During a three-day excursion, students explored the land and histories of the Permian Basin while listening to the diverse perspectives of people who live there. The experiences included watching a wind turbine churn, hearing an argument for fracking from an oilfield operations manager, and holding a student-led dialogue within the ruins of an oil ghost town. The learning from this trip will inform the student reflections which will be shared with the public in our upcoming exhibition and newsprint publication.
Artist Bethany Johnson visited students to share her research processes and resulting artwork. Bethany uses scientific data and topographic maps as reference points for intricate drawings that inspire new ways of approaching such issues as oil production or seismic activity, which opened up new possibilities for how students might approach their projects in the coming months.
In mid-November we traveled to the Bureau of Economic Geology at the University of Texas in Austin to meet with some of the world's leading researchers in energy exploration, policy, and usage. Students heard presentations about earthquake monitoring, the water and energy nexus, the shale revolution, and carbon sequestration. We also toured the Core Research Warehouse, containing more than 700,000 core samples from wells drilled throughout the world. We finished the day with a visit to the Briscoe Center for American History and learned about the ExonMobil Archives through some primary source documents, such as the first ledger book of Standard Oil from the 1880s .
Students met with Paul Rabbe, Energy Management Coordinator of North East I.S.D to discuss energy usage and systems at their school and within the district at-large.
Students met with Frankie Orona, director of Society of Native Nations. He spoke about indigenous concerns around energy futures, political and legal actions taken by the group, and the history of environmentalism in the Native American community.
On our first retreat we met with an architecture professor working to rethink building usage in "boom and bust" geographies, an oil landman who combines legal and historical research to assess mineral rights, and a solar power industry leader. Students also built collective timelines, thinking through the events/issues/technologies that have shaped our contemporary energy landscape and developed essential questions that should be asked about global energy.
Guided by a critical pedagogy that interweaves inquiry, dialogue, action, and reflection, Borderland Collective will be collaborating with forty high school students in San Antonio, Texas on a year-long art and research project. Together, we will unpack and reflect upon historical and contemporary issues surrounding energy production, usage, and impact.