Maybe, maybe not. It’s the end of May and hopefully you haven’t been mowing. The No Mow May campaign encourages people with lawns to let them grow during the month of May to let insects and other critters thrive. This makes sense, and if you have a lawn then you still let it go during May.
If you’re fortunate enough to have access to land that you can alter to your preference then you may want to think about what plants you have. The best solution to help the planet and make your life easier is to plant native plants.
“There’s so much good intention out there,” she explains, but No Mow May oversimplifies the complex relationships between native pollinators and the plants that support them. “(There’s) all of this misinformation that comes from not understanding what a native bee is versus a non-native bee, what a native spring plant is versus a non-native spring plant.”
Instead of ditching our lawn mowers, Sheila says we should learn more about native pollinators and plants in the places we live and how they help one another in nature. Last year, sheco-wrote a bookalongside writer, editor and community advocate Lorraine Johnson that unpacks the complexity of native pollinators and how to create habitats that support them.
Those frisky felines are at it again! This time one of them is dishing out advice on how to improve your working life by communicating and acting with others. Jorts the cat is a Twitter celebrity that helps students understand their rights and workers understand theirs too. The key thing about the effectiveness of Jorts is not only that he’s a cat but that he communicates the struggle of modern American workers in a way that the average person can understand.
AG: In your year of public activism, you’ve been a source of information for many, especially around workers’ rights. Why is this important to you?
JTC: Especially in the United States, many workers do not know their basic rights. For example, we have a legally protected right to talk about our wages, yet forbidding that is a widespread‘policy’ in many workplaces. In truth, it is against the law to retaliate against workers for talking about their wages.
Everyone needs to talk about their wages, because so often there are big discrepancies for no real reason. These gaps are especially large comparing white men to any other demographic. (If you’re a white man, you especially should talk about your wages.)
A man in New Zealand thinks it’s better to create your own piece of paradise than to move to a natural one and just taking it over. Back in 1987 Hugh Wilson moved to a neglected part of the country where the natural environment was not doing well and has since turned it into a veritable paradise. He did so by respecting and encouraging native plants and using a permaculture approach to cultivation. It’s great work and very impressive! Not only did he set out to save a small part of the world, he also wants to encourage everyone to make a small piece of natural paradise in their own space too.
The incredible story of how degraded gorse-infested farmland has been regenerated back into beautiful New Zealand native forest over the course of 30 years.
Fools & Dreamers: Regenerating a Native Forest is a 30-minute documentary about Hinewai Nature Reserve, on New Zealand’s Banks Peninsula, and its kaitiaki/manager of 30 years, botanist Hugh Wilson. When, in 1987, Hugh let the local community know of his plans to allow the introduced ‘weed’ gorse to grow as a nurse canopy to regenerate farmland into native forest, people were not only skeptical but outright angry – the plan was the sort to be expected only of “fools and dreamers”.
Now considered a hero locally and across the country, Hugh oversees 1500 hectares resplendent in native forest, where birds and other wildlife are abundant and 47 known waterfalls are in permanent flow. He has proven without doubt that nature knows best – and that he is no fool.
In Iceland puffins get help from humans who volunteer on the Puffling Patrol to ensure that the little birds can thrive. When baby puffins, known as pufflings, hatch they usually head to the sea from their nests on shore, but when bright lights are nearby they’ll go towards the light. To get these pufflings away from dangerous lit areas like roads, factories, or other human made structures volunteers escort the birds to the water. It’s adorable and helpful.
They’re part of the Puffling Patrol, a Heimaey volunteer brigade tasked with shepherding little puffins on their journey. Every year during the roughly monthlong fledging season, kids here get to stay up very late. On their own or with parents, on foot or by car, they roam the town peeking under parked vehicles, behind stacks of bins at the fish-processing plants, inside equipment jumbled at the harbor. The stranded young birds tend to take cover in tight spots. Flushing them out and catching them is the perfect job for nimble young humans. But the whole town joins in, even the police.
No one knows exactly when the tradition started. Lifelong resident Svavar Steingrímsson, 86, did it when he was young. He thinks the need arose when electric lights came to Heimaey in the early 1900s. Saving the young birds likely began as “a mix of sport and humanity,” Steingrímsson tells me in Icelandic translated by his grandson, Sindri Ólafsson. Also, he says, people probably wanted to sustain the population of what was then an important food source.
Efforts to monitor pollution levels around the world aren’t new, but what is new is a system created by MIT’s Senseable City Lab that anyone can make. Called Flatburn, the system is designed to be put on a vehicle to monitor pollution levels throughout a city, which will provide more coverage than standard monitors. Flatburn can be 3D printed and assembled by people the world over so it will hopefully get more participation in the majority of the world.
The goal is for community groups or individual citizens anywhere to be able to measure local air pollution, identify its sources, and, ideally, create feedback loops with officials and stakeholders to create cleaner conditions,” says Carlo Ratti, director of MIT’s Senseable City Lab.
“We’ve been doing several pilots around the world, and we have refined a set of prototypes, with hardware, software, and protocols, to make sure the data we collect are robust from an environmental science point of view,” says Simone Mora, a research scientist at Senseable City Lab and co-author of a newly published paper detailing the scanner’s testing process. The Flatburn device is part of a larger project, known as City Scanner, using mobile devices to better understand urban life.