I am thrilled to contribute my article “It’s Time” this month to the Washington’s National Park Fund blog, To The Parks! Olympic National Park is such a beautiful place with an incredible diversity of experiences, and over the last three summers I’ve had the special opportunity to backpack it with my father. This past summer I was lucky enough to travel up the Hoh River Valley to get a closeup view of the park’s namesake, Mount Olympus, and its surrounding glaciers. The experience left me breathless – in the ten years since my father had last visited, the glaciers had melted significantly. Climate change is changing the face of this park in significant ways. Check it out!
If you have seen my Instagram posts of photos taken in the Olympics, you know I’m a big fan of taking a closer look at the forests and mountains. Here’s an excerpt about our backpacking trips that I didn’t feel fit the focus of the WNPF blog post, but does explain what’s happening behind the scenes of my photos. Hope you enjoy!
My dad and I are a complementary pair of hikers. While my dad maintains a steady pace and keeps his mind on the day’s goal, I stop, struck by the light filtering through a particularly beautiful forest glade onto a carpet of the greenest moss I could imagine. Or perhaps I am distracted by a mushroom, bird, or wildflower. More often than not I can be found on the ground, taking a quick photo (or ten) of the miniature life forms blanketing the remains of forest giants. I will linger the longest soaking in the spirit of a tree “fairy ring.” But I quickly catch up to my dad who assures me, as I apologize when I find him taking a water break and fiddling with his GPS while he waits for me, that it’s no trouble. (After three years of this, it’s become clear to me he relishes all opportunities to play with his GPS device.) Our morning and evening routines are simple and filled with stories of family, a tallying of wildflowers seen that day, discussions about his latest research, or simply comfortable silence as we take in the magic.
We have found an unexpected bond over wildflowers. While he, as a scientist, likes to name them all, I, as an amateur photographer, love to photograph them all. We add to our growing list each night as we thumb through Charles Stewart’s Wildflowers of the Olympics and Cascades to see if we can remember the day’s bounty. Our longest list – over 100 different species – came from the North Fork Quinnault and Marten Lakes trails which we traveled in the second half of July in 2018. Alpine meadows and stream beds were absolutely bursting with color as their pollinators noisily and tirelessly visited each nook and cranny, sometimes trying to get one last run in before sunset and getting frozen in place overnight.
One of my favorite areas for flowers was Thousand Acre Meadow in the Dosewallips River watershed. It’s chock-full alpine meadows are graced with meandering streams lined with mosses hosting tiny alpine flowers – veritable fairy gardens! I think if I could I would spend the majority of my time on the ground in the Olympics trying to capture the way the essence of the park’s life touches and replenishes my soul.
On #GivingTuesday (and every month after), I want to make sure my donated money counts toward addressing climate change. The easiest route might be to donate to large international climate policy advocacy groups like 350.org, or land conservation organizations like The Nature Conservancy. In doing research on these organizations, I can see clearly they are working to address climate change, the breadth of their work is so impressive. But I decided they don’t really need my money; I’d rather start at home.
But where to start? There are a lot of actions that fall into the rubric of “climate change action.” So I’m using Biomimicry Chicago’s Deep Roots Initiative (DRI) conceptual framework to make sure my donations fall into different categories of action that both regulate climate and support resilient communities (which in turn do a better job regulating climate). Each of these six categories is important to creating a stable climate.
Next, I’m starting at the top of Project Drawdown’s ranked list of climate change solutions to make sure the organizations I’m donating to are implementing programs that will have the biggest impact on climate change (and which make sense for my region). I added these solutions into my DRI framework categories and came up with a list of organizations implementing relevant local solutions. These are the local organizations I can support to make an impact on climate change!
As you’ll notice, Project Drawdown solutions are focused specifically on carbon sequestration, so solutions in water and biodiversity are not specifically mentioned in their list. But as we learned from ecosystems through our DRI process, all six categories of system functions – carbon, water, energy, materials, biodiversity and social organization – are critical for maintaining a stable climate.
You can use this approach to create your own list of local organizations that will give you the biggest bang for your buck in addressing climate change on #Giving Tuesday – and everyday thereafter! Have fun!