Saturday, August 15, 2015

The Woods Scientist

"We send thanks to all the Animal life in the world. They have many things to teach us people. We are glad that they are still here and we hope it will always be so." ~ Excerpt from the Thanksgiving Address, Mohawk version
(I found the above quote  printed on my passport).

  "The Woods Scientist" is about reading forests. 
  How can we read forests?
 Sue Morse has had a fascination for forests all her life. She grew up in Pennsylvania to a family who did not watch much TV. Her parents filled their lives with a love of animals and the outdoors.

 Every day after school, Sue ran more than four and a half miles to reach the Wissahickon woods. Her passion to get to the woods turned her into a strong distance runner. In 1967, as a senior in high school, she became the first woman in the United States to run a twenty-six mile marathon.

 Sue also has a passion for books, and reading Rachel Carson’s “Silent Spring” when she was a teenager inspired her.
  I learned some interesting facts about wildlife from The Woods Scientist.

 Sue has a didactic way of explaining what biodiversity means. She does so creatively, by using the example of a puzzle. Biodiversity is like a puzzle in motion. This “puzzle” is made of trees, shrubs, insects, flowers, mushrooms, amphibians, birds, fish, reptiles, and mammals. This dynamic puzzle is made of thousands of species, and they all depend on each other.

  Now imagine removing a piece of that puzzle. What happens?

When species are killed off, the puzzle falls apart. Every living thing counts in this delicate puzzle of nature.
Harvard biologist E.O Wilson states that we are losing species at a rate not seen since the dinosaurs disappeared 65 million years ago. Wilson estimates that this current rate of extinction is 10,000 times faster than what is “normal” or natural.
  Animals that are more vulnerable to habitat fragmentation are called “indicator species”. Grizzly bears, river otters, wolverines, Canada Lynxes and bobcats are a few examples.
 The decline or absence of such creatures serves as a warning.

  The Woods Scientist helped me to understand the importance of corridors. Even the biggest parks in the country such as two-million-acre Yellowstone National Park and Adirondack Park need to be connected to other big tracts of land to allow animals to move back and forth. They are necessary for them to survive. 

 Four-lane highways and other developments lead to the fragmentation of their habitats, which prevents them from finding food and cover. By keeping tracks of wild animals Sue intends to create alternatives that can help to protect the fragile wildlife.
 As human population grows more housing developments, highways, roads, and corporate offices threaten the existence of these complex ecosystems.
  Here in Wisconsin we deal with many challenges. The Governor of Wisconsin, Scott Walker, changed regulations to allow the pollution of lakes, streams and wetlands.  This may have something to do with the false belief that protecting the environment is at odds with the economic progress of a region. How do we define progress? Perhaps we need to redefine it in order to understand that dollars cannot be drunk or eaten, and that human health is not dissociated from Nature, although some people seem to believe that dollars can be breathed in (excuse my sense of humor here.)
 To learn more about this situation you can read this article.

 Nature is not our enemy. Educating our communities and raising awareness are part of the solution, but changing regulations to pollute the environment is not a sign of intelligence.

   The more we discover and learn about Nature, the more we can understand how ignorant we are. Educating ourselves is the way to love Nature and to develop creative solutions to live in harmony with the environment. 
     We can also learn about the destruction around us through our senses... but would would Mother Nature say if she could speak?


Sunday, August 9, 2015

A Poem by Loris Malaguzzi

The child
is made of one hundred.
The child has
a hundred languages
a hundred hands
a hundred thoughts
a hundred ways of thinking
of playing, of speaking.
A hundred always a hundred
ways of listening
of marveling of loving
a hundred joys
for singing and understanding
a hundred worlds
to discover
 a hundred worlds
to invent
a hundred worlds
to dream.
The child has
a hundred languages
(and a hundred hundred more)
but they steal ninety-nine.
The school and the culture
separate the head from the body.
They tell the child:
to think without hands
to do without head
to listen and not to speak
to understand without joy
to love and to marvel
only at Easter and Christmas.
They tell the child:
to discover the world already there
and of the hundred
they steal ninety-nine.
They tell the child:
that work and play
reality and fantasy
science and imagination
sky and earth
reason and dream
are things
that do not belong together.

And thus they tell the child
that the hundred is not there.
The child says:
No way. The hundred is there.