eBird App is Helping us Understand Birds

birds
eBird is a mobile app that has been around for a few years and used around the world. As a result the app has been used to collect a rich dataset of bird sightings which provides enough data for researchers to have a very accurate understanding of some bird species. You can use the data to see how birds react to ongoing climate change or just to find out what’s migrating through your area.

“eBird data has become so good and so accurate in the Americas that we can track the full life cycle of populations of birds and watch them in real time as they kind of flow over the continents,” said Rondel.

She recommends people who are newer to watching birds also download the Merlin Bird ID app, which guides users through a series of questions to help them figure out which species they are seeing.

Beyond logging their own sightings, the app also helps bird enthusiasts find the birds they want to catch a glimpse of. The app allows users to search a specific bird and pull up maps that show where the birds have been spotted in the past.

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To Block a Pipeline Nuns Built a Chapel

Standing Rock #DAPL

For me, religion usually doesn’t come to mind when thinking about how to stop pipelines. Luckily the idea to use religious places came to the mind of some nuns. In order to stop a pipeline project going through sensitive land a group of nuns built a chapel! The power of christ compelled them.

All of the Adorers’ communities, including this one in Pennsylvania’s rural Lancaster County, agree to conduct their business transactions in keeping with the principles of ecological justice the sisters drafted in 2005, known as their “land ethic.” The nuns have joined in protesting hydroelectric power in Brazil and worked with Guatemalans opposed to gold mining.

So when a surveyor for Williams came by to tell the nuns that he was checking out their land for the company’s Atlantic Sunrise pipeline that will eventually cut across 183 miles of Pennsylvania, the nuns turned to their land ethic, and they told the surveyor that they couldn’t even discuss it.

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Tonawanda Provides a Template for Transitioning a Town’s Economy from Coal

work and smile

Globally, coal is on the way out and in America small towns are suffering because coal demand is dropping. The predictable plight of coal-backed small towns in the USA has some politicians trying to bailout the coal industry in order to protect jobs, which is obviously the wrong approach. Instead, what those backwards-looking politicians should do is look at Tonawanda, New York.

Tonawnada had a coal power plant that recently shutdown due to lack of demand. The community was going to be hurt by the closing with lost jobs and tax revenue. Instead of bailing out the power plant they provided a plan to transition to a post-coal economy – and it’s working!

“Instead of spending millions on propping up coal plants,” Schlissel says, “we need to spend money to help communities make an economic transition.”

The Huntley Alliance took its cues from other communities forced to evolve beyond heavy industry. Members traveled as close as Appalachia and as far as Germany, where they were amazed to witness how the German government funded worker retraining programs and recycled old production plants, as renewables supplanted fossil fuels.

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Build Butterflyways for Beautiful Pollinators

bee

Every pollinator is beautiful and there is an easy way to see more of them while helping the world: butterflyways. The concept is simple: bees and butterflies are under a lot of pressure from human activity so help them on their pollination journey by feeding them. All you have to do is look up what pollinators love in your local area then plant a small garden for them, then tell others. By combining efforts with other gardeners or community groups you can create a pleasant route for our little friends.

In May and June, activities ranged from creating butterfly-themed costumes and a bike-trailer garden that won second prize in a Victoria parade, to adopting city parks in Richmond. In Markham and Toronto, Rangers built on a project started through the foundation’s Homegrown National Park Project, installing a dozen wildflower-filled canoes in parks, schools and daycares. In Toronto’s west end, a pair of Rangers led the Butterflyway Lane art project, painting butterfly-themed murals on two dozen garage doors, walls and fences in a laneway facing Garrison Creek Park.

In late June, Toronto’s Beaches neighbourhood and Richmond, B.C. surpassed the target of a dozen Ranger-led plantings, earning kudos from the foundation for creating Canada’s first Butterflyways. The project is spreading, with neighbouring city councillors and groups clamouring to get their own Butterflyways.

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Forget NIMBYs, it’s All About YIMBYs

housing

Anybody engaged with civic action knows the prevalence of NIMBYism, those people who say ‘Not in my Backyard’ and try to stop any progress good or bad. This attitude of blocking anything has led to some cities being left behind while other cities leap ahead. Recently Toronto has seen a rise of people who chant the opposite of No. The ‘Yes in my Backyard’ movemnet is rising and YIMBYism is taking off!

YIMBYs as a whole recognize a simple truth: If we want more people to have housing, we need to build more housing. To that end, they campaign for the reduction or removal of various supply constraints—namely, those land use rules that enshrine the sanctity of the single-family, detached home at the cost of what’s recently been dubbed the “missing middle.”

They want to see more housing built. They want to see market prices fall. They want Toronto to be more Tokyo than Manhattan, more Houston than San Francisco.

Ultimately, they want young people to be able to participate in homeownership and to preserve Toronto as a city for all—not merely as a playground for the rich. And they’re gaining steam.

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