Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Rants and Raves

Have you ever seen something that makes you want to scream, pull out your hair and fall to your knees crying? I feel that I have gotten pretty good at pushing through the day-to-day (though it’s never) routine glossing past things that make me want to stop and scream at someone, but sometimes those things need to be addressed. My sweetie told me today that I do a good job of expressing those feelings in a calm way. He attributed my love for science as a way for me to express the problems I have seen and felt in the world with facts. For example, something happened today that made my heart jump out of my chest, my stomach tie in knots and my blood pump furiously throughout my body. So what did I do? I opened up my computer and typed out the following letter to some of my sort of supervisors.
Good morning ____ and ____,
I am back to our sweet little home, and jumping back into weeding, cleaning, and planning for programs. I’m writing to you now to bring to light a situation that greatly pains me here at B.
This weekend Amil and I spent about 6 hours weeding around caretakers, the driveway, and the grapes, in hopes that it would tame some of the most ferocious weeds, like the goatheads and
​ amaranth. ​
Since taking this job I have developed a strong curiosity toward weeds, thinking about focusing on weeds for my Master Naturalist project, when the time comes for me to enter that program. I have been looking at courses at UNM or online to teach me more about weeds, which I also studied a fair amount this summer. 
I say all of this because I want you know that I am passionate about keeping this space beautiful, but doing it in a way that correlates with our mission to connect people with the outdoors. This morning, as happens almost every week, ____,
​who works relentlessly to keep this place maintained
, was seen spraying around our house with a gas-mask on, being sure to stay far away from the poison he was pouring on the plants along our driveway. This chemical is covering the plants that we spend hours weeding with our gloved hands, and is likely the culprit for killing the bumble bees I have seen on multiple occasions writhing and wrenching as them chemical pours through their body before rendering them useless to their hive. We watched as he rounded the house, as we were making breakfast with the windows open, wondering if we’ll remember which patches got sprayed when we go out to remove them.

My main frustration with watching him spray these plants, is that these are plants like grass that I purposely left in place, spending my hours instead to pull the more dangerous weeds. As I mentioned, I am still learning about the weeds in New Mexico, but I do know that of the three classes of weeds, only things like goatheads, Bull Thistle, and bindweed are a direct threat to our lands. The other “weeds” have important jobs like habitats for ants and termites (whose colonies allow more water to be absorbed into the ground, at a rate 10 times that of compacted soil, thereby decreasing erosion), and holding onto the dirt to prevent it from blowing away in our strong spring gusts. In my opinion, anything that is able to grow away from our carefully maintained drip-irrigation and is not hazardous to the landscape or the humans or animals that come to visit Bachechi, should be given a chance.
I understand if this belief is not in line with the county’s mission in landscape maintenance, but I hope that you will at least consider preventing the spraying of chemicals around the parking lot and house, where almost every person and pet that come here spend time walking or sniffing around. I would love to live in a place where landscaped plants and wild plants can live in harmony, especially in an Open Space like this.
I appreciate you taking the time to hear this, and any conversations that come up as a result of this plea.
Thanks for all that you do,
Cass and Amil
I neglected Amil's advice to wait it out, and send it when I was calmer, insisting that it would make me calmer to get my feelings out in the open. (In hindsight, the whole thing seems so silly I hesitated to put it down here, but I had already written half this blog in the heat of the moment, and it seemed a good ...example). After sending it, and biking as fast as I could do the office to take up my boss's suggestion that I weed over there, where it will be very appreciated (despite the fact that I had been weeding for a least an hour a day in both places-- talk about killer glutes!), I did feel better. But part of that time was spent weeding to Johhny Truant and Iron Maiden. Nothing like some good aggressive plant pulling to calm you down.
I also felt a little silly ranting to my boss. She asked if some of the weeds we left behind were non-native-- a question that I surprisingly hadn't thought of. I'm sure that some of them are not native, and that's another thing I want to learn about the plants around here, but that question proved to me that in my haste of anger, I didn't think through the whole situation.
I must also say that I received a very kind response from one of my very favorite supervisors. This is the woman in charge of our contracts, who brought her boyfriend out on a Friday to help fix our dishwasher, and suggested some great workshops for Amil to focus on his spirituality. She gave me the link to a farm tour happening today that I could check out to get more information. I am constantly impressed at how damn cool everyone in this town is.

So, now that the frustration is past... I’m curious—what gets you upset to the point of action? Do environmental problems (like people driving cars unnecessarily, or consistently “forgetting” to put recyclables in the recycling bin) get you enraged? And would actually screaming at people convince them of your passion and inspire them to make a change? Or is there another solution (like making a graph of the pollution they’re creating, and offering ways to change)? Or do social problems typically move you- like seeing a man begging for food on the side of the road? Or animal cruelty- like watching someone kick their dog. What moves you to action? And what action do you, or would you take?

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