Poetry carries a special kind of power: the sparseness of its words give each more weight. This poem, written over a hundred years ago, stopped me in my tracks recently.
MY aspens dear, whose airy cages quelled,
Quelled or quenched in leaves the leaping sun,
All felled, felled, are all felled;
Of a fresh and following folded rank
Not spared, not one
That dandled a sandalled
Shadow that swam or sank
On meadow and river and wind-wandering weed-winding bank.
if we but knew what we do
When we delve or hew—
Hack and rack the growing green!
Since country is so tender
To touch, her being só slender,
That, like this sleek and seeing ball
But a prick will make no eye at all,
Where we, even where we mean
To mend her we end her,
When we hew or delve:
After-comers cannot guess the beauty been.
Ten or twelve, only ten or twelve
Strokes of havoc únselve
The sweet especial scene,
Rural scene, a rural scene,
Sweet especial rural scene.
Gerard Manley Hopkins
Don’t you just love that? The airy cages that quelled in leaves the leaping sun; the wind-wandering weed-winding bank – what pictures those words light up in our brains. What a fabulous example of how a few words can evoke a mighty response. And that is the good news here.
We do know, more than ever, what happens when we “hack and rack the growing green.” The purpose of this blog is to bring awareness of the need to protect biodiversity, to act for conservation, and to create a bigger voice for these issues in the public forum. The pen is mightier than the sword!
Most readers of this blog are already engaged in what I consider the most pleasant of the tasks related to our mission, namely planting natives that support whatever wildlife would once-upon-a time have been in our neighborhoods. Who doesn’t love to dig a hole, tuck the roots of an aspiring native plant into the welcoming earth; and to go out walking through the dew to check each morning and see how it has changed overnight?
Well, I heard rumors once that there are some people who don’t actually like to do that, but we shall not acknowledge such here.
Bringing us to the more serious acknowledgement of what more, and what else, we can do. And just like Gilbert and Sullivan, “I’ve Got a Little List!” Let’s start with some little things, too, so no one gets put off by thinking advocacy has to mean sitting for hours in legislative assemblies, groan.
Take children out to experience the out of doors so that they will learn to love and cherish it. It doesn’t matter if you are in the country or the city. Take kids you know, or, get involved with a local organization that caters to youth: Scouts, 4-H, public schools, home-school groups. You will be amazed at how many opportunities there are once you open yourself to it. Call your extension agent, your local school system, or google for home-schoolers in your area.
There are a couple of ways you can make a positive difference to your local library. For one, make sure your library is getting the best and newest of the fantastic books that are available, starting with this list: the BOOKLIST LINK . Libraries are often a great place to share your knowledge and passion. Check to see what talks are being given there, and find out if you or your plant society/book club/garden club might be able to give a talk there. You will meet up with and empower local people who can join the effort.
Support your parks, state and local. Our parks are desperately in need of ‘boots on the ground’ as budget cuts have meant slashes to personnel. Visit the parks, get to know them, you will find out how you can help. Locally, you may be able to bring about a greater percentage of native plants being used. Our national park system is a gem and deserves our use and attention: National Park Service
Empower Conservation Organizations
Support in any way you can the groups that are already making progress. Donate! And contact them to find out what else you can do for them locally. Here are two groups that rate high on Charitable Navigator, use science-based data to make decisions, and have excellent records for conservation: The Nature Conservancy, and The Audubon Society. Here’s one that might be new to you: Wildlands Network. They are trying to establish wildlife corridors, or wildways to connect landscapes on a big scale as envisioned by Doug Tallamy. And of course you won’t forget your local native plant societies, right?
and now, drum roll, the biggie you’ve been waiting for…
There are lots of ways to break this down. You can take baby steps that are meaningful if you never go farther and that may give you a comfort level to work your way up. Here is a link to crystalizing site that will help you organize the thought process; tips on how to proceed, how to do research, how to target the right people to communicate with, and even tips for green living: Conservation International I love what they say right up front, “The great thing about wanting to be a conservation advocate is that anyone can do it. You don’t need a PH.D in activism – just a desire for change and the willingness to work for it.”
Conservation International lists more advocacy groups along with links. The following text comes directly from their site:
You can get contact information here and find out and monitor the voting record of your elected leaders to see whether they are “green” or not.
League of Conservation Voters
1920 L Street NW, Ste. 800
Washington, DC 20009
A source of congressional phone numbers and addresses.
No time to write? Just call the switchboard and ask for your Congressman or woman, although we can’t guarantee he or she will be available. If you are not sure of the name of your federal representative or senators, the switchboard operators can tell you.
Phone: (202) 224-3121
If you know the name of the Senator or Representative you want to write, the following addresses will get your letter there:
The Honorable (first and last name)
Washington, DC 20510
The Honorable (first and last name)
U.S. House of Representatives
Washington, DC 20515
And don’t forget the White House:
The Honorable (name of President or Administration Official)
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW
Washington, DC 20500
OK, your turn! Each of these tasks is equally important. The time is now, the future has need of each of you, and some of these actions will be attainable by each of you. I am not speaking from the sidelines here; I have walked the walk on all of these fronts. I don’t want to be a part of the system that leaves a legacy of :
“After-comers cannot guess the beauty been.”
© 2013, Suzanne Dingwell. All rights reserved. This article is the property of Native Plants and Wildlife Gardens. If you are reading this at another site, please report that to us