For Your Consideration this Thanksgiving

November 27, 2013
Another moving TedX talk, this one by photographer Aaron Huey that offers some true insight into the roots of the tradition of giving thanks. From TedX:
"Aaron Huey's effort to photograph poverty in America led him to the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation, where the struggle of the native Lakota people -- appalling, and largely ignored -- compelled him to refocus. Five years of work later, his haunting photos intertwine with a shocking history lesson in this bold, courageous talk." 

Can Trees Communicate? With a Little Help from Fungi.

by douglas reeser on November 13, 2013
The idea that plants communicate is an old one, and increasingly, scientists are uncovering just how this communication takes place. Last year we wrote about how plants use sound and vibration to send signals to one another, and just this week I came across this short video featuring the work of Suzanne Simard, professor of Forest Sciences at the University of British Columbia. Simard explains how trees use their roots, with the help of fungi, to form networks in the forest that they use to feed and communicate with one another. Mother Trees, the old and grand trees we sometimes see, nourish vast networks in the forest, and these networks produce a diversity that protects trees and the forest from extreme events. The more we learn about nature, plants, the environment, and our surrounding (and supporting!) ecosystems, the more amazing it becomes.

Check out the video for more on how trees communicate in the forest:

Intellectual Pursuits and Life Outside Academia

In the world outside of academia, intellectual pursuits
increasingly seem to lack respect among the wider public.
Photo by douglas reeser.
by douglas reeser on November 9, 2013
I've been on a bit of a writing hiatus for about two months now. The break was mostly expected, but the extent to how deep of a break it would be has come as a surprise. I've been writing regularly for Recycled Minds since 2005, recently completed a two year stint as a contributing editor to Anthropology News of the American Anthropological Association, and have been working on completing my dissertation for about a year. These projects do not include a couple of peer-reviewed journal articles, and a few random pieces for other sites that I've also written recently. Writing has become somewhat of what I do, although it's largely a labor of love that has not brought any financial benefit in my direction.

And sadly, this lack of an income was one of the driving factors in my decision to take a few months, return to my roots in Pennsylvania, and produce a Halloween show. The production proved more intense than I fully anticipated, and for two months I was forced to drop everything else that I had been working on. To be fair, the move brought me back to family and old friends, all of whom I sorely missed, and I did some writing for the production - a 30 page script based on historical figures from the local area where the production was set. Still, if, through my 8 years of graduate school work and over 10 years of writing regularly, I had developed some sort of income for myself, I wonder if I would have made the same decision.

First Friday Picture Show: Art with a Conscience by Cassandra Tondro

Recycled Minds Picture Show
by Cassandra Tondro on November 1, 2013
"Enchantment," 24 x 24 inches, repurposed acrylic latex paint on canvas

November's First Friday Picture Show features the green art of Cassandra Tondro. Cassandra Tondro is an artist who has found an innovative use for leftover house paint ‐‐ she repurposes it for her colorful abstract paintings. Cassandra rescues the paint from recycling centers in the Los Angeles area before it is disposed of. By visiting these outlets regularly, she has assembled a palette filled with unusual colors. She enjoys the challenge of working with the colors that she finds, rather than colors of her choice. Once a color is gone, it is unlikely that she will find the exact same color again. House paint comes in a variety of finishes, including flat, satin, semi‐gloss and eggshell, that add depth and texture to the surface of her paintings. 

"Bubble Up," 18 x 18 inches, repurposed acrylic latex paint on canvas

Cassandra has developed several methods of working with the paint, including pouring, pulling, pressing and dripping it onto canvas. While the paint is wet, she often uses tools, washes of water, or her fingers to create imagery. The paint dries slowly, and in the process of drying, serendipitous things sometimes occur, such as bubbles that pop to reveal another color below.

"Azure," 24 x 12 inches, repurposed acrylic latex paint on canvas

Cassandra's eco‐friendly paintings create a unique focal point for contemporary interiors, and the green materials complement sustainable design. Collectors of Cassandra's work have said that her paintings evoke feelings of inspiration and joy, and are even more beautiful in person.

"Vortex," 30 x 24 inches, repurposed acrylic latex paint on canvas

Enjoy her show on Recycled Minds, and be sure to visit her at for more art with a conscience!