The 2021 Visionary Scholar Award Winner Was Kate Morano
The Butternut Waterthread
By Kate Morano
For my presentation, I did an embroidery piece displaying the Butternut Watershed as it is today. You may be wondering why I created the watershed as it is now, and not how it would be in 2040, and that is because I hope the watershed will look the same in twenty years. Nature is an everlasting force; the planet was here long before we were and it will be here long after we are gone. The conservation efforts of groups like the Butternut Valley Alliance make sure of that. That is the message I was trying to send with this piece; that preserving the natural beauty of a place for future generations is the most important thing. We have to understand and appreciate where we are now to know where we are going, and what we can offer the world.
In my sophomore year, I wrote a piece about the history of the Earth, and it is the themes I touched on in that essay that inspired this embroidery piece. In many ways, I feel that art and writing go hand in hand, so I will attach it below so that whoever is reading this can get a better idea of what I intended with this piece.
“September 9, 2018
270 million years ago, all land on Earth was conjoined into one massive supercontinent called Pangaea. Large reptiles ruled this Earth, and mammals were small and nearly nonexistent. 600 million years ago, another supercontinent existed called Pannotia, where multicellular life is only just beginning to evolve. And 750 million years ago, glaciers covered the planet during what is the greatest ice age to have ever occured on Earth. These vastly different iterations of Earth are tied together by one thing: Nature, a power that surrounds us, penetrates us, and keeps us grounded. Nature is a constant presence in our lives; it is always around us and always changing. It does not need us to survive, but survives in spite of us. Humans worship nature for many different reasons. It is calming, and a way for people to relieve stress, which is why saving it is one of the most discussed topics in the media today.
There have been five major mass extinctions so far: the End Ordovician, the Late Devonian, the End Permian, the End Triassic, and the End Cretaceous. In the most mild of these extinctions, 75 percent of all species were lost. In the most drastic, 96 percent. The common cause? Climate change. Studies indicate that since the last glacial maximum, temperatures have risen about 40 degrees fahrenheit. The rate of increase of carbon dioxide between 1960 and 1999 was higher than any other 40 year period in the past 2 million years. This has led scientists to believe that we are now approaching the Earth’s sixth mass extinction, and in turn, the end of the current geological epoch, the Holocene.
The realization that Earth will press on without us does not exonerate us from taking action, however. We must strive to save ourselves, and the complex civilizations we have built, but must also keep in mind that humanity is not an affliction on the planet. We are merely a blip in geological time, a single chapter in the vast tome that is the history of the Earth.”