Saturday, April 23, 2011

Roadkill on a Tasmanian scale...

"One hundred and ten thousand brushtail possums, 30,000 pademelons, 16,000 wallabies. More than 3000 Tasmanian Devils. At least 300,000 mammals and birds are killed every year. That's an average of one every two minutes, just in Tasmania". Mark Horstman - Catalyst ABC, Thursday 21 April, 2011.

This is really sad isn't it...

I have been known to say that I don't think I belong to this world, mostly because I am way too sensitive and am affected by things that most people don't even blink an eye over. I know there are other people out there like me, that care deeply about this planet and every living thing that inhabits it.

Wild, rural and domestic animals are as much part of our landscape as plants, in fact many can't live without the other. The human aspect, on the other hand, is the most destructive on both these fronts. I'm sorry to say but sometimes I despair for the human race, the utter ignorance and arrogance shown by many is really hard to accept, especially for sensitive types like myself who wishes people would just 'get it', who wishes every single living person on this planet was situationally aware and gave a damn!

I'm passionate about many things and do what I can in my own small way to make a difference but roadkill would have to be one of the things that really affects me. To think of the above statistics multiplied worldwide and by all the different species, it is too sad to think about. Fortunately, one person is - Dr Alistair Hobday has been looking at roadkill in Tasmania and I saw his story reported on Catalyst the other night. For more information and to get involved, go here (Roadkill Tasmania website). For a national view this might help, although I haven't read and am a bit uncertain about its contents I still think it would have some beneficial information... and for an international view then a read of the Wikipedia entry for Roadkill is well worth it.

What do you do when you see an animal on the side of the road? I stop and make sure it is dead and not just injured. If it is a large animal (i.e. smallest would be a cat or small dog) I call my local council with the details and have them come and collect it. If it is a domestic animal I look for a collar with tag so I can call the owners but apparently if it is micro-chipped it is scanned at council and the owners are notified. I also carry a packet of rubber gloves in my car and if the animal is in the middle of the road I move it off to the side of the road to stop it getting ground into the bitumen and also to prevent scavengers from meeting the same fate, should they venture onto a busy road to eat it.

The wildlife that is killed is phenomenal but often domestic animals are killed too. I think it's so incredibly sad that these animals are left to die all alone on the road, usually so close to home (whether that home is natural or man-made). As far as domestic animals are concerned this loss could so easily be reduced or eliminated altogether by keeping cats in at night and not letting dogs roam around alone during the day. Cats are by nature nocturnal animals with an instinct to hunt and kill. So if they don't get killed themselves chances are one of our precious wild animals will... and don't think dogs don't kill, they don't mind a good hunt themselves and around here I've heard many accounts of blue tongue's meeting their fate this way.

I like the efforts of people like Dr Alistair Hobday, to bring about awareness and create change through detailed research which can then be used in educating the wider community. I wish this could take place on a global scale. I wish people actually felt that the loss of life of just one animal is important, I wouldn't put it up their with the loss of a human life but it is a pretty close second for me.

Let's hope his research, findings and programme effect significant change. I'd like to sound really positive but sadly, even though I wholeheartedly support his efforts, I'm a little cynical when it comes to humans as history shows us that people don't give a toss about animals on the road, they see them as a nuisance and negligible in most cases and at worse are used as targets just for kicks...

So what will you do next time you see an animal on the side of the road? I hope you are part of the solution and not part of the problem.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Sunday Selections :: 11

I missed out on the fun last week and even though I'm busy today pottering around getting heaps of jobs done I thought it would be nice to sit, take some time out and share some more photo's. If you would like to participate in this Sunday Selections, simply head on over to Kim's blog Frogpondsrock and follow the instructions :)

In continuing with the European theme, this week I am sharing some images of the magical and enchanting Venice, Italy.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Transition Towns and more...

Yesterday I received my latest issue of Vogue Living Australia (May /June 2011) in the post and when I had the chance to sit down and lose myself in its pages I came across a very interesting article (p.78) and I just have to share it with you here.

SEEDS OF CHANGE - Margie Fraser

'A worldwide movement prompts a green revolution in Australia's towns, and our cities are set to follow.

It may be a case of looking to the future by tapping into the past. The pace of life in the idyllic New South Wales town of Bellingen has a leisurely, perhaps even vintage, measure to it. A recent addition to the ever-growing lit of Transition Towns around the globe, it's not hard to imagine that its contented citizens will soon be able to graze on fruit, nuts and other bounty from the trees of the shady main street, courtesy of the commitment of local devotees to permaculture.

The Transition Initiative that spawns Transition Towns is gaining impetus around the globe - even in the houses of Parliament (The Transition Handbook, an account of how communities and individuals can respond to concerns over climate change and dwindling oil supplies, came fifth in the summer reading lists of British MPs in 2010). Politicians and civilians alike cannot fail to see the benefits of the increasingly influential movement; like-minded community groups in Transition Towns organise regular seed-swaps, low-carbon-mile organic food picnics and liaise with local government to allow for tracts of communal land for cultivation. They are pooling resources, tapping into the skills and knowledge bases of their residents, and deciding, democratically, how to improve both their lifestyles and the longevity of the planet.

It's not surprising to find that towns like Maleny and Eudlo, in Queensland's Sunshine Coast hinterland, have engendered many such transition groups, the idyllic strip of rolling green hills and magnificent rainforest is a permaculturalist's paradise.

The Victorian town of Baw Baw is taking the process one step further by following in the footsteps of Totnes, England (one of Transition's earliest converts), establishing its own currency to boost local economy and enhance a sense of community.

Urban communities are also taking up the green banner, with re-use projects such as the refurbishment of neglected buildings in inner urban areas. In inner-city Brisbane, the Kurilpa Initiative "perma-blitzes" their neighbours' gardens in a matter of hours. Following devastating floods that caused empty shelves in the city's supermarkets, the blitzed gardens were a harvestable godsend. It's an edible future.'

Human interest stories like this really resonate with me. I think as a western civilisation we have moved too far away from our roots, particularly people who live in cities - they are too disconnected from the source of their food and new generations are emerging without a clue as to where their food actually comes from. We live in a convenient industrialised era where everything is at our fingertips and we have enjoyed this abundance for so long that we now take it for granted that it will always be there. But what happens should things we take for granted be not so readily available?

Many people have no idea how to fend for themselves and would instead instigate food wars as a survival strategy. This is not the solution, we need to start getting smarter about being more self-sufficient. As Fraser says in her article, looking into the future by tapping into the past. Looking to what previous generations did, particularly migrants who would cultivate their own produce in their backyards or in community gardens.

I came across this fabulous article by Rachel Sullivan some time back about an idea to grow vertical gardens in high rise buildings in cities in a bid to reduce carbon miles of getting their fresh food, to make it more readily available, to reduce the risk of loss due to natural disasters and so on. It seems someone took up the idea and ran with it, in this article on Indoor Farming.

There are plenty of community gardens to get involved with, or if there is not one in your neighbourhood think about getting one going, as growing vegetables and herbs in your backyard may not always be an option. Think about getting your community involved in the Transition Initiative. Now that I know about it I am going to write to my local council and our local Sustainable Neighbourhood Group (another wonderful initiative, implemented by Lake Macquarie City Council) and see if there is enough interest by our local community to become involved in this too.

I think a decentralised approach to agriculture is definitely a way to insure communities against future shortages. We need to start getting creative about how to ensure there is plenty of food available for everyone and that we will never experience shortages.

In the face of such a crises the Cuban citizens 'planted thousands of urban cooperative gardens to offset depleted rations of imported food.' You just have to do a Google search for Cuban Urban Gardens to see all the wonderful and inspiring stories. You can also look up Urban Farming or Urban Agriculture to read more great stuff.

It seems to have been a week of food in the spotlight, so to speak, as a brief glimpse of the Oprah show revealed another thing I was not aware of - the documentary, Food Inc. This is the flip side of everything written above, it is the toxic chemical side of agriculture, it is the greedy money side of agriculture and worse of all it is the absolute abuse and disrespect of animals side of farming. I really admire people like Robert Kenner (the filmmaker) who brings such dark goings-on out into the light for all of us to be aware of... because the people involved certainly don't want to make you aware of them. I believe that all the farmers, bar two (one pro and one against), that they wanted to interview declined... hmmm, makes you wonder what they have to hide. The farmer who was all for it, to me represented the saddest element of human nature and that is the complete ignorance and arrogance that he could treat animals this way. He was a chicken grower and said 'why wait 3 months for a chicken when you can have one in 49 days?' They also showed the size of the chickens we are growing now, which are about 3 times or more the size of the natural chickens our grandparents' generation would have been familiar with. The animals are pumped full of hormones to make them grow - let alone the growing conditions but do you really want to put that crap in your body and that of your children?

More and more people are championing the cause for people to eat better, people like Jamie Oliver who has done revolutionary stuff in quite a short time frame, to bring our awareness to what we are doing to animals and what we are putting in our bodies. The beautiful actress, Alicia Silverstone, was on that Oprah show the other day and she has written a book called The Kind Diet which will not only get you to an optimum level of health but it will bring about an awareness of animals in the context of food. Another wonderful bunch of people are those of the Voiceless team whose mission is to “bring the institutionalised suffering of animals to the forefront of Australia’s agenda; ensuring that animal protection is the next great social justice movement."

I hope you get something out of this post, I hope it has sparked an interest to go off and do some more research, to spread the word to family and friends and to become really pro-active in some or all of these great initiatives. Or are you already involved? Feel free to share your experiences or any interesting initiatives you have come across and would like to spread the word about :)

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Sunday Selections :: 10

What a week of accomplishments in the garden and around the house! I had no idea I had so much cleaning up to do and most of the week was spent pruning (have no idea if it's the right time of year to be doing this but it just needed doing). I cut down a small coastal wattle as it was really in bad shape and just tidied everything else up, picked up all the pine needles, weeded and finally moved forward with other aspects.

No pictures to share yet, will do so when it is in a more finished state. I'm very excited though about seeing this progress and it's just been a joy being outdoors again instead of sitting on this computer doing rounds of the internet looking for business related information, or working on new designs and the like. I still managed to do business related stuff in the afternoons but not as much as I need to with making new products and so on but I can only do as much as I can do... it will all happen.

It's a magnificent day here today, been doing more house and garden work this morning before settling into some inside work this afternoon. I am really sad to have had to say goodbye to Daylight Savings this morning... oh dear... here come the shorter days :(

On a brighter note - now to my Sunday Selections :) More of Rome, the last few - just random images before I move on to gorgeous Venice next week:

Guards at St Peter's Cathedral in Rome.
Courtyard fountain - just beautiful...
Detail on old timber door - I would love to have a door like this one.
Even windows make an artistic statement in Rome!
If I lived in an apartment I would have a balcony like this one :)
If you would like to give some of your old photo's a chance to be seen and enjoyed by others then pop over to Kim's blog Frogpondsrock and join in on the action.