We apologize for the lack of posting but J. and I are both working and finding time to blog just isn’t very easy when he is gone 14 hours a day between work and commuting and I’m on the road for weeks at a time. I’m sure that we will find our rhythm again. And no the pelicans above aren’t really related to the post, but they look cool 🙂
Instead of trying to find something relating to the home to blog about I thought I would talk a bit about where I am now. I (N.) intentionally don’t talk about my work much but I will tell you that it is in the environmental industry so I’m around people who in theory care a lot about the earth. The conference I’m at now is focusing on climate change on estuary habitats and it’s being held on Block Island, RI.
For those of you that don’t know Block Island was formed ten thousand years ago, when glaciers pushed their way down the East Coast and left behind the rocks and soil that formed the island. The result was a small community of year round residents and a very fragile ecosystem. Because of the particular forces of nature that went to work on Block Island, no other place on earth shares its geography, nor its balance of species. Maritime shrubland, beaches and open morainal grasslands support more than 40 state and federal rare or endangered species, including the globally endangered American burying beetle. Not to mention the fact that birds stop here while migrating in the spring and fall along the Atlantic Flyway. Needless to say it’s a pretty important place ecologically speaking.
The residents are doing quite a bit to preserve what the Nature Conservancy has dubbed one of “the last great places.” The residents formed a trust to buy land and maintain the natural habitats and prevent more building. So far 42% of the Island is owned and protected by them and they hope to purchase about 25% more. These seem like great goals and I admire the effort that must have went into creating this organization and raising funds to purchase this land BUT
I actually walked around Block Island today and while the residents don’t want new people they aren’t really greening up their own backyards. One of the reasons to prevent further construction is the destruction of native flora and fauna and the habitats that these create. So one might think that the residents have foregone manicured green lawns for native grasses that they let grow taller so that they can water less- you would be wrong. You would think there would be more alternative forms of energy like wind and solar power- you would be wrong. You would think there would be lots of gardens considering anything they don’t produce has to be flown or ferried in and you would be wrong. Now this isn’t to say that I didn’t see some wind and solar power and some backyard gardens but I guess I expected more.
A big deal has been made of the efforts that these people have put forth to preserve the island but you get the feeling that they are preserving so that they can do whatever they want with their yard or their (in some cases very large) house. Even the tourist industry isn’t very green. My hotel room has plastic cups, mutiple boxes of tissues (I have no idea why) as well as multiple single size toiletries. Considering that all waste has to be ferried off the Island you would think people might be more sensitive. But perhaps because they know it leaves the island they aren’t… Some food here is organic but I don’t know if it’s local and in fact some businesses advertise the fact that their food is flown in from NY. I imagine that this has to do with appealing to tourists but I mean are they coming here for NY food? Probably not. If they are coming because it is so well preserved then keep driving the green point home! I think that Block Island can be a great learning tool for people. I mean the Island caters to tourists because they bring in a lot of money but since they are a captive audience you can really make them live a greener life if only for a day. Only offer organic or local or fairtrade. Probably display rain collection devices and backyard gardens. The list goes on and on.
I’m not taking away what they have done here or minimizing it in anyway but I wonder wouldn’t Block Island with it’s fragile ecosystem be better off without us? It’s not going to happen, I realize that but I think that when we have great successes like preserving 42% and counting of Block Island instead of pattng ourselves on the back we need to think about how much more we can and should be doing and continue to act on that.