Retired from NJ Dept of Ag Farmland Preservation Program..WHEW.. where I had to involuntarily put my ecological consciousness (and mental well-being) aside, I am free to focus on continuing my graduate research in Environmental Ethics, Ecopsychology , Environmental Ed and Curriculum Development for Environmental Literacy. Having an interest in the effects of PTSD on the human psyche, my current research explores the healing properties of reconnecting with the natural world or “rewilding” and the unmistakable relief from stress and other maladies as experienced by such simple activities as bird watching, gardening, keeping an aquarium or simply looking out the window at the trees.
I’ve spent 20 years in the field as an ecologist doing site assessments for environmental regulatory compliance and environmental impact statements including resource inventories, habitat assessments, mitigation and mitigation monitoring, etc. One must be able to identify pretty much all of the flora, fauna and geologic features in a wide variety of geographic locations to assess the resource value of any particular ecosystem and the environmental impacts of proposed projects. My work covered five states and many diverse ecosystems both upland and low, specializing in freshwater & coastal wetlands, riparian and tidewater marshes.
However, after so many years of guilt and shame for aiding and abetting engineers and developers who only sought to disturb and destroy otherwise balanced and pristine natural areas, I turned to restoration ecology from the grandest scales to the smallest, taking particular pleasure in designing backyard wildlife habitats for urban gardens. My own small property on the city outskirts has been certified as an Advanced Wildlife Habitat by the National Wildlife Federation and I enjoy the company of bird species that I know have traveled some distance to arrive at my feeders and sit in my trees! I’d like to think that my formal education only enhanced what was already learned during my feral childhood and what I hope to impart to young minds on the verge of this epidemic “Nature Deficit Disorder.”
My field experience was helpful in contributing to my community when I chaired my town’s Environmental Commission and sat on the Planning Board. When large development plans, mostly corporate parks, came in to use up what little open space we had left, the Board turned to me to comment on the landscape plans to make sure they had the 80% native plants the Environmental Commission insisted upon in all major site plans. The Board rejected many site plans only to reschedule the developer’s engineers, planners and attorneys to return with revisions on retention ponds, drainage, goose control, landscaping, tree preservation, etc. Boy, it sure feels GREAT to give back to the community!
Having survived a decade of being targeted at my state job and subjected to extreme workplace bullying, my graduate research delved into the healing properties of the “mind/nature” connection of the human psyche and the biosphere, known as ecopsychology. This new discipline is being studied for it’s potential relief from the effects of PTSD, Anxiety, Attention Deficit Disorder and several other maladies by the American Psychological Association. One of the most recognizable results are the increased productivity in classrooms and even in the work environment. The revival of the “Nature Study Movement” of the late 19th Century as well as the Aesthetics of Nature as a discipline (the Transcendental philosophy of Immanuel Kant in his 1790 “Critique of Judgment”) will be incorporated into the environmental education curriculum I develop and hope to present initially on a local level.
In the meantime, between my other enterprises, I am steadfastly committed to ending Workplace Bullying in New Jersey and have found myself appointed co-coordinator of the ”NJBullyBusters”, a Healthy Workplace Anti-Bullying Legislation Campaign with a bill, S333, that has been re-introduced to the 2012-2013 Senate and Assembly sessions and assigned to the respective Labor Committees. The Bill was first introduced in 2006 and is under revision per our primary sponsor, Senator Linda Greenstein. I am proud to say, I have been invited to actively participate in developing language for the proposed amendments before it is heard in the committees. Our goal is that the Bill will embrace the business community and appeal to its Chamber of Commerce as well as prevent bullying and protect targets. The Bill ultimately should read such that Governor Chris Christie’s enthusiastic vision to encourage industry to our Garden State will be supported by a safe, healthy and most productive workforce. Of the 21 states with Healthy Workplace bills introduced to their legislature, only New Jersey’s bill is active with more than 18 co-sponsors. Hopefully Governor Christie will see this as another feather in New Jersey’s cap as a leader among states with Anti-Bullying legislation.
My personal wish is that we can give this new bill the moniker “Heidi’s Law” named for the unfortunate supervisor tasked with targeting me for the purpose of legal removal one way or another no matter how contrived or damaging. Supervisors ordered to bully employees against their better judgement (ala “A FEW GOOD MEN”) obviously are the indirect targets themselves of narcissistic, Machiavellian employers. Unless they are also psychopathic in nature, any supervisor with even a remotely guilty conscience, would suffer debilitating stress and trauma that could easily lead to suicide or even those increasing instances of bullied bullies ”going postal!” Sometimes it’s necessary to look beyond the obvious circumstances of an unhealthy workplace to find ALL the victims.
Yet I place my hope and faith in God and the balance of Nature (“let Heaven and Nature sing”); in the self-organizing, self-regulating, self-adjusting forces of the seemingly “intelligent” universe, thermodynamics, gravity, LOVE and TRUTH, from which all life emerged, evolved and returns. In the words of the 1960′s generation songstress, Joni Mitchell:
“We are stardust, billion year old carbon,
We are golden, caught in the devil’s bargain,
And we’ve got to get ourselves back to the garden.”
(lyrics from “Woodstock”)
Peace and Blessings to all! ☮❤~ Eileen