Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Derrick Jensen on Ethics and Morals

“Any solution that does not take into account – or, rather, count as primary – polar bears, walruses, whippoorwills, bobwhites, chickadees, salmon, and the land and air and water that support them all – is no solution, because it doesn’t count the real world as primary and social constructs as secondary. Any such solution is in the most real sense neither realistic nor practical. Any solution that does not place the well-being of nonhumans – and indeed the natural world, which is the real world – at the center of its moral, practical, and ‘realistic’ considerations is neither moral, practical, nor realistic. Nor will it solve global warming or any other ecological problem.”  – Derrick Jensen, “You Choose” from the anthology MORAL GROUND: ETHICAL ACTION FOR A PLANET IN PERIL

And just for kicks, yesterday I had about 100 birds in the garden at one time for about an hour. Starlings, flickers, woodpeckers, sparrows, finches, nuthatches, blue jays, cardinals, juncos, crows and:

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Making Memes, Saving Monarchs and Prairie

I've been making memes and sharing them on social media, especially Facebook. These are some of the most successful ones so far. The first one had over 127,000 views (blew me away). Get crazy people, say what you mean, make a difference. If the ship is going down it's better to scream and shout then simply rearrange the lounge chairs (I stole that image from James Lovelock).

Friday, February 14, 2014

Getting Busy, Playing Catch Up, Loving Prairie

Tomorrow, 2/15 at 3pm, I'm speaking at the Nebraska Sustainable Agriculture's Healthy Farms conference in Kearney, NE. Talking about how and why to attract pollinators to farms and backyard gardens.

On 2/20 I get to work with some local 8th graders in a writing workshop -- trying to come up with some fun, memoiry and lyrical essay exercises for us to do.

Then on March 4 I'm speaking to a local garden club here in Lincoln.

In April I'm speaking about attracting birds with native plants at the Bluebirds Across Nebraska annual conference in Beatrice. Also reading some of my poetry at the Nebraska Book Festival in Omaha. Also also taking a prescribed burn workshop so I can learn how to manage my dream prairie! I'd say I'm a fairly eclectic person.

Some of my recent articles at Houzz include gardening for monarchs, a list of native plant websites that'll help you learn about and find natives for your locale, and I should soon have two pieces up about succession gardening with species coneflowers and why I'm not looking forward to spring. Seriously -- not looking forward to spring.

I'm working on two books and, quietly behind the scenes, trying to pull together the big plans for our future. On Valentine's Day all of these things in my life are love, because they get me closer to the prairie I adore.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Gardens Must Have Ecological Merit in the 21st Century

I had to respond to this insightful piece by Michael King, especially when he says at the very end the following:

"Gardening is not landscape architecture nor nature conservation. It is a form of aesthetic self expression and any attempts to afford it greater worthiness by applying unnecessary credentials of ecological merit are dishonest. Of course gardens benefit the environment and native wildlife, but first and foremost they are for human enjoyment and that is as true today as it ever was."

My reply, edited and extended a bit here from I left on his blog:

If gardens are just an aesthetic, human navel gazing, doesn’t that perpetuate all the ecological, social, and cultural problems we have? We are disconnected from other life thanks in part to industrialization, and in a post industrial world we will need to know our place more in order to sustain ourselves. What knowledge of life on this earth have we lost, past and future? Gardens should be 50/50 -- aesthetic design and serving an ecological purpose. Gardens should be exposing us to the larger issues in larger ecosystems outside the garden wall — for me, living in Nebraska, the grasslands of the Plains are the least protected ecosystem on the planet. If we encourage using native grassland species, we create awareness for the loss of biodiversity going on right now in the 6th planetary extinction.

If vegetable gardens are acts of protest and awareness and healing of our broken systems that erode life, why not ornamental gardens? Art has often been an act of provoking awareness of larger social / cultural issues and enacting change, why not gardens? Why must gardens be limited to simple aesthetics beholden to old ways of thinking? (And here I mean the pastoral that subdues everything in its path for a bucolic and momentary high.) Are we afraid of facing all the facets of ourselves, of making art larger? Are we afraid of knowing our world, and knowing that we have direct influence, both good and bad, and taking responsibility for that influence?

Ecological awareness is not dishonest — not when forbs provide for pollinating insects that are responsible for 70% of our food, not when native plants sustain 35x the insect larvae, not when native bees are native plant specialists (and when one specialist bee vanishes, the lack of bee competition means less fruit and seed set), and surely not when we plow up the remaining grasslands for a monoculture of row crops at a pace faster than global rainforest deforestation. Gardens are an aesthetic and ethical choice -- meaningful art, not momentary artifice. Ecological merit is not an unnecessary credential -- it is the most necessary credential in a time of climate change when species have to move north or up slope 30 miles a day to keep pace with warming (Elizabeth Kolbert) and when up to 30% of plant species will be gone by mid century (Timothy Walker).

Saturday, February 1, 2014

76 Photos of the 2013 Garden

This is just a tease, since the rest are up at TDM's Facebook page. I can't tell you how hard it is to cull thousands of photos! Could 2013 have been the last year here? If so, it's been a good nearly 7 year run.