By Oliver Lysaght, Laura M. Norman, Richard Pritzlaff, David Seibert, and H. Ron Pulliam
(ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS: Darius Semmens, Ken Bagstad, Kelly Mott-LaCroix, Dave Ellis...)
Abstract: The Sonoita Creek Watershed is bound by the Patagonia and Santa Rita Mountains, where surface water flows westerly, eventually draining into the Santa Cruz River. Over 1000 people live, work, and play in the Sonoita Creek watershed, all with varying opinions about what is important to them. Ecosystem services, including those associated with healthy, biologically diverse natural habitats such as forests, urban green spaces, wetlands, grasslands, and rivers, provide natural benefits to people in a variety of forms. In order to better understand how people value ecological restoration and a restoration economy, we have developed a survey which is currently being disseminated and which seeks to gain insight into the values residents of the Sonoita Creek Watershed place on provisioning, regulating and cultural ecosystem services. Surveyed topics include: residents’ economic relationship to water; attitudes towards, and participation in, activities in the Sonoita Creek watershed; familiarity with terminology; preferences for resource management; and a spatially-explicit identification of where cultural values arise within the jurisdiction. Our end goal is to develop input for a regional decision-making tool called, “Social Values for Ecosystem Services” (SolVES), which uses GIS to assess, map, and quantify the social values assigned by stakeholders to ecosystem services. Insights from this survey will guide watershed management in the Sonoita Creek Watershed and strengthen restoration efforts via community participation.
By Gary Paul Nabhan
The grassroots ecological restoration movement---not the habitat mitigation engineering profession---has shifted the paradigm in the American Conservation Movement from one of “lock-it-up protectionism” to joyous hands-on participation in the restorative processes of natural, self-renewing communities. We do not feel the isolation of the bitter and lonely environmentalists of the past; we feel that sensuous satisfactions of getting our hands in the dirt to plant trees or sow seeds, to re-meander streams or harvest rainwater off slopes. We are co-creators with Nature, that is, with the Creative Spirit of the universe---not passive victims or fatalistic bystanders anymore. “Each time we plant a seed, we plant ourselves in place.” Brother Coyote, OEF
An Ethnographic Poetics of Placed-and-Found Objects and Their Finders in the U.S.|Mexico Borderlands
By David Seibert, Ph.D. published under The University of Arizona.
Abstract: Residents of the region just north of the U.S.-Mexico border experience migration and smuggling activities through constantly changing found objects on the desert landscape--a pair of shoes neatly arranged on a trail; a cross hung in a tree; a can of food balanced on a rock. Consideration of some found objects as placed objects, set down with apparent care by travelers unseen and unmet, demonstrates how the objects uniquely inform the perceptions and practices of residents who find them. Such finders speculate about the lives and movements of others by utilizing the objects as metaphoric figures of practice, tools that uniquely but only partially help them bridge knowledge gaps among multiple constantly changing variables in their everyday lives. The finding-speculating dynamic confounds a direct and easy association of found items with trash, of migrants with threat, and of a border wall with hopelessness. Residents instead craft a sophisticated and practical cultural memory of place in a region that is inhabited differently by day than by night, where tragedy, grace, danger, and hope fuse in unexpected ways. The objects and events that erupt into rural border life inspire a poetics that matches the territory. In a landscape of uncertainty, placed objects secure and extend situational understandings beyond common conceptual frames of epidemic, normalized patterns of violence and collateral damage that are often considered necessary conditions of life in the region.
Read the dissertation
As ‘homo-narrans’, we humans shape the world around us through the stories we tell. While it is difficult not to succumb to pessimism when reading and watching much of contemporary media, a list of projects and organizations acting to better the world – as provided by David Bornstein in his round-up of solutions featured in the NY Times – tells a story of optimism.
Bornstein reminds us that “for every problem we see reported in the news, there are almost always people responding — and some are doing pretty smart things.” The work of Borderlands Restoration (as neatly summarized by Alexis Marie Adams in Scientific American last month) has been proffered in his round-up as an example of a group whose response to local environmental, social and economic challenges gives grounds for optimism regarding humankind’s capacity for positive change.
Extract: “In ‘Restoration Economy’ Strives to Protect Pollinators, Create Jobs, Alexis Marie Adams, reporting in Scientific American, traces the work of Borderlands Restoration, a social enterprise that works along the Arizona-Mexico border to restore the habitat for hundreds of species of wild pollinators like native bees, butterflies, hummingbirds and nectar-feeding bats.
Urbanization, chemically intensive mono-crop farming and an increasingly hot and dry climate conspire to destroy the biodiversity upon which wild pollinators depend. In turn, much of the ecosystem’s — and society’s — health depends on them. “The loss of wild pollinators may pose an even more alarming threat to food crops than the loss of honeybees,” Adams wrote. In this low-income region, the company trains and employs locals and provides internships to youth who learn to map area “nectar landscapes,” collect seeds, control erosion, restore plants, and create nesting sites and pollinator gardens.”
Click here to read the NY Times Article
Borderlands Restoration was featured in no less than Scientific American. With interviews from two of Borderlands’ founders — Gary P. Nabhan and Ronald Pulliam, our Executive Director David Seibert, restoration practitioner Zach Yourgules, the National Park Service’s Steve Buckley, USGS’s Laura Norman and Borderlands Earth Care Youth students, Alexis Marie Adams provides a whistle-stop tour of Southern Arizona’s burgeoning restoration economy.
By oscillating between, on one hand, Borderlands mission— restoring physical environments, food chains and reconnecting people to the landscapes they live within — and restoration being carried out on the ground on the other, Adams’ article eloquently affirms that through dogged determination, a strategic approach, and plentiful collaboration, a restoration economy is being made into a reality in the Arizona/Sonora Borderlands to the benefit of people and nature alike.
To find out how this is being done and to read the full article, click HERE
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