Step It Up!

Speaking to a Dartmouth audience about changing global warming’s impact by modified lifestyles and economies, Bill McKibben was accused of “preaching to the choir”. How will converting the converts do any good, asked one person in the audience.

“Only if the choir sings five times louder is there any chance we’ll get federal legislation to help stop global warming”, McKibben said. “It’s important now to get everyone in the choir to sing at the top of their lungs.”

His timing may be right: Congress is considering more than a dozen global warming bills, Al Gore’s “An Inconvenient Truth” just won an Oscar, two global oil companies are investing in wind energy, and several corporations are backing legislation to reduce carbon dioxide emissions.

A youthful-looking 46, McKibben was among the first to sound the alarm about global warming in 1989 with “The End of Nature.” But after that book and nine others, he no longer seems content with just issuing warnings. He wants to lead people into action.”

Step It Up happens in your area on Earth Day, April 14. Be there. (Click JOIN AN ACTION at top of stepitup web page to find an event near you.)

And I’m buying DEEP, McKibben’s book (which he recommends you buy LOCALLY), published just this month. Here’s an excerpt from the author’s webpage that talks about the book:

“The time has come to move beyond “growth” as the paramount economic ideal and begin pursuing prosperity in a more local direction, with cities, suburbs, and regions producing more of their own food, generating more of their own energy, and even creating more of their own culture and entertainment.”

The WHEREs We’re From

Spring. A time of new beginnings. A time to take nourishment from our roots to our winter-resting branches and grow a little taller–no matter how old we are.

And for this purpose–to give you an idea of the soil you grow in–I’ve posted a link to the Where I’m From template permanently in the sidebar. This “meme” is still circulating to good effect out there in the online world. And closer to home, even wife Ann sat down and wrote her own version for her reunion. Here’s mine.

Let me emphasize that my only role in this is to make available two things I didn’t have any part of creating: 1) the original poem by George Ella Lyon (which you can find via a link on the template page) and 2) the poem template with blanks and prompts that guide you to create your own version of George Ella’s original. I am simply the messenger.

I will see George Ella again this summer at Hindman at the Writers Workshop, and tell her once more how popular and poignant her work has been.

If you haven’t sat still long enough to ponder what you’d put in the blanks of the template, what are you waiting for? Finished, it will be a gift to your family. And to yourself. Trust me, it’s worth the time.

Giving Nature Back: To Our Children, Ourselves

…Abby had found the broken remnants of a tailless kite, and entertained herself (and us) for a delightful hour under the blue prairie sky.

That afternoon I witnessed in a most striking way the contrast between the old-fashioned play of children actively entertaining their bodies and imaginations in the out-of-doors, and the modern, physically-passive, over-stimulating kinds of “recreation” that happen to kids almost exclusively indoors and may involve use of the thumb muscles alone.

“I like to play indoors better ’cause that’s where all the electrical outlets are” explained one urban fifth grader.

Read More (quick-loading Scribd pdf). This is an early draft, editorial comments welcomed and appreciated.

Wedge and Tong: Cutting Trees, Saving the Forest

I appreciated the space in the Sunday Roanoke Times devoted to the Rutledge’s Healing Harvest Forest Foundation’s horse-logging practice.

Healing Harvest is based in the Floyd County community of Copper Hill. The nonprofit was established in 1999 to support sustainable forestry and animal-powered logging. They advocate a “worst-first,” single-selection cutting program. That means choosing to cut individual trees, taking weak, diseased and unwanted trees first and leaving healthy trees to continue to grow.

“What’s important is what’s left,” Jason Rutledge said.

Cutting the weakest and least desirable trees opens up the forest for other growth, he said. Not only trees, but also mushrooms and ginseng — which Healing Harvest will help landowners cultivate — can thrive in a healthy forest.

“You can’t have them without the forest,” Jason Rutledge said. “You can’t grow them in a clear cut.”

Watch Jason’s team of Suffolk draft horses, Wedge and Tong, do their work in a short video at the Roanoke Times link above.

Read more about Healing Harvest in Floyd County, Virginia.

No Child: Your Thoughts

For those of you who responded to the Leave No Child Inside link last week, please take note: You can share a comment to the piece on the Orion site. The comments already posted are worth reading, if only to know that you are not the only one concerned that your grandchildren don’t know one tree from another.

Here is the comment I left a few days back.

I am truly encouraged to find the pendulum swinging, finally, back to a healthy center. I left biology teaching in the mid-80s partly because I no longer found enough field-interested students to enroll for my “Plant Life of Virginia” class at the community college where I taught.

The catalyst of Richard Louv’s writing has brought to the surface the uneasiness many of us as individuals and institutions have felt in the distance between all of us–not just youth–and the outdoors during the cultural shift towards indoor electronic inactivity, with the false belief that humanity is somehow apart from and above the cycles and rhythms of the natural world.

I have felt until now largely alone in my hope that, in my blogging and essays, I might reconnect ADULT readers with the small wonders of the ordinary. I have a renewed courage to persevere aggressively in this goal here in my Blue Ridge area of Virginia.

I also have a broader context in which to discuss my “memoir of landscape”, Slow Road Home –a Blue Ridge Book of Days, as it also serves to bring readers back to center on the “pace, place and pleasures” of the natural world.

I am so encouraged, with renewed hope that there are receptive ears to hear this message in our times. I think Mr. Louv is to appear soon in Roanoke not far from me, and hope to be able to hear him speak.

And this: Richard Louv will be reading these comments and making specific response on March 13 and March 20. This could represent some really valuable exchange of ideas, experience and hope on this important matter of reuniting ourselves (adult and child alike) with the wholeness that comes from simply being attuned to earth and sky.