Guest Post: At the Root: Trees Rule

At the Root: Trees Rule

By Guest Blogger: Eileen Stark, Portland, Oregon

     Although the region’s unique wetlands and grasslands carry the greatest diversity of species, it is the forests that dominate and most distinctly characterize the Pacific Northwest. Structurally complex, dense, and immense ecosystems, forests sustain trees that substantially outgrow and outlive other plants and tolerate temperature variation and soil differences better. When the first European settlers arrived, conifers covered nearly the entire landscape of western British Columbia and Washington, and northwestern Oregon–from coast to Cascade crest–including the Puget Trough and parts of the Georgia Basin and Willamette Valley.Real Gardens Grow Natives
     These conifers (and other dominant species) are known as keystone species because of their strong and often unique effects on their ecosystem. Though they are greatly outnumbered by smaller plants in the forest, their contributions are mammoth. Cool, wet winters and mild, dry summers, along with rich soils, have made for optimum evergreen growing conditions.
     Conifers are able to photosynthesize during much of the year and are essential for watershed stabilization. Some species are the most massive on earth, often growing over 200 feet tall and living for more than 500 years. Worldwide, conifers represent the largest terrestrial “carbon sink,” where carbon is packed away in plant tissue above and below ground. The wettest forests–those on the west side of coastal mountain ranges–were once especially complex, with lush layering and much variation in tree age. Logging has eliminated much of the original, most productive old-growth forests, and massive clearcutting has resulted in severe fragmentation. Today, much forested land is “second growth” that has followed logging and wildfire.
     Garry oak (or Oregon White oak) ecosystems, where these oaks grow naturally, have become rare, with only a very small percentage remaining. The loss of these unique ecosystems puts all the species that rely on them in jeopardy, and indeed, some species have already been lost, while many of the remaining are at risk. If you live on land that was once part of a Garry oak ecosystem and are starting with a blank slate, consider planting Garry oaks and associated species like madrone (Arbutus menziesii), oceanspray (Holodiscus discolor), tall Oregon grape (Mahonia aquifolium), and baldhip rose (Rosa gymnocarpa). If your site is too small for large trees, grow the smaller associated species in a meadowlike garden or rock garden. Spring ephemerals include white fawn lily (Erythronium oregonum), Henderson’s shooting star (Dodecatheon hendersonii), and camas (Camassia quamash). Mid-bloomers include tiger lily (Lilium columbianum), nodding onion (Allium cernuum), stonecrop (Sedum spp.), harebell (Campanula rotundifolia), and western columbine (Aquilegia formosa); for late blooms try yarrow (Achillea millefolium var. occidentalis), showy fleabane (Erigeron speciosus), and goldenrod (Solidago canadensis).
     Most yards can support more trees, whether evergreen or deciduous, than they do. If you have the space, grow large trees–the oaks, the pines, the firs–that are quintessential to our region and will help replace some of the habitat that has been lost to development and logging. Just one Western red cedar (Thuja plicata) will provide dense shelter and nesting sites for various birds and small mammals, bark that can be used as nesting material, food for seed-eating birds and browsing mammals, and, as the trees mature, cavities for roosting and cavity-nesting birds.
     In urban areas, street trees that grow in parking strips could be native species (as well as the other plants you grow there). Some good choices for narrow parking strips (not less than 4 feet wide) include cascara (Rhamnus purshiana), Douglas maple (Acer glabrum), and black hawthorn (Crataegus douglasii), and for wider strips (greater than 6 feet wide) and without overhead utility wires, Garry oak (Quercus garryana), and Oregon ash (Fraxinus latifolia). Always check with your city’s urban forestry office before planting.
Excerpt from Real Gardens Grow Natives: Design, Plant, & Enjoy a Healthy Northwest Garden by Eileen M. Stark (Mountaineers Books, 2014)

 

Spring 2016 – Saving Time – Use Facebook Less

Spring Cleaning: How to use Facebook less.

Happy Spring. Like many, I find myself using Facebook at lot of time when I have other things to do.  My simple hack is to have Facebook open on one browser and the rest of my productivity tools (Hello, WordPress) open on another. This has led to using Facebook a whole lot less. Many of us learned to use Facebook for marketing our businesses back when it was free and reach was a real thing. Now that you have to pay to play, and even that is an unreliable indicator of any kind of usefulness, that which Facebook is useful for has shifted. I still do think that Facebook is useful – especially for networking and keeping in touch with others. Organizing things also goes pretty well – groups, events – still are great ways to gather people for a cause.  Try putting Facebook in it’s own browser and having the rest of your world happening on another and see what you think – I’d love to hear your thoughts below.

2.6.18 – Update: I took Facecrack off my phone (as well as Instagram) = this has led to about 70% decrease in my use of Facecrack – I highly recommend this move! 

In other news, it was quite a weekend. I attended the first ever Cultivation Classic.

Cultivation Classic

Spring into Cultivation Classic

According to Jeremy Plumb, one of the organizers: “This competition welcomes growers who can demonstrate a commitment to organic production methods, moving toward a regenerative approach,” said Jeremy Plumb, owner of Newcleus Nurseries and Farma dispensary in Portland. “This competition regards the quality of the process used, as well as the quality of the product.

I learned a ton. I met great people. My Congressman, Earl Blumenauer was there. I’m still tickled by how incredible the event was – really great speakers; good food; people dedicated to organic; good music. I can’t wait till the next one.  Here’s info about the winning strains

Then, there’s global warming. You just can’t escape it.  We just had the warmest April in Portland’s history. I still believe the answer is lessening the number of people on the planet, gradually.  I can’t believe how little the topic of human population growth in regards to climate change is discussed. I had a talk with a friend this past weekend who was arguing that US populatin growth is just fine. We’re the fastest growing population of any developed country and our consumption levels are over the top – so, hello warmest month ever, we’ve been expecting you.

I’ve been inspired, lately, to make more content and to share more of my thinking with the world. So, that’s what this is about. Thanks to Tim Ferris and Seth Godin and Michael Katz, some of the people who put out great content on a regular basis. I hope to fit into this tradition 🙂  I used to write a whole lot more – my newsletters used to be little tomes and as the trend has changed to shorter format, so have I.

That’s it for today. Have a great Spring! I hope life is treating you well. Feel free to leave comments below and to share this post on the social network of your choice!

AlbertCultivation Classic

More pictures of the event here.

NextDoor.com – The Future Is Here

NextDoor – A Great New Way to Meet Your Neighbors and Build Community

nextdoor.com

If you’ve been anywhere near me in the last year or two, or have been reading my newsletter, you’ll know I’ve been doing my best to spread the word about NextDoor.com.

I have been a fan of local all my life. I love the idea of the 20 minute neighborhood – being able to walk to everything you need in 20 minutes – which leads to less car use and having a lighter impact on the Earth. It leads to a lot of other benefits, as well. Not being in a car means you use other modes of transportation such as walking, biking and roller-skating. And while you’re out you end up meeting your neighbors and catching up – sometimes learning important news that you wouldn’t find out any other way. Knowing who lives around you also creates safety as everyone can keep an eye on things. This is what life used to be like in village days of yore. We’ve lost much of this familiarity as the United States has developed suburbs and we’ve designed our world to fit the car rather than what’s best for our thriving.

Enter the internet and social media platform, nextdoor.com. Nextdoor is a combination of social media worlds that many of us are familiar with (particularly, Facebook). Once you’ve signed up (which is a simple process where you, a real person, living at a real address are verified) you suddenly land in the neighborhood you live in on-line. There’s a newsfeed where you can see what your neighbors have posted, and you can also view the feed of your surrounding neighborhoods. For me, that’s North Richmond, Portland, Oregon = 200+ members, and the greater area about 2,000 members. I can connect to the people on my block, or to all the people in about a mile radius around me.

What I’ve seen so far is a mixture of things. People use NextDoor to offer each other extra of what they have (fruit was popular last Summer), kind of like Freecycle, which I helped jumpstart in 2003. The conversations are about everything from people seeking recommendations for home improvements; bodyworkers; tech support; local events; to neighborhood-watch type notifications about break-ins; missing pets and the like.  There’s also a fair bit of discussion about how our neighborhoods are developing. Currently, in the neighborhood I live in there has been an increase in old houses being torn down to be replaced by much larger scale buildings and that’s led to a lot of discussion of where we’re headed as a neighborhood and city.  These type of discussions used to happen on community discussion lists and at neighborhood council meetings, but this new forum provides an opportunity to use collaborative technology at the neighborhood level.  Without ads! Then, there are the yardsales and notices from the City and other odds and ends – things for sale; re-posts of Craigs List ads; homes for sale or rent; and new groups forming (the first of these I have seen is a local singles group).

There are many reasons why I am so gung-ho about Nextdoor.com. As someone who has been involved in high-tech for years, I am always excited when I see something come along that will help on a local level. I see this as that – a way for us all to get closer – to build community resilience through locals being in each others’ lives more. To make local bonds rather than keeping up networks that take a lot of fossil fuel to maintain. NextDoor also dovetails with another passion of mine: Farm My Yard. Farm My Yard is an effort to connect homeowners who have sunny yards with those who have urban farming skills and would like to grow food, but are lacking the space to do it. I also see Farm My Yard as a possible youth employment/business opportunity. In my dream I see teenagers using the Farm My Yard agreements and walking their neighborhoods to find a few yards to farm. This can and does lead to real income; vegetables for all; and less trips to the grocery store for everyone.

Farm My Yard

So, for me, it’s all coming together – and, I hope, we’re coming together. I see these types of developments leading to something fantastic in the future. Nextdoor.com is not perfect yet – it doesn’t always correctly identify neighborhood boundaries; the tech support can be iffy; disputes are left up to neighborhood “leaders” who sometimes make questionable calls; and I’m sure there are other imperfections, as well. That said, for now, this is one horse I am betting on! And, I recommend, if you’re not a member yet that you give it a try and see what you find. If you have comments, please leave them below.

For a better world,

Albert Kaufman
February 21, 2015

March 4, 2015 NYT Article

9.24.15 – My neighbors pulled together via a great conversation on Nextdoor.com to preserve some giant trees and build community at the same time in Portland, Oregon, The United States.

2015-09-22 09.46.51

 

Register to vote online in Oregon NOW!

Vote

yes on 92 and yes on 91

Sensible Changes Coming to Oregon – Be a part of history!

Let’s legalize marijuana – I want to see us sending less people to jail for no good reason. Labeling GMOs also makes sense. Voter registration in Oregon ends on 10.14 – don’t miss this historic opportunity!

I’d love to legalize marijuana here in Oregon in a couple days. There are so many reasons this makes sense – not putting people in jail unecessarily (freeing funds for other actual problems) – creating all sorts of job – making it easier for people who need marijuana-related products for healing to receive them, legally – reducing peoples’ intake of alcohol (more on that another time, but I see a connection) – hemp may be the best answer to a lot of problems we face today – climate change, clear-cut logging of Oregon forests for paper products. Anyway, I think I could probably brainstorm about 100 reasons why this will be good for Oregon (tourism) – feel free to add your thoughts in the comments section below. The news media mainly focuses on tax revenue – but I think that’s just the tip of the iceberg in terms of the positives!

We have 5 days left to register to vote here. And then, we get our ballots in 9 days, and then we vote.

We will also vote to Label GMOs (poison), which would delight me. As far as I can tell GMOs are poisons that are increasing the rates of cancer. By labeling any products that have them – I believe it will force food companies to reformulate their products (as they’ve done in other countries) so they can avoid having to include a GMO label. I learned about this and more in the film GMO OMG which has been showing around town. The film-makers are making screening rights free for anyone who wants to host a gathering on the topic – it’s quite brilliant and I highly recommend viewing it if you’re interested in learning more about the issue.

Some relevant links to share:

Register to vote on-line here

  1. Vote yes on 91 – Legalize It! Vote Yes on 91 – Endorsers
  2. Vote yes on 92 – Label GMO (poison) – YES!

91: Video with Rick Steves

92: Lively Video about GMOs by my friend, Dana Lyons

Thanks for your efforts to get everyone you know registered to vote. Know someone who has moved in the last 2 years? Know someone who turned or turns 18 before election day? Send them this link, thanks!

https://secure.sos.state.or.us/orestar/vr/register.do?lang=eng

Both of these campaigns can also use our $-support and any time you can spare to Get out the Vote (GOTV) – Bring a posse with you for best results 🙂