ARMN Volunteers Share Expertise at February Mini-symposium

By Julie Speers

Many of our ARMN volunteers have a great depth of knowledge and enthusiasm for special areas of interest.  On February 27, 2012, following the ARMN Chapter meeting, four Master Naturalists–David Garcia, Leigh Pickering, Darcy Reid, and Trevor Self–shared their passions at a mini-symposium.

David Garcia shared a discovery he made during his studies regarding the concept of deep ecology and earth transformation. He pointed out that we are in the midst of the sixth mass extinction of species, and what makes this one different from those that have preceded it is that human beings are a primary cause in addition to climate change.  The combination of the two forces means that species may not be able to evolve into the more complex organisms to successfully adapt to a rapidly changing environment. Rapid change is deceptive with the bulk of change occurring in an exponential fashion.  The consequences of the change may not be noticed until it is far too late to do anything about them.

Leigh Pickering made storing and collecting rainwater a matter of art as well as utility in a beautiful and informative presentation focusing on preserving and using rainwater in the garden.  She showed a striking collection of rainwater collection devices and ornamental storage containers. She explained the path of rainwater passing through a typical Arlington yard and where it would end up, balancing art with sobering science.

Darcy Reid had impeccable timing in following Leigh’s presentation on water collection with a how to “re-wild” our yards following sustainable garden practices. Many species of native plants, placed correctly in our yards in lieu of the customary turf grass, provide a welcome haven for wildlife, help recharge aquifers by collecting stormwater runoff, and save both energy and money over the long term.

From planet Earth to water and garden, it seemed natural when Trevor Self used his expertise in organization science to present “A Dangerously Oversimplified Primer in Influencing Attitudes.” A lot of discussion followed Trevor’s presentation on how to successfully influence people. A few important points to bear in mind when talking to those you wish to influence are:  avoid absolutes that make people defensive and unwilling to change their minds (let alone listen to you); people spend more energy avoiding harm than seeking out positives, so couch your position as a way to avoid rather than to gain something; and relate the change you’d like people to consider to something consistent with their probable values and self image. Finally, in a dangerously over-simplified conclusion, when you are given a reason why a person won’t change, remember that it may not be the real reason but rather a convenient excuse.

Thank you, David Garcia, Leigh Pickering, Darcy Reid, and Trevor Self, for your inspiring and informative presentations!