April 1, 2020

This deadly virus hit us hard and precipitately. Yet, its full reality seems to be unfolding ever so slowly in front of us. Our mind cannot fully absorb what is exactly happening to our life. Over just a matter of two weeks, which seems an eternity, we are forced to rearrange our life as we know it.

Yet, the basic approach to life hasn't changed. The fundamental truth about life is we are intricately connected with everyone else. Everything is related. A mature society is, thus, always willing to take care of its poorest and weakest members. There are always more advanced souls who would rise to protect others first. They are plainly visible if we care to look. They point us how we shall overcome this dark period together.

At Earth Sangha, we've changed a lot...

February 25, 2020

1. Ridge after Ridge

Some very good news: the Tree Bank is scaling up successfully. It’s growing rapidly, and it’s definitely doing what it’s supposed to do, as we saw during a recent visit to our program area. This presentation shows what we found. I’ve included 10 pictures, each with an extended and somewhat digressive caption. There are a few videos as well. The presentation is meant to give you a close-up view of the Tree Bank’s work. It doesn’t assume much prior knowledge, so even if you’ve just heard of the program, most of what follows should still make sense.

Just a little preliminary context: the Tree Bank Hispaniola is an agroforestry program that works near a section of the Dominican Republic / Haiti border, on the Dominican side. The program is me...

December 19, 2019

As the Earth Sangha’s resident optimist, it can sometimes be difficult to keep my usual cheery disposition. A new study came out in France (Wintermantel et al. 2019) showing that even after an EU-wide moratorium in 2013 and an outright ban in 2018, agricultural fields still have levels of neonicotinoids that can be fatal to bees. Research continues to pile up showing declines in birds and insects in North America and beyond. UN reports on climate change sound more dire. Amidst all this depressing news, I was contacted by the Piedmont Chapter of the Virginia Native Plant Society and they asked me if I could give a talk, but that they wanted it to be optimistic – to focus on what is possible rather than what is broken.

I haven’t yet decided what exactly I will...

November 12, 2019

In my line of work, I engage in extensive, if casual, surveying of native flora in the wild areas of Northern Virginia. For nearly twenty years, I've made it my job checking on the general conditions of our region's wild areas, or rather the remnants of once wild areas, in every season. Mind you, my kind of survey is a non-scientific activity. Just a visual survey with the understanding of a hobby-naturalist.

Yet, you get to learn a lot from this repeated observations over the same areas. I take the trouble visiting all the nooks and crannies of our public and non-public lands where native plants are growing. And repeatedly over the years. I've noticed how the topography change over time and how plants interact with both natural and artificial physical chang...

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