Essays for Hope and Reflection

Celebrating The 50th Anniversary Of Earth Day On Wednesday’s Access Utah

Every year for Earth Day, we check in with writer and photographer Stephen Trimble, author of “Bargaining for Eden: The Fight for the Last Open Spaces in America,” and many other books. This time, Stephen Trimble suggested we also reach out to his friend, ecologist, ethnobotanist and writer, Gary Paul Nabhan.

Gary Nabhan was an intern in Washington, D.C. at the creation of the original earth day in 1970 and he’s been reflecting on Earth ...

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Earth Day at 50: How an idea changed the world and still inspires now

Coronavirus will overshadow Earth Day’s golden anniversary, but the movement’s successes are worth celebrating, says Gary Paul Nabhan

 

Earth Day, when people around the world come together to support the protection of the environment, is commemorating its 50th anniversary this year. The covid-19 pandemic will mean celebrations are muted, but it is worth looking back at its achievements and seeing if it can still make a difference in today’s world.

I was there at the beginning. In 1970, I was ...

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“Four Changes” by Gary Snyder

In July 2016, Jack Loeffler recorded Gary Snyder reading his updated version of ‘Four Changes’ in his home.  This recorded version was prepared for and included in a major exhibition held at the History Museum of New Mexico at the Palace of the Governors in Santa Fe.

The exhibition was entitled ‘Voices of Counterculture in the Southwest’, and Snyder’s rendering of ‘Four Changes’  aptly conveyed how deeply the counterculture movement helped nurture the emerging environmental movement. The impact of this manifesto ...

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Corona de Cristo in the Era of Corona Virus

forty days of fearing
the worst could be happening
worlds falling apart
hospitals filling their beds
loved ones barely breathing

towns running out of most things
they’re needing to curb the suffering—
you know—hoping, hugging, healing–

I am worrying as I hike alone
up a running rivulet Holy Saturday
grieving that worshiping together
is being altogether abandoned

while trying to climb up out of this muddy stream
I see a glowing on the creek bank above me
a wildflower, one I’m remembering
might ...

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Earth Day at 50: Towards a More Inclusive Environmental Movement

This spring, as we celebrate the fiftieth anniversary of Earth Day, many social historians are asking questions about the legacy and efficacy of what was initially known as the “environmental teach-ins.”

Does the environmental movement launched a half-century ago reflect the vibrant diversity of the American people? Does that movement address environmental justice issues that disproportionately affect people of color? Many surveys confirm that black and brown communities suffer differentially high exposure to toxics, air pollution, degraded lands and polluted waters.

When ...

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Food from the Radical Center: Healing Our Lands & Communities – Dr. Gary Nabhan

Streaming live from the Barrows Lecture Series at the Cincinnati Zoo and Botanical Garden

Wednesday, March 11, 2020, 7:00-9:00 PM (ET)

Gary Nabhan is an ethnobiologist, nature writer, and world expert on the people, plants and wildlife of the Sonoran Desert. A recipient of a MacArthur “genius award,” Nabhan was honored by Utne Reader in 2011 as one of several visionaries whose work is making the world a better place in which to live. In his career Gary has served as ...

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Walking the Line: The Cost of Lost Kinship when we Militarize Borders

I walk the line. Well, I used to walk the line, looking for desert belly flowers, rare cacti, kangaroo rat tracks, and cryptic horny toads. I walked one side of the fence while Mexican friends stationed on the other side of the international boundary did their part, six feet to the south of me.

They were in Sonora, Mexico, and I was in Arizona, the arid-most reach of the United States, but all of us were rooted in the same Sonoran ...

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Celebration of “Jerri” Wanda Mary Goodwin Nabhan Buxton – 1927-2020

As some of you can guess, I am the last person you’d want to assign to do an obituary of someone you love, so let someone else do that for Jerri & let me just say what she meant to me, many of you & what she exemplified of American life over the last century, for she was as emblematic of her times as Forrest Gump, Shirley Temple, Lucille Ball or Beyonce have been of theirs.

If you didn’t know, my ...

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Richard Nelson, Wise Child of the Wild, Flies Away on the West Coast of Salmon Nation

The only job description that fully fit with his temperament and enormous skill set was that of being in exuberant contact with the wild world.  All other job descriptions imposed on him by institutions or scholarly disciplines were side issues, or at best, springboards for getting him into the wilderness: as an ethnographer studying survival on sea ice; a field anthropologist investigating subsistence hunting; an ethnozoologist documenting traditional knowledge and values of Athapaskan fishers, foragers and hunters; a videographer, an ...

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Border Wall Construction: Imperiling Sacred Sites, Churches and Religious Freedom

Most of us have heard the devastating reports of how the new construction of a thirty-foot wall and floodlights along our southern border has begun to impact water flows, wildlife and archaeological resources long-protected by federal laws. The federal protection of endangered species, critical habitat and cultural antiquities has been waived along a three-hundred foot swath along the U.S./Mexico border. Eminent domain under the auspices of homeland security has allowed U.S. Customs and Border Patrol and Army Corps of Engineers ...

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Trump’s Border Wall: Epitaph for an Endangered, Night-blooming Cactus?

Construction is underway on a 30-foot-high steel wall along Arizona’s southern border in Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument. As several reports have recently warned, the wall will hurt many endangered desert species, from Sonoran pronghorns to cactus ferruginous pygmy owls. To understand how the wall will further fragment habitats for these already-declining plants and animals, let’s go deep with one rare species that’s at grave risk: a cactus called the night-blooming cereus.

Sacamatraca, a beautiful and rare ...

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Tariffs, AZ Dept. of Ag leave farmers barren

When President Trump initiated his trade tariff wars with China a year ago, economists warned that it could precipitate the second-worst farm crisis in a half century.

Most farmers in Arizona did not get hit as hard as those in Corn Belt states. The tariff wars alone didn’t seem to precipitate a crisis in Arizona. But last month, other danger signs began to register in the Grand Canyon State. The long-standing relationship Arizona has had with its strongest trade partner, Mexico, ...

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Mesquite Manifesto (second edition)

The recent acrimonious debates about further fortifying barriers all across the 2000 mile US/Mexico boundary line beg larger questions: Just what might make communities more stable, secure and prosperous, while providing more livelihoods as well as wildlife habitat on both sides of the border? What particular natural resources and cultural assets in the region can be utilized to offer better long-term solutions to problems perceived to be border-related?

Within the United States, southern border counties have twice the level of poverty ...

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Guest opinion: Heritage area can unite us

Arizonans were caught off guard when they heard that the Santa Cruz National Heritage Area had recently been designated by Congress and signed into law at the White House on March 12, 2019.

Suddenly, we found ourselves living in a 3,300-square-mile landscape that was nationally recognized for its distinctive natural and multi-cultural heritage.

Hadn’t a decade passed since all the communities in the upper Santa Cruz watershed pledged their support for such a designation?

By the time Tucson became the first “City of ...

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How the Santa Cruz Valley National Heritage Area Can Bring Us Together to Envision a Common Future

Were you among the many citizens of southern Arizona who were caught off guard upon hearing that a designation for the Santa Cruz National Heritage Area sailed through Congress in late February and was signed into law at the White House on March 12, 2019?

Were you surprised to find yourself living in a 3300 square mile landscape that was nationally-recognized for its distinctive natural, historical and multi-cultural heritage?

Hadn’t it been over a decade since most non-profits as well as all ...

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Talk Nerdy. Episode 246. Gary Paul Nabhan.

In this episode of Talk Nerdy, Cara speaks with Dr. Gary Paul Nabhan, founder of the Center for Regional Food Studies at the University of Arizona. They talk about sustainability, conservation, indigenous agriculture, and his newest of several books, “Mesquite: An Arboreal Love Affair.”

Mesquite is a book that will delight mystics and foresters, naturalists and foodies. It combines cutting-edge science with a generous sprinkling of humor and folk wisdom, even including traditional recipes for cooking with ...

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Build a Border Wall? Here’s an Idea That’s Better for Communities and the Climate

President Trump has declared a national emergency to fund a wall along our nation’s southern border. The border wall issue has bitterly divided people across the United States, becoming a vivid symbol of political deadlock.

But for many of us who actually live along the U.S.-Mexico border, the wall is simply beside the point. We know that a wall can’t fix the problems that straddle the boundary between our nations; nor will it build on our shared strengths. So a group ...

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Mesquite Manifesto: A Collaborative Vision for the Borderland

The recent acrimonious debates about further fortifying barriers all across the 2000 mile US/Mexico boundary line beg a larger question: Just what might make communities more stable, secure and prosperous while providing more livelihoods as well as wildlife habitat on both sides of the border? What particular natural resources and cultural assets in the region can be utilized to offer long-term solutions to problems perceived to be border-related?

Within the US, border counties have twice the level of poverty and food ...

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Bioneers: A Review of “Food from The Radical Center: Healing Our Land and Our Communities”

“Have you ever stumbled into a place where you were bowled over by an abundance of wildlife?” So begins the chapter Bringing Back the Bison in Gary Paul Nabhan’s latest book: Food from the Radical Center: Healing our Land and Communities (Island Press, 2019).

The question brought to mind a time in 2013 when there was an unexpected spike in anchovies in the Monterey Bay and massive schools were swimming by the mouth of the Santa Cruz Harbor. There ...

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Civil Eats: Hold the Soy, Save the Pollinators

These are tough times for soybean farmers. As President Trump’s trade war with China drags on, retaliatory tariffs are clobbering soybean prices—and some farmers are selling their crops at a loss.

The federal government has stepped up to help: At the urging of Midwestern senators, the USDA is compensating farmers for some of their losses, shelling out $3.6 billion to soybean farmers so far. While the subsidy is appreciated, many soy farmers I’ve talked to see it as ...

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