Riparian Revival

Riparian conservation work.

This area will never be able to sustain itself, but we are creating an unnatual “natural” environment.

Conservation work: they are spraying Roundup on their “wildlife refuge” centers to recreate the “natural” environment.

Questioning how it can be a natural environment, when the world is changing? If this will never be a natural riparian environment again, why not compromise, take it as it is, and create a new environment, merging human and nature? But instead we are unrealistically trying to create a “human interference free” zone, but in the process spraying the worst of the worst human chemicals on this fields to achieve this?

Doesn’t make sense to me. I was never a fan of environmental work, but I guess in a sense I am now. As it pertains to the ecosystem, to the web of life including humans. And conservation work seems like the opposite of environmentalism. Instead of taking life as it is, we’re trying to get it back to what it was before— just like trying to keep the dinosaurs alive when the natural course of action was for them to go extinct.

I’m not saying let’s keep cutting down forests, and the forests will just have to adapt. I’m saying that I think it’s more important to hold values, not asthetics.

If you want to restore a natural environment, don’t fight against the natural weeds growing. So what if they are not “native”? They are here now, and you’re not going to get rid of them with human chemicals. And if you do, what kind of a fake nature have you set up anyways? A fake nature walking on eggshells?

I realize that this is a controversial opinion that I only today put together in my mind. But something has just not sat right for me with all of these self proclaimed “naturalists” who are spraying roundup, using plastic coffee cups and silverware, and driving trucks a ¼ mile down the road so they don’t have to walk.

What is this.

There are, in my mind now, two camps of environmentalists. There are the colonialists, and there are the natives. And the native people accept what the world is, and work with it from there to be better and more in harmony. And the colonialists, which are a lot of the people doing conservation work, do not accept what is now, and have this twisted outlook that they themselves are going to save the land, get it back to looking like it was before.

Key term is looking, because it never will actually be what is most important in an ecosystem: self sustainability. The rangers we are working with say that they will have to simulate floods and rain and everything else in between for the rest of this area’s history, because it has become so messed up from human involvement.

But I ask you, what is environmental about an unsustainable system? That is going against nature just as much as human urbanization. So in a sense you’re doing nothing more than build a plant city. Which you have to maintain, and which will eventually crumble because it needs to be supported by itself, not solely by you, rangers who think they have god-hands.

These rangers are really nice, don’t get me wrong. It’s just something that I’ve been observing this year with all of the exposure we’ve gotten to conservation work. In Silver Falls, and here with the tree organization and the wild refuge, the idea is the same. Plants we want good, weeds bad. Only option? Spray with poison.

Yes, we know that the poison is bad for the environment, but it is worth it to get these “native” plants back into the area.

Guess what? The plant is no longer native if it cannot survive here. If you need to poison everything else, and us to get it there? Just fucking forget about it and let new plants cultivate.

That’s my rant. We are working 45 minutes outside of Sacramento today, in a valley literally 10 feet away from Sutter wine grape vineyard. That’s the other reason that the refuge doesn’t mind spraying their “protected lands” with roundup. “Because they’ve been spraying this land for decades. And it’s surrounded by corporate farms, all of which pile on the pesticides. We are responsible with our pesticide though. We only use it when we need to.”

Define “need to.”

Just a question I’m throwing out there.

I understand that preserving species is important, because each part of the ecosystem sustains the whole, and without one part the whole just doesn’t work as good. But in my mind, the cost/benefit ratio concerning putting poison in an environment so that you can bring back another lost part of the environment doesn’t make sense, as you are adding a lot of bad to bring in a supposed good.

But to sustain that supposed good, you have to continue with your bad habits, your spraying poison, your tremendous water use on irrigation systems in a place no one will ever visit.

Walking past, you can see and hear the conversations of the people working in the Sutter wine vineyards. It’s interesting to see where our food/drink is really coming from. All those fun nights in Kansas with a bottle of wine? These people, largely hispanic and probably immigrants, picked them. And they are probably walking through shit storms of pesticides daily to do this. And then you’re drinking the juice from those grapes, saturated with pesticides. Even in California! The leading state in the environmental justice movement.

Today we spent the morning checking on the baby trees. We each picked a row, and followed it down the valley. The baby trees have a plastic tube over them, which is used as a greenhouse, and then there is a bamboo stick to stick in the dirt and hold the plastic tube up. Our job is to pull the weeds out from the center of the plastic tube, and to watch out for the wasps building their nests inside. Then we are to check on the irrigation emitter right next to the tree, make sure it is letting out water. And when it isn’t, we take the emitter off, river water sprays all over us, and then we wash the emitter out, and place it back on, hoping to clear it. There are thousands of trees out here, thousands of water emitter, thousands of little plastic tubes. And then the tree foundation has about 30-40 of these sites around town.

Just don’t understand it. Do not understand it. All in favor of more trees, but it’s a lot of energy. Hope it’s worth it. Wish it was sustainable in any way shape or form. But they know it’s not, but they just keep up doing it and eating off paper plates.

This afternoon we are planting more trees.


We’ve all been trading around words/phrases accents all year without really noticing it. It’s so human to pick up on other’s social behaviors and imitate them when engaging with those people— it makes communication smoother and interactions more approachable and understandable.

But today I yelled out, “Is there more bamboo sticks down there?”

And immediately realized the grammar mistake after saying it, but also it was the second time today I had made that mistake.

Something I’ve never really done in my life.

I called myself out and said how funny it was– and my other teammates were like, what’s wrong with that sentence? And Alyssa and Carinne were the only ones who knew the grammatically correct way to say it, and Carinne commented that, just as we pick up each other’s phrases, we’re also picking up each other’s ways of talking. And she’s never made that grammar mistake either in her life, but has found herself doing it a lot recently as well. We’ve worked with so many different people, and our own teammates who don’t use proper grammar, don’t know it. And then we are also so hot and tired, that it’s just starting to slip.


I love grammatically correct people. I don’t want to stop being one!

Got off work early– treated like volunteers by these people, not free labor to push as far as they want as our past sponsors have done. They are human. They have good intent. They are kinder than any other bosses I’ve had in a long while. I really, really like them. And I don’t mind planting trees for them. The above rant was more just for philosophizing, and having something to do over my lunchbreak out in the fields of god-knows-where-California.

After work we went to the YMCA and I went running around Broadway street, exploring. Didn’t find much, didn’t get into a good jog.

But then went to the store with Heather and Ryan after working out, and got an mp3 player that will actually work now, and headphones to talk on the phone with. And a couple new blue pens. Always getting those new pens. Ate my beans, rice, vegetables mix that I made yesterday.

Came back, and drifted into bad habits. Dinner was stressing me out, the teflon and shit. I just can’t get over it. And I don’t really want to research it, because I’m afraid it will only freak me out more.

So I grabbed a box of Chips Ahoy cookies, and started watching a documentary on Boko Haram.

Stunned and astounded that some journalist could risk his life, get on the frontlines of a fight that wasn’t his, and show the would what was going on there. And then of the people on the front lines there– the Nigerian army. They showed a scene were they were all drinking beer, and praying. They do this nightly, as they are not sure if it’s their last night or not.

And then I grabbed the bag of Goldfish, and stuffed my face with a dangerous amount of salt and fake cheese flavor. And I knew this was wrong, but I just felt so overwhelmed. I’ve lost my direction again. I’m not as down about work as I have been for the past few weeks/months. That part I’m doing better about. Only 100 days left of this program. And our new sponsors are beautiful, understanding and relaxed people who treat us as equal human beings.

But I’ve just been feeling numb recently– like there’s so much to do, that I’m not going to do anything. I get like this sometimes. I’m either really on, or I’m not. And right now, I need to just jump back into doing. All of this reading and watching the news is wonderful, but it means shit if I cannot raise my voice and take my opinion and passions into the world.

Just calling the doctor. I need to go to the doctor for an infection, and I can’t even make that call. Because it’s a big deal to me for some reason– have to look up the number online. Have to write down the time and address. Have to talk to a stranger who I fear will judge me.

That’s what it really comes down to. Judgement. I’m just so scared of judgement.

That quote I blogged yesterday– how writing needs to start with the self– how you have to question yourself first. Get down to your true passions, desires and fears. And acceptance is still my biggest hurdle. Even though I have come so far, and have become much like my crazy, unique and independent parents in many respects, who raise peacockcs, paint houses highlighter yellow and have weed jokes on our walls, I still have a lot of growing to do on the acceptance front.

That, in a nutshell, is why I am sitting in a hot and stuffy lodge watching other people do shit online while I shove Goldfish in my mouth.

I am in the capitol of California. There is so much to do.

I am also a high strung person. I don’t need to be doing things constantly.

So part of my reasoning for shoving junk food in my face- to give myself a break. But also, part of that shoving junk food in my face was a sign of defeat. I was giving up. And I don’t want to give up. So I really need to sort some shit out. Stop judging myself so harshly, but also stop taking myself so seriously and just play the game.

So anyway. I grabbed the salty Goldfish, and ate more than should be possible while watching another documentary on Mental Health and Imprisonment in Chicago/America.

And I was bawling. Certain parts of it, I mean, the whole documentary was rough, but there were parts of it that just made me want to scream and do something. Something. What is that something? And what am I in the big scheme of things?

And that’s where I realized what I’ve been doing when I go astray. I start to take everything on- and I forget how to do the simplest things. I forget how to call the doctor. I forget how to send emails back. I forget how to have self control and not eat a whole bag of Goldfish, which I am morally opposed to from a food revolution perspective, from a health perspective, from a human rights perspective. And I realized that when I eat like that, I’m trying to lose myself.

As I was jogging past the YMCA today, I saw a homeless man with a blue turban for the second time. He was trying to hitch a ride earlier, and now he was under the bridge. And he was pouring clear liquid from a small bottle into a plastic cup with a straw. And I was like, man. How come you gotta do that? Don’t you know that’s not going to help anything? What about the long term?

And I knew it then, but it really hit home for me tonight. How similar me and that man are. How I could not stop myself from consuming that bad food. How I wanted it partly because it WAS bad. How I didn’t care about the future at that moment, I only cared about a quick fix, what I knew would make me feel better right then.

Blue turban man with his whiskey, me with my Goldfish, Chips Ahoy and mindless voyeuristic news watching.

This is like the longest blog post ever!

VICE- Institutionalized: Mental Health Behind Bars:

But the Chicago documentary really opened my eyes, and I feel very passionate about the issues discussed. The stigma around mental illness, the inaccessibility to resources. The desperation. And I think, also, what I realized is the fact that I still have mental struggles, and anxiety. And it’s no use to compare me to my teammates, and anyone else in the same situation as me. We all react differently. And what I’m acting like right now is a signal that I need to make some major changes. I will never change the fact that I have anxiety and am subject to mild depression at times, but I can change what I do with that.

I can change my every moment actions. I can change how I see myself. What I want. And how I’m going to make that happen.

I can make sure that I stay true to what I really want.

Which is?

Storm’s brewing outside and I definitely only take showers every three days now.

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