Arrival in Exeter

My lanyard: Proud to represent UCBC!

My lanyard: Proud to represent UCBC!

The one downside sometimes to couch surfing is that it isn’t always possible to find a host for all of the days. I had this problem for my trip to Exeter. Two weeks before I left I sent out requests and only found a host for the last three nights of my stay. By the time I tried to contact additional couch surfers it was too late. Then when I called a hostel in Exeter upon arriving in London I found out that it was full and that it was the only one! What I should have realized is that other conference attendees would be couch surfing and staying at the hostel. I called the hostel again the day I was to arrive in Exeter, and luckily there had been a last minute cancellation! The hostel was called Globe Backpackers and it was a very charming, gezellig sort of place. There was a common area with a large table and couches, free wifi, and a fully equipped kitchen. I was happy to be able to cook for myself for the first two nights and I met a lot of friendly people from around the world. What was interesting about this place is that it had a lot of permanent or semi-permanent residents of all ages that had become like a family. It totally made sense because the weekly rate was cheaper than what you would pay to rent a place. It was also cool to meet conference attendees at the hostel, especially since I didn’t know anyone attending the conference.

The conference didn’t start until the evening the following day and so I spent that time honing my presentation and getting feedback from Archip and Othy. I was nervous for the presentation especially because I feel like I faltered so much for my thesis defense back in June. At the same time though this felt different. Here people assumed I was already a master of my topic and I had nothing to prove. What was funny is that most people I talked to thought I was presenting doctoral work!

On Tuesday afternoon I walked over to the University of Exeter campus with Somo, a fellow conference attendee from India who was also staying at the hostel. We picked up our conference materials and hung around in the building until the plenary lecture started in the evening. The hub of the conference was in a building called the Forum, which is a beautiful atrium addition that has a fantastic undulating timber gridshell roof with scattered triangular skylights. It was designed by WilkinsonEyre beginning in 2008. The building looked very familiar to me and then I realized that it is cast as the court house in the second season of Broadchurch that I saw on the plane on my way to Nepal.

The Forum

The Forum

The first plenary lecture was given by Will Steffen and Jamie Lorimer. Will Steffen is performing climatic research that is trying to prove the concept of the “anthropocene”, that we are now in a new geologic era (that has replaced the holocene) where humans are now affecting the the geological make-up of the world. Some argue that this era began with the industrial revolution in the mid 17th century, but his hypothesis is that it began in the 1950’s with what he call’s the “great acceleration”. It was a very interesting talk! Jamie Lorimer approached the same topic  from an ecological standpoint and addressed some of the ideas from his book called ‘Wildlife in the Anthropocene’. He talked about the concept of “rewilding”, which is essentially the recreation of “natural” habitats and presented the different sides of what it means to live alongside nature in this era. He referred to some interesting case studies coming out of the Netherlands such as the Oostvaardersplassen, a large manmade nature reserve that is re-introducing wild-life, and Ecoducts that are wildlife corridors that bridge the highways that cut across the Veluwe.

Following the lecture there was a reception. I psyched myself up and managed to approach and talk to a few people who weren’t talking to anyone. What did I have to lose? On the way back to the hostel we passed the Exeter Cathedral that looked very beautiful by night. What a full and interesting first day in Exeter this had been!

Exeter Cathedral

 

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: