Family, Community & Place

Patagonia, an essential pit stop for monarch butterflies

When Gary Nabhan was growing up in the Indiana Dunes, Indiana, he remembered being sleepy in the middle of his class one day. Looking out the window, he studied the leaves of a tree nearby.

Nabhan, who would later find out he is color blind, thought the leaves had odd colors. And as this crossed his mind, the leaves — which turned out to be monarch butterflies — flew away. Nabhan’s lifelong fascination with pollinators had just begun.

Pollinator animal species such ...

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The Long Walk with Giant Boy Away from Drought

As I closed my eyes, I began to see brilliant flashes of that dream again, the one members of my clan carry like shrapnel, cultural shrapnel buried, in our racial memory, each of us with a shattered story that the others have lost and are looking for.

A dream quest for water—or nightmare of drought—binds me to my kin, motivates each and every one of my clan, guiding us out of dry and dangerous zones, moving us towards a momentary sense ...

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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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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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Money for Hospital Beds, Not Trump’s Wall

On February 27, Senator Elizabeth Warren, Democrat of Massachusetts, unveiled a bill that had the potential to positively affect the lives of millions of Americans. It was intended to immediately divert money from President Donald Trump’s border wall to the U.S. response to the coronavirus. At the time, we could only guess how badly such funds would be needed.

Now, more than a month later, public health officials have informed New York Governor Andrew Cuomo that a minimum of 140,000 ...

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Order of Ecumenical Franciscans for the House Committee on Appropriations and its Subcommittee on Homeland Security

March 23, 2020

RE:  Written Testimony for FY 2021 Appropriations

VIA email at MC.Approp.@mail.house.gov

 

Dear Chairwoman Shultz, Ranking Member Carter and Members of the Committee:

 

I am writing to ask that you rescind all Department of Defense and Treasury funds for building more of the border wall.

 

My name is Gary Paul Nabhan and I am an Ecumenical Franciscan Brother who has lived and worked on the U.S./Mexico border as a seasonal park ranger, farmer, conservational biologist and facilitator ...

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Indigenous Religious Freedom Violations Abound at the U.S.-Mexico Border Barriers

This last year, we have palpably felt a heightened level of traumatic stress pervasive in the Indigenous communities where all three of us have worked on both sides of the international boundary. Throughout our adult lives, we have provided educational opportunities, technical assistance, and land rights advocacy strategies within the many Indigenous communities that live within 100 miles or so from the U.S.-Mexico border. But now, we see the bridges that we have worked to build across the border threatened. ...

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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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At the Mexican Border, the Battle for Endangered Species is as Much About Water as About The Wall

When 340 protesters from many cultures showed up at Organ Pipe Cactus Monument on the Arizona-Mexico border this past November to express their heartbreak over the damage done by construction of a wall, law enforcement officers appeared to be baffled by their concerns. Officials from the Army Corps of Engineers and Homeland Security were surprised that all of the signs and chants were not targeted at the wall itself.

Sure, some of the youth present were in animal costumes to demonstrate ...

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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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Ancient watering hole in Southern Arizona at risk from border wall construction

An ancient spring near Lukeville has slaked the thirst of desert travelers for centuries, but its days may be numbered as groundwater is pumped to build a 30-foot border wall.

Water has bubbled out of the granite at Quitobaquito Springs for thousands of years, making it a key watering hole for the Tohono O’odham, Spanish missionaries, U.S. and Mexican boundary surveyors, and countless other humans and animals.

The Trump administration decided to build a wall along 44 miles of the border in ...

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The Healthiest Thing You Can Do Today? Get Dirty!

Americans now spend a stunning 90 percent of their time indoors. Our sedentary, screen-addicted lifestyles have been blamed for a range of ills — including obesity, attention problems, allergies and more.

We know that getting out of the house and into nature confers many benefits for physical and mental health. But there’s an additional benefit you might not know about: contact with the soil — good old dirt — enriches the gut microbiome, the community of microorganisms ...

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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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Long-desired heritage area designation signed into law

A sweeping public lands bill signed into law by President Trump this week includes the designation of a Santa Cruz Valley National Heritage Area in Santa Cruz and Pima counties, bringing to fruition an effort begun well more than a decade ago to boost cultural preservation, economic development and tourism in the area.

U.S. Rep. Raul Grijalva (D-Tucson), who represents all of Santa Cruz and parts of Pima county, had sought legislative approval for the NHA designation since 2007. In a ...

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How an appetite for local food fueled Tucson’s economic recovery

Could it be that Tucson is eating its way out of poverty and food insecurity?

Or to ask such a big hairy question in another manner: “How have Tucson’s citizens and businesses fared since the Great Recession devastated our community a decade ago?”

By the beginning of 2009, the Old Pueblo had been hit harder than most other US metro areas by bank and mortgage company scandals. But what, if anything, has helped our community’s economic recovery and changed its course for ...

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Healing Our Land and Communities Through the Power of Food

As an agricultural biologist, ethnobiologist and author, Gary Paul Nabhan is a renowned pioneer in the local food movement. In his new book, Food from the Radical Center: Healing Our Land and Communities, Prof. Nabhan writes about the power of working the soil with our hands in a collaborative spirit, with disparate groups. Gary Nabhan and host Steve Curwood discuss how restoring the health of our lands can improve the health of our communities.

CURWOOD: It’s Living on Earth, I’m Steve ...

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The Radical Center: Episode 124

Gary Paul Nabhan, author and father of the local food movement, joins host Jenna Liut to talk about his new book, Food from the Radical Center: Healing our Communities and our Land, which contains a collection of stories that illustrate what good can happen when people organize and work together to restore land in order to produce healthy foods. They discuss just how divided our nation is today, various community-based collaborative restoration strategies, and the unprecedented impacts they have ...

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Author Sees Food Systems as a Way to Unite People

We often hear about a divided United States — separated by politics, race, economics and other factors — but Gary Paul Nabhan says there are great examples of partnerships and teamwork that are worth analyzing around the country.

Nabhan is an agricultural ecologist, ethnobotanist, author, and Ecumenical Franciscan brother who traveled the country for his most recent book, “Food From the Radical Center: Healing Our Land and Communities.”

In it, Nabhan provides examples of communities that are working on projects such ...

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Guest Opinion: Heal Arizona’s chasms

Our elections may be over, but one thing is for sure: Arizona remains politically divided, just as much of our country is. One party’s candidate may have won this or that senate or congressional race, but the split in how Arizonans view our future is as sharp as it was before the elections took place.

What politicians cannot mend is what our citizenry should see as our sacred responsibility to heal, if nothing else, for the benefit of future ...

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Will Work for Dirt

Have you ever tried to grow a garden in your backyard, only to find that the dirt was too worn-out and dry to produce anything? Have you coaxed that soil back to life so that it, in turn, could give life to fruits, vegetables, or root crops?

Gabriela Valeria Villavicencio Valdez, an urban garden enthusiast in Querétaro, Mexico, is all too familiar with lifeless dirt. In fact, she has adopted a newly coined name for this type of postapocalyptic, dystopian, metro ...

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