President's Letters

As published in The Fringed Gentian™.

Spring 2020

Volume 68, No. 1

Dear Friends,
Our thanks to the dedicated employees of the MPRB for their thoughtful responses to our public health emergency. The members of the park board are also tirelessly working to respond to this unprecedented situation. While our heroic health care workers,and health care facilities staff are working to care for those who are ill or injured during this upheaval, others take care of the health and well being of the rest of us. Institutions like the MPRB, the Minnesota DNR, the Three Rivers Parks District, the US Forest Service, US Department of the Interior, countless city and county and other local parks and recreation departments, and public gardens have absorbed the excess energy of home-bound school kids, and provided physical and mental space for those in need of a respite from too much togetherness at home.

These natural resources are necessary for our health, now more than ever. Opportunities to enjoy nature and take exercise outdoors can figure in all of our strategies to maintain health and optimism in the coming months. Minneapolis parks will be a great place to take a moment to remember that life is beautiful, impermanent and to be cherished so long as we can. Please, when you encounter parks workers in the coming weeks, go out of your way to thank them, from a safe distance. They are also helping to save us.

This newsletter carries a beautiful reflection from Garden Curator Susan Wilkins that helps soften the difficult separation from the Garden that we all feel. We also enjoy a lovely piece on the 50th anniversary of dedication of the Martha Crone Shelter. Most of the rest of this Gentian concerns climate change. It is a weighty topic for our little newsletter, but the subject directly impacts the Garden, and so is important for us to consider.

In 1982 one of my professors lectured about how excess carbon in the atmosphere had been altering climate. Background readings for the class described how climate change had been observed for many decades before that. It has been remarkable in recent years for me to hear people deny the reality of climate change as though it is a recent fabrication created for political reasons or for ratings by media.

In early February I went to a Mexican village called Zitácuaro. In the mountains nearby are sites where hundreds of thousands of monarch butterflies from Minnesota and further north spend winters, before setting out again northward.

Monarch on liatris
Last generation Monarch on Blazing Star. Photo G D Bebeau

It will take their descendants four generations to reach Minnesota. Recent instances of excessive cold in those mountains, loss of habitat and forage have resulted in mass die-offs of the butterflies. Each species exists because it fills an important eat-and-be-eaten niche. Species decline amounts to environmental Jenga – we just don’t know which piece when removed will result in a collapse.

I don’t have answers. I am not a climate scientist, but I don’t need to be. I am not a doctor but I do rely on their expertise in obtaining care for myself and my loved ones. I am not an accountant but I do rely on their expertise in keeping the books for my business and preparing my taxes. I am listening to the climate scientists and listening to the answers. In the meantime, I want to believe that keeping my 2010 Prius hybrid instead of replacing it, walking more, flying less, buying less, reusing more, wasting less are meaningful ways I can address climate change on a micro scale, and hope that more people are embracing the changes that could collectively make a difference. I think it helps also to press our leadership to be brave, and to pay attention to the numerous voices voicing concern about climate change reversal and response.

Wishing you peace,
Kathleen Connelly

Back to the top of this letter.

Back to the Spring Newsletter