Just my take on some recent stuff in the news, and some random stuff that has recently popped up in my feed. Will be adding to this today-ish as time permits.
• Weeds: “Wildflower or weed?” a fellow plant-lover asked, in regard to the gorgeous purple Florida native wildflowers growing in his yard. My response: “Wildflower. Florida native wildflowers. And even if they were not native: I refuse any longer to even recognize the word ‘weed’ at all. It is a limited, damaging, human-originated concept that does not exist in nature.”
• A fellow eco-activist called for people to attend a meeting in person to express support for a land-preservation initiative. My response: “Sorry, not comfortable asking people to risk their health & public safety to attend indoor in-person meetings.
Also not willing to promote non-essential car travel. I am doing my part tho; have donated to the cause, have shared numerous posts on social media, have emailed officials, and have put a sign in my prominent street-corner yard. Also: Thanks <fellow activist> for adding that we can share our thoughts by email. Along those lines, I want to express gratitude to <local eco-organization> for trying to get the County to expand options for nonmotorist participation, and Covid-safe participation.”
• Passenger vehicle traffic is rebounding to pre-pandemic levels. Ugh! Not only is the news itself bad, but the article is presenting it like it’s a good thing! The number of daily passenger vehicle trips has hit a major milestone, reaching pre-pandemic levels for the first time in a year, … with Americans driving more often and farther than at any time since pandemic lockdowns were invoked. The rise in vehicle travel comes amid other encouraging health and economic indicators. “Encouraging,” is it? Meh! One location even reported traffic surging to 150% of pre-pandemic levels! Double meh!
• I have decided not to organize an Earth Day festival. Main 2 factors in a nutshell: 1) Professional/personal circumstances — I woke up and realized that event planning is SO not in my lane; I literally cannot do it even for a great cause — I need to leave it to others who are good at it, and focus on my thing which is writing and teaching. And 2) Public-health circumstances — we are still in a pandemic, and there have been new developments in recent days (increases in cases of variants, etc.) I feel it’s imperative for us eco folk to set a responsible example. Soon I’ll be making a post about alternative ways to observe Earth Day.
• The population of Florida black bears is growing. Yay!! As a bonus, “bears are an umbrella species, that protecting their habitat also helps other species, some of which are listed as threatened or endangered.” Some communities are making themselves “bear-wise communities,” where people take steps to minimize encounters between humans and bears by, for example, using bear-proof trash cans. Bald eagle numbers are soaring also. The comeback of species that had been endangered is great news in more ways than one. Bears and eagles have a huge place in our hearts. Taking care of “charismatic” species is a “gateway drug” to a more widespread awareness of the need to take care of their habitat, and the species they depend on for food.
• Florida should just take Medicaid funding, says this editorial. I agree. As the writer points out, other states as red as Florida are accepting the fed med money. What gives with my state? Is our governor seeing it as tantamount to admitting that our system is broken? Or does he see accepting that money as going Communist? Who knows. It would benefit the state in many ways: reducing ER visits; lowering premature death rate among middle-aged folks; and providing lower-cost care to pregnant women and other vulnerable populations. For me — someone who’s basically an anarchist — to advocate for this feels a bit foreign. But, as I see it, the government and insurance companies broke our medical system in the first place, so government and insurance are going to have to be part of the solution. On a personal note, I am thinking this may be the year I become able to meet the minimum income requirement to qualify for health insurance under ACA. I don’t like the whole sickcare racket, including insurance companies, but circumstances being what they are, it’s better for me and the people around me, as well as society as a whole, if I am covered. Everyone else too.
• Derek Chauvin is on trial, not George Floyd. “With the beginning of the trial of former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin on charges of killing George Floyd, remember that Chauvin is the man on trial, not Floyd. Remember that the only reason police approached Floyd in the first place was that they suspected him of a minor, nonviolent offense. Remember Floyd’s desperate pleas that he couldn’t breathe, that ‘they’re going to kill me,’ that he was dying. Remember – as if anyone could forget – that the U.S. criminal justice system is on trial as well.”
• Chauvin trial has Black teenagers bracing for return of trauma. “Mental health experts say Chauvin’s trial could retraumatize teenagers who are still learning what it means to be Black in America and developing an understanding of the legal system, policing and justice.” I’m constantly talking about the importance of “getting outdoors” and “connecting with nature.” It’s non-optional, both for our physical and mental health; and for the health of our planetary ecosystems. And yet, for so many people — most notably the young people who are most at risk — it’s not even safe to go outside in their own neighborhoods. This is not right. We have to change this.
• Stop Jim Crow 2: Find out about voter-suppression laws being pushed in Georgia, Florida, and a number of other states. Typical provisions include making it harder to vote by mail or drop-box; and making it unlawful to hand out drinks of water to people who are standing in line, sometimes for hours, waiting to vote. Read up on this; share on social media; contact your public officials. (This link is from the excellent Anti-Racism Daily email newsletter.)