Plant usage and history

Discussion in 'Celebrate Biodiversity' started by sce, Jul 3, 2009.

  1. sce

    sce Member

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    I wish somebody could explain why we connect plants with gardening, botany, cooking and medicine and completely discount our dependence (and that of the rest of the animal kingdom) upon them for virtually every other aspect of our existence as well. Even though I have been writing and researching about this for way over 20 years I am often no less guilty than anyone else. Is it partly because they appear to be static and uncommunicative (- even though many people claim to talk to them)?

    sce
     
  2. lorax

    lorax Rising Contributor 10 Years

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    I think it's more because we take them for granted - they're always there (even in Canadian winters, the pines are still visible), than because we perceive them as static/uncommunicative. We're so used to seeing plants, etc. etc. that we become blase about our connection to them, and thus also to their importance.

    Then again, I'm a conservationist and I do speak to my trees; I might be an odd case.
     
  3. sce

    sce Member

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    Thanks for your reply. Unfortunately 'blase' today is an alarming word for me as that is what I am desperate to counter. In an article entitled 'Plants are of No Consequence' (you can see it on www.plantlives.com) I have tried to pick up many of the threads. The trouble is despite all sorts of attempts, particularly in the last 2-3 years, I can still not find a satisfactory way of getting through to people that plants need more recognition and stewardship far beyond cooking, gardening, botany and medicine. Have you come across any useful ways? I would welcome your input.
     
  4. lorax

    lorax Rising Contributor 10 Years

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    I live in Ecuador, where education about plants and our interdependance with them is part of the school curriculum starting in Kindergarten. There are signs literally all over the cities reminding people that "The trees are our air, take care of them" and "Without the forests we're nothing" and "Cut a tree, build a village, leave it standing and build a community" and other assorted plant-positive messages. So the level of ignorance/blase attitudes towards plants as a part of our biosphere (and our impact on them) is much lower here. Recently, Quito started a program to plant 1 new tree or shrub for every resident of the city (that's about 3 million new plants). There are also numerous colleges (which are the equivalent of your pre-university years) that offer exclusively botany and conservation-oriented programmes with the end goal of producing more people to work in the country's growing conservation-based industries.

    Without heavy Government involvement at a very basic level, I don't think that what you're trying to do will be effective. The problem then becomes trying to convince a government that it needs to put more funds into conservation education than it does into the destruction of its wild places - the latter, being more profitable, is always going to seem better to them.

    And actually, the very best way I've ever found to drive home how important plants are to people is to take them into a stand of primary-growth (untouched) forest and ask them to simply be with the plants, quietly, and contemplate that without these cathedral trees they wouldn't have anything at all, not even air to breathe.
     
  5. sce

    sce Member

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    It was at least heartening to hear about the education system in Ecuador and you are quite right a similar system in the UK would be more than unlikely.
    I put all the Plant Biographies on the website as it is probably the best way of reaching the widest cross-section of people as well as the largest number. Indifference to the plant world beyond the four disciplines crosses all generations and backgrounds - it is not just the young. As you know we are losing or set to lose many species of the relative few familiar to man and the indifference will only exacerbate the situation.
    If I could persuade you to ponder the problem a little further could you suggest any other practical ideas for turning this round. I have even wondered whether there would be any way of encouraging a movement on the web. It is so frustrating to be aware of how fascinating and exciting the interaction of plants with the planet and the animal kingdom (including man) is and being unable to find a constructive way of imparting this on a large scale.
    sce
     
  6. mrtree

    mrtree Active Member

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    Part of the problem is that we becoming more and more disconnected from the natural world. Read the book Last Child in the Woods to see who the disassociation with the natural world has affected children. Then think how people living in towns and cities rushing to make more and more money has removed moved them touching mother earth.
     
  7. togata57

    togata57 Contributor 10 Years

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    Plants take time. To grow them, care for them, requires a willingness to set aside a darting, dashing, electronic-based lifestyle and allow them to set the pace. Their reactions can take days---weeks, or years. In this current atmosphere of "If it takes longer than 10 seconds, forget it!" we live in today, caring for a plant that might take years to bloom is simply incomprehensible to many people. Plants reward us not with money or a round of applause...but in gentler ways, more pleasing to the soul. Would that more folks would, and could, slow down and know this.
     
  8. 1950Greg

    1950Greg Active Member

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    I don't believe there is a disconnection between plants and animals or humans. Plants rely on animals in many ways for there existence. By spreading seeds around, fertilizing the soil with manure and also providing an environment for different plants to thrive. From pollinating, turning the topsoil over with their hoofs and keeping the parries free from encroaching forests while constantly browsing. Of course there is always going to be some of us that don't seem to be aware of their surrounding but to make a general statements about the majority is not really based in fact but more in fad.
    Plant a tree and people will go and sit under it and there is a connection happening there. Most people really appreciate being surrounded by the living growing world even if there is no outward visible evidence. Is the situation more that the rest of us are not connecting with each other? By planting and tending our gardens are we not only doing it for our enjoyment but also providing some solace to those who cannot or don't. Just a few thoughts I have on the subject and I hope I am not off the topic.
     
  9. M. D. Vaden

    M. D. Vaden Active Member 10 Years

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    Maybe it's "they". There are numerous times each month that I read about the need of plants for virtually anything of benefit. Likewise, that plants would be helpless without light and the sun. We could go the extra mile and point a finger at the source of light and life. Likewise, plants need atmosphere and elements from the earth. There is a big dependence on what the sun, soil, rock and air provide.

    From what I see, recognition of needing plants is provided by the preponderance of all articles as an entire collection. Television shows, articles and online articles showing plants providing:

    Oxygen to breath, Food to eat, Fibers for weapons, Source for fuel and heat, Furniture, Lubricants, Car parts,
    Roofing, Medicine, Relaxation, Food for animals, Shelter

    Certainly there a number of people who would ignore or not recognize the real value of plants. I would describe them as "they".

    Your point can be understood from a certain point of view. It almost reminds me of our property. We have an extra house and acre in southern Oregon that is rented and property-managed. On the way back from hiking in the redwoods a couple of weeks ago, driving through Grants Pass nearby, the thought hit me "geez, we've still got that place in Applegate Valley". I forget about it more during a month than the time its in mind. I know we own it, but don't put near as much emphasis into it as concentrating on getting productive things done at our main home and work.
     
    Last edited: Feb 17, 2010

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