• Environmental Ethics

Weekend Adventures and Wrapping Up

Greetings from Holden Village, where it is finally snowing again!

We started our weekend off with “Holden Prom” on Friday night. The theme was “Under the Stars”—literally! The dance was held on the main street of the Village and there were bonfires on either side for people to stay warm and make s’mores. A few people in our class attended the dance classes that were held earlier in the day to learn the waltz, swing dancing and line dances. The dress code was “Holden Formal,” so many people made good use of the costume shop to find outrageous attire to wear over winter clothes and boots!

We had some nice weather and sunshine this weekend, which allowed us to go on many adventures! On Saturday, about half of the class hiked to Copper Basin, which is in the mountain ridge looking south from the Village. Although there was some steep climbing, it sounds like they saw some spectacular scenery!

Most of the rest of the class hiked westward to Hart Lake on Saturday. This hike gave us remarkable views of the mountain across the valley and of the lake! We also saw a lovely waterfall. It was neat to turn around and see fog creeping up the valley, and then hike through it on our return.

I am impressed that many of the same folks who hiked to Copper Basin trekked to Holden Lake on Sunday. This long hike involved lots of switchbacks and elevation gain, which was rewarded with an unbeatable view of the snow-covered lake. Although there is not much snow in the Village, the hikers had to take snowshoes along to use once they reached higher elevations with more snow.

We all finished our final papers yesterday evening and are officially done with class! For our papers, we wrote a Case Brief about one of the environmental quandaries we studied in class and offered our opinions on an ethical alternative for action in the case. There are many competing values in these dilemmas, such as meeting the needs of one group or entity without harming the needs of another group or entity, which makes it difficult to find an ethically justifiable course of action.

For our last class we talked about some of the lessons we will take away from the class. I personally will take away the idea that environmental issues are usually incredibly complex and it is important to take into consideration all of the different entities—humans, plants, animals, soil—that will be affected. Likewise, it was helpful for me to learn about the different moral theories through which people approach ethical issues so that I can try to understand the opinions of people who disagree with me on such issues. I also have discovered that inaction in many situations is actually an action of promoting the status quo. Therefore it is often not ethically justifiable to do nothing, even if acting means acquiring more knowledge or proceeding with caution.

Today is a free day with no class! Some people are out hiking and exploring one last time, while others are finishing up crafts and relaxing.

Every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday after Vespers, there is a “snack bar” in the Dining Hall where people can buy a generous helping (a “Holden Scoop”) of ice cream. Since last night was our last night of snack bar, we were treated to free ice cream in celebration of our J-term course spending the month up here.

Tonight we will have a talent show, which should be amusing!

Tomorrow we will ride the bus down the mountain (although some of our classmates who are on the Track team are planning on running down the 12 mile road). We will first take the ferry to Stehekin, a town that is at the north end of Lake Chelan, where we will get off the boat and explore for a couple of hours. After that, we will take the ferry to Field’s Point, where a bus will pick us up and take us to Seattle.

I think I speak for most of my classmates when I say that it’s been great to spend J-term here at Holden Village, taking a thought-provoking class, interacting with a friendly community, and being surrounded by breath-taking views in the valley! We will try to take some of the lessons we have learned in class and from life in the Village and bring these into our personal lives when we return.

Thanks for reading!

Looking east down the valley from the top of the Third Level Loop Trail
Looking west toward Holden Village while on a hike to Hart Lake
A group of students on a hike to Ten Mile Falls
The Creekside Room where we had class each day
Students on a hike to Hart Lake
A hike to see Hart Lake
Surface Hoar crystals--frozen dew from fog
Saying goodbye to Holden from the dock at Lucerne