Image: Wikimedia Commons / Public Domain
Aldo Leopold was a conservationist who made important natural surveys of the Colorado River region in the early 20th century. His observations, and the stark warnings he made about the wanton misuse of resources and interference in its well-established eco-systems are a relevant prophecy today:
“Do we not already sing our love for and obligation to the land of the free and the home of the brave?,” he asked. “Yes, but just what and whom do we love? Certainly not the soil, which we are sending helter-skelter down river. Certainly not the waters, which we assume have no function except to turn turbines, float barges, and carry off sewage. Certainly not the plants, of which we exterminate whole communities without batting an eye. Certainly not the animals, of which we have already extirpated many of the largest and most beautiful species. A land ethic of course cannot prevent the alteration, management, and use of these ‘resources,’ but it does affirm their right to continued existence, and, at least in spots, their continued existence in a natural state. In short, a land ethic changes the role of Homo sapiens from conqueror of the land-community to plain member and citizen of it.”
What would he say to the fact that the Colorado is now so vastly overdepleted from supplying some of the world’s fastest growing metropolitan & agricultural centers in regions that could never support such populations?
Wherever natural crisis occurs, human disaster is not far behind. That’s the cycle that Leopold recognized. His investigations, and the development of engineering works on the Colorado, are detailed in a new book from anthropologist/ethnobotanist Wade Davis. It reminds me of Timothy Eagan’s excellent work on the Dust Bowl, “The Worst Hard Time,” in its bleak forecast of needlessly repetitive history.
Wade Davis is an author & National Geographic resident explorer, better known to many of us through his tv documetaries delving into the daily lives & traditional philosophies of indigenous peoples.
So, in case you haven’t seen the amazing photo reblog from earlier this week – or noticed the newest addition to my blogroll – I just had to to mention my new favorite blog. It’s a hub for the camera magic of Canadian programmer, part-time photographer and mountain hiker Patrick Latter. Canadian Hiking Photography (as its obscure and enigmatic name might suggest) is devoted mostly to the vistas of Canada’s mountains, lakes, and woods as seen from a trekker’s point of view (though it’s not limited to gorgeous northern scenery).
It’s always great to stumble on a site that can grab your attention over and over because its content stands head and shoulders above the rest; let’s face it, the blogosphere is grossly over-blogged and seriously bogged-down with information overload. But these photos are consistently and refreshingly stunning – every time WordPress sends the latest post to my Inbox, I know it’s going to be good!
For anyone who’s interested, photographic prints of the artwork on the site are available from Smug Mug.
Check it out:
Patrick Latter – Canadian Hiking Photography
Here’s an interesting site with a good compilation of stories & biography on influential American Indian women (and I’m not talking about Pocahontas and Sacajawea). Lots of great resources and multimedia, courtesy of the University of Nebraska.
I have to tell you about one of my favorite websites – this one is bound to interest the Rebecca’s Wild Farm fans among my readers.
Hotel Posada del Valle is a guesthouse with organic farm & gardens, located in the Picos of Spain’s northern coast. While I haven’t yet had the pleasure of visiting Asturias, it’s been fascinating to read about the development of this project by British couple Nigel & Joanne Burch, who bought and restored the property a number of years ago.
Using practical, sustainable methods of land management they have made their hardscrabble lot into an oasis of wildflower meadows, orchards, and vegetable gardens where they host travelers and tourists from all over the world. As a grower myself I can appreciate the incredible effort they make promoting renewable farm management, heritage seed & livestock varieties, and traditional practices of husbandry that have fallen by the wayside in favor of more convenient and “commercially viable” technology.
With a “work-in-progress” attitude, they’ve combined a lot of elbow grease with experienced local knowledge and a nature-first approach that respects the land and encourages renewable efforts in the community. A quick look at the results of their work give a fine example of just how rewarding and bountiful these methods are.
Their website offers some very excellent information about permaculture and sustainable farming, loaded with pictures and descriptions of their grounds and the practical concerns of maintaining them (and glimpses of the stunning coasts and mountains of Asturias). They also keep a great Blog which is updated often. Whether you’re a full-time farmer, a part-time gardener, or just a nature lover, please take a moment to look at their pages and share them with a friend.
I finally received a response from the BBC production team on the matter on whether a dvd edition of the documentary Rebecca’s Wild Farm (also A Farm for the Future) will be commercially available. They replied that at present there are no plans in motion for producing the dvd’s – but they will refer it for consideration.
I strongly encourage anyone interested to contact the BBC directly at firstname.lastname@example.org and petition for a commercial release. If they know just how much of a following this excellent resource has, it might promote a positive response.
“Whether the noble Indian is shedding a tear for a 1960s’ environmental public service commercial or being saved by the great white hope Captain John Smith in the recent Disney movie Pocahontas, hints of self-pity and romanticism continue to haunt American Indians in film. While Hollywood no longer portrays American Indians as painted and uncivilized savages, waving tomahawks and scalping the innocent European settlers, contemporary movies maintain the stoic `Indian’ image smothered with sentimentality…”
This installment of video-photo essays by Syracuse Post-Standard photographer John Barry explores the winter traditions of the Onondaga nation.
Iroquois people are no strangers to winter weather – their upstate New York homeland gets more than its share of frigid temperatures and snowfall.
Below: Throwing snow snakes and mud cats is a favorite traditional winter sport for Iroquois guys.
Schoolkids make visits to senior citizens to help with chores and errands and share stories, bonding the two pillars of Iroquois society: the children and the elders.