Update! The Forces of Nature are Making a Difference in Our World

The wise Forces of Nature elders demonstrate how to live a meaningful life by helping others and protecting life on earth. They don’t sit idle and worry about local and global problems, they get out and make a difference. These elders work to protect trees, water, and wildlife habitat. They bring awareness of climate change and ideas of human resilience to climate change, and are active forces in social justice and civil rights. Here are updates on six of our “Forces” (please be sure to click on the blue links for more information):

Joan Maloof, Building Old Growth Forest Networks

Joan Maloof founded the Old-Growth Forest Network after completing work on her second book, Among the Ancients: Adventures in the Eastern Old-Growth Forests, in which she visited one old-growth forest in each of 26 Eastern states and learned that there is no national organization or government agency charged with protecting the few remaining old-growth tracts, and that there was little information available on how people can visit old-growth forests near them.

700-joan-maloofSo far, her organization has identified and helped preserve 41 forests in 13 states. Three new West Virginia tracts now included in the Old-Growth Forest Network are 30-acre Pierson Hollow at Carnifex Ferry Battlefield State Park in Nicholas County where 250- to 300-year-old oaks, yellow poplars and hemlocks can be found; Cathedral State Park in Preston County, where virgin hemlock reaching heights of 90 feet and circumferences of up to 21 feet exist in a 133-acre stand; and Gaudineer Scenic Area in the Monongahela National Forest in Pocahontas County, where a 50-acre tract of virgin red spruce forest exists atop a 4,000-foot mountain. Dr. Victor Reinstein Woods Nature Preserve is a 292-acre complex of forest, ponds and wetlands in Cheektowaga New York which was recently protected by the Network.

States that already have forests in the Network include New York, Massachusetts, California, Georgia, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Maryland, Colorado, Hawaii, Michigan, Virginia and Florida.

The Oak Woodlands Natural Area in Golden Gate Park received a special designation on March 14, 2015, as it was officially included into the Old-Growth Forest Network. The Oak Woodlands Natural Area will join previously dedicated forests in California in the Old-Growth Forest Network.  9103dbcb-18fa-494b-b8aa-f88e52c4520d                                                                                                  The California representatives thus far are:

  • Humboldt County: Rockefeller Forest – Humboldt Redwoods State Park
  • Monterey County: Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park
  • Riverside County: Mount San Jacinto State Wilderness – Deer Springs Trail
  • San Diego County: Palomar Mountain State Park
  • San Mateo County: Sam McDonald County Park – Heritage Grove

“We’re trying to identify old-growth forests in every county of every state,” Joan Maloof said before a recent dedication ceremony. In the Eastern United States, many counties have no remaining old-growth forests, and Joan and her Network are leading the statewide search for remnant stands of virgin woods.

Old-Growth Network forests are identified by using data from an old-growth survey of Eastern forests begun in the 1990s, and by following up on anecdotal reports of virgin-forest remnants on public land by government foresters, botanists, ecologists and biologists, and public land users.

“We are looking for forests on public lands where they will be protected and where people are welcome to visit and honor them,” Maloof said. “This forest is managed by the National Park Service, so we know it will be protected for many generations to come.”

Joan, a retired professor of biology and environmental studies at Maryland’s Salisbury University, educates people about the significant role that trees play in natural habitats, as well as how the delicacy of ecosystems depends on the ecological and structural attributes of trees, which can remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, intercept rainwater and slow erosion. She points to an alarming statistic that indicates that only one percent of our original forests remain intact in the eastern U.S., compared to just five percent in the western U.S. As more forests are logged for fiber production or transformed for cattle ranching, the natural heritage represented by our forests becomes increasingly diminished.

“So often when they’re going to put in something new, whether it’s a highway or a school – they look at the map and see green space as ‘empty.’ We’re here to say, “That green space is very important – than anything you can build on it,’” she said. “When we’re gone in a hundred years, where’s the community that makes sure that this forest stays? We’re hoping that the Old-Growth Forest Network will still be going in order to preserve these special places.”

For more information on the Old-Growth Forest Network, visit www.oldgrowthforest.net. To watch RRI’s video of Joan Maloof, click on her name in this sentence. If you would like to follow Joan, she writes a blog, “For the Earth.”

Barbara Salzman, Award-winning Conservationist in the San Francisco Bay Area

As evident in our Forces of Nature video, Barbara Salzman, President of the Marin County Audubon Society is spirited and engaged. In March, 2015, she was inducted to the Marin Women’s Hall of Fame for her enormous conservation efforts in the San Francisco Bay Area. Recently, Barbara was involved in the purchase of 5.2 acres of valuable Corte Madera [California] marshland. This new acquisition will be donated to the California Department of Fish and Wildlife and will become part of the 300-acre Corte Madera Ecological Reserve, which Barbara helped to create in the 1980s.

Corte Madera Ecological Reserve

Taking 20 years of negotiation, Marin Audubon Society has finally reached an agreement to purchase this critical 5.2-acre former tidal marsh that is key to the survival of the endangered Ridgway’s Rail (formerly California Clapper Rail) and other wildlife. The campaign will now protect and restore, in perpetuity, coastal wetlands in the Corte Madera Creek watershed, filling a critical gap in the 300-acre Corte Madera Ecological Reserve. The Ecological Reserve includes one of the few marshes around the Bay that has never been diked, as well as 200 acres of restored marsh. Ancient marshes have complex channel systems and vegetation, and support greater diversity and numbers of wildlife. These rare and valuable characteristics will be protected, enhanced and expanded by this acquisition. If you would like to read more about this acquisition you can find it in the Audubon link above.

Barbara is never afraid of controversy and easily speaks her mind. She has endorsed recommendations for Integrated Pest Management that involves herbicides on public land. Of course, there are people that do not support the use of any herbicides or pesticides on public land. Barbara and the Save Marin’s Natural Habitat group (comprised of the California Native Plant Society, Friends of Corte Madera Creek watershed, the Marin Audubon Society, and the Marin Conservation League) all believe that herbicides are necessary part of the “toolbox” needed to protect our open spaces. The Marin Independent Journal article has published an op-ed on this subject.

All of Barbara’s work is volunteer. She also serves on five other nonprofit boards in her spare time. Past awards include the National Wetlands Award for Community Service in 2004, National Wetlands Conservation Award, Heroes of Marin Award in 2014, Marin Conservation League Green Award and recognition from National Audubon Society, Save the Bay Association and the Marin Environmental Forum.

Malcolm Margolin, Master Storyteller and Publisher of California History

Malcom-Margolin-square1No one has impacted the storied history of Bay Area publishing more than Malcolm Margolin, publisher of Heyday Books, which celebrated its 41th anniversary this year. Heyday Books, founded by Malcolm, is an icon of alternative publishing, with hundreds of titles focusing on Native Americans, nature, politics and more. National Endowment for the Humanities Chairman Jim Leach awarded Malcolm a Chairman’s Commendation and called him a “national treasure” for his “extraordinary contributions to his community by telling the story of California’s people and its resources with vision, commitment, and passion” (2012).

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Malcolm has recently published his memoir entitled: The Heyday of Malcolm Margolin: The Damn Good Times of a Fiercely Independent Publisher. There is an excellent review of the book by the Los Angeles Review of Books.

In more recent news, Malcolm has announced that he is retiring from Heyday Books. What a fantastic legacy of California history he has uncovered and documented!  We will forever cherish his delightful stories! We wish Malcolm all the best!        

Andy Lipkis, Fighting the California Drought with Action

Andy Lipkis is a practical visionary who has dedicated his life to healing the environment while improving the lives of individuals and communities. He founded TreePeople in Los Angeles in 1973 at age 18 and continues to serve as its President. Since 1973 Andy has been teaching people to plant and care for trees and educates people about the properties that trees provide in protecting water resources, among other things.

In an interesting article about the Jewish holiday, Sukkot, which is a holiday that is agricultural in nature and marks the end of the harvest, we learn that Andy has created his own way of celebrating the holiday to stave off the effects of the severe drought in Southern California.

If you are not familiar with the Jewish holiday, Sukkot is an eight-day holiday. Throughout the week of Sukkot, meals are eaten in a sukkah (outdoor structure, pictured below) and the males sleep there, although the requirement is waived in case of rain. The sukkah is built before the holidays and disassembled afterwards. Every day, a blessing is recited over the lulav (frond of the date palm tree) and the Etrog (citron fruit).

sukkahThe sukkah walls can be constructed of any material (wood, canvas, aluminum siding, sheets). The walls can be freestanding or include the sides of a building or porch. The roof must be of organic material, known as s’chach, such as leafy tree overgrowth, schach mats or palm fronds. It is customary to decorate the interior of the sukkah with hanging decorations of special fruits and fronds.

Andy-Lipkis_cisternThis year, Andy, concerned about the severe California drought and its affect on agriculture, decided to forego building a sukkah and instead is helping others to build cisterns that will capture rain water that can be used for plant watering. If you would like to read the article, you will find the link here. TreePeople have also put together a guidance document for collecting rainwater and can be accessed here. To Andy, and all that celebrate the Jewish holidays, I wish you a Happy and Healthy New Year, and one that includes rain!

Reverend Canon Sally Bingham had an Audience with Pope Francis at the White House

images-1The Reverend Canon Sally Grover Bingham, an Episcopal priest and Canon for the Environment in the Diocese of California has been active in the environmental community for twenty-five years. She is the founder and president of The Regeneration Project, which is focused on its Interfaith Power & Light (IPL) campaign, a religious response to global warming. The IPL campaign includes a national network of over 14,000 congregations with affiliated programs in 39 states.

Reverend Canon Sally Bingham has brought widespread recognition to the link between faith and the environment, and as one of the first faith leaders to fully recognize global warming as a moral issue, she has mobilized thousands of religious people to put their faith into action through energy stewardship and advocacy. Reverend Canon Sally was part of the religious delegation that greeted Pope Francis at the White House on September 22 and believes that the Pope’s influence will raise the profile of the moral impetus for climate action.

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“The encyclical will affect business people because business people are often tied to religious traditions,” Bingham said  “If they are hearing their clergy — their priest, rabbi, imam — talk about moral responsibility from the pulpit, it is going to have an impact on them.”

We thank Reverend Sally for your deep passion and initiative in bringing awareness of climate change to faith-based groups!

Jodi Evans, Empowering for Peace and Civil Rights 

Code Pink: Women for Peace is a left-wing NGO that describes itself as a “grassroots peace and social justice movement working to end U.S.-funded wars and occupations, to challenge militarism globally, and to redirect our resources into health care, education, green jobs and other life-affirming activities.” It is primarily focused on anti-war issues, but has also taken positions on gun control, social justice, Palestinian statehood, green jobs and health care issues. The organization characterizes itself as women-initiated. It has regional offices in Los Angeles, San Francisco, New York City, and Washington, D.C., and many more chapters in the U.S. as well as several in other countries. With members wearing the group’s signature pink color, Code Pink has conducted marches, protests, and high-visibility publicity stunts in order to promote its goals.

Bolivian President Evo Morales invited Jody Evans, one of the founders of the activist group Code Pink, to an audience with Pope Francis. Evans couldn’t go, so she sent Felipe Sousa-Rodriguez in her place. Mr. Sousa-Rodriguez is both gay and, until recently, undocumented. This meeting with the Pope was another bit of info he received that may have framed Pope Francis’ recent remarks to Congress this September. We have linked a good read about Mr. Sousa-Rodrigues in the Daily Beast. Read this if you are interested in the activities of Code Pink or support gay and immigrant rights.

imagesJody and Code Pink have been fighting to empower women and girls in Afghanistan and against the cruelty directed towards women. Alternet.org has written an article about the plight of Afghan women and highlights stories of Muzgan, Tamana and Farkhunda. Here is an excerpt from the article, which can be accessed with this Huffington Post link:

Discussing the merits of the war is often framed within the context of toppling the brutal Taliban and freeing the country’s women. Barometers of this success include women officially regaining basic rights in education, employment and voting. CODEPINK has estimated that between 2003 and 2013, at least $1.5 billion was allocated  by the U.S. government’s various agencies for Afghan women and girls. This compares to the more than $1 trillion spent on the war in total, most of which went to the U.S. military and training of Afghanistan’s defense forces. Reconstruction projects claimed at least $110 billion.

 

But have the lives of Afghan women really improved? “After all these efforts, the huge amount of money spent, the creation of women’s organizations, the so-called community-level support, we are in a situation where most women still don’t know their basic rights,” said Samira Hamidi, “The help for women has been in the bigger cities, where there are fewer cultural barriers. In rural areas, nothing has changed. Women are still imprisoned in their homes,” Hamidi said by telephone from Kabul.

 

Despite spending at least $1.5 billion on empowering Afghan women, the country is still viewed as one of the worst in the world for women. According to the U.N., only 17 percent of Afghan women can read and write; access to health care is limited, and almost impossible in remote areas; and domestic violence is rife, with limited chances for recourse or legal protection.

Jody and Code Pink – Thank you for your efforts in promoting peace and social justice!

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