New Bioregional Mapping Project Takes Shape

What does it mean to be a bioregionalist? On March 19th, 2016, members of the Bioregional Group and other environmental, civic, and political organizations gathered at the First Unitarian Universalist Society at 608 Whitney Avenue, to consider that question through the lens of geography and mapping, which as Fred Cervin would say is one of the essential forms of “bioregional practice.”
Some of the definitions of bioregionalism that emerged: “Knowing our place…desire and necessity to work towards a “sustainable” way of life…rediscovering Earth as it is – interacting with complex, intelligent systems, being in relationship…creating cycles…becoming acquainted with what’s happening…building resilience.”
Specifically how do these definitions relate to the New Haven / Quinnipiac Bioregion?
Ideas that bubbled to the surface captured the beauty and the vulnerabilities of our place: “Watersheds for the three rivers of our harbor…foodsheds…destruction of wetlands and rich coastal habitat…comprehensive solid waste strategy…local businesses and local food…ecology, economics, culture of place…”
Two 24×36″ black-and-white maps were laid out on the table — one of the streets and waterways of the City of New Haven, and the other of the watersheds and topography of the New Haven-Quinnipiac Bioregion.  With these maps serving as the base layers, we overlaid them with tracing paper and began to add layers of our own experience. Bike commutes were drawn in favorite colored pens. Combined Sewage Overflow sites were plotted. Favorite hiking spots, locations of community meeting places, parks, gardens, beaches.
bioregional map
Other maps were referenced, and questions filled the room. We were left with ideas for places to visit, things we want to learn more about, and how others might add their own layers to these maps. We continued to consider how we might create maps that tell stories about our experience with our place. We look forward to seeing where this takes us, and we invite you to join in the exploration.
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Bioregional Group Member Named Finalist for Prestigious Environmental Award

Domingo Medina, longtime Bioregional Group member and composter par excellence, has been selected as a finalist for the Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection’s “Green Circle” Award.

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The Awards ceremony will take place on May 23 in Hartford. Read more.

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Fred Cervin Book Now Available For Online Purchase

“Earth Loyalty and Bioregional Practice: The Collected Writings of Fred Cervin” is now available for purchase online at Amazon and Barnes & Noble. Proceeds from book sales go to support the work of the Bioregional Group.

Earth Loyalty and Bioregional Practice

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Citizen Science Project Update!

Bioregional Group members Lynne Bonnett and Domingo Medina have been working this summer on a citizen science project with community partners including: Yale Peabody Museum’s Afterschool Evolutions Program, the Mercury Research Lab at John Jay College in New York City, and the New Haven Environmental Justice Network

[Yale Peabody Museum’s Afterschool Evolutions program.]

Here is an update from Lynne:

Our moss samples to measure airborne mercury went up on July 1 and came down July 21. Now they are undergoing analysis at the lab in New York City.
Why are we doing this?
1) To determine if there is a geospatial distribution of airborne mercury around the largest point source in New Haven: Greater New Haven Water Pollution Control Authority’s sewage sludge incinerator just next to East Shore Park. Samples were taken at different distances from the incinerator along transects. We expect to observe a distance effect of mercury levels associated with the source of emission.
2) To test if this type of study can be done in urban settings such as New Haven. Given the different potential sources of mercury emissions in an urban environment, we want to see if our instrument with our methodology is sensitive enough to capture airborne mercury and if it can discern a clear spatial pattern of mercury deposition.
Our citizen scientists have been hard at work: constructing poles from PVC pipe, washing sphagnum moss, weighing and putting the moss in hairnets, tying them to poles, digging the hole and putting the pole in the ground!.
New Haven Parks department kindly let us put a pole by the softball fields at East Shore Park for more public outreach. The interns made a sign – “Why are these poles here?”
Next up, trip to NYC for a tour of John Jay College and a visit to the mercury lab where the samples are being analyzed.
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Project Limulus — More Citizen Science In Our Bioregion!

Begun in the 1990s, Project Limulus is a partnership by researchers at Sacred Heart University, the US Fish and Wildlife Service, and citizen scientists, to monitor the population ecology of the eastern horseshoe crab, Limulus Polyphemus, a remarkable species of Marine Arthropod that has been around for 400 million years.

In the late spring, Limulus Polyphemus visits various locations along the Connecticut shoreline to mate. When volunteers find a crab specimen, they carry out scientific measurements and then give the crab a tag to help monitor population and habitat changes over time. Bioregional Group member Aaron Goode has been a volunteer tagger for the last two years. These photos were taken at a tagging expedition last night (June 2, 2015) at Calf Pasture Beach in Norwalk.

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We’ll be talking more about (and hopefully seeing specimens of!) this amazing species on our CT Trails Day walk this Sunday at Sandy Point. Join us!

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West River Watershed Management Plan — Your Help Needed!

The West River Watershed Coalition is developing a watershed management plan for the West River that will outline long-term strategies for improving water quality, restoring habitat, and enhancing recreational access. The second public input-gathering session will be held on May 27 at the Barnard Nature Center.

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Bioregional Group to Help Lead Citizen Science Project

A few months ago Bioregional Group members Lynne Bonnett and Domingo Medina were invited by the Yale Peabody Museum’s EVOLUTIONS Program — an afterschool program for high school students from New Haven and West Haven — to talk about ways to understand and connect with our bioregion.

The relationship between EVOLUTIONS and the Bioregional Group has grown into a summer research project to measure mercury levels in New Haven’s airshed to get a better understanding of what mercury air emissions are like in an urban environment.  Lynne and Domingo are excited to work with the students along with the Mercury Research Lab at John Jay College and the Yale Peabody Museum of Natural History.  It will be a unique opportunity for the students to learn about research projects on an applied environmental justice issue in New Haven and participate in all aspects of the monitoring and data collection process.

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New England Resilience and Transition Network

Recently we attended a gathering of the New England Resilience and Transition Network (or NERTNET) in Keene, New Hampshire. The Bioregional Group was a founding member of NERTNET several years ago because we believe that local resilience-building and regional cooperation go hand in hand.







[Recent NERTNET gathering in Keene, NH.]

Would you or your organization be interested in joining the Network and contributing to its work of fostering regional resilience? Fill out this brief survey.

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Fred Cervin (1940-2013)


We mourn the loss and celebrate the life of Bioregional Group co-founder Fred Cervin, who died last week at the age of 72.
Read obituary.

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Holy Shiitake! Bioregional Mushroom-Growing Project Featured in New Haven Register

Bioregional Group members Domingo Medina and Bobcat Carruthers have been working on a shiitake mushroom-growing project! Read all about it in the New Haven Register

[Photo: New Haven Register.]

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