Monthly Archives: September 2011

“I will be a hummingbird” – Wangari Maathai


Professor Wangari Muta Maathai, first African woman and environmentalist to receive the Nobel Peace Prize, lived the life of that hummingbird she talks about here: struggling all her life with great energy, trying to turn the tide against the deforestation of Africa by planting over 30 million trees, inspiring many others to join in the cause of restoring environmental balance and justice to a planet engulfed in “development”.

The above clip comes from the documentary “Dirt! The Movie”. The animated sequence accompanying Maathai’s story has won awards on its own and is a strikingly inspirational moment in the film. Although, as an avian ecologist (and a pedant), I have to say I would be even more worried about the state of our planet if said little hummingbird had to fly past elephants to put out the forest fires: for the two creatures do not naturally occur on the same continent! Sunbirds would be more likely in the African jungle than hummingbirds in that role… but hummingbirds, I suppose, make for a more romantic hero to inspire us all! And inspire us all she did.

Alas, the real life “hummingbird” telling us the story is herself no more: Wangari Maathai passed away yesterday at the age of 71, after a struggle with cancer. May her work continue to remind more of us to do everything we can to put out the fires…

A school in a bottle. Or many bottles, recycled.

Do your kids get whiny because you say “No” to some new toy they want or candy or soda or something they saw advertised on the telly? Do they wish you were richer so you could buy them all the stuff they want, and take them places?

Next time, show them this video about the bottle school… tell them to Hug it Forward. Watch their eyes widen and their jaws drop as they forget about their wants and start talking about these little kids. Worked wonders with ours this past weekend!


Grist has a bit more on the story.

The Sad Plight of the Silky Sifaka

[vimeo w=480&h=270]

Green: Science

Lemurs are in trouble. The cute wide-eyed primates have been threatened for decades, but their situation has recently worsened. Over the last five years, political instability and corruption in Madagascar, their only native country, has led to extensive deforestation and habitat destruction, even in officially protected areas.

Some estimates place the current loss of Madagascar’s forest cover at almost 90 percent. What’s left has come under increasing pressure from armed gangs of criminal loggers.

While hundreds of lemur species call Madagascar home, the silky sifaka (Propithecus candidus), a timid white fluffy variety, is at most risk of extinction. Estimates on the remaining number of silkys, known as the “angels of the forest” for their white fur and tree-hopping acrobatic abilities, range from 300 to 2,000. The silky is listed by the International Union for Conservation of Nature as one of the world’s 25 most endangered primates.

The silky’s plight is documented in an online documentary called “Trouble in Lemur Land.” The film follows an American primatologist named Eric Patel, who is trying to save the silky or to at least learn as much as possible about the animal before it goes extinct.

Read the rest of the article by Erik Olsen on the New York Times’ Green Blog

So, what’s good in your hood?


What an interesting program! I must find out more about this as we are also developing educational programs working with local schools and communities to increase that connection with urban nature that we often seem to lack.

High time we have programs like this in our hood, here in Fresno and Clovis!

Tip o’ the hat to Danielle Lee @ Urban Science Adventures!