Sympathy For The Devil- Lady Mantis In The Garden

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Female Mantis on Mexican Honeysuckle (David Newsom Photography, All Rights Reserved)

A little while back, I wrote about the decimation of the Monarch butterfly population in my garden at the hands of a Chinese Mantis.  Well, behold the lady in question, all three inches of her. With huge spiked claws 1/3 her body length and wide-set eyes with a binocular field of vision, this non-native, invasive lady is built to kill.

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Detail- Female Mantis on Mexican Honeysuckle (David Newsom Photography, All Rights Reserved)

And so, as much as I hate her for her impact on the already struggling Monarch migration, I must admit, she’s terrifyingly cool to stare at…especially given the hair raising way she stares back.

Leonardo DiCaprio Speaks Simple Truth to Power-

Just great stuff. DiCaprio’s speech to the UN is clear and simple and true. The science is in. Local, state and federal agencies must now begin taking aggressive steps toward reversing global warming. Contrary to what many seem to think, it’s not God’s will, it’s us. Creating greenspace, reclaiming green space, adopting “Cap and Trade” policies, fining big business, and funding alternative energies are doable and critical.

SEBASTIO SALGADO- “GENESIS” PHOTO EXHIBITION – A POWERFUL AND URGENT CALL TO ACTION

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From the series, “Genesis”, copyright: Sebastio Salgado/Amazona Images

Earlier this week, I spent two hours in mid-town Manhattan, wandering Sebastio Salgado’s moving and inspiring, GENESIS EXHIBITION at the ICP. Salgado, if you don’t know him, is a renowned documentary photographer who left the hallowed roster at Magnum Photos in 1994 to hang his own shingle, alongside his wife, Lélia Wanick Salgado, at Amazonas Images in France. GENESIS is the third in a series of major, multi year projects Salgado has produced, starting with WORKERS in 1993. Prior to now, Salgado’s work has largely focused on the lives and working conditions of people in 3rd world countries. Continue reading SEBASTIO SALGADO- “GENESIS” PHOTO EXHIBITION – A POWERFUL AND URGENT CALL TO ACTION

Creating Green Spaces from Landfill – The New Utopia?

I have been accused of being earnest and an idealist. The implication being I’m some sort of shiny-eyed optimist who believes we can mitigate humanities ravages of the planet by making everyone plant milkweed for butterflies. But I promise, get a few beers in me and I’ll happily launch into a dark rant about the genocidal and suicidal leanings of humanity. No animal on earth is better built for self-destruction than us. But, focusing on oblivion is not a healthy use of this sensitive Pisces’ time. And now, with Niko in the mix, it would be downright selfish. Seriously, only an asshole would bring a kid into the world without focusing on, and trying to create, tools for a sustainable tomorrow.   Because I own a home in environmentally challenged Los Angeles, I tend to focus large and small scale projects that have the ability to radically impact our overall quality of life, promote biodiversity and rebuild greenspace wherever possilible.  So logically, I’m thinking of Staten Island…

Continue reading Creating Green Spaces from Landfill – The New Utopia?

5 Lessons The Los Angeles River Restoration Project Can Take From The High Line

Sian and Niko Check in with the Bee Population of The High Line
Sian and Niko Check in with the Bee Population of The High Line

My wife writes on a TV show that shoots in New York City. Twice a year or so, she needs to be on set for about 3 weeks. Up until Niko was born, this meant I got to wander Manhattan and Brooklyn, eat a lot of food, and meet old friends for drinks. Post-Niko, I can’t wheel around so freely. Luckily, the 26th street entrance to the High Line Park is three blocks away from where we stay, and I’ve taken to walking the length of it daily. I’m not alone. The staggering success of this post-industrial eyesore turned iconic city park is renowned world-wide, and evident from the throngs of locals and visitors alike wandering it’s 1.5 mile length, cameras pressed to faces, shooting in all directions, rain or shine.

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The High Line- Looking South from 28th Street Area

Floating above Chelsea, The High Line sublimely removes you from, and gives you a richer context for, the city you are in. It reminds me of the utopian designs imagined by Buckminster Fuller, of a city living in balance and harmony, saved by smart, conscious design. From its forested start at Gansevoort Street all the way to wild weeds of 31st Street, The High Line has a singular ability to constantly reframe Manhattan historically, architecturally and, most important from my perspective, naturally. Among all that the High Line is, an often overlooked thing is plant and animal habitat on a scale I didn’t think was possible in Manhattan. From spring into fall, the flowering plants of the High Line are vibrating with pollinators like honey bees, wasps, Monarch butterflies and Swallowtail butterflies, to name a few.

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Heading South on the High Line from 31st Street (Section #3)

This is all by design, of course. Not surprisingly, the radical re-invention of this abandoned rail line has made Chelsea one of the most desirable neighborhoods in Manhattan. And yes, for that very same reason, it has rabid detractors, but even they are a reflection of the parks huge draw. The question is, is the High Line an exportable park model, and if so, how? It’s hard not to look at this river of grass, concrete and steel and think of my adopted home, Los Angeles, and the saga of the LA River. Continue reading 5 Lessons The Los Angeles River Restoration Project Can Take From The High Line

Kicking And Screaming: Lessons From A Colicky Kid

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In Nature, transformation is a given. Picture the caterpillar or the tadpole, and the butterfly and frog come quickly to mind. People too, need to transform to grow, but some do this less elegantly than other. Take me, for example:

Months before we could feel our daughter doing parkour inside Sian’s belly, we had talks about what hip, badass parents we’d be. We swore we’d stay fun. We’d be the sort of parents who strapped on the kid and went to dj parties at Barnsdall, played music and danced into the wee hours while the baby slept swaddled in a sea of friends’ coats piled on the bed. Then Aniko was born, and she, as it turned out, had come with her own trajectory.

Continue reading Kicking And Screaming: Lessons From A Colicky Kid