How can landscapers shift their thinking and education when they meet with clients? Knowing the research and how healthy ecosystems function is a start -- and how good, beautiful, low maintenance gardens are ecosystems (not to mention the last vestiges of home or hope for countless displaced species in our urban world). One day I came in from the garden, sat in front of the tv, and it wasn't for an hour or two that I noticed a bumble bee resting on my jeans. That's not scary, it's cool. I feel so incredibly honored to see life moving, living, thriving in the garden -- and I believe that for most of us that's exactly why we want a garden. A landscape may be first about and for us -- we are a dominant species who sees the world through individual perception -- but in the end a landscape is about equality, empathy, and compassion. If all life doesn't thrive we don't thrive in real physical and emotional ways. Every day in our world sees fewer insects and birds as our ecosystems diminish in their ability to sustain life. And somehow, our fear of other species has contributed to this extinction crisis, and even to political deadlock when "environmentalist" is a dirty word meant more as derision than compliment.
Maybe I can sum it up like this.... Most of us feel threatened by nature many times in our lives. It can be a storm or a wasp, or an ominous feeling walking in a cave or forest. But too many of us also feel threatened by those who talk about nature by extolling its virtues or defending its existence. Obviously, part of the problem is a culture of extraction, and another is one species practicing supremacism in other less tangible ways. Fear holds us back from compassion for other lives and other places. Fear makes us rush to anger, use names to label new ideas and people we don't understand but that make us feel uncomfortable or vulnerable. In a time of climate change and mass extinction we're being asked to navigate if not fast forward the evolution of our primal brains, to see survival as something not solely immediate and personal, but long term and communal.