Friday, August 22, 2008

The summer comes to a close

6:00 am this morning I arrived in Madison, Wisconsin. That's pretty much exactly 24 hour after I left Lonesome Valley, with the sun just beginning to rise and bathe the rolling hills in warm yellow light. I knew then just how much I'd miss the place.

My last weeks on Pine Ridge Reservation were quite amazing; things seem to have a way of coming together at the last minute. Literally on my last day at work, Wednesday, Bob and I were able to meet with some of the administrative leadership at Oglala Lakota College and everyone was very supportive of working to get the college lab certified to run water quality tests for the tribal and federal programs on the reservation. Now the lab staff will be able to move forward, hopefully with the help of some chemistry-inclined MIT students in the future. [Photo is of me wearing a random pair of sunglasses we found while inventorying the lab storeroom].

Things also seemed to fall into a good place with the watershed management project. On two separate days I went out and visited Wounded Knee and Porcupine Creeks with a couple of staff members from the Environmental Protection Program -- we took samples, photos, video, and talked about the various natural and human impacts on the creeks, as well as a fair bit about music and life. One thing that the long driving distances are good for is conversation time. Later, we played with maps and video and sound back at the office in Windows Media Maker (first time I learned Windows had a pretty decent equivalent for iMovie on a mac). All in all I felt like I really did help out with the watershed management plan, mostly by contributing some legwork but also with some ideas for how to move forward on such a large undertaking. It was really rewarding to be working collaboratively with people rather than endlessly pounding away on my computer.

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