On Friday, the conference was again centered around sessions. In the morning, I attended one on hypoxia (aka dead zones) and in the afternoon, one about the BP oil spill’s ecological toll (to continue on my BP thread throughout the conference).
Some of the most influential parts of today started at lunch, however.
I was finally able to meet up with my mentor, Matt Wheeland, who is the editor of SolarEnergy.net and is based out of the bay area. Over the past 9 months or so, we talk occasionally about my story pitch ideas for classes and what it means to be an environmental journalist online.
On Friday, Matt and I were able to talk about our individual conference experiences as well as the formation of my masters project! He assured me that if it feels daunting, I am always able to modify it to fit my needs. I will not tell you, my followers and the internetz, what it is about yet, but this conversation helps.
After the sessions, we headed to the Audubon Aquarium of the Americas with free tickets courtesy of the Audubon Society.
Another defining moment for me this day was the wilderness-themed “beat dinner” at Commander’s Palace, an iconic New Orleans restaurant. (*side note: the food, including turtle soup, jumbo lump crap, filet mignon and pecan bread pudding, was the best I’ve ever had.)
The first half of the dinner was a lengthy discussion on how wilderness areas have changed in the past 50 years of the Wilderness Act actually existing. Then, the tone of the discussion changed to how frustrated these wilderness advocates are for the next generation taking over. I actually got into a bit of an argument with one of the moderators who said he has given up hope of ever reaching the 20-somethings about wilderness and wilderness issues.
I told him that was completely unfair to say, considering that I love wilderness. When I hike-in with my phone, I take pictures and share them with my friends, as does almost everyone who is my age. I think instead of demonizing our phone use, those in power should accept it and try to use phones and social media to take love of wilderness through generations.
After that, we networked with many strong and wonderful women from the PEW Charitable Trusts (who paid for our meal, so thank you!) and took a streetcar back to the French Quarter to see am amazing brass band called The Soul Rebels.