There are times people think I'm too extreme or passionate about native plants, wildlife, and conservation. But if you read this article you'll see why, and it's totally based off of where I'm from. I live on the edge of the tallgrass, an ecosystem pretty much wiped out by our arrogance and misunderstanding. But just to the west is the most well-preserved prairie ecosystem, the Sandhills. As land managers work to restore fragments, they are rebuilding the connective tissue that wildlife need as ecological resilience returns to the Plains. We can have an important echo in our urban world, as well, especially in the former tallgrass region -- an echo that teaches and empowers us to garden smartly beyond the fence line.
If we experience and know our native wildlife in the urban world -- if we see it every day on our way to work, through office and school windows, at church, when we shop, and as we eat lunch -- then we will understand wildness not as unruly or outside of us, but as an essential core to our existence. More urban prairie might mean more rural prairie, and that will create a healthier, more resilient world for all of us.
I've started converting my garden-y areas at home to more native plants when I realized my children haven't seen real prairies or plains, and they may never get to unless we start bringing those spaces back in. I live in a newly built area with lots of meticulously mowed lawns and very little landscaping of any sort, much less the native kind, and spring and summer are desolate as far as insect life except one beautiful patch of native grass, purple coneflowers and black-eyed Susans behind some duplexes at the end of the street. I love walking past it and seeing the bugs fluttering around on summer evenings. I don't know if it's intentional or if the renters just don't want to 'clean' it up, but I hope they don't change their minds either way.
Danielle -- How fantastic to have even that little area, a candle flame of light across a wide, long, dark expanse. Glad you are feeling empowered!
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