A couple guys and I got into a discussion about local oak trees. Apparently there are five species on the site we were at. I know some about oaks -- there are two main groups, red (pointy lobed leaves) and white (round lobed leaves). White oak has pale bark. Bur oaks have big acorns almost covered with a spiky cap. Pin oak and red oak are a little more challenging to distinguish. Here at home I have one mature oak tree and several seedlings that I have planted. I've also researched post oak and blackjack, typical of Oklahoma forests, while developing Calliope's home town of Stillwater. So I looked up native trees of Illinois to learn more about oaks.
I also met someone who works with the Embarras Volunteer Stewards. They do things like remove invasive species and collect native seeds from local habitats. Sadly their activities cluster in Saturday mornings before I'm even out of bed, but I am happy to chat with other nature lovers and spread the word about their projects. Here are some of the pest plants -- oh, and kudzu has been found in our area, we learned that at the local nature reserve a while back. O_O If you see something that looks like a soybean vine, kill it quick.
Another long conversation turned up the WannaBe Cafe on Facebook, which covers social and environmental issues, and the Independent Media Center with its WRFU radio broadcasting -- the relevant show runs Thursday nights 7-9 PM at 104.5. You can find podcasts here. We also talked about community rights, related legal supports, and ARCHE - Arts Restoring Culture for Healing Earth. I've been into that kind of activism for decades, but it is just so hard to get people working together across cultural lines. I wish them luck.
Now put down your drink or snack if you have one ...
Our last topic was Earth Anonymous: Adult Children of Dysfunctional Cultures. I laughed my head off. Folks, that is almost everyone on the planet, because even if your family/tribe is sane, the global culture is so very not. I have long studied dysfunctional family dynamics and how to repair the damage thereof. I have compared the government to the bad boyfriend who smacks you around while blowing all the rent money on booze and whores, then throws a tantrum if you try to leave. I've seen plenty of material on rape culture, and how to dismantle social problems like racism. I think this is something a bit different, a higher level -- it's acknowledging that the whole culture is a wreck, like a family can be a wreck in ways that go far beyond one person's substance abuse, hostile communication, mental issues, etc. It's a way to apply tools from other social studies to see if we can make our culture work better. While I'm not a fan of the 12 Steps / Whatever-Anonymous framework, I believe that a support group for survivors of dysfunctional cultures could be a very useful thing indeed.
All in all, I had a great time. I wish that I had more opportunities to do things like this.