Deserts to Grasslands to Forest

The famous TED Talk by Alan Savoy about changing deserts to grasslands was first on my YouTube watchlist today. This was after I read this wonderful blog post by Sacred Sueños, a darme un the Andes where the forest was burnt down in 1999 to bring in cattle… And afterwards was used for corn and other crops, until the land was unusable anymore and it came into their hands.

The message is this:

After we have brought grazing animals to the land, whether it be desert land that is unusable, or grasslands, if we want it to become forest again or even crop land, we need another step.

We have to give it chance for succession if we want it to be productive again. We need to allow it to feed and for the soil to grow with mulches and leaves from trees and bushes, for the microbes and organisms to live within it.

It really makes sense. There is a wonderful video about a professor from the US going back to his native land in Africa, where the people were struggling to eat from the land, and creating a new biome with water and forest through agroforestry.

The traditional way of agriculture isn’t working for us. It will be our undoing, as it has been for so many cultures before ours. This is the power of history: let us learn from it and not make the same mistakes.

Rainforest Burning Investors

Here is a report by Amazon Watch of beneficiaries to the burning of the Amazon Jungle. Yes, folks, it’s happening again.

As a CNN article stated yesterday, Bolsonaro called it lies, but “evidence shows differently.” There is illegal logging and slavery happening. China is the biggest buyer of products from the Amazon… but who buys the end products? The report gives advice for governments on how to deal with the issue, and long lists of companies that are investing in the carnage. Some of ways we can combat it:

1. To write to the companies with which we are investing and express our dismay at their irresponsibility… and if at all possible boycott them if they don’t respond.
2. To reuse and recycle, not buy new furniture.
3. To invest with green investors and companies that are trying to go green.
4. To donate to NGOs like this one, so that we can get more quality information and someone is out there working to stop what is happening.

The Amazon Rainforest provides us with many things that we need — Alive. Not in our kitchens or living rooms.

Click to access 2019-complicity-in-destruction-2.pdf

https://www.cnn.com/2020/08/19/americas/brazil-amazon-fires-bolsonaro-intl/index.html

Subdivisions & Ranches

This is a fascinating story on the complicated relationship of the stakeholders in Florida’s wilderness, explaining pretty well the issues faced on all sides. It isn’t a new story, either, as it is a problem in many developing areas. However, as I see it, developers are antiquated in their planning methods. As a planner, I think that the story could change if there were a combination of subsidies for farmers so that they have some support and don’t have to sell their land, and of environmentally conscious developers considering the wildlife corridors and absorptive qualities of the land they buy that triggers water issues when developed. After all, as the population grows (and Americans aren’t into micro cities), people need more places to live. So to design places in such a way as to:

  1. Do no grading or limited grading to retain native plants, microbes, seeds, and mycology.
  2. Create wildlife corridors within suburban complexes to allow for other creatures to exist
  3. Plant only native species in landscaping and avoid classic-style lawns
  4. Create and retain more places for wildlife within subdivisions, and not cut down big trees
  5. Design houses higher above the ground and with less of a footprint, making them higher quality than quantity. For example, getting creative, like using recycled or locally-sourced materials or with designs, like pools and gardens on the rooftops.
  6. Subdivisions with a central area having a small kiosk or shops, community center, and park — basically centrally located places to interact with one’s neighbors in order to improve community, as seen in classic cities such as Barcelona and small towns in Mexico.

… And I’m sure there are a lot more ideas we could all come up with if we tried.

What I do know is that for a long time, everywhere in the world, developers have been in it for the money, and it’s time that changed. They should be put to the bar as responsible for the futures of communities and areas (in this case wildlife areas), and as Spider-Man said, “with great power comes great responsibility.”

https://www.sierraclub.org/sierra/raising-nature-florida-ranchlands?suppress=true&utm_source=greenlife&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=newsletter

Major companies, permanent work-from-home, and the future of humanity

https://www.cnbc.com/2020/05/01/major-companies-talking-about-permanent-work-from-home-positions.html

Yes. Let’s fast forward about 10 years. Because there are less people in cities, there is less chance for people to spread disease. Also, with more people in localized areas, local business flourishes again. Small businesses, mom and pop shops, and true pride through craftsmanship are given a new beginning. We also find space (in my wholesome and imagined future) for public edible landscape where everyone can meet their neighbors and chat while picking the red raspberries. Because people can get out more freely, there are more local social networks, and there’s also a deeper relationship with the landscape, as well as the inhabitants of it, the birds, the butterflies, and the bees. We move forward into another, more mature stage of humanity.

Yuzu Seedlings

Today I tried to find places to plant my yuzu seedlings around my neighborhood. There was so much concrete, or weed-killed areas, that it was really difficult to find any places where they might survive. When they grow, some people might enjoy them, while others will tear them out of the ground, and that is their right. To me, it is a little gift that I can give back to the world. I hope that many years from now, if someone wants a yuzu fruit and can’t find one at the store, they can take a walk and pick one from a wild tree.

These past few weeks I have been enjoying picking some of my vegetables from forgotten corners in my neighborhood, and from my willing neighbor’s trees. Wolfberry shoots are bitter but taste so nutritious, and mulberry shoots are delicious and tender. I was told to pick some bamboo shoots… But they are two feet tall now!If we can make more space on our roadsides and unused spaces for wild edible plants, we can raise our resilience levels for times when food might be scarce.

It scares me to think that this could have been MERS instead of CoVid-19. If that had happened, the food system would have collapsed.

If everyone knew what plants are edible, that would be great, but after two weeks or even a few days they would be gone. We need to create a world with more kindness towards other species, plant and animal. Birds spread mulberry seeds. Mulberries can provide not only berries but a nutritious vegetable for your dinner plate. But mulberries often get wacked away. We don’t know the value of the species we are destroying by laying down concrete, either.

When I was doing research in a small town down south, the elderly residents said they hadn’t seen a valued ethnobotanical plant (Ashitaba) for a long time in their neighborhood. I asked them why they thought that was, and they answered that they thought it was because there is too much concrete everywhere.

It seems like it is okay to rip trees and plants out of the ground, destroying other species’ homes, but it isn’t okay for us to defend them. Ask the town office why they overprune the roadside and park trees; it is their right to do that but the tree has no rights. The river by my house, covered and sided up by concrete, also has no rights. It isn’t okay to plant trees where people don’t want them, either. It isn’t okay to try to create a viable world for our grandkids.

I think CoVID-19 is a wake-up call for us to realize that we cannot do ‘business-as-usual’ anymore. We HAVE TO change, or we will fail, big time. But how to change?

Today I found a plant I had never seen before. It had been cut down and was growing out of its stump with the most beautiful leaves. I’m sure whoever hurt it didn’t care, and just wanted to make more room in their unused parking lot. Changing is taking baby steps. Opening our minds to new ways of thinking. Refusing to follow those who tell us that “this is the way we have always done it” or “this is the way business will prosper,” because business will not prosper long term and neither will any of us if we don’t change, NOW. Small actions count!! Let’s begin doing little things, thinking about things differently, and the world will change, one person at a time, one community at a time, one city at a time, one country at a time…

So if I would like to make a little Earth Day Wish, it would be for you, the reader, to do something small this week for the natural world. Whether it be planting some edible tree seeds, making a nest box, labeling some wild plants, stop using weed-killer and weeding (cut them and do mulching, cover them with cardboard and compost and plant species you want instead), de-investing in bad companies, donating to a trusted natural cause, sharing an article, making a bird bath, planting a tree in a parking lot, or destroying some concrete and replacing it with something else, or another warm-hearted action. I hope you can do it for yourself, your children, and the world around you.

Look at the little cow I found in the bathroom!!

I found the cutest tiny cow in the bathroom!! Just kidding! He was a bat, but from the front, he looks just like a little cow to me!!

Bina, my kitty, had been acting funny all evening, looking at the ceiling and pacing, but I couldn’t find anything unusual. Then, as I was getting ready for bed, I went into the bathroom and she jumped on the toilet to try to get to something at the top corner of the window… It was a little bat! I grabbed her, and as I did, it swooped down on us, and then fell on the floor, apparently in deep shock. I put Bina in a room, got a towel, and picked him up ever so gently. He was so light, his little body giving off heat, and breathing heavily. I put him outside in the plants, lightly wrapped for warmth, and went to see what to do about a bat in winter. I found that bats hybernate in the winter. But he had come awake, so I was worried. I tried to make a makeshift bat house for him on the fly, but by the time I got back outside, he had flown off. I hope he’s okay. He was a dear little thing.

Now I have to go out and get some materials to make a bat house. After all the videos and websites I found last night, I realized that they aren’t hard to make, and I already provide water for the birds, so they would have water to drink. With that, and a safe place to put it, where it will get plenty of sun (because they need warmth), the bats will have a nice place to live (not our walls — so that was what we were hearing a month ago all through the house!) and will keep the mosquitoes away in the summer.

How and Why to make a bat house by the National Wildlife Federation