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

Seeds on Ice: Svalgard Global Seed Vault and Saving Honeybees


A few weeks ago I heard a wonderful interview on Fresh Air with Terry Gross of National Public Radio. She interviewed Dr. Cary Fowler, who is known as the "father" of the Svalbard Global Seed Vault. His vision to create a repository of seeds such that they could be preserved and routinely released and propagated to keep biodiversity alive, is legendary.

Interestingly, he mentioned that sometimes he receives hate mail and has had his life threatened as some folks think he might be trying to hoard the seeds. But he reiterates time and again, that the purpose of the seed vault is to preserve them and share them for now and future generations.

He also mentioned that he had received a snarky remark as it relates to pollinators. The person who contacted him said something along the lines, "why save the seeds without saving the pollinators first."

And Dr. Fowles responded by saying, "Well, I thought I would save that for you to do." And he is so right! Not any single individual can save the whole world. But individual peoples, can work together to create and save great things.

What I found even more interesting is that Dr. Fowles mentioned the bee genetic repository that is in the works by Dr. Steve Sheppard and Dr. Brandon Hopkins at Washington State University. Dr. Hopkins is the leading expert on cryopreservation of honey bee drone semen and his efforts will live beyond his own lifetime.

I am so very proud to know both Dr. Sheppard and Dr. Hopkins and to be working alongside them to help preserve, conserve and share healthy honey bee stock with American beekeepers and beyond.

As my research under their tutelage develops, I will keep ME News readers posted....though we are in a pollinator crisis, the future is hopeful. Here is a link to more info about the Seeds on Ice book by Dr. Cary Fowler. And here are some links to several articles and a slide show in which I share information about "Bees as Seeds"- which discusses the quest and process to find, select, and share quality honey bee stock lines that are naturally resistant to pests and diseases; and that are adaptable to varying climates.

Bees and the AgroEcosystem [PDF]

Gathering Liquid Starlight from Many Flowers

SeedBroadcast Journal

Melanie M. Kirby is a professional apiculturist, honeybee breeder and consilience researcher based in New Mexico. She considers herself to be a seed saver — with the bees as the seeds — by finding and sharing quality stock lines with beekeepers around the nation and globe. In her spare time, Melanie makes honey wine and exquisite medicinal hive products and beeswax arts. Connect with Melanie at Zia Queen Bees and Rocky Mountain Survivor Queen Bee Cooperative. Read all of Melanie’s 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.

Environmentally Festive: The ‘Beloved’ Way to Mitigate the Environmental Impact of Festivals


Right now we are in the heart of festival season. You might be reading this article in your home or office, but somewhere not too far away, people are festivaling.

People in Wisconsin are tossing cow dung around in the "Wisconsin State Cow Chip Throw and Festival." In Austin, they are doing Lord knows at Eeyore's Birthday Party Festival. And from the sounds of the Underwater Music Festival in the Florida Keys, some people are dancing the drowning fish dance (oh you know the move, you put your hands on your ears and pretend like they're gills).

And as millions of people from all over the world are uniting with their tribes to commune, learn, and celebrate their common goals and ground — there is an environmental dark side to these human gatherings.

Cue scary music: From the millions of plane tickets bought to attend festivals, to the emissions from millions cars, to all the human and non-organic waste produced from a summer’s worth of festivals — we run into the classic clash of our current times — how do you consciously plan or consciously attend a festival without comprising your commitments to Mother Earth?

How Beloved Answers the Environmental Question

The environmental question is especially stirring if you work on a festival like Beloved near Tidewater, Oregon. The ostensible purpose of this gathering is to raise consciousness of its attendees. So Beloved is held to and holds itself to a high environmental standard. That leads to some great top to bottom implementation of practices that are a plus for the earth.

Elliot Rasenick is the founder of Beloved. As the festival enters its tenth year this summer, his festival has adopted an environmentally realistic set of policies, goals, and procedures.

"You have to be realistic and thorough, putting the environment at every level," Elliot says. Beloved works to maximizes environmental learning opportunities for attendees in conjunction with reducing environmental impact. Beloved looks at the real impacts it will have on the environment, works to minimizes those, and sees the festival as a classroom. For all attendees, there is exposure to some really cool environmental practices.

It's an environmental "practice" because it's never perfect. But a festival that has a mindset capable of leading its attendees to green lifestyle choice? That should be worth some Facebook hearts! A festival getting this type of  green buy-in could cause its attendees to produce less waste during the festival than they otherwise would have at home. And this deserves some more Facebook likes and hearts.

I caught up with Elliot from Beloved to discuss what he's doing to make a better festival for the environment. His perspective, insights, and policies are applicable to anyone planning and attending festival or large scale human gathering.

Environmental Guidelines for Festivals

Be Honest About Your Festival's Environmental Impact

“There is a core dishonesty many festivals have about the true impact they have on the environment," Elliot says. "If we are to truly do the best we can in working with the environmental problems Beloved creates, we first need to outline all of the impacts our festival has on the environment and then work from there to mitigate these."  And don't even get Elliot started about the tremendous dishonesty at the heart of GMO corn compostable products some events use to toot their green horn.

Eliminate Single-Use Petroleum Products

One of the ways Beloved has worked to reduce its impact is to work with its food vendors to implement a program that uses reusable dishes and utensils. This program has the impact of a reduction of of tens of thousands of single-use plastic plates and utensils which would otherwise end up in a landfill.

See Your Festival as a Model for Cities

We can create the solutions we wish to see in the world within our festivals. Running a festival is like being mayor to a large city — festivals are models of cities. Elliot says it's important to "Grasp how choices that humans make impact the environment [on this scale]."

When asking the general question, "How can we do better as human beings in cities?" we can implement solutions on a city's scale within our festival. Festivals aren't playing around here. They have the opportunity to prove something on the grandeur human scale. Diligent counties across the country ought to take note of the festivals finding working solutions to the problems they too face.

Think of Festivals as Classrooms to Teach Environmental Living

Beloved is aware of the opportunity of having the full attention of some 3,000 attendees over four days. They have a huge educational opportunity on their hands that they want to see played right. One of the ways Beloved does this is with its 5-stream waste management system that puts the food waste compost on site and front and center.

Experience is the best teacher. Beloved wants waste to be not just something you get out of site, but something its attendees understand. There is no better place to teach this lesson then on the toilet. "We're shitting in freshwater and using the forest to clean ourselves, when we should be shitting in the forest and using clean water to clean ourselves," Elliot says, making me hope my editor at Mother Earth allows this quote to hit print.  "These are usable materials that need to remain usable materials – and this festival is an opportunity for us to educate the population about this reality."

Currently 70% of all human waste is going into compost toilets and being put to a useful purpose. By 2018, Elliot plans to work with the county to bring this number up to 100%.

Environmental Consciousness Encouraged at All Levels

At Beloved, environmental consciousness has been handed down to all levels. From the grounds crew, to purchasing department, to the management team — everyone is looking at how they can do things environmentally better.

Keep Your Festival in Nature

Beloved occupies a patch of land near Tidewater, Oregon which was clear-cut 25 years ago. So part of the responsibility that Elliot feels his festival has to this land is to return it to its natural state. "My dream is not just a festival that mitigates its negative impacts, but one that is regenerative to the land it holds.

Eliot sees his festival as being part of a natural environment (as opposed to paving over paradise to put up a parking lot).

What Attendees Can Do to be Environmentally Friendly Festies

Elliot hopes that if they didn't realize it already, everyone who attends Beloved will leave  "grasp[ing] that choices humans make affect the environment." He wants them to get out of a single use mentally and see that all it takes is shifting our mindset and our actions will automatically follow. He wants them to think about borrowing a tent instead of buying a cheap Walmart one and abandoning it. He hopes they'll carpool, use ride-share sites, and take public transportation rather than riding solo in their SUV.

Beloved's attendees tend to think along similar lines — how to maximize the best we can do in any circumstance — this is being a conscious human being. I'd venture to say it's a lot easier to move your body freely on the dance floor knowing you're doing the best you can for yourself and your world. Beloved as a festival provides its attendees with this inner smile.

And these guidelines and considerations are valuable for any festival or any festival goer who has that space in their heart for the planet. Let the band play, the dance begin, and may the earth smile at the efforts we've made on her behalf.

Luke Maguire Armstrong has worked in development everywhere from Guatemala, to Kenya, Uganda, and the Bronx. He lectures on topics ranging from human trafficking, economics, philosophy, creative writing, and international affairs. He is the author of the intrepidly acclaimed travel anthology The Nomad’s NomadFollow him @LukeSpartacus and read all of his 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.

Dealing With House and Garden Pests


An unpleasant surprise - a black scorpion we discovered in our bathroom cabinet.

Having lived in town for most of my life, I experienced a kind of shock when we married and moved into a little house on a plot of land. The critters that have invaded our premises over the years could form a small menagerie: we’ve had lizards, snakes, black scorpions, giant yellow centipedes, mice, rats, spiders and, of course, a whole host of insects – beetles, ants, woodlice… you name it.

At first my reaction was very visceral: grab a bottle of insecticide! Spray the creepies until they’re good and dead! But thankfully, over time I began understanding the many dangers of using chemicals, not to mention the ecological imbalance thus introduced to our surroundings. For example, poisoned mice may in their turn poison beautiful and beneficial birds of prey. So in the past few years we try hard to live in harmony with our surroundings and incorporate bio-friendly methods of pest control.

Indoors, this first and foremost means, again, good insulation. This is really very important. If there’s a large crack under the door, it invites mice to get in.

Another no-brainer is keeping counters, floors and work surfaces clean (can be a challenge in a house with kids, I know!). Trails of crumbs on the kitchen counters and under the table will attract various critters.

One natural mice-repelling tip many people swear by is placing swabs of cotton wool dipped in peppermint oil in strategic locations throughout the house. Apparently mice, which have a very sensitive sense of smell, dislike the sharp odor of peppermint oil. I tried this and, in fact, never saw traces of mice inside the house again, but can’t say if it’s thanks to the peppermint oil or to the two kitties that came to live with us at the same time period.

Speaking of cats, I really must say that ours are by far the most effective tools of pest extermination we’ve ever tried. They will go for snakes, large beetles and, of course, mice (but never chicks, as they’ve been brought up with chickens and see them as companions). I’d encourage every homesteader to have a couple of good cats around.

Owls are also fantastic when it comes to getting rid of mice. In our old house we used to have a barn owl that made our yard her territory, and from seeing dozens of mice scurrying around the chicken coop to pick up remnants of feed, we soon went to noticing almost none at all – she just picked them all off. You can try to encourage owls to come and live near you by providing suitable nesting boxes.

We also acquired some humane mouse traps which allow catching a mouse intact and re-locating it far enough from the house, but this can be time-consuming if you have a lot of mice.

In the garden, our chickens are fantastic about picking up all sorts of bugs, caterpillars, grasshoppers and centipedes, but this is a double-edged sword as they also love to snack on our precious plants. So this is a balance we constantly seek to improve, but there’s no doubt we get a good measure of bio-friendly pest control from our chickens. I’ve heard guineas are even more effective for this purpose, especially in picking off ticks.

Anna Twitto’s academic background in nutrition made her care deeply about real food and seek ways to obtain it. Anna and her husband live on a plot of land in Israel. They aim to grow and raise a significant part of their food by maintaining a vegetable garden, keeping a flock of backyard chickens and foraging. Anna's books are on her Author Page. Connect with Anna on Facebook and read more about her current projects on her blogRead all Anna's 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.

Philadelphia Story: An Ambitious Campaign to Spread Opportunity into All Corners of the City


For decades the “Philadelphia Story” was about steady economic decline. That story is being rewritten today as many Americans rediscover the advantages of cities — inviting public spaces, rich cultural diversity, and a creative environment that fertilizes startups and attracts talent.

Young people, in particular, have moved here in droves, realizing they can enjoy the same kind of urban amenities as New York, Washington, or Boston. New Americans immigrating from other nations also contribute to the city’s growth. But so far, Philadelphia’s comeback is limited to certain parts of town.

“We have one of the highest infusions of Millennials coming here, but also some of the highest rates of poverty and economic segregation,” observes Parks Commissioner Kathryn Ott Lovell.

Reimagining the Civic Commons

Refusing to accept these disparities as inevitable, local leaders formed the Reimagining the Civic Commons initiative three years ago to show how growing prosperity can be spread more widely throughout town — a strategy now being applied in Chicago, Detroit, Memphis, and Akron.

Philadelphia’s early efforts show promise that urban revitalization does not inevitably translate to dislocation, in which lower-income people are shoved away when neighborhoods bounce back economically. The stark boundaries — rich vs. poor, black and brown vs. white — begin to break down as people share parks, trails, libraries, nature centers and other gathering places.

Philadephia’s Civic Commons campaign began as a partnership among two foundations — William Penn and Knight — working with nonprofit organizations, city staff and citizens to improve public assets like parks and libraries. The idea is that strengthening these civic commons — which means places belonging to everyone — can lay groundwork for economic and social opportunity in surrounding neighborhoods.

This is not doing something for the community, it’s with the community, stresses Shawn McCaney, Executive Director of the William Penn Foundation. “Everyone doesn’t walk away when the last brick is laid. The people living in these neighborhoods have been involved in this work, they own it, and they are the people who will protect and steward these projects.” 

“Investing in civic commons is one way we can improve the city for everyone. Studies show how better public spaces improve crime and economic development,” adds Ott Lovell, who was in the thick of Civic Commons planning as Director of the Fairmont Park Conservancy, a civic group supporting public parks.

“When you make a place more inviting, it helps out local businesses, it creates healthier communities, it changes the way people relate to one other.”

Projects to Expand the Civic Commons

 Philadelphia’s Civic Commons  focuses on five public spaces shared by the whole city, which are located in or near disadvantaged communities: 1) a nature and youth leadership center being built by Audubon Society and Outward Bound; 2) an urban trail connecting 10 diverse neighborhoods; 3) a new bike and pedestrian path linking America’s oldest botanical garden with the rest of the city; 4) a cluster of three recreation facilities on the site of Philadelphia’s 1876 World’s Fair; and 5) a library expansion and new park in the heart of racially mixed neighborhood.

With the promise of these projects beginning to shine, the City of Philadelphia is launching a major expansion of the civic commons by investing $500 million to reinvigorate parks, libraries, playgrounds and recreation centers.

Called Rebuild, the program is a cornerstone of Mayor Jim Kenney’s goal to “move all of Philadelphia’s neighborhoods forward” — and paid for in part by a new tax on sugar-laden drinks. It’s notable that while “soda taxes” have been rebuffed elsewhere (including Michael Bloomberg’s unsuccessful push in New York City), linking the tax to the popular idea of strengthening civic commons got the bill passed in Philadelphia — the first big city to do so.

 “Civic commons are valuable assets that we already own and want to reimagine for the benefit of everyone,” explains Carol Coletta, who helped start Philadelphia’s Civic Commons initiative while at the Knight Foundation and now leads Reimagining the Civic Commons as Senior Fellow at the Kresge Foundation.

Launched last year by the JPB Foundation, Knight Foundation, Kresge Foundation and Rockefeller Foundation working in partnership with local funders in Philadelphia, Chicago, Detroit, Memphis and Akron, Reimagining the Civic Commons’ mission is “to foster community, social mobility and economic opportunity by creating experiences and spaces where people of all backgrounds can exchange ideas and address common problems while making cities more environmentally sustainable in the process.”

“What can people do together that they can’t do alone?” — that question is the essence of the civic commons approach to revitalizing neighborhoods, says Coletta.

Tonetta Graham stands beside a new reservoir being opened to the public to use in Philadelphia.

Civic Commons in Action

Here are Philadelphia’s five original civic commons projects, now in various stages of planning or building:

Discovery Center: Reclaiming a Community Gathering Spot for Everyone

A 37-acre man-made lake in in Fairmount Park, fenced off for decades, will become Discovery Center — an education resource jointly run by the Audubon Society and Outward Bound offering nature and leadership programs for youth from across the city.

The nearby Strawberry Mansions community — a low-income area where handsome Victorian homes stand next to vacant lots — is working with the Discovery Center and Fairmount Park Conservancy to ensure local people feel welcome at the new $18 million facility.

“It’s going to reengage a generation of park users,” says Tonnetta Graham, president of the Strawberry Mansions Community Development Corporation.  “And we are working to see that it will spark more private investment in our neighborhood without gentrifying it.”

The Rail Park: Connecting 10 Diverse Neighborhoods

Construction has begun on this one-of-kind park, transforming an abandoned rail line into a landscaped community space that runs three miles along an overhead viaduct, then through a tunnel and open-air cut beneath the streets.

The Rail Park was conjured by artist Sarah McEneany more than 30 years ago, when she moved into the area. She shared the idea with friends and neighbors, slowly building support for a vision that many initially dismissed as pie-in-the-sky. One of the people she convinced was Melissa Kim, who worked with the Asian Arts Initiative at the time.

“It’s a diverse area with homeless shelters and high rise lofts, Chinese families and artists,” Kim says. “The Rail Park can offer an amenity for people in these neighborhoods connecting them with each other and the rest of the city.”

Bartram’s Mile: Opening Up an Urban Oasis to the Community

Tucked away on the Schuylkill River lies Bartram’s Garden, the oldest botanical center in the Americas, founded by naturalist John Bartram (a close friend of Benjamin Franklin’s) in the early 1700s.  Every year, this 45-acre sanctuary attracts more than 50,000 school children and nature lovers from across the region. But until recently, lower-income people living nearby in Southwest Philadelphia seldom stopped in to explore its gardens, woods and riverfront.

“Local people tell me they thought it was just for gardening enthusiasts or that they did not feel welcome,” explains Bartram’s Garden Director Maitreyi Roy.  But that’s changing with new programming and the just-opened Bartram’s Mile, a riverside walking and bike path. When a rail bridge refurbished for bikes and walkers opens next fall, connecting Bartram’s Mile with heavily traveled bike trails on the other side of the river, Southwest Philadelphia “will be just a 20-minute ride from the Center City on park trails,” Roy says.

Centennial Commons:  Recovering History, Reviving a Neighborhood

Centennial Commons commemorates the first US World’s Fair, which celebrated the 100th anniversary of the Declaration of Independence, attracting 10 million visitors  and introducing bananas, popcorn and Alexander Graham Bell’s telephone to Americans.

A grand stone gateway and the fair’s art gallery, now a Children’s Museum, are all that’s left of the historic 1876 event in what’s now a sleepy corner of Fairmount Park.

The area is generally empty — except for the museum, which is pricey for neighborhood residents — because there’s not much to do here. The Fairmount Park Conservancy is working with the community make Centennial Commons feel more inviting. Initial plans, drafted after months of community-driven discussion, call for traffic calming on busy streets bordering the area, new landscape architecture and three deluxe recreation areas with climbing structures, nature attractions, a sprayground (think playground crossed with water park) and ice skating rinks.

Neighborhood residents will be hired to work on the project and receive mentoring to help them climb the ladder in the construction trades.

Lovett Library & Park:  Strengthening a Community Hub

The Mount Airy neighborhood in northwest Philadelphia — which is about 60 percent African-American and 30 percent white — is recognized as one of the most stable racially integrated communities in America. The Lovett Public Library has long been a spot where the whole community comes together — a distinction that is sure to increase next fall with the opening of a library addition featuring a larger children’s section, increased technology capacity, improved ADA accessibility and a teen center.

The library grounds will be upgraded into a full-fledged park, creating a lively civic center for Mount Airy.

Philadelphia’s Lessons for Other Cities 

Experiment. “We’ve had a lot of success with pop-ups,” notes Patrick Morgan, the Knight Foundation’s Program Director for National and Community Initiatives. “Let people do something and see what happens.” Because Philadelphia’s first five civic commons initiatives are lengthy undertakings, experimentation reassures communities that things are actually happening and turns up innovations that can be incorporated into the finished project.

Identify Tomorrow’s Leaders. The Civic Commons presents a prime good opportunity to “daylight” future leaders in neighborhoods and organizations, recommends Parks Commissioner Kathryn Ott Lovell.

Jennifer Mahar, director of Civic Initiatives at the Fairmont Park Conservancy, underscores the importance of recognizing “field leaders” — second and third tier leaders in community and non-profit groups. “Find ways to resource them,” she urges.

Make Sure Community Involvement Goes Deep. Philadelphia’s Civic Commons employs a number of tools to make sure grassroots people stay involved with the projects — which include forging strong connections to peers in other neighborhoods and organizations, and empowering them through new experiences and expertise. Mahar outlines three  programs in which more than 40 community organizations are involved:

• Learning Labs, in which community revitalization leaders from around the country worked with local people;
• Learning Exchanges, in which community activists across the city shared their knowledge and stories with one another;
• Learning Journeys, in which delegations of community leaders visited other cities to gather ideas and inspiration.

Never Underestimate the Power of Civic Engagement. “It’s the unmined gold in our cities,” declares Philadelphia’s General Manager Michael DiBernardinis. “That’s why we want to become the most civically engaged city in America.”

“We needed a grassroots, ground-up way of working to make sure improvements reflect what the people really want — that’s important because it’s how the community will take ownership of these places,” explains David Gould, who worked on the Civic Commons with the William Penn Foundation and is now Deputy Director of Community Engagement for the City’s Rebuild initiative.

Community engagement is the heart of civic commons work, adds Patrick Morgan.  “You don’t just invest in the places, but in the people who are doing the work. This takes the idea of engagement to a whole new level. You have an actual agreement between the city and the community around the unique needs of these places where people come together with people who aren’t just like them.”

Jay Walljasper is the author of the Great Neighborhood Book and America’s Walking Renaissance. He writes, speaks and consults widely about creating healthy communities. Connect with Jay on his website and read all of his 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.

The Broadway Gardens and Shopping Park: A Streetscape Design Vision in Burlingame, California


"I like your plan. I'd also be interested in meeting up to help develop it and get it closer to reality. I agree we need to shake up the status quo." -- AL, Burlingame

Sun-driven, people powered. Permaculture inspired. Close Broadway to foot and electronic carts and keep the existing sidewalk planter strips and trees but re-purpose the street for a greenway with play areas, concerts, picnicking and education stations.

The idea is to integrate functions that educates the community about green tech, conservation and local food production. This is a natural space for sharing ideas and exercising. A new kind of green shopping mall - that supports local businesses while inspiring shoppers from near and far! This is not the Burlingame Ave. corporate, top-down shopping sale. Consider a vision that promulgates its own future: a living place. 

From ideas generated from discussions on, residents often liked the idea but had misgivings about its impact on car access, parking and shopping. My feedback includes:

"This is, in part, a New Urbanist vision and I do realize that I am asking folks to emerge out of their old reality and build a new sustainable neighborhood."

"The Broadway Gardens and Shopping Park vision would re-engineer some streets and parking but it would also bring new opportunities for gardens, walks and education (see These details can only come with heartfelt collaborations and propelling thru the old paradigm. I put this plan out here not to be the devil's advocate but to champion a Permaculture / Transition Movement value set."

"A Greenway Runs Through Broadway" - New Myth #98

Julie laughs: "I just walked over from Peninsula and Woodside Way." I knew what she was thinking. Her late Mother would never walk anywhere, let alone to a grey-water Permaculture demo at the Broadway Gardens and Shopping Park. Folks are flying in from all over the planet to hang out with the artisans and butterfly catchers along the greenway. There are fewer cars today because people don't need them to get around. Most bike or jump-off at the adjacent Caltrain Station and stroll in.

"That fountain is powered by those solar panels up there," pointing to the shiny, repurposed roof at Walgreens. "The water in the parklet comes from the rain catchment barrel over there." The multi-use pedestrian path from Chula Vista Ave to Capuchino Ave rolls along with in a snake-like pattern with raised flower beds benches and bike racks galore; think interpretive trail. "This is the kids joy area." Instead of being isolated and corralled like a bad experiment like the tot lot on Primrose Ave, children and their parents are a part of the social fabric.

"I love how the planners and community integrate Nature with the shops and residents. Seamless. "The demo raises questions and teaches us at the same time."

Where does water come from? Is the drought still on? How can technology work for the people instead of just for the capitalists exploiting our natural systems?

The teacher has reserved the large round-a-bout space in the greenway at Laguna Ave and folks are coming from shopping stints at some of the eco-flavored shops nearby. "Hey, I have that book," she calls! "Me, too!"

After their rain making and collecting lecture, the duo nestles into a bench near Pilates ProWorks to admire the flowers and trees all around them.

"Wanna grab Granny and see the reggae gig Friday night?" "Where?" "Paloma Circle Stage." "It's a benefit for the Burlingame Avenue Merchants Association."

"I will bring some canned food to barter." "Cool beans."

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.

Win a Trip to Germany with the ICLEI COP 23 Delegation: Essay Contest Opportunity for Mother Earth News Readers

ICLEI At COP21 Paris 

Mother Earth News readers have an opportunity to tell the 194 countries committed to the Paris Climate Agreement that “you are still in” by applying by next Friday, August 4th to join ICLEI USA in November at COP23.

As a follow up to the #WeAreStillIn campaign, ICLEI USA is announcing a campaign to support a people’s delegation to COP23, the 2017 Conference of the Parties organized under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). COP23 will take place in Bonn, Germany, from November 6-17, 2017.

The nations that have signed on to the Paris Agreement will attend COP23 to continue implementation of the Agreement. ICLEI is the only city network accredited as an observer to the UNFCCC and is the focal point for the Local Governments and Municipal Authorities (LGMA) working group — giving us the unique opportunity to amplify the voices of the individuals and communities that inspire local leaders to act.

Apply by August 4 to Join the People’s Delegation to COP23

The people’s delegation will represent U.S. communities from a variety of perspectives — environmental justice communities, small cities, large urban areas, and youth will be chosen through an essay competition to highlight the needs and stories of climate action in the U.S.

Apply now if you want carry your communities’ concerns and commitments to COP23 in Bonn, Germany from November 7-10, 2017. The campaign will support one delegate in the following categories, with two delegates from environmental justice:

Residents from Small Cities/Towns/Local Governments: Communities with a population less than 100,000

Residents from Large Urban Areas: Metro population over 1 million

Environmental Justice: Communities disproportionately affected by race, class, and other factors in facing climate change impacts

Youth: Persons age 25 and under (birthdate at time of application)

Open: Anyone currently living in U.S.

Essay Prompts

1) This is an opportunity to speak on the topic of climate change to the global audience on behalf of US communities. In what ways do you represent your community and what perspectives can you bring to COP23? How have you contributed to climate action in your community? (500 words max)

2) There are many pressing climate mitigation and adaptation challenges that need to be overcome, with impacts that affect communities in disproportionate ways. What is your vision for an innovative and inclusive climate policy? (500 words max)

Submit your essay application here by August 4, 2017. Semifinalists will be chosen by ICLEI staff and finalists will be chosen by public voting at the end of August.

Funding Campaign

ICLEI is leading a crowdfunded campaign via Generosity to raise $17,500 ($2,500 per delegate and one staff person) to cover travel costs for the selected delegates. All semi-finalists will be expected to assist in the crowdfunding process by sharing and promoting the campaign.

The final number of delegation positions available will depend on success of fundraising. Delegates will be chosen at the end of August with the conclusion of the crowdfunding. By submitting your application, you are acknowledging that you are able and willing to travel to Bonn, Germany, in November and are committed to helping with the crowdfunding campaign. Donate here.

It is more critical than ever that a diverse and passionate delegation of grassroots U.S. representatives is present at the COP to carry the message of commitment to climate action by U.S. communities. With over 20 years of experience supporting local governments in climate and sustainability work, ICLEI USA wants to hear what’s working and what’s not working in your community from your perspective. These stories will help inform climate policy around the world and better prepare communities for climate change.

For more information, contact us at Ready to submit? Submit your essay application here by August 4, 2017.

Kale Roberts is a former renewable energy beat editor for MOTHER EARTH NEWS. He is a Program Officer with ICLEI - Local Governments for Sustainability USA, where he supports cities across the U.S. to manage greenhouse gas emissions and develop climate action plans.

What To Dо For A Snаkе Bite


Yоur bеѕt bet іѕ tо not get bitten in thе fіrѕt рlасе! If уоu see a ѕnаkе, lеаvе іt аlоnе. Almоѕt аll bites оссur whеn people try to саtсh, kіll, or mess wіth ѕnаkеѕ. Just walk thе оthеr wау and let it be. If it has entered your home, and you want to remove it but do not know how, you can purchase a humane snake trap for $30 from Amazon or you can hire a professional wildlife removal expert to humanely and safely remove it.  But, іf іt'ѕ too lаtе and you have been bitten by a snake, here is some helpful advice.

If уоu аrе dealing with аn unіdеntіfіеd ѕnаkе, thеrе are a few tips that will hеlр уоu whіlе you wait fоr medical аѕѕіѕtаnсе. First, dо nоt mоvе unlеѕѕ it іѕ nесеѕѕаrу. Mоvеmеnt wіll іnсrеаѕе heart rаtе, аnd аn іnсrеаѕе іn heart rаtе will іnсrеаѕе сіrсulаtіоn. If thе ѕnаkе іѕ vеnоmоuѕ, an іnсrеаѕе in circulation wіll spread thе tоxіn thrоugh уоur bоdу fаѕtеr.

Do not lаnсе thе ѕkіn above or bеlоw the bіtе. Thеrе is nо ѕсіеntіfіс proof that blооdlеttіng wіll rеmоvе any роіѕоn. In rеаlіtу, thе tоxіn іѕ usually wеll uр the limb by the tіmе a knife is рrоduсеd to ѕlісе thе skin. Dоіng thіѕ wіll оnlу increase discomfort. Sіmіlаrlу, sucking оn thе bite аrеа wіll bе ineffectual, рlасіng уоu іn harm's wау through іngеѕtіоn оf роіѕоn. Another common but fаlѕе tір іѕ tо apply a tourniquet tо thе аffесt еxtrеmіtу. By сuttіng off thе blood flоw, уоu rіѕk losing the lіmb rеgаrdlеѕѕ, еvеn whеn it mау hаvе been ѕаvеd wіth thе аdmіnіѕtrаtіоn оf аntі-vеnоm. Thе bіtе ѕhоuld аlwауѕ bе wаѕhеd immediately with soap аnd wаtеr tо help lеѕѕеn thе rіѕk оf ѕесоndаrу infection.

If mеdісаl саrе is over fіftееn mіnutеѕ away, іt іѕ rесоmmеndеd thаt a bаndаgе bе placed оvеr thе bіtе, аррlуіng рrеѕѕurе but not cutting off сіrсulаtіоn. Snаkе bite kits wіll оftеn hаvе suction dеvісеѕ tо use оn thе wound. While uѕіng your mоuth аѕ a ѕuсtіоn dеvісе is nоt аdvіѕеd, the benefit tо using a ѕtrоng, соmmеrсіаl, suction tооl is асknоwlеdgеd.

The еаѕіеѕt wау to tаkе саrе оf a snake bіtе іѕ tо avoid gеttіng one in thе fіrѕt рlасе. Knоwіng уоur lосаl snakes and their hаbіtаtѕ is іmроrtаnt, еѕресіаllу if уоu are interested іn hіkіng оr other оutdооr rесrеаtіоn. Wеаr аррrорrіаtе сlоthіng. In ѕnаkе соuntrу, tall bооtѕ аrе a necessity. Sіnсе ѕnаkеѕ are on thе grоund, thе most ѕuѕсерtіblе bite роіnt оn a humаn іѕ the leg. Avoid rеасhіng іntо bruѕh, ѕtісkіng уоur hаndѕ undеr lоgѕ, оr turning оvеr rocks. Snаkеѕ like tо lіvе under objects. Pоkіng fіngеrѕ іntо hidden аrеаѕ саn be hazardous. Bе watchful аnd wary.

Mоѕt іmроrtаntlу, do nоt try to handle a ѕnаkе іf іt can be аvоіdеd. Reaching fоr snakes, trying tо kіll ѕnаkеѕ, оr trуіng tо rеmоvе ѕnаkеѕ аrе аll rеаѕоnѕ people ѕuffеr from ѕnаkе bіtеѕ. Avoidance іѕ thе kеу whеn іt соmеѕ tо thеѕе scaled сrеаturеѕ. They аrе juѕt аѕ afraid оf humаn-ѕnаkе іntеrасtіоnѕ аѕ we аrе. Snakes, hоwеvеr, will аttасk whеn thrеаtеnеd, so please leave them alone to avoid conflict.

Elizabeth Gatto is a lover of wildlife and promoter of wildlife conservation. She promotes humane nuisance wildlife removal so people know it is possible to respect nature as well as maintain safety in your home. Find her at. PESTANIMAL.COM.

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