Audubon: From Meadow to Marsh, Habitats May Take a Hit During Pandemic

Lesser celandine, with its a small, pale yellow blossoms, looks like an innocuous plant. But the sprawling weed crowds out native species when it blooms in spring and then goes dormant, leaving ground brown and bare through summer and fall. Normally at this time of year, volunteers with the New York New Jersey Trail Conference’s Invasives Strike Force would be pulling up the species and other invasive plants during weekend meet-ups. This year, however, is anything but normal—the group suspended work on March 23.

Across the country this spring as the COVID-19 pandemic has taken hold, conservation organizations and government agencies have postponed or canceled projects that require groups to meet and work together. Although public health is everyone’s firm priority, gaps in invasive species removal, controlled burns, and habitat restoration can create short- and long-term setbacks to time-sensitive projects

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The Unfinished Business of the People’s Climate March

The People’s Climate March last fall in New York City was a monumental feat of organizing prowess. Seasoned environmentalists from big-budget nonprofits worked with grassroots activists from scrappy community-based groups to pull together the largest environmental demonstration in history. The motto “To change everything, we need everyone” was prominently displayed on the homepage of PeoplesClimate.org. To encourage inclusivity, the international environmental group 350.org hired a contractor to implement an online platform that supported decentralized network organizing. The platform was an important tool for getting people, especially those outside New York City, to the march. It made it easy for anyone to participate, even if they were not a member of a big environmental group, through a system of “hubs” that invited people to join based on geographic-, religious-, community-, or issue-based identities. However, after the march was over—after the headlines had been made—financial, technical, and administrative support for the hubs ended, in spite of declarations that the march would be “about more than just a single day.”

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How Network-Centric Organizing Made the People’s Climate March

At a reported 400,000 people, yesterday’s People’s Climate March was four times larger than expected. Other articles may feature the celebrities who turned out for a photo-op; this one is concerned with everyone else, the “odd juxtapositions” of a Muslim marching next to a Christian, a pagan next to a monk, and the work (and tech) that went into getting them there.

The People’s Climate March was large; the People’s Climate March contained multitudes. It was designed to do so in part by the technology that connected people to the event. The landing page for prospective organizers invited them to join one of the existing “hubs,” groups united by a shared cause or identifying characteristic, or to start their own. There were hubs for vegans, for people of faith, for yogis, for beekeepers, for causes like food justice and biodiversity, and for geographic regions as small as Cape Cod and as large as “The Deep South.”

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