Learning the Ecosystem Services world
|gift Spirit Wheel for Annie Johnson, retired county social worker|
PES … Having successfully completed my Practitioner Fellowship project with the Center for Collaborative Conservation at Colorado State University in Fort Collins, I was honored to be invited to give a 20-min. presentation at the University of Florida’s annual ACES and Ecosystem Markets conference in Fort Lauderdale last week. I’d never made a scientific presentation at an academic conference before … The title of my abstact (and presentation) was “A Payment for Ecosystem Services Pilot Project Surveying for Rare Plants on Private Lands.” Almost everyone at these events does powerpoint, so I kind of stood out speaking extemporaneously about my project, tossing in some poetry for good measure … My fellowship award from 2009 covered the cost of travel, hotel and the conference, so it didn’t cost county taxpayers a cent. And I probably would have enjoyed Florida’s beach, pool and amenities – except for my first cold in several years which kept me in bed for the first two or three days of the conference. But then it’s been an exhausting couple months, and I probably needed the sleep more than the workshops I missed … But I did make a lot of great contacts and got a lot of new ideas so as to start working on expanded county PES projects for 2013.
ECOSYSTEM SERVICES … As a poet, I know that language constantly re-invents itself. Every generation renames things to suit the moment’s tastes. “Ecosystem services” sounds pretty scientific and modern. But as Carol Hasburgh, a Haudenosaunee by birth and an environmental scientist with the Yukon River Intertribal Watershed Council by profession, explained at the Plenary Panel Discussion on “Native American Views of Ecosystem Services and Markets: Challenges and Opportunities,” it’s a very old concept. It really means “Nature’s gifts” … As Hasburgh and Diné elder Steve Darden noted, traditional people have long recognized and honored the gifts that the natural world provides to humans. It’s only been in the last few hundred years that Western cultures that have lost their connection to the natural world, and have ignored natural inputs into their systems of “economics” and taken these gifts for granted. Now, by giving them this new name, folks are beginning to recognize the value and importance of these gifts, and their foundational worth to maintaining the health and balance of the entire ecology of the planet … It’s about time that we as a culture attempt to quantify the value of these services within the framework of our capitalist economics and begin compensating those who provide them. I’m not sure how we can kickstart that idea in San Miguel County, but I’m really interested in trying over the next four years.
GENERATION R … I hadn’t heard this term used for the upcoming crops of leaders and followers, but – overhearing it in a conversation at the ACES conference -- I think it makes sense, and I sure hope it’s true, because the future depends upon it … Out with Generation X and in with Generation Responsible.
SHROOMFEST & KOTO … Kudos to the Town of Telluride for resolving the festival scheduling impasse between two of our best local institutions. Rather than blaming anyone, I think Pamela Lifton-Zoline hit the nail on the head – we have a structural problem … If we really want to be a Creative District, we need some entity to step in and become the table of trust where the arts community can come together to collaborate, and craft a festival season with the most impact and success for everyone … And I don’t think that’s CCAASE. They have their hands full administering the town’s arts and community funding grants.
CRIPPIN … I have to say that I was very, very impressed with Greg and Julia Crippin and the funeral home they run in Montrose along with their son. They were so absolutely helpful and accommodating, so gracious and respectful, I have to admit being overwhelmed. Mary had some special wishes that could have made things difficult, but with the Crippins, they found a way to make it work for everyone … I would highly recommend them to anyone needing sensitive and kindly undertakers to deal with at that vulnerable moment right after losing a loved one.
$100 CLUB … Sheep Mountain Alliance mounted spirited testimony at the Colorado Department of Health and Environment’s Piñon Ridge Uranium Mill hearing in Nucla’s Moose Lodge last month. I was privileged to hear retired Economics Prof. Thomas Power of Montana University, and give my own testimony as Colorado Green Party co-chair outlining our group’s problems with the nuclear cycle – suggesting that if we have to have radioactive energy it could be more wisely obtained through thorium energy, which has a much shorter radioactive danger period of only about 200 years … But it cost Sheep Mountain a lot of money to do this, and all the local governments see shrinking revenues and can’t really help. So, how about if some of us who believe the nuclear industry is the wrong answer to the real problem of our carbon footprint, join a $100 Club, and donate that to Sheep Mountain earmarked for their Piñon Ridge campaign? Who’ll match my $100?
THE TALKING GOURD
Goats graze atop garbage mounds
by side of road
Egrets eat bugs from cattle
in rice fields