Oklahoma City's First Plant Catching Donation!

Have you guys heard about Plant Catching?

It's awesome!

Imagine FreeCycle... just for plants!  Here's how it works:
     When a gardener has excess plants, bulbs, seeds, compost, etc, they set it out somewhere visible with a Plant Catching label describing the plant and mark its' location on the Plant Catching website. Other gardeners can search the website to find it, or lucky folks can stumble upon it and take it home, learning about Plant Catching in the process.

I set out the first Plant Catching donation for OKC today and I'm going to set more out sporadically. Spread the word! Share it with all your buddies!  Let's start a garden trade network right here at home!


The Role of Pride in Your Environment

Let me tell you a story.

Once upon a time, I lived in this city that nobody liked. If you admitted you liked it, that meant you were unenlightened, probably boring, and definitely uncool. Parents taught this to their kids, their kids taught it to other kids, and all kids bragged about leaving as quick as they possibly could. The only time this city ever made the news was when something awful happened. Natural disasters. Crimes. That sort of thing. And so the rest of the world thought this city was crummy, too. It was a depressed, unnoticed little splotch in the middle of America. I never understood it, honestly – I was happy enough. But I also planned to leave like everyone else and live somewhere more interesting and more beautiful. In the long run, I didn’t – partially because I realized with no small amount of shock that I love my hometown, despite everything. And because of that, I witnessed this incredible transformation that started not long after I moved away to college and continues to this day.

For a variety of reasons, people wanted to be proud of their city again. They quit moving away. Or like me, they moved away and came back. They invested in their city with their time, talents and money. They passed taxes to make improvements to all sorts of things – to dilapidated parts of town, to transportation, to schools, to community recreation and education facilities. They rallied together around local businesses, artisans and sports teams. They made it cool to keep your money in the community instead of sending it to the box stores. They passed incentives for companies to locate here. They started making the news for something aside from getting their houses blown over – they made the news for low cost of living, for high employment rates, for their sports, for creative policies, for all sorts of things - and finally, people started to move in instead of move away.

The city I live in now is a far cry from the city I lived in twenty-five years ago. The difference is so shocking that it brings tears to my eyes because everyone else has finally started to love it the way that I have always loved it, and it is making it beautiful and exciting. A couple of weeks ago I drove down a street in the dark that used to be abandoned - but at night, on a Tuesday, lights shone. The buildings were buzzing. There were people eating dinner in their living rooms. There were store fronts. There was art in the windows. There was a catch in my throat. But it has always been a good city – it always had talented, intelligent, hard-working people fueling it. It always had an arts scene; it always had diverse citizenship; it always had recreational options and pretty garden parks. It always had some cool architecture, lots of possibilities, and innovative businesses. But now everyone knows it does. And it keeps getting better.

Now, it’s this.

The Cinderella City.

We aren’t perfect- no city is. But people have decided that we are decidedly Not Too Shabby, either.

Why did the scullery maid become a princess? Because people were proud of it. And because they were proud of it, they turned it into something to actually be proud of.  

You see, you have to value something before it can become valuable. If you don’t think it’s important enough to take good care of, not important enough to repair or improve, it will keep getting worse. It’s a vicious cycle.   

So how does this apply to the environment? Simple. Pride first. Value first. Why would someone take care of something they don’t care about? If people don’t think the Oklahoma landscape has any value, why would they care if they damage it or not? On some small level, they have to begin to feel proud of it.

So the next time someone tells you that where you live is boring – if they tell you there are no mountains, no interesting wildlife, no Big Nature or wilderness worth protecting (a line I have heard many times) – stand up for it. If you know they’re wrong, tell them so. If you agree with them, do a little research and find out if it’s really that bad. I’d wager it’s not because every ecosystem holds some beauty. At the very least, have something positive to say in return. Like this: “You’re right, but what IS cool about Oklahoma is that…” Don’t contribute to tearing down the ownership and pride for the land – contribute instead to the notion that it is something worth treasuring.

A friend of mine traveled to the Pacific Northwest this year. She said that the land was incredibly lovely, and everyone knew it and treated it that way. They didn’t litter. They didn’t tear things up. They were proud of it. She described one instance where someone in a car threw trash out the window, and immediately received shocked glares from everyone who witnessed it. Imagine if that’s the response littering got at home. I’d probably have less trash blowing into my yard.

If there is one thing I do in life (aside from the obvious - being a good person), I’d like it to be this. I’d like to help people second-guess the value they place in their hometowns and home state. I’d like them to know it’s something worth being proud of; something worth taking care of; something worth showing off to visitors.

If we are all are proud of and value the land we travel through this is when we feel a sense of joy and wonder for being exactly where we are. This is when we stop throwing trash out the window. This is when we start considering the impact our actions have on the ecosystem. This is when we think investing in protecting our resources is a wise idea. This is when we realize that other species have an important role in the giant machine called earth, and we treat them with respect. This is when we learn about our home and share what we know with others; when we learn how to be better citizens.

This is how our ecosystem will be protected and improved.
This is when our natural environment becomes just as beautiful as it always was to begin with.