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Posts Tagged ‘restore’

Photo: The Nap Ministry.

Although recent research into the connection between frequent, long naps and dementia has made all of us serious nappers nervous, I remain a big proponent. Sweet sleep “knits up the raveled sleeve of care” and calms us down. It lets us return to our activities with restored energy.

WordPress blogger Tricia Hersey has known this for a long time. And during the stressful summer of 2020, she was moved to spread the word to a wider audience. Napping is not escapism, she believes. Rather, if you’re refreshed, you can fight the good fight another day,

Hannah Good writes at the Washington Post that “years before the pandemic encouraged legions of people to question their relationship with work, Tricia Hersey was preaching the gospel of rest.

“A multidisciplinary artist, writer and community organizer, Hersey began thinking about the importance of rest as a theology graduate student at Emory University in 2013. She’d recently endured some personal trauma and grief, alongside her difficult graduate school research, which dealt with the cultural trauma of slavery. A few states away in Ferguson, Mo., the Black Lives Matter movement was gaining traction in response to a number of police killings of Black people — many of which were captured on video and shared ubiquitously on social media.

“In short, she was exhausted, and it led her to do something radically simple: She took more naps.

“A few years later, Hersey’s philosophy of rest as resistance took shape as an organization. The Nap Ministry, founded in 2016, is an artistic practice and community organization that focuses on the radical power of letting your body rest. …

“Since then, the Atlanta-based organization has hosted hundreds of writing workshops, lectures and communal events. … Hersey’s book, a manifesto on her philosophies called Rest is Resistance, is set to be released this October. …

“The ministry’s signature events are nap sessions: community events where people can rest together. Participants lie on yoga mats as a facilitator reads meditations and poetry; dim lights and soft music, sometimes performed by live musicians, set the tone. This helps assuage what can be a strange and vulnerable experience — falling asleep with strangers. When it comes time to wake up, the music grows louder and changes to something upbeat and joyful: a tone-setter to carry the lessons learned into the day, according to Hersey. …

“We asked Hersey to make our readers a playlist inspired by these themes of rest and resistance. … ‘The energy of this playlist is celebration, ease and leisure,’ she said. ‘It reminds us that we can daydream, wander, imagine and dance. We can just be.’ “

Hersey’s list starts with Duke Ellington’s ‘A New World Coming,’ which she believes is “a piece of magic. This composition is a call for imagining a new world. It opens the playlist because it taps into the expansiveness of dreaming with orchestra sound. To begin the journey of liberation via rest, we must first stay in a ‘DreamSpace.’ ”

“Lullaby” by Tasha, Hersey says, is “a classic lullaby with a specific request for Black girls to do less, dismantle the ‘superwoman’ myth and sleep.”

As for Nina Simone’s “Here Comes the Sun,” Hersey calls it “a joyful moment of ease and hope. The ultimate wake-up call. I have used this song to wake people up from their slumber slowly when they sleep at our collective napping experiences.’ “

Communal napping is weird at first. We had a nap room at my former job. You get over the awkwardness fast if you know you are exhausted and just need about 20 minutes of shut-eye to be good for the rest of the day.

When my sister was in the hospital and I was spending many long, anxious days there, I discovered I actually had quite a gift for taking brief, restorative naps. One time I went to sleep on a bench in a busy, lighted hallway next to an elevator bank, where a maintenance man was operating a huge floor polisher!

More at the Post, here.

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Photo: Earthshot.
Costa Rica won a Earthshot prize for its success reversing damage to tropical forests by incentivizing landowners to leave unused land alone.

I really liked this story about an effort in Costa Rica that is helping restore tropical forests. A study says that although “it’s not a license to kill” forests, they can come back eventually if humans just leave them alone to heal.

Tik Root writes at the Washington Post, “Deforestation is a global and accelerating threat. But new research shows that tropical forests can recover naturally and remarkably quickly on abandoned lands.

“The study, published [in] the journal Science, found that under low-intensity use, soil on previously deforested land can recover its fertility in less than a decade. Characteristics such as the layering of plants and trees in a forest, as well as species diversity, came back in about 25 to 60 years.

“ ‘I was totally surprised how quickly it went,’ said Lourens Poorter, an ecologist at Wageningen University in the Netherlands and lead author on the paper.

‘These forests can recover very fast and they can do it by themselves.’

“Burgeoning secondary forests are good for the climate as well. They are able to sequester more carbon dioxide from the atmosphere than established forests; like the voracious food intake of a sprouting teen compared to that of an older adult.

“ ‘It does provide a glimmer of hope for this process of tropical reforestation,’ said Meg Lowman, a conservation biologist and author of The Arbornaut: A Life Discovering the Eighth Continent in the Trees Above. ‘My only caution is that I don’t think it’s ever a substitute for the importance of saving big trees and old growth forests.’

“Older forests ultimately store more carbon dioxide than young forests, and deforestation releases those stockpiles, which helps drive climate change. The study found that it took more than a century for the overall biomass of tropical forests — and thus their carbon storage ability — to return fully. The recovery of a forest’s species makeup lasted a similar period.

“The longer time frame for the revival of these key benefits is among the reasons that Poorter says maintaining current forest cover is crucial. ‘First, stop deforestation and conserve old growth forests,’ he emphasized. The fact that deforested land can recover ‘is not a license to kill.’

“A 2019 study estimated that some 5.5 million hectares of tropical forest — an area more than twice the size of Belize — is lost each year to expanding commercial cropland, pastures and tree plantations. But cleared land is often abandoned as cultivation shifts, said Poorter, and researchers wanted to know, ‘Can it recover?’

“The answer is yes. … The subsurface soil, for example, often remains relatively vibrant after deforestation, which enables a faster recovery. The warmth and humidity of the tropics also allow trees to grow extremely fast, with some species climbing more than a dozen feet per year.

“And this all happens largely without human intervention, Poorter said. Seeds, roots and stumps embedded in the soil, or the spread of plants from adjacent forests, kick-start the recovery process. … ‘The conditions are that there has to be nearby forests, and the soil can’t be too degraded.’ “

The Post article continues with Daniel Nepstad, a tropical ecologist and president of the San Francisco-based Earth Innovation Institute, who says, ” ‘The research bolsters the policy argument for a nature-based approach to forest restoration. The cheapest way to get forest back on the land is to let nature do the work.’

“He would encourage governments to incentivize farmers and landowners to protect secondary forests and promote regrowth.

“Organizations such as the Natural Capital Project advocate for similar approaches to ecosystem services restoration. Costa Rica recently won Prince William’s Earthshot Prize for a program that helps reverse deforestation by paying farmers to protect and reforest their land. …

“This paper drew on 77 sites in three continents, comprising 2,275 plots and 226,343 stems.”

More at the Post, here.

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Photo: Kara Holsopple, The Allegheny Front.
Stephanie Alexander at the Horn Point Lab oyster hatchery. Lawn chemicals pollute Chesapeake Bay. Oysters fight back.

Today I want to expand on my 2019 blog post about New York City’s Billion Oyster Project, which uses restaurants’ discarded oyster shells to fight erosion in the harbor.

According to a July broadcast of Living on Earth [LOE], Pittsburgh restaurants are doing something similar. In this case, it’s to counteract pollution caused by fertilizer that runs into Maryland’s Chesapeake Bay.

LOE’S BOBBY “BASCOMB: The Chesapeake Bay is routinely inundated with fertilizer runoff from the surrounding watershed in parts of Pennsylvania and Maryland. The result is algae blooms that suck up oxygen in the water and create dead zones for most other forms of life in the Bay. Oysters are particularly vulnerable, but as Kara Holsopple of the Allegheny Front reports, some local groups have come up with a novel way to help oysters recover.

“KARA HOLSOPPLE: Jessica Lewis says shucking an oyster is like picking a lock.

“JESSICA LEWIS: You press down and then you just wiggle, pop it open and, the abductor muscle right there. You clean that. …

“HOLSOPPLE: Lewis says they go through about three to four hundred oysters here a week from the East and West coasts. This oyster is from Maryland’s Chesapeake Bay — and its top and bottom shell are going back there… Lewis and her staff toss the spent shells in a 35 gallon barrel with a screw-on lid, located in the trash area on the ground floor of the building. …

“About once a month a truck picks up the old shells from this and six other participating restaurants in Pittsburgh, and drives them more than 250 miles to a staging area just across the Chesapeake Bay Bridge in Maryland. From there, the oyster shells from Pittsburgh and ones collected from Maryland, Virginia and the D.C. area are taken to a site at the University of Maryland’s Horn Point Laboratory in Cambridge, for processing.

“KARIS KING: So here you’re looking at about 7,000 tons of clean shell.

“HOLSOPPLE: Karis King is with Oyster Recovery Partnership, a nonprofit which works to increase oyster numbers in the Chesapeake Bay. We’re standing at the base of a mountain of gray shells. They’ve been dumped into a machine that’s like a modified potato hopper, which sorts the shells. … Smaller fragments of broken shell fall away as a conveyor belt deposits the half shells into wire cages or piles where they’re cured for a year. …

“KING: Even with all the shell that we do recycle, and that we also purchase from shucking houses, we still don’t have enough to do large scale restoration, at the rate that we could.

“HOLSOPPLE: That’s because of the scale of the problem. Stephanie Alexander manages the Horn Point Lab oyster hatchery. …

“ALEXANDER: We’ve pretty much wiped the oyster out to less than 1 percent of historic levels. So we started this restoration effort where we’re using a hatchery to produce spat on shell to put back into the bay so we can kind of help jump start Mother Nature.

“HOLSOPPLE: The concept is pretty simple: Scientists here at the lab produce baby oysters from adults harvested from the bay, nurture the microscopic larvae with a custom algae diet, then get them attach to the recycled, treated oyster shells. That’s the ‘spat on shell.’ In practice, it’s a lot harder than it sounds…

“Ben Malmgren is an intern here, a student from St. Mary’s College of Maryland.

“BEN MALMGREN: Right now we’re placing the oysters out on the spawning table where we are going to simulate river conditions that are ideal for spawning.

“HOLSOPPLE: The saltiness and temperature of the water in the shallow black basins has to be just right. Malmgren places the oysters in a grid formation, so it’s easier to separate the males from the females…

“MALMGREN: Because if we just let them spawn out on the table all these eggs are gonna go down to the into the drain. So once we see a female and we’ll we’ll know she’s a female by she’ll clap her top and bottom shell together and we’ll see a plume of eggs come out. …

“HOLSOPPLE: Even in the lab, nature is in charge. Stephanie Alexander says it was a slow summer…a lot of rain meant the adult oysters have lived with lower salinity levels, and they’re stressed. Out in the bay, the water is warmer, meaning the spat on shell might have a harder time growing that second shell, and over the years, forming the clusters that create oyster reefs.

“STEPHANIE ALEXANDER: When one thing gets out of whack everything else is going to kind of follow. So we’re trying to get the oysters back into balance so then hopefully everything else will follow as well. …

“Oysters are the vacuum cleaners or the kidneys of the bay and they just suck the water in, they decide if it’s food or not food. But no matter what it is that will remove it from the water column and that’s how they vacuum the bay up and clean it.

“HOLSOPPLE: Because of this superpower, oyster aquaculture is a best management practice identified by the regional partnership that oversees cleaning up the Chesapeake Bay. Some of the spat raised at the Horn Point Lab will make its way to oyster farmers, and those are the oysters on a half shell that are served in restaurants. But the majority of the spat will help rebuild oyster reefs, creating habitat for fish, and restoring the ecosystem.”

More at Living on Earth, here.

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Photo: ArtTrav.
The Medici Chapel in Florence recently got a new kind of cleaning. This is the “before” shot of Michelangelo’s sculptures of Dusk and Dawn. See the New York Times for how they look today.

How do you clean a masterpiece? Carefully, My Friends. Especially if much of the damage was caused by the decomposing body of a long-dead Medici.

Jason Horowitz reports at the New York Times that you may also want to keep any strange method of cleaning a secret until after it actually succeeds.

“As early as 1595, descriptions of stains and discoloration began to appear in accounts of a sarcophagus in the graceful chapel Michelangelo created as the final resting place of the Medicis. In the ensuing centuries, plasters used to incessantly copy the masterpieces he sculpted atop the tombs left discoloring residues. His ornate white walls dimmed.

“Nearly a decade of restorations removed most of the blemishes, but the grime on the tomb and other stubborn stains required special, and clandestine, attention. … Restorers and scientists quietly unleashed microbes with good taste and an enormous appetite on the marbles, intentionally turning the chapel into a bacterial smorgasbord.

“ ‘It was top secret,’ said Daniela Manna, one of the art restorers. …

“ [A team headed by] Monica Bietti, former director of the Medici Chapel’s Museum … used bacteria that fed on glue, oil and apparently [a dead Medici’s] phosphates as a bioweapon against centuries of stains.

“In November 2019, the museum brought in Italy’s National Research Council, which used infrared spectroscopy that revealed calcite, silicate and other, more organic, remnants on the sculptures and two tombs that face one another across the New Sacristy.

“That provided a key blueprint for Anna Rosa Sprocati, a biologist at the Italian National Agency for New Technologies, to choose the most appropriate bacteria from a collection of nearly 1,000 strains, usually used to break down petroleum in oil spills or to reduce the toxicity of heavy metals. …

“Then the restoration team tested the most promising eight strains behind the altar, on a small rectangle palette spotted with rows of squares like a tiny marble bingo board. All of the ones selected, she said, were nonhazardous and without spores.

“ ‘It’s better for our health,’ said Manna, after crawling out from under the sarcophagus. ‘For the environment, and the works of art.’ …

“In February 2020 Covid hit, closing the museum in March and interrupting the project. … The bacteria strains got back to the Medici Chapel, which had reopened with reduced hours, in mid-October. Wearing white lab coats, blue gloves and anti-Covid surgical masks, Sprocati and the restorers spread gels with the SH7 bacteria — from soil contaminated by heavy metals at a mineral site in Sardinia — on the sullied sarcophagus of Lorenzo di Piero, Duke of Urbino, buried with his assassinated son Alessandro.

“ ‘It ate the whole night,’ said Marina Vincenti, another of the restorers. …

“In 2016, [she had] attended a conference held by Sprocati and her biologists. (‘An introduction to the world of microorganisms,’ Sprocati called it.) They showed how bacteria had cleaned up some resin residues on Baroque masterpiece frescoes in the Carracci Gallery at Palazzo Farnese in Rome. Strains isolated from mine drainage waters in Sardinia eliminated corrosive iron stains in the gallery’s Carrara marble.

“When it came time to clean the Michelangelos, Vincenti pushed for a bacterial assist.

“ ‘I said, “OK,” said [Paola D’Agostino, who runs the Bargello Museums]. ‘ “But let’s do a test first.” ‘

“The bacteria passed the exam and did the job.”

More at the Times, here.

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Photo: Allison Stocks
Recent carbon dating has revealed that the oldest clam garden known to science was built about 3,500 years ago,” says the Guardian. It’s in Canada’s Vancouver area.

I don’t know about you, but I really enjoy the verbal style some indigenous people use when speaking of traditional ways or of ancestors. If it is not disrespectful to say so, it transports me to a place in the imagination where wizards and Hobbits reside — different from my own place in a way that feels both magical and close to Nature.

In Vancouver, Adrienne Matei writes for the Guardian, “On winter nights for the past six years, a group of 20 people have rustled through dark, coniferous woods to emerge on a Canadian beach at the lowest possible tide, illuminated by a correspondingly full moon.

“An elder offers a greeting to the place and a prayer, then the team of researchers, volunteers, and First Nations ‘knowledge holders’ lights a warming fire and begins its work. At sites outlined by stones placed hundreds or even thousands of years ago, some begin raking, or ‘fluffing,’ the top three inches of the beach, loosening rocks and mud — and a remarkable number of old clam shells.

“When the tide comes back in, it will flush out any rotting organic matter, changing ‘some places that are compact and smelly into a good clam beach again.’ says Skye Augustine, a member of the Stz’uminus First Nation.

“This spot was once a clam garden, an ancient indigenous form of mariculture that coastal First Nations people have used for millennia. It is estimated that they once numbered in the thousands along the Pacific north-western coast, though ruins are all that’s left of most. In collaboration with the W̱SÁNEĆ and Hul’q’umi’num nations, Augustine has spearheaded the first formal clam garden rehabilitations at two sites in the Gulf Islands, in British Columbia, with dozens more to follow.

‘My elders articulated to me that if we want to bring our beaches back to life again, we need to bring people back on to them to care for them as they have been cared for in the past.

” ‘That became my inspiration for my education and career,’ she says. ‘How do we make this clam garden thing happen?’

“For millennia pre-colonization, clam gardens epitomized sustainable food security for Pacific north-western coastal nations from northern Washington to south-eastern Alaska. Modern studies have found that clam gardens have historically been up to 300% more productive than unmodified beaches, that their clams grew larger and faster than average, and that the clams did not exhibit any signs of resource stress from over-harvesting.

“To create the beaches, indigenous people built rock walls parallel to a beach’s low tide line, which would trap sediment and flatten the slope of the shore. With continuing tending, such as tilling to improve aeration and the removal of predators like sea stars, these gardens increase or create habitat for butter, littleneck, and horse clams, as well as crabs, chitons, seaweeds, and other useful species.

“Recent carbon dating has revealed that the oldest clam garden known to science was built about 3,500 years ago. …

“ ‘It has always been our duty to be the stewards of the land,’ says group member Nicole Norris, a knowledge holder for the Hul’q’umi’num and an aquaculture specialist. ‘It is the exact same land my ancestors walked. … From the work that we’ve done, we’ve seen the greater ecosystem return – some of the people who live in the local communities have talked about the return of certain birds and plants, and that’s been heartwarming,’ she says.

“In addition to providing food, clam gardens have historically provided the opportunity for ‘grandparents, aunties, and uncles to spend time at the beach with their grandchildren and younger generations, not only teaching about how to tend the environment … but sharing stories, language, spiritual ties to the place,’ says Melissa Poe, who specializes in the social and cultural dimensions of ecosystems at the University of Washington.”

More at the Guardian, here.

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I checked Gwarlingo not long ago to catch up on Michelle Aldredge’s thorough, sensitive meditations on art and literature.

What caught my attention was her review of a movie about restoring an old house in Japan.

“It is rare to find a film that is pitch-perfect in its cinematography, story, pacing, and length,” Aldredge writes, “but Davina Pardo’s short film Minka is such a gem. (I owe writer Craig Mod a thank you for turning me onto this quiet masterpiece.)

“Based on journalist John Roderick’s book Minka: My Farmhouse in Japan, the film is a moving meditation on place, memory, friendship, family, and the meaning of home. Most remarkable, this haunting story plays out in a mere 15 minutes.

Minka is the Japanese name for the dwellings of 18th-century farmers, merchants, and artisans (i.e., the three non samurai-castes), but as Wikipedia explains, this caste-connotation no longer exists in the modern Japanese language, and any traditional Japanese style residence of an appropriate age could be referred to as minka. The word minka literally means ‘a house of the people.’

“The story of how AP foreign correspondent John Roderick and his adopted Japanese son Yoshihiro Takishita met, and then rescued a massive, timber minka by moving it from the Japanese Alps to the Tokyo suburb of Kamakura is full of small surprises and revelations (the biggest one comes at the end of the film).

Minka is a film that celebrates stillness. Pardo’s camera lovingly lingers on sun, shadows, and dust. But the peaceful home is not just a restored space full of beautiful, personal objects, it is also an expression of the deep connection between Roderick and Takishita and of familial love.”

Read about that at Gwarlingo, where the filmmaker will let you watch the entire 15-minute movie.

Photo: Davina Pardo & Birdlings LLC
A still from the film
Minka

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