A Great Country Needs Healthy Air, Land, and Water to Make Thriving Communities.
It is the middle of winter. In this second year of our Great National Discontent the times are riddled with anxiety. Things look bleak. There is the uncivilized behavior and vile language, the disrespect for basic civil rights, the attacks on our free press, and the denigration of those from other lands.
These civic insults are on top of the assaults on the nation’s environmental regulations that protect our air, land, and water. The civic and environmental assaults have two things in common: first, they are from those who have little or no engagement with the civic or natural world; and two, the results lead to the same diminishment of the common good.
Restoring ecological function and integrity is to work for the common good
But there is some small reason for hope and optimism. People are still doing good things–maybe now more than ever–to aid their civic communities and natural areas. Chief among these are those of us who try to heal our wounded natural environment–people who do ecological restoration. We are still at it, and are perhaps more determined than ever to conserve and restore our nation’s ecosystems.
Here is a short photo tribute to those private citizens who volunteer to restore habitat and recover biodiversity on a few acres in their local natural areas. On this local level, the work attracts individuals who wield shovels, pruning saws, and drip torches to clear their local landscapes of pest species.
Others are attracted by the learning opportunities. Through this volunteer work private citizens learn new skills–beyond their own professions–and become restoration experts in some aspects of ecological restoration.
Ecological restoration also calls to others who spend their summer and fall weekends collecting, cleaning, and sowing native seed to restores prairies, savannas, and wetlands.
Maybe the popularity of ecological restoration–the Society for Ecological Restoration has members from around the globe–is due to the feeling that just one person really can make a difference. That feeling is personified dozens of times by the actions of individuals, working alone or in small groups across America.
And finally, many people are probably drawn to restoration work because they recognize that humans are part of nature and not an alien intrusion. They also recognize that people are part of healthy civic communities.
Restoration volunteers know that ecological restoration is about more than flora and fauna and that it is a true civic endeavor–just like such activities as serving on town boards, donating blood, volunteering at voting stations, and organizing charity events.
Our ecological communities and our social/cultural communities are linked, they mutually support and benefit each other. Without strong, frequent, and active civic engagement, our ecological, as well as our social and cultural communities will be diminished. This is the essence of working for the common good.
Civic-mindedness is needed now more than ever because the words and deeds of politicians and government officials are pulling our society apart. We all know that we are in this together and recognize that how we live, the choices we make, and how we treat the land, will determine the fate of our country and of the Earth. Let’s continue to take the high road this next year and strive for a vantage point that let’s us see the big picture. This will be difficult, and we won’t always achieve that blissful state, but we have to keep on.
Hope to see you this year on an ecological restoration project, and at the voting station in the fall.