COP17 – Climate Conference

The United Nations Climate Change Conference, Durban 2011, will bring together representatives of the world’s governments, international organizations and civil society. The discussions will seek to advance, in a balanced fashion, the implementation of the Convention and the Kyoto Protocol, as well as the Bali Action Plan, agreed at COP 13 in 2007, and the Cancun Agreements, reached at COP 16 last December.

Go to this site throughout the next ten days to keep track of progress toward these goals and to use this information to contact your congressional representatives and local government for energy and economic steps that would contribute toward reduction in greenhouse gases (GHG).  We have an exceptional opportunity to make better decisions today but they are complex, pitting national goals seemingly against one another (jobs versus alternatives to fossil fuels i.e. oil sands, nuclear power, “clean” coal.)

Go to Yes! Magazine to keep a vision of what’s possible and what is already here in new technologies, new ways of knowing, and fresh ideas for sustaining communities with robust local economies.  Improve your ecological knowledge by going to Ecoliteracy Institute  and Small Planet Institute and New Economics Institute.

The Pulitzer Project

Last month I set out to read one Pulitzer Prize (PP) and one National Book Award  (NBA) each month.  My habitual reading has not included the books deemed the best writing in its genre.  Since it is common advice by successful writers to read the best to improve one’s own writing,  I began with fiction hoping to learn something and more, to enjoy reading great works.

November I read A Visit from the Goon Squad by Jennifer Egan (2011 PP fiction)  and Lord of Misrule by Jaimy Gordon (2010 NBA.)  For December I will read Tinkers by Paul Harding (2010 PP fiction winner) and Let the Great World Spin by Colum McCann (2009 NBA.)

Check back this next week for my experience reading Egan and Gordon’s novels. I will create a separate page for the Pulitzer Prize and for the National Book Award discussions.  If you have read any of these books please leave me your impressions, thoughts, and reactions to my reviews.

One thing:  the first two books jolted me from my usual reading expectations—each was very hard to read.  A Visit from the Goon Squad challenged my resolve to carry out the project.  Lord of Misrule did, too, but for different reasons.  I realized its similarity to Mark Twain’s stories that plop the reader into a world, time and characters without an instruction manual.  A Visit from the Goon Squad brings particularities about our culture (digital divide among generations, fractured nature of experience) and historical period into focus.  Lord of Misrule could be just about anytime in horse racing.

The uphill experience of reading the first two novels in itself taught me that true creativity is disruptive by its very nature.  John Steinbeck asserted that writers should strive in their writing to uplift the human spirit.  I wasn’t sure that these books did that for me.  I will have to reread them.

A Turkey Story

Last night PBS aired a remarkable documentary: “My Life As a Turkey.”

From Facebook Page for PBS Nature:  About the film: Based on the true story of writer and naturalist Joe Hutto, portrayed by wildlife photographer Jeff Palmer, this film chronicles Hutto’s remarkable experience of imprinting wild turkey eggs and raising the hatchlings to adulthood. Deep in the wilds of Florida, Hutto spent each day out and about as a “wild turkey” with his family of chicks — until the day came when he had to let his children grow up and go off on their own. As it turned out, this was harder than he ever imagined. Watch a preview.

For all of us Floridians, the scenes from hammock communities and the rich biodiversity supported by that habitat should be a reminder of our roots! One of the best books about Florida habitats is Priceless Florida by Ellie Whitney, D. Bruce Means, and Anne Rudloe. On page 86 it shows readers where they can observe temperate hammock communities. For Pensacoleans, Eglin Air Force Base has extensive hammock habitat, camping and hiking.

Go here to learn more about Joe Hutto’s book, Illumination in the Flatwoods. It is next on my reading list.

On Imprinting: Whose Your Mama?, PBS Nature

The Camellia Blossoms in Pensacola

Pensacola is home to America’s oldest Camellia Club, founded in 1937. I had the rare privilege of listening to Gordon Eade on Friday afternoon on the campus of University of West Florida. Gordon is a retired UWF faculty member and active in the Pensacola Camellia Club. In fact as we walked around the UWF Camellia Garden (established in 2007) he told me story after story of the plant’s namesake and showed me three varieties that he himself cultivated.

These photos were taken by moi last winter at UWF before I knew anything about the garden or the club.  I just love the UWF campus—festooned with giant oaks with trains of silver moss above our heads as we walk to the office or to class.  Azaleas, crapemyrtle and of course, camellias make me joyful no matter the cares of the day….