Environment in Review // Volume 1, Issue 7

Our bi-weekly Environment in Review (EiR) is loaded with inspirations and solutions for social and ecological well-being, ranging from national initiatives to community projects.

Morning fog and clouds move through the hills above Lake Sagami in Fujino, Japan | photo by P.M. Lydon
Morning fog and clouds move through the hills above Lake Sagami in Fujino, Japan | photo by P.M. Lydon

California’s Push to Save Wild Salmon, with Beavers
Salmon are an unfathomably important species. Particularly in the pacific northwest, scientists have proposed that the very existence of salmon is required to prevent wholesale collapse of entire ecosystems. Local, state, and federal agencies have been on the case for years now, but there’s a learning curve, as many efforts have not seemed to pay off as expected. As YES! Magazine reports, California is stepping up their efforts to create more natural ecosystems for the fish. All of this is in attempt to bring back species that are literally on the brink of extinction. To do it, these agencies are often turning to nature itself, realizing that animals such as beavers can help make the job easier and cheaper “A lot of the wood replacement we’re doing now … the beavers would do for free” says aquatic biologist Eric Ettlinger. Here’s to naturally tiered creek beds, beaver ponds, and a rebounding of the salmon.

Bike Traffic Jams? Bring ‘em On.
During the past year in Copenhagen, one of the bicycle capitals of the world, an average of 265,700 bicycles entered the city every day. This marks a growing trend, reports The Guardian, and is the first time on record where bicycle trips surpassed car trips in the city. The surge is so enormous, that the city recently installed digital information panels to help cyclists avoid traffic jams.

A Tree with 500 Twitter Followers?
Patrick Barkham wrote a nice piece about communities standing in solidarity with their trees in the UK. The issue revolves around the government’s decision to hire out a private company to manage the city’s trees. The thought was that a private company could do a cheaper job of trimming and maintaining the trees than could the city. Well, cheaper is what they got; the company decided it was most cost efficient to simply cut down all the old trees instead of maintain them! The result has been outrage, but also an outpouring of love for the trees, with individuals taking to the streets to save their trees, and putting a halt to the uncalled felling. The trees out here are kind of getting the rock start treatment, one of the trees reportedly has 500 Twitter followers.

In UK, a Conference on Harmony in Food and Farming
Long time advocates of balanced farming systems that regenerate our environment instead of deplete it, the Sustainable Food Trust are holding an international forum on food and environmental justice. The conference is embracing speakers from multiple disciplines, not only farmers and ecologists, but business people, artists, and architects will be featured. Such gatherings, where different kinds of folks from different backgrounds come together around the issue of the health of the land is happily becoming more common. It looks like we’re figuring out that building bridges and removing walls is really a good thing. The same organization also recently released a series of short films called “Farm Stories” that are worth a look for those interested to see and hear from real world farmers who are tackling issues of ecological wellness on their farms.

American Mayors, Governors (and Billionaires) Pledge to Uphold Paris Agreement
In response to Donald Trump’s withdrawal from the Paris Agreement, the governors of California, New York, Oregon, and Washington, along with 211 city mayors are pushing back and taking actions into their own hands. The local and regional leaders have reaffirmed a committment to take environmental action. California Governor Jerry Brown quipped “We will resist this misguided and insane course of action. Trump is AWOL but California is on the field, ready for battle.” The state has set a legally-binding goal of 50-percent of its energy from clean sources by 2030, and 100-percent by 2045. The city of Portland is committed to 100% renewable electricity by 2035. Former New York City Mayor, Michael Bloomberg told the public “Americans will honor and fulfill the Paris Agreement by leading from the bottom up – and there isn’t anything Washington can do to stop us” and then pledged $15 million, to cover the funding that would be lost when the U.S. pulls out. The public are speaking their minds and taking actions for justice and for an equitable future. In great irony, it seems as if each negative action taken by the American president, is matched by opposite, positive actions at the community, city, and state levels.

As for us at SocieCity, we are happy to report that we’ve just returned from the East Asia Global Citizen’s Gathering in Fujino, Japan (that’s where this month’s photo comes from!) The gathering is hosted yearly by a network of grassroots organizations in China, Japan, Korea, and other nations who are working towards social and ecological wellness, goals close to our own hearts. We were invited by the organizers to show Final Straw: Food, Earth, Happiness, and to conduct our Nature Mandala workshop. The most fond takeaway from this event for us, was to see that despite the threats and madness that our governments might be tossing at each other, the citizens of these countries 1) are still doing amazing things, and 2) can still come together to share, learn, and help each other create movements from the bottom up in our countries, and across boarders.

It’s times like these that we are reminded of the need to keep the spirit of social and ecological justice in our actions and in the community around us, to make efforts whenever and wherever we can, and importantly to share and learn openly with others, even those we might otherwise be in quarrel with. I am reminded of this last one particularly, because everywhere I look recently, I see that those who are taking this course are continually adding stronger and stronger fibers to their tapestry, strengthening their solidarity, and spreading the reach a collective movement to the places it needs to go.

Thank you for reading this issue of Environment in Review. See you again in a few weeks time, and until then, don’t forget to send your tips and thoughts to director@sociecity.org on what’s happening in your area of the world so we can feature them in the next issue!

Yours in Nature,
Patrick M. Lydon and Suhee Kang

SocieCity | www.sociecity.org
Final Straw | www.finalstraw.org

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