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Ecologist questionnaire: how much do you know about where you live?

The Ecologist

1st May, 2004

‘If we could think locally, we would take far better care of things than we do now. The right local questions and answers will be the right global ones. The Amish question, "What will this do for our community?" tends toward the right answer for the world.’ Wendell Berry

1 What species is the nearest tree to your front door?
2 Is it native to your area?
3 How far away is your nearest mobile telephone mast?
4 How many of the items in your house could you make yourself?
5 Where is the nearest source of electrical power to your home?
6 What time did the sun rise this morning?
7 How many days till the moon is next full?
8 How many of the vegetables in your fridge could have been grown within 30 miles at this time of year (the ideal distance according to the National Association of Farmers’ Markets)?
9 From where you are reading this, point north.
10 Name five resident birds in your area.
11 Name five migratory birds in your area.
12 Think of your most expensive possession. How many days would it keep someone living on a dollar a day alive?
13 When was your home built, who built it and where did the material come from?
14 What was on the site before your home was built there?
15 What is the name of the person that cleans your street?
16 What is the origin of your town/village/borough's name?
17 How many generations back in your family can you name an ancestor? And where did they live?
18 What is the source of your tap water at home? And what’s in it?
19 How much water do you use at home each year?
20 When was the last time you borrowed something off a neighbour? And what was it?
21 How many bags of waste do you generate each year?
22 Where does your household waste end up?
23 What is the name of the person that collects your waste?
24 What percentage of that waste could be turned into compost?
25 What is the soil type in your area?
26 Name five edible plants in your region.
27 When are they best to eat?
28 From what direction do winter storms generally approach in your area?
29 What was the total rainfall in your area last year?
30 Where is the nearest bus stop to your house?
31 What spring wildflower is the first to bloom where you live?
32 When does it usually happen?
33 What is the furthest place you have walked to from your home?
34 When did you last talk to your postman/woman? And what is their name?
35 Where is your nearest nuclear power station? When did it last have an accident?
36 If the sea level rises 1 metre over the next 50 years, how much of your home will be submerged?
37 How far from your home is the nearest wilderness?
38 How many people do you know living within 500 metres of you?
39 When you flush the loo, where does the effluent end up?
40 What is your council tax spent on?
41 What was the predominant human activity in your area 100 years ago? 500? 1000?
42 Where is your nearest farmers’ market and when is it held?
43 If money became worthless, how many days at home could you survive?
44 How many constellations can you see from your bedroom window? When did you last look?

If we could think locally, we would take far better care of things than we do now. The right local questions and answers will be the right global ones. The Amish question, “What will this do for our community?" tends toward the right answer for the world.
Wendell Berry, American farmer and essayist

This article first appeared in the Ecologist May 2004

 

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