A Primer on Collaborate: But Why Am I Hesitant about SDPCA?
March 26, 2021
We have kind of a big decision to make in SDPCA. I can’t elaborate right now but it really challenges me to question this journey I have been on these last two years. Has it been about me? Or has it been about the earth? I thought it was about the earth, but there has been a miraculous amount of self-discovery and growth. And fundamentally I am a pediatrician, and I identify as such. But just like I know we can’t save the earth with just the liberal left, we need our conservative family as well (which is 40% of this country). I also know not just pediatricians can save the earth. We need all specialties. So I will think and talk to my friends and let nature lead the way. I believe the ocean will tell me what to do.
Above is the picture of something I did alone yesterday. It was actually a challenging gardening project because the wind was blowing so much. I was planning on propogating this speckboom plant. I had blogged about it some time ago, and indeed had started to propogate them and to plant them in my guerilla gardening project at the HMO. Since I wrote the original post, I’ll just cut and paste what I wrote before.
The last one is very exciting, as it is Portulacaria the Elephant Bush Succulent Plant. From an Ecosia search “though usually commonly called Elephant Food, another common English name is Porkbush and the Afrikaans name is Spekboom, which translates from two words, ‘spek’ meaning “bacon” and ‘boom’ meaning “tree” as Bacon Tree. The names come from the fact that the leaves are edible, though with a sour flavor. It is widely browsed by wild and domestic animals in Africa and while it is touted as a favorite food of elephants, ostriches and cattle and can even be consumed by humans, it seems to be less palatable to deer and rabbits in our California gardens – go figure. Occasionally this plant is also called “Dwarf Jade”, a name that we think is confusing since this plant is not that closely related to the Jade plant, Crassula ovata. Portulacaria afra has also been used to bind soil to prevent erosion and is noted as a very efficient plant for absorbing atmospheric carbon (CO2) and is described as a “carbon sponge”, using both the more common C-3 pathway for carbon fixation in the photosynthesis process and, when the temperatures rise, also used the Crassulacean Acid Metabolism (CAM) pathway that is found in many other succulents. Because of this use of the two photosynthesis carbon pathways, this plant has garnered some amount of attention in South Africa’s social media with a byline “The Spekboom Challenge”, which encourages people to plant it as a natural carbon sequestration method to combat the country’s carbon emissions, but while this plant is pretty amazing for its ability to switch carbon pathways and sequester carbon in it dry natural environment, there is more carbon emitted into the atmosphere in South Africa than could be offset by restoring the original range of Portulacaria afra (more than 4 million acres) and the science also does not support the wholesale mass planting of it elsewhere, particularly if replacing plants in other biomes with solid stands of Portulacaria afra as a strategy to combat rising atmospheric carbon levels.” https://www.smgrowers.com/products/plants/plantdisplay.asp?plant_id=1314
Anyway, I got tired of watching the spekboom little pieces try to grow. They are, but I had this large plant I purchased for about $20 at Home Depot or was it Loews? I really wanted to try to transplant some of the amazing compost we are making in the Aerobin 400. So I used the opportunity yesterday to transplant the entire $20 spekboom plant and surround it with compost. I reused a very stiff plastic dried noddle bag from the Korean market. It’s kind of a smallish elongated bag that otherwise we wouldn’t use for much. I saw it and thought, PERFECT to transport compost. The compost as it should has lots of bugs. Glorious bugs! There is an insect apocolypse so you need bugs. So yesterday up in the windy HMO parking garage area I planted. The soil in this particular planter was very dry, not the brownie like consistency that living soil is supposed to be. There were what looked like mint growing in it. But not healthy. I pulled out the mint or the leaves around some of the area I wanted to plant. I dug as deep as a hole as I could with the plastic salad tongs from Olive Garden (or was it the Chinese place across the clinic?), and I planted the entire $20 spekboom plants and covered it with the loose soil and also my glorious compost. In my work clothes with the wind blowing my hat and pen and various accountrements everywhere, I finally was able to press the plant into the planter and gave it a good squirt of my water bottle. It was so windy up there! But I was determined. The rootball is not quite as deep as I would like, but I’m going to bring more compost to feed that container and protect the rootball more.
For some reason this morning I am remembering how welcomed I was into the climate change and activism space, and how it’s important to make room for friends who want to make a change. In the end, it’s not about us. It’s about the earth. And we need as much help as we can. It’s okay to be proud of what I’ve done and what we as a collective SDPCA group have done. But in the end, it was only possible together. It’s not surprising I’m always thinking someone is laying in wait to pounce on me though! It goes back to the culture of bullying in medicine. Anyway, Look at what I came home to yesterday! LOL. We are working on our issues. LOL.