I helped restore the first prairie in Forest Park (ironically, near the golf course), have restored the little yard I have in the city to native organic prairie (and yes, there is always a fear the city will decide it has to be cut back - I have had that happen to friends) and if it's extreme to speak the truth, then I am a raving extremist.  Still, after all my years as an activist here in the city of St. Louis,  I am not anti-corporation.  I would say I am pro-accountability.  I like to think of myself as part of a persistance movement, not resistance movement. And I am not into bringing anybody "down."  I am into bringing everybody into empowered mutuality and respect for individuality.

Humans do indeed load their lawns, gardens and golf courses with toxic chemicals...and it's up for debate about who uses more...agriculture or the manicurists.  But that's not the point.   It's due to agri-business that all these chemicals are available, advertised and considered safe to begin with - and that people believe this and use them - those who can afford them.  (Wherever does this manicured lawn and garden fetish come from, anyway? this desire to do an extreme makeover of the planet? Are we that scared of nature, our bodies, our wildness?)

Agri-business ultimately holds the power unless we take it away - and yes, revoke their charters when they try to influence the EPA to say that Round-Up (remember, they are the folks that gave you Dioxin and Agent Orange) is safe...and yes, put their CEO's in jail when they do such harm.  It's their influence over the revolving doors of their board rooms and the governmental regulatory agencies that sees to this continued harm.  Corporations created the regulatory agencies.  Read history.  Here in Missouri, if you pay attention, you can see the directors of the Missouri Conservation Department often ending up on the Board of companies like Doe Run Company, for instance. Doe Run is a lead mining company that has been and continues to be a menace to Missouri's lands.    

We can't afford to be naive anymore or afraid to speak the truth.  As far as trying to convince folks by toning myself down and/or talking about more "palatable" options like "partnering" with corporations, I don't want to partner with them.  I want us (we the people) to tell them what they can and can't do, if they decide to get big.  If they'd all stay small, no big deal.  But they are big, we don't have real power over them, and everyone affected by their decisions is not participating in them.  Our power has been usurped.  I say we reclaim it.   Ever read Starhawk's first novel, FIFTH SACRED THING?  Great stuff - great vision.  

Her book is described on her website as such:  "Starhawk's epic tale, set in 2048, California. In a time of ecological collapse, when the hideously authoritarian and corporate-driven Stewards have taken control of most of the land and set up an apartheid state, one region has declared itself independent: the Bay Area and points north. Choosing life over guns, they have created a simple but rich ecotopia, where no one wants, nothing is wasted, culture and cooperation are uppermost, and the Four Sacred Things are valued unconditionally. But the Stewards are on the march northward, bent on conquest and appropriation of the precious waters. It’s the love story of Bird the musician and warrior and Madrone the healer, and of Maya, Bird’s grandmother, ninety-eight year old story teller, whose vision provides a way for them to  defend their city from invasion without becoming what they are fighting against."  

Yes, my favorite  lead male character of all times is named Bird.  

To Angel:  I love the latin phrase "Credendo Vides."  It means "Believing is Seeing," rather than "seeing is believeing."  It's sort of sacrilege in Missouri, the "show-me" state, eh?  But as a burned out old activist myself, I have learned that our response to all the overwhelm we might feel in the face of the truth does not have to be guilt.  It can be love. It's all a matter of perspective.  

I am done with guilt - or try to be.  It only serves to drain my energy.  I felt guilty for so long about so much when I first sniffing around for the truth and discovering it - in horror.  I didn't want to know that almost everything I did was harming someone or something somewhere - unnecessarily.  But that's what I discovered.  And I responded as best I could with the full range of feelings I was often experiencing - anger, fear, despair, numbness.  I felt mostly traumatized and shell-shocked by it all after a while. It's a lot to absorb for a small creature like a human. But my love for the planet was too great.  No matter how much I tried to quit looking, my heart kept wanting to figure out how to survive it, kept wanting to continue to witness and respond well to the crisis the planet's facing, kept wanting to figure out how to love birds, not kill them.  

I don't have many answers about how to find the way from traumatized or guilty in response to the relaxed and at peace with the truth. I did take up birding as part of the answer.  I needed to stay balanced in my witnessing.  I needed to witness the magic more.  I was taking in too much of the bad news.  I think it's doing the trick cause I didn't feel guilty about learning about the harm bird feeding does.  I simiply felt empowered to take action.  I said "No" to bird feeding and "Yes" to birding.   

I am not done with the truth, nor will I ever be - both the joyous truths and the ugly.  I will continue to explore ways to creatively live with it all and respond to it.  These ain't easy times, gal.  I know that.  And we need the NOW, for sure.  More than ever.  But the truth is never absent from the now.  Trust that you can hold both the beauty and the ugliness of what we do.  It might break your heart, but that's what we need NOW, more than ever - the truth of our broken hearts.  Trust in the truth.  It won't just set you free. It will shatter you as it makes you whole in the process.  And miracles are possible.  I see that in every bird that migrates through.  They are keeping me wanting to live...and keeping me wanting to contribute to the healing and change of my misguided species with as much of the passionate love I have for this place and all its peoples that I can muster.  

As Almasy says in the movie THE ENGLISH PATIENT "Every night I cut out my heart. But in the morning it was full again."  I feel lucky to have a love like that...that continues despite living everyday with the full knowledge of being responsible as a species for the biggest mass extinction the earth has ever known...and the rending of the web of life that gave me birth.

Chris McClarren
St. Louis South City
[log in to unmask]

---- John Curran <[log in to unmask]> wrote: 
> Well I would side more with Angel on this issue.
> Remember, corporations provide livelihoods for millions of people, including myself. Bring down a corporation, you are bringing me down.
> Another big thing I think some extreme environmentalists forget, sure drive a corporation out of the United States, but you seriously think China and other countries will be more responsible when the corporations setting up camp on the other side of the world? 
> I think the approach of grow native is a great start. 
> Harmful effects Chemicals in homeowner's yard, another great idea to educate people on.
> I would advise to be less antagonistic of corporations and think more partnership. I think a partnership view of corporation approach would win over lots more people than making statements like "or their charters will be revoked and their CEO's put in jail" and "can't evolve into monsters".
> Just my two cents as we all strive to keep birds around for generations to enjoy.
> John Curran
> --- On Thu, 10/8/09, Angel Wintrode <[log in to unmask]> wrote:
> > From: Angel Wintrode <[log in to unmask]>
> > Subject: Re: Bird feeding:  Can we have our cake and eat it, too?
> > To: [log in to unmask]
> > Date: Thursday, October 8, 2009, 4:52 PM
> > At what point do we decide, as
> > humans, that all this guilt is bad for US, rather than
> > constantly trying to weigh the costs to other species? 
> > Granted, I love the wildlife, love the birds, and would like
> > to think that I contribute what good that I can to every
> > creature.  But if I have to feel guilty about feeding
> > birds, and feel guilty about the possible ill effects of
> > saving each and every wild animal baby, at what point is the
> > guilty byproduct so detrimental to ME that I can no longer
> > do any good or bad for anyone?  I hear you - don't get
> > me wrong - I'm sure that the seed I buy for birds is grown
> > in some horrible way, and I'm sure that wherever it's grown
> > it was once a great wildlife area that is no more.  I'm
> > sure that feeding cat chow to my baby raccoons who visit
> > each night isn't necessarily good for them either, and I may
> > be impacting them in the wrong ways.  I am not sure,
> > however, what the possibilities are if I were to stop doing
> > both.  Isn't it possible that if we d!
> >  iscouraged bird feeding, over time, people would lose the
> > sense of wonder that they currently have with birds? 
> > Isn't it possible that the public at large may eventually
> > lose any semblance of respect that they may currently have
> > for our coexistence with the nature around us?  How
> > many people grow certain plants in their yards because they
> > like what visitors that plant brings with it?  Isn't it
> > possible that even if we stopped buying bird seed from these
> > large manufacturers they would just dream up something even
> > more detrimental to grow and make money from?  I would
> > love to say that people should just grow the things that
> > feed the birds, instead of buying bird seed, but I'm a
> > practical person and I know that many of us (birdfeeders)
> > would never get around to doing so and would either a) cease
> > to feed the birds altogether, or b) fail at growing the
> > things that attract what we like and then end up using
> > harmful things to make it work (ie chemicals, etc).  I
> > can't say that's t!
> >  rue though, because I have no way of finding that
> > out.  I'm not raisin
> > g these points to get answers, but instead to point out
> > that these are UNANSWERABLE questions.  So many
> > different things would have to be predicted correctly in
> > order to reach some sort of conclusion, and there's no way
> > to do that - short of fortune telling, which is still a bit
> > unreliable.  :)  
> > 
> > It is possible that we're doing more harm than good by
> > feeding the birds, on a global scale.  It's also
> > possible that the future without bird feeding would have
> > other detrimental effects that we can imagine right
> > now.  There's no way to know.  Science can always
> > make educated guesses, some of those guesses are so well
> > thought out that they are hard to argue with even.  But
> > at the end of the day, no matter how many studies are done,
> > or how much education is behind the guess, the future is
> > unknown, and all we can do is try to enjoy the day -
> > TODAY.  If feeding the birds help us, as humans, do
> > that, then I cannot see the harm.  That's not to say go
> > knock down a forest and build your dream home just to enjoy
> > your day more today.  Obviously, we can try to coexist
> > with nature in unobtrusive ways, but even that word -
> > obtrusive, is subjective.  I hate to think that someday
> > people will not enjoy the nature around us only because the
> > mere process of looking at a tree only makes us th!
> >  ink of our own guilt over the trees we have consumed in
> > one way or another.  I personally think that all of
> > this environmental awareness may be starting to go too
> > far.  I agree that we should respect our environment
> > and should avoid destroying it whenever we can, but not to
> > the point that we cannot even enjoy what we have worked to
> > preserve.  
> > 
> > Alright...bring it on... I'm sure I've started a war with
> > someone.  :)  I don't mean to, but I know from
> > experience that I tend to do that.
> > 
> > :::::::::::::::::::::::::::::
> > Angel Wintrode
> >  (636) 492 -1610
> > 
> > -----Original Message-----
> > From: Missouri Wild Bird Forum [mailto:[log in to unmask]]
> > On Behalf Of Christina McClarren
> > Sent: Thursday, October 08, 2009 11:43 AM
> > To: [log in to unmask]
> > Subject: Bird feeding: Can we have our cake and eat it,
> > too?
> > 
> > Hi, my name is Chris and I am a recovering bird feeder....
> > 
> > I'd like to stimulate a thoughtful discussion about bird
> > feeding. There is a lot of information out there on the pros
> > and cons of bird feeding, but here are my ideas on the
> > matter, after much research and soul-searching.
> > 
> > 1. Wild bird populations are declining, in part due to loss
> > of habitat, habitat fragmentation and toxins strewn about
> > the earth in large part by agriculture. 
> > 2. It's estimated that over 50 million of us feed wild
> > birds in the U.S. (and mostly feed them non-organic,
> > junk-foodish, and  non-nutritional seed and
> > sugar-water.)
> > 3. Millions of us feeding birds means millions (if not
> > billions) of pounds of non-organic bird seed (and sugar
> > cane) is being grown by agriculture.
> > 4. Corporate agriculture is the number one cause of the
> > loss of wildlife habitat and habitat fragmentation. 
> > Millions of pounds of seed and cane destroys thousands of
> > acres of habitat.
> > 5. Big agriculture is the number one user of toxins and is
> > the cause of much toxic run-off of pesticides and other
> > toxins that kill birds and other life.
> > 6. Even growing organic seed and sugar cane results in the
> > destruction of habitat.
> > 7. Bird feeding is not necessary, but habitat is. 
> > Bird feeding is problematic for many other debatable
> > reasons: spread of disease, attracting birds to prey, etc.
> > However, these are not the crux of the matter.  Habitat
> > destruction is.
> > 8.  I haven't even begun to mention all the
> > destruction that results from the manufacturing,
> > distribution, advertising and consumption of bird
> > foods,  bird feeding catalogs, bird feeders and
> > paraphenalia.  It's huge!  
> > 
> > Conclusion:  Bird feeding is not beneficial, but is
> > harmful. Especially since it's not a few people feeding them
> > but millions.  Therefore, bird feeding is responsible
> > for the destruction and poisoning of large amounts of
> > habitat  - and therefore the killing and poisoning of
> > birds. I don't think we can have our cake and eat it,
> > too.  We can't bird feed without killing the
> > birds.  At it's best, bird feeding might increase
> > awareness, but ironically, and sadly, at the cost of the
> > birds themselves.  
> > 
> > Bird feeding is the invention of corporations, and they are
> > the ones profitting off it, not the birds.  They take
> > advantage of our desire and need to connect with the awe of
> > nature in a human-made world fast destroying nature. 
> > Most ironic of all, they sell bird feeding to us and get us
> > hooked with ideas like the one that bird feeding helps birds
> > who can't find food - yeah, due to their destruction of its
> > supply.  We could just stop destroying habitat - and
> > their natural food sources.  
> > 
> > Action Idea:  Audubon Societies everywhere need to
> > carry out a campaign to stop bird feeding, instead of
> > encourage it and profit from it themselves.  They could
> > start Bird Feeders Anonymous Groups for the recovering
> > feeders like me.  I am sure we could come up with some
> > pithy slogans:
> > 
> > let go and let birds
> > but for the grace of birds
> > one bird at a time
> > expect birds
> > to the birds be true
> > turn it over (to the birds)
> > this too shall fly
> > 
> > Well, I'm not at my wittiest at the moment but you get the
> > point, if you are familiar with AA slogans. 
> > 
> > Audubon could encourage more bird watching groups.  We
> > don't want hordes of folk stampeding habitat to watch birds,
> > but I am sure there's a way to redirect folks toward
> > activities that minimize destruction.  Audubon could
> > help folks fall in love with nature again -
> > sustainably.   
> > 
> > Audubon might even carry out a campaign to go after the big
> > industrialists themselves, those destroying the most habitat
> > willy-nilly. Better yet, Audubon could help restore the
> > original intention of the founders of the United States that
> > corporations serve the public good -  or their charters
> > will be revoked and their CEO's put in jail.  
> > 
> > That would mean taking away corporations' rights under the
> > current laws to be seen as having the same rights as people
> > - which they did not originally have but snuck in using the
> > 14th amendment.  Corporations could be put back in
> > their place so they can't evolve into monsters that in one
> > fell swoop can set off mass extinctions without us having
> > any recourse.  We the people would have our power
> > restored while corporations could once again be held
> > accountable to us, if they want to do big stuff interferring
> > with our individual lives.  Corporations could be
> > reduced to having to selli raffle tickets to raise money,
> > instead of being able to reach deep into the back pockets of
> > government, wealthy elites or the militaries around the
> > world to get their way. 
> > 
> > Audubons could encourage those folks who are willing to
> > stop bird feeding to spend their millions on such campaigns
> > - and, of course, habitat restoration.  They go hand in
> > hand.
> > 
> > What do you think? 
> > 
> > Chris McClarren
> > St. Louis South City
> > [log in to unmask]
> >    
> > 
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