Sunday, March 14, 2010

Chesapeake Bay Rain Garden poster -- 90 days

Work has begun on a cool new Chesapeake Bay Rain Garden poster.

I have been smitten by rain gardens-- I didn't know much about them a couple years ago. Making a rain garden poster for a team of ten agencies in Oregon and Washington changed all that.

This seemed like a novelty project and funny way to keep rain water clean. But then I learned about the many benefits to us when we let rain water perk into the soil instead of down the street into a gutter, storm drain and out to sea.

Once you look at our settlement's natural history-- you see what used to be here in Seattle (or any urban area) in terms of forests and wetlands cut and paved over, meadows turned to driveways and streets, one begins to see rain gardens as evolutionary and necessary steps for restoration.

Rain gardens bring together our desire for all that is good in a garden. By that I mean the healing nature of sticking your hands in the ground, moving soil, making amends to yourself for spending so much time in front of a screen and so little with nature.

And rain gardens are the interconnective tissue our cities need to grow right now. We can't afford to keep driving and letting cars dominate the landscape. The hidden costs are coming to the surface, just as the true costs of all the water pollution is, too.

We need rain gardens the same way we need parks-- to attract our better selves, to grow biodiversity, to find ourselves in cities going wild.

And as we turn our yards into rain gardens we give rain a chance to slow, seep and soak into the ground, restoring groundwater.

There are days when the big rain storms come blowing up from the south and I am certain the rain is searching for the big trees that used to live here.

But how long will the big rains keep coming back if they cannot find their friends the trees? This is not just a poetic desire. Look at the history of empires that cut their forests down, and what happened after they were cut-- turned to desert.

I believe rain gardens, along with swales, permeable pavement, rain barrels for certain areas, cisterns for most people, gray water capture and other ways to create low impact living are crucial to greening our cities.

I see a world where my rain garden acts as a little park in my yard. And I want to live in a city full of soft gravel and earth paths that connect me to walking, to transit, to parks and hedgerows growing where two and four land streets once dominated our landscapes.

I can see the wildlife corridors that we have built by accident-- the Burke Gillman train tracks that led loggers from the mountain to the mill are now now bike paths, coyote paths,too. We need more of these paths all over.

And I see the need for these paths all over cities. We need to rewild the human settlements, to bring nature back to our everyday world, and not just a novelty on a webcam.

Rain gardens are a start toward that world restored. I see hedgerows growing up 4th Avenue in downtown Seattle, with salmon streams beginning at the Olympic Sculpture Park and running through to Seattle Center, into downtown. I see more trails like the Burke growing out of streets abandoned for a greater good.

How about you? What is your vision for your home?

After learning so much from the Rain Garden and Low Impact Living poster, Love Your Stream artwork for the west coast, I decided we could help change the world on the east coast, too.

Art changes lives, gives people time to take in the changes we need to make, helps visualize the world transformed. And art = the 1000 words. It gets through to those of us who are visual learners. Chesapeake Bay is full of people working to fend off development pressures, to protect streams,rivers, estuaries. So I hope to find some kindred spirits to co sponsor the Chesapeake Bay Rain Garden poster in the coming weeks.

Stay tuned.

Best fishes,
Timothy Colman, publisher
Good Nature Publishing
800 631 3086

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