Pollinator Pathway in the Stranger

Please pour yourself a drink and enjoy this beautiful series by Stranger writer and resident philosopher Charles Mudede. Note 4 covers the Pollinator Pathway project.

Feature: www.thestranger.com/features/2017/09/13/25407959/its-the-end-of-the-world-and-im-forest-bathing
1: www.thestranger.com/slog/2017/09/14/25415355/tree-bathing-note-1-wood-is-the-greatest-stuff-ever
2: www.thestranger.com/slog/2017/09/15/25417595/tree-bathing-note-2-theres-no-weed-with-a-high-as-trippy-as-the-science-of-leaves
3: www.thestranger.com/slog/2017/09/18/25419949/forest-bathing-note-3-why-a-spaceship-should-be-like-a-forest
4: www.thestranger.com/slog/2017/09/22/25429639/forest-bathing-note-4-why-sarah-bergmann-clashes-with-bee-people

An open letter

I started the Pollinator Pathway ten years ago. It has clearly influenced projects such as the one below, but there’s a lot being lost in translation. I wrote an open letter about it.

-Sarah Bergmann

From: Sarah Bergmann
Date: Tuesday, May 23, 2017
Subject: [Pollinator] Colorado’s designated Interstate 76 as a “Pollinator Highway”
To: pollinator@lists.sonic.net


I’m Sarah Bergmann, founder of the Pollinator Pathway, a design and philosophy project I began ten years ago. I am writing to comment upon the emerging movement of projects such as the pollinator highway mentioned by the Xerces Society on May 12.

A growing number of projects have recently adopted the idea of adding native plants to roads, a model introduced in the 1960s by the Ladybird Johnson Initiative. These initiatives are heartening and well-intended. However, if they are to contribute significantly to the goal of achieving ecological sustainability, these projects must be designed with the broader landscape in mind. If they are not, they will be nothing more than decoration for highways.

Our main goal in creating pathways, highways, or any other sort of corridor filled with native plants, must be to connect larger areas of land suitable for a diversity of species. Only this kind of connectivity has a chance of offsetting the lack of biodiversity that is inherent in large-scale agricultural and suburban sprawl, the two largest uses of land in the developed world. Without such connectivity, our low-diversity landscapes will be extremely vulnerable to climate change, and will lack resilience against all kinds of disturbance.

It is important for us to acknowledge that the goal of connectivity is not automatically achieved by adding plants to roadways. Functional connectivity can only be achieved by designing links between larger landscapes. If we do not work toward connectivity by design, and instead add plants to whatever roadway might accept our well-intentioned efforts, we will end up with nicely ornamented sprawl rather than a truly resilient and sustainable ecosystem.

To solve the large-scale problems of our time, we will need to work collaboratively across disciplines: ecologists, urban planners, designers, political organizers, and members of many other disciplines will need to work together. I’d like to invite you to utilize the Pollinator Pathway and build on its momentum: We have tools for individuals, groups and organizations wanting to design functional connective links between larger landscapes. You can find basic criteria here, and if you are a group or organization who would like further material, please feel free to email info@pollinatorpathway.com.

We have an opportunity and an obligation to design very differently.


Sarah Bergmann
Pollinator Pathway

On Fri, May 12, 2017 at 1:58 PM, Matthew Shepherd wrote:
A nice bit of news: Colorado has designated I-76 as “Colorado Pollinator Highway.”



Link to Resolution: http://leg.colorado.gov/sites/default/files/documents/2017A/bills/2017A_HJR1029_rev.pdf

Resolution designates Interstate 76 as Colorado’s first “Pollinator Highway”

DENVER – Colorado became friendlier to pollinators this week by passing the “Colorado Pollinator Highway” Resolution HJR 1029. The Resolution sponsored by Representative KC Becker and Senator Jerry Sonnenberg passed both the House and Senate unanimously and designates Interstate 76 from the Nebraska state line to Arvada, Colorado. The designation will allow better vegetation management, education and outreach to support pollinator habitat along the roadway.

“Restoring and managing roadsides is vital if we hope to bring back pollinators,” said Jennifer Hopwood of the Xerces Society. “We are delighted that the Colorado Department of Transportation and the State of Colorado are stepping up to help in this important effort.”

Using existing tools and programs, the resolution directs the Colorado Department of Transportation to designate Interstate 76 as the Colorado Pollinator Highway. This allows the department to accept gifts, grants or donations to install signage for public education. The measure will also direct CDOT to coordinate with local governments, willing landowners and other groups to utilize Integrated Roadside Vegetative Management strategies to develop pollinator habitat where appropriate. These efforts have been found to save state transportation agencies money as the maintenance needs of pollinator habitat are very low.

“The designation will advance Colorado efforts to expand and improve habitat on the I-76 transportation corridor emphasizing coordination and outreach. We hope I-76 will become a model for others to follow in our quest to help pollinators and better manage the indigenous plants along our corridors. We admire the decision by our state government to see the need to promote integrated vegetation management by passing this resolution. It will be a privilege to work with I-76 CDOT Maintenance and Operations and the community to implement the intent of the resolution” said Michael Banowich of the Colorado Department of Transportation.

Colorado is home to over 950 native bee species, butterflies and other insect pollinators, all of which are vital to our state’s economy, food security, and environmental health. Nationwide, Honeybee pollination alone adds more than $15 billion in value to our agricultural crops each year, and provides the backbone to ensuring our diets are plentiful and varied. “Unfortunately, pollinator populations have been declining rapidly due to multiple stressors. “Among these stressors is habitat loss and fragmentation and a lack of availability of forage. A diverse and thriving pollinator population supports agriculture and a diverse ecosystem and there are simple tools we can engage to expand pollinator habitat in Colorado,” said Beth Conrey of People and Pollinators Action Network and past president of the Colorado State Beekeepers Association. “One area that provides an ideal opportunity is our state roadways and how we manage them.”

David Julie, Education and Outreach Coordinator for the Colorado Native Plant Society said that, “Colorado’s bounty of native wildflowers supports and depends upon healthy, diverse populations of animal pollinators. The Colorado Native Plant Society appreciates that this resolution highlights the essential role of pollinators and the need to protect them.”

Thank you!

Thank you, so much, to all of you who gave to the Pollinator Pathway this year. I’m incredibly grateful for your investment in this project. Your support of our Landscape and Community Fellow helps make sure that the Pollinator Pathway remains a beautiful design project throughout the summer months. We could not do this without your help—it makes all the difference for the project.
Enormous thanks to the donors of the Pollinator Pathway 2017 GiveBig campaign:
Josh Ayala
Peter Baillargeon
Jan Bultmann
Ian Butcher
Ashley Chapman
Alice Cunningham
Donald Bergmann
Douglas Einck
Edmund Freeman
Laura Friend
Karen Ganz
Dylan Glosecki
Heather Grube
Veronica Heath
Dianne Kelso
Jake LaBarre
Cathi Lamoreux
Daniel Loewenstein
Sharon Mann
Gerald Miller
Kristina Moravec
Paul and Barbara Morse, in memory of Michael Pedalino
William A. Nicholls
Joan Poor
Kathryn Rathke
Sally Sheck
Jude Siddall and Gary Romain
Michael Smith
Kari Somerton
Elaine Thompson and Joy Haertig
Sarah Bergmann


Hello friends!

The Pollinator Pathway project is participating in GiveBIG this week—on Wednesday, May 10! If you love this project, and want to support it, this is an excellent way to do so.
This year, you can also give early: https://www.givebigseattle.org/we-love-the-Pollinator-Pathway

Your funds help us continue our Landscape and Community Fellow position for 2017’s summer months. I sincerely appreciate your support of this project.

Best wishes,

Sarah Bergmann
The Pollinator Pathway

Happy autumn, friends.

I did my early research on The Pollinator Pathway at the New York Public Library back in 2007. It is one of my favorite buildings in the United States. I’m in NYC for a couple weeks, so naturally I am gravitating here again. Autumn is for reading and writing.

On that note, here is a piece that you may appreciate (Extinction, by Ashley Dawson): https://blog.longreads.com/2016/08/04/mass-extinction-the-early-years/

-Sarah Bergmann


From Atlas Obscura: One Woman’s Campaign Against America’s Bee Fixation

This is must-read story about the Pollinator Pathway from Atlas Obscura.
This piece does excellent work in taking down the save-the-honeybee story a notch or two, and helping explain how it came into being. I want to make one thing very clear, though: the Pollinator Pathway is not a farm project. It is an ecology and design project. Think of it like a counter-landscape to domesticated systems.
More broadly, though (and, as the article touches on, I’ve had little opportunity to talk about this with a honeybee-obsessed press) the Pollinator Pathway is a project about long time, the Anthropocene, systems, design, social organization, and the future of nature. I started this project in 2007 in order to bring about the idea that we are now a major ecosystem—and that we need to design a different sort of relationship between ourselves and the planet.


-Sarah Bergmann

What the “White Man’s Fly” Tells Us About Intelligent Design

Charles Mudede from The Stranger wrote this wonderful piece about the Pollinator Pathway.

“The thing I better grasped when reading for the third time James Shapiro’s difficult but stimulating little book Evolution: A View from the 21st Century is that life is profoundly intelligent. Meaning, intelligence is not only found in the heads of humans, but also in the roots and leaves of trees, and the movements of microorganisms, and even the inner workings or the most basic units of life. One can go as far as to say that the key feature of life is conscious action. Put another way: life always makes decisions. And not just life as a form, but also its processes. “Life requires cognition at all levels,” writes Shapiro.”

“The Pollinator Pathway presents a way to design pollinators to provide services not to just humans but to many other forms of life that also have needs. This makes sense because we now live in the Anthropocene, the age of humans. Our long-term survival depends on reintegrating human wants (and waste) with other life processes. Pollinator Pathway is designed to reverse what certain environmentally minded Marxists call metabolic rift.”