Five Questions for Bryna

Written by Bryna Campbell and William Campbell

NOTE: “Five Questions” is a regular series in which one or both of us poses questions about a topic relating to the blog’s broader themes. Here’s Part II of the early fall edition, in which William asks questions to Bryna

W: Q.1 In one of your blog posts about the National Parks, you positioned your love into an advice-focused list. That was an interesting choice. In our own conversations, you’ve started talking about putting together guides for others based on your own experiences with hikes. Many people would just keep that kind of passion and love to themselves as a personal hobby. What’s led you to taking this passion and love of yours into a resource for other people?

B: For some reason, this question seems odd to me…maybe because I don’t think of my passion for hiking as a hobby so much as one facet of a broader set of interests that also plays a role in my professional identity. As I mentioned in that initial post, I have published on the art history themes tied to art and tourism. I have also given lectures on the topic and regularly teach a class engaging the them. And as a teacher, I also already tend to think in terms of service; so the idea of doing something service oriented seems natural to me. I guess I didn’t think of that first post as an advice column, so much as a fun list of “favorites” to celebrate the centennial anniversary. And who doesn’t like a list?

But it’s true that I’ve been talking privately to you about starting a business that draws from my interest in nature and hiking. Since it’s still in its initial phases, I’m not ready to talk about it much, but generally speaking it involves making hiking resources for families so as to help introduce nature to kids. It grows as much out of parenting experiences – and my belief that nature is restorative for all ages – as my interest in hiking itself. It is also tied to a long held desire to own my own business. I like to think of this project as filling a gap in the hiking literature that could help the youngest digital-native generation.

W: Q2. As you write about your love of the National Parks, you discuss the forcible removal of Native Americans and the problematic nature of American westward expansion. I’m interested in how you do or do not reconcile these?

B:I think that the National Park Service has done a lot to contend with its own history by working with Native American group preserve resources and form partnerships to further tribal knowledge. As NPS American Indian Services Specialist Otis Halfmoon notes in a recent interview, thanks to the National Park Service, there are historic parks devoted to preserving and sharing information about important historical events in this history. My concern stems more from a broader tendency in American culture to obscure this history with nostalgic rhetoric about nature steeped in patriotism (“America, the Beautiful” for example)

W: Q3. In your writing about the National Parks, you mention Mesa Verde. I remember being quite young when we visited, but I loved it. There was a moment when we were about to go on a particular hike that required us to climb a steep set of stairs carved into the side of a cliff. I have this memory of you being upset with our dad for letting me go because you thought it was too dangerous. First, do you also remember this? Second, how do you reflect on the aspect of danger and even wilderness as part of the National Parks, especially now as a parent?

B: I don’t remember this…for some reason my memory involves our middle brother being scared. Maybe you are misremembering the details? But I’ve also been there as an adult so it’s hard to separate all the different memories. As for your main question, I don’t really distinguish the danger at national parks from the danger at other recreation sites because risk is a constant in the Pacific Northwest and stories of  lost or hurt hikers are common. I do think people should take the rules seriously at National Parks, and have a pet peeve about those who break the rules. Just recently at Mount Rainier, I had to contain my frustration at a group of adults who jumped a fence in a delicate wildflowers area to chase a marmot. 

W: Q4. Early on in this blog, you reflected on how freeing it was for you to break out of an academic approach to writing. Now that you have been blogging for awhile, what’s your current reflection on writing in this more informal and personal manner?

B: It feels a lot more natural to me than the kind of writing that was expected for a dissertation or seminar paper, though I suspect that this is partly to do with my particular academic field, which can get a bit “jargon” filled.

W: Q5. To continue on that theme, your chose to be very personal with your piece on Bi-Invisibility. What was this like for you to put yourself out there in this very vulnerable manner?

B: That was anxiety-inducing. I was in a bad mood all week as I was writing it because I was so stressed that what I was trying to say wouldn’t make any sense. But afterward I felt so proud of myself for taking that risk, and relieved and grateful for all the kindness I received out there in the universe when I published it. Thank you, friends!



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