Nature and Environment
News about the health and beauty of the natural world that sustains us.

Why Education is Critical to the Earth Law Movement


I’m a newcomer to the Earth law and rights of nature movement, which aims to secure rights for nature. My steep learning curve has given me a new appreciation for the role of education in building a movement.

The rest of the world is catching on, as well. We’ve come a long way since the mid-1850s, when the Maori tribe challenged the Crown’s impact on the sacred and “living” Whanganui River.[1] The concept of “rights of nature” has transformed from faraway battles to a concept approaching mass awareness and broad support. In 2015, Pope Francis, the head of 1.2 billion Catholics, released an encyclical on the environment and human ecology.[2] In 2017, rights of nature had its biggest year yet, with rivers earning personhood rights in India, Colombia and New Zealand – where the Maori finally won their battle to protect the Whanganui.

Despite these recent victories, the rights of nature movement has yet to reach the general public. For example, when I first joined Earth Law Center (ELC) – a nonprofit that advocates for rights of nature – none of my friends or family had heard of nature’s rights, despite being reasonably well-educated and well-traveled. “Legal standing for ecosystems in a court of law” did not get discussed over dinner.

Perhaps the cause of this knowledge gap results from the movement’s education efforts focused on specialized segments of society rather than the general public. For example, ELC’s “Earth Law” course, taught at Vermont Law School for five years, primarily targets law school students. The Community Rights Awareness Workshops and Democracy Schools designed and led by the Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund (CELDF) mostly includes residents of specific municipalities. While a critical first step, perhaps it’s time to build on that initial foundation and expand education to broader swathes of society. Doing so can help nudge us to that tipping point where rights of nature will seem inevitable and obvious.

How Can We Broaden Rights-of-Nature Education?

ELC launched several new initiatives to mainstream the movement. ELC’s Directing Attorney, Grant Wilson, is currently designing a judicial training seminar about rights of nature, sharing knowledge from recent court decisions worldwide that recognize nature’s inherent rights. True, still a specialized audience – but a new audience! ELC also created a secondary school Bottle Biosphere curriculum for high schools, intended to boost STEM learning with hands-on activities. Finally, ELC Educational Outreach Lead Lisa Curtin is reaching out to environmental clubs at universities and colleges, to give them Earth Law materials to add to their discussion agendas.

What Can You do to be Part of This Educational Drive?

Here are three things you can do to help:

Share our course: If you know of a school interested in adding rights of nature to its curriculum, let us know at We will send and help customize the course free of charge for interested administrators and teachers.

Volunteer: If you have educational experience and some spare time, ELC is seeking volunteers to match the course to different state and science standards so new schools can more easily adopt the curriculum.

Translate: Finally, if you speak another language and would like to translate, several schools in Argentina and Mexico have expressed interest, and we’d love to provide a Spanish-language version for them. Translations into other languages would be helpful, as well.

Education starts with a single conversation. Follow and share the news. Donate and support specific legal initiatives that will secure rights of nature, or contact ELC if you have a local initiative for which we can lend our expertise. Email or visit us at for more information and ideas.

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An American Mink in your Pond

American Mink

The American mink is a member of the Mustelidae family which includes the otter, weasels, skunks and badger. Adult males grow to about 2 feet long, including the 6 to 10 inch tail, and generally weigh 1 to 3 pounds.  Their natural habitat is all of North America with the exception of the southwest, like Arizona, where it is too dry for the mink to survive. 

Minks are very common here in New Jersey, and are usually found in or near water because they are well adapted for aquatic life. Their streamlined bodies, webbed feet and long tails contribute to their excellent swimming ability.  Minks are capable of swimming for up to 3 hours without stopping and can also be seen bounding along the ground and even climbing trees.  Because of this, if you have a pond on your property, a mink may find it to be an excellent habitat, much to your dismay.

As with all uninvited wild animals, their presence on your private property may be unwanted for a variety of reasons.  Minks occasionally cause depredation problems at fish hatcheries and rearing areas.  They can also take over your backyard pond as their local fishery and then create a den in your backyard by burrowing up to a 12 foot distance in your yard.  If you happen to raise chickens, they may pose a threat to your poultry supply as well.  If they do take up residence, the bottom line is that they are going to need food and a place to sleep, so they are destructive.

Mouse-like rodents and fish make up the greatest portion of the mink's diet. Crayfish are also an important food when available. Other foods include amphibians, insects, reptiles, and birds but are less common.  Most likely if they are swimming in your pond, their diet will consist of the fish you have stocked, and any other local residents such as frogs.  Minks are excellent aquatic predators and can quickly undo all your efforts at making a nice water habitat for fish.

Sometimes a mink problem is beyond the scope of the average homeowner to solve.  In some cases, professional trapping and removal is the best route.  If you do want to hire professional help, do not hire a pest control company or exterminator, who might kill the innocent animal.  They are simply looking for a place to find food and shelter.  Hire a dedicated wildlife control professional, and ask him if he uses humane control methods, such as live trapping and relocation.  To learn more about us, visit our website.

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Back to Our Roots


Why Farmer's Markets?

“Unaltered nature.” This was one vendor’s response when asked why so many people seem interested in farmers’ markets these days. “People are tired of corporate, processed foods. This is getting back to traditional nature,” he continued. Many vendors had similar sentiments. “Nothing’s ever as fresh as here.” “You get to build a community.” “It’s a better taste.” “You know where your food is coming from.”

Each of these quotes came from vendors at the 12 South Farmers’ Market, a market founded in the summer of 2011 by Ms. Mary Hyatt. The tents come up every Tuesday from 3:30 to 6:30 May through October. The market can support 36 vendors in total, both seasonal and full-time, and applications are submitted online.

The Downtown Market

The 12 South Market is one of several farmers’ markets across Tennessee, and across the country. Between 1960 and 2000, the number of farmers’ markets nationwide grew from around 100 to over 3,000. Since then, the numbers have only gotten larger. The growth shows a revival of an older kind of food-distribution system. In this system, farmers, consumers, and other producers come together to buy directly from each other, rather than going through middlemen and other retailers.

Nashville has a rich history of farmers’ markets, starting with its downtown market. The Nashville Farmers’ Market was created in the early 1800’s, where it began on the town square. Back then, market vendors would line up their wagons on the square four to five rows deep to sell their produce. In the 1930’s, however, a new Davidson County Courthouse was created, and a new Market House had to be constructed on the north side of the square. In the mid-1950’s, the Market House moved again to a new location just north of downtown on Jefferson Street. In 1995, the market was renovated, and now covers roughly 16 acres of urban land.

The Flea Market is open Friday through Sunday. There, shoppers can buy from more than 150 farmers and merchants during peak growing season (May-November), and throughout the year, they can find ranchers, dairy farmers, cheese-makers, bakers, crafters, and flea merchants, as well as farm-direct products like honey, jams, and jellies. Inside the Market House, 14 locally owned restaurants and shops offer a variety of foods to shoppers year-round, and the Grow Local Kitchen provides culinary classes and catering with fresh market ingredients. This is a bit different than its origins two hundred years ago, but as one vendor at the 12 South market said, “The farmers’ market is a place that’s always growing and evolving.”

The 12 South Farmers Market

Back in 12 South, the market I visited also had a variety of booths like the market downtown. In addition to fruits and vegetables, shoppers in 12 South could buy cheeses, meat products, pastas, flowers, candies, broths, necklaces, breads, and even macarons. There were food trucks, live music, and a craft corner under a pavilion for the children.

Before I left, I had a chance to talk to some of the vendors and learn a little more about their businesses, their history with the farmers’ market, and why they believe these markets have become so popular.

Delvin Farms is a farm right outside of Franklin. They are certified organic, and all of their fruits and vegetables are picked fresh the same morning. Their booth has been at the 12 South Market since it opened in 2011, and they also sell at the markets in East Nashville and Franklin, as well as Whole Foods, some restaurants, and their own farm store. When asked what drew them to the farmers’ markets and why they kept coming back year after year to 12 South, Amelia, a vendor with Delvin Farms, said that she likes the customers, interacting with them, and forming a connection with the community.

Brittany, an intern with Bells Bend Farms near Ashland City, had something similar to say. “It’s a more honest practice. You’re meeting the farmers, building a community. There’s more intention.” While this was the farm’s first season with the 12 South Farmers’ Market, they have been to several others, including the market downtown and the market at Richland Park. The farm sells to farmers’ markets, some restaurants, and to CSAs, or “consumer supported agriculture.” They use no sprays on their crops, and whatever is not sold by the end of the season goes to food banks, is traded within the community, or is composted.

Local Blossoms, an offshoot of the Belle Meade farm Bountiful Blessings, was also experiencing its first season with 12 South, though Bountiful Blessings was midway through its 7th. Both branches of the farm sell here at the 12 South Farmers’ Market, the St. George Farmers’ Market, and to CSAs and restaurants. The CSAs operate year round, and all of the produce sold is harvested within 24 hours. When asked why she thought there was a growing interest in farmers’ markets, Kirsten, the founder of Local Blossoms said, “People want to know where their food comes from. There’s a sense of awareness and wanting to make a difference in what you eat.” That local awareness also extends from their farm to the rest of their community. With Bountiful Blessings, no food goes to waste. What is not sold is donated to the Nashville Food Project after the market, and any excess food is given to those in need, eaten by the people on the farms, or composted.

One of the last people I spoke to was Mary Self, the marketing manager for the 12 South Market. In regard to the market, she said, “It’s really about building relationships. When you buy from a farmers’ market, you know that 99 percent of those proceeds go to the farmer. It’s more sustainable.”

So if you are interested in supporting your local community, cutting down on greenhouse gases from transportation emissions, and helping your local economy, you may consider looking into farmers’ markets. If interested, check out the “Farmers Markets” tab on the Pick Tennessee website to find one near you!

The Office of Sustainable Practices at the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation was created to advance a culture of sustainability across the department, state government and with our various partners through an action-based approach. Conserving resources and using energy wisely makes sense on a basic level: It saves money and positively impacts our health and environment today and for future generations. Connect with the Office of Sustainable Practices on its website. Read all the Office of Sustainable Practices MOTHER EARTH NEWS posts here.

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The Solution According to Transition US: Interview with New Co-Director Don Hall


"While supporting collaborative leaders and organizations had long been a special fascination of mine, this passion was further stoked by the realization that many of the new Transition initiatives I was coordinating with were struggling just to survive. I began addressing this issue by creating a 16-week course in Deepening Community Leadership, which I taught in Boulder, Colorado in 2009. However, I gradually came to realize that to be of even greater help to Transition leaders and initiatives, I needed to integrate practical, on-the-ground experience with the many powerful theories I had learned at Naropa and elsewhere-. Through all of this, I learned a tremendous amount about the complexities and subtleties involved in forming a group, raising awareness, forging partnerships, and managing large projects in a Transition context." - Don Hall

What is universal about Transition US?

Transition US is universal in that it points to a better way to live for everyone. Addressing current social, economic, and environmental challenges by growing local food systems, strengthening local economies, reducing our dependence on fossil fuels, and fostering more interdependent local communities is not just for the wealthy or the poor, people of color or European-Americans, or Republicans or Democrats. Everyone can get involved by planting a garden, riding a bike or the bus, supporting locally-owned, independent businesses, and getting to know their neighbors. Everyone has both the ability and the responsibility to be at least a small part of the solution.

What are the top 3 ways that Transition US actionizes its values?

1. The primary mission of Transition US is to support local Transition Initiatives, the groups that are building local resilience and self-reliance from the ground up every day in their local communities. We do this by providing monthly teleseminars, quarterly telesalons, in-depth leadership trainings, mentoring, and peer-to-peer learning cohorts. We also regularly highlight stories of what Transition Initiatives have accomplished through our website, newsletter, and social media, produce how-to guides on a wide variety of relevant topics, and develop programs that Transition Initiatives can easily replicate in their local communities, such as our REconomy Project or Transition Streets.

2. From the very beginning of the Transition Movement, there has been an emphasis on decentralizing power, trusting individuals to make good decisions, and unleashing the collective genius. As a result, Transition US does not seek to dictate to local initiatives what we think they should do. Rather, we encourage them to respond directly to the needs and desires of their local communities, and engage their work in Transition in whatever way works best for them. We also uphold these values on the national level by supporting the emergence of regional hubs and volunteer-led working groups, as well as through our Collaborative Design Council, a national advisory body that is comprised of local Transition Initiative leaders, representatives of regional hubs and working groups, and Transition US Board members and staff.

3. Transition is explicitly both an outer and an inner process. Drawing on insights about the psychology of change, Joanna Macy's Work That Reconnects, and effective methods of collaboration, we strive to build the conditions for external success upon the solid foundation of healthy individuals and harmonious interpersonal working relationships. We promote inner resilience by integrating Inner Transition practices into everything we do, from our trainings and teleseminars to monthly Transition US "Big Picture" staff meetings. Recently, a national-level Inner Resilience Network has taken shape, and we believe that this will serve as an important vehicle for embedding the Inner Transition even more deeply into our national movement.

I would say that our Earthly mess is first and foremost a spiritual crisis. What do you think?

I think it works both ways. One can find a sense of peace, camaraderie, and connection with the natural world simply through building the soil and growing one's own vegetables in a community garden. Conversely, by connecting with our deeper selves and following our true calling in life, one can be led into greater engagement with the healing of our world. One finds one's self caught up in a virtuous cycle as soon as one steps foot upon the Transition path.

Can you change capitalism with capitalism? What are the hypocrisies and road blocks for Transition US under "das capital?"

Transition is clearly swimming upstream against the current of our hyper-materialistic society. However, I wouldn't exactly place the blame on capitalism itself. There is a big difference between the locally-based social entrepreneurship that Transition promotes as part of the solution to our current predicament and the out-of-control global capitalism that is currently widening the gap between rich and poor, pillaging our natural environment of its finite resources, and pushing all of us towards a state of economic collapse. Both utilize capitalist structures, but their impacts couldn't be more different. Transition is not about being perfect or pure, but about constantly moving in the right direction. We all have to live in the world that we live in, and sometimes that means making compromises.>/p

What is a neighborhood?

We all know what a conventional neighborhood is, or what it has become. A Transition neighborhood would be one in which everybody knows their neighbors and all are working together to make their little spot of earth the best it can possibly be. This might involve people providing mutual support to each other, sharing garden produce, and celebrating their place through block parties and cultural festivals. Fences could come down and neighborhood associations could create policies that encourage their residents to be more sustainable and interconnected, rather than isolated in their homes, ringed by bright-green chemical lawns.

Can the community be the Hero? How?

Yes - by working together to find local solutions to the biggest problems of our day, like climate change, industrial agriculture, consumerism, economic inequality, disconnection, mental illness, bigotry, and violence. The time of the charismatic lone ranger-type hero is over. The challenges we face right now are far too massive and urgent for any of us to hope to tackle them alone. I have a quote in my email signature from Vietnamese Buddhist monk, Thich Nhat Hahn, that says: "It is possible that the next Buddha will not take the form of an individual. The next Buddha may take the form of a community - a community practicing understanding and loving-kindness, a community practicing mindful living. This may be the most important thing we can do for the survival of the earth." I believe this to be true.

What are the goals of the Transition US Collaborative Design Council?

We are currently in the process of significantly expanding the Council, so we'll know more about what its goals will be in the next couple of months, once new members have been seated. However, the Council's purpose is to connect key leaders in the national Transition Movement with each other, help shape strategy for the movement nationwide, and collaborate on projects of common interest. For example, earlier this year, the Council organized and hosted our first two-day Movement Strategy Session and Leadership Retreat that took place in Minneapolis, Minnesota and was attended by 34 Transition leaders from all over the country. We are considering holding another Movement Strategy Session in 2018, and would expect the Council to be involved in planning it. They may also choose to create committees to focus on capacity-building or communications. It's really up to Council as a whole to decide what it wants to work on.

Is sharing one of your marquee values? What are you sharing, Don?

Sharing is one of our marquee values. Almost everything in this movement is Open Source. There is no concern about copyright infringement. Moreover, the sharing economy is a big part of Transition: housing co-ops, car sharing services, tool libraries, seed swaps, etc. Transition US shares much of its knowledge and resources freely. Personally, I am involved at the moment in creating an intentional eco-cooperative house here in my hometown in Sarasota, Florida. I previously lived at the Chrysalis Cooperative in Boulder, Colorado for three years, and it is still the best place I've ever lived. We purchased all of our food together from CSAs and bulk organic distributors, prepared community dinners most nights, participated in upkeeping and upgrading the house, went on an annual retreat each year, sponsored countless cultural events, and held weekly house meetings, where all decisions were made by consensus. 14-16 people lived in one big pink house together, and it ran more smoothly than many other situations I've been in with only one or two roommates.

How does Transition US relate to the permaculture movement? To survivalism? To the anarchists?

Transition grew out of the permaculture movement. The founder of this movement, Rob Hopkins, was an accomplished permaculture teacher and has repeatedly referred to Transition as "community-scale permaculture." So there's definitely a close relationship there. I also see connections between Transition and survivalist and anarchist communities, but also with small-government Republicans and Libertarians. Transition has worked quite hard to be non-partisan from the outset. This doesn't mean that we don't get involved in politics sometimes, but we try to provide a neutral ground where people from all across the political spectrum can come together around a common cause. Even if we don't agree on everything, we can still work together on the things we do agree on. And I firmly believe that if you scratch beneath the surface, you'll find that there is more that typically unites us than divides us.

If I do not own land, how can I implement your food-related (localizing) strategies?

You could first talk to your landlord and find out if he or she is opposed to you growing food on the property. They might not be. However, if they are, you could still grow some of your own food in containers, or rent out a plot in a community garden. Furthermore, you might know someone who has land nearby that they are not using and would be happy to have you cultivate it. Beyond that, you could support other local growers by purchasing a Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) share, shopping at local farmers' markets, and investing some of your savings in a local food-related business. If you're even more ambitious, you could start a local food enterprise of your own, such as a communal kitchen, a community composting project, or an edible landscaping service. You could also work to change policies at the local level that make it easier for urban agriculture and cottage food industries to flourish. In short, there's so much you can do, even if you don't own land. Maybe the toughest part is deciding how best to get involved.

Do any new stories, songs and mythologies support your cause?

Absolutely. Authors like Rob Hopkins, David Holmgren, Joanna Macy, Richard Heinberg, Margaret Wheatley, David Fleming, Brian Swimme, Thomas Berry, Wendell Berry, Harrison Owen, Christopher Alexander, Charles Eisenstein, Bill McKibben, and countless others are pointing a new way forward for humanity through their stories and mythologies. And many of my favorite artists, such as Andrew Bird, Arcade Fire, Bob Dylan, Bon Iver, Fleet Foxes, Gillian Welch, Gregory Alan Isakov, Iron & Wine, Jose Gonzalez, Josh Ritter, Leonard Cohen, Modest Mouse, Mos Def, Neil Young, Patti Smith, and Radiohead, are singing or rapping about what needs to change in our society, as well as spreading positive visions for the future through song. So much compelling art and philosophy is focused right now on how to create a better world in the face of rapid change and disintegration, which is just as it should be.

The issues that Transition is addressing are the foremost issues of our time.

Please define resilience vs. resistance in Transition US terms?

These two terms are fundamentally interconnected, as resilience-building is a potent form of resistance to the status quo and resistance work both requires and builds resilience among those who participate in it. While Transition US is primarily focused on the former, it is clear that we need both. Joanna Macy talks and writes about three types of actions that are necessary to bring about The Great Turning to a life-sustaining society: 1. "holding actions in defense of life on earth," 2. "analysis of structural causes and creation of alternative institutions," and 3. "shift in perceptions of reality, both cognitively and spiritually." In this schema, resistance is number one, outer Transition (or resilience-building) is number two, and Inner Transition is number three. Again, we need all of them if we are to have a chance of turning this current global crisis into an opportunity for the continued evolution of the human race.

Don Hall currently serves as Co-Director of Transition US, a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization that provides inspiration, encouragement, support, networking, and training for more 160 grassroots Transition Initiatives nationwide. For those who aren't already familiar with Transition, it is an international movement focused on cultivating more just, sustainable, and conscious local communities from the bottom up by growing local food systems, strengthening local economies, and reducing dependence on fossil fuels. Previously, Don founded and directed Transition Sarasota from 2010 to 2016, organizing hundreds of educational events and spearheading a Local Food Shift campaign that included an annual Eat Local Week, an Eat Local Resource Guide and Directory, and a Suncoast Gleaning Project that harvested nearly 250,000 pounds of organic produce for those in need. A certified Transition Trainer and experienced facilitator, Don also holds a Master's degree in Environmental Leadership from Naropa University.

Willi Paul is Principal of Willi Paul Studio and founder-publisher of MagazineHe contributes interviewsarticlesnew myths andworkshops in the sustainability, permaculture, transition, sacred nature, new alchemy and mythology spaces. Connect with him on FacebookLinkedIn and Read all of his MOTHER EARTH NEWS posts here.

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Can Rivers Have Rights, Too?

 Amazon River by Yann Arthus Bertrand

My old apartment enjoyed a great view of the Hudson River, and when I walked along the river, I’d often see kayakers splashing around. I knew the river used to be polluted, but I didn’t realize that riverside factories dumped garbage and industrial waste into the Hudson for decades. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) declared a 200-mile stretch of the river as a Superfund site in 1983, one of the largest hazardous waste sites in the US. Thanks to dredging and removal of contaminated soil (funded by General Electric (GE) to the tune of $460 million), the Hudson River has recovered so much that a humpback whale was spotted in 2016 – the first whale to be seen in the Hudson River for 100 years.

But while in many ways a success story, the Hudson River also demonstrates the limits of environmental law. Another century of cleanup may be required to fully heal the river from decades of PCB contamination, and the US EPA has lagged in compelling GE to finish the job. The Hudson also suffers from new sources of pollution, especially storm water runoff. Our environmental laws, while promising “fishable and swimmable” rivers (Clean Water Act) and liability for hazardous waste substances (CERCLA), have proven slow to act and difficult to fully enforce.

Recognizing the shortcomings of these and other laws protecting our rivers, activists, judges and others across the world have turned to a new model: rights of nature – that is, granting rivers legal personhood rights. This evolution of the legal system recognizes that rivers are legal entities – no longer mere property – whose rights are enforceable in a court of law.

In 2017, the Whanganui River made headlines as the world’s first river to have legal rights, after a 140-year legal battle by a Maori tribe. The tribe has such a deep spiritual connection to the Whanganui that a local proverb states “I am the river and the river is me.”[1] The settlement also included a USD21 million fund to enhance the health and well being of the river.

Lest you think that’s an exceptional case, just five days later, a high court in India granted the Ganges River and its largest tributary the Yamuna River legal rights. The Atrato River followed suit in May 2017, also gaining legal rights recognition in the courts. The Indian court Justices noted that "the extraordinary situation has arisen since the rivers Ganga and the Yamuna are losing their very existence".[2]

Soon, the Colombia Constitutional Court followed suit, recognizing the rights of the Atrato River, which suffers from pollution associated with illegal gold mining. As noted by the court:

“(I)t is the human populations that are interdependent of the natural world – and not the opposite – and that they must assume the consequences of their actions and omissions with the nature. It is a question of understanding this new sociopolitical reality with the aim of achieving a respectful transformation with the natural world and its environment, as has happened before with civil and political rights…Now is the time to begin taking the first steps to effectively protect the planet and its resources before it is too late…”[3]

Earth Law Center (ELC) is now working to secure rights for other rivers worldwide. As a first step, ELC’s Directing Attorney, Grant Wilson, drafted a Universal Declaration of River Rights, which recognizes the following for all rivers:

1.The right to flow;[4]

2.The right to perform essential functions within its ecosystem;[5]

3. The right to be free from pollution;

4.The right to feed and be fed by sustainable aquifers;

5.The right to native biodiversity; and

6.The right to restoration.

Additionally, to put theory into practice, ELC now partners with several local organizations – including Cuatro Al Cubo and its member organizations, Organi - K, and others – to secure fundamental rights for rivers in Mexico. These waterways include:

The Magadalena River in Mexico City; The Atoyac River in Puebla and Tlaxcala;The San Pedro Mezquital in Durango, Zacatecas and Zarate.

This campaign aims to be the first to achieve fundamental legal rights for waterways in North America, setting a powerful precedent for other rivers. ELC will also work to secure one or more legal guardians for these rivers to ensure full enforcement of their rights.

Interested in joining the movement to recognize the rights of rivers?

If you want to learn how you can campaign for legal rights for a local river or else support an existing “river rights” campaign, contact Earth Law Center at Or visit us at to find which of our other latest initiatives most engages you. Also consider donating at

[4] Flows must, at minimum, be sufficient to maintain the ecosystem health of the entire river system. In addition, rivers – not people – own the water that flows within them.

[5] These include flooding, moving and depositing sediment, recharging groundwater, providing adequate habitat for native flora and fauna, and other essential functions.

Darlene May Lee is Executive Director of Earth Law Center, which works to transform the law to recognize and protect nature’s inherent rights to exist, thrive and evolve. She works to build a force of advocates for nature's rights at the local, state, national, and international levels. Connect with Earth Law Center on TwitterFacebookand LinkedIn. Read all of Darlene’s MOTHER EARTH NEWS posts here.

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Will Repellents Get a Bat Out of my Attic?

 Bat in Flight

Whаt Iѕ A Bаt Rереllеnt?

Bat rереllеntѕ are uѕеd bу many people who encounter bаtѕ in their house.  Usually the bats can be found in the attic or roof where there are entry points for the bat to come in. These ѕubѕtаnсеѕ are said to help іn kееріng thе bаtѕ away. The truth is that while sоmе оf thеm wоrk tо keep them out tеmроrаrіlу, most of them are not really effective.

First and foremost, please do not harm bats if they are in your house.  In some states, it іѕ illegal to harm bаtѕ. Nоt аll rереllеntѕ are permitted lеgаllу. Thеrеfоrе, bеfоrе уоu uѕе a repellent, mаkе sure thаt уоu dо nоt tаkе lаw into your own hands. Your best bet is to hire a professional wildlife removal company if уоu cannot hаndlе the bat issue on your own.  Remember, bats are fascinating creatures, like this one in flight and they deserve to be treated as humanely as possible. Thіѕ аrtісlе guides уоu wіth vаrіоuѕ rереllеntѕ thаt can dеtеr bats but will not be a likely solution if you have a large infestation in your home.

Nаturаl Bаt Repellent

Natural rереllаntѕ are mаіnlу uѕеd for deterring bats from returning to your house by causing an irritant in their home. They аrе рrеѕеnt іn mаnу vаrіеtіеѕ. Nаturаl repellents саn repel bаtѕ from your house without саuѕіng them harm. Hеrе іѕ a lіѕt оf ѕоmе nаturаl rереllаntѕ, which can hеlр уоu kеер thе bаtѕ away; grееn tеа, cіnnаmоn, pерреrmіnt, cоуоtе urine, and human hаіr.

The frаgrаnсе thаt соmеѕ оut оf all thе above mеntіоnеd items will irritate thе bаtѕ аnd dіѕсоurаgе thеm from staying іn their rооѕtіng рlасеѕ. Whеn уоu find bаtѕ settling in уоur hоuѕе, рlасе a nаturаl, non-toxic rереllеnt such as eucalyptus, mеnthоl, or mіnt near their nesting spot.  A vaporizer with the extracted oil will create a strong frаgrаnсе whісh gives thе bats an unрlеаѕant sensation. You need to spray thе repellent іn the аrеа multiple times and there is still no guarantee that they will be еffесtіvе! Thеѕе frаgrаnсеѕ аrе harmless whіlе аnnоуіng thе bats.  However, they just do not work, thus not a good solution for anyone.

Bаt Rереllеnt Sрrау

Sоmе bеlіеvе that spraying wаtеr саn асt аѕ a rереllаnt tо еxсludе thе bаtѕ. Thіѕ is оnlу a mуth and thе fасt іѕ thаt once thе wаtеr drіеѕ, thе bаtѕ tend to come back. Wаtеr can only irritate аnd annoy bats but will nоt hеlр уоu permanently exclude them.

Spray rереllеntѕ that are available for sale come іn сrуѕtаl, gеl аnd liquid fоrmѕ and they are mаdе оf nаturаl іngrеdіеntѕ. All the forms rеlеаѕе frаgrаnсеѕ аnd tаѕtеѕ thаt аnnоу bаtѕ tо ѕuсh аn еxtеnt thаt thеу prefer to lеаvе their roost. Again, these do not offer a permanent solution and the bat will often return.

Electronic Bаt Rереllеnt

Elесtrоnіс bаt deterrents hаvе ѕресіаl features tо adjust thе ѕоund wave frеԛuеnсіеѕ. Thе volume intensifies tо ѕuсh аn extent that the bats juѕt trу tо lеаvе. Thе еffесt саn bе around 5,000 squаrе fееt оf an area аrоund the device, which sounds really powerful!  Thе ѕоund wаvеѕ thаt еmіt оut оf the dеvісе vаrу constantly іn ѕеvеrаl patterns bеfоrе thе bаtѕ gеt adjusted tо a ѕресіfіс pattern. Thіѕ аnnоуѕ thеm and they change thеіr bеhаvіоr. You have to rеgulаrlу monitor hоw еffесtіvе the results are at eliminating bats for 2 to 3 wееks and again, there is no guarantee that this will actually work.

Bеfоrе you buу оnе, уоu need tо consider how many bats you have and hоw dіѕtаnt they are frоm your lіvіng space. If уоu fіnd that thе сrоwd іѕ nоt dіmіnіѕhіng, thеn adjust the frequеnсу and volume tо a dіffеrеnt pattern. Kеер сhесking regularly аnd make аdjuѕtmеntѕ ассоrdіnglу, till уоu fіnd аll оf them аwау frоm thе rооѕtіng area. If it doesn’t work, which is likely the case, please consider contacting a professional wildlife removal expert who can help you.


Bat rереllеntѕ are not really effective at excluding them from your home. Enѕurе that you do not start mеthоdѕ tо exclude them wіthоut knowing that there is no guarantee they will work.  Make sure what you are doing is legal and safe.  Hire a professional company if you believe you are harming bats in any way or you want to make sure the bats are eliminated safely and permanently.




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Zen and the Art of Barberry Removal

Removal of barberry

As I learn more about native plants and the many drawbacks of imported varieties, I find it necessary to thoughtfully consider my landscaping choices. This year I learned that Japanese barberry is an invasive species that is often a haven for ticks. Those points of contention along with a desire to create a seating area near my latest garden vignette (see bottom photo) were all the motivation I needed.

One friend suggested burning the remaining shrub tangle out of the ground. At that point I already had more than twelve hours of work into my slow-going pruning and removal process. Thankfully, the remnant was too close to the vinyl siding of our garage and burning it is against the law in our Ohio village so I was not unduly tempted.

I could have used quicker, more tool-oriented tactics for the removal. I opted for the meditative, methodical route because I prefer to stay present, connected, and thoughtful in each moment of such endeavors. Had I gone with one of the more normal methods, I undoubtedly would have killed more living beings than just the shrub itself and I would have much less connection to the space that will eventually be a meditative seating area.

During the journey of barberry removal, I relocated a lovely praying mantis, urged spiders and crickets on their way to safer havens, collected rocks for the companion space (my shamanic garden), and found the tiny skull of some long past mammal. I considered all manner of life questions while remaining connected to the present through the occasional thorn-puncture of my gloved fingers. I also pondered whether the bird’s nest tucked into the outer layers had fledged babies successfully, hopefully with intact eyes. I marveled at the nets of webbing covered in berries and other plant litter—proof of so much activity.

This particular shrub was in place when we moved into our home nearly twenty years ago. Through the years, I have lightly pruned it but otherwise steered clear since it was prickly and I don’t usually spend time with that sort. I enjoyed the photo opportunities it presented during winter and assumed that someone was enjoying its berries. But otherwise it has simply existed as a visual anchor plant to our garage.

Winter barberry

The entire process of removal (see top photo) took more than twenty hours. In the beginning I only worked for an hour or two due to those pesky thorn-pricks. As I worked, I was able to see how these plants grow into a tangled mass, sending up new thorny shoots throughout the shrub. I wondered as I dug and cut out the root ball whether these shrubs might be more a colony of plants rather than a single organism. I’ll have to research that one. I was very grateful that it seemed colony-like rather than having a large taproot wending its way back to the country of origin.

Perhaps one of the most important parts of my somewhat plodding removal process is that I am so present in the process and I am able to speak to the plant and its inhabitants as I work. While this piece of the journey is likely uncommon to other people, it enables me to truly commune with the natural area that I’m repurposing.

I become very aware of the energies during the process and from the area while trying to honor every part. This was especially essential in this instance since I intend for this spot to be part of an energy exchange with my new shamanic garden. I even moved most of the smaller rocks harvested during the dig over to the rain drainage part of this sister garden so that the two would be more fully connected. For me it is very important to me to honor the process and the lives that I encounter.

After I finished, I decided to move the remaining communal ball to our brush condominium. This way any animals still inhabiting can either stay within or move to the nearby haven of undisturbed homes. While I have yet to complete the work on my newly reclaimed seating area, I rest in the comfort of having journeyed thus far with honorable intention and consistently methodical thought. I look forward to a continued feeling of oneness and connection—one I have with all the other renewed spaces in my garden.

Companion garden

Blythe Pelham is an artist that aims to enable others to find their grounding through energy work. She is in the midst of writing a cookbook and will occasionally share bits in her blogging here. She writes, gardens and cooks in Ohio. Find her online at Humings and Being Blythe, and read all of her MOTHER EARTH NEWS posts here.

All MOTHER EARTH NEWS community bloggers have agreed to follow our Blogging Guidelines, and they are responsible for the accuracy of their posts. To learn more about the author of this post, click on their byline link at the top of the page.