Plunging into the new year
Plus: Fake snow; the value of good surf; human rights abuses at Rikers; ruining the Vale of Cashmere; on gardening while Black; and more.
My last email of 2021 was about new year’s resolutions and my first of 2022 will be, too.
I’ve resolved to spend at least 30 minutes a day outside, and I’m holding myself accountable/memorializing the feat on Twitter.
I am loving this exercise so far, in part because it does not necessarily involve exercise. I haven’t run (except to jog across a road before the lights change) since New Year’s Eve. I’ve made a long list of different activities I can partake in outside, from walk-run-hike-bike to eat-drink-read-sleep and everything in between, like garden-watercolor-forage-bird. That said, so far I’ve mostly gone on walks, because it’s been too cold to sit and keep still outside right now. But it’s been refreshingly aimless and easy walking.
Most importantly, there’s been more than a few days where I would not have left the house if it wasn’t for this pledge. (My parents are probably LOLing at having to go to these lengths because there’s no avoiding the outdoors when dogs and chickens need to be taken care of, but for city-dwelling cat people, it’s a different story.)
Oh! And I almost forgot. It all started with a chilly plunge into the Atlantic.
I have been collecting links like a squirrel collects nuts since November; we’ll see how many I can include here.
Climate change x outdoor recreation: Nordic skiers and biathletes say crashes and injuries are becoming more common because, with less natural snowfall, they’re competing on manmade snow more frequently, which is icier and more dangerous. [Martha Bellisle for the AP] On the economic value of surfing and how climate change or climate adaptation could change waves forever. [Ana Manero, Alaya Spencer-Cotton, Javier Leon, and Neil Lazarow for The Conversation]
Tourism v. the environment: I swear this story could give you hives. For the past 20 years, an almost-completed hotel built in a Spanish nature preserve has fallen into disrepair and blighted the landscape because the courts have taken too long to decide whether it was legal (it wasn’t) and who should clean up the mess (TBD). If you do start to hyperventilate, best to stop reading before you get to the sentence “Other tourism projects also scar the chiseled coastline of Almería.” [Raphael Minder for The New York Times]
It’s not just overcrowding: Visitation to National Parks has increased 20 percent over the past decade, while funding fell by 14 percent. So the problems caused by overcrowding are at least in part due to a lack of staff and resources to manage those crowds. [Annette McGivney for the Guardian] As always, the best way to avoid crowding is to visit in the off season, as Miles Howard sagely advises in his New England-focused hiking newsletter, Mind the Moss.
“People need to go outside”: Since 1978, the New York City Board of Correction’s minimum standards has stated that people in city custody have a right to an hour of outdoor recreation every day. But that hasn’t been the case since the pandemic began. Detainees and corrections officers say people in custody have gone weeks or months without leaving their housing units. [Jake Offenhartz for WNYC/Gothamist]
“When you’re able to get outside and look at the sky, maybe see the sun, maybe feel the breeze, it makes you feel like okay: ‘I’m not free, but I can dream of being free,’” said Anisah Sabor, a decarceration activist who speaks from personal experience, having been previously jailed on Rikers Island. “Being locked in 24/7, you don’t get those thoughts or feelings. You can’t have those dreams. It takes everything away from you.”
“Learn your garden history”: Six Black gardeners on what growing food and tending the soil means to them. [Stephen Satterfield, Camille T. Dungy, Abra Lee, Ron Finley, Precious Okoyomon, and Siraad Dirshe for The New York Times] Now that you’re feeling inspired, learn how to sow wildflowers this winter (but the time to do this is from November to early January, so hurry!). [Margaret Roach for The New York Times]
For my Brooklyn readers: Apparently the best thing the Prospect Park Alliance and Bill de Blasio could think to do with $40 million dollars is ruin my favorite part of Prospect Park. “A lot of people don’t even know this area exists,” Sue Donoghue, president of the Prospect Park Alliance, told Gothamist, AS IF THAT WAS A BAD THING. “I’ve brought so many people over there for walks and they’ve said, ‘I’ve never even been to this part of the park.’” Yes, lady, that’s the point!!! Also, while I am straight, the Vale of Cashmere is not:
“We’ve definitely had some bad moments”: An account of the youngest-known (21 and 22) calendar-year Triple Crowners. [Faith E. Pinho and Gina Ferazzi for the Los Angeles Times]
Finally, back to new year resolutions: Virginia Sole-Smith explains why your resolution shouldn’t be a diet—not this year, not ever. (I worked as a part-time research assistant for Virginia for the 3+ years that I was freelancing, and can’t recommend her newsletter Burnt Toast enough, for anyone who eats, but especially parents.)
Ok! Believe it or not there are still a few links I didn’t get to or decided to skip (for now) but this email has gone on long enough.
Readers, at some point this year I will want to turn paid subscriptions back on, but I will give everyone notice before I do. Thanks for hanging out and sticking with me! I’m excited for another year together.