Call for submissions: Festival 42, the Once-ler edition

The Once-ler
Host: Via Negativa
Deadline: November 29 (bribes accepted to include late entries)
Email to: bontasaurus(at)yahoo(dot)com – or use the Contact form
Important! Put “Festival of the Trees” in the subject line of your email

You remember the Once-ler, right? The bummed-out old narrator in Dr. Seuss’ The Lorax, who gives the boy the last remaining truffula-tree seed at the end of the book? I’ve been feeling a lot like that lately. Probably many of us do, watching the world’s forests burn or succumb en masse to new insect pests, new diseases, and stronger and more frequent storms. Will the kids “care a whole awful lot”? Will they care at all?

The next edition of the Festival of the Trees will return to my blog Via Negativa for the fourth time, and while I’m not suggesting themed submissions — all tree-related blog posts are welcome — I do expect that my gloomy, yet still desperately hopeful outlook on the future of trees and forests will color my presentation. A lot of forest activists like to cast themselves as the Lorax: “I speak for the trees!” But I’ve never presumed to do that myself. For one thing, the trees are quite capable of speaking for themselves, if we were only inclined to listen. And also, like the Once-ler, I have no illusions about my own culpability in the desperate state of the global environment.

I’m also a little gloomy because participation in the Festival of the Trees has really fallen off in recent months. Maybe blog carnivals are becoming a thing of the past, I don’t know. But the sheer size of the Nature Blog Network does suggest that interest in nature blogging is greater than ever, and nature bloggers seem eager to read and link to each other. So why not take advantage of the superior inter-linking power of nature blog carnivals? (We list many of the others in our left sidebar.)

Besides blogging about trees, we each need to take just a few extra steps each month. Participation shouldn’t stop with submitting your own links and then clicking on all the others when the new edition comes out. Please consider giving each edition some link-love, too: in your blog, and also on Facebook, Twitter, StumbleUpon, Digg, Reddit, Delicious, or any other online social network you happen to be active in. (You could start with the current edition.) One of the best things about the Festival of the Trees is the way it straddles the divide between the sciences and the humanities, including people who are all over the map in terms of what they blog about and the audiences they attract. That’s great for spreading nature appreciation and getting the word out about conservation, but it does mean we can’t just rely on the Nature Blog Network for promotion, much as we appreciate their support.

I’ll admit I haven’t always done as good a job of promoting the Festival as I could’ve — not compared to my co-conspirator, Pablo, at Roundrock Journal — but from now on I intend to be more consistent in plugging it and in reaching out to other tree-bloggers and encouraging them to participate. I hope you’ll join me.

We need more volunteers to host the Festival, too. There’s not a whole lot to it other than a dash of of creativity, a modicum of organization, and maybe about six hours of work — see our page on how to go about it, and give us a holler. (The New Year’s edition has just been snapped up by Jason of the wonderful blog xenogere, but as of this moment, all dates from February 1 on are still open.)

O.K., off to water my grickle-grass. Hope to hear from you soon.

About Dave Bonta

I'm the author of several small, odd books, including Breakdown: Banjo Poems, Words on the Street: An Inaction Comic, and Odes to Tools, but my real work is at my literary blog Via Negativa. I'm the editor and publisher of Moving Poems, a webzine showcasing videopoetry and poetry film. And I've been a dedicated if somewhat unorthodox homebrewer for more than 20 years.

Posted on November 5, 2009, in Announcements. Bookmark the permalink. 12 Comments.

  1. I have had a weekly nature meme and a thinking green meme for months and I never get more than 10 people to participate. It has baffled and depressed me all at the same time. While it seems like people would like to post about nature and environmental issues, they don’t. Yet the memes that call for a color or a shadow or something simple, get many participants. I think that this shows how much trouble conservation is really in when people don’t want to blog about it. ….Michelle

    • Wow. Well, advertising and promoting something like this can be difficult. Although nearly everybody likes trees, open spaces, and pretty views, the number of people with an active interest in nature is a small minority nearly everywhere, so what you say doesn’t surprise me. But the flip side is that I think the internet does allow us to find each other much more easily than before, which is why I think that nature blogging in the strict sense — blogs mainly devoted to the natural world — is doing quite well. A lot of formerly isolated nature lovers are delighted to find a gang of other people who are “weird” in the same way they are!

      But here’s another problem, I think: serious nature people often tend to be loners, a bit, too. I know I am. So that makes the ordinary, bloggy and networky things like commenting on and linking to each others posts a little less regular than elsewhere on the web, where, as you point out, memes like Photo Friday and Wordless Wednesday attract hundreds if not thousands of participants.

      • Hmmmm… hadn’t considered the ‘loner’ aspect at all. But you’re right about that. I would be happy to help with hosting the meme, but I am a newbie tree person. I started with birds, to insects and now to learning about trees so I don’t have a good knowledge base, but I could help. I am distressed that we are going to lose just about every ash tree to the ash borer…. Michelle

        • Hey, glad you’re willing to give it a try! A blog carnival is just a little bit more work than a weekly meme – browse the links to past editions in the right sidebar to see how other people have done it. Is February 1 too soon? That would mean gathering links throughout January.

          In-depth knowledge isn’t a requirement at all, just enthusiasm and a reasonable facility with language, which you obviously have. It helps to budget a little extra time to search for additional links besides the ones that people submit over the course of the month, or just be alert and snag things as they go by. This morning, for example, I got a great link to an article in the New York Times about a forester/architect who builds with whole trees and harvests with the interests of the whole forest in mind. I am also trying a new approach, for me, that should avoid the mad rush at the end of the month: starting a draft post and adding write-ups for each new link as it comes in. (Given how wordy I am, this practically guarantees that the final post will be 2000 words long!)

  2. I hadn’t posted on this festival in a very long time but I have one for this month. I hope the festival hangs in there as do our trees!

  3. Thanks for explaining more about the Festival. I’ve been remiss in not participating more fully. Was a little intimidated by the Festival concept, which is ridiculous. Will send you a submission later today (coffee first!!) and think on hosting a Festival in 2010. Which months in the first half of the year are available? Plus, I’ll do the “link-love” thing with the current edition — appreciate the tutorial! We loners need to be nudged sometimes. . .

    • Hi Beth – I’m glad you’re interested in becoming active, and even hosting! Down below the list of past editions on the right is a list of the scheduled editions. As you can see, 2010 is wide open at this point, though given my current deperate pleading, that may change soon.

      Blog carnivals have been around for years, but a lot of bloggers still don’t know about them. They started in the right-wing political blogosphere as a way to encourage bloggers with similar interests to read/support one another, and it worked very well, but since that’s it’s own world, it took a while to spread to the rest of the blogosphere. Science, nature, and literary bloggers skew left, I think, so we were not among the first non-political bloggers to latch on to the concept. The original blog carnivals were weekly, and the biggest and most popular nature blog carnival, I and the Bird, is bi-weekly, but for the Festival of the Trees, Paul and I couldn’t see having editions more frequently than once a month, and most of the other nature blog carnivals have done the same.

      Blog carnivals have been compared to magazines with ever-shifting venues and dispersed contents, but one big difference is that hosts aren’t expected to exercise tight editorial control over content: everything that fits the guidelines may be included, even if the photos are a little fuzzy and the writing isn’t perfect. The emphasis is on participation and enthusiasm for the subject matter, and it’s assumed that readers are capable of deciding for themselves what’s good and what isn’t. Hosts can be proactive and search for relevant posts and other online material that wasn’t submitted in order to round out his/her edition. (Hmm, I should recycle some of this into the About page, shouldn’t I?)

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