Thursday, December 8, 2016

Urban Nature Before Nature is Gone

If we don't get folks far more intimate with wildness, they won't care about the planet or be critically engaged with issues beyond environmental ones -- issues deeply linked, like social justice. With more and more moving to cities, we need better cities, cities that show nature is not "out there" on a planned vacation or in some refuge, but right here all the time. Sustainable urban and landscape design could not be more important from a psychological if not ethical standpoint. We need people seeing all kinds of birds and bees and butterflies every day, many times a day, learning the language of real life. We need them smelling, touching, and hearing a full chorus of life at work, school, and at home. By god, we need better gardens, better landscapes, more celebration of local place right now. Right freaking now.
 
2/3 of global wildlife will vanish by 2020. 50% of all land areas are dominated by humans, with 9% of that occurring in the last 25 years. Wild plant species including sunflowers, chickpeas, mangoes, and asparagus are disappearing, threatening the ability to breed resilient food crops. If we can't care about our daily place, if we don't wake to the natural world at home and get gut punched by its meaning and power and presence, then we can't do anything about the larger, more important places like agricultural fields, forests, prairies, marshes, etc.

In 2017 let's get more prairie and woodland gardens going at work, church, school, and in suburbia!

4 comments:

Diana Studer said...

Drought. Level 3 water restrictions. One of our neighbours still determined to keep the lawn green.

Benjamin Vogt said...

Diana -- lawn is almost a purely aesthetic feature in the home landscape, so it speaks volumes, doesn't it?

Katherine said...

Here, here!

Definitely want to see more of this in cities!

(I am working with faith communities and hoping to encourage more urban meadows in their landscapes.)

Fingers crossed!

Anonymous said...

Contemplating quitting an almost hopeless volunteer job at an urban landscape Church situation. It has been a long single handed renovation with great results except for setbacks upon setbacks which are mostly anonymous and sporadic malprunes. This time is almost unforgivable with removals of years of soil building leaf mulch, perennial seeds and weed inhibiting donations of old pine straw. Perseverence at this point seems like I am volunteering to be a doormat. Mainstream landscaping almost always wins the battles and I am weakening in this one.