Sarah Bergmann speaking at the American Institute of Architects—May 13

From the AIA website:
“Join us for Sarah Bergmann’s presentation on her ongoing look at nature in our time, Pollinator Pathways.

Founded in 2007, the Pollinator Pathway began in Seattle as an evocative civic design project that brought several elements together. By uniting land fragments, it supports the connection of biological life (based on the basic science behind ecological corridors); and by supporting density inside cities, it contributes to walkable cities that produce less sprawl, more ecology in rural areas and less climate change.

The Pollinator Pathway was imagined as a public park, a design challenge, a research project and a large-scale naturalist book about nature in the Anthropocene, or Age of Humans. Through the creation of this project, Bergmann began a broader conversation about nature, one that connects the history of the world to our era of design in the Anthropocene. (It has some affinity to projects such as Paul Salopek’s Out of Eden and Eric Sanderson’s Mannahatta. Sanderson, after discovering an early map of Manhattan, spent ten years reconstructing what Manhattan might have looked like at Hudson’s arrival. In 2013, Salopek embarked on an immersive journalism project that involves a ten year walk across four continents, following the route of humanity’s migration.) The Pollinator Pathway was built along similar lines, but in reverse: it meant creating a nature out of the Anthropocene while seeking to understand the broader implications of civilization-scale design.

The project rose out of the green modernism movement, which dismantled the Western idea that there is a stable state of nature to which we can or must return. It proposed next steps in this global conversation, that in this debate, designing to the best possible outcome for the planet requires not just a better ecological understanding of the relationship among systems, but a paradigm shift in how humanity thinks about our relationship with the planet—one that moves us away from “saving” species and toward becoming a long-term ecological civilization.

The Pollinator Pathway captured public imagination, then met the internet, and for six years, Bergmann wrestled with a runaway project. Learn more about the project and its trajectory in Seattle and globally.”

European colonization and climate

I haven’t posted here in a while (I do more of my communication on Facebook, so please go there for (semi-regular) updates) but I’ve been writing more lately as the global conversation around the Anthropocene is getting increasingly sophisticated every day, and this was too significant not to share here. When I started the Pollinator Pathway, I was interested in looking at all of humanity as an ecosystem, and I was especially focused on how the European narratives of nature have contributed to the Anthropocene, so it is great to see this study.


In the Guardian: “European colonization of Americas killed so many it cooled Earth’s climate” 

The study:

Thomas Cole. View from Mount Holyoke, Northampton, Massachusetts, after a Thunderstorm—The Oxbow. 1836.

The Pollinator Pathway hiring 2018 gardener & community fellow

The Pollinator Pathway seeks a Gardener & Community Fellow to maintain the project in the 2018 season. The position is an estimated 1­-2 day per week position. The successful candidate will be a skilled landscape maintenance professional with a working knowledge of urban planning and design.

Roles and Expertise:

Landscape Maintenance & Planning
● Independently guide and maintain the health of the planted gardens utilizing:
–Advanced gardening skills and a working knowledge of native plants
–Experience preparing soils, planting, weeding, and implementing new garden plans

Community Liaison
● Communicate with existing participants in the project, and engage potential homeowners
● Make recommendations to homeowners in order to ensure overall health of planted areas
● Coordinate volunteer efforts and assist volunteers in planting and maintaining the gardens
● Act as spokesperson for project with university students and community members


● Ability to commit to the minimum hours outlined above in the period of the contract.

● Advanced gardening skills and a working knowledge of native plants
● Experience working with volunteers and community members
● Comfort with speaking to small groups
● Strong interest in urban design, ecology, systems and planning

To apply please send a cover letter and resume to
Applications will be considered on a rolling basis and the position will remain open until filled.

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.


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”


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

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:

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:

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