Date: 6/24/18 1:31 pm From: David Irons <llsdirons...> Subject: [obol] Re: How should Oregon birders organize?
If nothing else, this discussion reveals that there are all sorts of birders and we express our interest in and love for birds in a wide variety of ways. As Paul Sullivan suggests, not all of us are wired for the inherent conflict that comes with being a "conservationist," but as he also points out we can all be conservation activists in some form or fashion.
Humans tend to look at the landscape in one of three ways.
Some walk out their front door, head down, earbuds in, totally disconnected to trees, singing birds, butterflies, blue skies and other creatures around them. They don't possess even a remote understanding of the Earth's basic physical processes (climate, weather, geology etc.). The fact that they are unable to identify a single plant or tree and can't tell you the difference between coniferous and deciduous doesn't bother them, because such things have no value commercial or otherwise.
Others walk outside and see "natural resources." Wildlife, open spaces, vegetation and bodies of water are only worth the amount of money you can make by exploiting them. Natural resources have no inherent value, just the tangible human value that can be created through extraction, conversion, or exploitation.
Then there are the rest of us. Our lives are made richer by sitting on a river bank and watching water flow by powered only by slope and gravity. We can't imagine standing at the edge of a natural prairie and not hearing the songs of larks, sparrows and meadowlarks, or watching a harrier glide by. We walk down a beach gazing at the ocean not wondering what is beyond the water or how we might conquer it, but instead being thankful for its vastness and the opportunity to be reminded of own insignificance. We recognize that human efforts to tame nature and convert this landscape for our own convenience has but one ultimate outcome...our own extinction as a species, at which point natural processes will gradually start wiping away nearly every bit of evidence that we were ever here.
For most of us, activism comes not in the form of engaging in the conflict, but in trying to share some of what we know with everyone we meet. Not a day passes when I don't talk to someone about a bird, its habits, its habitat needs and how it fits into the grand scheme of things. I regularly help people come to know the names of trees and plants that are in own their yards. I teach them the names of the birds that are sitting on their back fence, or the name of a butterfly nectaring on a flower in their garden. Each day I tell someone new that I am a birder, why I am birder, where I go birding and why. Most importantly, I share how being out on the landscape watching birds brings meaning and value to my life. I suspect that most birders are doing this. I'd like to believe that collectively our form of activism can and does make an impact. More people admit to watching birds than ever before. People talk about climate change and notice its effects now more than ever. The uber-rich exploiters and extractors like the Koch Brothers no longer engage in their activities in anonymity. We know their names, their companies and what they are up to. Are we winning this battle? I don't know, but I take comfort in knowing that ultimately nature and natural forces will win the war regardless of whether humanity is around to see the outcome or not.
Hopefully the number of birds reported in my earlier post will offset the fact that this post includes no bird sightings.
From: <obol-bounce...> <obol-bounce...> on behalf of Paul Sullivan <paultsullivan...>
Sent: Sunday, June 24, 2018 4:30 PM
Subject: [obol] How should Oregon birders organize?
Like Mark, I have liked Audubon Society of Portland's pithy statement of
purpose: "Teaching people to love and protect nature."
First of all that says that what we are about is "teaching" and that our
target is "people."
And more than facts, we are "teaching people to love."
And the consequence is that the "people" will "love" and "protect" nature.
Conservation is the consequence of appreciation of nature.
I mentioned conservation in my original posting June 16. There was quite a
bit of discussion before Joel brought up conservation. Why?
Look at the demographics:
Perhaps 1000s of Oregonians interested in birds.
Some 1572 people subscribe to OBOL
A lesser number subscribe to BOO
Some 400 belong to OBA.
Not everyone is an activist.
Being involved in "conservation" can take several forms:
One is being an activist, attending rallies, going to hearings, writing
congress, raising funds, tracking issues and carrying a certain level of
angst about all of this. The language of this endeavor is about campaigns,
fights, battles, friends and enemies, winning and losing. It involves
conflict with other people, trying to make them STOP logging, grazing,
dredging, filling, paving, developing, hunting, fishing, spraying, mining...
The action takes place in the human area. Wildlife continues with their
lives, out in nature, in spite of us.
That is not for everyone. I care intensely, but I can't do that.
Another way to do conservation is to provide hands-on help, pulling old
fences at a preserve, nursing baby birds, cleaning oiled birds, running a
bluebird trail, etc. This appeals to other folks.
Another way to do conservation is to gather data for a better understanding
of birds and better management of habitat. Kudos to Joel for his efforts in
that area with grassland birds.
Another way to do conservation is to engage in "teaching people to love and
protect nature." That's for me. I'd rather show someone their first towhee
than fight with them about protecting towhee habitat.
My original question was aimed at spurring a discussion of "What are we
collectively about?" and "What do we want to be/do going forward?" I've
stated my take, but I don't control the outcome.
To that end, I think our discussion has been helpful.
Thanks to all who have contributed, and any voices yet to speak,
[obol] How should Oregon birders organize?
Joel Geier is absolutely right. Bird conservation must be front and center.
I serve on the Board of the Audubon Society of Portland and have been a memb
of that organization since the early 1980s. Our mission it to “inspire peopl
from all walks of life to enjoy, understand, and protect native birds and
wildlife, and the natural environment upon which we all depend.” Or put anot
way, “to love and protect nature.”
Everyone on OBOL loves birds. For that very reason, everyone on OBOL should
want to protect the habitats birds depend on. This is the main reason I supp
organizations like Portland Audubon, American Bird Conservancy, The Nature
Conservancy and other conservancies. Birders can support these organizations
through donations, memberships, advocacy, and simple environmental education
(reminding fellow birders, especially young birders, that without the habita
there are no birds).
Thank you, Joel, for bringing this issue to our attention.