For a few years now, I have invested time and energy into cultivating native plants and removing invasive, non-native ones – as a paid worker, an unpaid volunteer and a recreational gardener. My reason for this work is that native plants are beneficial to the local landscape but threatened by invasive plants, a notion well-supported by scientific research and further endorsed by many governmental initiatives. While I sense that the American public is becoming increasingly aware of the economic and ecological threats that some high-profile species pose, I’ve encountered various reactions to how such species are removed, especially when pesticides are involved. I want to better understand the complexities of invasion ecology so that I can advocate for smart natural resource management. But I must admit, I harbor a certain uneasiness about the dichotomy of “native vs. non-native” that is so prevalent in invasive species discourse, and believe some reflection…
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Hosting experiential art events in urban nature, I have learned a few things:
1. Time spent in “nature” with our non-human neighbors is deeply beneficial–linked to significant health benefits ranging from reduced anxiety and depression to lowered risk of cancer and heart disease.
2. Even small and wounded patches of wildness have the capacity to heal and to be healed.
3. The increasingly fast and virtual nature of our everyday realities is disastrous to our bodies and to the body of the earth. Tuning into our senses and enjoying the sensations of the physical place that we occupy has profound spiritual and political implications. These experiences inspire a sense of belonging and compel me to defend the sacredness of the earth. By contrast, time spent online and rushing from meeting to meeting leaves me feeling too passive and drained to follow through on purposeful work.
4. The urgent environmental issues that we face have their roots within our psyches. In order to “fix” the world out there, we must work to heal the wound of separation within ourselves.
These realizations led me to enroll in a forest therapy guide program offered through the Association of Nature and Forest Therapy Guides and Programs. I am excited to host my first forest therapy walk with fellow guide-in-training Ryan Harroun and collaborator Julia Sosin! On Friday, October 25, 2019, our forest therapy walk will occur in Palmer Park in Detroit, Michigan, as part of the Great Lakes Bioneers Detroit (GLBD) Conference.
The GLBD Conference will bring together people who are working for a more just, lively and beautiful world–youth and indigenous activists (such as Mishka Banuri and Casey Camp-Horinek, respectively), along with local ecologists and neighbors–sharing a mission to make their yards and cities wilder and more hospitable to life. Come, find your people, and together we will change the world. To register to attend the Great Lakes Bioneers Detroit Conference, please visit their website.
Registration takes place from 8am until 9am on Friday, October 25 in the Detroit Mercy Student Union (4001 W. McNichols Rd). Buses to Palmer Park depart at 9:30am and return at 11:45am.
Join us at sunset in Detroit’s Rouge Park to discover the sights, sounds and living beings of the riparian zone and floodplain. A microscopic home movie will be projected after dark and Julia Sosin will help us identify some of what we see. Also, participant collected field recordings will be mixed into a soundscape with the help of Ben Christensen! Come discover the amazing abundance of life that usually exists just beyond our perception.
Bring a camping chair or blanket to sit on, a flashlight and dress for being outside. 🙂 RSVP HERE.
Saturday, June 9th 3-5pm
Join us on Saturday, June 9 for a walk into a precarious wetland on the brink of development for an intimate engagement with soil and clay. This two-part workshop will include an examination of soil profiles for evidence of hydric characteristics (a prerequisite for the state’s preservation of wetland sites). The soil profiles will yield information that will be used to advocate for the protection of this lush urban wild space. We will also sculpt the clay bodies into aesthetic and utilitarian objects to be fired at a second workshop to be held at TYMPANUM in Warren, MI on June 30, 2018. We will meet at Steinhauser Park and then walk to the site. See ya soon!
The landfills became swollen with an unknown substance and the earth continued to rebound from the last ice age, resulting in the surprising emergence of rolling hills covered with weedy turf grass, burdock and Queen Anne’s lace. The roads and parking lots fractured and crumbled like the crust atop a creme brulee. The homogenous strip malls went untended and could be heard screeching and moaning as they collapsed onto the new horizon.