Articles & Essays
|Parks, Open Spaces
|Energy, Climate, Ozone
|Food and Agriculture
|Water and Wastewater
|Risk Management (Activities of High Environmental Risk)
“How can a sustainable local community (which is to say a sustainable local economy) function? I am going to suggest a set of rules that I think such a community would have to follow. ... Supposing that the members of a local community wanted their community to cohere, to flourish, and to last, they would: ...”
Frogs Are Finding the Planet an Increasingly Hostile Pad by James Gerstenzang, Los Angeles Times
“Herpetologists -- students of frogs, toads and salamanders, as well as reptiles -- are crawling through reeds, turning over rocks and reaching into tree branches in their search for amphibians in such disparate but pristine locations as the Sierra Nevada in California, Australia, Puerto Rico and Costa Rica. But with increasing frequency, they are coming up empty-handed.
The significance, they say, is frightening.
In the view of such experts, frogs are ubiquitous indicators of global environmental health: They play the same role as a canary in a mine, whose death signals that poisonous or explosive gases have reached a dangerous level. ...
‘If all the animals were dying in a pond, would you want to drink the water? That’s basically what’s happening,’ said Kenneth Dodd, a research zoologist at the Interior Department’s Florida-Caribbean Science Center. ‘We breathe the same air, we drink the same water. We live in the same environment. If something is affecting them, it’s affecting us.’”
Genetic Blueprints Aren’t Mere Utilities: by Jeremy Rifkin, L.A.Times Op-Ed Page
“Life patents strike at our core beliefs about the very nature of life and whether it is to be conceived of as having intrinsic or mere utility value. The last great debate of this kind occurred in the 19th century over the issue of human slavery, with abolitionists arguing that every human being has “God-given rights” and cannot be made the commercial property of another.
Like the antislavery abolitionists, a new generation of genetic activists is beginning to challenge the concept of patenting human life, arguing that human genes, chromosomes, cell lines, tissues, organs and embryos should not be reduced to commercial intellectual property controlled by global conglomerates and traded as mere utilities.
“The battle to keep the Earth’s gene pool an open commons, free of commercial exploitation, will be one of the critical struggles of the Biotech Century.”
Genetically Engineered Plant Raises Fears of ‘Superweeds’ Los Angeles Times
“Heightening environmentalists’ fears about the dangers of genetic engineering, a weed that was altered by scientists to resist an herbicide also developed far greater ability to pollinate other plants and pass its traits on.
The findings raise the possibility of the emergence of ‘superweeds’ impervious to weedkillers.”
Headwaters Forest vs. Maxxam Corporate Watch Image Gallery
“In less than 200 years, clear cut logging has destroyed 96% of California’s redwood forests. Headwaters Forest contains the largest remaining old-growth stands on private property. The forest is owned by Pacific Lumber Company, which, after a hostile takeover in 1985 by the Maxxam Group engineered by Charles Hurwitz, has amped up its harvest to generate quick cash for its takeover debt.
The now decade-long struggle to preserve Headwaters Forest has pitted environmental activists, workers, and entire communities against the Maxxam Corporation. At its core is a fight for a way of life: sustainable forestry that preserves the environment, wildlife and human livelihoods vs. the dictates of predatory corporate takeovers, speculative business practices, and government collusion.
This Image Gallery focuses on the danger that Maxxam’s logging practices pose to the communities and environment of Humboldt County, and the long, harsh struggle by dedicated activists to ensure a sustainable solution.”
Inspiration Point: Restoring Native Habitats by Sharon Farrell, Marc Albert and Janice Cooper
“The native insects, amphibians, reptiles, birds, and mammals of San Francisco all evolved over the span of thousands of years with specific species of native plants. Since plants are the original source of food and shelter in this food web, restoring native plant communities provides the nectar, seeds, leaves, and stems to feed wildlife, as well as habitat for nesting and egg-laying.”
One in Every 8 Plant Species Is Imperiled, a Survey Finds by William K. Stevens, The New York Times
“The new listing of threatened plants is one more piece of evidence that ‘a whole chunk of creation is at risk,’ said Dr. Stuart Pimm, an ecologist at the University of Tennessee, who was not involved in producing the report.
While 1 plant in 8 many not seem like much, Dr. Pimm said, ‘that’s what’s threatened now, as a consequence of what we’ve done so far; but all the evidence is that the destruction is continuing at an accelerating pace.’
With 4,669 of its species judged to be threatened to one degree or another, the United States ranked first, by far, among all nations in total number of plants at risk. That is 29 percent of the country’s 16,108 plant species.
But Dr. Stein said the United States’ situation looked comparatively grim only because plants were probably better surveyed here than elsewhere.
‘I don’t believe the U.S. is worse off than other countries’ he said. ‘If anything, I think the U.S. has taken a more active interest in plant conservation.’”
Red-tailed Hawks in Glen Canyon Park by Jean Conner
“One of my neighbors stopped me on the street the other day to tell me about seeing a red-tailed hawk catch a pigeon late in the afternoon in Christopher playground. The sun was low in the West. He saw the hawk come swooping in from the canyon with the sun behind it and grab one of the pigeons from the roof of the recreation center. That pigeon had hardly any chance at all. It sat there dozing in the sun, probably full of junk food it had scavenged from the Diamond Heights shopping center. It would have needed to look directly into the sun in order to see the hawk.”
Tree-Sitter Takes Protest to New Heights in Old Growth by Mary Curtius, L.A. Times
“‘I felt compelled that I was supposed to be a part of something bigger,’ Hill said. ‘I gave my word to the forest, to Luna, that until I felt I’d done everything I possibly could to help make people aware, I would not come down.’
She held out through last winter’s torrential El Niño downpours, buffeted by gale-force winds and lashed by rain in temperatures that sometimes stayed in the 30s for days at a time. ...
‘Life in the tree is never boring,’ Hill says.
She conducts several cellular phone interviews daily, writes 50 to 100 letters weekly to supporters and friends, petitions state and federal government officials and prays and writes poems. For recreation, she watches flying squirrels and climbs, unharnessed, to the highest branches of the redwood to sing and pray. Her days, Hill says, ‘are very busy.’”
Where The Sea Meets The Sky by Sharon Levy, New Scientist Magazine
"Sydeman has spent much of his career studying wildlife in the Farallon Islands. On this small group of windswept rocks 35 kilometres offshore from San Francisco, throngs of breeding birds, sea lions and elephant seals gather every spring and summer. These creatures rely on the waters surrounding the islands, some of the most productive in the world, to feed themselves and their young."
Change Causing Warmer Water by Paul Recer, AP Science Writer
“‘The rise in sea surface temperature,’ said McGowan, ‘is not just in California. It is the whole eastern half of the northern Pacific and the Gulf of Alaska.’
The warmer waters are linked to declines in some temperate species and to the wholesale migration into northern waters of fish and animals that normally live in the tropics, researchers say.
...‘The whole temperature range has shifted upward so the lows are not as low as they used to be and the highs are higher,’ he said.”
EDF at the Climate Talks in Buenos Aires: Dispatches from Executive Director Fred Krupp, November 1998
"Diplomats, politicians, scientists and environmentalists from around the world gathered in Buenos Aires in November to work out implementation of the global climate protocol agreed upon last December in Kyoto, Japan. Representatives from the Environmental Defense Fund played a crucial role at the talks. Below are three personal dispatches sent by Executive Director Fred Krupp from Buenos Aires, providing an individual viewpoint on the otherwise global experience."
Medical Implications Of Nuclear Power by Dr. Helen Caldicott
“Nuclear reactors were initially designed to make atomic and hydrogen bombs. Apart from nuclear war, nuclear power poses the greatest public hazard the world has ever encountered because of radioactive wastes.
Cessation of all forms of nuclear power is the ultimate form of preventive medicine.
The fuel cycle of nuclear power plants is complex, but not too difficult to understand. It has many biological and medical implications which must be understood by the average person in the street as well as by the politicians who make the most important decisions for society.
In this article, I describe the fuel cycle step by step, and explain the medical dangers arising from each step.”
Alemany Youth Farm
“The Alemany Youth Farm, a project of the San Francisco League of Urban Gardeners (SLUG), is a multifaceted project that trains and employs residents from the surrounding low-income communities in the construction and maintenance of an urban farm.”
Assessing Your Community’s Food Security by Andy Fisher
“Assessing your community’s food security is a crucial step towards developing projects suited to its needs and resources. This exercise can be conducted on many different levels, from a year-long comprehensive study to a much simpler neighborhood analysis. Here is a partial list of questions that you may want to ask.”
California Farming on the Edge -- Press Release
“California's Central Valley, one of the last great mediterranean agricultural production areas on earth, produces more than 250 commodities annually worth $13 billion, including a year-round supply of fresh and processed fruits and vegetables. Cotton, fruits, nuts, grapes, hay, grain, rice, alfalfa, citrus and tomatoes are key valley crops. Fresno County is the nation's top agricultural county with more than $3 billion in annual production.
The area is facing sprawling growth pressure from the San Francisco Bay and Sacramento areas. A 1995 study predicts that compared to compact, efficient growth patterns, this low-density urban sprawl would consume more than 500,000 additional acres of Central Valley farmland by 2040 and cost taxpayers $29 billion more.”
Democratize Your Food System: Things You Can Do from The Urban Ecologist
1. Buy from local sources. 2. Join a CSA farm. 3. Buy from Fair Trade Producers. 4. Support organics. 5. Get your grocer involved. 6. Grow your own. 7. Start a dinner exchange group. 8. Donate time and/or money. 9. Become more informed about the food system. 10. Understand the global context of food insecurity. 11. Join a local organization working on food system issues. 12. Write letters. 13. Start a food policy council in your area.
Mexican Agribusiness and the U.S. Food System by Jorge G. Lizárraga
“The news came as a shock: children throughout the nation had been served school lunches contaminated with a hepatitis virus. In Michigan some 150 children and adults had come down with hepatitis-A after consuming fruit cups made from tainted batches of frozen strawberries.
...The alarm and concern that was raised by this year’s strawberry contamination should be seen as a warning not only about Mexico’s agricultural problems, but about those of our own farming sector as well. Incidents like this one may give people reason to question how and at what cost their food is produced.”
Nuclear Lunch: The Dangers and Unknowns of Food Irradiation
by Susan Meeker-Lowery and Jennifer Ferrara
“Food is irradiated using radioactive gamma sources, usually cobalt 60 or cesium 137, or high energy electron beams. The gamma rays break up the molecular structure of the food, forming positively and negatively charged particles called free radicals. The free radicals react with the food to create new chemical substances called ‘radiolytic products.’ Those unique to the irradiation process are known as ‘unique radiolytic products’ (URPs).
Some radiolytic products, such as formaldehyde, benzene, formic acid, and quinones are harmful to human health. Benzene, for example, is a known carcinogen.
In one experiment, seven times more benzene was found in cooked, irradiated beef than in cooked, non-irradiated beef. Some URPs are completely new chemicals that have not even been identified, let alone tested for toxicity.
In addition, irradiation destroys essential vitamins and minerals...”
Seed Terminator and Mega-Merger Threaten Food and Freedom by Geri Guidetti, The Ark Institute
“Make no mistake about it -- widespread global adoption of the newly patented Terminator Technology will ensure absolute dependence of farmers, and the people they feed, on multinational corporations for their seed and food. Dependence does not foster freedom.”
What is Community Food Security? by Andy Fisher
“‘Community food security’ was first conceptualized in 1994 by a broad coalition of advocates seeking comprehensive solutions to the nation’s food and farming crises. It integrates aspects of many different fields, including public health’s prevention-orientation, ecology’s systems analysis, and community development’s place-centered focus and emphasis on economic development, into a comprehensive framework for meeting a community’s food needs.”
What is Sustainable Agriculture?
UC Davis Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education Program
“Not only does sustainable agriculture address many environmental and social concerns, but it offers innovative and economically viable opportunities for growers, laborers, consumers, policymakers and many others in the entire food system.
This paper is an effort to identify the ideas, practices and policies that constitute our concept of sustainable agriculture. We do so for two reasons: 1) to clarify the research agenda and priorities of our program, and 2) to suggest to others practical steps that may be appropriate for them in moving toward sustainable agriculture.”
Admitting Error at a Weapons Plant by Matthew L. Wald, The New York Times
Belatedly, Energy Department Deals With Leaks of Nuclear Waste
“In hindsight, even the department publicly acknowledges that it erred in not sufficiently studying the soil, which is called the vadose zone, the relatively dry soil above the water table.
‘There has not been enough science for vadose zone assessment,’ Ernest Moniz, the Under Secretary of Energy, said in an interview.
The reason that the department never studied the problem adequately, it now appears, is that it did not want to know.
‘There’s no doubt there was little enthusiasm for this,’ Dr. Moniz said.
The Hanford reservation has not produced plutonium, the basic fuel of nuclear bombs, since 1987. About 54 million gallons of radioactive waste, in liquid, sludge and dried salt forms, is stored at Hanford in 177 underground tanks. Of those, 149 are made of a single shell of steel, and about 68 have leaked, releasing about 900,000 gallons into the soil. The oldest tanks are more than 50 years old, and all the single-shell tanks are expected to leak eventually.
The department had said for decades that no waste from the tanks would reach the ground water in the next 10,000 years at least, but it is already there.”
Push Back The Poison -- Ban Methyl Bromide: a collection of articles from Corporate Watch
The Barons of Bromide; Farm Workers on the Front Lines; A First Class Poison; A First Class Ozone Destroyer; First Hand Experience; Push Back the Poison: An overview of alternatives to methyl bromide.
History of Golden Gate NRA by Bay Area writer John Hart
from his 1979 book, San Francisco's Wilderness Next Door
“We owe the park to the people who, after World War II, fought to prevent the disposal of the military lands around the Golden Gate to private use.
We owe it to the people who turned out by the hundreds in the 1960s to persuade the state not to build freeways: the one that would have covered the San Francisco waterfront from Fort Mason to Fort Point, the one that would have cut its massive way into western Marin, the one that would have ridden the crest of Bolinas Ridge.
And we owe it to that stubborn group, a minority even among conservationists, who refused to accept the grand-scale development that almost occupied the Marin Headlands in the late 1960swho continued, when hope seemed gone, to oppose Marincello.”
Our Lady of the Creeks: Carole Schemmerling of the Urban Creeks Council by Lisa Owens-Viani
“When Schemmerling first suggested to the Berkeley Parks Commission that they dig up long-buried creeks and bring them back above ground ‘They just stared at me blankly,’ she says. But she and other creek advocates, including landscape architect Doug Wolfe, persevered and in 1985 they helped resurface an underground stretch of Strawberry Creek in the Berkeley flatlands and convert an adjacent former blighted railroad right-of-way into a charming neighborhood park named after the creek.”
Car Sharing Holds the Road in Germany, by Mary Williams Walsh, Los Angeles Times
Use of a vehicle by multiple households began as an idealistic endeavor, but these days it is maturing into a sophisticated, for-profit business.
“The idea: to offer drivers the instant mobility of ownership when they need a car and free them from most of the expense and headaches of ownership when they don’t.
Take Muggli: She shares a car with 25 other householders in Graefelfing. Each has put down a refundable security deposit and pays a small monthly fee -- about $7 -- that covers maintenance and insurance. They keep the car at a designated spot behind the village hall. Whenever Muggli needs the car, she simply books it by phone, gets the key out of a safe built into a wall near the car, jumps in and drives off. Once a month, she is billed for her usage. No contracts, no repair bills, no maintenance, no hidden insurance premiums.
And Muggli’s organization is one of the small ones.”
Clean Up Your Act -- Homes, not businesses, are today’s big water polluters
by Tara Aronson, S.F. Chronicle
“‘The good news is, because we’re the cause, we can also be the solution, Gosselin explained as she eyed beneath my kitchen sink. We have the power to really make a difference through our daily actions.’
Pollutants get into the creeks, the delta, the bay and the ocean in two ways, she said: through storm drains, which carry pesticides, soaps or auto fluids washed off our lawns and driveways untreated into waterways; and home drains, which empty into treatment plants that were only designed to treat human waste.”
Poisons From Home, by Jane Kay, S.F. Examiner
"A popular class of insecticides used by residents to poison ants and fleas and by growers to kill insects on fruit and nut trees is polluting California's waterways, say environmental officials.
Urban and agricultural users of the insecticides are contaminating creeks in amounts deadly enough to kill off simple forms of aquatic life, causing environmental scientists to sound the alarm over the health of the Bay.
'The estuary is going sterile. There are just less fish and the organisms that they feed on,' said Chris Foe, a biologist with the Central Valley Regional Water Quality Control Board."
Reflections on Water by John Todd, New Alchemy Institute
“About 70 percent of the human body is water. Roughly 150,000 pounds of it passes through us in our lifetimes -- 75 tons. Water is the blood of the Earth. It is the great climatic regulator. Without it there would be no climate. If, as Vernadsky said, water is life, the quality of water should determine the quality of life.
For me, this creates a real sense of urgency. I think that the restoration and protection of water should be the first order of business. Analyzing the problems can only take us so far. What is needed is to create a generation of people committed to becoming stewards of the water.”
S.F. Bay: Cleaner but Still a Ways to Go by Mary Curtius, L.A.Times, September 10, 1998
“‘Estuaries are among the most productive ecosystems on the planet and this bay used to support several commercial fisheries,’ says James Cloern, a water specialist with the U.S. Geological Service. ‘Now it doesn’t support a commercial fishery of any kind. That is a really profound sign that this is a disturbed system.’
In fact, there still is a herring fishery and a small bait shrimp fishery in the bay. But clams, oysters, shad, salmon, Dungeness crabs, sturgeon and bass -- all once abundant here -- are no longer commercially fished in its waters.
‘The bay’s food chain is sick,’ says Greg Karras, senior scientist for the organization called Communities for a Better Environment. The trend of decline in biological productivity ‘has not been reversed and it is not even clear, across the estuary, if it has been slowed significantly,’ Karras says.”
The Community Currency Alternative by Miyoko Sakshita, director of the Berkeley Region Exchange and Development (BREAD), a community currency project.
“There are over 1,000 local exchange programs worldwide -- more than 30 local paper currencies in North America and at least 800 Local Exchange Trading Systems (LETS) throughout Europe, New Zealand, and Australia. Local exchange systems vary and evolve in accordance with the needs and circumstances of the local area. This diversity is critical to the success of the local currencies. The following examples demonstrate the effectiveness of some projects.
In Ithaca, New York, the community prints its own paper money -- a legal scrip. It is valued in hours, based on the trading of labor, but it is commonly thought of as $10 per hour (the average wage for the area). When people sign up to trade in Ithaca HOURS they agree to exchange some goods or services in the local money.”
The Corporate Planet: a collection of articles from Corporate Watch
Transnational Corporations in the Age of Globalization: An Overview; Fiddling as the Earth Burns: Corporations and the Kyoto Conference on Climate; Japan Inc. and the Island of Dreams; Europe's Corporate Union; The Global Financial Casino and Economic Turmoil in East Asia; Grassroots Globalization
Grassroots Money by Miyoko Sakshita
“By trading local money we are laying the foundation for a sustainable survival system.
While dollars drain power from our community and hand it to large transnational corporations, BREAD nourishes local economic power. ...
Goods and services traded for BREAD derive from local resources, allowing us to see out how our purchases affect labor and the natural environment. ...
The underlying reason that local currency can help us create a more ecologically sound society is because BREAD is backed by cooperation and trust -- values that coincide with those of our broader community of nature. A local economy celebrates interconnection within the community; not only do people get to meet their neighbors, but they also begin to care for each other and their local environment.”
Tips on How to Oppose Corporate Rule by Dr. Jane Kelsey
• Be skeptical about fiscal and other “crises.” • Don’t cling to a political party that has been converted to neoconservatism. • Take economics seriously. • Expose the weaknesses of their theory. • Challenge hypocrisy. • Expose the masterminds. • Maximize every obstacle. • Work hard to maintain solidarity. • Do not compromise the labour movement. • Maintain the concept of an efficient public service. • Encourage community leaders to speak out. • Avoid anti-intellectualism. • Establish an alternative think-tank. • Invest in the future. • Support those who speak out. • Promote ethical investment. • Think global, act local. • Think local, act global. • Develop alternative media outlets. • Raise the levels of popular economic literacy. • Resist market-speak. • Be realistic. • Be pro-active. • Challenge the TINA (“there is no alternative”) claim. • Promote participatory democracy. • Hold the line.
Toward a Global Open Society by George Soros
“...global capitalism is not without its problems, and we need to understand these better if we want the system to survive. ...The benefits of the present global capitalist system, I believe, can be sustained only by deliberate and persistent efforts to correct and contain the system’s deficiencies. That is where I am at loggerheads with laissez-faire ideology, which contends that free markets are self-sustaining and market excesses will correct themselves, provided that governments or regulators don’t interfere with the self-correcting mechanism.
Let me group the deficiencies of the global capitalist system under five main headings: the uneven distribution of benefits, the instability of the financial system, the incipient threat of global monopolies and oligopolies, the ambiguous role of the state, and the question of values and social cohesion. The categories are of course somewhat arbitrary, and the various problem areas are interconnected.”
Local Government's Role in Retaining Capital for Community Economic Development
by Hazel Dayton Gunn, Cornell Community and Rural Development Institute
"Local government can encourage greater citizen participation in local economic development. Understanding the flow of funds into and out of the local economy can help communities identify strategies to plug leakages and increase local control. The necessary expenditure of time and resources to accomplish these goals holds the promise of a more stable, enriched local economy."
The PR Plot to Overheat the Earth -- Earth Island Journal,
Give The Fault Its Due, by Gabrielle Walker, New Scientist Magazine
"Even San Francisco's extraordinary bay was formed by the fault system. This part of coastal California is a collage, made up of sundry pieces of crust that have been assembled by the plate motion over millions of years. The block beneath the bay is a piece of dense oceanic crust, forced downwards by the combined geometry of the San Andreas Fault to the west and the Hayward Fault to the east to create one of the most famous natural harbours in the world."
A Metamorphosis for Cities: From Gray to Green by Peter Berg
“A profound transformation is needed in the way cities are conceived. This can't be merely an administrative reform or change in the design of systems or structures because it needs to involve a completely new set of priorities and principles. The future purpose and function of cities and the activities of city-dwelling must become the focus of social and political consciousness on a primary level. The first step toward reconceptualizing urban areas is to recognize that they are all situated in local bioregions within which they can be made self-reliant and sustainable. The unique soils, watersheds, native plants and animals, climate, seasonal variations, and other natural characteristics that are present in the geographical life-place where a city is located constitute the basic context for securing essential resources of food, water, energy and materials. For this to happen in a sustainable way, cities must identify with and put themselves in balanced reciprocity with natural systems.”
Bioregional Association Now a Reality
“As the result of almost two years of hard work by bioregionalists all over the continent, the BIOREGIONAL ASSOCIATION OF THE NORTHERN AMERICAS (BANA) was formed to strengthen and amplify the voice of local bioregional groups in the Northern Americas (the lands extending from the areas known as Alaska, Canada and Greenland in the north, to the area known as Panama in the south, and the surrounding islands and waters).
This new organization will provide services long needed by the bioregional movement: supporting the creation and development of local bioregional groups and continental gatherings; skill-sharing as well as collecting and disseminating information on natural systems and bioregional philosophy and practices; representing the bioregional movement to the public and the media.”
Bioregional Management by the World Resources Institute
“A bioregion is a land and water territory whose limits are defined not by political boundaries, but by the geographical limits of human communities and ecological systems. Such an area must be large enough to maintain the integrity of the region's biological communities, habitats, and ecosystems; to support important ecological processes, such as nutrient and waste cycling, migration, and steam flow; to meet the habitat requirements of keystone and indicator species; and to include the human communities involved in the management, use, and understanding of biological resources. It must be small enough for local residents to consider it home.”
Bioregionalism and Community: A Call to Action by David Haenke
“Local community is the basic unit of human habitation. It is at this level that we can reach our fullest potential and best effect social change. Local communities need to network to empower our bioregional communities.
Human communities are integral parts of the larger bioregional and planetary life communities. The empowerment of human communities is inseparable from the larger task of reinhabitation -- learning to live sustainably and joyfully in place.”
Bioregionalism and Your Backyard
“In the Bay Area, there has been a redefinition of our place as the Shasta Bioregion, and it is defined by the watershed that is created by the Southern slope of Mount Shasta and runs to the sourthern end of the San Joaquin valley to the south. Our water, air, soil, and biology are linked by geography, and what affects any of these elements in the bioregion will eventually affect us.”
Bioregionalism in the Realm of Architecture by Mark Serhus
“I see bioregionalism as an emerging ideology that could save us from our social and ecological ills. If we use the uniqueness and diversity of the place in which we live and the ecological limits thereof to define our way of life a newmore whole world will come forth.”
Bringing Back the Human Place in Nature: The Revolution in Ecological Restoration by Patrick Mazza
“Three decades later ecosystem thinking is common, with the concept of ecosystem management becoming all the rage among natural resource agencies. Now ecologists, particularly those who work on the ground restoring natural systems, are drawing yet a fuller circle of inclusion, bringing the human community back into nature. That was perhaps the most resounding chord of the annual conference held by the restoration field's leading professional group, the Society for Ecological Restoration (SER), which took place Sept. 16-18, 1995 in Seattle.”
Comprehensive politics of ecological transformation by Patrick Mazza
“So what is the story here, local and global? It is almost easy to comprehend, though because the message is difficult many shrink from the task. To a growing degree, the fruits of science and technology are becoming more powerful. Those who control the technology are accumulating vast and concentrated powers that translate to political, economic and social control. They have formed a global system centered in states and corporations that is displacing or submerging virtually every competing form. Resistance is coming from both traditional cultures and those in modern culture who realize that concentrated power stunts human development and destroys biological life. But the onrush of the juggernaut increasingly suggests that we will have to go through much devastation before the we succeed in making deep and systemic changes. It almost appears that only the blows of highly visible failure can displace the system's grasp.”
Ecology and Community: The Bioregional Vision by David McCloskey
“Bioregions answer the question: decentralize to what? What common ground can we return to? It cannot be either ethnic groups or the arbitrary political units of states and imperial structures, but must be natural regions. What kind of natural regions? Bio-regions. In an age when the very ground itself is being pulled out from under us, there must be an ecological base to society, and therefore the answer is: decentralize to bioregions.”
Place-Based Knowledge and Science by Bruce Goldstein
“Science is as indispensable to bioregionalism as it is to medical practice: it informs the bioregional diagnosis of society's spiritual, cultural, and ecological illness and enables bioregionalists to write their prescription to restore ecological and cultural health. Yet despite this allegiance to science, many bioregionalists have expressed reservations about scientific institutions, practices, and even the basic epistemological foundations of science. As heirs to the back-to-the-land and appropriate technology movements of the 1960s and 1970s, many bioregionalists question whether scientific experts provide the only dependable source of knowledge about natural and cultural processes (Aberley 1993; Snyder 1994; Haenke 1996). The epistemological alternative that underpins this resistance to the exclusive authority of scientific knowledge is "place-based knowledge" (see Appendix B for a description of place-based knowledge). Leading bioregionalists call for the movement to cultivate a ". . . grounded, authentic, local knowledge rather than abstractions, diversity and decentralization rather than standardization and centralization" (McCloskey 1996).”
Planetary Sustainability: The Neighborhood Connection by Patrick Mazza
“Among those who peer into the future there is increasing agreement that global ecological sustainability will be the key issue of the 21st century. An issue tied to virtually all others, achieving sustainability can seem an overwhelmingly huge task. Yet for building a system that lives in harmony with the earth, some of the most effective actions available are at the neighborhood scale.
Global sustainability is directly connected to building a new kind of neighborhood economics, one that makes the most efficient possible use of what is present in the neighborhood, from land and buildings to human skills and solar energy. At the heart of this new economics is the principle of positive feedback, closing holes that drain energy out of neighborhoods by creating all kinds of new relationships and connections within neighborhoods.”
Putting "Bio" in Front of "Regional" by Peter Berg
An introduction to bioregionalism by the founder of San Francisco’s Planet Drum Foundation
Reinhabitation and Ecological Restoration: A Marriage Proposal by Freeman House
“Contemporary humans are not only the doctors, but we are very much the patients, too. The roots of the word health are the same as the roots for the word whole. The health of anything must be considered in the context of the health of the whole, and we don't have the luxury -- the time -- to act as if ecosystems and the human cultural responses that are an active part of them are anything but parts of a seamless web of being. There is no separate existence.”
Reinventing Citizenship: The Practice of Public Work by the Center for Democracy and Citizenship
“Reinventing citizenship as the productive serious practice of public work requires recognizing that politics is the everyday activity of problem solving and building our environments -- not a narrowly professional or partisan activity but part of our everyday lives in our public institutions. We call our overall framework and philosophy public work. Citizen politics or civic organizing, is a method for organizing and change that puts citizens at the center. This publication further explores these concepts and practices.”
Linking San Francisco
“Many of the 7th graders in the bi-lingual classes at San Francisco's Denman Middle School students are recent immigrants from the Philippines. They have difficulty adapting to American culture and learning to speak English, not to mention learning in English.
But just down the street is St. Mary’s Adult Day Health Care where neighborhood senior citizens, most of whom also emigrated to America years ago, have other difficulties, such as frailty, alienation, and boredom.
Together, however, the seniors and the students help fill in each others’ gaps, proving the value of school/ community collaborations. That’s the aim of Linking San Francisco, a partnership between the school district and some 30 non-profit agencies that seeks to connect classroom learning to meaningful community service.”
The Ecozoic Era by Thomas Berry
“The Cenozoic period is being terminated by a massive extinction of living forms that is taking place on a scale equaled only by the extinctions that took place at the end of the Paleozoic around 220 million years ago and at the end of the Mesozoic some 65 million years ago. The only viable choice before us is to enter into an Ecozoic period, the period of an integral community that will include all the human and non-human components that constitute the planet Earth.
The first principle of the Ecozoic era is recognizing that the Universe is primarily a communion of subjects, not a collection of objects.”
Manifesto: The Mad Farmer Liberation Front by Wendell Berry