Two Changes for You, One for Me

In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “Singular Sensation.”

Three suggestions for nature encounters:

One) Keep an open mind.

If you are a person who is afraid of nature — of spiders, snakes, bats, bugs of all kinds — I would love it if something you read here eased that fear.  I would love to convince you to please just give wild creatures a chance.  Learn a few facts about the one(s) you are afraid of, go to a zoo and touch the animals at the educational tables.

Meeting a millipede.

Meeting a millipede.

A big millipede.  Its legs felt like tiny plastic bristles on a scrub brush.  It tickled.

A big millipede. Its legs felt like tiny plastic bristles on a scrub brush. It tickled.

Two) Provide small habitats.

Whether you are someone who has never really thought much about the nature around us, or someone who is overwhelmed thinking of the huge coordinated effort that conservation projects take, I would love it if something you read here convinced you that even small actions can build good results.

“The predictions of mass extinction are based on the assumption that the vast majority of plants and animals cannot coexist with humans in the same place at the same time.  Nonsense!  Evidence suggests that the opposite is true: most species could live quite nicely with humans if their basic ecological needs were met.  Yes, some species such as the cougar, gray wolf, and ivory-billed woodpecker are just too reclusive to become our neighbors.  But countless others could live sustainably with us if we would just design our living spaces to accommodate them.   In too many places, we have removed the food, shelter, and nesting sites needed by most species in our haste to make vast parking lots and shopping malls, lawns and soccer fields.  In no place, however, dows it have to be that way… It is not only possible but highly desirable from a human perspective to create living spaces that are themselves functioning, sustainable ecosystems with high species diversity.   -Douglas W. Tallamy in Bringing Nature Home

A post that communicates this idea beautifully is by Deniz Ortac on Geetha Ortac’s blog Conservation for the Wild.

Just do what you can in the tiniest of ways.  Leave the “weeds” in one corner of your yard, leave a dead plant stalk on your apartment balcony, maybe do a little “guerrilla gardening” in a neglected area.  Your life will be enriched by species you never noticed before, and the mini-habitats will help them survive.

Leave a few weeds where you can, and you will be surprised at the treasures that show up.

Leave a few weeds where you can, and you will be surprised at the treasures that show up.

One person's weed is another creature's host plant.  This is goatweed (croton) and a Goatweed Leafwing butterfly.

One person’s weed is another creature’s host plant. This is goatweed (croton) and a Goatweed Leafwing butterfly.

Three) Advocate in your own way

And finally, if you know advocacy is important, but you need so much solitude, and are so conflict-averse that you leave all the activism to those who must get an adrenaline kick from that sort of thing, engaging with other people and all that, because they are just so tireless about it, and you have stayed out of every political discussion for the last 50 years because after all you have better things to do — oh wait, this one’s for me.

I actually ended up at some town meetings this year, and at one of them, our local tax appraiser said that every Monday, he writes to all his elected representatives, telling them what he thinks, good or bad, of the announcements and votes they made the previous week.

Ever since, I have been thinking that that’s great, and every citizen should do something like that, but the ones that seem extremely under-represented to me are those who can’t speak for themselves.  Who reminds those officials to consider each and every plant and animal that their decisions will impact?  The big famous conservation groups are trying to save big famous species; they can’t get detailed about every species of wildlife in each district.

So that was a big reason I started this blog — to track all the species I can find in this small spot, to show the diversity I treasure, to learn more about all these creatures myself.  Just trying to build knowledge for the “someday” I would write to officials about the nature in their district has caused me to look longer and more often, to research and record data .

But I can’t hope and expect to change other people’s interactions with nature, without being willing to change myself.

So today I finally looked up all my elected officials, and I am committing  (God willing and the creek don’t rise) to write to them once a month, to remind them to please consider all of us in their decisions.

I don’t have the answers for all the issues they face, I don’t even know all the factors they have to take into account as they legislate.  But I know who I represent, and I can remind them to please remember the rich varieties of life that their districts contain.

I would love it if this planted some seeds, if it became second nature for officials to always consider the future of all of their diverse constituents.