Politics is the process whereby society makes decisions, the process it uses to establish the broader, though sometimes quite specific, rules by which we live and work. Our government is a representative, democratic republic. Our governance is a public matter intended to serve the public good…to support or improve the lives of its citizens…not that of a monarch, an oligarch, despot, feudal lord or leader of a church. It is a democracy in which citizens exercise their right to be heard through their vote and we do this generally by electing representatives who work in our interest. In some cases issues are referred to citizens or initiated by us on particular matters, but we do this primarily through our election of representatives. Ideally representatives focus and amplify the will of their constituents, expressing this through the bills that they introduce and their vote. If this will is muddled, indecisive or polarized, so to is its direction leaving an opening for other influences, such as lobbyists, to effect their votes. It can be easily argued that a divided constituency is just what powerful interests want as it will increase their own influence…divide and conquer! When that collective voice of the citizens is more focused and powerful, powerful interest lose influence and political decision making will reflect this. We are ‘taught’ early on that our ‘voice’ is limited to our voting in elections, but this is not true. Everything we do, all of our choices, have political ramifications, what we buy, where we buy it from, how we get to work, what we do there, how we choose to spend our non-working hours, how we treat others. We help shape the world through our choices. Government is an extension of our collective voice, our collective actions. Government is not the cavalry, not the hero, in our story…we are and we are also our own enemy and fool. If anyone is going to ‘ride’ to our rescue it is each one of us. Continue reading
The title’s question isn’t something we in the Pacific Northwest need to worry about. It will take an awful lot of global warming to make this plant cold hardy here and that may be part of its enticement! I chose this from Jimi Blake’s list…because I am a sucker for cool foliage. Sometimes called the Mexican Tree Poppy this is a Poppy, a member of the family Papaveraceae, a family currently containing 42 genera and 775 species, which is within the the ancient order, the Ranunculales, an order that includes some of the earliest of the ‘modern’ Eudicots to evolve. This doesn’t mean that this species of Bocconia was around at the beginning of ‘time’, or even of this order, just that it comes from that particular genetic line, a line that has been traced back to its beginning, millions of years ago. Recall that every plant, every organism is in ‘process’, that given the appropriate supporting conditions, consistent over time, will keep reproducing, generation after generation…and, that given the appropriate inducements, of consistent, changed conditions, different from those today, will work to adapt to them, each generation ‘responding’, those better adapted, surviving and reproducing, altering the species and, perhaps even becoming, producing, a new one. One of the characteristics of this family and order, having arisen in a time when genetics and characteristics of plants were less strictly defined, is a wider range of physical or morphological variation than you might expect, which is evident when you look at the flowers of the many diverse species within these genera, this family and order…Bocconia frutescens’ small flowers looking very unlike those we would commonly think of when we picture a Poppy. Continue reading
Loree, of Danger Garden, posted a comment and a link in Facebook a few weeks ago, to a story about a gardener in Australia and what gardening meant to him in the online Planthunter blog. It elicited an array of comments, both supportive and not. She posed the question, are the ‘best’ gardens the products of an ‘organic’ process, produced by the gardeners themselves, in intimate relationship with their place? Which raised the question, can garden designers create truly beautiful gardens for others on landscapes that they don’t have this personal connection to? Her question caused a flurry of comments, several containing a lot of emotion. Loree’s simple question produced a fair amount of ‘heat’. I found the array of responses, and the conflicts they brought to light, provocative and I think a lot of that heat comes from the fact that our modern society has become largely estranged from the natural living world. I spent quit a bit of time thinking about it. Below is what it prompted in me.
I retired from Parks after a career of mostly fixing and tweaking designs that I had nothing to do with, but ended up resposnisble for, tearing out neglected landscapes that had became grossly overwhelmed and out of balance by overplanted and aggressive plants, others that were lost to weeds and invasives, others still that were stomped out and abused by the public largely because of their siting and the public uses which they had to endure, a public that is often indifferent to the living world and its requirements and their resulting traffic patterns that designers thought that their massing could channel where they wanted. I did this while working within an organization that undervalued the plants and the horticulturists who cared for them….I was still able to create a few places that the public responded to positively. Continue reading
Much of today’s news media mires us in the sensational, adding little to our desperate need for clarity. Instead we are subjected to endless ‘stories’ whose primary intent seem to be distraction, obfuscation, dissipation and division, leaving us at best numbed and discouraged from taking effective action….I know many who would say that this is precisely their intent. This is not, however, true in every case. I only recently came across this story in the New York Times Magazine, yes that bastion of unabashedly liberal ‘fake news’. On the face of it, it is another such story. The story’s title plainly states, ‘APOACALYPSE’, a word which carries so much negative baggage that its inclusion alone will keep many readers away…but don’t be dissuaded! This article is more ‘wakeup call’ than hammer. It is a call for action not the simple manipulative emotional plea that has become an integral part of current political strategy. It clearly defines and lays out the problem, which is absolutely essential to taking effective action. It does indeed paint a frightening and devastating future for us all…if we choose to continue on our current path, but it also points out a way through it, and, throughout the entire article, it introduces us to individuals and organization who are credible and passionate witnesses and actors in their efforts to make a positive difference. This is exactly what we need right now. Powerlessness is not an option. Read the article!