|HOPE FOR THE NEXT GENERATION OF AMERICAN OYSTERCATCHERS. As a visionary artist, I dwell in HOPE. (art by Hallelujah Truth inspired by photo by Jenifer Hilburn, St. Catherines Island, Georgia)|
Many of you who have been following my blog, know that I am collaborating with Jenifer Hilburn, an ornithologist working on St. Catherines Island, Georgia, on the story of the American oystercatcher's life-cycle in word and image (see this blog and check out others from this month). In our collaboration, Jen is kind enough to feed me important articles to shape my thinking for my artwork.
One article that I read yesterday is coinciding with the final image I am making of the American oystercatcher hatching from its egg in the first part of the series of the oystercatcher's life. Therefore, for today's last blog entry for October, I am combining the concept of HOPE from the article, subject matter from Jen's photo, and my resulting artwork (see the photo at the top).
The article that has impacted me so much is entitled: "The Culture of Conservation Biologists: Show Me the Hope!" Published in the September 2010 issue of BioScience, the authors, Ronald R. Swaisgood and James K. Sheppard, are conservation biologists affiliated with the San Diego Zoo. In the abstract of their paper they wrote:
"We advocate for the establishment of professional rituals that force us to regularly confront despair and seek out the positive, even when things take a turn for the worse."
Hallelujah Ronald and James for the courage you display in proclaiming a new way to understand and disseminate the dire news that you conservationist biologists determine from your collection of data. Let me share some key phrases and concepts from this remarkable paper.
"If we wish to do more than complain and whimper about the current state of affairs, we will need to (re-)learn that our actions do make a difference: We turned on the shock, we can turn it back off."
|HOPE (Art by Hallelujah Truth 2009)|
The authors quote Steve Amstrup, the US Geological Survey senior scientist in the polar bear program, who woke up one night realizing that his research information released to the public concerning the declining populations of the polar bears would result in the publics' NONACTION. He realized that as everyone accepted the research results to mean that the polar bears would disappear from the Earth, they wouldn't do anything to help change the situation. Here is a line from email he wrote his colleagues alerting them to this undesirable outcome:
"I am also sure that if the general public thinks nothing can be done, THEN NOTHING WILL BE DONE!"
The authors of this paper on hope go on to propose the following rituals be set up amongst conservation biologists to provide a "structured" practice for hope!:
- Presentations at professional conferences might consider including a "field of hope."
- Special symposia and workshops at conferences could focus on hope.
- Journals might ask authors to address the issue of hope as a regular section in their papers.
- Conservation biologists need to remember to spend time in nature away from their desks to nurture hope.
- Scientists could write hope blogs and hope press releases.
- Support citizen scientists
Indeed, what is the alternative to HOPE my dear readers? Despair? Pessimism? Let's all HOPE for the best and take actions to change the things we can. Learned helplessness is not the place I want to stay. How about you?
That's Coffee with Hallelujah! SOUL BLOG with me. Share your hope for the conservation of our Earth and what actions you are willing to take make a difference!
ACKNOWLEDGMENTS: Thank you to Michelle who hosted Blogtoberfest13. Without your willing to captain the month of writing a blog every day and pushing the publish button, I would not have succeeded in doing so. I also want to thank profusely Jenifer Hilburn, who is my scientific muse, inspiring me with her passion for the American oystercatcher and all of the wildlife on her Georgia barrier island of St. Catherines. Jen, you have filled both my heart and mind with stories, images, kayak trips to see the American oystercatcher, Skyping meetings, phone calls, emails, and scholarly articles. Most of all, you have made me laugh with your buoyant enthusiasm for spreading the word. What you know, I now know in part because you have HOPE! Of course, thanks go to the authors of the article, "The Culture of Conservation Biologists: Show Me the Hope!," Ronald R. Swaisgood and James K. Sheppard. What a thoughtful and well written article--I got your message!