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February 2017

SUNY-ESF Literary Magazine

Our Forests, Our Future:

Rise The and Fall

American Chestnut Page 6 of the


Stumpies Around The World : Australia

Page 4

fItDinEgS ShTiShifting TIDES


Scott Przybyla. Delaware Water Gap, 2017

Branching Out Reoccurring Articles

Simplicity Over Toxicity: How to Make Change, Miranda Cordiale Stumpies Around the World: Lauren Archer|Australia, Shourjya Majumder Weird Creature Spotlight, Stephen Scaduto

Getting To The Roots Environmental & Campus News

Our Forests, Our Future: The Fall and Rise of the American Chestnut, Rand Michaels

Small Twigs Personal Essays

Worst College Ever, Stephen Scaduto Something to Remember, Devil’s Advocate I am an American, Miranda Cordiale

Budding Minds Poetry & Creative Writing Warrior, Hailey Smalley Fritz, Rand Michaels Kith & Kin, Noelle Stevens To Stand at the Edge of the World, Carly Benson I Live in a Place, Hailey Smalley

Silly Saps Satire & Laughs


Meet The Staff

Editor: Grace Belisle Co-Managing Editor: Miranda Cordiale Layout Editor: Scott Przybyla Chief Financial Officer: Mark Tepper Editing Team: Carly Benson, Hailey Smalley, and LJ Jerome Layout Team: Scott Przybyla Cover Art: Carly Benson Contact Information: Comments or Questions about The Knothole? The Knothole meets (just about every) Wednesday at 5:15 pm in Baker 141 - new Knot People are always welcome! Or email us at



BRANCHING Out Reoccurring Articles

3 4 5 6-9 10 11 12 12 13 13 14 15 15

Simplicity Over Toxicity: How to Make a Change

Miranda Cordiale Since I’ve started this monthly article, I have mainly focused on how to make beauty and hygiene products by yourself from household items. However, this issue I want to take DIY to a different level. This time, we’re going to discuss how you can have your voice heard and make a change. I think it’s important for people to understand who to contact and send letters to in order to voice their opinions and beliefs. I will be focusing mainly on New York State since we are a SUNY school, but these methods apply to any type of official. Write a letter: You can write a letter about your beliefs! You can send letters to the president, congress, officials, and many other people who you feel need to hear your voice. Remember that it is very important that you are polite in your letter. You will be completely disregarded if you plan on being impolite and crude. Being able to argue your point without rudeness puts you above most people in this world. The following is where to address your letter: John Katko (The representative of the 24th district): 440 South Warren St. 7th Floor Suite 711 Syracuse, NY 13202 Governor Andrew Cuomo: The Honorable Andrew M. Cuomo Governor of New York State NYS State Capitol Building Albany, NY 12224 President Donald Trump: President Donald Trump The White House 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW Washington, DC 20500

If you are from another district and want to contact your representative, go to to find your representative by zip code. The website will lead you to how to address your representative. Participate in a peaceful protest: Peaceful protests are totally appropriate for making your voice heard. Millions of people all over the world gathered to peacefully protest for the Women’s March, and their voice was heard! A lot of protests will be advertised on Facebook or Twitter. One peaceful protest coming up that you may be interested in is the March for Science on April 22nd. People at this protest will be pushing for the acknowledgement of scientific issues, such as climate change, that are typically swept under the rug. Volunteer: Do you have an organization that you full-heartedly believe in? Go volunteer! Volunteering is a fun and easy way for college students to donate. Instead of monetary donations, you can donate your time and support to a cause. Whether it be a non-profit animal shelter or a walk for diabetes, your time and contribution matters! Spread kindness: Spread it all around. To everyone. EVERYWHERE. Spread it like butter on a toasted bagel. Do small acts of kindness for strangers. I try to at least once a week. One of my New Year’s resolutions one year was to create a kindness jar. Each week for the 52 weeks of the year, I pulled out a task to do. They were not expensive or difficult things. They were along the lines of writing a letter to a soldier or paying for an extra coffee for the person behind me in line. Small acts of kindness become contagious. Pay it forward. Compliment a stranger. Just be kind to everyone you meet. In a world that feels so dark, remember that you can be the light.



Stumpies Around the World: Lauren Archer, Australia

Weird Creature Spotlight

Shourjya Majumder Lauren Archer is a junior in the Environmental Studies program at SUNY-ESF. During the spring semester 2016, she traveled to Australia and New Zealand in order to pursue a marine minor. On January 19, 2017, I was fortunate enough to conduct a brief interview with her about her experience. 1) What was your primary motivation to study abroad? I believe that studying abroad is a great experience for any student to develop their character, enrich their learning, and get a chance to see the world. In comparison, if you were to travel abroad at a period later in life, you would not be thrown in with other students on a college campus. Therefore, you might not get the chance to fully immerse yourself into the cultural experience of that country. For me specifically, I wanted to see and experience another part of our planet with other students from various corners of the world. It was a semester to remember!

Stephan Scaduto

2) What made you choose Australia among the other destinations?

4) Can you describe your most memorable experience?

I chose Australia because it was the perfect destination to complete a marine minor. As much as I wanted to travel to other places, Australia provided the Great Barrier Reef (GBR), at my doorstep. The reef was my main intention to study abroad there. To dive into the GBR was incredible, and the Aussies are wonderful people!

My most memorable experience is difficult to pick out, but I would have to say my trip to dive the GBR. I went on a 3-day, 2-night boat excursion with a few of my friends there, and it was incredible. Overall, the whole trip was great, but the night dive was very memorable for me. It was hard for me to get in the water with sharks circling the boat (due to the fish surrounding the vessel), and once I did I was nervous because the only thing I could see with was a single circle where I pointed my flashlight. After equalizing, my buddy and I navigated our way through the maze of bombeys, and I ended up seeing abundant wildlife including a very old, large green turtle that took up residence at that specific reef. The experience for me was overcoming a sort of fear of being in the water with sharks, and seeing what wonderful things can come from it!

3) How is the wildlife there? What was the most significant conservation issue you faced during your time abroad? The wildlife on land is very diverse, and honestly very intimidating. It is a very dangerous country in terms of poisonous species such as the Sydney funnel-web spider, the cane toad and the red-bellied black snake, just to name a few. These species are often encountered daily. Even more diverse are the tropical waters along the coastline. The Great Barrier Reef, as many may know, is one of the most diverse habitats in the world. A major issue is the bleaching on the reef due to changes the oceans are experiencing. These changes include changes in temperature, water acidity levels, and extreme events. These events are increasing in terms of frequency and intensity.

In honor of the new year, this month’s issue of Weird Creature Spotlight features a newly discovered animal! To be perfectly honest, this creature was actually discovered in late 2015, but its name is so cool that I said, “Close enough,” and decided to pick it anyway. So, without further ado, meet the ninja lanternshark!

6) What is your advice to those intending to studying abroad?

7) How will studying abroad impact or alter their academic path?

If you plan to study abroad, thoroughly research on where you would like to go. Know ahead of time what you will need, and plan your budget accordingly.

In my case, studying abroad did not alter my academic path at all. I had every intention of going over to complete a marine minor, fully knowing I would come back to ESF with some lower level courses still

Native to the Pacific Coast of Central America, the ninja lanternshark spends its life at depths of 1000 meters or more. It is the only lanternshark known to exist in these Central American waters. The shark’s Latin name, Etmopterus benchleyi, is a nod to the author of Jaws, Peter Benchley. Its common name was derived from a suggestion by one of the researcher’s 8 year old cousins. This 8 year old has thus accomplished more in their life than I likely ever will. to take. If you want to study abroad, do it! All you need to do is have a dream, and to take an opportunity. Good luck if you plan to study abroad, you will LOVE it!

5) Were there any challenges/hardships you faced during your semester abroad? Being thrown into a different way of life is difficult at first but very exciting. I did miss home as time passed, but it is natural for anyone to miss those they love and a place they hold dear. Missing my home did not hinder my experience in the slightest, and I would do it all over again if given the chance.

@ Newsweek

@ Newsweek

Because lanternsharks are known for their bioluminescence, you may be asking yourself, “How can something be stealthy like a ninja if it glows in the dark?” The shark’s bioluminescence actually may help it to blend in with its surroundings. The light that the shark produces via photophores matches the small amounts of light trickling down from the ocean surface. This, combined with the shark’s black skin, makes it almost impossible to see from below. The ninja lantenshark is thus able to ambush unsuspecting prey swimming below. So next time you’re swimming at 1000+ meters deep off the coast of Central America, be careful. That blob of light above you might actually be a shark! Sources @ Newsweek






Campus & Environmental News


Our Forests, Our Future The Fall and Rise of the American Chestnut Rand Michaels




Once a boundless forest, as Thoreau explored in 1854, the iconic American Chestnut (Castanea dentata) cannot be found today in even a grove, as it has been wiped out across its range by an exotic fungus. The offender was imported accidentally as we began to bring Chinese chestnuts (Castanea mollissima) into the country around 1900. This fungus, Cryphonectria parasitica, or chestnut blight, forms deadly cankers on the stems of adolescent trees that look like rusty red splotches. These cankers grow to kill the cambium, the tissue responsible for the secondary growth- or increase in thickness, all the way around the trunk. Since the fungus nearly always kills the American chestnuts before they reach sexual maturity, there was little chance for the chestnuts to naturally evolve resistance to their attacker. Within thirty years of its introduction, the parasite reduced one of the most abundant trees across the Appalachian range and much of Eastern North America to a rarely seen shrub. Conservationists have tested many approaches to dealing with this fungal invader, including traditional breeding with the Chinese species, in an attempt to produce a blight resistant variety of the chestnut and bio-control methods that use a virus to slow the growth of the fungus. Instead of changing large sections of the DNA of our native chestnut as we would by breeding it with the Chinese species, we at ESF have focused on another in which only one gene is changed. This added gene is named oxalate oxidase and produces a substance within the cells of the tree itself that prevents fungal growth. Oxalate oxidase is found in a wide variety of plants, but was introduced into the chestnut from wheat plants through genetic engineering, and it is these genetically enhanced plants that we are growing and researching here at SUNY-ESF.

Rand Michaels, Chestnut Flower in ESF’s Greenhouses, 2017





Tyler Desmarais is a master’s student studying and producing these plants and sees their loss in the wild to be “one of the greatest forestry disasters in North America, and arguably the world”. Tyler works under the supervision of Dr. Bill Powell and Dr. Chuck Maynard, and oversees the production and field planting of chestnut trees with a variety of different placements of the oxalate oxidase gene; these different varieties with differing gene placement locations are called “events”. Certain events are being tested for safety by a variety of measures before they are approved by the USDA for planting in the wild. There are more reasons than you might think to look forward to the reintroduction of this species into Eastern forests. Desmarais calls the American Chestnut a “keystone climax species of exceptional environmental and economic value”. Keystone species are those that many organisms in a habitat depend on for food or habitat, while climax species are those that represent the ultimate phase of growth for a specific environment. They provided, as well as important food and habitat for wildlife from Maine to Georgia, a delicious nut crop for humans (“...roasting on an open fire”, e.g.). The nut crop was also timely food for wildlife such as white-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus) and wild turkey (Meleagris gallopavo) as it falls near the first frost of fall, when such animals are storing fat reserves for winter. Because of their rapid growth rate and rot-resistant wood, chestnuts also have valuable timber and significant potential for carbon storage, which we can never have too much of in the face of ever-growing climate change.

Sadly, we have no chance of seeing the Eastern forests as they were prior to chestnut blight, filled with an estimated four billion American chestnut trees. But perhaps if we continue the important work done by Tyler Desmarais, Dr. Powell and Dr. Maynard along with countless others, the next generations may be able to experience the woods of New Hampshire as Henry David Thoreau did, enjoying the chestnut flowers, “a bouquet which scented the whole neighborhood”.

“It was very exciting at the then boundless Lincoln -- they now

that season to roam chestnut woods of sleep their long sleep under the railroad” - Henry David Thoreau, From Walden

Works Cited Anderson, P. J. 1914. The morphology and life history of the chestnut blight fungus. Penn sylvania Chestnut Tree Blight Commission bulletin 7, Harrisburg PA. Burnham, C. R. 1988. The restoration of the American chestnut. American Scientist


@ National Geographic





Worst College Ever.


Something to Remember

Stephan Scaduto If you voted Trump in New York, your vote for president didn’t matter. If you live in Texas and wanted Clinton, your vote for president didn’t matter either. If you supported a third party candidate, your vote for president didn’t matter whatever state you live in. The reason for this is of course the Electoral College, which awards all “electoral votes” in a particular state to whichever candidate gets the most votes there. So winning by 30,000 votes in said state has the exact same effect as winning by 1 vote. Anyone who didn’t want that candidate may as well have just left the box blank (I won’t say they that they should’ve just stayed home, because their votes for congress still have an impact). In fact, the extra 29,999 who voted for the winning candidate didn’t need to bother either. Under the Electoral College, it only matters that you do just enough to win in contested states.

TWIGS Devil’s Advocate

Everyone complains about the Electoral College when the winner of the popular vote loses, but the reality is that there have only been 5 presidents elected this way in the entire history of our country ( So the vast majority of the time, it would appear that the Electoral College doesn’t have a huge effect. But we do know that in practically every presidential election in the past 100 years, only about 60% of the population has voted ( How many of the remaining 40% were democrats who skipped out knowing they lived in a red state where their candidate had no chance anyway, or republicans who felt similarly powerless in a blue state? Maybe without the Electoral College, candidates would be motivated to appeal to these people. Maybe republicans would embrace programs popular with coastal city dwellers. Maybe democrats would start paying visits to rural areas in the Midwest. In a country increasingly polarized by politics, doing away with the Electoral College could be a step towards bringing candidates back toward the middle.

So if we could hypothetically get rid of the Electoral College, what should it be replaced with? A nationwide popular vote that ignores what state a ballot comes from is the simplest solution. However, this change could face heavy opposition in small and mid size states, as the electoral college gives more power per electoral vote to people in these less populated states ( A potential compromise could be to award electoral votes proportionally. If a candidate wins 60% of the popular vote in a state with 10 electors, they would get 6 votes in the electoral college instead of all 10. This system has its own flaws, but could work if the mandate of a winning candidate needing to reach a threshold of electoral votes was changed ( No voting system is perfect, but there are few worse than the one we currently have in place.

The last several months have brought a flurry of outcries and anger across the country. A division has been created that has made the name of our country almost ironic, in that there has never been such clear division amongst the American public in several decades. The purpose of this article is not to condemn either of the combating groups. Rather, the goal is oriented around the understanding that there is, and may always be, division. As the next four years’ progress, it may deepen, further polarizing the citizens until either the boiling point is reached or the divisive catalyst is removed. Ultimately, the goal is to maintain peace, maintain order within the seeming chaos, and ensure that once the storm has passed, the damage is not irreparable.

In times of extreme emotion, no person is acting logically. When your mind is overpowered by an overwhelming sense of fear and hatred, your thoughts begin to form around them instead of sensibility. In such a state of mind, we make decisions quickly without questioning them, and often do not look back. However, in the current political environment being faced, it is the fast, irrational decision making that leads to further division and increases the odds it will never seal. Specifically, this idea applies to how the people have grown to view those on the opposite end of the spectrum. In this respect, nearly everyone has labeled the opponents with a single, negative generalization. Trump supporters are all labeled racists, homophobes, misogynists and worse. On the other hand, liberals and anti-trump supporters have been labeled “special snowflakes”, weak willed, sinful for their decision to support




certain citizens’ rights, and a variety of expletives, including negative (at times racist) slang. The labels are discarded indiscriminately without taking into consideration the reasoning behind their choices. For some, their motivations may be as the other side suspects and fears. However, it is illogical to believe 100% of the opposing side is exactly the same. The importance lies in remembering that nothing is clear cut- there is a grey area. We need to look at the reasons behind why we made the decision we did in November. From those motivations, we may be able to find common ground, similar fears and worries, and fight the issues we all view in our society together, rather than lashing out at each other. The solution posited may work, but only to a degree, as there may always be division. The country has become heavily diverse in thought. To minimize the carnage, we must all be willing to keep an open-mind so that we may find compromise. While both sides may come away with some losses at the end, they would also benefit in what positions they achieved and in the more amicable relationship developed between them and the other side. If we are never able to compromise, the division will only deepen. It will not end after 2020 because the real problems will still be there: Our opposing views on handling the same situations everyone struggles against in America. Only logic can prevail. 11

I am an American


Miranda Cordiale

lies, we want to have good jobs, we want to be educated and we want to live healthy lives.

America’s mental segregation of people will be the downfall of our country. Black vs. White. Christian vs. Muslim. Republican vs. Democrat. Rich vs. Poor. Men vs. Women. Immigrant vs. Native born. It is so destructive to mentally separate and negatively classify people before you truly get to know them. These toxic thoughts about “your people” being better than “their people” are completely out of control. We’re so busy classifying each other as different that we don’t see our similarities. The ONE thing all of us have in common:

We are all fortunate enough to live in a country that people die to get to, that people die for and that people dream of living in. Have we become desensitized to this idea? Are we too spoiled to realize how great we are because we are all so different? Are we too selfish to give others a safe place to stay?

That’s really what we all boil down to in this country. We’re all trying to live a happy, prosperous life. The immigrant next to you in your class wants an education, just like you. The people you see at the grocery store are trying to eat and to feed their families, just like you. The people in mosques are trying to practice their religion, just like you. The woman next to you in the doctor’s office wants to be healthy, just like you. In the end, we’re all a lot alike, despite the different colors of our skin, our genders, our religions. We want to love our fami-

Budding Minds

Hailey Smalley

Trump was inaugurated into office on Friday, January 20th. For some of us, this day signaled a step forward. For others, a step back. Since the inauguration, Trump restricted the National Parks from using social media, gave funding to build the wall, suspended funding from pollution research and monitoring in the EPA and is trying to place a ban on Muslims entering the U.S. I am not here to discuss my own personal political beliefs. I am here to discuss that we are all Americans.


Kith & Kin

So why can’t we see the beauty in our similarities and differences? Different isn’t bad. Different cultures and people enrich us and give us a new perspective. Whether or not we choose to follow those traditions or religions is up to us. Who are we to say that any religion other than ours is wrong? Who is anyone to say that someone of a different skin color is lesser?

We all have the same needs. We share a lot of the same desires. And lest we forget. We are all Americans.

Red was the color of her lips, Rose, ruby, stiletto heel red, Slashed across her hard-boned chin, Dripping like blood across white teeth.

Poetry & Creative Writing

She powdered her teeth until they gleamed, Snow, swan, bridal gown white, A sparkling string of enameled pearls, Bared in the snarl of a wounded dog. Bitch-that was her name, Repeated until it was mere raindrops on roof slates, She wrote it on banknotes, on letters, on the lips of friends, She pulled it tight around her. Short staccato syllables full of venom, That warmed her blood against the bite of winter. Ringed like bruises under painted eyelids, Pulled tight over red-tipped ears,

Fritz Rand Michaels Fritz

They say that blood is thicker than water, but that is not the whole of the phrase. There are some interpretations of the phrase that say it is truly the blood of the covenant is thicker than the water of the womb. When viewed in this light, the entire saying changes. It begs the question, are the bonds of comradery stronger than familial ties? In my life, I have found that the alternate interpretation is truer than the more common phrase. A common phrase in my childhood, and a phrase that I use frequently as an adult, is that friends are the family you choose. My own feelings jive with that phrase, as I consider family friends (i.e. adults I grew up knowing and being around) as well as my own friends closer to me than those distant blood relations. This is not to say that you should disregard your family, merely that some people view friends as closer confidants than relatives they barely see. I cannot picture a “family-get-together” without those close family friends being present, they being so entwined in my life and having so much meaning to me. The rag-tag bunch of peoples from ages forty to eighty have no relation to me through blood, and yet, they are who I look up to. The motely bunch with outlandish hobbies and bizarre perspectives are my role models and who I get excited to see when I return home, not a moth-eaten aunt who deigns to send a card once in a blue moon.

Murmured over and over, a mantra, a song, Each lyric a chain against bony wrist, Each syllable a shadow thrown over her shoulder. Bitch, slut, whore.

Or Haber

She wore her names proudly, Head up, eyes forward, Powder brushed over blue skin, Lipstick melding with blood,

Who supplied the means

Crumbling into the concrete around her, Just a flutter of eyelashes, A swath of rogue against snow, A crystalline teardrop suspended in space.

Ammonia- fixed- from N and H and heat and pressure turning our farms into factories Food mills, with inputs and outputs calculated in tons and bushels The need for lightning and bacteria bypassed

Sometimes accompanied by Bosch (Carl, the great industrializer)

To nourish ourselves From thin air

Noelle Stevens

Everybody has their own history, their own story that only they can tell. When telling your story, it is important to be true to yourself, and give the characters in your story the respect they deserve. Having shared DNA does not mean that you love that person unconditionally, or else all people would love their fellows. Instead, have that person’s role in your story; sometimes important characters can come out of left field. So, be yourself, and be at home in your family, either the one you chose, or the one you were born into.

Nearly three billion live today from this surfeit The surplus washed away and feeding algae Lakes and rivers poisoned with nourishment

She marches on, Red lips trembling, White teeth gritty, With the bitter regurgitation of her given name.

Like the untold hundreds poisoned By the chlorine and cyanide Of his own creation For a scientist in war time “Belongs to his country” And Ypres belongs to No Man As does Clara Who, appalled at her husband’s work Put one last hole in her heart with his revolver So perhaps a Fixer or Father of gaseous wars He was a Faust of his century @Huffington Post



@Huffington Post



To Stand at the Edge of the World

Silly SAPS

I Love This Place

Carly Benson

Hailey Smalley

Standing at the edge of the world The surface chops and spews Looking into the eyes of a trying sea, In every direction Her toes curl around As it yells Deprecations Weathered rock That balance within That grows slippery Delicate glass bubbles of SeaWith each Wave’s lickFoam Refusing the Wind’s forceful scripture That pop at her feet That is preaching gusts In crushing trickery. To blow her backwards.

Standing at the edge of the world Looking into the eyes of a trying sea, Keeping her ankles above the water line So that the Sea does not lap at her open wounds Pretending It is here to heal her With nothing but a tongue That feels as warm As a freshly salted road Before snowstorms.

But OhHow it feels to be Standing At the edge of the world Where she is begged At the ankles By a force That shares the Anatomy Of TsunamisTo sit.

I live in a place where it is okay to be straight It is okay to be white It is okay to be male But as soon as you are not those things You are pushed away To the periphery of society To wither and die Ridiculed for the very things You cannot control I live in a place where the things that matter Are what you look like How much money you make How loudly you scream And where power is given To those with license to abuse I live in a place Where I cannot feel safe Where my every moment is spent In careful contemplation of how to next step So as not to upset those who control I live in a place Where I am not afraid to die Because I think hell can’t be much worse Than this.


Satire and Laughs

Dear Nut, I’m a graduating senior, so my spring is probably going to be devoted to trying to find a job. I’m not quite sure where I should begin though. What should my resume look like? What are the

best places to look for jobs? What should I do if I can’t find a job by graduation?

Sincerely, Future homeless person

Dear Future homeless person, Let’s start with your resume, since a strong resume is the backbone of a strong candidate (speaking of which, having a strong backbone would be a great skill to list!). Conventional wisdom says that your resume should fit onto one page, but we’re trying to stand out from the crowd, so do not follow it. I say, go for 10 pages minimum. Don’t worry about trying to concisely list your skills and work experience in an aesthetically pleasing manner. It’s more important to share every minute thing that has ever happened to you. Prospective employers will love reading a long story about you since it will break up the string of boring one page resumes. And, if you throw enough details at them, they’re bound to find something that they like eventually!

Now that we’ve perfected your resume, it’s time to start applying for jobs. USAJobs is a great site for people in the environmental profession to…err, I may have spoken too soon on that one. Texas A&M Job Board is another good site I’ve heard of, but I’m pretty sure that only people who go to Texas A&M are allowed to apply to the jobs posted on there, so, never mind. I know ESF always has a job fair during spring semester, and I bet they even have fried food and rides like at the state fair! And, hey, if all else fails you could just try googling “jobs”- worst case scenario is that you’ll learn something about the history of Apple. To answer your final question, try not to think about what will happen if you can’t find anything by graduation. Nobody who finished college without a full time position already lined up has ever found professional success anywhere. And, on that note, happy job hunting! PS: Do you know anyone who’s hiring? -Nut

Scott Przybyla, Anacapri, Italy, 2013




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