The University and the Garden

Today, Wednesday, October 26, I’ll be using my collection of East German photographs to anchor a talk about the garden at the heart of all modern universities, and the key role that German studies can play in renewing them. German history is more relevant to our region than is apparent on the surface. The talk is in ARTS 204, from 12:30 – 2 PM, ON THE Okanagan Campus of the University of British Columbia (whew, a mouthful, I know).

Here’s Professor Claude Desmarais taking a moment out from explaining the purpose of using a garden as an anchor for German studies.

Professor Claude Desmarais Offers a bio-dynamic carrot to a Roberts Lake Horse

Some Students, You Know, Just Get It

The opportunities for connecting to the bio-dynamic German-Canadian farmers of the Okanagan is tantalizing. It is a population otherwise so adept at pressing the lips together and fitting in, that its contribution to the culture of the valley goes largely unnoticed. Speaking of going unnoticed…

Fall colours on glasswort growing in alkaline salts on the edge of Roberts Lake.Glasswort Putting on its Fall Colours on the Alkaline Shores of Roberts Lake

Roberts Lake might be just off of the university campus’s fertilized and irrigated lawns, but it might as well be on the moon. Although it is one of the last surviving salt lakes of the Okanagan, and a migratory resting spot for 120 species of birds, city plans for this basin include a 4 lane highway (with 2 more lanes for bicycles) and an expanded garbage dump.

Migratory Birds on Roberts Lake

Resting on the Way South

Few universities are close to such a treasure. If the modern university was created in Jena, Germany by integrating the botanical garden into its structures in the form of a department of Botany, wouldn’t it be exciting for the city to ease the garden back into the only university in the region and use it to create new paths and reconnect old ones?

We have enough asphalt.

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