After (and during) my trip to the Desert Botanical Garden, in Phoenix, Arizona, I borrowed cell phones wherever I could to get in touch with my ride to Tucson, Levi from the Society for Ecological Restoration (SER). The group is headquartered in Tucson, but Levi was at a conference in Phoenix and offered me a ride to the gateway to Sonora. SER is an interesting group in an emerging field, part scientific publisher, part trade guild, with ambitions to become a central communications hub. The last part started with the RESTORE email newsletter, to which members can post news and opportunities in ecological restoration. SER also operates the fledgling Global Restoration Network (GRN), which they are trying to build into a much-needed social network for restoration practicioners and other restoration-minded people.
Levi's job as Case Studies Coordinator for the GRN is to find, catalogue and document examples of restoration projects, which would make him extremely relevant to someone who is trying to visit and document examples of restoration projects. If I could ever get a hold of him. After leaving messages from multiple borrowed phones, I left him one final message from Annie´s phone while eating at a delicious vegan restaurant with her unexpectedly vegetarian housemate (note: if a vegetarian male doesn't look or dress at all like a hippie, he might be from Austin). We went on with the night, and I pretty much expected that I would have to find some alternate, and decidedly less awesome, way to get myself to Tucson.
I woke up the next morning to a phone call on Annie's phone. It was Levi, who had gotten all my messages but had fallen victim to my knack for bad timing, getting every one of my calls during a meeting, speech or meal. An hour later, after a very grateful goodbye to Annie, we were on the road, and talking about all sorts of awesome restoration and permaculture projects. Levi orginally got into this stuff through anthropology, so he knows a lot about what restoration folks call "traditional ecological knowlege." Otherwise known as ecological common sense, its an element that is often missing in both Western culture and Western science.
I nerdily started writing stuff down, and as we drove through the Arizona desert we started talking about all the interesting stuff that goes on in Arizona, like ArcoSanti and Biosphere 2. When I mentioned the latter, Levi casually remarked that we would be passing by a few miles from the site where 8 people attempted to seal themselves in a closed ecosystem for two years. I couldn't control myself. I immediately turned to him and said, in the voice of a small child near disneyland, "Can we go see it?"