Page 3 - Wild Hope - Vol 9
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“We can’t have an awareness of the beauty of the world without also [having] a
                                     tremendous awareness of the wounds. We see the old growth forest and we also see the clear cut.
                                           We see the beautiful mountain and we see it torn open for mountaintop removal.”
                                                         —Robin Wall Kimmerer, from an On Being interview

                                                               For the Love of Nature

                                The dualism of love for Nature and grief for its destruction that Kimmerer describes is an emotional edge that
                                anyone who feels kinship with the natural world teeters on daily. Recently, we received an email newsletter from
                                an environmental media publisher with the heading, “Conservation Works: at least 28 birds and mammals have
                                been saved from extinction since 1993.” Good news! This was immediately followed by a headline pronouncing,
                                “Humans Are Destroying Wildlife at an Unprecedented Rate.” Bad news. We went from joy to despair in just
                                seconds. The whipsaw of feelings brought about by these juxtaposed headlines is an explicit reminder of why
                                it’s so important to talk about hope: Because hope is the driver that transforms grief and despair into action.
                                  Grief for all the wild species and wild places that have been or will be lost can cause us to give in to despair.
                                But inertia—despair’s shadow—is not inevitable. Hope, empowered by our love of Nature, overcomes despair
                                and stirs us to mobilize. Awareness of this interplay of grief and love, despair and hope helps us sustain our
                                balance and carry on being a generative force in this world when the bad news threatens to overwhelm us.
                                  We created Wild Hope to share stories of people dedicated to defending and healing Nature and, in doing
                                so, nurture hope in others. In this issue, you’ll meet Gena Bentall, founder of Sea Otter Savvy, who saw a need to
                                protect sea otters in Elkhorn Slough from overly-enthusiastic tourists and started a campaign to educate visitors
                                about responsible wildlife viewing. You’ll meet the volunteers and staff at The Bird Rescue Center of Sonoma
                                County who saved an injured baby golden eagle that had fallen from its nest and then reunited it with its parents.
                                You’ll meet artists Angeline Chen and Kyle Block, co-founders of Global Coralition, who are building underwater
                                sculptures to re-grow coral reefs in the Dominican Republic and Thailand.
                                  You’ll also meet the people behind several community science projects, including the Seattle Urban Carnivore
                                Project, which relies on volunteers to monitor wildlife camera traps, and the global City Nature Challenge, which
                                crowdsources sightings of urban wildlife. Both projects raise public awareness of the many kinds of wildlife that
                                are living next door to us. With public safety a priority and social distancing the norm, now is the perfect time to
                                seize hope and get involved in one of these projects. Many entail collecting data independently using a mobile
                                or Web app and offer training online, making it possible for anyone to expand their knowledge of Nature, while
                                contributing to vital scientific research, even during a pandemic.
                                  In the On Being interview, Kimmerer, who is a member of the Citizen Potawatomi Nation and a professor of
                                environmental biology at the State University of New York, also says, “I can’t think of a single scientific study in the
                                last few decades that has demonstrated that plants or animals are dumber than we think. It’s always the opposite.
                                What we’re revealing is that they have a capacity to learn, to have memory, and we’re at the edge of a wonderful
                                revolution in really understanding the sentience of other beings.” At the same time, through our own nescience or
                                lassitude, we are pushing many species towards extinction. But, just as Nature adapts, so can we. If we hope to
                                stop the destruction of other species, we must start by taking personal responsibility and change our behaviors.

                                                                     Be the hope,

                                                            KATHRYN ARNOLD AND JANE PALECEK

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