The chiltepin pepper has a special home in Santa Cruz County

After enduring a bouncy drive up a rough road heading into the Tumacacori Mountains last Tuesday morning, the group of hikers crossed a shallow rocky canyon on foot. Then, after bushwhacking through spiky desert plants and looking under trees, they found their prize: a single bright red, shriveled chili clinging to a dry chiltepin plant.

The fruit of the chiltepin isn’t always so hard to find at this spot, said Kevin Dahl, an ethnobotanist specializing in desert plants. The ...

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Tortilleria Arevalo’s secret to a healthier tortilla is Peruvian mesquite flour

Esperanza Arevalo wakes up at 3 a.m. every day to make tortillas. She sometimes receives help from her husband and sister-in-law, but for the most part, she’s a one-woman show.

Tortilleria Arevalo started with Esperanza’s father, Javier Arevalo, shortly after 9/11. At the time, Esperanza had just been laid off from her job, so she began helping her father. Years later, when Javier was diagnosed with cancer, Esperanza stepped up and took over the business.

Although making tortillas as a business ...

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Tucson’s seed library fosters food sovereignty in a desert

With help from Pima County’s public libraries, Tucsonans grow urban gardens.

In front of the Joel D. Valdez Main Library in Tucson, patrons can claim round concrete landscaping beds for free and create their own gardens with seeds from the library’s seed collection. Some of the three-foot-wide planters are festooned with exuberant jungles of squash, flowers and trellised bean plants, while others look more Zen garden than vegetable garden.

In addition to books and DVDs, in 2012 the Pima ...

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An Ecumenical-Interspecific Communion

The so-called Last Supper was not the last we know that nourished Yeshua of Nazareth and his motley crew of ne’er-do-well friends from Galilee. The other ones had fish swimming into them. For two millennia, Christians all around the planet have faithfully practiced the Ritual of the Open Table—one where everyone has a place at that table to have their hunger curbed, their thirst slaked, and their dignity respected. Other faiths have similar rites of sharing food among both friends ...

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We have the capacity to witness communities and habitats flourishing once again.

We were once told that “The world’s biodiversity is so rapidly slipping through our hands that it has become the problem we have created for which our descendants will be least likely to forgive us.”

We can now see that when we put aside our differences, “We have the collective capacity to recover varieties, species, communities and habitat types that had been on ...

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Wildlife conservation and economic use simply do not mix…

We once blindly accepted the premise that “Wildlife conservation and economic use simply do not mix. Why restore a species to its habitat, then hunt or fish it? Instead, we should take shots not with guns, but with cameras. We should protect charismatic megafauna as watchable wildlife in accessible reserves where people can see them. These flagship species that will allow “trickle ...

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Cooperative restoration strategies generate more livelihoods with live-able wages!

Economists once warned us that “Conservation will cost so much money and jobs that the growth of local and regional economies will inevitably be slowed, disrupted or diminished.”

It has become evident that “Cooperative restoration strategies generate more livelihoods with live-able wages, valuable ecosystem services and local multiplier effects. These can be done in a manner that sustains local assets and enhances regional ...

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Lasting biological conservation comes from relationships among plants, animals and microbial populations.

We once held that “Biological conservation is about the rescue and relegation of imperiled species to protected parks, zoos, botanical gardens and seed banks.”

We now sense that “Lasting biological conservation comes from restoring relationships among plants, animals and microbial populations in a gradient of habitats that all include both natural and cultural elements.”

-Brother Coyote

 

 

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Scientists, policy makers and on-ground resource managers need to be in dialogue with faith-based communities.

We once believed that “Science alone would be enough to ensure the rational management and wise use of natural resources for the public good.”

We now humbly recognize that “Scientists, policy makers and on-ground resource managers need to be in constant dialogue with ethicists, faith-based communities and culture bearers. If we ignore the need for dialogue between science and the spirit, we will ...

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We now relish that fact that People of color are not inevitably victims; they are valued leaders.

We once fatalistically asserted that “Poor minorities in urban areas and indigenous communities in the hinterlands often become the victims of hazardous wastes and other contamination. That is because they have yet to develop the economic power, political standing or environmental leadership capacity that will keep bad things from happening in their midsts.”

We now relish that fact that “People of color are ...

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Engage people of all ages in the restoration of diversity in culturally-managed landscapes.

We once felt inclined to “Write off the conservation value of disturbed, anthropogenic and cultural managed habitats as well as domesticated species. We opted for investing only in the protection of wilderness and the remaining diversity of wild, untrammeled species.”

We now feel emboldened to “Engage people of all ages, races and classes in the restoration of diversity in culturally-managed landscapes. That includes ...

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We positively re-engage people in the processes of nature, rather than isolating them!

We once presumed that “Hunting and fishing by the poor and hungry are killing off the earth’s fish and wildlife, so we have to been forced to protect nature from people in order to prevent the over harvesting that will extirpate species if left unchecked.”

Today, we are delighted by the successes that are achieved when “We positively re-engage people in the processes ...

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Co-management with local communities can level the playing field.

We once assumed that “Placing more wildlands and waters under the management authority of government agencies will allow us to avoid the tragedy of the commons.”

We must now admit that “Co-management with local communities can level the playing field. Why? Top-down command-and-control management of resources and landscapes by bureaucracies can often disenfranchise or bankrupt local communities’ capacities as long-term stakeholders.Tragically, it has ...

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Our tool kit of conservation and restoration strategies will need to offer far more options than regulation

We once passed judgement that “Destructive human behaviors need to be constrained so urgently that top-down regulation has become the most expedient and firm means of protecting the environment and saving species.”

We now concede that “Our tool kit of conservation and restoration strategies will need to offer far more options than regulation, restriction and punitive actions. Instead, we will need to unleash ...

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We need to make change happen by working with others and changing ourselves.

We once self-righteously felt “We have to demonstrate the drive to fix environmental problems others who can immediately see the necessity of doing so.”

We now understand that “We need to make change happen by working with others and changing ourselves. We need to include others in envisioning and implementing shifts toward a more inclusive set of players.”

-Brother Coyote

 

 

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Janos Wilder: A Chef’s Journey from Pizza to Paris by Way of Tucson

When UNESCO named Tucson, Arizona a World City of Gastronomy in Dec. 2015, the first U.S. city so named, it put this small desert city on the global map. It also gave a boost to one of its top chefs, Janos Wilder.

In June, Wilder, a James Beard award-winner (2000, Best Chef: Southwest), represented Tucson at a reception in UNESCO’s Paris headquarters before the annual Creative Cities Network conference. In preparation he crafted the menu at his restaurant, Downtown ...

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Activists Envision a Border Wall Made of Solar Panels

President Trump has requested prototypes for what he calls a “physically imposing” and “beautiful” border wall. This week in a meeting with congressional leaders he floated the idea of covering it in solar panels. That’s not a new concept. Quite a few people have been working on solar wall designs. Arizona author and ecologist Gary Paul Nabhan says a solar installation would create clean energy and sustainable jobs for the U.S. and Mexico. KNAU’s Melissa Sevigny spoke with him about ...

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Why is the infrastructure crumbling at an unprecedented rate? Climate change!

It is indeed amazing that a week after our President pulled out of the Paris Climate Accord and denied that climate change is real and solutions to it create jobs, he tries to turn his attention to “our crumbling infrastructure of bridges and roads.”  Why is the infrastructure crumbling at an unprecedented rate? Climate change!

Not long ago, 98 percent of urban leaders ...

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A Future in the Ancestral

Mesoamerican culinary traditions spanning millennia have influenced the gastronomic heritage of Baja Arizona.

Tacos, tostadas, burritos, sopes, menudos, cazuelas, enchiladas, licuados—the typical foods of modern Mexico that are familiar in the borderlands—are but one set of spinoffs of an ancient Mesoamerican diet.

Since the mid-20th century, two kinds of Mexican diet have been diverging from one another. One is deeply traditional—think tamales, atolespinoles, moles, tepaches, caldos, and nopalitos—while the ...

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