Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Our Gardens Need Science and Spirituality

The landscape design world is still far too divorced from actual ecological processes and communities that very much exist in our country, even in urban centers and other novel ecosystems (we can deny those ecological communities all we want, but it won't make us feel any better about our role in climate change or extinction, or lead to effective outcomes). We're getting there as more projects become joint collaborations between architects, engineers, biologists, ecologists, and horticulturists. But if these new gardens do not spur a significant psychological if not spiritual ethic grounded in both reverence and science, an ethic that truly links human and animal culture well beyond even biophilic aesthetics, our species will not endure. How we experience and intervene in our daily environment is how we will experience and intervene in our larger world.

Sunday, December 11, 2016

The Ethical Garden as Social Justice

For a while now I've said the environment is a moral and ethical issue, not a political one. Our government has made the conversation one about opinion and belief over fact. Even worse, those who give us the facts more and more admit it is not enough, those facts -- what we need is a total cultural revival of compassion and empathy for others of our own species, and for those of other species. I especially believe we need compassion for other species as well as their home places, and that once we practice this compassion over and over in thought and deed, we will slowly retrain our muscle memory and our relationships with one another will improve. One of the easiest places to foster compassion is in our own immediate landscapes -- suburban backyards and front yards; how we tend these landscapes will say a lot about how we tend school grounds, church grounds, parks, rivers, marshes, forests, prairies, and oceans. And it will say a lot about how we tend to one another.

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!

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Sustainable Landscape Workshop 12/8

This Thursday in Lincoln NSA is putting on a free workshop on why and how to garden sustainably for the environment. Panels of local experts will present their ideas and projects, and there will be a question and answer session along with lots of resources.

In Lincoln there are two sessions on 12/8 at Union Plaza -- 1-4pm and 5-7pm. The first session is geared more toward pros and the evening session toward homeowners, but you can't go wrong at either one -- although I'll be talking at the evening session.

To RSVP and for more info, including the workshop scheduled for Omaha on 12/9, link here.