Earth Day 2022: The Earth Needs You, Yes, You!

Happy Earth Day, Nature-Led Friends!

One afternoon during the early days of the pandemic my spouse and I stumbled upon the same opinion article. The title of it doesn’t really matter anymore. What matters is how it made us feel. We were angry, frustrated, and sad. This seemingly well-to-do white guy in his 60’s (a Baby Boomer) was just going to give up on the fight against climate change. His opinion was that the issue of climate change was so great and so overwhelming he was just going to buy a nice house in a rural climate haven and take care of himself until he died. Basically, he was going to give up caring about anything or anyone else, but himself. Give up? Give up!?!?!

You can’t give up! First, We all contributed to where things are now both actively and passively. Isn’t it nice for him that he has the luxury to throw up his hands and hide somewhere? “Oh well, this sucks, I’m just not going to deal with it.” Come here, Mister, so I can give you an angry Greta Thunberg stare! Secondly, a lack of empathy for others is also lack of empathy for yourself. The sword cuts both. People who are invested in other people’s well-being live longer, healthier, and happier lives.

You don’t retire from a job, take your box of personal items home, and then lay down and die. At least, most people don’t. You start a new chapter in your life. Try new hobbies, learn new things, reconnect with friends and family and (hopefully) be grateful that you could afford to retire. At least, That’s what my older friends usually say. Many of the most self-sufficient people among us still have to rely on other people for something in their lives. (Examples include medical care, special maintenance or materials, or other things outside of their skillset.)

In my opinion, we owe it to all generations to look out for each other. Humans are social creatures, even if you consider yourself anti-social, you probably still need someone for something.


Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Twelve years ago on Earth day I gave birth to a baby boy. Never has my desire to do right by both the planet and the next generation been more perfectly aligned. In my teens and 20’s I couldn’t have imagined being someone’s mother. I neither liked nor disliked kids and even though I worked minimum wage jobs and struggled to pay rent, I always cast my vote for the greater good. For infrastructure projects, libraries, schools, senior services, etc. It wasn’t important to me that I be able to reap the benefits personally. I’m only as strong and healthy as the community around me.

Suicidal ideation, apathy and loneliness spread like diseases. Right now, they’re public emergencies in many countries, exacerbated by the pandemic. I too get overwhelmed sometimes. I’ve been through dark times. I have to remain vigilant that little puddles of depression don’t become a flood. I need to be here for myself and others.

I have a theory that women might tend to live longer because we allow ourselves five-minute pity parties in the bathroom, then pull ourselves together and get back in the fight. I fight for you. I fight for my family, my communities, and the planet that we all call home. My sister works 16-18 hour shifts in a pediatric unit with patients who’ve failed at committing suicide. Let that sink in.

Our children are overwhelmed, scared, angry, sad, and confused. Kids know the world is messed. Some of them are standing up to do something about it, while others are lost in their own grief. They need us, we need them, and we need each other.

I’m here for you.

You might be physically alone, but you’re not emotionally alone.

We are connected.

I would grieve the loss of you.

 I don’t have all the answers. I can’t fix all the problems in the world, but I’m here. I do the best I can and I’m asking you to do your best too. Don’t exist, live!

I don’t like being labeled, but you can call me friend.

Am I a Climate Activist? I suppose, but I prefer the label “Advocate” more because I’m not inclined to go marching about, yelling or busting stuff up. “Activism” sounds very tiring. I need a cup of caffeine at the mere mention of the word. At least “Hacktivism” implies a chair and computer…

I could argue semantics until the cows come home.  Then wax poetically for hours about, whose cows they really are?

I do agree with the Climate Ad Projects purpose and mission. We do need A Billion Climate Activists (or whatever you want to call yourself) to make a difference.

Climate Ad Project – We need a billion climate activists


What I’m Currently Reading:

How to Prepare for Climate Change: A Practical Guide to Surviving the Chaos By David Pogue

It’s a really good start for how to make your life and home more climate resilient. You still need to do your own homework though. Ironically, one of the places he mentioned for being a climate haven is Spokane, WA, my hometown. Clearly, he’s never been there before. It has wildfires, occasional mini-dust bowl storms, icestorms and every other type of storm short of classified tornadoes and hurricanes.

Recently Watched:

Kiss The Ground – a documentary narrated by Woody Harrelson

It promotes Agroforestry for sequestering carbon in the soil. There was a restoration project in China that was particularly impressive, some 14,000 hectares restored!


Big Stepping stone goals for the year:

– Cancel my Chase Credit Card and let them know why I’m canceling. They’re one of the biggest financiers of fossil fuels. Open a new credit card that promotes and invests in aligned goals. (This was the most helpful article I found: https://theimpactinvestor.com/green-creditcards)

-Create a local sustainability business

-Research and possibly invest in solar panels this year

-Find other ways to make our home more climate resilient

-Buy an electrical vehicle this year? (Contingent on the price and financing of solar panel project and vehicle availability.)

Smaller Stepping Stone goals for the year:

– Maintain my current level of fitness

– Try at least five new cooking recipes

-Experiment with natural dye making (like from beets, dandelions, etc.)

Have you made any Community or Sustainability related goals this year?

If so, what are they?

Thank you for reading. Thank you for your time.

Nature-Led Black Americans

February is Black History Month here in the United States, so I’m excited to introduce to you a handful of Black American who exemplify what it means to be “Nature-Led” and by doing so strengthen the communities in which they live.

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Alexis Nikole Nelson, the Black Forager

I first saw one of her TikTok videos on Facebook and immediately fell in love. Who is this? She has so much energy and she’s talking about foraging! Wow! Foraging is something no one talks about in modern American society—well, until now. I l learned a little foraging when I was younger but I never thought much about it. It wasn’t something we talked about. If you had asked, “What are you doing?” I would have said “picking berries” or “picking greens.” “Foraging” sounds like something herbivores do when talking about animals in a Science class.

Now here we are in the post-computer revolution and a young Black woman is excited about foraging and sharing her knowledge with others in a way they can relate too. It gives me hope for the future. We’re all going to need this knowledge if things continue as they are with our current trajectory towards climate change. Octavia Butler, Sci-Fi Author of Parable of the Sower & Parable of the Talents, would be proud of Alexis Nikole Nelson.

I encourage you to follow Alexis Nikole Nelson on TikTok, Facebook or whatever your preferred social media is. To learn more about her read this great interview found on NPR:

Meet Alexis Nikole Nelson, The Wildly Popular ‘Black Forager’ : Code Switch : NPR

Photo by Craig Adderley on Pexels.com

Ron Finley, aka Gangsta Gardener

I first heard about Ron Finley’s garden in South-Central Los Angles years ago as part of tv news segment. He started his garden revolution in 2010. Having stayed in the community he grew up in he fought and won the opportunity to garden in the parking strips throughout his neighborhood. A neighborhood that has for years been a food dessert/food prison for people of color. This is how it starts, this is how you change things for the better in your community. You can’t wait for City officials or someone else to do it, you have to be willing to step up and take action yourself. If something is important, you make time for it.

Ron Finley: A guerrilla gardener in South Central LA | TED Talk

The Ron Finley Project

Photo by Svetlana Obysova on Pexels.com

Aaron Shepard, Robotics Engineer, Scuba Diver, & NASA intern

I literally just discovered Aaron Shepard while watching a short Brut video on Facebook about how animal responses perceived as being “cute” are actually responses to stress and a terrifying ordeal for the animal. There’s nothing “cute” about terrorizing any living lifeform for amusement.

Aaron Shepard on Twitter: “Repeat after me people : “I will not touch ocean animals unnecessarily for social media clout” Thank you… https://t.co/wKsorJi983″ / Twitter


Portrait of John Washington Carver, Tuskegee Institiute

John Washington Carver, Agricultural Scientist

Finally, when it comes to historical contributions, the work of John Washington Carver (c 1864- Jan 5th, 1943) simply CANNOT be overlooked by a site such as this. He was born a slave, persevered through multiple hurdles to get himself college educated and became one of America’s most distinguished Scientists. He introduced us to the idea of crop rotations and compost to improve depleted soils. In tandem with helping the environment, he also worked to improve the lives of poor farmers by recommending highly nutritious rotation crops such as peanuts and sweet potatoes at times when the fields needed to rest from cotton production. He also provided recipes for his food recommendation through “Bulletins.”

History & Culture – George Washington Carver National Monument (U.S. National Park Service) (nps.gov)

Biography books on John Washington Carver are available at most U.S. libraries.


More to Explore:

Gardening while Black: How some are redefining relationship to land (usatoday.com)

7 Contributions of Black Farmers to Agriculture — Poughkeepsie Farm Project

In their own words. A booklist:

10 Outdoors Books by Black, Indigenous, POC Authors | Field Mag


My sincerest thanks goes out to any and all persons, living or dead, who endeavor to restore the health and well-being of their communities; be they human communities, animal communities, plant communities, soil communities or water communities. We are all part of a greater community, the sum of life itself on planet earth. We can choose to nurture that which is around us or we can destroy it with our indifference.

The man o’war hug

(this story is written in English and Spanish)

Evita que se arruinen tus vacaciones y actúa rápido en caso de que te toquen, no te talles y sobre todo, no te orines.
Photo credit:
https://www.sdpnoticias.com/estilo-de-vida/medusas-playa-mala-agua.html

English version>

February 14th, 2022

Today, Valentine’s Day is being celebrated here in the United States, and living far away from my childhood friends, I began to miss their hugs. I miss those shared laughs, the ones that make emotions grow until you cry out of happiness. Not many people know how to hug.

Or at least I haven’t felt that satisfaction of the hugs given from within. There are people who hug sideways, who extend their arms and just as you approach to receive them they tilt a little and stick their shoulder in your eye (if they are taller than you) or in your chest, if they are your height.

There are also those in heat. Yes, like those puppies that come to rub their genitals on your leg for the simple pleasure produced by that liberating touch of contained desire.

Then, those repressed beings come and hug you from the front, even before you extend your arms as a sign of wanting to say hello, and they press you against their chest to feel your breasts, and they go up and down in small movements of rare excitement. To get away you have to go to the handbrake, that is to say to your arms, which push and manage to release those pheromones spread all over you.

With the pandemic, hugs were banned. Now we bring our elbows closer as if we were hens and flap our wings to greet each other.

Or the usual fist. The friendly fist like the one boxers give to each other before starting a fight.

I keep thinking about hugs

Last month, a friend took her only son for a trip to the Caribbean Sea. Her vacation was cut short because an aguamala (Portuguese frigate, jellyfish or man o´war) hugged the minor’s ankle with its tentacles.

She told me with maternal anguish that she felt guilty for not having heard or seen the warning signs. Those extrasensory, intuitive alert signals. “The sixth sense failed me”, she repeated to me. Before entering to the beach, many tourists commented that due to the pandemic and global warming, there was an overpopulation of jellyfish.

Seeing the sea after so many months of confinement, it is very difficult to attend to the other signs of the universe. Then mother and son jumped into the immense blue, until the boy began to scream in pain. When my friend could see what was happening, she tried in seconds to remove the living jelly from his ankle.

While he was screaming, in those same seconds her head was desperately flooded with possible solutions heard or seen on the internet: whether to ask the child to pee on his foot, but depending on the type of jellyfish, that could aggravate the injury; What if you put vinegar on it?, but who has vinegar at that moment? Or shaving cream?…

Finally they ran to the hotel, where first aid was given to relieve his burns with an ointment.

Upon returning to his hometown, and after going to school for a couple of days, wearing socks and closed shoes, his foot became swollen and infected. This time he was admitted to the hospital to drain the wounds, disinfect them and monitor the child’s reactions.

Anguish, recriminations, and the obnoxious questions that at times afflict us: the whys?

Why me?, why right now at this point in my life?, and the list goes on…

I only hope that the child heals soon and well, and that my friend embraces herself and forgives herself for whatever she thinks she is guilty of. How I would like to be there and hug her, with one of those supportive hugs.

That stinging hug from the aguamala made me connect with the unwanted hugs of some people. And no matter how much intuition is developed, some beings look harmless, they camouflage themselves among the days, between their clothes and their smiles, they dive into our lives and go around with their tentacles wanting to hug us, and with their poison, the one we don’t see. They knock us down, affecting us. They wait silently, floating they stay, watching how we burn, how we swell, or how we react after the event.

Is it because of beings like these that hugs are extinct? If so, how do we heal? Perhaps we should return to healing as children heal, sooner and fearless. With the same enthusiasm with which my friend’s son is planning his next trip to the ocean.

And on this far shore, I will welcome them, with a compassionate, non-abrasive hug.

El abrazo del aguamala*

*aguaviva, fragata portuguesa, medusa.

14 de febrero de 2022

Hoy, que se celebra el día de San Valentín aquí en los Estados Unidos, y que vivo tan lejos de mis amigos de infancia, comencé a extrañar sus abrazos. Extraño esas risas compartidas, las que te hacen crecer las emociones hasta llorar de dicha. No mucha gente sabe abrazar. 

O al menos no he sentido esa satisfacción que dejan los abrazos dados desde adentro. Hay personas que abrazan de lado, que extienden sus brazos y justo cuando te acercas a recibirlo se ladean un poco y te clavan el hombro en tu ojo (si son más altos que vos) o en el pecho, si son de tu estatura. 

También los hay en celo. Sí, como esos perritos que vienen a sobar sus genitales en tu pierna por el simple placer que les produce ese roce liberador de ganas contenidas. 

Entonces vienen esos seres reprimidos y te abrazan de frente incluso antes de que tu extiendas tus brazos en señal de querer saludar, que tu quieras recibir ese abrazo anunciado, y te aprietan contra su pecho para sentir tus senos, y suben y bajan en movimientos de pequeña y rara exaltación. Para zafarte tienes que acudir al freno de mano, es decir a tus brazos, que empujan y logran desprender esas feromonas esparcidas sobre ti.

Con la pandemia quedaron vetados los abrazos. Ahora acercamos los codos como si fuéramos gallinitas y aleteáramos para saludarnos.

O el consabido puño. El puño amistoso como el que se dan los boxeadores antes de iniciar una pelea.

Sigo pensando en los abrazos. 

El mes pasado, una amiga llevó a su único hijo a pasear al Mar Caribe. Sus vacaciones se vieron truncadas porque una aguamala (fragata portuguesa) abrazó con sus tentáculos el tobillo del menor. 

Me contaba ella con angustia maternal, que se sentía culpable por no haber escuchado o visto las señales de aviso. Esas señales extrasensoriales, intuitivas de alerta. ̈El sexto sentido me falló¨, me repetía. Antes de entrar a la playa muchos turistas comentaban que a causa de la pandemia, y del calentamiento global, había una superpoblación de aguamalas.

Al ver el mar después de tantos meses de encierro, es muy difícil atender las otras señales del universo. Saltaron entonces madre e hijo al inmenso azul, hasta cuando el niño empezó a gritar de dolor. Cuando mi amiga pudo ver lo que pasaba, intentó en segundos quitarle la gelatina viviente del tobillo. 

Mientras él gritaba, en esos mismos segundos a ella se le inundaba la cabeza desesperadamente con posibles soluciones escuchadas o vistas en internet: que si pedirle al niño que se orine sobre el pie, pero que depende del tipo de aguamala eso podría agravar la lesión; que si echarle vinagre, ¿pero quién tiene vinagre en ese instante?, o ¿espuma de afeitar? …

Finalmente corrieron al hotel, en donde le brindaron primeros auxilios, aliviándole las quemaduras con un ungüento..

Al regresar a su ciudad de residencia, y tras ir a la escuela un par de días, usando medias y zapatos cerrados, el pie se hinchó y se infectó. Esta vez quedó internado en el hospital para drenar las heridas, desinfectarlas y vigilar las reacciones del niño.

Angustias, recriminaciones, y las odiosas preguntas que a ratos nos asaltan: los ¿por qué?

Por qué a mí, por qué justo ahora en este momento de mi vida, y la lista sigue…

Solo espero que el niño se sane pronto y bien, y que mi amiga se abrace y se perdone por lo que ella crea que es culpable. Cuánto me gustaría estar ahí, y abrazarla, con uno de esos abrazos solidarios.

Ese abrazo urticante de la aguamala, me hizo conectarme con los abrazos indeseados de algunas personas. Y por más intuición que se desarrolle, algunos seres se ven inofensivos, se camuflan entre los días, entre sus prendas de vestir y sus sonrisas. Se zambullen en nuestras vidas y van por ahí con sus tentáculos queriendo abrazarnos, y con su veneno, ese que no vemos; nos echan abajo, nos tumban. Esperan silenciosamente, flotando se quedan, observando cómo nos quemamos, cómo nos hinchamos, o cómo reaccionamos después del evento. 

¿Es por seres como estos que se están extinguiendo los abrazos? y entonces, ¿cómo nos curamos? 

Quizás debamos volver a sanar como sanan los niños, pronto y con menos miedo. Con la misma ilusión con la que el hijo de mi amiga está planeando su próximo viaje al mar.

Y en esta orilla lejana los recibiré, con un abrazo compasivo, no abrasivo.

PL.

Referencias:

Fragata o carabela portuguesa (a.k.a. aguamala, aguaviva, medusa.)

https://www.semana.com/nacion/articulo/playas-de-cartagena-en-alerta-por-aparicion-de-agua-mala/202223/

Portuguese man-of-war

https://www.nationalgeographic.com/animals/invertebrates/facts/portuguese-man-of-war