TED Conversations

Ricardo Williams

Media Director, IDEAS For Us, Inc.

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How are you helping your local community?

I am an ambassador of "I.D.E.A.S. For Us", a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization and accredited NGO of the United Nations, advancing sustainability and solving environmental problems through youth-led action at universities, K-12 schools and communities around the World.

Recently we started a new project called "The Hive". Its a think (and do) tank aimed at addressing Global challenges through local solutions to advance sustainability. Our first Hive has started in Orlando, Florida, but this is a community initiative that we plan to spread to many other cities in the hopes of conquering the five pillars of sustainability: ecology, food, waste, water, and energy.

So my questions to the TED community is... Are you an environmentalist? Do you care about sustaining your community (as well as the world)? And if so, what steps have taken to do so? ... Or maybe you have some IDEAS for us?

And.... GO!


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    Jun 28 2013: We tend to focus on the overwhelming challenges that face us on a global scale. That can lead to the perceived condition of helplessness. It's difficult to know what actions you take have any value or impact, like a mosquito on the back of an elephant. As my hero E. O. Wilson from Harvard might say, look to the little things. I've learned since moving to the desert that Ants are responsible for consuming something in the vicinity of 80% of the grass and other seeds in the ecosystem of the Sonoran desert. Their nest entrances by the millions are spread across the landscape as if a vacuum cleaner made 3' circles every 10'-20' I have watched them climb 20' up to consume even the seeds in a string of ornamental peppers hanging on the patio. The point is, thinking small "sometimes" can help you cope, and not be overwhelmed. I dug up all the alien imported Bermuda grass in my yard and planted all native desert plants. My water consumption plummeted from thousands of gallons per month to a trickle of perhaps a few hundred gallons, I save a ton of money every month, and my yard looks like the popes botanical garden for Pete's sake. People can't believe the beauty of it, or that my water bill is so low. I recently counted 34 species of birds, 4 species of reptiles,five species of mammals, and lets not even try to count the species of insects,bacteria and fungi all thriving in my little yard just from the single act of converting to native desert landscape. This single act made a huge impact on the survival of rare and threatened species." Think globally, act locally" as they say, "sometimes" thinking small can create huge impact.
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      Jul 3 2013: Peter,
      I totally agree with your suggestion that thinking small sometimes can help us cope and not be overwhelmed. I truly believe this is a concept that keeps many people from doing small things that can contribute. When lots of people do even small things, the impact can be HUGE!

      I LOVE your comparison with ants. What can one little ant do? A LOT when there are thousands of them working toward the same goal!!! What can one little person do? Some folks think their contribution is so small that it does not make a difference, so they do nothing. BUT, just like the ants, we can do A LOT when we work toward the same goal! AND it feels less overwhelming when we know lots of other people are doing their part as well:>)
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          Jul 3 2013: Thank you Peter,

          Nature, gardens and TED conversations are all wonderful:>)
          You are preaching to the choir my friend......how about a photo stroll through my gardens....over 500 verities of perennials, herbs, fruits, veggies, water gardens, tropicals, etc......enjoy:>)
          http://smugdud.smugmug.com/Quintessential%20Vermont )
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          Jul 3 2013: LOLOLOLOL:>)

          Dear Peter,
          No problem, I am full of it too, and also get pumped up and excited about gardening! I have created and supplied MANY garden addicts...LOL

          I am master of nothing, but simply work/play with mother nature, and I agree with everything you wrote in the previous comment....apparently, we are singing in the same choir....I LOVE it:>)
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        Jul 4 2013: Quick question, Colleen. Are these gardens all your yard, or do these magnificent photos include the gardens you maintain for neighbors who then trade firewood and game in thanks?

        Second, did you grow up in a family of gardening enthusiasts from whom you learned?
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          Jul 4 2013: The photos are only the gardens in my yard Fritzie:>)

          My parents had a HUGE vegetable garden (had to feed 8 kids), and some flower gardens...I learned a lot from my mom.

          Most of my siblings have had gardens.....a couple of them never were enthusiastic about gardening. I seem to be the only garden addict in the family! My brothers helped me a lot with building the ponds, and other tasks in the gardens.
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        Jul 4 2013: What a gift from your mother to you! I was confused only because, like many of us living in cities, I am not used to yards/lots of this size. Though I grew up always in rental apartments, we often had fruit trees- peaches, figs, and avocado.
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          Jul 4 2013: She gave me many gifts Fritzie, including a love and respect for our environment, and knowledge about how it sustains us.

          The space I occupy is only 7/10 of an acre, and for Vermont, that is small, but we can put a LOT of growth in small spaces:>)

          Nice to hear that you had fruit trees....I assume potted?
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        Jul 4 2013: No, no pots. I grew up in Southern California, so these trees once planted just "did their thing." The only maintenance was watering them and gathering lots of fallen fruit at various stages. Avocado trees for some reason drop lots of little avocados that never make it to ripe, and the figs just dropped in great numbers if they were not picked fast enough.

        My mother loved gardens and did most of the watering. She kept potted plants of an all green non-flowering type indoors and on a porch.
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      Jul 3 2013: Drew Dudley's talk is very much about the value of doing "small" things: http://www.ted.com/talks/drew_dudley_everyday_leadership.html

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