Contributing Monkie G Living Staff Monkies
Published on February 11, 2009
I was prone to environmental passions early in life. I’ve run the gamut from tree hugging innocence to jaded “futilism”; evolving from “dark green” (embracing ideas that depend on relinquishing technology in order to reduce its impact on the earth) to my current “bright green” place, which fits me just right.
Bright Green refers to a subcategory of environmentalism where technology achieves ecological sustainability without reducing the potential for economic growth. Land reclamation/rehabilitation endeavors – the process of cleaning up a site that has sustained environmental degradation – have evolved, and in many cases allow for the restoration of the land, or conversion into a wildlife habitat.
An article by Stephen Moss in The Guardian espoused this very process with the restoration of Canvey Wick, on the edge of the Thames Estuary in the U.K. Moss states that the area, once the site of a huge oil refinery, now wears the crown as “England’s little rainforest”. He offers, “For its size, the site supports more different species of plant and animal than any other place in Britain”. As I read, the real impact on me was the joyful knowledge that the abandoned oil refinery sitting vacant all of those decades had become a magnificent sanctuary and preserve. Worldwide, many other similar sites draw a multitude of visitors and membership…
Voila! “Bright green” – ecology coupled with economic generation.
I support the Butterfly Pavilion just outside of Denver and recently took some of the younger children in the family to witness the Atlas Moth from Southeast Asia. Its wingspan was an amazing 11 inches, the coloring and markings elaborate, with a pattern on the outer tips of the forewings in the shape of a snake’s profile, complete with an artificial “eye” — probably to scare off predators. After it emerges from its chrysalis, it only lives for twelve days, as it cannot eat. Yet there it sits, beautiful and inspiring, enjoying those short days to the fullest.
Housed in that same sanctuary were multitudes of squirmy, fuzzy, large, small (and sometimes yucky) bugs. The kids were fascinated and listened with wide-eyed wonder as the guide proceeded from one area to another. They learned how these odd and unusual creatures lived within their own environments, unlike my own upbringing where bugs were there to be squished, swatted or sprayed.
Denver’s Pavilion, like England’s Canvey Wick, offers us an awareness of co-existence as we enter into the world of wonder. If you sit quiet and still, you’ll see amazing things and hear only the buzzes, whooshes, hoots, and caws of nature as you smell the rich lush foliage and soil. You’ll experience life like the winged and four-footed neighbors that share our planet in a way that urban life can never give you.
For some, being green may not be easy, but I’m happy that I stuck it out. It has introduced me to a world I didn’t know existed and allowed me to still find ways to evolve and enjoy our technical and industrial achievements tempered, with an understanding of the whole picture. I would encourage you to enter into the worlds of places like Canvey Wick and allow yourself to blend into the environment in order to view the magnificence that abounds, a magnificence that we must preserve.