ADMISSION: THIS IS AN OPINION PIECE, A RANT, IF YOU WILL
That said, with California stealing headlines, thanks to our historic drought, the LADPW’s offer of grass for cash here in Los Angeles feels like a win-win, no-brainer. Lose your water-guzzling lawn, and get paid handsomely to do it. One could think of it as Saving the Planet With Benefits. But the fact is, tearing up your lawn only to lay down DG and even a few paltry succulents, or worse, a gravel pee-pad, is just “paving paradise to put up a parking lot”, to paraphrase Joni.
Being a passionate environmentalist – albeit a deeply flawed one- and the father of a one year old girl presents some pretty huge challenges. It’s impossible to ignore the overwhelming onslaught of bad news regarding the natural world. It’s hard, in short, not to feel hopeless. At the same time, there’s this ecstatic, tiny, wild-woman tearing around my house, exploding with tales and adventures yet written. Her future, and the future of the planet, is not cast in stone. And the truth is, its dangerous and lazy to assume we have any idea what life on earth will look like 100 years from now. Sure, we can extrapolate, but we can’t know. Therefore, we, as parents, have to raise our kids to think- and act- beyond the current seeming reality. And to do that, we have to present working models for a new possibility, models which, in this case just might prevent global collapse. We desperately need to get beyond, “Holy shit, WHAT HAVE WE DONE!!??”, and switch into, “Ok, what can we do?” And then we have to ask, “What is our sphere of influence?” I’m not the president, and on a great day, about 20 people read my blog, so for me, the answer is simple: “Create wildlife habitat where we live.” Call it my high horse. Here’s why:
“We can reclaim biodiversity and habitats within human landscapes.”
– Thomas Rainer
That scaly fellow swaying from our coast rosemary (Westringia) is a San Diego Alligator lizard. He was kicking it in the bush midday, most likely on the hunt for the airborne critters visiting the purple flowers that bloom winter through spring. It’s been cold here for LA, and I suspect food is tricky to come by. The sighting was a victory of sorts. One year ago, our yard was a dirt hole. Now, there’s a lot of things like that lizard creeping, crawling and flying around here. The yard is alive, and I don’t mind saying, I’m proud of that fact. Turning our property into habitat has been a dream since the day we set eyes on the place. I feel strongly about this. In fact, if I could, I’d make it a law: Anyone lucky enough to own a home with any amount of land should be required to make 50% of that property habitat for the local flora and fauna. That’s right, a law, punishable by death…or…no internet access.
Caught this late-season Monarch caterpillar as he wandered along our retaining wall, into the brush, making his pilgrimage to his final transformation…Of course Sian named him “Charles”.
For reasons no one really knows, Monarch caterpillars often travel fairly vast distances away from the milkweed to pupate. Charles here was about 10 feet from the milkweed plant he had been feeding and living on.
Late season Monarch caterpillars are often darker than their summer kin. The increased width of the black bands allows them to absorb more heat as days get colder and shorter.
This Charles survived last week’s storm and dips into the 40’s, but his journey is just getting started. Later, Charles.
New York’s radical greening is becoming world famous, from the High Line to an overall, pollinator-friendly park’s initiative that is making all 5 boroughs more beautiful and more environmentally sound. Taking environmentally smart design to a whole new level, here’s an interview @ InHabit.Com with Ate Atema Architects about a bio-design idea that could radically impact water quality, CO2 emissions, and biodiversity, all in one, not-so-simple but very elegant living machine for the people of New York City.
Seth Brundle: You have to leave now, and never come back here. Have you ever heard of insect politics? Neither have I. Insects… don’t have politics. They’re very… brutal. No compassion, no compromise. We can’t trust the insect. I’d like to become the first… insect politician. Y’see, I’d like to, but… I’m afraid, uh…
When we bought our house , our yard was a sloppy rectangle of dead pomegranate trees, dried earth and a riddle of busted pipes. Sian was 6 months pregnant, so the priority was that which lay under the new roof, but my heart was focused on the yard. I was, my wife might say, obsessed. Well, I had a dream. I dreamed of creating a magical, urban jungle that my daughter could get lost in, critters would flock (or crawl) to, and friends would wander, drinks in hand, fully inspired. I dreamed of creating a habitat that would be boldly in-sync with the great Mediterranean Chaparral ecosystem that surrounds Los Angeles, and be a model for bridging man and nature in the 21st Century. Ten months later, I’m not even close. Nature, it turns out, has no regard for my wants. Continue reading Welcome to The Jungle…Hard Lessons From a Small Garden→