Ecological engagement is about connection. When you look forward and back, when you look left and right you are only beginning to connect to where you are. Engaging all of your senses, those described by science and those that have been known to people for thousands of years, leads to a deeper relationship with your place in the world.
Where are you? What is your connection to the environment that you inhabit at this moment? What is your presence doing to impact the balance of life and matter?
It takes practice and conscious effort to do more than see the world around you. Every experience must be appreciated as an opportunity to build a relationship. The rock to your left can be known as an erratic dropped by a glacier 10,000 years ago or a driveway marker placed next to the street by a guy who was tired of people cutting the corner. Knowing it as both creates a deeper understanding of the connections that exist across time and place.
An essential element of ecological engagement is the human connections that are discovered and developed. Whether it be a new understanding of who we are as individuals or who we are together there is always an environment that shapes and frames our relationships.
When ecological engagement is at its highest level there is an effort on the part of people to shape their environment in a way that strengthens and builds relationships among all elements in a balanced way. What we experience around us matters and what we do to shape our world shapes our experience with it.
There are many paths that lead in different directions. There is no right path. There is only the right way of being on that path, a mindset of connectedness, a spirit of generosity, and body that is tuned to the experience. Each step or minute spent still attempted in authentic openness to the power of relationships is done as an act of ecological engagement. When we open ourselves to the power of the relationships we have with our environment and each other we become who we are meant to be.
We shape our world. Our world shapes us. It is a reciprocal relationship.
Join us for our second discussion where we will move from inquiry to action around just and inclusive education about invasive species.
About this Event
The language we use to describe the world around us plays a role in creating the framework we use to understand it. While we share a common connection to the natural world, the way we teach and talk about it can prevent us from having conversations that include all perspectives.
Introduced species provide us with a starting point for an exploration of how ecological education can be an inclusive and just endeavor by considering how words like, “invasive” and “alien” convey cultural concepts that can be perceived as exclusive.
Join us for our second discussion where we will move from inquiry to action. This dialogue will focus on shifting our perspective and developing an action plan around creating a set of materials and activities that will provide best practices and guidance for the community of ecology education practitioners
We had over 80 people from all over the country (and beyond) join us for this conversation about how we teach and talk about invasive species in a just and equitable way. In an effort to share as much as possible about the experience and build the community of people contemplating what just and equitable ecology education looks like you will find the materials from the workshop below. Videos with transcripts from the whole group session and a selection of breakouts are at the end of this post.
Just to give you that, that morning, we are now reporting, thank you for the reminder, you are keeping me on my toes. I like it.
All right. So welcome to a conversation that we’ve called just language about invasive species today. And we’re hoping that this is going to be a starting point for more conversations and we’ll talk more about kind of where we’re coming from and how we got to where we are today. But there is an agenda slide if you want to take a look at that. But we want to start with some introductions. My name’s Chris Widmaier. I’m an educator and founder of a business I’ve called green collar collaborations that I’m using as a way to work together with different people to build programs and projects that lead to a more hopeful, sustainable future. I am in Rochester, New York right now. And yeah, and I’ll pass it over to Daniel.
Thank you, Chris. So I’m Daniel Branch. And first of all, thank you guys so much for joining. When we started this, I really thought like 20 people were doing. So I’m really excited. I’ve been an environmental educator for about 13 years. I started this journey on accident. I was volunteering at a small sanctuary full of exotic animals in Kentucky and no one else wanted to give tours. So I did it and I actually really enjoyed it. I had a lot of fun introducing to strangers, to these animals that I adored and got to know personally and a few of them that I really did not adore. But since then, I’ve worked in a variety of locales rural Wisconsin, Manhattan, and I worked with a variety of different people. And one of the things that was important to me is her is important to me is building programming wherever I am that is relevant to the people who are coming to these programs. I want them to be relevant, impactful and also positive because the overall goal is to connect people to nature. Isn’t that why most of us do what we do? So I was sitting in a workshop led by Dr.
Drew Lanham, and Drew is an incredible human if you’ve ever had the chance to learn from and take it. But he brought up an anecdote or a story from his past. He was on a field trip with some Sudanese refugees and. They were listening to an educator just like me or you guys talk about environmental, I mean, sorry about invasive species, and he could see the looks on their faces and how it was triggering for them because they’d heard those same exact words used when people were talking to or about them. And I just thought about all the programs I led and how I had been that person. Over and over again, and I didn’t want to be that educator anymore, so that day I started asking colleagues, I asked people in person at the workshop, asked people in emails and text messages, and I didn’t really find any answers. So eventually ended up me asking in this urban collective group, I don’t know if all of you and I know many of you are, but I ask the question, how do we teach about invasive species and what words and what lens do you use?
And I didn’t think that would get a big response. But over a hundred comments later and we had everything from suggestions to, oh, my gosh, I’ve never thought about this, but we didn’t have an answer. So, Chris, as one of the comments agreed to help facilitate this and make this conversation happen. So when we’re thinking about is there really a need for this conversation? Absolutely. You can look at the pamphlet. If you guys could see the emails and responses we’ve gotten since we started this, there was a there’s well over 100 hundred people who registered. So are some one hundred people who did and more that wanted to. So there’s definitely a need. But we need to talk more about that question. So I’m going to let Chris take over to to reframe this for us.
You’re still muted.
We still need it, all right. So I never thought we’d we’d have to tell people, turn people away. So it’s fantastic. So the framework we’re going to use today and that we’ve decided to think about this is a cycle of inquiry. And a lot of my background is in high school teaching. And I was an instructional coach for a while. And this was a framework that we used that I really like where it respects the fact that education is is this iterative process and it’s always ongoing. And so we kind of started with the analyzing data like Danielle just talked about. And then from there, we’re going to talk a little bit today about how we’ve decided to frame the conversation and the key questions that we’re going to talk about today and then talk a little bit about the literature and people’s experiences. And again, the Padilha did a great job of capturing that. And then the discussion is going to kind of jump in in that era between sharing our own experiences and developing and refining an action plan. And then at the end of this, it’s all about the action. It’s what are we going to do? And and how do we know whether or not what we’re doing is working? And then what do we need to do next? And you can see the link and we’ll share this again.
But there’s a link this this is taken from the school reform initiative, and they have a lot of great equity based protocols for teaching and learning. So then we decided to frame this like this. Right. How do we apply a lens of identity, diversity and justice to the topic of invasive and introduce species and how it is taught and kind of even recognized that by using the word continuing to use the word invasive, that we aren’t we haven’t corrected this situation yet, but hopefully, as we make progress, will be able to take some action so that we’re using words that we all feel comfortable with and concepts that respect everybody’s humanity. Right. So the frameworks that we’re using and have kind of been talking about as we go through this is one a social justice frame. And I’m a big fan of the teaching tolerance, social justice standards. I put a link in the slideshow and again, we can put that in the chat. But there they’re built around looking at identity, diversity, justice, and then action is the final category for those. We’re also looking at this from a scientific frame that, you know, as science educators and scientists, you know, the number one thing we’re trying to do is accurately observe, analyze and describe natural phenomenon.
But we want to do it and recognize there’s a way to shift it so that it includes everybody and that any and any person, no matter who they are, feels comfortable engaging in the scientific endeavor and recognizing that the way that it’s taught, the way that we talk about science and the things in our world affects people’s ability to access the scientific community. And then the final one is a pedagogical frame. So we’re we’re thinking about this from a teaching lens and an anti-racist teaching lens. And then again, that cycle of inquiry and as well as all kinds of other inclusive education. And and I like thinking about things from a universal design perspective of if we design things for everybody, then nobody can be excluded. And so with that, I want to pass it over back to Danielle to talk a little bit about the research and field experience.
Thanks, Chris. So hopefully you guys had a chance to look through some of the resources we sent you and hopefully maybe you found more.
If not, that’s OK, too. But this piece is really important because there’s already a ton of research out there, a ton of commentary articles about this particular topic. People have been talking about this for decades, but no one solved the issue.
So hopefully that’s where this conversation goes. So for me, I pulled out these three key things. But what I would like for you to do is to think about the research that you’ve done in your field experiences and what what key points you think are important for us to talk about today when we head into our small discussions, maybe just limit it to one or two just because there are 70 of you in here.
But for me, these are the key things that I took away from mainly the main article by Charles Warren that we shared. So the biggest thing is that this native species versus invasive species debate is fully subjective. There’s its scientific plus cultural, plus our internal biases, plus our knowledge of history and everything else combined together.
And that makes this debate so complicated. None of us really know when a species became involved in a certain place or if it was moved by indigenous.
Peoples of our colonies, we don’t have that exact information, so trying to set and choose a date and place to go back to is complicated, trying to decide if humans are natural or not natural. Everyone has varying opinions on that. So it’s a hard discussion to have because it’s kind of polarized. The second thing is, despite all of that, we know there’s quantified data that shows that there has been economic, ecological and cultural damage done by invasive species. We can look at fisheries that have been damaged. We can look at how kudzu is completely changed forest in the southeast. We know that that’s happening. But we also know that introduced in invasive species have been very beneficial to society, to society. You can just look at honeybees or the crops we grow, even on small scales, people who forage for their food or et cetera. The third thing is that there is a recommendation by some authors to and from Warren to shift the criteria to be focused on species potential to harm or add value to the ecosystem. But in my opinion, that’s pretty subjective as well. Given that, who decides what’s harmful and what is adding value is the ecological value? Is that cultural value? But I think the reason we’re all here and the biggest point comes from this quote, I think is summarized in this quote very well, the demonizing of alien species clearly represents a value system that is reprehensible when applied in human society. That’s why we’re all having this discussion. And I think that we can all agree that the language is not what it should be, or at least the whole the whole education process of this is not what it needs to be.
Chris is going to take some time and share out some of your responses, and then we’re going to head into the discussion on the we didn’t did we get anything in the chat?
I don’t know. Then we didn’t get anything about anything in the chat in terms of responses. But that’s OK. We can we can just say more time for a discussion.
Yeah, we’ve been to the discussion. And if you want to share any experiences in the discussion, that’s great. So are our keys. Key idea here is the equitable and just ecological education around invasive species. And we as we talked about this, where there are a lot of topics that we could give this treatment. So we wanted to, you know, kind of frame it like that, that this is just one of the topics that we can use to talk about equitable and just ecological education. Right. And so the two main discussion questions are, what is an ideal future? Look, sound and feel like when it comes to equitable and just ecological education around what we’re calling invasive species and then, you know, how do we get to this ideal future? And so we’re going to put you into breakout groups of around 10. I think it’s going to work out pretty well, maybe a bit smaller groups. And we’ve prepared some facilitators ahead of time. So they’ve got this discussion protocol. And again, you can look at it on the slideshow that I shared yourself as we talk. But I just some of the key things are that it’s going to start with a round robin discussion. A key piece of good discussion is making sure that everybody has an opportunity to talk. You may not take that opportunity, but I think it’s important that everybody gets at least an initial opportunity and to make sure that there’s introductions as your discussion starts. One of the nice things about Zouma is that everybody’s name, everybody’s got automatic name tags. And if you want to just your name so that it represents what you would like people to call you during the discussion, that would be great. And in addition, if you want to add your pronouns.
Chris, we lost you.
That’s OK. So I think I don’t associate your Krischan anyone else. No. OK, well, just go ahead and jump into the discussion, just a quick reminder, sorry, my laptop camera is like in front of my screens.
So when you guys jump into the conversation, they are going to hopefully that our facilitators can do so, that we can also, if you want if you’re interested to see what other people say and then we’ll come back and share. So I’m going to go ahead and do the breakout rooms. Fingers crossed. This is my first time ever being a zoom host here, guys, but you should automatically go to a room.
And so next steps.
Our goal for this is sorry, my computer, my laptop in the way of things.
Ok, so our next steps are our goals were to have people still working on this after this conversation was over. And we suggest that you do that either individually or you can work with your professional group or the people you already work with, your colleagues. And as some of you hear from a whole department obnoxiously department and some of you from the same gardens, but also the people that were in your group or Chris and I, to take action and make an actual plan, whatever it is that you think will be the best way to do this.
And then in terms of.
How making continuing this discussion, we really would like to do that, and we hope that you guys are interested in doing that, because I know we didn’t solve the issue tonight, though. I heard great conversations about this particular issue. So we hope that you’ll share any revelations you have they all share. And the lesson plans that seem to be working and of course, always getting feedback from us and from each other. What we do hope that this will continue. I I moved my laptop, Chris, and I cannot see the slide anymore. OK, there it is.
So, yeah, and if you want to work with us to continue, you know, a series of conversations around this particular question, reach out, because we definitely want to find more people to organize with us and we put a slide or connecting with us here. We’ve got email to and gotten emails from Danielle. And, you know, if you want to share your contact information in the chat or with people directly, you can and will send us an email out at, you know, with our thoughts about what happened in a synthesis of everything and kind of next steps.
And then I’ll keep trying to post to some on my website there, the green color collaboration.
But yes. So if you’ve got to go, there’s one slide here of the links from today. But if you’ve got to go, thank you very much for joining us.
And if you can stay, then let’s go back to this, the synthesising discussion, and I’m going to take your share off just because it’s easier.
So and in the future, just so you know, these will be longer conversations, Nathan yelled at me for not making it.
I didn’t know one hundred people were going to sign up, Nathan.
No kidding. I know. I mean, it’s really exciting. Who did was severely underestimated what we were getting into here. And it’s awesome. But yeah.
Yeah, one hour is not enough when I was not enough. But it’s been great guys. Yeah. And we and we really wanted it to be a starting point.
You know, it’s where it’s it’s we’re hearing people’s voices and and what’s next. So yeah, maybe if we do hear some synthesising thoughts and ideas from the different groups.
So one that’s Ellie, OK, or do you have someone else you wanted to speak either way with volunteers.
So obviously we had a really nice discussion, though. And I think the main point, I took copious notes on the slide, but the main points we kind of discussed is that scientists taking ownership of science, being political and to actively be anti-racist in our field. So that’s something that we all need to do in order to make this a more inclusive and welcoming and safe space for everyone. And then some of the a few of the things that we discussed that we felt were super salient and important was. Paying people, so supporting EPOXI in our fields with money, with child care, to do focus groups, to kind of get to hear from the communities that we’re ostensibly serving, but with compensation and definitely paid internships, we had some discussion about starting with youth and early career people. So definitely that being paid would be great, getting teachers on board. So thinking about how they’re the ones who spend day in and day out with our budding scientists and how we can get them on board with the changes that we’re hoping will be able to make. And also, we had a nice discussion about thinking about other ways that other cultures and languages use what they save for invasive species. And if that’s even a word that other languages use besides English, and what other ways might we be able to describe these terms? And just obviously diversifying our fields like white people, as as men, less higher degree is needing to be like the standard in the field. And as a white woman, I’ll shut up.
All right, thank you very much. That was a great synthesis. So how about good to.
Yeah, that was my group, Chris, so if Britney, Thompson and Britney, you still here, I’d like her to discuss one of the topics that we talked about. I see she’s she’s still there. So, Britney, if you want to discuss one of your main actionable ideas that we discussed.
So I think.
What did I tell you, I talked about how it’s not just important, the changing of language to be used not to offend the marginalized groups, but it’s a language change that is useful for all groups to create a society of people who are using language that’s reflective of like understanding and care for others.
So, yeah, and you also mentioned resilient landscapes. I thought that was a beautiful point.
Your topic about allowing landscapes to change, just like people change.
Yeah. And that’s that’s basically. Yeah, that’s yeah. So just being willing to see the change in the landscape and kind of even if you’re not able to pin down maybe a change in phrase or terminology, taking the time to in that explanation of like why this species exists or why it’s such an issue for maybe scientists or land managers is kind of explaining fully if you have the time in your curriculum to do that.
Taking the time to do that, I think is always beneficial, even if you don’t have, like, a study term. So, yeah.
Fantastic. Thank you very much for sharing that. Anything about three?
It’s was those does me all right and I’d welcome any of the group to jump in here, but I’ll just give you a summary. We really discussed just the need for clarity in the terms and that sometimes are very value laden and militaristic in in some ways related to, you know, non-native species. And it overlaps with some xenophobia and anti-immigrant rhetoric. A good example recently is how language can really affect how we see species like these murder hornets that have been found around the country. And just really just like a change in the common name and oftentimes where can really make the difference and how oftentimes, you know, we are, you know, multilingual in naming things.
Not that the Latin name is any better, though, in some cases.
And and we also kind of circled around the idea that just more neutral language, just using their term weed has less of a political connotation might be better to use. Really emphasize, folks, some folks have said it’s just collaboration. Just I think in like I think with this group, the aspirations that we just continue to meet and to discuss, you know, beyond just this hour that we have data that would be very important to kind of come up with some mutually agreeable terms and and conversation about what we’re about, about the language we use. The other thing we see, and I think just the action items and twos is really we focus on like the number one thing that really that came up was just like listening. So if it like that example that you all gave at the very beginning, when that you see that it’s that the language you’re using is really influencing or affecting someone or triggering someone, just really we should be like multilingual in some ways and be able to, like, shift in discrete and use language to describe our work in different ways and then just and then just looking for voices that aren’t there really, I think, and just kind of going beyond the dominant terms and in culture and just in and just like learning from other people about how they would describe, you know, the plants.
You hear? All right, thank you. Thank you very much. All right. So the next group is that Betsey’s you?
Group four, we talked a lot about decolonizing and unlearning was a big term used and truth for learning about the species, about the ecosystems, about the complexity. So looking at that complexity in that systems system, I can never say that systems thinking approach, but also taking a look at how place based these impacts can be, because in some areas they are not invasive. They are not they are native. They’re not native. So taking a look at that. Less broad approach of being placed based, but we also brought in because a few a couple of us work for a state entity and there are laws and legal definitions of what these invasive species are and how that might change as we look at this.
We also discussed look at the trends, how humans have changed things over the years. Back in Victorian times, these plants were great garden plants. Now they’re invasive species, but also how people dressed affected, how those invasive species and not dangerous species on giant hogweed is what I’m talking about. Change the impacts on humans looking at how we. I can’t say the term commodify species that got a little weight for plants and into honeybees and how that changes. We also talked about looking at how species coevolve so that they have limits in this range, but if you move them to another range, don’t have that coevolution with limiting factors or predators. So bringing that concept in. But a big takeaway about how to get and move to a better future is really looking at moving away from the simplicity and the silos of education and bringing it more into that complex thoughts of systems thinking how there’s a lot of things that come out in nature. But we also did talk about bringing broader thoughts and terms and looking at other groups that aren’t here and how they can be brought into this, but increase terminology used. And we also discussed honor for the land and bringing in those diverse things. I think that’s everything anyone else want to. If I missed anything.
Sounds great. All right, thank you, Betsy, and everybody in that group. All right. Clifford, can you give us a little summary of what your group discussed?
Sure. Actually, if I could invite Jonah, who was our brilliant note taker, to to share a few thoughts would be great.
Thank you, Jonas. Always valiant. Thanks, Daniel.
So we really spent our time talking about our different experience, teaching about about these topics and how each of us had kind of come up with our own terminology. One of the things I was really struck with was one of the one of our group members talked about how it might be kind of lazy to just try to figure out one catchall word for invasive, because that’s not really how things really work. And so maybe what we should do is dig deeper into the science and really trust our participants to kind of go there with us. So instead of just giving them some quick and easy word, really saying, well, this particular plant in this particular environment interacts in this particular way. And I was I was moved by that. There were several words that did come up. So even though we were talking about might be lazies, one word, I think we also came up with some some interesting ones. One was one one person mentioned using the word naturalized for plants that have come into an environment for whatever reason, human reason or other, and wondering if that word appropriate or maybe that word should be looked at as well. One, the word pushy instead of invasive because it describes the the plant or animals behavior. And then also thinking about whether the plant is a team player or a prima donna. It’s kind of like a maybe a sports sports kind of analogy approach. So those are some of the things that we discussed.
But really getting into this idea of each particular organism has its own. Way of being in each individual environment, so really wanting to segment that is. And be really clear with participants was, I think, where we kind of came to.
I really love the idea of digging into the science, because isn’t that what we’re supposed to be doing anyway? Well, most of us. But it’s interesting that all of the language that we’ve been choosing is not scientific. It’s cultural because I guess we’re human life anyway. Sorry, I just had a comment on that.
Thank you, Daniel. I realized that I also just kind of skipped two groups, the group I was in and then Brianna.
Do you want to actually, Brianna, ended up in the wrong group. It’s complicated.
There was another woman who was leading. That’s someone remind me of her name, I think. That’s what I was thinking, Deborah. What I didn’t want to be wrong anyway, Deborah, if you want to share if you had someone else in your mind that you thought I should share.
Yeah, well, I took the notes that anybody who is in my group feel free to jump in if I skip anything important. So the the ideal world that we came up with is something like this. Our language involves and includes everyone and gives everyone a sense of ownership and connection with nature. And our language demonstrates that we value both biological diversity and human diversity. And we thought that a useful resource to help us reach that ideal state with our language would be some kind of a style guide that that listed the terms that have been found. But we’ve discussed many of which that have been that have been problematic and that have given offense to some people or made them feel excluded. Because we have in our work as environmental educators and land managers, we may have used some of these terms and we want to become more aware of our language. And also a list, as we started to discuss in some of these groups of alternative terminology that we could consider, including in our language so that our language does not give offense. We I’ve never seen somebody just asked if there is a style guide for an environmental for environmental educators and we haven’t seen such a thing, but we got a start at a drafting that while we were together in the group. So we had a great discussion. I really appreciate the other group members that anybody might like to add anything. OK, well, I think there was one more group that needed to report.
All right. Yeah, so I was in group six and then we’ll have Group eight is our last group, right?
Yes, I’m answering you, but not a Meurice. But yes.
So for for my group, what we talked about that I think is a relevant thing for us to share and I’m just. The first is that we have to legitimize people’s experience and the relationship they have with our species. It was a key point and along that, that two things can be true about a species, that tree that some people would consider invasive outside your window has great value to you because you get to see it. But then there can also be economic impacts to the existence of that tree that also need to be addressed. And so Michele shared a second ago, but one of the key takeaways from ours, our group, too, is that it’s not about softening things to where there’s there’s nothing bad that all is good. It’s about making sure that we find ways to communicate, to communicate clearly and accurately, but in a way that respects everybody’s humanity. And then I think that the final way, the final thing and how do we get to that deal future is the is the new way of thinking and making sure that we continue to focus on, you know, how we think about the world determines how we see it.
And some of those things are constructed by people who talk about state borders, which is interesting and new to me and in that kind of thing, and how it treats these different species and impacts on other states.
And if anybody else from the group, especially things that I didn’t hear because I came in late.
All right, so let’s hear from grade eight and we’ll we’ll wrap this up.
So my group well, we talk about a lot of things, but I think one of the big ones was that obviously we need to figure out what kind of language we use when we teach about these things. But a lot of what needs to change is how we think about it in the context of it and how, you know, everything in science is very much about categories. But humans don’t really work that way about. Well, I mean, of course, we put humans in categories and that’s the whole problem. So moving away from that in both science, well, maybe not in science of how we teach about science and might bring in more nuance and complexity to how we talk about things would be good. And also just listening and censoring indigenous populations and other immigrant populations than a population that’s being actively harmed by how we talk about these things is, I think, the way to move forward so that we can actually have this be for everybody because we censor the populations that need to be censored. That’s step one. Bethany was the one who took notes, so I don’t know if I’m missing anything that they need you. Is there anything you want to add?
Yeah, I’ll just add one more thing that kind of stuck with me. And then I noticed that Nathan mentioned something similar in the chat that I really like so we can highlight it. But he mentioned that Heidi mentioned that these flora and fauna are are labeled as overabundant and underutilized.
They’re here and they do have a purpose. And something that came up in our group is that there are not bad plants. There’s just plants that are in the wrong spot doing the wrong thing in that spot.
And it’s like they can be doing the right thing somewhere else and be great for that that area.
And so just understanding what’s going on with the plant and something that we mentioned quite a few times in our group is getting away from these binary labels of good and bad and thinking with a more interdependent and complex lens when looking at plants.
Awesome. Thank you very much. And is there anybody that would like to add any thoughts to this whole group discussion that either wasn’t said or that you want to echo or elevate?
I just want to thank you guys for sticking it out, because it is twenty three minutes past when I said we’d be done and you’re still here. That means I mean, it says something about your investment in this conversation, which means a lot to me, because my sole original purpose was to make my programs better for the people in my community. And I’m hoping that through this and future conversations that we all get to do that as well.
Yeah, I just want to echo that as well, that thank you very much for everybody that came and shared your perspectives and right. I’ve my selfish desire to just have interesting conversations with interesting people. And this this definitely achieved that today. So thank you for coming. But then on the change in action, that will happen in individual skills and organizational skills and then, you know, at the scale of the field is a really exciting thing that the people came here ready to take on and be a part of.
And it’s not an unreasonable thing to think that the people in this room can work towards making the changes that need to happen.
So along those lines, you know, we also want to be very open about all of this that we’ve shared the PowerPoint slide link for today. We’ve got the facilitation guide, if you want to use this with your organization and just kind of, you know, turn it around with the organization.
I’m fine with that. I think Daniel would be fine with that. I mean, we discussed it fully, but if you use these materials, go ahead.
And then if you want to engage with us in any way, either, you know, with your organization or to continue this larger conversation and figure out what should be next, let us know.
I don’t know. Danielle, do you have any other closing words?
Not really. I think everyone is ready to my bedtime is in like 30 minutes.
I’m ready if I can interject just briefly and encourage. I’m just excited how many people have indicated a desire to continue this dialogue. And to me, one very valuable tool that we could create if we continue to move forward in the direction we are in some sort of brief guidance document that could provide as we put we’re putting a lot of thought, a lot of amazing ideas here could provide a guidance sense that could be used potentially by by individuals, environmental education across the country. There isn’t such a thing right now. There’s no helpful tool to kind of frame. This is the challenge. And these are some ways that you might consider approaching it. And that could be invaluable for us to think about. Think about generating.
Absolutely. I would love to work on that once we have maybe narrowed down what we want.
I think the conversations that I overheard were wonderful and the review that we did of them, it seems like we’re moving forward. I just hope that we get a little more concrete answers and maybe we don’t, maybe because it’s such a complex issue. But I hope to create something that we can use in the future. I think, Chris, that was part of your goal, to have things for the future, even if it’s workshops or.
Whatever it looks like, yeah, and I think some sort of white paper or just guides, you know, the advise advisory guide is a good idea and a good place to start. And I got so many different action items. So, you know, let’s get some working groups going and let’s make it happen.
All right, everybody, one quick question. Before everybody leaves the recording, will it be available? Will you send it out to us?
We’re going to put it on Chris’s website. I don’t know how many of the facilitators successfully recorded theirs and not. I know I started recording this and I think. Actually, it should still go to my I don’t know, but it’ll be there and I just don’t know what it’ll look like because we recorded the breakout sessions as well as the main points or the main room as well.
So our first question is, what does an ideal future look sound and feel like? And then just a reminder that we’re going to start by Round-Robin. You don’t have to talk yet if you don’t feel like you have a complete idea of your thoughts yet. But at least maybe introduce yourself and where you work and where you live or or work. And we’ll start with Agnete.
Hi, everybody, my name is Agnes, I live in Maryland and I work for the University of Maryland extension, I do forestry, education and outreach.
What does an ideal future look sound feel like? And how do we get to that? I don’t know.
I don’t have it because I don’t really know exactly like what specifically we’re talking about in terms of an ideal future.
So I feel maybe once I hear other people’s input, like maybe I’ll have another answer once I hear other people.
Thank you, Brianna, do you have anything to share and at least introduce yourself?
Yeah, can you guys hear me OK? Yes. OK, perfect.
Don’t have any trouble, but my name is Brianna. I work with Danielle at the Neumann Wetlands Center here in Georgia. I pronounce she her hers. And as far as the question, I’ve been struggling a little bit with this as well.
But for the most part, I think an ideal future is inclusive. There isn’t necessarily the need for discussions like this one we’re having because everyone is already included. Everyone has a voice and one feels represented in this sort of environment. Well, every environment that this one in particular.
Thank you. I’m trying to capture that in text, but in the meantime, I think, Korina, I’m pronouncing your name right. Your next.
Serena, I don’t know if you know your fear muted.
Ok, I think it’s going to go ahead and if we get her back, she can add in some thoughts and a little bit we so I think I’m next. And I really liked Brianna’s answer. And I think that. The way that we. Use language in science has been fraught for a really long time, and I think it’s not it’s not even necessarily just about invasive species, although I think that’s a really big part of it. But, you know, from the way that we name species even and I know that there are some calls to rename some species that are particularly named after racist people and people who have been really detrimental to mostly white folks who have been really detrimental to anyone else.
So I think that that’s this is part of that larger discussion about really thinking about how science is political and how we need to reconcile with that as educators and as people who are also trying to teach people about white, why we’re all doing this. And there’s obviously so much positive in our field, but really to get over. That the idea of of science being apolitical or not not having a say in some of these social issues, because, of course, it’s inherently part of part of the issue.
So I guess really a scientist taking control or taking ownership of that and really working together to be anti-racist as a community in our education community as well.
And I think whoever your next.
Hi, I’m Heather.
I work as a community herbalist and the plant coordinator for a permaculture company in Atlanta, and I’m still kind of formulating my thoughts around this question, but I really like and agree with the answers that we’ve heard so far.
Thank you, Katie Lamb boy.
Hi, everyone, I’m Katie Lamb boy. I am the environmental educator and science coordinator exurb with Ellie, and I think Briana took the words right out of my mouth. I completely agree with that statement.
You and Katie Newman. You are muted here you go.
Hi, I’m Katy Newman. I knew she her pronouns. I am in upstate New York. I’m currently the associate director for Nature Center programs at the Paleontological Research Institution. And so that’s a lot of big words for being a jack of all trades, as I’m sure many of us are, and really focusing on education and our educational programs at the nature center.
And I think that there’s I think the answer to this question is almost never ending.
But I really do like a lot of the opinions that have been shared. And I think that some of the words that. Immediately jump to my mind when I think about this question are safe and welcoming, because so often are people excluded or don’t feel safe in various environments, that it impacts absolutely everything else. So I think those are some of some of the the baselines that we have to get to is just making sure that everyone feels safe and welcomed and heard.
Thank you so much. All right, I think we’re at. Shannon, next. Oh, no, we’re sorry.
Hi, I am Maria Winckler.
I’m in King County, Washington, in Seattle, and I’m a noxious weed specialist, which which here is there’s actually a legal list that the state defines that plants that are not allowed to be controlled. So this is where we’re a little bit different from the whole rest of the country, really. But and I’ve been at this for like 20 years, so I do a lot of one on one education with landowners and property managers and whatnot.
But but the language and the the the science is very squishy. And for you here is I’ve been sort of rolling it around.
This stuff is not quite right here. Like, how do we decide what should be are here, which should be here. I mean, aside from we have a legally defined list, but it’s defined by who who gets to pick that list. So the language, I think needs to shift a lot. And I definitely everything that Brianna and Carina were saying totally was not clean. I’m sorry, Brianna, and you totally resonates with me. And I’ve been thinking a lot about this. And like, how do we change our language? How do we how do we get away from this like. Colonizing, patronizing. It’s I mean, we we call ourselves weed warriors and we stomp out invaders. And meanwhile we’re trying to court immigrant communities of people who’ve just moved here to join us and why would they? So lots of work to do.
You all right, Shannon, you’re up.
Hi, I’m Shannon. I am a native plant enthusiast and a master gardener in the Atlanta area and I have worked also eradicating invasive plants and some of the public gardens around the city. And I work at a native garden. And there’s other master gardeners on this, actually on the Zoome today because they share this. And it was just a topic that I had heard much discussion about, the exotic, non-native native bullies, whatever you call it, about the different names that we call invasive species. And it just it sounded real interesting and brought up ideas that I had not even thought about. So I wanted to join in and hear what everybody had to say.
All right, Stephanie.
Hi, I’m Stephanie, and from the Bronx, I am at Van Cortlandt Park, the executive director of the Van Cortlandt Park Alliance and also the park administrator working for NYC Parks. And my background is actually in botanical gardens. And this is a conversation that has been started at the gardens talking about and collections there and kind of taking some cues from the museum world because they’re also looking to decolonize collections. So there may be some language that we can that we can look to to help us out. I want to thank everybody for for their thoughtful comments. I agree with all that’s been said. And also just in terms of working in the Bronx and having worked in Queens, both of which are boroughs, where we we work with lots of people from lots of communities all around the world, the queens being the most diverse county by some by some estimations, the most diverse county in in the country, in the world. You know, it is really, really difficult to invite people to talk about plants and then use language that offends them. So anxious to hear how we can fix them.
Well, if nobody has anything to add about that, that’s actually our next question, which is how we get to this ideal future. So. I’m thinking, if you don’t mind me messing around with this a little. What if we went in a backwards round robin now so we give people a little bit more time? Also, if you don’t want to do that, let me know I’m just being silly, but Stephanie, that would start with you again. So I think the question is really trying to figure out some some tangible ways that we can, as a community, work together to to go. Just to let you know, the notes that I’ve taken is. And a real having a real inclusive future where we don’t even need to have these conversations because everybody’s included for scientists to take ownership of the politics of science and education, making our field more actively anti-racist for our community to be safe, welcoming and heard, or for people to feel safe, welcoming and heard in our community to get away from this colonizing and patronizing language and to to decolonize the language that we use. So I don’t think they’re expecting us to have an answer necessarily.
But if there are some ways we can maybe think about it for a few moments and then sort of chime in. And, you know, Round-Robin or Beckers round robin style, to think about what what we can tangibly do to to get to that point.
I mean, I will just reiterate a little bit of what I started to say, I’m mostly a social thinker, so I like to I like to talk with people about what what it is they’re doing. And luckily, this is not us operating in a vacuum. I think that there are a lot of people having conversations like this. So is there an opportunity to open up this conversation, to talk with folks in the museum world, folks in the botanical garden world, and see what it is they’re they’re doing, how they’re looking at their collections to decolonize and change the language? That’s one part. The other part is, you know, as as a white lady, I shouldn’t talk so much. I should be listening. So so that’s something that I am eager to do as well.
I think one of the things that we’ve been I’ve been hearing people talking about and whatever is I mean, I am in the Department of Natural Resources and it is overwhelmingly white and overwhelmingly male for now, although it’s starting to shift a little bit. And one of the things I hear over and over and over is that, you know, it’s not everything you will ever change until the face of sciences is representative of what we have out there is not all white, is not all guys. It’s not all people with major college degrees. So one of the things we’re thinking about with language is that we need to. We need. Ideas from people like, well, what what language would make sense to you, like if you have a plant that is bad in some way, what kind of words would you use to describe that and to do that kind of thing? We were we were talking about actually having like a paid focus group where we invited people. For one thing, it’s like it is totally unfair to expect people of color to step up to the plate for no money, for no paying back for like when they’re working all this crap. So so we’re trying to like, first of all, where where are people who are interested and what can we do to support them to help us craft this language? So offer money for child care, for meetings, all that kind of stuff, and then not ask for too much time commitment for something that’s pretty simple. So it’s a little thing, but I think it might help.
Ok, you think, oh, we have a new.
Man, I just noticed you’re here, do you want to maybe introduce yourself?
You are muted. I don’t know, OK, maybe not.
Ok, so we just heard from Maria, thank you so much.
And we’re going to Katy Newman is next. We’re thinking about some steps that we can really take to get to our ideal future.
So I don’t have a whole lot of thoughts on this yet. I really do like what Maria just said, especially in figuring out the first step, I think, is figuring out what words do we use, because I think some uniform this might help the more resistant scientists to change. It might help them be able to get on board a little bit easier if there’s something more universal that we are using.
And I do I really like the idea of offering. Some form of. On.
You know, monetary compensation, child care arrangements, that sort of thing, in order to be able to bring folks from all different backgrounds on board. Other than that, I don’t really have a whole lot of thoughts at this time.
Thanks, Kitty, that was great. OK, Kitty, Lambi.
Yeah, I just want to add that I believe our conversations need to have inclusion groups having these conversations should be reflective of the communities they are serving. So making sure that we’re amplifying those voices within these conversations and not putting ourselves in the same situations that have gotten us to this point. So, yes, those are my thoughts.
Thank you is very important. And Heather.
I don’t have a whole lot to add at this point, but I also really liked what Maria said and what Kadija said to.
Can trying to do this in backwards order, I think I’m next, right, confusing myself, so. I really think that you all kind of said it all, I think the.
That we really need to if we can get more actual diversity in our fields, then these conversations will. Be easier because there will be more people who have a real stake in the game and to actually change things.
So I think that’s a really big part in terms of not just the communities they serve. Right. But making sure that the faces of our organizations are also not just white people, which I fully recognize that a lot of people on this call are.
So that is definitely something to be cognizant of in order to get to where we want to be.
And then, Brianna, you have anything to add?
I do, yeah. I love Marie’s idea of focus groups as a person of color.
There has been happen lots of times in my life where I’ve had to do the work with, you know, no real compensation for it. And it sucks. It’s never a good time. And I think that offering stuff like child care, monetary stuff is it’s a really good incentive and it’s a great place to go with that. I also think that targeting early career scientists, people who haven’t quite integrated into the field and haven’t quite yet subscribed to the whole way, that things are already could be really good in not necessarily changing the industry right now because, you know, it’s going to take time for that to happen.
But to start those conversations, start that thought process from within and also getting teachers involved because teachers are the ones who have to teach the stuff to kids in school.
I’m not sure how it’s done down here in Georgia, but in other places I’ve lived native, invasive and non-native. Ah, terms that are on the standards there, on the actual stuff that kids get tested on. And eventually, if we’re going to have to change that, it’s going to start hitting the school system and figuring out what those teachers know, what they don’t know, what they’d be comfortable with, what they’ve heard kids talk about, especially in places where. Our audience is being affected by this directly, teachers who are teaching indigenous students or immigrant students, figuring out how to get those voices involved would be very helpful.
Excellent point, Brianna.
Thank you so much and Agnes, so for the ideal future of exclusivity and stuff in the language of science and especially ecological science as an extension agent, a lot of the things that we like to do, our surveys. So that’s where I went right away. I was like doing a survey. But then I was thinking like.
So I’m like, my parents are immigrants, so like, how have I help them and how have I seen people help them get to be familiar with things?
And I wonder if, like, for example, what do my parents are Hungarian. So what do Hungarians call an invasive species? And what does that word really actually translate into? It probably might not translate into invasive. So as a curious person, I think that it would be neat to find out those words, how they’re said in other languages, just even that education of like, oh, my God, you don’t even use the word invasive.
You use the word like neighbor or like whatever. Right.
So I think that just even starting with that, so that when you do see people that maybe like if you did see my mom, like, you would know that English is not her first language.
So maybe that point can bring up where you from like that can bring that discussion and bring people in.
And I think somebody had said something about kids like I wonder if that’s the way to start to have kids, like, OK, start to communicate with kids so they see whatever the word is that word. And let’s just use invasive species. Then we’ll say, oh, like, this is how it’s set and all these other languages.
And that, I think, also depends on understanding the community that we’re serving again as an extension agent. That’s like one of the things that we like to do is find out who we’re serving.
So maybe that community maybe has a lot of hungry people in it and knowing a lot of Hungarian words that we want to use would be helpful, but maybe not not any like Slovakians words or what. Like so I think understanding the community, what it’s made up of and finding out what those words are called another language and just start using them, like just start.
Hey, did you know oh my God, this is what it’s called and whatever. And it actually doesn’t even mean in basic it actually means neighbor or whatever.
So I think that that was a thought.
Also, thank you so much, Agnes, so I have been trying to take very copious notes so that I’m really taking the exact language that I’m hearing from all of you. So I think we have about five more minutes in this section and then we’re going to report back to the the main group. So I think our goal now is to.
Sort of synthesize what we talked about and and think about two or three key points from our discussion and maybe somebody else that’s not me would like to volunteer to report back to the group if we are asked to do that.
I will do it if I have to, but somebody else wants to jump in, that would be awesome.
But at least if we can get some input and some maybe two or three points that we that were especially salient that you all think maybe we should bring back to the group.
Give compensation resonated with with a good majority of the group, so definitely say that is one point.
Thank you, Katie.
I really liked I miss his point of figuring out what invasive species are referred to in other places. I was looking earlier today actually at the Norwegian authority on this sort of thing. And they define invasive species timeline wise, just like we do here. But their period is only 200 years ago as opposed to ours being when Columbus got here. And it got me thinking about the differences, you know, globally how this might be discussed or even perceived. I think that’s a really good point we should bring back.
Yeah, that’s an echo of that, too, because, I mean, since I’m on the West Coast, we do also about two hundred years, because that’s really when European colonization took off here two hundred plus years, but because Columbus did not affect the West Coast.
Not right away, anyway.
Ok, great. So I have highlighted really think about compensation and supporting the sea in the field with money and things like child care, paid focus groups.
I think it goes well. I won’t say it goes without saying to have more diversity in our groups, but I think that’s a big part of it.
I’d also like to throw paid internships on top of that, too.
I think that would be excellent as a way to get our young scientists up and going. I mean, you can’t expect kids to work for nothing.
Katie Lambley will tell you we have this conversation early and, yes, totally agree, I also really like personally Brianna’s point about really thinking about teachers in the school system, since they are you know, we may be reaching hundreds or thousands of kids a year, but they’re the ones who are working with them day in and day out.
And so that’s really important in order to to get everybody on board, really. All right, so I just folded three points. I’m happy to report out then, if you all want, I am waiting for the sign that this breakout room will be ending soon.
But if anybody has anything else, they want to add.
Have at it.
I do have one more thing to add I’m sorry, Agnes, did you want to go? I just had a question.
So where do we get the money to pay for the internships and the surveys? That’s like that’s where I went. Was like, OK, that’s a great idea. I get it because I’ve done that stuff to you. Like, I’ve offered child care pizza the whole nine yards, but. How do you do that, a, continually and get money for internships, how do you make that relevant and important to the people? Because I know we’re going to say, well, the government should pay. Well, then how do we get the government to even think that that’s important? So I hate to be a pessimist about it, but how do we solve that?
I mean, it’s always hard asking for money, but I don’t know what’s happening where you are, but are there has been a huge upwelling of interest in fixing and attending to inequity in terms of who gets what in the county, in terms of what services are available, who has what jobs, et cetera. So the county and the state have committed to more racial equality and they’re going to have to cough up money to go with it. So it’s a paid internship is pretty low down on the scale of things that they could do that would help. So I think that it’ll be might be easier to get that kind of thing going at this point.
I think my question was not necessarily for the jobs and doing that, but for the surveys and the focus groups. That’s so you’re seeing a grant. There’s grants out there to do those things. OK? OK.
And I’ll just add to that most of the grants that we write right now include these kinds of things, like as part of the programs that we’re offering, or they are going to be paid internships with local youth, sometimes conducting surveys. So to have that just be a consistent part of our plan to try to get grant funding is the more that grant or see that, the more likely they’re going to want to fund it, hopefully. And Brianna, you have something else you want to add.
I was just going to echo the point you made at the beginning, that the science is political and that it’s really hard to separate the two. And I know at the very least, when Daniel first brought this up to me, I wanted to separate the two. Just I don’t know, I guess my gut instinct. But I think embracing that and finding a way to communicate that and break it down for people that aren’t in the field.
Could take us a long way with this sort of thing.
Awesome, thank you.
I guess we could just hang out here, if you like. They’re all so timely.
This is a very good job, everybody. Here we go. 60 second countdown begins now. I just want to say it was lovely seeing and hearing from all of you.
It’s really nice to have a discussion with people from all across the country and.
If you want, you can just leave the room and then it will be awkward.
Then we can sit awkwardly in the main room. Exactly.
Personal info or not, but there he goes. All right, and just see you again, I was sort of ambiguous about who I was, but I am a plant ecologist at the city of Seattle, and I helped manage green Seattle partnerships. So kind of aside from the educational some education work that I do, I’m actually directing the work of crews and volunteers actually like killing weeds and planting trees. And that’s what my program is focused on. And the whole myth around our program that’s like 15 years old is all about like invasive species. We’re going to remove them and the forest is dying and we’re going to plant more. So and that’s why I feel like this this this conversation really resonates with me. So I really I thank you all for being here. So and I think if you all are willing to if I want to just start with this first question, I want to jump in and really I feel like you already started to talk about it. But we want to record this song on the slide show is this question about what does an ideal future look, feel and sound like? And I can do some props if anyone just says, like a burning sensation, that they want to just jump in and start, I like to otherwise I could just call on people if you want to pass. That’s fine.
So I can kick us off, I guess, right? Thank you.
The thing that comes to my mind a lot in thinking about this is the need for clarity in whatever terms are used. In a conversation I end up having quite frequently, actually, is just because a plant. Is supposed to be growing in a place doesn’t mean it’s not aggressive, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t belong in the space either. So even even with the terms that we currently use, there’s a lack of clarity. I think, at least in the part of the people that I, I tend to be introducing to the world of, you know, plant restoration and restoration ecology and such.
Your muted Michael is.
Thanks so much, I heard you, Jessica. I think I was Jessica, though, speaking. If you just want to see your name before you talk, that would be great. So does anyone else want to go?
Should I just call on people?
Ok, can you not see me if I raise my hand, do I should I put up an icon?
I I’m in this weird. I see I hear you, OK? I acknowledge you. Thank you.
Well, this is something I’ve been thinking about. I it’s funny because I am not really at that solution part yet as I’ve been investigating. But I think it’s moving away from this value laden militaristic kind of war metaphor.
Good, bad us versus them kind of language and rhetoric that portrays the species as an enemy that needs to be eradicated.
And it’s it’s.
Because because that kind of language is so similar to language that’s used for anti-immigration rhetoric and anti, you know, people of color are basically the the the Bayport communities and immigrants, I think would be the most hurt by this type of language. And so it’s moving towards something that’s less polarizing, I think more holistic. It’s being able to.
Look, we’re talking about these species like where is it that they’re coming from, the fact that they were all introduced by humans and in some way kind of, I feel like helps to take that responsibility off the species itself, that demonizing of the species itself and turn it on to what can humans do. And and then the other thing I thought a lot about is finding ways of removing the place of origin when you’re talking about the invasive species.
I feel like that’s where it gets very problematic and and unnecessary.
I I spoke to someone from the Washington Invasive Species Council, and he didn’t did he agree that that species could be defined more by maybe the way they appear or some of the physical characteristic versus the Asian something that Mexican, something the like the murder, the murder, Hornet invasion, murder? It like it’s like you can’t get much more sensationalized in demonizing than that. And and I feel like. If people already have a bias towards certain communities, they already maybe have some prejudice, maybe already are worried about whatever the maybe they’re a little bit.
Don’t realize that they may be a little bit xenophobic that could escalate those feelings, so that’s what I really hope that we can move towards with language.
That’s great, thank you.
Yeah, I definitely see some similar language with how I like Department of Homeland Security is very active in the Northwest this past summer and as well, I my son watches this show called Minute Earth on YouTube. And it there’s this very particular episode that talked about how, yeah, just change in language, like changing the name of like a hyena or even like a dolphin can help with, like conservation of species. I think it was very yeah. It’s very resonates with me as anyone else.
I jump in. Anything that folks read from the. That kind of was compelling to them or.
There was the suggestion just to go back to using the term weed species. This is Carol. And maybe the word weed doesn’t have really a political connotation like the word immigrant or foreign or alien or introduced might. So that might be the safest term for us to use if we want to try to be politically sensitive. I know master gardeners do a lot of outreach and teaching, and we definitely don’t want to offend anyone. So trying to find the best terminology to use is definitely a goal.
This is a..
I was thinking about collaboration because so much of the language is exclusive, you know, it’s this belongs. This doesn’t belong. So having those conversations where we agree to weigh the value of. Anything but deciding those characteristics of how we’re going to value them, then the other language that’s I think where we’re most concerned about how we describe that, how we. What characteristics we then decide are valuable? The other thing I was thinking earlier is that the more oh, the word escapes me, you know. The more vague a term is, the less exclusive it is. So, like if we talk about humans, it’s much more difficult to target certain populations versus if we named them Americans or Mexicans or Asians or whatever. So the the bigger the broader the term it is, the less targeting, the less.
I guess I’m tired of the East Coast and it’s late tonight, but I get up early, so the words are escaping me, but you get the idea that those words don’t tend to cause as much aggression and feelings of exclusion.
I don’t want to mansplaining, but I was like thinking like just the more ambiguous or the more neutral that the word I’m looking for.
Ok, I think. Yeah, I know Danielle was going to jump in there. Amayo give Danielle the chance. We are sort of running a kind of way. I just am a little anxious, a little worried, but I just want to keep us on track. If people want to start evoking or communicating about these actionable ideas not to give or take or too much trouble, sort of actionable ideas if those are coming to mind as well. Feel free to bring those up. I think, while you’re if you take your turn talk. And that would be great.
Sure, thanks, Michael got it. And so this is Danielle, and I really appreciate what both Celeste and Amy were saying around thinking about our language. And I guess to frame that in a positivist kind of way of like, what could this look like? You know, thinking about like how we can be reflective practitioners and be make a practice of like in reflecting on why we use the terms we use and having these conversations and this discernment around. You know, just because I called something something before doesn’t mean that it’s appropriate now. And so this idea that we’re always needing to be reflective in the way that we do our work or engage in activities and that that should be done in dialogue with people. And taking in new perspectives, I think sets up this idea that our language isn’t static, that we should be revisiting it and seeing is it is it helpful? Is it getting us to where we want to be? And then the only thing I wanted to maybe add is I think this idea of like how and I love the idea of the universal design. Right. Like how do we make it better and accessible for everyone? And I think this idea that, you know, I care deeply about the equity and justice around the language, but I think it’s also important around this idea of like, are we representing the complexities of what’s going on or are we there somewhere in the article or talked about like by making it this dualistic idea, we’ve actually taken away to the meat of what the issue is and and in some ways not represented the complexity of the system.
And so I think about like with climate change or climate, you know, like global warming and like, well, it’s cold. It can be global warming. And so how that’s kind of simplified things and polarized things as opposed to ideas around like climate weirding and how this idea, which might also be a not maybe not a great term either, but this idea that it’s complex and it’s not in one direction or another direction, but that we have to take lots of things into consideration and our attempts to simplify it sometimes do injustice to the concept or what we’re trying to really get at.
So I don’t know. I guess I’ll leave it there, but.
I hear you. Yeah, it is kind of been black and white, right? And so, yeah, in my experience too, like I have I have a whole list that I direct people to go out and, like, eliminate certain species to encourage, you know, natives. And so, yeah, it is generally and sometimes things just we add things to that list and it’s sometimes I look back in time like 10 years I’ve been out of the city of Seattle and sometimes it’s been fairly arbitrary, you know, based on like very subjective. And I think as scientists we want to be objective and that like the fallacy or the kind of the illusion of objectivity is.
It’s an illusion.
All right, I want to give some other people some time is and haven’t spoken. I want to jump in or I would jump in.
Ok, I like a lot of what’s already been said. But one thing that’s kind of coming up for me, I’ve been listening to a lot of indigenous wisdom on on the topic of land restoration and growing food and and, you know, as just in and meditating about like how we’re going about restoring the land at the organic farm. I’ve kind of taken this approach where and it really stemmed from listening to Robyn while Kemmerer. So I like to actually take time to just like sit and kind of meditate and listen to the land. And as I was doing more research on land acknowledgements, you know, like from an indigenous perspective, a land acknowledgement is acknowledging the land and not to just speak about the land as if we’re like, you know, speaking about some someone that’s, you know, in the room, as if they’re not. And so I think that there’s value in thinking about like what what the future would ideally look like. I want people to feel that they’re there deeply, a part of nature, and so the rest of nature. So how we can use language through, I think I think we’re the place we’re in now, especially with covid. It’s really showing us like we need to go into a place of deep listening instead of, like, you know, crafting. So that’s kind of where I’m at. As far as an actionable item, I would say like listening, listening a little bit more. And if you’ve read braiding Sweetgrass, she talks, Robin talks about with her grad students before she instructs about the plants. She tells them to go out and develop a relationship with the plants. So that’s kind of what I’m exploring a little bit right now. I’m really curious about that.
Thank you for that. That’s super. I’m actually listening. I have like partial partial part of the way, like listening through Audible likes braiding sweetgrass. So Robin Kimera is like speaking to me through my ear buds. It’s super cool. Yeah, I was just listening to it. I was on the chapter about beans. Right now it’s like right after. It’s like talking about gratitude. It’s like incredible.
There’s a really great Emergence magazine essay by her right now, too, that’s floating around about service berries and the gift.
Oh, that’s right. And maybe you find that to put them in the chat. I don’t know. I don’t want to distract everyone, but that’s a good one. Can I do both? No, no, I’m fine. And maybe I can find it while someone else is stuck, like, if I can do two things at once. All right. All right. I don’t know. At some point I feel like we’re just going to get pulled into the main room again. So I get some other folks room to chat if they want.
Terina, Virginia is if everyone wants to say everyone wants it. Anyone want to jump in?
About that kind of first question relating to what does an ideal kind of future look sound and feel like or actionable items?
I’m all about action. Yeah, if you all I think we had one that’s no one could be listening. I think that’s a good one to start with if anyone else has some other ones.
So do you want this to be under B then for how do we get to this ideal future? Is that what you’re thinking?
If we’re ready to transition, unless someone else wants to reflect on that first question again or anyone, I might have missed some folks sorry, my screen, I keep bouncing my view around. Maybe the one prompt, I would say, again, sorry, just think about Robin while camera right now is thinking about the thing about like our relationship. Right. And I had someone talk to me.
I was expressing my like this kind of ego, anxiety, climate anxiety that sort of mixed up with their covid anxiety sometimes. And, you know, sometimes I do worry just about weeds and sometimes I can’t really sometimes I will. In the past, sometimes I have issues just walking into the natural forest or something and just not fixating on the weeds.
So someone a couple like a year ago just prompted me various kind of assertively, but, you know, in a good way was just she was like, what are the weeds trying to tell you, Michael? You know, essentially and I was, you know, take me maybe a year to meditate on that. So it’s really just, you know, sometimes I think about my scientific mind.
It’s really like the soils are in a certain condition where it’s like weeds just want to grow there or whatever, like we brought them here. You know, we assisted their migration here. We assisted their colonization here. But I do think in like the spirit of braiding Sweetgrass in this last chapter, that when Robin was talking to me through my ears was saying just thinking like how we love certain things about nature.
But we thought about like how if nature, like, loved us back or the forest loved this back or the you know, these plants loved us back, like how that would might. Like tweak our recognition or our understanding about our relationship with different sort of plants.
I just wanted to add maybe just a layer to what Jesse was saying as well and about listening, and so maybe some of that is also challenging notions of knowledge creation. And then it’s not a unilateral direction. That knowledge is created in lots of different ways and there’s different kinds of knowledge that can be shared. And so as we’re thinking about listening, how do we create environments for listening that honor and acknowledge those different sources of of knowledge? And kind of, again, back to this idea that these aren’t simple things, that we really do need to be reflective and take in that information and be willing to kind of change our orientation to to to to what we think our work is.
Yeah, I agree.
I I have a moment I thought we were going to go back to the main room, but I just wanted to add to that, Danielle, that I think that even in the conversation of coming up with language is also including these diverse perspectives include voices of immigrants, of communities. And and you hear what they have to say. How do they reflect this language? How did they absorb this? And maybe they can come up with solutions to.
Right, yeah, right, and before I hear you saying is kind of thinking about like who’s missing, like even I think think about inclusion if we go back and, like, ask the same people, but sometimes we really have to search to to get other people’s ideas. So we’re about to leave this room in about 20 seconds.
So I thank you all for your time and your ideas and your wisdom. I took some notes. We took some notes on the on the slide. I don’t know what’s going to happen on the other end zone.
Have I thought five seconds. Anyone have any thoughts before we go?
Well, they can be I mess this up, but that’s the hottest set to close automatically, but it did not. OK, I think I agree with you that maybe we do need to come. Maybe close out quicker than we planned, obviously, because of the time, but I think the whole point was to come together to synthesize what Chris was suggesting, that we put the maybe the biggest point or the main thing that came from your conversation.
And or maybe we can just have quickly the facilitator share that one main point. And that is the fact that, you know, the.
Sorry, here’s a quick thought. How about we just spend two minutes for anybody that has to leave at eight to just talk about that slight of what we thought we would want next? And then we can go back to the synthesising discussion for people that can stick around of.
Sounds good. Do you want to share your screen? Yeah. Sorry, guys, I won. The conversations are really great and all the ones that I joined and I wasn’t I mean it because I just I just didn’t. The ones that I heard anyway. So next steps. Our goal for this is sorry, my computer, my laptop in the way of things.
Ok, so our next steps are our goals were to have people still working on this after this conversation was over.
And we suggest that you do that either individually or you can work with your professional group or the people you already work with, your colleagues. And as some of you hear from a whole department obnoxiously department and some of you from the same gardens, but also the people that were in your group or Xanthi to take action and make an actual plan, whatever it is that you think would be the best way to do this. And then in terms of. How making continuing this discussion, we really would like to do that, and we hope that you guys are interested in doing that, because I know we didn’t solve the issue tonight, though. I heard great conversations about this particular issue. So we hope that you’ll share any revelations you have. They all share any lesson plans that seem to be working. And, of course. Always getting feedback from us and from each other, but we do hope that this will continue. I I moved my laptop, Chris, and I cannot see the slide anymore. OK, there it is.
So, yeah, and if you want to work with us to continue, you know, a series of conversations around this particular question, reach out, because we definitely want to find more people to organize with us and we put a slide or connecting with us here. We’ve got an email to gotten emails from Danielle. And, you know, if you want to share your contact information in the chat or with people directly, you can and will send an email out at, you know, with our thoughts about what happened in a synthesis of everything and kind of next steps.
And then I’ll keep trying to post some on my website there, the green color collaborations. But yes.
So if you’ve got to go, there’s one slide here of the links from today. But if you’ve got to go, thank you very much for joining us.
And if you can stay, then let’s go back to this, the synthesising discussion, and I’m going to take your share off just because it’s easier.
So and in the future, just so you know, these will be longer conversations, Nathan yelled at me for not making it OK.
I didn’t know one hundred people were going to sign up, Nathan.
No kidding. I know. We I mean, it’s really exciting. We did. We severely underestimated what we were getting into here. And it’s awesome. But yeah.
Yeah, one hour is not enough. One hour is not enough. But it’s been great guys. Yeah. And we and we really wanted it to be a starting point.
You know, it’s where it’s it’s we’re hearing people’s voices and and what’s next.
So yeah, maybe if we do hear some synthesising thoughts and ideas from the different groups.
So one that’s like, OK, or do you have someone else you wanted to speak either way with volunteers.
So obviously we had a really nice discussion, though. And I think the main points that I took copious notes on the slide, but the main points we kind of discussed is that scientists taking ownership of science, being political and to actively be anti-racist in our field. So that’s something that we all need to do in order to make this a more inclusive and welcoming and safe space for everyone. And then some of the a few of the things that we discussed that we felt were super salient and important was. Paying people, so supporting the EPOXI in our fields with money, with child care, to do focus groups, to kind of get to hear from the communities that we’re ostensibly serving, but with compensation and definitely paid internships, we had some discussion about starting with youth and early career people. So definitely that being paid would be great, getting teachers on board. So thinking about how they’re the ones who spend day in and day out with our budding scientists and how we can get them on board with the changes that we’re hoping will be able to make. And also, we had a nice discussion about thinking about other ways that other cultures and languages use what they save for invasive species. And if that’s even a word that that other languages use besides English, and what other ways might we be able to describe these terms? And just obviously diversifying our fields like white people, as as men, less higher degree is needing to be the standard in the field. And as a white woman, I’ll shut up.
All right, thank you very much. That was a great synthesis. So how about.
So Miles taking notes for us and we’ll start with.
Carrie, we’ll start with you just because. I can’t.
I said I work with the Maryland Department of Natural Resources and Education Outreach, and this has been an interesting question. I struggle because my biologist background, we have legal terms for invasive and noxious species and all of that. But then with the education side, I realize that the impact that those terms have outside of our sphere. So just interested in listening and learning more.
David, why don’t you go next? I’m David Hunter, I’m a property manager for an organization that runs summer camps.
So we have lots of land with lots of native and non-native species on it. And I do a lot of talking to young people about about non-native species.
And it’s always kind of concerned me when, you know, you’re talking about non-native species and you just say, oh, yeah, this one came from Asia, another one from Asia, another one from Asia.
And it just it feels a little a little yucky. A little. Not right. So that’s why I joined the conversation tonight. I heard about it through the Association of Forest Conservation Boards here in Marilyn.
That’s not fair with us or no, no, no, you’re still there. Victoria, why don’t you go, OK?
Hi, everybody. Victoria Webb. I am. I work with the DeKalb County, Georgia Soil and Water Conservation District and also on our district for community council. So I work with land a lot that has basis on it. What we don’t want to be calling invasive, but I also am an organic gardener for like I can remember how long, 50 years, I guess. And I kind of object to invasive because I see a lot of weeds in my yard and a lot of insects and a lot of birds, and they feed on those weeds and they provide shelter.
So I’m just here to learn more about what what we should be calling species of plants and maybe there’s a better way to do it. Thanks.
Corey Ellis, are you ready to go?
Hi, my name’s Corey and I’m here in Atlanta as well.
Victoria, I just wrote your name down because I work at the PAIDA School, which is an independent K-12 school, and I’m the sustainability coordinator, which just means I do environmental education programming for the whole school and I’m just having a reckoning.
I’ve been in environmental education for over 20 years and both formal and informal environments and sort of having a reckoning with my teaching about how how colonized it is and how much how important it is and to bring in all the histories and all the knowledge from different groups of people, from indigenous peoples of the Americas and even from enslaved people who brought knowledge from Africa that we still use today and that we cannot we don’t necessarily acknowledge the roots of that. And that that non-native piece, if we think about that, there’s the colonists are non-native. And so just trying to I guess that decolonizing my teaching is really important to me in thinking about language and be more intentional about acknowledging who has done what in undoing some really deeply entrenched falsehoods.
Laura, do you want to go next? That means, Annemarie, you’re you’re on deck.
Hi, everyone, I have a little one screaming in the background every now and then, so ignore that if it’s hard to hear me. I’m Laura. I’m coming from Colorado. I work for a city government. We have a department that manages some land open space out here. And I am in the Education Department of that department. It’s called City of Fort Collins Natural Areas Department. And I am here to understand more kind of what Corey was saying, like how to come to my my own learning and unlearning of what?
What our relationship is with the plants, in the words we use and the people we’re interacting with.
I’m also here I was actually forward this to the resource management part of my team because they kept saying, like, oh, equity work, you know, inclusion work. That’s not really there’s nothing to do with plants. And I’m just outside and I do restoration and I’m not really dealing with the public. And so that was a piece that I forwarded this to that that team. And I said, hey, check this out. Like this is directly applies to your work and how you talk about your work and how you show up with other people and your coworkers and all of that. So I’m here to bring this back to them.
And Annamarie either Annamarie Shreve’s, I’m the environmental education programs manager at the Watershed Alliance, also known as Walwa, and I am here tonight because I’m interested in just the conversation and the dialogue.
I think that the conversation in dialogue is definitely being had in some circles where, you know, privileges are quickly identified. And so I’m interested in seeing it and more what I would call formal space, such as a Zoome with the wide spread of people representing organizations throughout the nation.
And Maya, do you want to just introduce yourself?
So I’m Maya Waller. I was actually my boss, so I am in Rochester, New York. I’m a senior at Walter Reed High School, which is one of those seniors groups, and Los Angeles. And I’m in a program that he oversees called Urban Ecology through the Central Park Zoo Society. So I am a second year urban ecologist. And to tell us a little bit before about like a few weeks ago. Oh, yeah, I met this person online and we’re going to do this training about just language and all the really cool. And then this week on our schedule, he was like, oh yeah, senior urban ecologists today. So I was like, all right, I guess I’m here. But it’s really interesting. I mean, the whole process of learning about everything, I’m really into it. Black Lives Matter protests and that. And so just the process of learning is really important.
And. I excited by. Yeah.
So the urban ecologists program that Maya is in is a two year high school student, junior and senior year workforce development program through the county. And Centennial Park Zoo, the.
The first question that we have to put back up is, what do you really think? That’s the first lesson. What do you think an ideal future looks like? Followed up by how do we get to this ideal future? With these terms, how to move forward.
I don’t want to start on that big question. I have one idea. OK, go ahead. Less people.
I guess that that that term is like unlearning and truthful learning.
It’s really important.
You know, depending on our age, and I think this is still happening a lot, especially based on like the traditional textbooks that we have or even my environmental science textbooks that I’ve used. For years and now I’m just like my head is in my hands thinking about like, oh my gosh, like we really, really oversimplify the developed versus developing countries and and not putting into context the real history, just even the simplifying from like hunter gatherers to the agricultural revolution and where that occurred and just truth, truth and inclusiveness in the narrative that we have about our past. And I think that’s like a great foundation to start with where we can really look at invasive species. And the biggest lie or the biggest false narrative is that indigenous people in the Americas, they didn’t you know, they lived in harmony with the earth and they never altered it or anything like that. And that’s not necessarily true either. And so just more truth in our education and more truth in our teaching.
And that’s I think that’s the basis of this work. Thanks. Anyone else want to build off of that?
I think that’s a great topic to build on, and I would also I’m just reading so much about this being having honor for the land and what is there and who are we to say what is invasive? I mean, it’s not invasive. Some of these species are not invasive somewhere.
So nature is pretty perfect. We are the we have made the imbalances.
So I think that it’s going to be really difficult to sort all that out.
But I think maybe an ideal future depends on where you live and how you interact with your fellow human beings in your room. I mean, it’s somebody else to.
And because but Kerry had brought in a good point. And as it as I work for a state entity like Kerry does, we have legal definition of what an invasive species is and that builds upon.
Treatments, actions. And I can remember my time out in Montana. Underground, where noxious weeds and invasive weeds, there’s fines if you don’t take care of them on your land because they are harmful to the cattle. That Greece so and if they spread is your fault and it comes back to you so. That’s another aspect that. Some education, some. Entities need to also balance. With looking at how we look at these plants, because we we do have a legal definition and.
We can come in, right, but those legal definitions can change over time.
You coyotes are invasive now in Georgia, but there are top predator and we actually need them in the ecosystem, just like the Yellowstone needs wolves. So I think maybe questioning those legal definitions at certain times is a good idea.
I’m also taking notes. Broad stroke notes.
I did drop in those two resources into the chat about decolonizing when Corey was talking about decolonizing. Those are two resources that I’ve used for decolonizing environmental education, curriculum’s.
Go ahead, Gary.
Oh, for me, one of my struggles is with my background, I studied invasive plants and the impacts on American ginseng and and even now, like working for a state wildlife agency and looking at the food web impacts of some of these plants that are altering the dynamics between insect plant relationships and are destabilizing other parts of the food web in terms of our songbirds, they just don’t have the types of insects to eat because those plants are not supporting the different communities and looking at predators and parasites like even parasites are starting to disappear right now. And they are crucial for some of our ecosystems and food webs. So, you know, I struggle with with using the correct terms, but and and understanding some of how these things got here and honoring that history. But then also looking at it from an ecological perspective and how things are changing in our forests.
And that can easily be tied back to climate change factors, how we have with New York State. You are. We are the.
Northern most part of southern plants, ecosystems and the southern most part of northern ecosystems, we have a crazy mix. We also have.
If you look at the invasive species map and the danger zones that you’re in, we are one of the reddest states, which is probably not the right color to use, but because of the international ports, both on the Canadian side and in New York City, where the entry point for a lot of these species and something that.
We’ve looked at is and getting to Carrie’s point about this. Coevolution is we’ve tried to look at more terminology for species that have predators in the area and how they coevolve versus. Plant species or animal species that come in. And don’t have predators, which doesn’t always get back to the fully invasive differences, but it helps students and adults look at. The invasive characteristics and look at how these plants that we consider native. Not that they’re just native, but they coevolved with predators, with things that limit them first, another species that might have been introduced, usually introduced by humans that doesn’t have that coevolved nature and doesn’t have limits placed on it.
But that notion of coevolution is really important to me and in looking at the the.
The strength in the bounce and the beauty of of natural settings and and in defining what what what species can be harmful in those settings, it’s it’s true that we as humans can easily knock things out of whack. Know when we look at deer populations and in the part of the world that I’m in, you know, we pretty much lost our understory in the forests because of the explosion of deer populations. And that’s really a big blow to biodiversity. But we can’t really blame that on or necessarily blame that on on non-native or invasive or or species that did not coevolve.
We can blame that on our. You know, our our fear of predators and our response to predators, but that notion of coevolution is really important to me and with things it’s easy to see oftentimes when things have not evolved together and we start seeing negative impacts on some of these species, then, you know, it’s it’s easy to see what has happened when we. Consider in the light of evolution and coevolution.
I’m going to build on this question. And think have you guys think about. Termina, we’re looking at how terminology does impact our students and our audiences on this coevolution and the ecological ecological imbalance.
But how do we.
Move to that ideal future that we would like.
Part two of this.
Is it partly looking at the laws and our definitions of invasive species?
It’s part of the decolonization and unlearning that both Maya and Corey talked about. Bringing back more perspectives, I would also add, you know, making sure that all perspectives are involved, but are there any other steps?
If you wanted to chat, I just keep trying to work through this idea that I have about how. With education, I think it’s I like to really push the idea of the systems thinking right, like how messy everything is and, you know, like you were saying, Cory, about your your textbook and how it simplified so much. And I think that often that’s how things get taught.
It’s like, here’s this nice little package to lesson about the riparian area.
Here you go, go learn and not, you know, obviously age appropriate, but not allowing learners of all ages to kind of deal with complexity that they’re there is there’s just so much complexity in trusting that, you know, we can.
We can package the lesson with complexity and help people learn through that. That makes sense, just the complexity and everything and not shying away from it.
We have put so much into silos and simply broken them away from I mean, look at how science is taught. It’s it’s a silo. You learn learning the living environment. I’m going to just use New York State as an example. Physics, chemistry, biology, they’re all separate. Doesn’t work like that in the real world. In nature, it’s all together. Right. I make for joining us.
I know, I’m sorry, I’ve been having connectivity issues bouncing around a different room.
All right, go ahead, Corey.
I wanted to add on to that of that. I agree that that has so much been the philosophy of education and so much so many times students are like, well, what’s best? Is it solar panels or when wind energy is that better? Which one’s better? And it’s like, well, it’s not that simple. And like they always want to know, is it is it or is it being that is the best for the environment or the worst for the environment? And I just I feel like I’m constantly trying to get them to say there’s pros and cons to everything. And it’s not just that simple. And so I think. Yeah, like that looking at. Yeah, using these terms introduced coevolved and I have this ecological imbalance that, you know, that whole systems piece I think is very it’s important to look at and it’s important to. Petite, as opposed to embrace native non-native, that that’s that AOB thing, invasive, exotic or native, that it’s much more complicated than that because there are native like Dave was bringing up.
We have native animals and plants that if we remove parts of that complex system. Will go invasive.
Deer are especially one we took out other predators. Now the northeast United States is overrun with them. We have a population that’s. What, three times what it was ever was during the Native American Times. So.
Controls, we control the wolves, coyotes, yeah.
You want to say something or Victoria?
Well, I was just going to say, doesn’t it have to be more localised when you’re talking about ecosystems? You can’t just say.
An ideal future for every everything, right?
I think you have to be more localized. That would be one point I would bring up.
Because as I said earlier, what’s native in one space isn’t native in another, and it’s very helpful in one area, but it may be not helpful. Know that’s just gardeners know that education has a lot to do with that.
And we would call that it needs to be placed based.
That place based and complex system thinking.
And a lot of our scientists focus on negativity. A lot of our scientists and our concepts are focused on that ecosystem approach so that more holistic, larger space, so that things aren’t so fragmented. So that’s also a change.
Matt, go ahead.
Yes, sorry, I’m I’ve been in and out of these conversations, and I know I still working, so I have this paper project, which is called the Invasive Paper Project. It’s meant to be kind of. Of open up a conversation, so they have traveled all over the United States with plants and putting them in the community, scientists and people on the.
In the. Or so sort of taking these.
Things and I think to what the. You are breaking down, Greg.
But I am putting her project in the shadley.
Sometimes my audio works better if I turn my camera on. Yeah, kill your camera and try talking then.
Ok, can you hear me? Yeah. So I was just saying that I feel like what victory was because of how are things so place based? I mean, in gay communities and community members, even ones that don’t know a lot about plants and stories about what these plants are and what they mean. And I think it’s so important to engage people in a process.
Unpack this link, it’s more appropriate for things.
I mean, especially if we think about how common names for the same species change throughout the areas that they occur in, so taking a look at that and bringing in, like Mike said, those concepts of the local people and how they came about, those names helping to decolonize and unlearn if they’re not always the good things. Yes, murder Hornets versus Asian giant Hornets are not murder Hornet. It might be a fun name, but. Getting people to think, I mean, Giant Hogweed was brought in as a flowering garden plant because it’s so large and so pretty pretty, it’s basically. Queen athletes placed on steroids, but it can permanently damage and blind a person and scar them. So when it escaped. Here it’s in upstate New York, plants that came in because they wanted it for a Victorian garden and they planted it and then it escaped. But we have people who do not want it removed from their property, even though they know. That they could be seriously burned. Scarred and blinded by this plant, but they love it and they want it, they also don’t like the government on some occasions. But so having to figure out that as well. I mean, that’s where it comes into the to the legal part and what it require of what we’re required to do for some of these invasive species. But having to combat that, people planted it because it was pretty and they were gardening it and they liked it during Victorian times, you had your skin completely covered. Not so much now. So it changed some of the dynamics of this plant.
And I think I struggle with that, too, when you commodify some of these species, for example, look at honeybees, a lot of research is coming out how they’re really impacting our struggling native bee populations. And so we have a lot of specialist bees and there are diseases and things like that that are causing them to that that honey bees are spreading, that are causing some of the collapses or, you know, the going after the same resources and things like that. So we depend on them as an agricultural species and people plant certain invasive species. We have one called Mahoney, a leather leaf, which is used extensively for honeybees because it’s it’s blooming right now and it’s a nectar forage for early spring. But it’s a species that’s starting to really spread here in Maryland and displace other species. So they’re keeping that plant around for the honeybees. And both of them are are essentially homogenizing our ecosystems. And do we want that? Do we want the same ecosystems or do we value the unique biodiversity of different areas? When I look at plant communities and animal communities, I used to do plant community work and we’d look at all the diversity of all those places. And let’s see, Maryland is just like New York. We have so many pockets of unique habitat going across the state. And so, you know, where where do you draw the line? Do you say that we need to spend all of our money and resources protecting and serving the ecologically rare serpentine ecosystem where there’s less than 20 left? Or do we just accept that that everything’s going to look the same in another 50 to one hundred years?
Meg brings up a good point in the chat that invasive plants in urban environments also play a very different role on. Detroit’s. She lives in Detroit, where without invasive plants, the plants, animals and humans wouldn’t have any habitat on. In New York City, they planted Norway maple pretty much in everything, as one of their New York City parks thinks it was the species of trees that they when they were going to replant a lot of their parks. One hundred years ago, that was the species they could get super easy. Here it is on. Science, as you move forward, realizes that Norway, Norway, maple will shade out anything that’s not Norway maple, and the only thing you’re going to have is that they’ve done that with street trees over the last. 80 to up until about 30 years ago, they were planting the same species in an entire street. So now. They have the same age and species of that tree throughout communities, and they haven’t done enough maintenance. So when you have a microburst of wind or you have an event like Superstorm Sandy, that whole area loses all of their street trees because they weren’t. Biologically different. They were literally the same species because that’s what the cheapest that they could get, science turns around and shows that monocultures like victory and said are not great and they have impacts. We have about one. We have about two minutes. So having that monoculture now, 30 years ago, they changed their philosophy so that they are brought in more science and they’ve. Have a matrix now of what species get planted, what don’t. But you also have to look at people’s explorer, people’s experiences with plants. After Superstorm Sandy, no one wanted a street tree in New York City who fell on their house that fell on their car.
It caused damage. So.
You there are definitely a lot more natives. Carrie brought up a good point about some cities like Baltimore. There’s a lot more native species that are thriving in these areas. And we have found a science that. The native plants that were there originally before we screwed them up. Can exist better for right now, climate change is a whole new ballgame game, but soil type type makes a big difference in plants. So dry areas, sandy soils, Long Island with Pine Barrens is all sand, can’t have certain. Most species don’t survive there. So. The hardiness of those plants is a big thing. So we have probably around 90 seconds left for our capture slide. What do you think an ideal future looks like? Putting in some main points that we wanted that came out of our discussion, I have I haven’t fully written them out, but I’ll put them in decolonizing and on unlearning. With truthful learning, and apparently I can’t spell.
Looking at the complexity.
I really can’t spell. And systems approach.
Anyone else want to wear their. Looking at placed. Based, localized. Information.
And laws, because I want to put that in there.
Should we add something about examining trends, because I know a couple of people were talking about Victoria, you were talking about Victorian plants, I mean, those things can be damaging if we if we don’t really think of these plants critically and how they work in their own little systems.
Each of our local cooperative weed management area and at the district level, we’ve been working on various DGI initiatives for the past four or five years, and this couldn’t come at a better time for us because we are where we’re grappling with all of these same issues and and looking for for for guidance on on on language of invasive species, especially as we work more closely with indigenous cultures and other cultural groups. So.
Glad I can be here kind of last minute.
I heard about it just yesterday, so I know I got all the emails and people sharing right now. I didn’t figure that we would have one hundred people here. So. Rachel, go ahead.
Hi, I’m Rachel. I am the education program coordinator for the Fresh Kills Park Alliance, which is a landfill to Park Transformation Project in Staten Island, New York. And I’m really interested in this conversation because we’re talking about a lot about DIY in general and our team. And it’s also like the concept of invasive or native species at a completely reclaimed landscape is kind of a funny it’s a funny idea. Anyway, everything introduced and also, I mean, more broadly thinking at working in an urban environment like New York City, almost everything here is introduced anyway.
So I think a lot about how that fits. And I’m curious to talk about that more.
Ok, right, all right, Rachel kind of stole my thunder, but I’m I work at New York State Parks in Brooklyn, at Shirley Chisholm State Park, which is also a recently landfill turned park. So, yeah, I’m definitely going to talk with Rachel a little bit more after this, but I’m so excited to virtually meet you.
And definitely if you guys want to keep in touch with anyone in this group, just drop your you know, you can trade information in the chat.
Ok, Rebecca, if you want to go.
Hi, I’m Rebecca Brown. I’m with the Georgia chapter of American History Society, and I’m working alongside the Georgia DNR as we are trying to create more of an education outreach program in how to reach the public, teaching young kids about some of the. The harmful interactions between native populations and, of course, your non-native populations of most of aquatic species.
That’s really awesome, I’m going to learn to fly fish soon, and I’m pretty good. Anna.
I am in Kingston, New York, and I work for Cornell Cooperative Extension as a or natural resource educator, and we do a lot of teen programs and such with invasive species. So I’m excited to join this conversation.
Awesome. There’s too much shells in here. I’m assuming that you left and came back or.
Yeah, I, I, I had an issue with my audio and so I like got out of the meeting and then I had to come back in and then there was still some weird.
It’s OK, just look out windows. OK, Patty, go ahead.
I’m Patty Trap. I’m also in Atlanta and I work with Denise. We volunteer at the same community garden in Atlanta or Decatur, Georgia.
Austin, I looks like four of us are Georgia people. So I thought, well. OK, you’re from Seattle. I was thinking, OK, so the next step, I’m going to just take notes so we don’t have to worry about doing that, assuming I can find my pen somewhere. But we need to talk about what we want this to look like and what we’re hoping to to formulate. So what does an ideal future look sound and feel like and how do we get there? And specifically in terms of invasive species education? And that can be in regard to the language we use to and how the programs work, that sort of thing. So you guys will be leading this? I will just be taking notes and we’ll just go in that same order. Just if you guys have thoughts, if you want to bring up things from the research to get us going, whatever you feel comfortable sharing to get this conversation really started. And if if it’s your turn and you’re not ready, that’s OK. So what is Dennis, what is this what does an ideal future regarding an invasive species education look like to you, like a vision of that?
So this thing to me is what I feel from just the beginning of this conversation.
This zoom tonight is that alien and invasive are used interchangeably.
Am I correct in assuming that’s what it’s going on?
I think there’s there a new there is a whole long list of words that are used to describe plants and animals and viruses that are also applied to humans. And that’s the goal, is to make the the programming we’re giving not. Have those that language to not be xenophobic. Well, xenophobic or racist in nature.
So I like the war, an article and the conclusions, I just don’t have the answers, obviously, and none of us do, I don’t think.
What about you, Joe?
So I unfortunately didn’t see the article. That’s OK, so not to.
Familiar with them, but I think that it is very important that.
Removing the economical side of things is important because it is a very large impact on how the world is viewed already. And so maintaining the education styles that we already have for them, just figuring a new way to brand. non-Native and harmful species versus ones that may be non-native and not harmful to ecosystems and nature’s.
So for us, you know, our our. Primary concern is, you know, we want to be. Sensitive to, you know, populations, cultural groups that could be offended by certain terms and, you know, reviewing things with like a racial diverse lens to make sure that, like, the terminology we’re using is appropriate, but also not losing the context of our of the meanings of those words is important. And so the part of the name of my title, for instance, is invasive. So, you know, it’s it’s really in a lot of, you know, a lot of areas of restoration. And and one thought is, in addition to the language, there’s also just the approach, like maybe not like, you know, demonizing non-native species.
It’s that context, too. It’s not just like the terminology. It’s like the way we discuss them and make recommendations and kind of inwith that is the like the fact that, like, not all non-native species are of equal importance. So, you know, being clear about that and and Denise, when you ask like, is alien and non-native the same thing or alien invasive.
It’s not because something can be exotic but not necessarily invasive. You have a lot of ornamental plants that we wouldn’t consider invasive, could be considered alien.
As I’m going to let Chris take over the facilitating and go back to making sure everyone’s in rooms that pop in, but Chris, let me know if you if your Internet on again.
All right. You’ve been really weird, but thanks.
I’m going to. Well, it’s going to stop recording. You’ll start, Chris.
Ok, sorry, guys.
So we’re where are we picking up this discussion?
I think I’m after myself right now, Joe is after us.
Ok, now it goes to Denise, Joe, Michelle, Rachel, Ray, Rebecca and Patty.
Good luck remembering that.
I got it. All right.
All right, so, Michelle, you just you just shared your thoughts with Rachel.
Ok, so I guess we’re talking about what’s what we would want to say in terms of the future of invasive, what would even is the word of this education. And so did I think about a lot is making sure that especially working in an urban environment like New York City, thinking about legitimizing people’s experiences with nature. And a lot of the experience is that the students have that I work with, not only with invasive species like they’ll see pigeons, they’ll see like Tree of Heaven, our campus. And they’re like, those are the the species that are in really urban neighborhoods because they’re not representative of what was here, I mean, way back. So I think that’s something I think it’s really important to talk about. How can we talk about how some of these things are ecologically damaging, damaging, while still acknowledging that someone’s relationship with that species might be really important? And I’m just speaking for myself. I live in Brooklyn and I have a tree of heaven outside my window. And there were months this spring where that was my only contact with nature. And I know it’s a very damaging species, but it’s been really important to me. So I guess and I know I’m not the only one in the urban environment who feels that way. So that’s that’s the dilemma for us. The conversation.
Q Thank you. So really, you’re up next.
So kind of going off what Michelle mentioned about the demonization of the word invasive a little bit where we don’t want people to, I guess it’s like associating like the word with they’re like we’re not trying to push that on other people. I’m terrible at speaking this kind of thing, but I’m kind of going off for Rachel. Like people have these connections sitting in bases around them here in New York. I’m in New York City as well. But even beyond that, a lot of our area specifically has people coming from other parts of the world coming to us. And as a result, what we consider invasive here, they consider normal at home. So we’ve actually run into a big issue recently where there’s the spotted Lanson fly in New York City is starting to become a huge problem. And I was doing an information session about this violence, just giving out information like if you see one, here’s where to report it. And we actually had a family come up and be like, oh, yeah, we have this all the time back at home. I’m like, OK, great. But also, please let us know if you find one here because they’re not supposed to be here. So kind of going to like that’s the only connection that they have in an urban environment. The same, but also recognizing that people that we deal with any can be coming from other parts of the world where it’s normal for them to see this at their own home as well.
Cool. Thanks. Yeah, that’s that’s good. And I picked up the and part like two things can be true. And so keeping that in mind. All right.
I had Rebecca is next up. You want to share your thoughts, OK.
Yeah. Some of the things I’m doing. Listen to what everybody has to say, because the city from New York and then think about in the sense of like where someone who maybe has moved into a new country that what they consider is being native or just something that’s natural for them, that they may not see that as a problem, that they plant something that is not necessarily from the United States that could make some of our problems that we have here in Georgia with the introduction of a few of our non-native aquatic species that are in other countries. But like in Asia, it’s a natural product for them. They may not they may not realize it as we do the problem. But then you get to that point where, you know, language you do use when talking about non-native species and to be able to understand that non-native, not all non-native are bad using that word bad. But sometimes you do have to get some nasty. There is a place for negative words because it makes them more impactful as a man. I’m a retired educator now and is interesting to see how when you tried to get wishy washy about something or try to be a little bit more polite about something, they don’t take it as serious as students didn’t. But when you sit there and you really get down and you say something, they just they come back a little bit and also they listen and then and they see it just means remains the more serious they think they take it more serious. So how do we know the language is imperative? So how do we figure out what language to use and not be offensive to other than to be understanding of other cultures and stuff? But we didn’t feel the same sense.
All right, great. Thank you. Thank you. And I’ve got last on the list, Penny.
How would you like to share anything?
You’re muted. I. I just realized that, but I said something really meaningful right now.
I’m like a volunteer. So one of the purposes of the Master Gardener program is to kind of educate the local population or people about plants. And, of course, that we’re Denise and I volunteer. We try to focus only on native plants. Until this conversation, I never even considered the fact that some of the words we use might be seen by some people as negative or harmful or, you know, it’s a brand new way of thinking. So I guess at this point, as far as what to say, I’m not really sure. But I do agree with Rebecca that sometimes you do have to say certain negative things like invasive, like kudzu, which is what we associate it for. It can make an impact.
So, OK, thank you. Thank you.
And this was such a weird experience to be in this conversation and leading. And then all of a sudden I’m just like sitting at my desk with no Internet and nothing like back into it. So I appreciate that you’re well adjusted to me, like just showing up. I think how weird that would be if you were facilitating something and you just like, left the room.
Yeah, but anything that anyone said that anybody wants to connect to before we try to just synthesize, I know this is like a short time, but.
Anything you want to add to what other people said, yeah, I really appreciate what I said.
Really appreciate Rebecca’s approach because, you know, in the DTI process that we’ve been going through, it’s like, you know how it’s like we’re constantly trying to make everything is like appealing as possible.
And and that’s just that’s like a perspective that I really appreciate because, you know, you can’t water down everything. I mean, some things just are, you know, need to be taken seriously. So I wrote that perspective down. I really appreciate that things.
So what does diversity equity.
And I’m hearing something else. OK.
So it seems like we need to have like a group of people just brainstorm vocabulary and just really work on non pejorative, nonjudgmental phrases that came across the same thing and don’t alienate our audiences. And, you know, it’s tricky. You know, like the article says, people are attached to different things, species for different reasons. And as you all were talking, I was thinking about Chinese. Privett is something old Southerners just love. And it’s a really it can cause real damage ecologically and economically in different parts of the south, particularly in Georgia. But people love their Chinese privett, especially if your grandmother is from the south.
Yeah, and I the part that I think is interesting is that we do need to to recognize that there are like like carp, that Asian carp, which now I want to call a demon carp, because then I go, right.
Larry doesn’t need to be called Asian carp for me to think about the fact I don’t want that in the Great Lakes. And that’s a very important thing for us to keep out of the Great Lakes.
Even though it’s a food, it could be a food source for people, you know. But I think that the complexity of the conversation is important to have just that level of it is there’s no simple way to talk about this.
So those are some of my thoughts. Any other.
I don’t know how relevant this is the discussion, but in Georgia, we have mapped out, I’m sure other states have done it. We call it the dirty dozen different plants that are really problematic for all sorts of reasons. And just having a phrase like Dirty Dozen, it’s not as pejorative as alien invasive. And we can describe why they’re on this list without using negative phrases and finding those those phrases that communicate clearly.
Rachel. So you were about to say something?
Yeah. I mean, I guess I really appreciate this conversation and hearing from people all over the country about what you’re thinking. And I guess I was thinking about this kind of specific. But in New York, we have a problem that people sometimes release their their pets, their unwanted pets into the parks. I don’t know if you all have that, too, but sometimes this ends up kind of cool. Like we have we have parakeets and I live in some of our parks and they’ve adapted pretty well and are not a huge issue and are just like a cool thing. We are like, oh, it’s snowing and there’s a parakeet. But then we also like there’s a big problem with someone dumping a bunch of eels in one of the lakes because he had saved them from a restaurant and then was like, oh, but and I think a lot of that comes from just like a lot of lack of familiarity with nature, of thinking, like, oh, nature is one thing. And if it’s a natural thing, then it’s good and not really thinking about nature in a more complex way and not really having that ecological thinking. So I just wonder about that kind of gets back. The article was talking about dividing things into good and bad. And I also just I think that that’s not how nature works. There isn’t really good and bad. So maybe just just having that lens about, you know, it’s like nature has all these relationships and you can complicate those relationships with those actions. It’s not. Yeah. So I don’t think that’s a bit rambling, but that’s something that is coming up for me.
I think that that happens to me all the time when I get thinking of these conversations and I’m like, am I making my point? So thanks for sharing that. Anybody else want to add onto that? Great.
Yeah, really quick, I want to jump back to what Joe mentioned before during his original discussion, he mentioned the economic side of this is where because we are like it’s actually great that we’re all from like different states, essentially. That’s a good way to see what’s considered bad in one area might be considered good and other again. But it’s especially it’s prevalent for borders between states where it’s at least considered invasive in one state, but not invasive in the other state because of the economic value more than the actual spatial. Yeah, yeah. So like here in New York, we have that issue with the tri state of Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Connecticut, New York kind of thing. But I’m just wondering, in other states, do you have like surroundings, certain states surrounding you that you find that kind of issue with?
So we have a but it’s coming from South Carolina and Georgia. It’s not quite here yet, but everybody’s checking all their trees for it. And and it’s because Georgia, for some reason, we get a great job of eradicating and controlling it in our state. But South Carolina has an and when they had a bi state kind of meeting about it, it’s not a problem for South Carolina. So it’s coming back to us whether we want it or not. And we share and Rebecca can talk about this.
We share Major River with South Carolina and you probably can address your comments to that better than me, Rebecca.
Well, I know that with South Carolina, we have we’re sharing with the Savannah River. And I know that what they may see that they see is beneficial.
We don’t I think I see more of an issue aquatic wise with right now Alabama and Florida in the sense that some aquatic plants that may not be there don’t have as many rules, regulations as we might have in place for transport of certain aquatic plants. And there was one time I had to go back and look at what’s going on today. But I know we have the control room potted plants. One thing is the use of sterile grass, carp, sterile grass, carp, or they can’t reproduce because the real culprit is they’re not going to cost you some money because it cost money for them to produce these fish and so on. Alabama, Florida had more or less don’t use Estero Grass Court for you for as a ball control method of doing aquatic weeds. And so they’ve been using it. So they use grass, carp that are not sterile. Well, we don’t want nonsteroidal fish in our state. And it’s so easy for them to come across state lines that people just go across and get them. But that’s sometimes the issues you have also is I look at things as being people are completely ignorant about understanding, like what can go wrong until we put it in on. So I have a cat scratching at the door. I’ll be right back. Yeah.
Yeah. And I’m looking at the time I thought Danielle was going to call us back when it was time.
So I’m going to leave the room real quick.
And if you want to if you want to leave the room and come back to the main one in in terms of synthesising discussion, I think I have enough that I can share a couple of points that I took away from this. If you’re OK with that, it’s been great. The idea of state boundaries.
I hadn’t considered that at all. But I as soon as you said that, I was like Pennsylvania like that is that is our line.
Like we keep our, you know, like emerald ash borer. As I was watching, I was like, oh, they’re here.
It’s it’s our line to all the way. I know. Oregon, like.
So here’s what we’ll do, I think I’ll introduce myself so that you know who I am. And then if any of you want to be the note taker, I would be super helpful because I get lost doing. OK, Bethany, so amazing. Yeah. Otherwise we might end up with like half the notes, but we should be picking.
So I’m Tanya. I am currently in Costa Rica. You don’t see much more than a room, but I am in the tropics. I know Danielle actually from grad school so that she asked me to facilitate this discussion. But I went to NYU to do my master’s in environmental education and I worked for over seven years running an environmental education project at NYU, working with public schools and teachers and cultural institutions and all sorts of different projects around New York City. I actually, Bethanie, actually work with me. So that’s how we know each other. So this is really funny that we were put randomly in the same room. But right now I’m back in Costa Rica because of the pandemic and a million other things. And I actually run. I started a group of Latin American environmental educators. So we’re having a lot of really interesting discussions. And one of the discussions I want to have is this one with like immigrants and especially Latinos, of course. But like just from that perspective. So this is fascinating to me.
So. Here’s what we’re going to do, let’s I’ll call on you in, like, just how I see you and the little extreme and maybe you can pose your name, your pronouns, my pronouns are she her and maybe like very short, like what you do or why you’re here, why you wanted to be here and then. Maybe let’s do that and then we’ll jump into, like the big question that they ask, because that’s a lot. So let’s start with Bethany.
Hi, everyone, my name is Bethany, my pronouns are she, her and what I do, I am a Guardian editor for the New York Horticultural Society and I am currently in New York City, but originally from Michigan.
Colin, are you there?
Yeah, I’m here, obviously. My name’s Colin, my pronouns are him and his from Baltimore, Maryland. Right now. I work as a park steward for Midtown Community Benefits District. This just seemed like an interesting topic to discuss more and learn about. So I’m just excited to listen in and hear more about it, I guess.
I’m Francis Moriarty, my pronouns are she her I’ve been teaching at a native plant garden associated with the Wild Center in Decatur, Georgia for eight years. So I’m teaching about plants that were indigenous to Piedmont Forest. And I’ve taught a lot of diverse groups. We have a lot of visitors. And I have noticed how uncomfortable people are with some of the language. So we we try to think of it in terms of ecological benefit to a specific ecosystem and tried to change our language. But it’s you know, you get a lot of the education is around invasive plants and you just hear that language so much. So some of our signage has it and people have talked about them being uncomfortable with it.
So that’s why I’m here, because there’s definitely much needed everywhere. So, Julia.
Hi, I’m Julia. I use her as my pronouns. I am an environmental educator in Olympia, Washington, for the Nisqually River Foundation. So we do outdoor ad with kids about like water quality and other things like that. But I’m originally from West Virginia where we did some of this type of like native plants, invasive plants type of work. And this was never anything that had crossed my mind because we were not reaching very diverse groups. So I’m very new to this, but I am very excited to see where it goes.
Welcome, Sahad. How are you saying I’m sorry, you got it, thank you.
Hi, everyone. This car I work for, King County Parks in a new position here in the greater Seattle area. And I am coming from a different environmental education circle where I was mostly focusing on environmental justice, education. So I’m new to actually working with restoration and teaching about plants. So it’s a nice opportunity that I don’t have to unlearn the language. I can think critically about it from the beginning.
Very needed good, Sasha.
Hi. Well, by coincidence, I work for King County as well. Hi, Sahar. Welcome. I work for a department or a program called the Noxious Weed Control Program. And I’ve been working with noxious weeds, invasive plants, doing education as well as drug control since the late 90s, late 90s. So I have a lot of years of using these words. And in the last few couple of years or so, we’ve been trying to both figure out, rethink our language as well as reach audiences that we haven’t reached. And obviously those two go hand in hand. So I’ve been trying to figure this out and it’s just like fortuitous. This kind of came on my I didn’t even know about this until yesterday, so thanks for having it. I haven’t read the report yet. I’m really looking forward to conversations.
Hello, I’m Sarah. I work for New York State Parks at Hudson Island State Park, and I’m an environmental educator as well. So we do a lot of invasive plant removal at my park, clean groups, volunteer groups, and then teaching about the plant species that are in the park and so on, which I was always interested in becoming more inclusive.
So I’m here. I kind of highjacked with Sarah, lives with them, and I’m a high school teacher in White Plains High School. So she would she said that topic. I was like, wow, that’s really cool because I’d like to join in. So I teach in a very diverse school district, about 40 percent of our students are non-native, coming from lots of different, mostly central and South Americans. So we have to step in. And I’m a biology and horticulture science teacher. So this definitely hits home that I’m definitely teaching this topic. I’ve always felt uncomfortable. So what are you looking interested in getting some better language for here?
Awesome. Welcome. That sounds right up your alley, this conversation and Lisa.
Hi, there, I am, Lisa Fink, my pronouns or she or they, I am actually a PhD candidate in environmental studies at the University of Oregon and my dissertation topic is precisely on what we’re going to be talking about today.
And so but I do I have taught environmental education in the past and worked as a naturalist. And now I teach at the college level and I’m currently developing a course again, all about this topic related to my dissertation research, which is really looking at kind of what I call this racial bias course of evasion of the ways we use the idea of invasion as a very racialized idea and the kind of stories that support the ways that we talk about species considered invasive. And then I’m afraid to propose some some ways to solve this problem.
That’s amazing. Welcome and I’m so glad you got placed in this group. I mean, could you give those a lot about what you’ve been thinking about? Will be really interesting. So the the main question that they posed to us was what does an ideal future look sound and feel like and how do we get to this ideal future?
So, I mean, I think obviously this has been like Danielle said, this is a topic that has been thought about by many people and like, clearly there’s no good answer yet. So I don’t think we’re going to solve this in 20 minutes. But I mean, that would be amazing if we came back to, like, the main group and we would be like soldat you guys. But I don’t think that’s going to happen. But I think it’s good to, you know, just kind of like each of us start thinking of like what in because we’re all clearly coming from different perspectives and with different backgrounds. I myself, like I’m an environmental educator, but my background is in biology or any of that. I’m a mechanical engineer that changed careers and started being an environmental educator. So obviously I haven’t really I’ve started thinking about this very recently where we actually started writing a curriculum and I was like, and we’ve Bassiouny we I started thinking about this and talking about it. And just like something sounds weird when you when you talk about it and especially when you have students and the students are not from the place where you’re teaching and you everybody’s making the connection. It’s very obvious. It’s like you’re there’s an elephant in the room. And obviously, as educators, we not only want to, you know, have our students come out of our, you know, the activities like learning more and like having a good experience. But we don’t want to actively harm. And I think sometimes we might be doing that, especially with the language.
Right, because you’re like activating trauma in a lot of ways.
So I when I read this question, I think what I I’m not exactly sure I know we need new terms, but I think what we need is a new perspective and almost like a different framework to like think about this.
And I think in a lot of ways, like me, I you know, I had a I was an immigrant in the US. Right. But like, I we had a really privileged one because I immigrated with a student visa. You know, in a lot of ways I’m very privileged. But I think running away from the like, just changing the terms so that we’re not triggering people with the immigration conversation is maybe not the right way to look at this. I think maybe sometimes leaning into it and seeing that both conversations are very problematic and we’re just seeing things from like a binary wrong drive. Good, bad. That’s what is a little messed up about this. So in my perspective, I think I would like the future to have like a conversation that doesn’t look like anything like what we’ve been having. And I think I want it to feel not threatening and inclusive. And, you know, like you’re learning about the complexity of the world and not just putting things in boxes. So that’s kind of like where in my mind I hope that I mean, I don’t know if I made you know, I went into so many circles, but if you have well, you can either respond to what people say or if you have your own ideas of like what this future feels, sounds and looks like. Does everybody know how to raise their hands here on Zom? Yeah, yeah, well, you can also do that if you go to Participants’, there’s like a little like Hambly you can raise.
So maybe let’s do that so that we are not, like, talking over each other.
But yeah, if you have any ideas, you can just raise your hand and, you know, jump in. Or you can amuse yourself and, you know, this is also not that formal, I’m going to beat myself and say I don’t see the hand raising thing, so I’ll just do that’s stuff.
It’s OK. Yeah.
I have something to I’d like I think what we’re typically showing in the native garden is such a positive thing because it’s showing an interdependence between the plants and animals and what the people have, the impact people have on them. So I really think we can frame it in a positive way where it’s not talking about how plants, you know, it’s talking about how plants facilitate an environment or, you know, how the animals and plants facilitate or interact in a way that supports each other. So really, I see it as such a positive thing that we don’t have to have. The language of this plant is why this plant might not facilitate the well-being of the other animals and plants because it hasn’t formed a relationship yet. Another takes a while to have that relationship occur. So I you know, I have to say, at least in a native garden, you’re talking more about positive interaction and the.
Yeah, I agree, I think for sure, moving away from the actual term and just talking about what the role of the plant is and having that be, you know, if it is a positive member of the community or however we want to phrase that, I think that’s a good question.
You have your you found.
Yeah, I did find it wasn’t so hard. I love the idea, Francis, of relationships and talking about the interactions, plants and other plants and animals. And so and that is something that, you know, as you’re speaking to different audiences, you shift your language kind of naturally. And so one of the things that’s been happening to me is I’ll talk about local plants, the plants that evolved here with other in the ecosystems here and how that’s a treasure just the same way it is a treasure in other countries. We all have our kind of local communities and relationships and and making sure to not label it good and bad. And one of the things that comes up is we talk about noxious weeds or invasive plants. And I always say they’re plants first and all plants are good. No plants are bad. It’s just where they are and what they’re doing and just trying to really focus in on the like you were saying tonnie the the actions, the benefits, the impacts, and then even trying to not be judgmental about those impacts, because then we get into people think of, I don’t know, everyone has a different idea of what’s bad.
Right. That the dandelions that take over the yards, they’re so bad and I’m like that’s not a problem. It’s like well it’s a problem for them, you know? So again, just trying to to focus to to frame the whole conversation as these are plants, plants are beneficial to people and to other animals just by being plants. But in this context, in this ecosystem, in this geography, you know, this is what’s going on. It doesn’t solve anything. It doesn’t solve everything. But the words local relationships, ecosystems, interdependence and then the opposite. And I don’t know how I feel about this now, but we kind of talked about bullies. Plant bullies is like a way to communicate the idea of invasive plants without saying invasive. It’s still a judgment and it brings all sorts of ideas of actual bullies, which so I’ve kind of been trying to move away from that. But anyway, searching, searching for good words, but thinking about in terms of the relationships is is really good.
Interesting. I had never heard about the believe me and I know what I understand what you’re saying, too. It’s kind of like, well, you’re just moving kind of like the term out of like one phase into another.
But that’s interesting. I like what you said also about, you know, having you know, at the end of the day, it’s also kind of like who who says that this is good and who says that this is bad.
And like, I think a lot of this conversation comes from better. Right. Like, who’s the judge? And and so I like what you’re saying, that a plant is a plant first, because then then we have to think about who is determining that this plant is going to be a good or bad.
So, yeah. Thank you, Lisa. You have your though.
I think. Yeah, I. Just a few things that other people have said of the words that have kind of jumped out to me were relationships, context and I think stories and the ways that the stories we tell about these organisms are really important, because even saying that as an organism, as a bully is a story can be a very useful one. I am reminded of Robin Wall Kamras book Braiding Sweetgrass, and that’s a metaphor that she uses that we can think of certain plants as bullies. But something else that was said really made me think about this idea of like who has the authority to determine what species belong and what species don’t, which is particularly important to me. And an important, I think, for thinking about what does an ideal future look sound feel like and how do we get there? Not that I have the answer on this, but one of the things I think is really important, as I already said, is context is just hugely important. And so I think a lot about. The context of how the species came to be in this particular location, right, and so that requires looking at political economy. Right. And like these global commodification and how things get moved from the other area of the globe to here and. Right. Like. We’re just going to keep getting more and more introductions. We know somebody in the I think it’s called a paddler. I’ve never seen one of those before, but now I’m definitely going to use it in a teaching as as a teaching tool. It was very cool.
And always someone in there said, oh, man, I totally just lost my train of thought.
Anyway, let me just keep going in a different direction. I’m thinking a lot about right. Thinking about where this species came from and how they got there, I think that’s important to acknowledge that. And then. A big one thing I would argue for is that an ideal future requires listening to indigenous communities because even using the term native plant is a colonial term, they don’t see themselves as a native. They were just here before. And so I just think we really need to rethink all of these categories and think about a much deeper context, time wise and space wise and. What else was I gonna say about that and the other thing I like healing justice is a very important part to me, not just environmental justice, but actual healing justice for all beings on the land. So part of that would be multi species justice. And I would argue that these species that are considered invasive are actually quite alienated and they were uprooted from their original. Some scholars have called them a living space entanglement. Right. Their home, they were uprooted and moved, not of their own choice. So even calling them invasive, like they’re actually not invading anywhere.
They’re just trying to survive in this new environment that they’ve been plopped down in. Someone else I know talks about like furniture species. We just moved the animals around as if they’re pieces of furniture that actually doesn’t serve us very well. As we know, even though many of these species are beneficial, like we can see the reverberations of that kind of way of thinking of things as very bounded. So to get to your point, Tonya, about this is the last thing I’ll say and then I’ll be quiet of a new framework, I think also that kind of underlying way of thinking that things are bounded right and not interdependent. Somebody else use the word interdependent, which I think is a really great word. Right. Nations aren’t bounded species or even bounded. Actually, we think of species as these very bonded groups. But that isn’t actually what happens in the world. There’s constantly constant hybridization. And so that I would say like how do we get there is maybe a framework that maybe is thinking and less kind of nationalistic, less boundary to way and really focusing on how is there this kind of porosity, actually.
That’s happening out in the world that we aren’t. That’s actually creating these classifications that are aren’t helping us and are harming certain groups of people, as you’ve already mentioned.
I love that.
I think there’s definitely context and I feel like what you said about the alien species being alienated, it’s almost like if we’re going to attribute human personality to plants to understand their behavior, we might as well have compassion and empathy for them, which we obviously are not doing. So, I mean, I don’t know I don’t know. The answer is to take away the human personality that we give to the plants to move away from that or like full on lean in and. Yeah. And have compassion for them and be like, what are these plants going through or animals. Right.
So and also I think that listening to indigenous populations is key, really. I feel like there’s the first step to justice is centering the populations that are, you know, that need to be. This is not, you know, about any of us, really, or I mean or me.
I don’t know for what you feel, but I feel like, you know, the context.
And I feel like when we censor the populations that we’re harming with all of this discourse, that’s when we actually figure out how to move forward.
I don’t think there’s any other way. So, yeah, thank you. Anybody who else wants to share Athenee? I see your actual hands, so that’s fine.
All right, I lost the whole screen for a second. I was like a can of you. So for myself, when I thought about what does an ideal future look, so on feel it in this context, I, I am an educator by trade and not a formal scientist. And so I immediately thought about the process or the perspective of the student themselves. And with young students and older students, I feel like they’re always trying to figure out how they see themselves in the content that they’re learning, and that can be as a plant or as the character in a book or whatever it ends up being. And so as students are learning about native and invasive species, they’re putting themselves in that those shoes. And they’re like, OK, where do I fit in this? And I know that I have found myself in that situation when working with young students around these topics where it’s like you don’t want them to try to fit into one of those boxes because that doesn’t feel right. And so something that I really took away is this idea that everything has benefit and harm to it. Everything in our lives has benefit and harm, dosages, the drug. And so how do we get students to understand that each thing in their life has some component of I don’t want to say good or bad because I kind of want to get away from that binary of good and bad.
But everything has benefit and harm to it. And where is the balance and how does that balance play into that relationship that you all have been talking about? And so I think for me, how do we get there? It’s really helping students understand with the lens of benefit and harm and how that impact plays into their lives and into the plants around them instead of these categories. I think that as human beings, there has to be some scientific reason behind it. I don’t know what it is, but we lean to categories we love to categorize. It’s like I look at my to do list and I have the things I need to do and the things that are done. And that brings me joy. And so it’s like everything we do, we put into categories. And so getting away from those categories and leaning into a mess, interdependence is a mess. Right? And if we lean into the mess, we will all feel better about it in the long run. But at first it’s uncomfortable because it’s not in categories, it’s not organized. And so getting to that that point, we’re like, OK, it’s OK that it’s messy. This is what makes sense. And we’re moving from categories, I think is how we can get there. And it’s not the straight path, of course, but yeah.
Totally, I agree, and I think. Well, I mean, the thing is, I guess not only do all of us want to categorize everything, but like science, it’s so much about categorizing things and like describing them in like as detailed as possible. So I think this is where, like some of the discomfort comes. And I think this is when it comes out in education. Right. Like we see it so clearly because we’re teaching humans about these things and then we, like, see how messy this can be when everything is categorized. And so I think this is why it’s cool that we’re having this from of this conversation from a pedagogical point of view, because I think this is kind of like where those things kind of like interacting. We can see them so clearly.
So thank you.
Anyone else want to share?
Actually, can I just add I have a sentence, a sentence highlighted that says the classification of species is either native or alien is one of the organizing principles of conservation biology. Now we have we have two boxes and scientist might be the worst. OK, sorry, I was right in front of me, so I just know I mean, it is it’s true.
And it’s kind of like we’re as environmental educators, we take science and we make it digestible. But like, how do you how do we take something that is so ingrained in science and make it so that it’s not only pallid but palatable, but also like so that we teach about it in a way that’s not harmful because obviously we’re harming it would be, you know, term.
I think that’s why we haven’t had a clear answer. Lisa, go ahead.
I was just going to say briefly that I think it’s not actually a characteristic of all science, but Western science, just to be a little bit more specific.
Thank you. That’s a good reminder, anybody who hasn’t shared.
Yes, go ahead.
This is an. For centuries, right, we categorize people as races. Now, there is absolutely no scientific basis for that, that idea to move away from. Absolutely. Some people still use the terminology and feel like this is the conversation that we have to have continue and we’re going to get there.
That’s what I think the future is, is going to be like that. Yes, hopefully. Yes, I agree. And I think it’s I think it’s good because it’s a conversation that we can have across borders.
Right. So it’s I think we’re all kind of like because we’re having one conversation, we have this other conversation. And I think that’s the only way to do this. Like, you know, like the tide rises when everybody all the boats rise and or whatever that is in English. I don’t know. But but it’s true. It’s kind of like we’re all raising our consciousness about some things that are a lot of it is social. And then we look around and we say, OK, but this other thing is messed up, too. So like, what do we do about this? And I think it’s good that we’re connecting these that.
Sasha, I just one of the things our group is thinking about suggesting to our state is to to take the national names out of plant names. We thought that that would be a very kind of tangible thing to do. It’s like we have, you know, English Ivy and we have, you know, a new South American sponge plan. And I mean, some of them are, you know, or Japanese knotweed or, you know, just the adjective that comes from a nation. Is that necessary to describe that plant? And the funny one we have is we have Canada Thisll, which is from Europe originally. So it’s not it’s you know, it’s just the one of those odd things. My Australian boss calls it California Thistle, which I find kind of amusing. So anyway, so the national atat label, that would be one one.
Tadek Yeah, that’s definitely a place to start.
I think we’re getting going to be pulled into a big group soon. So I’m sorry if you guys I know Julian and so hard fair. I don’t know if I was intentional or not. I’m sorry if it wasn’t. It’s never enough time. I don’t know how these things like just it’s never enough time. But thank you guys so much. I think this was such a great small group and I hope you reach out if you want to do anything more or I don’t know, let’s keep this going.
I’m just going to put the notes that I took in the chat. So if you want to keep them for your own note, you can just copy and paste. And I hope that I captured what you all said correctly.
2. There are essential habits of mind that systems thinkers exhibit.
3. Systems have predictable but not predetermined behavior.
Everything is connected.
If there is an isolated system I don’t know about it. Figuring out where different systems start and stop can be challenging because every system has energy or material flowing in and out of it. A system can be defined as any set of parts that combine to become something different. Simple systems combine with other systems to form larger, more complex systems. Our cells are one kind of system, they combine to form tissues, tissues are organized into organs, and so on. Mapping is a useful exercise for understanding connectedness. There are different frameworks for mapping systems but the simplest approach is to name systems in a box and circle and draw arrows that represent inputs and outputs from each system. It doesn’t really matter how initial systems are defined as it often becomes apparent that the initial systems can be broken down into more than one system or that the scope of your original thinking was way too small. Once a system map is made the interconnectedness of events comes into focus and a new way of seeing the big picture emerges.
There are essential habits of mind that systems thinkers exhibit.
We all use some sort of habits of mind to make sense of the world. The good news is that they are habits, and like any habit systems thinking habits can be adopted and maintained through practice. Inquiry is the place to start. How are these two events connected? What are the parts of the system? What are the inputs and outputs? From these questions new ways of understanding the world, or mental models evolve to include deeper, more complex habits. Patterns become apparent, different perspectives are added to thought processes.
The Haudenosaunee Thanksgiving Address, Greetings to the Natural World is indiginous systems thinking.
Systems have predictable but not predetermined behavior.
A famous first attempt at making predictions using systems modeling with computers (see Limits to Growth) was right about how different variables affected each other but was very wrong about the future. Every system behaves according to “rules” but the complexity of systems makes it hard to know how each change in the system will play out. Some simple patterns emerge in systems that are easy to recognize like balancing feedback loops and reinforcing feedback loops. These feedback loops operate all around us. The same is true for systems archetypes. Our human systems like schools and neighborhoods operate in predictable ways. The important thing to understand is that there are levers in systems that can change outcomes. We can change the future by disrupting reinforcing feedback loops or strategizing around particular archetypes.
Just Language in Ecological Education: Finding the Right Words to Use
Topic 1: Invasive species
The language we use to describe the world around us plays a role in creating the framework we use to understand it. While we share a common connection to the natural world, the way we teach and talk about it can prevent us from having conversations that include all perspectives.
Introduced species provide us with a starting point for an exploration of how ecological education can be an inclusive and just endeavor by considering how words like, “invasive” and “alien” convey cultural concepts that can be designed to be exclusive.
Join us for a dialogue that will lead from inquiry to action around the way we discuss the relationship we have with life on earth and each other.
If you are interested please complete the following registration form and a zoom link for the discussion will be sent to you. If you have questions please reach out to cjwidmaier @ greencollarcollaborations.com
We also ask that you read the article, “Perspectives on the ‘alien’ versus ‘native’ species debate: a critique of concepts, language and practice”, by Charles R. Warren as a starting point for the discussion.
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