Thursday, September 24, 2009

Citizens of the Natural World [I'd Love to Save the World]

My thoughts about savoring the world often intertwine with thoughts concerned with saving the world. Sometimes these bouts of synaptic co-mingling lead to something productive, I'm happy to report.

One f'rinstance happened this summer at the annual meeting of the American Ornithologist's Union (an event I have yet to finish blogging about, I know, I know . . . ). Stemming from a conversation with fellow birder, educator, ornithologist and former-Cornellian Dan Lebbin I found a topic I'm excited to present on a regular basis, right here on this blog, as best I can.

In the proverbial nutshell: how can the average citizen, if there is such a thing, play a direct role in conserving our natural world? In addition to the mantras of indirect participation like, "reduce, reuse, recycle," "buy organic," "buy local," and "carry your own shopping bag," how can that average citizen become truly empowered for more direct action? (But seriously, now. Are any of us average? Except that one guy from Iowa who sits at the very top of the meaty part of the bell curve?)

Maybe, for the sake of argument, it could be something like a guide that highlights conservation issues and illustrates what citizens could do in their yard, in their community, or even from their desk to address them. It might list conservation programs and give guidelines to protect habitat, even list projects that welcome participation in scientific studies.

Maybe I can present something like that here. And maybe I'm cheating because it already exists!

Cast your mind back, if you will, to 1990. Joe Hazelwood goes on trial in Anchorage Alaska, Germany reunites, Microsoft releases Windows 3.0, and Partners in Flight, a hemispheric venture also called CompaƱeros en Vuelo and/or Partenaires d’Envol, is launched. This supraorganization that I'll simply call PIF was created "in response to growing concerns about declines in the populations of many land bird species, and in order to emphasize the conservation of birds not covered by existing conservation initiatives."

And in addition to a world of promising and realized ventures, in 1995 they released this:

Citizen's Guide to Migratory Bird ConservationI haven't been able to find it on the web anywhere, which is both frustrating and unfortunate. One of my first tasks at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology was to create a web version of this hardcopy document. Somewhere, somehow, it dropped off of the Lab's web site, likely because it needs a major update.

In spite of its datedness the basic ideas and suggestions are timeless, much like '60's pop music or '70's sitcoms. It's something that should be available to everyone and anyone. And I don't even have to worry about whether it's in the public domain or has the proper Creative Commons license. The very last line (SPOILER ALERT!) reads, "Partner's in Flight encourages reproduction of this Citizen's Guide or any part thereof." There you have it, folks, a direct mandate to get the word out.

And a direct plea for you: when I upload a portion, please drop your suggestions for updates, current links or programs, and anything else that may improve the document. Who knows, I may be one of those lucky bloggers who turns their blog into a book!

Well, that's not likely, but someone might. And I'll make sure to incorporate them so it will once again be suitable for the Lab's web site in its entirety. Please tune in for my first installment next week.



dAwN said...

i like your idea about a guide..that citizens could use...simple things..that most of us may take for granted..that will help the natural world.
I always like to be reminded..and i think i am like most people...many reminders are needed in order to make us realize that big things can come from small changes.

noflickster said...

Hi dAwN - thanks for the comment! I had completely forgotten this document existed, which I'm a bit frustrated about. It's a well-written, all-encompassing guide with manageable advice and "actions" each citizen can undertake, and with the Internet it should be far-reaching and easily accessible.

It just needs some updating, so I look forward to your comments for improving this 1995 guide to suit the 2010-and-beyond audience!


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