Dancing with Climate Change

Dancing with Climate Change

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We’ve poured huge amounts of energy into the atmosphere and, well, the atmosphere is energized.  It’s time to learn how to dance with this increasingly energetic partner. Dancing is a good metaphor for the kind of response demanded by climate change. Dancing implies controlled relaxation, improvisation, and the ability to recognize and generate patterns in a swirling changing field.  And it’s fun, creative, and good mental and physical exercise. Because climate change is happening rapidly, we need to begin experimenting and adapting now—not waiting for someone to figure it out and tell us what to do.  Here’s an example.  Two decades ago, Tim Murphy told me one of his ideas for addressing climate change:  plant oak trees.  Here in the western interior of the U.S., the larger and more productive species of oaks are found in the temperate south.  As one moves northward and to higher elevations, the dominant species

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Regenerating Street Life

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Santa Fe journalist Zane Fischer, in his weekly column for the Santa Fe Reporter, wrote this week about community efforts to re-vision St. Michael’s Drive—a six-lane, strip-mall infested eyesore that divides the north and south sides of the city.  Santa Fe’s city planning department has apparently recognized the importance of transforming St. Michael’s from a 1970s-era car orientated wasteland into a vibrant and pedestrian friendly part of the urban fabric.  They have invoked the famous “La Rambla” of Barcelona as an exemplar. Fischer correctly points out that, “La Rambla isn’t only a successful community gathering space because it’s pedestrian friendly. It’s because it’s lined with cafés that don’t face arcane and prohibitive state alcohol regulations. It’s because kids are allowed to hang out well after dark in a culture that isn’t crippled by fear of litigation and the unknown. Businesses are open later than 6 pm, eateries are allowed to

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Maintaining the Marginal

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   Recently, a friend took me to visit an extensive public garden in Berlin, where she had helped establish a perennial plant collection some years ago.  For several hours we strolled over hillside meadows, through woodlands, along lakes and wetlands, all built during the last three decades in a formerly industrial area.  The garden was well laid out, bucolic, its trees beginning to achieve real stature, its plantings diverse and intelligent.  Drawing from the classic traditions of English landscape design, the garden offered a mirror of nature. I began to notice something was missing.  The park had elements one would expect in an ecological restoration project—water, topography, diverse plantings and habitat.  Yet the wildlife was noticeably absent.  The place is simply too well-maintained.  Scenic, but not really alive.  Bill Mollison (one of the originators of the Permaculture concept) used to say, “Tidiness is maintained disorder.”  I was witnessing a clear

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