This post offers step-by-step instructions on adding trees to the Eastern Agroforestry Conservancy (EAC) project on iNaturalist. This same approach could be useful for other public planting projects.
The EAC is a collection of precious tree crop genetics that have been planted for observation, propagation, and respectful enjoyment by the public. This project is centered in Northampton County, PA where county parks embraced the idea, honoring and extending the work of the Hershey Tree Nursery in Downingtown, PA.
Trees in this multi-generational project are documented in 3 ways: labeled where they are planted with a unique ID, in paper records matching ID, and in a digital iNaturalist project with matching ID. Digital record-keeping of trees in iNaturalist has a few benefits. In short: it is a robust platform with a broad like-minded user base; it allows commenting and updating/adding observations to record seasonal effects; and it can be accessed by anyone, anywhere.
Observations of trees can be added to the EAC project by anyone, anywhere. The project is moderated, so that observations unsuitable for the project will be culled. The project welcomes observations of new plantings and additional observations of existing trees in the project.
I like the last pair because they feel difficult to green wash. Take any feature that is necessary for the systems that support us, and see if it is being restored/enhanced, or if it is being degraded. Water quality. Soil fertility. Biodiversity. Alas, if there is a will there is a way, and all of these terms will be “greenwashed” to some extent, making environmentally degrading acts seem restorative.
And by what means is the greenwashing motivated and manifest? Who done it? Some words commonly attributed to the complex system in question, which degrades essential qualities while feigning friend of fundamentals:
The man The system Capitalism Neoliberalism Globalism ...
These terms too are not perfect. Each has assumptions and complexities, they lack precision and can be tricky. Then I read something which shared a term so precise, so empirical, it could not be misconstrued or exploited:
The cosmophagous world: that world which devours all other worlds to feed itself.
cosmo- From Ancient Greek κόσμος (kósmos, “universe”). -phagous From Latin -phagus, from Ancient Greek φάγος (phágos, “glutton”), from φαγεῖν (phageîn, “to eat”).
And what is the alternative to devouring other worlds? To multiply, to propagate, to support many worlds. Consider, as you go about the polarized and dissonant world, whether this dichotomy fits: some ways grow themselves by devouring other worlds, while other ways grow all by propagating many worlds.
I think of this as I visit small farms and see the countless worlds that are hosted there: the worlds of the orchard and of the pasture, the worlds of the meadow flowers and of the insect colonies which enjoy them, the worlds of the varieties of people who are part of the community affected by the small farm, and the worlds of the countless communities which have other small farms of their own.
That world catalyzation is a stark contrast to the vast monocrops, moonscapes, and mines producing homogenized ways of life, wherein one world grows larger while the others are whittled away.
May this be a high-level guideline, leading us toward Earthbound mutualism rather than parasitism.
I end with an excerpt from the text that introduced me to this concept of cosmophagy, and with a wish that you will celebrate and support the many worlds we coexist in as One.
Power is inseparable from the capacity to be affected. We find potentialities in our shared sensitivity: that sense of urgency that pushes us to seek new ways of living — to want to change this world; that feeling of belonging that pushes us to act, and likewise to risk everything. How can we unleash these potentials? The paths suggested by the existing order — call it what you will, Empire, capitalism, colonial modernity, white supremacy, the cosmophagous world — aim to capture the affects that make life worth living.
Neither sinners, nor victims: we inhabit climate change. We see that this period of disillusionment with centuries of misdirection is also one of infinite potential. Each of us have within us the remote possibility of stemming the tide of the catastrophe. By organizing pessimism, the fundamental affect of the times, and giving it a creative consistency, we can hope to bring about other worlds. But first, it is essential to make a break with this one. We did not choose to be thrown into a world that seems doomed to its own destruction, but we can decide to continue it or break free from it.
Studying Jewish folklore brings one around many old testament stories, and with that, the source of many cultural idioms and expressions: “the writing on the wall”, the value of atonement, among much else.
Something new to me is a source of wisdom on burying one’s dead. I did not realize advice about it for Jews goes back to beresheit:
After Hevel [aka Abel] was slain, he was lying in a field, his blood spattered over sticks and stones. The dog who had been guarding Hevel’s flock now also guarded Hevel’s corpse from the beasts of the field and the birds of the sky.
Adam and his mate came and sat by the corpse, weeping and mourning for him, but they did not know what to do with Hevel’s body.
A raven whose companion had just died said: I will teach Adam what to do. The raven took his dead companion, dug up the earth before the eyes of Adam and his mate, and buried him in it.
Adam said: We will do as the raven. At once he took Hevel’s corpse and buried it in the ground.
Importantly, the universe being a simulation does not imply solopsism.
I have seen a few cases of solopsism and similar philosophies taken as a given, based on the ‘universe is a simulation’ press circulating. Eventually news will spread that theoretical physicists think of mind as a substrate of reality. What philosophies will people be drawn to while digesting that revelation?
It is important to remember that in any of these metaphysical views, it can still be true (and perhaps much more-so) that we are all in it together. Perhaps I am just an ant, or just dust, or just digital. And so, I know how much an ant, or dust, or digital bits, can suffer, aspire, inspire, and love.
“If I died in a month would I be satisfied with my life, and the answer was ‘no’.”
“I don’t have to be a reincarnation. It’s not the most important thing. If my existence has meaning, it’s because I’m doing good in this world—I’m helping people. I don’t have to be a tulku in order to do that.”
“We don’t need all those complications,” he says. “We’re all humans. We’re all struggling. We’re all learning from each other.”
“Yesterday, I was talking to one of my tulku friends who is in New York, happily driving for Uber.”
In a conference webinar session about cooperatives (as a business model), we discussed how what we are taught about economics is not cooperative.
The myths of our capitalist culture tell us the commons is tragic, despite the authors of that myth (tragedy of the commons) building their arguments on shaky foundations, and having that myth refuted by a high quality scientist who won a Nobel prize for that refutation and clarification of managed commons.
In this discussion, someone made the great point about one reason we all benefit from passing leadership to indigenous and black leaders:
“I feel that that is one reason we need to lean into Indigenous Values and have BIPOC leaders in building Coops– because they have been holding it down for so long….and they know how to lead from a different reference point of conditioning and community resourcing…”
200 winters away
How many generations will have passed?
What will I&I enjoy in life? What of one's own ways will continue?
What lessons will I&I have learned?
What challenges will I&I face?
What will I&I have of the essential gifts to sustain oneself? Wood, water, air, soil, energy?
#TreesAreTheAnswer #WeAlreadyKnow #Hózhó
Though the work is easier together, we spread out in the darkest time of year to cozier burrows, diffusing the weight of winter, lighter on the land. Though it is dark, we are warmed to know there are familiar others nearby. Our struggles are tied up together, and while one faces scarcity, someone else has more than enough to share, so that we may survive together and work together in brighter times.
So it has been through the ages. So it is still in little ways in overdeveloped places where big systems eclipse mutual aid: we turn to neighbors for power during long outages, for tool shares, for relationship. So it is still in big ways in underdeveloped places where small systems are made sufficient by human relationships: cooperating to cultivate land, to maintain infrastructure for basic needs, for relationship.
The lessons of the seasons proceed before us, though we may be distracted by a house on fire, our own or our neighbors.
May we be there for each other, so that we may all meet our needs, in mutual benefit with the sources of that sustenance and satisfaction. May peace be upon you.
As Sylvanaqua Farms has said: “Racism, environmental decline, animal welfare, and human health are tied in a Gordian Knot around the issue of food. Common sense would suggest untying it be left to people with demonstrated expertise in its varying facets:
– Indigenous land/water protectors (which includes farmers) who protect 80% of the world’s remaining biodiversity – People of color who are most familiar with the intricate nuances of American racism – Livestock and hunting cultures around the world that regard the sanctity of all life (animal and plant) equally and in ways utterly unfamiliar to Euro/Western minds – Members of strong, older food cultures that enjoy robust health without an industry devoted to nutrition”
– And as came up in a PASA 2021 conference conversations bout cooperatives: indigenous people and people of color are much closer to a cooperative mindset, compared with European men experiencing generations of learning to be competitive.