Brenda Cooper

Archive for the 'Essays' Category

Backing into Eden Chapter 13: GMO Plants

Backing into Eden is not about how we are going back to the garden, but rather about how we need to re-approach the garden of the Earth armed with all we have learned and to actively care for what wildness and what nature we have left.  It’s about how we need to take responsibility.  That […]

Backing into Eden Chapter 12: Climate Whispering

Our front yard is different than our back yard.  The front is sunny and bright and grows flowers and moss-free grass.  The back is partly shaded and often five degrees cooler. The two spaces have different micro-climates.  This isn’t new science. Thomas Jefferson understood it.  When he gardened at Monticello, he planted grapes on a […]

Backing into Eden Chapter 11: Invasion and Migration

Almost every summer weekend, there are programs in the local parks where volunteers gather to remove invasive blackberries and plant native plants.  It’s a tough fight – the invasive berries are tall and thick-caned and full of stickers.  Volunteers sometime emerge with torn long-sleeved shorts and red rivulets of blood on their arms.  At least […]

Backing into Eden – Chapter 10 – The Elephant Angels

I’m irked at how many elephants we’re losing to the ivory trade.  They are one of the most intelligent of animals, often ranked alongside dolphins. Elephants are beloved.  They show up early in our lives, as the a common expression of the letter “e” in board books for babies.  They are the central exhibit in […]

Backing into Eden chapter 9 – Global Will

Every May, a force for conservation holds an awards breakfast. ForTerra fills a huge auditorium in the Seattle Convention center with a broad assortment of northwest people.  There are elected officials and people who want to be elected officials.  There are suited-up businessmen and women, and retired dowagers in pearls.   There are teenagers and indigenous […]

Backing into Eden Chapter 6 – What we know about the animals

When I was a child my parents loved to sail.  We travelled from the California coast to Catalina Island on weekends, and I remember one specific trip back when the waters were full of bioluminescence. Dolphins surrounded us, jumping alongside the boat in playful streaks of light.  They might have been fairies from another world. […]

Backing in Eden: Chapter 5 – Big Data

I write in the evenings and in the early mornings.  During the day, I’m a Chief Information Officer.  In my case, that means I’m responsible for the data and information systems for the City of Kirkland, Washington, in the USA.  The topic of the year for people in my business has moved from “cloud” to […]

Backing into Eden: Chapter 4 – Tools for Gardening a World

In previous essays I’ve covered the idea that we have decided to own almost all of the land on the Earth, and thus we have taken both individual and collective responsibility.  I’ve also discussed the many ways we already choose what happens on most of the land, from growing crops and livestock to living and […]

Backing into Eden: Chapter 3 – The Hopeless Voice

A woman came up to me after I gave a talk about the future and said “It’s nice that you say positive things to make us feel better, but you know there isn’t any hope, right?”  I’ve heard similar things after almost every talk.  Usually from one person, sometimes a few more.  Crushed words.  Sadness.  […]

Backing into Eden: Chapter 2 – The Beasts of the Field

Occasionally during meetings one of my staff – an avid birder – will elbow me and I’ll look up and glimpse a bald eagle.  Each time, I am in awe.  I live in Washington State, which is home to a plethora of eagles, where pods of Orca ply the waters near the San Juan Islands, […]