Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Healthy People, Healthy Profits, Healthy Planet

This is the title of our upcoming MELA (Midwest Ecological Landscaping Association) Conference at the Chicago Botanic Garden on February 28, 2008.

I know I should put in the sexy shot that grabs you all, but being contrary, I will instead post an image of what happens when we don't pursue these principles (deforestation in the Highlands of Guatemala).

But since I am an optimist, I have also included a picture of the ways we can help achieve better health through practicing "Triple Bottom Line," a commitment to sustainability in terms of people, our planet, and socially-responsible business practices. What you see here is a Guatemalan teenager I help support in terms of education through the organization Common Hope. Girls in Guatemala have an even harder time staying in school when the family can't make ends meet. And being a former teacher, of course I believe that education is one of the tickets to success. This is separate from the reforestation project I work on in Guatemala. Updated Earthways Annual Report will be on line soon!

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Anderson Japanese Gardens

I am long overdue on a promise to a few people to post some images of Anderson Gardens in Rockford, Illinois. One is a plant person and so he will be disappointed that I mostly photographed hardscape. It was an unseasonably warm October Day and so the plants had not yet changed into their dramatic finery. Plus, our timing had the sun high and bad for photographs. My friend, the sculptor, Joyce Blunk, will remember the textures of gravel, stone & bamboo fondly. More about her amazing art another day.

Monday, January 7, 2008

Unseasonal Weather

A week ago we had snow and below-freezing temps. Today's record high, broke the century-old record when we hit 60 degrees this afternoon. Not only is thunder rumbling, but a tornado watch is in effect. Meteorologists say a tornado has never been sighted near Chicago in January, but North near Rockford, we seem to have broken that record too.

Just way too funky for my taste, global warming or not. The poor plants are having to endure a roller coaster ride of freeze/thaw and possible eventual demise. Not to mention opportunistic diseases that creep in. Meantime, people (at least those quoted in the TRIB) seem to love it and are buying ice-cream. Well, this doesn't even subscribe to the Swedish dictum that you can eat ice-cream if the sun is shining...Bah humbug!

I looked through my photos to see what I was doing a year ago. At approximately this time in 2007, my mother and I were on an art vacation in NYC. The weather was also warm, in the 50s. From our B & B, I photographed the roof-top garden next door: you can see some conifers barely peeking over the edge.

Saturday, January 5, 2008

Earthways & MELA

(Image of
Achiote in medicinal garden in Casaca, Guatemala)

As I write project reports for Earthways regarding our support of the AFOPADI project in Guatemala, I am reviewing material on-line. Here is a resonating quote from the "Founder's Letter" by Andrew Beath at Earthways:

Economics can not come first. Economic decisions must be woven with ecological wisdom. To paraphrase Gary Snyder from his book, Earth House Hold, the word "ecology" means the planet as a "house and home" . This context should be the underlying essence of all economic decisions. We have polluted our home out of ignorance. Will we continue to spoil our nest? How will we be truly nurtured? The children of the planet are suffering.

I mention it because Andrew's words fit so well with our upcoming annual MELA Conference, "Healthy People, Healthy Profits, Healthy Planet."

Please join us!

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Julbock and Bighorn Sheep

Lovely snow graced New Year's eve. We woke this morning to see the form of one of my favorite trees, Ostrya virginiana (American hophornbeam), etched in white. It is just beyond the snout of one of our several Julbocker or Swedish Yuletide goat. There are several interpretations as to the history and function of the goat in Swedish culture which you can find on the web.

The straw goat's horns remind me of the bighorn sheep featured in the current book I am reading. It is EATING STONE: Imagination and the Loss of the Wild by one of my favorite writers, Ellen Meloy (I rave about her book The Anthropology of Turquoise on my website homepage).