I attended the Goldman Prize for Excellence last week in San Francisco as a guest of friend Christy Rocca of the Chrissy Field Center. The awards honored extraordinary individuals who demonstrated a fierce and courageous protection of their local spaces. In common, the prize winners each found ways to significantly protect or restore the local environment for both human and non-human species.
The North American prize winner this year is Hilton Kelley, who is now leading the battle for environmental justice on the Texas Gulf Coast. Hilton Kelley fights for communities living in the shadow of polluting industries in Port Arthur, Texas. Click to learn more.
Since that inspiring ceremony, I have imagined the ways caring and understanding related to ones local environment begins, and how it might evolve into stewardship. Since the awards, my friend Phoenix Smith, an Ecotherapist, shared with me the following Ecosphere Quiz from her class that helped bring home some common gaps in knowledge about the places we call home, and our sources for fundamental natural resources.
What follows is a self-scoring test on basic environmental perception of place. Scoring is done on the honor system, so if you fudge, cheat, or elude, this provides information as well. I hope that for each question you do not know, or are unsure, you are inspired to learn more.
Post your answers to a question you know or don’t know in the comments, and if you’d like, explain the significance of the question or answer to you or your community.
- Where does the water you drink originate?
- How many days until the moon is full (plus or minus a couple of days?)
- What kind of soil is under your home?
- What is the pH of the soil where you live?
- Name five edible plants that indigenous persons from your bioregion used.
- Where does your garbage go?
- How close to you is your food grown?
- What USDA zone do you live in?
- On what day of the year are the shadows the longest where you live?
- Name five trees in your area. Are any of them native? If you can’t name names, describe them.
- Where does your sewage go?
- Name five resident and three migratory birds in your area.
- What percentage of your bioregion is covered with impervious surface?
- What primary geological event/process influenced the land where you live?
- What species have become extinct in your area within the past 200 years?
- What are the major plant-associations in your area?
- From where you are reading this, point west.
- What spring wildflower is consistently among the first to bloom where you live?
- What kind of rocks and minerals are found in your bioregion?
- Can you see the stars at night?
- Name some beings (nonhuman), which share your place.
- Do you celebrate the turning of the summer and winter solstice? If so, how do you celebrate?
- Do you have neighbors that grow food? Do you?
- What plans are there for the coming ecological changes your bioregion?
- What is the largest wilderness area in your bioregion?
This test was adapted from the version appearing in CoEvolution, no. 23 (Winter, 1981)