While recently browsing in my local independent bookstore, I spied a newly published collection of essays, interviews, and poems titled What Kind of Ancestor Do You Want to Be? (Univ. Chicago Press, 2021). Possibly due to my age and becoming a grandparent, and possibly because I recently researched the genealogy of my own family lineage (with fascinating discoveries and illuminations), I purchased a copy and found it thought-provoking enough to share with others.
The editors explain that more than asking how we want to be remembered, the question--What kind of ancestor do you want to be?—suggests that we are ancestors, always and already, even if we are never remembered or never have children. The question deepens our awareness of the roots and reach of our actions and non-actions. Whether we like it or not and whether we know it or not, we are advancing values and influencing systems that will continue long past our lifetimes. These values and systems shape communities and lives that we will never see. The ways we live actually create and reinforce the foundation of life for future generations. We are responsible for how we write and convey our values, what storylines we further and set forth—for the world we choose to cultivate, for the lives that follow ours. So, how are we to live?
The editors of this intriguing book state that this fundamental question is ever more important to ask in this time of global crises and uncertainties. The question catalyzes dreams and imagination and is relevant for all members of the human community. We are challenged to ask this question of ourselves, our family, our community.
You too may find this collection of perspectives relevant, stimulating, and contributing to mindfulness. Whether or not you read the book, I urge you to ask this question of yourself.
--Chuck Roe, President, Southern Conservation Partners
Southern Forests Are Imperilled
Southern Conservation Partners shares the concerns expressed by many friends and defenders of the forest ecosystems of the southern U.S., which are currently being exploited and threatened by mass removal for export as wood pellet biofuels principally in Europe. Many of the forests being cut are already imperiled river bottomlands forests ecosystems that are critically necessary for sustenance of the environmental health of the southern U.S. region.The biofuel producing companies are “green washing” their activities and propaganda based on intentionally false and deceptive claims that cutting and burning trees on a mass scale is “carbon neutral” because the forests may regrow sometime in the long-term future and hence forests are a “renewable” resource. Most of the processing plants that collect, chip, and process cut trees in huge volumes for export are located in marginalized, economically distressed communities, and those industrial plants are operating at full capacity 24/7 and emitting huge quantities of airborne pollutants. The Southern Environmental Law Center, the Dogwood Alliance, and the National Wildlife Federation are leading defense actions to save our forests.
We recommend you watch this 30-minute documentary film: Burned: Are Trees the New Coal?
In addition, the North Carolina Wildlife Federation and its coastal Island Wildlife Chapter recently presented an excellent, profoundly important webinar about this crisis. VIEW the recording of that webinar.
Several other resources on this important issue:
Wood Pellet Map
Article--How Marginalized Communities in the South are Paying the Price for “Green Energy” in Europe
Forests are vital elements to our nation’s infrastructure and environmental health. Strong climate action rooted in justice has never been more urgent. Valuing standing forests is our best climate defense! Take the “Stand 4 Forests Pledge” HERE.
The first four months of President Biden’s administration have presented a watershed change in priorities, promising renewed emphasis on environmental protection, natural resources and land conservation, and mitigation of climate change consequences. We greet this news with renewed hope, even as evidence of the catastrophic consequences of climate change continues to mount.
The Washington Post is keeping a TALLY of the administration’s environmental actions. In four months, President Biden has begun to transform the nation’s energy and environmental landscape, according to the Washington Post’s analysis, by overturning 34 of former president Donald Trump’s policies and finalizing 21 of his own, as of this writing. From pausing new oil and gas leasing on public lands and waters to rejoining the Paris climate agreement, Biden has elevated the issue of climate change across the U.S. government and signaled a shift away from fossil fuels. In April he pledged that the United States would cut its greenhouse gas emissions between 50 and 52 percent by the end of the decade compared with 2005 levels—a commitment that will trigger major changes in the ways Americans live, work, and travel.
“I talked to the experts, and I see the potential for a more prosperous and equitable future. The signs are unmistakable. The science is undeniable,” Biden declared at the virtual climate summit he convened on Earth Day. “The United States isn’t waiting. We are resolving to take action.” <continued . . .>
A New Green Vision for the South
Southern communities can’t afford to be an after-thought when it comes to federal policy. The South is experiencing more climate impacts than any other region of the US. Rural, Southern communities are facing disproportionate impacts due to logging and wood production. Our region is also home to five of the top 10 carbon emitters in the country and is experiencing forest destruction from industrial logging at four times the rate of South American rainforests. Our survival depends on immediate and inclusive solutions.
The "Southern Communities for a Green New Deal" (SC4GND) policy platform builds on the Green New Deal to center frontline communities in the South. The Dogwood Alliance worked with community leaders and other organizations to develop the forest policy part of the policy platform. The vision we created calls for:
It’s time for a new vision for the southern economy. We need a just transition to clean, renewable energy. We need to invest in a regenerative economy rooted in justice and equity. We need to work together for a healthy, strong, and resilient future. Please learn about the SC4GND policy platform: READ MORE.
--Danna Smith, founder of the Dogwood Alliance
On International Women's Day, while celebrating women's achievements in conservation, the TennGreen Land Conservvancy honored its founder, Kathleen Williams, a Southern Conservation Partners Board member. Inspired by the book Greenways for America by Charles Little, Kathleen started TennGreen (first named the Tennessee Parks and Greenways Foundation) with a vision to create an interconnected greenway system (large corridors of conserved land) to protect our natural treasures, waters, and wildlife. State parks would be destinations in this network: to get Tennesseans and tourists outside to explore nature and appreciate its beauty. Kathleen's bold vision, impressive successes throughout the years, and her abiding love for Tennessee attracted kindred spirits and other fearless females. Learn more HERE.
In addition, National River Network honored Suzi Wilkins Berl with its Compton Award, on the 20th anniversary year of the award, in recognition of her lifetime work and significant contributions to protecting U.S. rivers and waters. Suzi is a Southern Conservation Partners Advisor who has dedicated her life to river conservation: her achievements span 40 years in the nonprofit conservation field. She has worked as River Network’s Southeast Coordinator (2000–2005), American River’s Director of State River Programs (1989–1994), Farmington River Watershed Association’s Executive Director (1984–1989), Connecticut Land Trust Service Bureau’s Executive Director (1980–1984), and Long Island Sound Task Force’s Executive Director (1976–1980). Suzi also served on River Network’s Board of Directors and as board chair. Learn more HERE.
Human population continues to surge across much of the southern United States, with resulting conversion of rural landscapes and environmentally sensitive areas to more urban and industrial uses. As human population grows and more urban/suburban development occurs, we should be embracing wiser and more environmentally balanced alternatives for use of land resources and community development.
Upstate Forever, a multifaceted environmental and community conservation organization based in Greenville, South Carolina, has articulated Ten Principles of Smart Growth. READ MORE or click on image.
Conservation, viewed in its entirety, is the slow and laborious unfolding of a new relationship between people and land.
There is in fact no distinction between the fate of the land and the fate of the people. When one is abused, the other suffers.
From the President
SCP President Chuck Roe looked at land conservation along the route of John Muir's "Southern Trek."
This blog offers views of our Board and partners. We invite your viewpoint on the following questions: