by Daniel E. Levenson
April 20, 2010
It is my firmly held belief that in order for people to become truly engaged in environmental concerns they need to find ways to connect to nature beyond recycling and buying eco-friendly brands. These are important, of course, but I feel that if we are going to save our planet from self-inflicted doom, that we need to take the time to become better acquainted with the natural world and find ways to become actively involved in conservation efforts right in our own backyards. This is actually a lot easier to do than you might think, and with a number of wonderful resources available on the internet, it’s fairly easy to find out how everyone – kids, adults, seniors – can lend a helping hand.
One way that I personally contribute to conservation efforts is through a program called ebird which is run by the Cornell Lab of Ornithology. Not only is their website a great source of information about birds found throughout North and South America, but they also collect observations made by amateur citizen-scientists, which are then used by professional scientists to learn more about bird behavior and demographics. I have been an ebird participant myself for over two years, and it has really enhanced my time spent in the outdoors to know that I am also collecting data about local bird populations and that this has the potential to help conservation efforts in my own home state of Massachusetts and in other places around the country. The resources and projects on the Cornell site are not just aimed at people who live in rural places, they also have projects that will appeal to suburbanites and urbanites as well. Programs, such as the Celebrate Urban Birds initiative, provide a variety of different resources to learn about urban birds and improve habitats for them, including small grants, bird ID guides and kits to collect data in the field about your local city-dwelling feathered friends.
Synagogues and other Jewish groups can also organize projects to clean up public spaces of litter, or work with local government or other non-profit organizations to plant a garden in places that have been collecting trash. Planting trees that are appropriate for your region, is also another great thing you can do. This is an activity which can have a profoundly positive impact on both humans and wildlife. The benefits of trees, which the National Arbor Day Foundation has well documented, include providing homes for birds and small mammals, putting oxygen into the air while removing carbon dioxide (which helps to fight global warming) and increasing property values. Also, going outside and planting a tree with your friends, family, or synagogue presents a great opportunity to connect with other members of your community and do something tangible and lasting to help the earth. After all, the Torah tells us that sometime in the distant past God created this beautiful, if flawed world in which we live, I figure the least we can do is help to keep it going.
Copyright Daniel E. Levenson 2010
Welcome to the New Vilna Review
*A Note From the Publisher - February 8, 2012*
Dear readers and contributors,
The New Vilna Review has been going through some changes the past few
months, and our focus has shifted to offering an expanded selection of
poetry, fiction and arts writing. We are once again accepting submissions,
and look forward to continuing to publish some of the most interesting and
thought provoking work in the world of Jewish arts and letters.
-Daniel E. Levenson
Publisher and Editor-in-Chief
The New Vilna Review
New Vilna Review Insulated Travel Mug
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