic at 10:54 AM on July 13, 2006

Where does the pollution in your air come from?

A place where they don't end their sentences in prepositions.
posted by WhipSmart at 11:18 AM on July 13, 2006

How many days is the growing season here (from frost to frost)?

What do I need nature for? I get my food at restaurants.


posted by salvia at 11:56 AM on July 13, 2006

23/30, 26/34. But then, I grew up on a farm, and currently live 40 miles west of where I grew up. The biggest problem I had was the watershed question, because it depends upon which direction you go, and how big a river you're looking for. We don't get wildfires around here much, which is probably just as well, because deciduous forests don't regenerate well. The last quake was 1981 or so, but it was a tiny 3.4 (no more than a thump, really).
posted by jlkr at 12:35 PM on July 13, 2006

I answered all of them quite easily, but similar to other posters, I do environmental consulting with a background in anthropology, and it's part of my job to know such things.

While recognizing that a holistic understanding of ones place in the world is valuable, I question the real value of knowing such minutia as a yardstick for environmental awareness, or presumably, responsible citizenship. I'm afraid it's a great deal more complicated than that.

An amusing bit of fluff.
posted by elendil71 at 1:41 PM on July 13, 2006

I felt a bit bad at only being able to answer about half of them - and the various solar questions were gimmes from my recent work on DaylightMap. But then I too started thinking that they should range beyond ecology... I was thinking of things like "Who is your ISP's backbone provider?" and "What language is your browser written in?", but that's just me. The point being that we are all part of, and dependent upon, a lot more systems than the ecological ones - and we can't all be fully knowledgeable about all of them.

Still, good link!
posted by String at 2:26 PM on July 13, 2006

WhipSmart, there's really nothing wrong with ending a sentence with a preposition. It's one of those nonsensical "grammar" rules based on the idea that English should conform to the grammer of Latin. Really, the question as stated is better English than "From where does the pollution in your air come?"
posted by bookish at 2:57 PM on July 13, 2006

No related occupation, but 25/30 simply from having spent about twenty years in the same city. Much lower score for the city I recently moved too though.

If, like me, your job is nothing to do with any of this, then I think the number of years you've lived in the area is going to be a significant factor.
posted by -harlequin- at 3:09 PM on July 13, 2006

we are all part of, and dependent upon, a lot more systems than the ecological ones - and we can't all be fully knowledgeable about all of them.

But I think we should strive to be mostly knowledgeable about all of them. (Or at the least, almost all of them).

Then you become MacGyver :-)
posted by -harlequin- at 3:12 PM on July 13, 2006

Well, I found it interesting. Reminded me to learn more about the different types of soil. I have what I think of as good enough answers for 26 of 30.

It seems like it's well on the way to being a test of general curisity about the world. With perhaps a couple of exceptions, these are not questions you need specialized knowledge to answer. I think "what happens to the money you deposit with the bank" would fit in just fine, along with questions about a thousand other subjects. It's already a mix of routinely-observable things, environmental sciences, distant industrial-scale processes, and history. Except for those few who do happen to have specific knowledge of this stuff for some particular reason, being able to answer these questions should correlate well with general knowledge about everything else.
posted by sfenders at 3:36 PM on July 13, 2006

For the life of me, I can't imagine why anybody other than a surfer or a fisherman would ever have any cause to know or care when the next high tide is due.
posted by UbuRoivas at 8:52 PM on July 13, 2006

Easy for me, living in the same city all my life and being a social studies/geography teacher. Plus, with a drought in several water catchments in my area of the state, the environment is very much a persistent issue in the paper.
posted by chronic sublime at 3:57 AM on July 14, 2006

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