Friday, April 11, 2014

Howard Horowitz: Three Ways of Environmental Writing

Howard Horowitz word map

By Kristen Andrada

Howard Horowitz is the geography and environmental history professor at Ramapo College of New Jersey. He has had many experiences in the environmental field, from planting trees in Oregon to working in the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). On Thursday, March 28,  Professor Horowitz shared his diverse writing with the students in Environmental Writing.

He showed three types of environmental writing that he composed: activism and advocacy for environmental awareness such as the diquat issue at Greenwood Lake, 2,4-D testimonies for the EPA, and poetry.

Greenwood Lake is a large lake on the border of New Jersey and New York. There was a time when Sonar/Reward was sprayed on the lake to kill underwater plants, raising health and environmental concerns for residents. Sonar and Reward were brand names for the pesticide diquat and Horowitz wrote many articles to reveal its impacts on the environment and persuade residents to fight against its use. He shared with the class his writing on the issue, large packets filled with information and evidence such as “10 Reasons Why You Shouldn’t Use Diquat.” The tone of his writing made it easy for readers to understand that the use of diquat was hazardous.

Previously, Horowitz’s writing caught the eye of the EPA and the agency hired him to write testimonies for environmental law cases. Unlike his compositions in activism, he wrote extensively on the scientific and environmental cases in academic writing - using data and citations. An example of his work in this setting is “An Evaluation of Conifer Growth, Stocking, and Associated Vegetation on North Umpqua BLM Release Sites.” Horowitz was involved with a forest site where applicators were spraying 2, 4-D pesticides and the EPA wanted to study how the pesticides were impacting forest growth.

Throughout his youth into present time, Horowitz has been writing poems to share his experiences in the environmental field and illustrate his knowledge as a geographer. He read a few poems that he wrote while doing tree planting with a co-op in Oregon, and they ranged from the tasks as a tree planter to the livelihood of people who lived in Oregon, to the spraying of pesticides.

My favorite poems were his word maps. Word maps are poems that described a place and if the author structured the poem a certain way, places on the map were visually represented by those words. For instance, on his word map on Manhattan, Horowitz described the places of Manhattan from the top of the map towards the bottom of the map.

Howard Horowitz’s writing introduced me to many other types of writing and how they can be used within the environmental context. If I had the passion and time to write, I think I would enjoy writing something as beautiful as his word maps.

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