Wow, I never thought such a milestone would come at any point in my life!
You are currently reading the 100th nature article which typically gets published weekly for The NOTL Local.
The first thought that comes to mind at my desk this morning is how grateful I am for a paper that features a consistent environmental column. That’s rare, and I don’t believe any other paper in the whole of Niagara Region offers such a feature. The significance lies in the fact that if we create space for conversation, about anything for that matter, there is hope for profound influence and inspiration on something important.
Regarding nature itself, I’ve previously touched on how it is essential to all of us. Nobody escapes this fact of life. One of the metrics that sincerely interests me includes human attitude toward nature. Our attitude toward something often describes our relationship with it. There is celebration, appreciation, love, indifference, ignorance, and other human feelings we harbour toward the natural world. The fascinating part about nature as a whole is that biologists need it for their job as much as developers need it to put food on their plates.
So, where do all of the article ideas come from? And, how have I managed to not step on my own toes by writing about the same thing twice? Thankfully, I feel like I walk into a superstore when I sit at my desk every week. I look up and down all the “aisles” and assess what is relevant or interesting.
In one aisle, you have local wildlife and hidden natural features to educate people about. A straight up Bill Nye kind of lesson about salamanders or nationally rare trees. In the next aisle, there could be some riveting environmental news that I believe requires further comment or investigation, such as when the provincial government snuck in seriously concerning conservation changes under the disguise of a COVID recovery bill.
Another aisle over, I can shop for ideas that have come from my own personal experiences and adventures, whether they took place here in Niagara as a weekend warrior, or perhaps reflecting on trekking through the Amazon, and how a place that far away actually has similarities to here in Niagara. Sometimes, there is an aisle I visit where I can pull something more philosophical off the shelves, such as an article that challenges you to think about nature as a whole.
Other times, I have no clue what I’m going to write about. I will just sit at the desk, sip whatever I’m sipping, and start writing. Providing it’s about nature and can have some relevance to our town, the writing seems to come like the rush of the Niagara River itself.
The pandemic era has given me, and all of us, lots to chew on. Many of my articles were a reflection of modern events that pertained to, again, our relationship with nature. Arguably, that conversation has been pushed to the forefront more than at any other time in our lives. Every trail system in Niagara is now packed in seasons and types of weather that would normally keep most people home. The accessibility and regulation of nature is changing. The phenomenon of Niagara and the Greater Toronto Area discovering their own green backyard has been fascinating, beautiful, and painful to watch all at once.
That’s how I get my ideas. I like to imagine myself pulling back from the earth, as an omnipotent outsider, or a different species entirely, who simply watches, observes, and reports.
I try my best to make you, the reader, think about nature in new and exploratory ways. I try to challenge decision-makers and politicians, who I know are reading this right now, to do the right thing when it comes to protecting our fragile biodiversity. I don’t enjoy being a thorn in the side, but sometimes, I politely have to.
I also hope to have parents reading this who will say, “You know what? We should take the kids outside more often.”
Speaking strictly for myself, my greatest challenge, which I love, is to inspire both sides of the coin, and to find new avenues to get to a greater variety of people.
The comments from the public are inspiring to me. I write for you, the reader, in a town I care about very much. You inspire my work when I get feedback by mail, email, or even on the streets or in the local grocery store.
Thank you for your readership, and to all in this town who also want to see our natural world in a healthy light. Here’s to 100 more articles!
Thank you, Owen, from The Local, for sharing your knowledge and your thoughts, and for opening our eyes, and hopefully those of future generations, to the beauty around us and the importance of looking after it.