Veggies Punching Above Their Weight

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PHOTOGRAPH BY ERIC HELGAS FOR THE NEW YORKER

When scanning the hard news, feature stories, reviews and profiles we are on the lookout for stories that address any of a group of themes, generally related to better treatment of the planet we live on. We are interested in creative approaches to making better human treatment of the natural world more likely, more palatable, so to speak. After reading this article about magnificent results from modest parcels of land cared for by relatively common folk, we see a parallel theme in this restaurant review; it qualifies:

DINING FOR THE MODERN HERBIVORE

“Vegan” evokes two images: judgment for abstemious virtue or scarcity on meat-centric menus. Neither happens at Ladybird.

By Jiayang Fan

…Of some two dozen tapas, the most successful were the least expected and the most unassuming. The olives and cornichons—perfectly pert, coated in seasoned rice flour and gently fried in chili oil—proved to be the kind of addictive nibblers that make you forget the etiquette of communal dining. Continue reading

If You Happen To Be In New York City

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SPENCER FINCH LOST MAN CREEK

October 1, 2016 – March 11, 2018

SPENCER FINCH TO CREATE A MINIATURE REDWOOD FOREST IN THE HEART OF DOWNTOWN BROOKLYN

See the website of the exhibit at Public Art Fund for this description and more:

Lost Man Creek is a miniature forest. But rather than growing naturally and of its own accord, this undulating landscape populated by some 4,000 Dawn Redwoods is a recreation. Artist Spencer Finch partnered with the Save the Redwoods League to identify a 790-acre section of the protected Redwood National Park in California. Significantly scaling down the topography and tree canopy heights, he reimagined this corner of the California forest for MetroTech at a 1:100 scale. While the original trees range from 98 to 380 feet – taller than the buildings that surround the plaza – the trees in the installation are just one to four feet in height. Continue reading

Magnificent Ecological Services From Modest Parcels Of Trees

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Eve Lonnquist examining trees on her property with Logan Sander, a consulting forester. Credit Leah Nash for The New York Times

An excellent article, whose title says it all, in the Science section of the New York Times this week:

How Small Forests Can Help Save the Planet

By

BIRKENFELD, Ore. — Eve Lonnquist’s family has owned a forest in the mountains of northwest Oregon since her grandmother bought the land in 1919. Her 95-year-old father still lives on the 157-acre property. And she and her wife often drive up from their home just outside Portland.

But lately, Ms. Lonnquist, 59 and recently retired, has been thinking about the future of her family’s land. Like many small-forest owners, they draw some income from logging and would like to keep doing so. But they would also like to see the forest, with its stands of Douglas fir, alder and cherry, protected from clear-cutting or being sold off to developers. Continue reading

An Unusual Travelogue

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Publishers’ blurbs are sometimes much better than the sound of the word blurb would imply, and anyway I always trust them more than I could possibly trust Amazon’s tricky sales methods. Reviews in trusted publications are best, but they take much longer to read; this blurb has my attention, especially after pondering two decades of life online:

For Erik Reece, life, at last, was good: he was newly married, gainfully employed, living in a creekside cabin in his beloved Kentucky woods. It sounded, as he describes it, “like a country song with a happy ending.” And yet he was still haunted by a sense that the world–or, more specifically, his country–could be better. He couldn’t ignore his conviction that, in fact, the good ol’ USA was in the midst of great social, environmental, and political crises–that for the first time in our history, we were being swept into a future that had no future. Where did we–here, in the land of Jeffersonian optimism and better tomorrows–go wrong? Continue reading

Smart Reading, 20 Years On

screen-shot-2016-09-26-at-10-09-24-amThere is a 5-10 minute read in the upcoming issue of the New Yorker that helps put two decades into a narrow but interesting perspective. 20 years ago I was in the process of moving my family to Costa Rica for a job I had accepted one year earlier. I remember the period described below, which could be considered the transition to life online, as we now know it. Odd to think it was happening just as we moved to a kind of Garden of Eden. Slate has been a part of “life online” ever since. I was mainly drawn to Kinsley, one of the sharpest of thinkers and communicators. He is long, long gone from Slate. But the experiment was fruitful; Slate is alive and well even as the media landscape is oversaturated with copies of copies of copies:

TWENTY YEARS OF SLATE

The digital magazine’s founding editor-in-chief and his successors got together to survey its history and its contributions to online journalism.

It’s been twenty years since Michael Kinsley, the former editor of The New Republic, undertook a novel adventure: the creation of a magazine, underwritten by Microsoft, that was to exist primarily in what was then known as “cyberspace.” “There will be efforts to update it, perhaps on a daily basis,” the Times noted, in a report that appeared below the fold on page D1 of its issue of Monday, April 29, 1996, two months before the launch of Slate.

Recently, Kinsley, who was the editor-in-chief of Slate from 1996 until 2002, and his three successors—Jacob Weisberg, David Plotz, and Julia Turner—gathered in Washington, D.C., to record a podcast: a five-way conversation with Josh Levin, the magazine’s executive editor. It was a nostalgic and forgivably self-regarding celebration of what Turner characterized as Slate’s “smarty-pants, curious journalism, opinion, and analysis.” The editors posed, grinning, for a group photo. Continue reading

Fly-Fishing In The Rockies

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Scott Tarrant is the fly-fishing manager at the Broadmoor resort and hotel in Colorado Springs. Credit Ryan David Brown for The New York Times

We always think we have the best occupations, but occasionally we see what someone else is doing and start having second thoughts. But, as we know, there is a reason why it is called work:

The Curative Power of Water, Waders and a Fly Rod

 As told to

Scott Tarrant, 46, is manager of fly-fishing at the Broadmoor, a resort and hotel in Colorado Springs. Continue reading

National Park of the Week: Ruaha National Park, Tanzania

As Tanzania’s largest national park, Ruaha National Park boasts of untouched and unexplored ecosystems at the center of Tanzania. The 20,226 sq km park is the watershed between the Mzombe and the Great Ruaha rivers, with a distinctive escarpment, above which are large stretches of miombo woodland. Below lie undulating plains of dry bush country to treeless grasslands, swamps and evergreen forests, all with sand rivers intersecting through them. Continue reading

It Is About The Roses

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We find it difficult to resist stories of restoration, and when it involves a former convent we have a particular reason to be interested (as we attest below); the article had us at the mention of Patmos, one of our favorite islands, but there is more:

Restoring a Run-Down Convent in Tuscany

A mother-daughter duo brought back to life a centuries-old house in the countryside.

By

For 60 years, a 16th-century Franciscan convent designed by the Florentine architect Antonio da Sangallo the Younger, a creator of both the Palazzo Farnese and the Villa Madama in Rome, had existed in a state of abandoned decrepitude. Situated on the edge of the town of Pitigliano, in southern Tuscany, with vegetation engulfing its cloisters, the house had no electricity, almost no running water and no windows. It was exactly what the mother-and-daughter duo Holly Lueders and Venetia Sacret Young had been looking for: “the perfect ruin.” Continue reading

Down An Amazing Rabbithole

Yesterday’s post got us looking through the MacArthur Foundation’s website, and lots of worthy material there to investigate, including this news we missed a couple months back. In some ways the findings are intuitive, and maybe seem not surprising; but the scientific evidence of the challenges facing biodiversity on the planet are certainly useful for policy planning, not to mention strengthening our resolved commitment to entrepreneurial conservation:

screen-shot-2016-09-25-at-3-23-18-pmMost Biodiverse Countries Spending the Least on Conservation, Study Finds

biodiversity-200.jpg.580x580_q85.jpgCountries that contain most of the world’s species biodiversity are also spending the least on a per-person basis to protect these natural assets, according to a MacArthur-supported study by theWildlife Conservation Society and the University of Queensland. Countries near or in the tropics, where most of the world’s diversity is located, spent the least on biodiversity conservation. The report recommends engaging leadership of these countries and promoting conservation through existing social traits within cultures that do not currently prioritize conservation.  Continue reading

Beadwork Worthy Of A Genius

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Political beadwork.

We enjoy this time of year when the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation “Genius” grants are awarded, since they invariably make for great reading, and usually great viewing or listening as well. Here is another one, thanks to Quartz for this summary and short profile to accompany the images of this recipient’s work:

Photos: The jewelry and sculptures about racism and sexism that earned Joyce J. Scott a MacArthur “genius” award

Lila MacLellan

A beaded necklace is an unlikely place to find a narrative about race, history, and slavery, says Lowery Sims, curator emerita at the Museum of Arts and Design (MAD) in New York. But that surprise factor is part of the allure of Joyce J. Scott’s art. “Technically it’s breathtaking, it’s intimate, it’s intricate—but it’s also a very powerful statement about the world and some of the issues we face as human beings,” Sims says. Continue reading

Beauty Is A Beast

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Culling could undermine the viability of the entire Norwegian wolf population, say conservationists. Photograph: Roger Strandli Berghagen

We love sheep, and sheep farmers, and shepherds, and wool, and so on. But we cannot read this without feeling more sympathy for the wolves, at this moment:

Norway’s wolf cull pits sheep farmers against conservationists

Norway’s recent decision to destroy 70% of its tiny endangered population of wolves shocked conservationists worldwide and saw 35,000 sign a local petition. But in a region dominated by sheep farming support for the cull runs deep

Elisabeth Ulven and Tone Sutterud in Oslo

Conservation groups worldwide were astonished to hear of the recent, unprecedented decision to destroy 70% of the Norway’s tiny and endangered population of 68 wolves, the biggest cull for almost a century. Continue reading

Better To Have Fizzled Than To Have Never Tried

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Hikers on Blencathra, in the Lake District in England. Two years ago, ramblers, climbers and hill-lovers banded together to try to buy the peak, but the effort has now fizzled. Credit Phil Moore for The New York Times

We admit to being partial to the idea of rewilding, as we have come to know about it, which we admit is limited; but with our bias for restoration of wildlife habitat clearly stated we find this story worth sharing:

In English Lake District, Tradition and Conservation Clash

By

THRELKELD, England — It was to have been a grand gesture, a deal that would transfer a mountain in the fabled English Lake District from the landed gentry to those who roam its heights, reversing a centuries-old pattern of ownership by the upper-crust few. Continue reading

Bring Back The Green!

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The Allegheny National Forest is absent from Google Maps (right) but displayed on Apple Maps (left). Apple & Google/Screenshots by NPR

We lose more than enough green in the real world, so when the cartographical world starts compounding the problem, we must shout in protest:

Where Did National Forests Go? Green Spaces Disappear From Google Maps

Erin Ross

If you looked at Google Maps this week, you might have noticed something strange: less green. Continue reading

Bees, Status, Survival Of The Fitted

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A rusty patched bumble bee, under consideration for listing as an endangered species by the US Fish and Wildlife Service, pollinates a flower in Madison, Wis. Rich Hatfield/Reuters/File

The CS Monitor has an article today that raises an interesting question, whether the same rules that have worked well for eagles, owls, fish, wolves and bears (among other animal species) would be effective for the humble bumble bee and other similar creatures. We see a very good fit between the problem, which we have noted here frequently, and the solution, whose track record is not perfect but it is clearly the best mechanism we’ve got:

Could putting a bumble bee on the endangered list save it?

By Weston Williams

The past several years have not been kind to the humble bee.

But perhaps none suffer more than the rusty patched bumble bee, orBombus affinis, a fuzzy insect with a rust-colored patch on its abdomen. The bee used to be a common sight across the Midwestern United States, but now, the bee struggles to survive in a habitat broken apart by increased farming and commercial development.

The US Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) is proposing to list the bee as endangered, which would grant it significant protections and hopefully save the bee from extinction. Continue reading