A month’s worth of humans and animals living in harmony with nature

August 1, 2007

Looks like I’ve decreased posting frequency to about once a month now, so if you’re looking for fresh developments more often than that, please be patient! I’ve been spending quite a bit of time searching for a new full-time position, but that’s a story for a different blog. Worth mentioning here only to indicate that’s why I haven’t been posting as frequently.

Since my last notes, I’ve weekended (is that a verb?) with the DC Science Writers Association to the Eastern Shore for a tour of the University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science’s Horn Point Lab, and the Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge.

Osprey Nest at Blackwater, photo by Gail Porter

Osprey nest at Blackwater
Photo by DCSWAn Gail Porter, immediate past prez

Given this geography, it’s particularly timely that I finished reading Mark Hamilton Lytle’s biography of Rachel Carson, The Gentle Subversive, and have started reading Carson’s first book, Under the Sea-Wind. It’s beautiful. And slow-going for me because I keep hearing her voice based on an excerpt from a speech that’s on the tribute CD for her, Songs for the Earth (listen to short snippets of each track here — my absolute favorite is “Back Bay,” from Betty and the Baby Boomers). Lytle describes how Rachel and her mother both used to read draft passages out loud because she was as much concerned with the sound of her words as their appearance on the printed page. So I am imagining her voice if I were listening to her rather than reading her work to myself. Yes, it does mean it will take me longer to finish reading, but I am going to feel that much closer to the sea life she is describing. And that’s a very large part of what Rachel Carson wanted her readers to experience.

In this Web of Life that links all strands human, animal and environmental, I’ve also been to two major animal meetings this month. First was the update for volunteers with the Maryland State Animal Response Team.

Most recently was The Humane Society of the United States meeting on Taking Action For Animals. I’m in sync with some but not all of the organizations and messages represented. What does resonate for me is humane education, disaster preparedness, and veterinary education that emphasizes the human-animal bond (vet schools do some — but need to do a whole lot more — of the latter).

Note to self: Hurry up and take the free National Incident Management System online courses on the Incident Command Structure already!

Note to readers: If you want to help during a disaster, two critical rules to follow:

  1. Send CASH, not stuff. Cash enables disaster workers to buy exactly what they need and to support the local economy’s recovery effort.
  2. Don’t self-deploy. Lessons learned post-Katrina have led both government agencies at all levels and the multitude of NGOs to develop greater coordination and higher standards for disaster workers. Go through the free training, available on a continuous basis on your own schedule, so you don’t have to wait for a date you can fit it in. And affiliate with one of the major national animal coalition groups. These are the Society of Animal Welfare Administrators, ASPCA, The Humane Society of the United States, American Humane Association, National Animal Control Association, International Fund for Animal Welfare, United Animal Nations, Code 3, and Best Friends. Alternatively, get in touch with your state’s SART team, and/or get actively involved with one of your local shelters (the YouTube video below is about the Washington Animal Rescue League). Even if you don’t qualify for hands-on, on-site volunteering, there are a ton of things that need to be done from your home base to coordinate contributions, communications, reunions, local operations, and so on. NB — open, half-used bags of pet food are not acceptable donations!

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