Plant Trees SF Events 2011 Archive: 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016 2017 2018

Event

 
1.   Plants for sunny slopes, talk at San Carlos Library Feb 3
2.   Sophie Webb exhibits marine mammal and bird plates, Berkeley Feb 3
3.   Green cities with "waste" water, Feb 7 in Albany
4.   Life, a cosmic story; molecules of redwoods connected to all other organisms on Earth
5.   Heisenberg, Pauli, Schrodinger, Bohr, Einstein don't hold any terrors for migrating birds; amazing creatures
6.   Glen Canyon trail walk Feb 5, 10 am
7.   Feedback:  miner's lettuce, Cargill
8.   Food fight: controversy anew over live-animal markets
9.   Small poultry farmers grapple with lack of slaughterhouses
10. Oakland Black Farm looking for urban backyard land in East Bay
11. Response to birder questioning if there were a "theory" on why screech owls died off in SF
12. IRS grapples with tax-exempt religious organizations
13. U2's rock-star guitarist "The Edge" is proposing to build five houses on ridge overlooking Malibu
14. CNPS Children's Curriculum now available
15. Why Chilies are Hot: The Evolutionary Ecology on a Major Spice, Monterey Feb 12
16. Scientific American potpourri
17. Now showing, one of sky's most beautiful asterism, the Pleiades.  Inspires poetry and mysterious legends
18. A very sad story:  Losing sight of the Sun


1.   Plants for Sunny Slopes, a talk by Ken Himes. 
Thursday, Feb 3, 7-8:30pm:
San Carlos Library
Do you have a south-facing sunny slope where countless showy non-natives have perished? Did you know that nature has created an entire community of plants that thrive in such an exposure? Let Ken Himes show you which plants naturally do well on sunny slopes, using examples from nearby  Edgewood County Park. (What’s more, join him for a hike through that very same plant community on Sat, Feb 5.) San Carlos Library, 610 Elm Street, San Carlos. 650-591-0341x237.

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2.  Sophie Webb: Artist Reception & Book Signing
When: Thursday, Feb 3, 2011 at 7pm
Where: Bone Room, 1573 Solano Avenue, Berkeley
Description: There will be an artist reception for Sophie Webb that exhibits the beautiful marine mammal and bird plates from her new book: "Marine Mammals of the Pacific Coast" (University of California Press). Sophie and her co-author Sarah Allen will sign books after a short talk before the reception. The art will be displayed for the month of February.
 
View Sophie’s art at http://www.sophiewebb.com/
More about the Bone room event: http://www.boneroompresents.com/eventcalendar.html

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3.  Monday, Feb. 7 -– Greening cities with “waste” water
 
If life give you lemons, make lemonade! Monday, Feb. 7, 7-9 PM at Albany Community Center, 1249 Marin, enjoy two slide shows on how "problem" urban runoff can instead give us greener, more beautiful homes and cities.

 
John Russell, principal of Watersprout, shows projects that save rainwater and re-use “greywater,” ranging from private homes to Crissy Field Center, Berkeley EdoHouse, and the Sunset Magazine Idea Home. Local architect Sheryl Drinkwater shows new East Bay green roofs, rain gardens, permeable paving, and more -- "low impact development" projects that turn the problem into the solution by imaginatively using the storm runoff that causes pollution, floods, and erosion.

 
Ideas and planting suggestions for home gardens, too! Free and all welcome -- refreshments! For information contact sponsoring Friends of Five Creeks, www.fivecreeks.org,f5creeks@aol.com, 510 848 9358. Preview projects at www.bluegreenbldg.org.

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4.  California Academy of Sciences

Life, a cosmic story

The film begins with a view from below of towering redwood trees in Muir Woods. It then moves up a tree, past a zigzagging ant, and into a single redwood leaf, getting more microscopic as it moves into a redwood cell.

The idea is to show that the molecules of redwoods are connected to all other organisms on Earth, that all of life - however grand or small - evolved from a common ancestor.

Read more: http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2011/01/20/MVL51H4NSP.DTL#ixzz1CjhoXZNB

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5.  And, dear reader, what do you know about quantum mechanics?

Science News

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6.  Dear Friends of Glen Canyon Trails,
 
Please join for an organized trail walk at Glen Canyon. We want to review trail conditions and gather your suggestions for the bond-funded trail renovations.  Come and share your knowledge with us!
 
Saturday, February 5th, 10am-12pm
Meet at the picnic tables adjacent to the playground and the Recreation Center (near the corner of Elk and Chenery Street).
We have a very full agenda and will depart for the trails promptly at 10am, so please arrive by 9:45am.  Wear sturdy shoes, be prepared for rain or shine, and bring water, sun screen, etc.

Project Background:

In 2008, San Francisco voters passed the Clean and Safe Neighborhood Parks Bond, which set aside $5.8 million to renovate Glen Canyon Park and $900,000 for trail work in the Park.

As many of you know, the SF Recreation and Parks Department, along with The Trust for Public Land, is holding a series of community meetings to gather input about how the community uses the trails within the park and what are the priorities for improvements. 

As always, please feel free to contact us directly if you have questions or comments (Alejandra.chiesa@tpl.org, meghan.tiernan@sfgov.org). And check out the project website: http://sfrecpark.org/glenParkProject.aspx

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7.  Feedback

Ian Butler:
> If miner's lettuce disappears I for one will miss it. I fondly remember a picnic at Mori Point where I brought salad dressing and a bottle of wine and prepared a salad for my date and I from the miner's lettuce growing on the ridge. It was a delicious meal with an unbeatable view!

Ted Kipping:
> Jake, Miner's Lettuce is great for vision, being rich in Vitamins A & C.
> Re the Cargill/ RC claim "that the salt evaporation ponds are not part of the Bay", all one needs to do is view them from above as in a Google Earth image: clearly visible are the still extant tidal channels of the salt marsh merely awaiting dike removal to function fully once more. I hope that opponents to creating the future FEMA Super Fund site of filled-in wetlands need only point out this image to tax-hungry obtuse RC officials.

Bernie Choden:
> Thank you for noticing the salt ponds issue.  BCDC is well aware of the illegality of the proposal but will cave in to the developers (as it has with Treasure Island, etc. ) as will the State Lands Commission, the real overseer of the rights of the state for wetlands.  The Arkansas Act of 1850 gave Calif. stewardship of wetlands along with other states forever.  These lands, through federal law, can never be sold even though Hamilton Airbase,  San Francisco (Treasure Island/Hunters Pt.), Alameda Harbor Bay Isles and Cargil (Foster City) have illegally filled and taken fee-simple title to them.  Don't look to J. Brown or W. Brown (lawyer for Alameda H.B.I) to help much less BCDC. Bernie Choden

Burton Meyer:
> Jake:    About Miners Lettuce;  seeds can be purchased from seed catelogues.  It is quite tasty and easy to grow.  If enough people plant it in their yards, some seeds might "escape" and renew the plant in the "wild." 
>
No need to do that, Burton; miner's lettuce produces abundant seed here, so seed is not the problem.  If one wants seed, all one need do is collect along vacant lots, sidewalks, &c--and there is the additional nicety of not changing the local genetic strain, which can sometimes be important.

Seeding is not the problem, it does that very well on its own.  The problem is the aggressiveness of the ehrharta grass and the yellow oxalis, both of which are able to push almost any plant aside.  Any plant?  In time, yes.  Oxalis and ehrharta invade and outcompete smaller plants that are there, even healthy, well-established plants.  Even if some of the plants, such as our native perennial bunchgrasses, are able to live on for many years, they can't re-establish from seed, because the ehrharta and oxalis have usurped the territory and won't permit seedlings to get established.  They can even prevent the seed germination and growth of shrubs and trees, such as oaks--which means that, given enough time (centuries, in the case of oaks), they can eventually cause the demise of shrublands and woodlands!  

These changes take place gradually, thus escaping notice.  Our whole native flora is under threat from these two plants, plus many others that are equally a threat in other types of habitats.  (The ehrharta and oxalis grow along the coastal regions.)  It is a huge problem that in the long term affects human welfare, but our society, hell-bent on making money, providing distraction, and carving for ourselves, is oblivious.  One wonders what people will be thinking in, say, 50 years, by which time the fruits of our neglect will be obvious--and late.

This, by the way, is not just a California problem; it is a worldwide problem.  We pay a heavy price for our biological ignorance and love of money and power.

P.S.  I grow my own supply of miner's lettuce in my backyard, for eating and for producing seed, which I use for various purposes.

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8.  Food fight: Controversy anew over live-animal markets

http://www.capitolweekly.net//article.php?xid=zgm9dnfyidxgmn&done=

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9.
Small poultry farmers grapple with lack of slaughterhouses
There just aren't enough slaughterhouses for small poultry farms in Oregon and other Western states. 
http://www.hcn.org/issues/43.1/small-poultry-farmers-grapple-with-lack-of-slaughterhouses?utm_source=wcn1&utm_medium=email

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10.  Oakland Black Farm looking for urban backyard land in the East Bay for "Biointensive" Mini-Farm

Oakland, CA — January 31st , 2010 —   In 1910 there were over 1 million African American Farmers and now there are fewer than 17,000 in the US*.  Brent Walker hopes to be 17,001.  Brent came to Oakland two years ago to be the Farm Manager for People's Grocery.  Brent decided to pickup the plough in exchange for the football after finishing playing Division One college football for Tennessee state, he then chose planting tomatoes over playing professional rugby in England. He is now looking for some urban or peri-urban land to join the ranks of the urban farmers in the East Bay. 

Brent is looking for anywhere from an 1/8 th of an acre to 2 acres of land in the East Bay. As Brent said “their is nothing sadder than a farmer without land”. He hopes to turn small backyard lawns into blossoming urban "Biointensive" Mini-Farms across the East Bay. Brent hales from Memphis, Tennessee where he played football for Tennessee State and helped run a small moving company. He is a graduate from the UC Santa Cruz Farm and Garden Program and was the farm manager for the People's Grocery Farm. He has also worked with youth in the garden at the West Oakland YMCA and the UCSC School to Farm Program and is now the BEET BOX CSA coordinator for Phat Beets Produce.

Brent aims to make a living selling his produce to both high end restaurants and working more closely with churches to get organic food to the people.  Please contact Brent Walker at 510-418-5270 or max cadji at max@phatbeetsproduce.org with any leads on available land.

Phat Beets Produce aims to create a healthier, more equitable food system in North Oakland by providing affordable access to fresh produce, facilitating youth leadership in health and nutrition education, and connecting small farmers to urban communities via the creation of farm stands, farmers’ markets, and urban youth market gardens.

(*  JS:  There are fewer white farmers also--many fewer.)

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11.  Josiah Clark:
Response to a SF birder upon questioning if there were a "theory" on why screech owls died off in SF.

Birders have more than theories about what happened. Like often happens (with Quail for example) people hear about the disappearance when it happens but it soon fades to a distant memory. Unlike birds on migration, these creatures will not return.

Western Screech Owl was always under-celebrated in SF as there were very few folks who knew they were there. The final stronghold for SF was Inspiration Pt/Tennessee Hollow. They lived in the scattered pines and hunted in the grasslands.
When the trees were slotted to be cut I pleaded with Presidio Natural Resource folks to at least put up nesting boxes (these are cavity nesting owls) in nearby areas. No one seemed to be aware of how rare they were in SF, and apparently no one cared. Out of sight (site) out of mind is the plight of a small elusive owl, or any little known wildlife.
I finally put a box up myself and it was taken down.  The large scale pine removal in efforts to improve the view shed and save the rare Clarkia flower was the primary demise of this final SF and most coastal WSOW population.  The extensive new lighting system at the golf course across the street could not have helped. These owls are easy prey for more generalist Great Horned Owls and even Ravens at dawn. As with many animal extinctions in recent history it is not just one thing that does them in, rather "death by a thousand cuts".  The landscape is now so fragmented, trafficked and lit up it is hard to imagine there is any place left for this species in the city.

In this way "cumulative impacts" though difficult to quantify are the most significant impacts of all.

To be fair this was the last of several small SF populations including at the Oak Woodlands in GGP, where they also disappeared. But as a National Park, supposedly the highest level of natural resource protection in the country and a self proclaimed "laboratory for sustainability"  the Presidio was caught holding the bag. They should have known better and could have done much more.

Of course as a local, I take it all especially personally as I feel they did not listen to my advice when it mattered.

If they had tried even one thing to mitigate the obvious habitat loss for this species when locals alerted them, I would not feel so jipped.... Instead when something was found to be rare, there was no rush to actually implement any change- let's just make a study!   (Studies have not helped quail, screech owls, snowy plovers or anything else. Action is what helps and by and large we know what these actions are.)

Just so with the Quail. If the National Park had followed the widely accepted methods to sustain quail (providing water, food and larger stands of cover) it would be hard to hold them accountable. As it was these, methods were forbidden by higher ups. Rather, they carried on with standard restoration activities where quail lived and labeled it with "Quail Restoration".

To be clear, the folks on the ground working in the Presidio do seem to really care and understand. I have great respect and appreciation for their work.  The problem is their hands are tied, even if they don't know it.
That is why I left the Presidio.

Of course for the higher ups sensitive species are all impediments and liabilities to large building projects. Less-sensitive biodiversity means less hassle for the money grubbers up the "food chain". Indeed the parks increasingly appear to be places of business.
Why not let wildlife that are hard to protect just die off?   Sad but true I fear...

 "Knowing is half the battle" -   G.I. Joe

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12.  God knows
But the IRS doesn’t
Tax-exempt religious organisations

Jan 27th 2011 | NEW YORK | from The Economist PRINT EDITION

“THE constitution does not require the government to exempt churches from federal income taxation or from filing tax and information returns.” The potential implications of this comment, in a report earlier this month by Senator Chuck Grassley of Iowa, are starting to dawn on a large chunk of America’s charitable sector, which has until now taken for granted that it is exempt from tax.

Currently, an estimated 1.8m “churches” are exempted from income tax—as they have been since America created its modern income tax system in 1894—and indeed from the many other reporting requirements imposed by the Internal Revenue Service on secular charities, which have to file IRS form 990 each year detailing their finances. The influential Mr Grassley, who has long championed greater transparency and accountability in the charitable sector, has become increasingly convinced that this privilege is being abused to the tune of many millions of dollars.

Although his report was triggered by tales of televangelists running lucrative things such as recording studios and selling oil and gas under cover of the religious exemption, it highlights a serious regulatory failure at the heart of America’s charitable sector. The 14-point guide which the IRS uses to judge whether an organisation is exempt is open to broad interpretation. There is inconsistency even among prominent evangelistic organisations. Billy Graham, for example, long ago opted not to classify his empire as a church, and thus files a 990, in part because he wanted to encourage other religious charities to be transparent and accountable.

On the other hand, some of America’s biggest charities, such as the Salvation Army and Volunteers of America, which use the bulk of their billions of dollars in revenue to provide social services that might equally be supplied by a secular charity or the public sector, are designated as churches. Thus they need not reveal anything about their finances or their governance, and are largely unaccountable to the public. Senior members of staff, whom they call ministers but who might easily be confused for bureaucrats, can benefit from perks such as the “parsonage allowance”—essentially tax-free money to pay their mortgage.

Before seeking new legislation, Mr Grassley is waiting for religious organisations to respond to his report with proposals to minimise such abuses. Already, a commission has been established by the Evangelical Council for Financial Accountability, which is expected to recommend some significant reforms. Although by raising this issue Mr Grassley is touching what has long been regarded as a “third rail” of American politics, his reward may be a much-needed burst of transparency. Let there be light! 
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13.  From Center for Biological Diversity

U2's rock-star guitarist "The Edge" is proposing to build five houses on Sweetwater Ridge, one of the last undeveloped prominent ridgelines along southern California's Malibu coastline. The Edge's plan would permanently scar the ridgeline overlooking Malibu with houses and over a mile of caisson-supported road. 

The California Coastal Commission's staff report recommends denial of the ill-conceived housing projects because they would be built in an "ecologically significant habitat area" under the Coastal Act. While The Edge has proposed building houses that comply with LEED™ Gold Certification, a green building-certification standard, these houses are clearly not "green" because of the amount of environmental damage that the construction will cause. Protection of this ecologically rich area is essential to the protection of the plants and animals in the Santa Monica Mountains.

Please send your comments today urging the commissioners to support their staff's recommendation to deny these destructive projects.
	Click here to find out more and take action.
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14.  CNPS Children's Curriculum Now Available
Josie Crawford, CNPS Education Director
 
Nature Journaling Curriculum Now Available 
The CNPS children's curriculum-Opening the World through Nature Journaling: Integrating Art, Science and Language Arts, by John Muir Laws and Emily Brueunig- is now available for free download here! This wonderful curriculum teaches children to become keen observers of the natural world through drawing and writing. Later, they employ these skills to assemble a field guide, make treasure maps, and write short stories and poems. These journal activities tie directly into the State of California’s science framework content standards as well as the visual and performing arts framework content standards.  

CNPS Field Guide Project
Imagine if there were field guides for every place you wanted to visit. Imagine if there were local tree, bird, and insect field guides for every watershed, mountain, street, city, and school yard. Then imagine a big map on the web where you could find the field guides of your choice. Finally, imagine that third graders had created many of those field guides! What a wonderful world it would be. 

The CNPS Education Program is excited to announce the launch of our new Field Guide Project. This project uses nature journaling as a springboard to create field guides for local areas that can later be posted on a web-based map for all to see. Schools, Scouts, nature centers, churches, and other groups can use our nature journaling templates to create field guides for areas and subjects of their choice. The children choose the subject focus - be it plants, mammals, rocks, invertebrates, or any other natural subject they are studying or interested in. The program encourages creativity as well as observational and recording accuracy. You don’t need to be a kid to make a field guide! Let’s all make one! The principal idea behind the project is that we get to know the natural history of our neighborhoods whether they are urban, suburban, or rural, and share that knowledge with others. 

Article continued here.










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15.
California Botanical Society Annual Banquet and Meeting
Saturday 12 February 2011
CSU Monterey Bay
Speaker, Joshua Tewksbury, University of Washington, Seattle

Why Chilies are Hot:  The Evolutionary Ecology on a Major Spice

Chilies are consumed by roughly a quarter of the world's population each day, and yet we rarely step back to ask "why be hot?" This simple question, asked from an evolutionary and ecological perspective, exposes a surprisingly complex set of relationships that link wild chili fruits to birds, mammals, seed bugs, ants, and microbes - all consumers of chili fruit.  All of these relationships are changed, to some extent, by fruit chemistry, and in the case of chilies, this chemistry is capsaicinoids, the chemicals that produce pungency, or heat, in the fruits. To answer the question "why chilies are hot?", we have to ask more general questions, such as "Why are so many fruits full of chemicals that make them toxic?" and we have to address the role of fruit chemistry in mediating relationships between fruiting plants and the consumers of fruit - from microbe to mammal.  In the process, we explore the benefits and costs of hot fruit, build a case for balancing selection as an agent maintaining phenotypic diversity, and explore the potential for co-evolution between chilies and their microbial associates.
(JS:  You can also hear a podcast on the subject by Tewksbury at http://www.miller-mccune.com/category/curiouser/)

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16.  Scientific American
NEWS: Diets Low in Omega-3 Linked to Depressive Behavior in Mice
New research shows why some individuals deficient in beneficial fatty acids might be more prone to mood disorders
http://links.email.scientificamerican.com/ctt?kn=34&m=36235645&r=NTM5NzIzNTA1NgS2&b=2&j=OTM2MDc3NDMS1&mt=1&rt=0 

MIND MATTERS: Neurostress: How Stress May Fuel Neurodegenerative Diseases
A life of tension may hasten the onset of Alzheimer's
http://links.email.scientificamerican.com/ctt?kn=35&m=36235645&r=NTM5NzIzNTA1NgS2&b=2&j=OTM2MDc3NDMS1&mt=1&rt=0 

OBSERVATIONS: Aerobic exercise bulks up hippocampus, improving memory in older adults
The new research shows that at least some parts of the brain can be saved from age-related atrophy by relatively modest amounts of activity late in life
http://links.email.scientificamerican.com/ctt?kn=9&m=36235645&r=NTM5NzIzNTA1NgS2&b=2&j=OTM2MDc3NDMS1&mt=1&rt=0 

EARTHTALK: The Link between the Environment and Our Health
Would people care more about the environment if they had a better understanding of how it affects them personally?
http://links.email.scientificamerican.com/ctt?kn=37&m=36235645&r=NTM5NzIzNTA1NgS2&b=2&j=OTM2MDc3NDMS1&mt=1&rt=0 

OBSERVATIONS: Background noise: Elderly drivers might have a brain region to blame for declining driving skills
Older drivers might just be better at perceiving large-scale movement in the background, which could compete with attention paid to smaller objects in the foreground
http://links.email.scientificamerican.com/ctt?kn=17&m=36235645&r=NTM5NzIzNTA1NgS2&b=2&j=OTM2MDc3NDMS1&mt=1&rt=0 

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17.  The Pleiades - a miscellany

(JS:  Apologies for the choppy, disconnected, and overlapping sequencing of these notes about the Pleiades.  

The cluster is easy to spot, even though small and blurry to naked eye.  After dark, Orion and Taurus the Bull [including the Pleiades] are high in the eastern sky, and by 9 pm are at or past the zenith.  The three-star belt of Orion points downward to the sky's brightest star, Sirius, and upward toward the star Aldebaran [the angry red eye of Taurus the Bull] and beyond that the Pleiades, in the bull's shoulder.  You have a straight line from Sirius in southern sky through Orion's belt to Aldebaran, ending at the Pleiades. 

With each increase in binocular or telescopic power you see more stars in the Pleiades, which resembles a little dipper [but it is not the Little Dipper] or, perhaps a grocery cart.  With the naked eye or small binoculars you see six bright stars.  And six is what most ancient observers saw also.  So why has it always been called Seven Sisters in widespread cultures around the world and why the various legends about a missing sister?  There are theories but none have been proven or has gained adherents.  A mystery.)

From Raymond Shubinski in Astronomy, January 2005:
…Because of light pollution, many city-dwellers have problems seeing three or four stars in the Pleiades.  From a dark site, however, observers with good eyesight can spot more than the six stars most people see…it’s odd that ancient skywatchers wrote only six stars were easily visible.  As many acute observers have shown, the nine named stars…can be seen under the right conditions.  Because it’s easiest to see the brightest six stars, several cultures had stories of a “missing” Pleiad.
 
The Kiowa Indians thought one star never made the trip to the sky.  The Greeks had several stories about the hard-to-see sister.  One such story relates that Electra* covered her face at the sight of the beautiful city of Troy burning at the end of the Trojan War.  Merope wed a mortal and hid herself in shame…Some historians suggest ancient peoples had a preference for the number seven, but this still skirts the issue of unrelated cultures telling stories of a missing star…

(*  Considering that it was her father, Agamemnon, who led the Greeks against Troy, and that Electra was really hung up on her father, her lamenting the destruction of Troy doesn't seem convincing.  JS)
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Poetic ending
The Pleiades exerts a special hold over astronomers and poets alike.  Twenty-first-century astronomers continue to learn about the Pleiades, and literature reflects our fascination with this star cluster.  Perhaps Alfred Lord Tennyson penned the most famous lines about these stars in “Locksley Hall”:
 
Many a night I saw the Pleiads,
Rising thro’ the mellow shade,
Glitter like a swarm of fire-flies
Tangled in a silver braid.
 

1 Greek Mythology the seven daughters of the Titan Atlas and the Oceanid Pleione. They were pursued by the hunter Orion until Zeus changed them into a cluster of stars.
2 Astronomy a well-known open cluster of stars in the constellation Taurus. Six (or more) stars are visible to the naked eye but there are actually some five hundred in the cluster, formed very recently in stellar terms. Also called Seven Sisters .
ORIGIN via Latin from Greek.

The Pleiades (Subaru in Japan) is one of the nearest star clusters to Earth…As beautiful as the Pleiades may be to the unaided eye, they come alive in binoculars…The brightest member, Alcyone, is 1,000 times more luminous than our Sun.  Put in the Sun’s place, it would instantly incinerate all life on Earth.  Here’s another thought to ponder.  Most sources place the Pleiades at a distance of about 400 light-years.  Thus, the light you see left this cluster of stars around the time Galileo was mapping them with his telescope.  Glenn Chaple in Astronomy 12/09
 
Music of the Spheres, by Guy Murchie:
…Contrary to most constellations which only appear to be together, like an airplane brushing the moon, the Pleiades are an open cluster of young stars moving as a real unit through space…
 
…it is a strain for a human mind to grasp that the same light we see tonight from these celestial sisters…had already been moving toward us for a century and a half when George Washington was elected the first president of thirteen newly united states.

…Alice Major’s Tales for an Urban Sky (1999) put celestial imagery to work in modern mini-star myths.  Here this Canadian poet reconfigures Pleiades lore:
 
The six sisters shine now in the middle-
class sky zone, on the affluent side of Rigel.
The lost grocery cart is off in another part
Of the sky, too faint in the glare of streetlights
Just another star lost in the crowd.

(JS:  Alice Major's plaint about the six sisters "too faint in the glare of streetlights" should be taken to heart.  With naked eyes you can see the "lost grocery cart", even though city lights do their best to erase them completely.  But on clear nights get out a pair of binoculars and enjoy the ineffable beauty of this little star cluster, surely a favorite of everyone in the northern hemisphere.  As the dictionary says, there are many more than the six sisters, though most of them are fainter than the six.  [Why the asterism is called the seven sisters is a long story, not to go into here.]) 

…Robert Louis Stevenson wrote about the stars in Travels with a Donkey, first published in 1879.  Stevenson said a person “may know all their names and distance and magnitudes, and yet be ignorant of what alone concerns mankind—their serene and gladsome influence on the mind.  The greater part of poetry is about the stars; and justly, for they are themselves the most classical of poets.”

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This song of the waters is audible to every ear, but there is other music in these hills, by no means audible to all…On a still night, when the campfire is low and the Pleiades have climbed over rimrocks, sit quietly and listen…and think hard of everything you have seen and tried to understand.  Then you may hear it—a vast pulsing harmony—its score inscribed in a thousand hills, its notes the lives and deaths of plants and animals, its rhythms spanning the seconds and the centuries.  Aldo Leopold

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18.  LOSING SIGHT OF THE SUN

They may live in the land of the rising sun, but that doesn't mean they know anything about it.

According to a survey...42% of Japanese children believe that the Sun rotates around the Earth, and 30% of children aged 11-14 do not know that it sets in the west.

"Parents and children have fewer opportunities to experience nature, such as watching the sun go down," said an astronomer in the newspaper Asahi Shimbun.

Earlier this year university researchers found that half Japan's primary and secondary school students had never seen a sunrise or sunset.  The poor grasp of scientific fundamentals has been blamed on the increasing number of hours spent watching TV and playing video games.

Guardian Weekly  1-7 Oct 2004 (slightly adapted)

For updates and info, contact scott at planttrees dot org.