Some ways to be a friend to local plants & wildlife (an evolving list)


Hello. This list is a current reflection of my own evolving process of attempting to relate better within the web of life. My personal understanding and efforts are shaped by my history as a descendant of European settlers on Turtle Island, raised within capitalism/imperialism which systematically conquers, genocides, exploits, commodifies, and forcibly disconnects its subjects from land. Though each person's ideas are inevitably conditioned by our individual placement within the overarching global economic process, the process itself is social, collective and ever-unfolding, and we each have some agency within the role we play. So I share this list in case it might resonate with and be useful to some, in the hope of contributing positively to community health and connectedness. I plan to update it as I learn. It includes points that are both locally-focused (Fort Lauderdale, FL) and more general.


Stephanie McMillan (artist & 3rd-gen Fort Lauderdale resident)

Last updated July 11, 2023

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- Acknowledge that all living beings deserve respect.

- Avoid referring to living beings as "it," or using other objectifying language.

- Learn the names of different species around you.

- Say hello to individual plants and creatures whom you see regularly. Get to know their personalities.

- Notice how various species interact and depend on one another.

- Attend neighborhood association meetings to find out about plans to kill trees and pave land to clear space for new buildings, so you can challenge these plans.

- Learn the history of the lands and waters we inhabit. Reflect upon our places in history and roles in the global economy, and how these have shaped our relationships with the land.

- Recognize that while our daily decisions can build healthier habits, we can't buy or consume our way to a thriving planet. The process must be addressed at the social level too.

- Thank the beings who provide us with nourishment and oxygen.

- Listen to and follow the guidance of indigenous people who share knowledge about living in right relation with the land, and work to return the land to their stewardship.

- Address the legacy and current perpetration of environmental racism, and insist upon equitable, inclusive, and just solutions.

- Feel the bark of trees with your hands.

- Talk with people around you about the need to respect and defend wild beings.

- Seek healing for your trauma wounds and learn to love yourself, so you can know deep in your bones that you deserve to live happily in a beautiful thriving world.

- If you have access to a yard or other area of land, provide habitat with plantings and water, keep fallen leaves and dead sticks for insect shelter, let native wildflowers flourish. Refrain from using fertilizers or pesticides.

- If you have a balcony or stoop, grow pollinator-nourishing plants in pots, provide shallow water dishes for bees.

- If you have a windowsill, share it with a plant you love.

- Spread native wildflower seeds on public land. 

- Fight for public land to be nurtured so plants & wildlife can live their lives.

- Insist that glyphosate (Round-Up) be banned.

- If you are a real estate developer or speculator, find a less destructive way to make a living. In the meantime, build only to replace existing buildings, provide dense affordable housing, and refrain from killing trees.

- If you are a politician or lawmaker, resist being a sell-out puppet for real estate developers and speculators. Have integrity in serving your communities and protecting plants and wildlife.

- If you want change, build power at the grassroots - collectively with the people around you - rather than begging those who currently hold it.

- Don't rip down spider webs, even when they're spun across your path. Duck under them.

- Stop the private-public for-profit pickleball court planned for Snyder Park.

- Stop the private-public for-profit concert venue and food hall to be built on the land at Andrews Avenue just north of Broward Blvd. (formerly One Stop Shop, which residents voted should be a park).

- Sign and collect signatures for the petition to put the Florida Right to Clean and Healthy Waters bill on the ballot in 2024 to amend the state constitution.

- Be aware of issues not just in your own neighborhood but in all surrounding areas, and follow the guidance of those on the front lines of each community on how to be a helpful ally in protecting and ensuring the health of everyone.

- Confront the macro reality that in order for local plants and wildlife to thrive, the planet must thrive, and for the planet to thrive, we must collectively overcome the global capitalist social-economic system based on the intertwined processes of imperialism, genocide, land theft, extraction, exploitation, inequity, perpetual growth, and private profit accumulation.

- Learn where our food and water come from and how they are brought to us.

- Start where you are and do what you can.


Recommended reading/viewing:

- "Path of the Panther," National Geographic documentary with Miccosukee grandmother Betty Osceola, streaming on Disney+ & Hulu

- "Sand Talk: How Indigenous Thinking Can Save the World," Tyson Yunkaporta

- "Braiding Sweetgrass: Indigenous Wisdom, Scientific Knowledge, and the Teachings of Plants," Robin Wall Kimmerer

- "Columbus and Other Cannibals," Jack D. Forbes

- "Becoming Kin: An Indigenous Call to Unforgetting the Past and Reimagining Our Future," Patty Krawec

- "Settler: Identity and Colonialism in 21st Century Canada," Lowman & Barker


Learn from, volunteer with, and support local & statewide groups:
(Organizations included for informational purposes only; inclusion does not imply that I endorse everything about them or that they endorse this list.)

- South Florida Wildlife Center (rehabilitation)

- Made In Broward/4-H (urban food forests)

- Eco-Preservation Project with Captain Planet

- Heal the Planet (food forest & butterfly garden at Snyder Park)

- Broward County Sea Turtle Conservation Program (NSU)


- South Florida Wildlands Association

- Urban Paradise Guild

- Florida Rights of Nature Network

- Love the Everglades Movement

- Fort Lauderdale Water Crisis Community Forum (on Facebook)



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