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Trees, Bees & Art Activism

If a tree falls in the woods, and no one hears it... did it really happen?

You've heard this 1000 times, I'm sure. Well, a lot of trees have been falling in these here woods and while you haven't heard much from me lately, it's all still happening. Let me catch you up.

Twelve beehives did very well this year -- two harvests: a small spring harvest of platinum honey and a robust summer harvest totaling about 250 pounds. If you are part of the famed CSB, you are either lapping up your honey (you know who you are) or you are patiently (or not so patiently) awaiting your delivery. It's coming, I promise. You have heard me say it before, but the TO is the most challenging part of farm-TO-table. It's coming.

The honey is not the only part of Catskill Mountain Honey's modus operandi. Throughout the year, on your behalf, I participate in bi-weekly calls with the Natural Resources Defense Council's (NRDC) pollinator team out of Chicago. The team includes us (CMH), the Sierra Club, Friends of the Earth, Catskill Mountainkeeper, Audubon and some others. The group is laser-focused on the opportunity for New York State to lead the nation in pollinator protections. Specifically, the group coordinates efforts around promoting the Birds and the Bees Protection Act, currently up for consideration, which, in short, aims to ban pesticides (neonics) that are harmful to bees, birds and human health. There's a lot to say here, but what I am most impressed with is the dedication of the group to ensuring that the legislation proposed is rational, practical and reflective of the latest research. I am happy to share more if you are interested (just ask).

In the spring, in support of the Birds and Bees Protection Act, CMH launched a petition to encourage the reintroduction of the bill. You signed. It worked. Next CMH reached out to every single decision maker in Albany -- in the Assembly and Senate -- who sits on an environmental conservation committee or an agricultural committee, plus some other leaders. In this case "reached out" means multiple calls and a letter to each siting our support for the bill. While we, CMH, are small, nearly every call I made resulted in a real conversation and apparent concern for the issue. Related or not, many new sponsors joined the cause in both houses. Awesome. Ultimately, it did not pass (but other good climate-related legislation did) and it is up for consideration this legislative session (which begins in January).

So, now what? This is the most important part. Last spring, an artist named Matthew Willey (The Good of the Hive) reached out to me (from his home in NC) to see if we could collaborate on something. Matt is on a mission to paint 50,000 honeybees in murals across the world. He's at around 5,000 now and counting. He's not just a painter, but a community magnet and art activist who loves to engage with his viewers as he paints murals live. If you ask him a question, he will hop off his ladder and chat with you about the connection of bees and their community with you and yours. Not just the pollinator part, but the idea of all of us working together to serve not only ourselves, but our communities too. He's the real deal and impossible not to adore.

Coincidentally, Matt was commissioned to create a mural in Narrowsburg, NY (near-ish to CMH) and, believe it or not, is moving there in January. If you haven't seen it yet, it's on the side of the Post Office on Main Street. Amazing. (also above...)

So, as an idea of how we might collaborate, I proposed that the NRDC pollinator task force consider a Good of the Hive mural in Albany, during the legislative session, to get attention for the Birds and Bees Protection Act and, as of yesterday, IT IS HAPPENING!! (Thanks to Catskill Mountainkeeper for handling the permitting and outreach!) Now, usually, Matt paints for 3 weeks and communities get to see the mural unfold. But this is ALBANY. This is GOVERNMENT. This is IN THE LEGISLATIVE BUILDING. So, we are getting CREATIVE! Matt will do some pre-work from a makeshift studio in his new hometown of Narrowsburg and will complete the mural on site during a three-day period from Tuesday, January 21 to Thursday, January 23! We will be making a big buzz for the bill, working with the bill sponsors, hosting a lobby day and working to get press for the issue.

Oh, what's that? You want to help? You want to know what you can do? I thought you might ask!! Here's a list:

1) You can contribute to the Good of the Hive mural project in Albany. All proceeds go directly to the artist and make the mural happen. Please, please contribute. A little. A lot. You can make your donation via Catskill Mountainkeeper, where we have set up a special fund. I will have a link next week.

2) You can come to Albany. I will be there. Matt will be there. Lobbyists will be there. You will see government in action. It will be fun and crazy and really helpful. Save the dates.

3) Do you know any major or minor press outlets you can invite to cover the story? Are you good at social media... we will be buzzing about it all January... and can always use help to spread the word!

4) We will have some ways for you and any children you know (or anyone in New York State, for that matter) to participate in a community representation kinda way. It will likely involve some creativity and sending your creation to Albany (like a bee picture to add to the mural). More on that later.

5) There's always the calling and writing part. It's pretty easy. I will give you all the deets in the New Year about who to call, what to say and when to do it. Anyone want to host a calling and writing party?

You will hear more about all of this. Thank you for being a part of Catskill Mountain Honey. I hope you are happy with your honey if you are a CSB member (what a ton this year, no?). If you are not a member, I hope you are psyched that we have been able to keep the bees thriving and foraging, despite myriad challenges. And I hope your are all really psyched that we have been able to make a lot of progress on the OTHER part of Catskill Mountain Honey -- the bigger picture: working to keep our bees safe and healthy.

Trees falling everywhere. And this is just the bees part. More soon.

XOXO Farm Girl

#catskillmountainhoney #communitysupportedbees #csb #thegoodofthehive #savethebees #birdsandbeesprotectionact #artactivism

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