I took the ferry across the Hudson river last week, and left from under the watchful smirk of the newly restored clock tower at Hoboken's Erie Lackawanna train terminal. It's a truly gorgeous old school terminal, with a beautiful waiting room, often full of sunshine and aimless people sitting on one-hundred year old benches. I carefully mention my use of mass transit since we are mere hours away from Earth Day, and every advertiser ('dude, they use horses to pull their beer trucks') including the US government ('we...ummm...think we should...ummm...perhaps think about reducing greenhouse gases') is working hard to milk the moment for personal gain. I actually adore taking the ferry, except I don't usually need to go where it stops. But this day I was en route to the World Financial Center to see a truly heroic task of many hands working to restore years of ecological damage with quickly repeated swoops of a crochet needle.
Coral reefs across the world are dying off at rates faster than rain forests. You can put an end to this madness by crocheting your own. Or that is what twin sisters Christine and Margaret Wertheim are promoting...sort of. Simultaneously scientists and crafters, these two women have encouraged people in various communities to contribute crocheted pieces of an ever growing coral reef simulacrum, to dramatize the beauty and oddness that we would irrevocably lose if coral reefs continue to die out due to overfishing, pollution and maritime mucking about. The group-hug quality of humans, from knitting and crochet circles around the globe, contributing their personalized efforts to this ecological alert is a wonderful reminder that we CAN actually find something to do with all that crazy leftover yarn we keep stuffing back into our closets (or for all the non-knitters of the world that the individual can affect change for the good).
I am just a tad overloaded with the "oh, look at me, I am so green" commercialism of Earth Day this year. If a major chain retailer really wants to stop contributing plastic bags to landfill, why don't they give away a canvas bag with their name on it, instead of selling it? Helle Jorgensen, one of the contributors to the Hyperbolic Crochet Coral Reef project gives a great tutorial on how to make your own yarn from plastic grocery bags and then suggests making your own tote bags, or underwater sea creatures, or hats, or you name it.
While at the World Financial Center please take advantage of sitting under a palm tree. A Californian friend tells me LA is no longer planting these akward beasts, as they are not native and are difficult to maintain. On a more tragic aside, the under the stairs "nook" which WFC assigns as a gallery space is quite abject. It spells out rather clearly where these financial titans see art in their commercial haze. I don't know how to change this view of "non-commercial" activity, but I do know that if we continue, as a society, to let profit be our guiding light there will be no change that will ever contribute to, restore, or enhance civilizations to come, be they underwater or on dry land. Unfortunately that sentence seems a little long to put on a tote bag. But here's a few things you can do, that won't make a multi-national any money:
1. Grow raspberries in your yard. This will be year 3 for our berry fence. We started out with just a few runners from a friends patch, and it has grown into a hardy spring and fall fruiting blast of deliciousness that happily grows along, and obscures, a rusty chain link fence. I sunk a soaker hose and put it on a timer, so it gets the water directly to the roots, instead of wasting it on the leaves. Raspberries worked out better for us than strawberries, because the nasty urban squirrel nibbles all our strawberries but can't seem to get at the dangling raspberries.
2. Keep a herd of worms in a plastic tub and do your own composting of food scraps. Our yard is only 12 feet wide, and partly shady, so we couldn't exactly make a compost pile without it being the centerpiece of the yard. A delivery of worms later, and we are on our way to creating rich soil from worm castings, and reducing our weekly garbage. Even the city of San Francisco composts. They charge residents to haul away non-organic trash but pick up food waste for free, composting it, then selling the black gold results to golf courses and garden shops. This has also significantly reduced their contribution to local landfills.