Monthly Archives: November 2017

8 posts

CLF (Conservation Law Foundation)

CLF is an organization we supported when living in Rhode Island and one we continue to support here in New Hampshire. The Conservation Law Foundation crosses state lines, working on a regional level to protect New England’s environment. They educate, fight and have an impact on so much that is vital to our lives and our survival. Climate change, ocean health, clean water, local food economies, modernizing transportation—they cover this and much more on a regional basis, seeing the big picture: that we need to build our communities and web of connections in order to be stronger and more resilient for the future.



The Hidden Life of Trees by Peter Wohlleben

When I mentioned The Hidden Life of Trees by Peter Wohlleben to a forester I know, he scoffed. And the wildlife specialist we were walking with said, “Oh yeah, trees scream in agony.” They joshed about the absurdity and we moved on to the topic of how to create more habitat for songbirds. My secret caveat being, I didn’t want to kill anymore trees.

The same thing happened a few years ago when I read Eating Animals by Jonathan Safran Foer. Foer wrote that fish have social lives, and that no fish has a good death. Result: I stopped eating fish.

I have to be careful what I read.

Wohlleben writes of the interconnectedness of trees—through pheromones, roots, fungi, and microbes—to each other and the world around them. Each chapter is a vignette on an aspect of this communication. Wohlleben writes of old growth forests and of planted forests, of trees grown in cityscapes, and how different tree species adapt and react to these varying environments. He describes how trees prepare for winter, procreate, feed and protect each other, grow old, die. Just as ants have been proven to communicate with pheromones, and humans, too, so do trees. With scent, trees give warning of bug invasions. With their root systems, they send nutrients to their compatriots, chemical messages and electrical stimuli, thereby raising the “heated controversy [that] has flared up among scientists. Can plants think? Are they intelligent?” [pg. 85]

Alert: I have read The Secret Lives of Plants and The Secrets of the Soil. I have contemplated and participated in a degree of biodynamic farming. I am on board with the idea that animals and plants are sentient beings. Maybe they don’t think as we do. But trees have been around for millions years—the first trees started to appear 385 million years ago. I would ask this: Why would humans be the only ones to evolve forms of communication and caring? And, even if they don’t think, trees exist at a level we need to return to: nature’s level.

Why do we need to? On page 113 of his book, Wohlleben writes, “An organism that is too greedy and takes too much without giving anything in return destroys what it needs for life and dies out.”

Wohlleben presents facts and details about trees far better than I can regurgitate them. His book describes the elegance and solemnity of elder trees, the spontaneity of young trees and how they can overstep their bounds by growing up too fast, taking too much; the advantages of many trees living together in a forest, and the disadvantages of city life; the importance of diversity, and the possibilities and chances taken by trees who live on a longer time scale than humans. I tend not to remember details. But I do try to gain the essence of what’s being said in a book. I ask, what can I learn that I can apply to my life?

From The Hidden Life of Trees I learned this: To reach deep into the ground for steadiness and connection, and up to the sky for light and water; to not rush but grow slowly; to connect, communicate, share. Wohlleben writes about what I believe: the connection of all things in this world by a vibrant, active energy. Call it electrons, love or sentience, consciousness or not, it’s kind of like magic and can be beautiful.

Does that sound hokey, magic? But there’s so much ugly in life, evil and cruelty. Humans have developed protective tools, concepts like a god who protects us. And we divorce ourselves from the animals and plants that we eat by claiming they don’t feel. But why not believe that they do? Wouldn’t we then take better care of everything around us? The diversity of life on this planet has been destroyed by humans. We live with a mere pittance of what once existed and our economics claim that we cannot save the world because it is uneconomic . . . thereby exposing just how divorced from reality we have become. How can we not save the world when, without it, we cannot exist. Why not accept the awesomeness of such a simple magic as connection and let that lift us up to be our better selves, stewards of the earth, not destroyers. Then we might step forward to make more magic happen.

Does this pass for a book review? Maybe not. But it’s a good book for me to begin this “Read and Reading” page because it expresses my personal beliefs and my hope.

Anyone who yearns to learn from nature will dip into this book and slowly be immersed in tree life. There will be some, like my forester friend, who will scoff and say Wohlleben is no scientist. But the author has lived with trees and has opened himself to what they might teach him. That is a path I will follow.

The Monadnock Conservancy

The Monadnock Conservancy, a land trust organization for southwestern New Hampshire, does what Carl and I strive to do at Darwin’s View. It conserves and stewards the natural resources of the Monadnock region; educates the public on the importance of conserving land, not least agricultural properties and the concomitant way of life; connects people to nature, thereby strengthening both the community and the land; and sustains a deep love and passion for our environment.

In 2006-2007, when we bought the land that is Darwin’s View, we put most of it—180 acres—into a conservation easement with the Monadnock Conservancy. We held back fifteen acres on top of the hill to allow time and space for us to determine where we would site the house, and what, exactly, we planned to do there. The easement preserves the land in perpetuity, while allowing for all things agricultural. Because we had no intention of developing the land, their restrictions are no hardship. On the contrary, at times, when we have been planning to maintain shrub land and fields for wildlife habitat, or wanted to implement one of our ideas, they have been a great resource for information, and provided us with structure so that we don’t overstep the boundaries we want to support.

Please check out their website and consider supporting their cause. And drop me a line if you have any questions!

Corporate Accountability

What is Corporate Accountability and why do we support it? You may or may not know this but I declared war against climate change in February of 2013. That soon became a two-front war against demo-n-capitalism, that nasty joining of our democracy with capitalism that has resulted in both being warped beyond recognition. Clearly, to save the world, we had to save our democracy first. Thus, Carl and I marched with to get money out of politics. But years have gone by and, as you may have noted, war is not the answer and the world is on a downward trend.

Enter Corporate Accountability. For decades they have been fighting corporate power, waging strategic campaigns that compel transnational corporations and the governments that do their bidding to stop destroying human rights, democracy, and the planet. Some of their many victories include launching the successful Nestlé boycott, moving General Electric out of the nuclear weapons business, and compelling R. J. Reynolds to retire Joe Camel. And now they have set their sites on the UN talks to combat climate change. Their strategy and hope? To get the fossil fuel industry out of those negotiations, to which end they have already achieved notable progress.

Carl and I believe that, though individuals can absolutely have an effect, yet we must all work together to fight the Too Big to Fail corporations. Corporate Accountability gives us the chance, not just to change the world but to save it.

Please check out their website and consider supporting their cause. And drop me a line if you have any questions!

I believe climate change is happening and that it is human caused. I also believe that we can change our current direction and heal the world. is “building the global grassroots climate movement that can hold our leaders accountable to science and justice.” You can get involved, too.

Farm Sanctuary & PETA (to name only two)


“The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated.” Mahatma Gandhi

These organizations are two that I support because they protect the rights and lives of animals. This might seem precious with so many human rights and lives being assaulted but if we choose not to treat animals decently, why would we care for people? Animal farm factories. Animal experimentation. Destruction of habitat and slaughter of the wild. It is easy to ignore the chickens and geese, the cows and pigs, elephants, whales, wolves and sparrows . . .. They have no voice in the economic debates that rule the human world. But by not care-taking for animals and their environment, we endanger and degrade our own lives.

I believe all sentient creatures, whether raised for experimentation or food, living free or as pets in our homes, should be treated with respect and compassion.

Please buy only products that have the cruelty-free bunny on the label. And please consider supporting these causes or any others that provide a voice for those who have none. (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals)

American Farmland Trust

If we don’t save our farmland now, in the not distant future, there will not be enough land and farmers to provide our human population with food. Which, perhaps, won’t be a problem. Our species might have already committed unintentional suicide by doing nothing about this climate change situation. But because we can do and must do, I do. I donate to organizations that are looking to the past to provide for the future. Thus, permaculture and agroforestry. Thus, American Farmland Trust. Because if we change how we farm, we can save the world, too.

Ever heard of or seen the bumper stickers NO FARMS NO FOOD? That’s American Farmland Trust. Their mission “is to save the land that sustains us by protecting farmland, promoting sound farming practices, and keeping farmers on the land.”

Healthy soil equals healthy food equals healthy people. Please check out AFT.


CELDF (Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund) & NHCRN (New Hampshire Community Rights Network)

I love these two organizations because they are thinking outside the box. They work to bring our community rights legal authority to say “No” to Too-Big-to-Fail Corporations. Please check out their websites and learn more about them. This is how we will regain our human and environmental rights. There is less of a divide than we are led to believe.