A Thriving Ecosytem

What does it take for us to thrive?

What comes to mind when you hear the word ecosystem? 

Bark volunteer standing in the middle of a wetland, chartreuse in color on a clear sunny day

Bark volunteer performing a habitat assessment in a wetland on Mt. Hood. 

One of the most common answers for Barkers might be a forest, lush with trees, shrubs, nurse logs, lichens, insects, mushrooms, and wild animals. A slightly less common answer might be our backyard or our neighborhood. Almost no one immediately thinks of their bedroom as an ecosystem, and yet anywhere there is life, there is an ecosystem that helps sustain it. 
 
We are accustomed to reshaping the ecosystems all around us whether we are pruning tree branches, planting ornamental flowers, or trying to keep the ants out of our kitchens. The further away from our immediate environments we go, the harder it becomes to understand ourselves as being part of larger and larger ecological communities. Nonetheless, even the planet itself is one large, complex ecosystem that each individual’s actions help to shape.
 
two Bark volunteers wearing masks shown in dappled forest light with snags all around
Groundtruthing safely in the Pocket Timber Sale!
 
The choices that we make (or do not make) about this region’s forests affect all of us. For some of us, this may be more visceral—watching a special place that has brought us joy and wonder transformed into a pile of slash. For others, it may be more about the streams and creeks whose waters support both our bodies and the hundreds of farms in the region that help to feed us. For others still, it may be decisions made on Mt. Hood that affect our ability, or that of our loved ones, to support ourselves financially. 
 
There are so many ways that these forests support life, wellbeing, and happiness for the people living around them. How can we focus on living and working together in a mutually-supportive collective, a thriving social ecosystem united in protecting what sustains and uplifts us all?
 

Stand United with Bark to Protect our Ecosystem

Because Bark chooses to put resources towards racial equity, many people have asked, “What does that have to do with protecting the forest?” We are committed to fighting oppression and social divisions not just because it is “the right thing to do” or even because we or people we care about are personally affected, but rather because we cannot possibly hope to have a thriving ecological ecosystem without also building a thriving social one. The divisions between each of us from the other and all of us from the environment that sustains us perpetuates a system that continues to move us towards collapse.  

There is a strong temptation to locate these problems somewhere else, in a villainous other. The reality is that we are all part of this ecosystem and the outcomes that it produces. Every moment that we are not actively working to change it is also a moment in which we are complicit in its sweeping inertia. It is up to us to swim against the current and make the change that needs to happen. 

Thank you for your commitment to taking part in a thriving ecosystem, 

     Justice Hager, Bark Outreach Director

P.S. Save the date! Dec 17th—for this year's virtual People’s Forest Forum: Exploring Change! More details to follow.