Posts Tagged ‘Ithaca’

Ithaca, NY it is

Friday, April 24th, 2015

One thing I find with blogging is that things usually start seem worth to be written about a few weeks after they happened. And then it takes me another few weeks to allocate the time for writing. What I am really trying to say, is that I moved from Vienna to Ithaca, New York about 2 months ago.
Professor Philip McMichael invited me to write my Master’s thesis on peasant farming in the United States at the Department of Development Sociology at Cornell University. I don’t want to go into the actual research quite yet, apart from mentioning that I’m extremely happy to work with Rachel Bezner Kerr and Veronika Bennholdt-Thomsen back at BOKU as my supervisors. Working with both of them has been encouraging and empowering to the point to realize, what grad school wasn’t for me during most of my master’s as BOKU. Really, most of it were just a continuation of my Bachelor. Which wasn’t a waste of time, at all, but education can be so much more. Generally, grad school here at the department seem to be more about one’s own development and critical thought rather than just ticking some of the skill boxes on your resume. Long story short, the last 4 months (basically when I started working with Veronika) have been very intellectual challenging and exiting.

 


Ithaca itself is almost the most ideal setup of a town for my needs. Small enough so everything is easily walkable, buzzing enough so you don’t get bored but inspired and feel connected to the world (thanks to Cornell and Ithaca college) and has great outdoors within easy reach. A major drawback, however, is the seemingly endless winter. It’s late April now and yes, we had snow this morning. To be fair, it’s been in the 80ies only a week ago, but generally speaking, I’m fed up with the cold and I’m not quite decided yet, if I could stand winters like that for several years, notwithstanding the beautiful summers.
Someone asked me this morning, if I thought Ithaca is like Portland, OR. The Portland of the East so to speak. Apart from that there is Portland, ME, I don’t think this is true. Yes, it is a very liberal and progressive city, but unlike Portland, Ithaca has this slightly weird college bubble feel to it. Portland is just weird in itself. That’s at least what the Oregonians say. Also city planning. Ithaca, come on. There’s like zero bike infrastructure and most sidewalks are pretty horrible. At least they exist. But I definitely enjoy the scale of Ithaca and it’s strong ties with the surrounding farmers, which is great both for my research and, you know, every town and city should have strong ties with its surrounding farmers.

So this is the place I am going to spent my life in until late summer.

Oh, there’s another thing that happened during the last months and it’s only now I feel it’s worth mentioning: Photography. While I have always been a busy picture-taker, my artistic ambitions sort of declined over the years. Or put it another way, moving from one place to another, hitchhiking, wwoofing, exploring places, all that was some sort of artistic project in itself, so point-and-shoot along the way yielded quite a few good pictures I hold deeply to my heart (after all, geysers, waterfalls, deserts, oases…there’s not so much you can do to make pictures that aren’t pleasant to look at). Also, it was a deliberate choice to have a simple camera I could bring to all of my trips. Now that has changed a bit. I sold that most-of-the-time-with-me camera to a friend and got a DSLR instead and picked up photography wherever I left it about 10 years ago when I gave away my old, analog film camera. I’m still mostly playing around but I do find some sort of meaning in the photos I take, a way of expressing myself rather then documenting events and trips.

So here are few pictures I took during my first weeks in Ithaca.