Ecosphere Quiz: What Do You Know About Your Local Environment?


I attended the Goldman Prize for Excellence last week in San Francisco as a guest of friend Christy Rocca of the Chrissy Field Center. The awards honored extraordinary individuals who demonstrated a fierce and courageous protection of their local spaces. In common, the prize winners each found ways to significantly protect or restore the local environment for both human and non-human species.

The North American prize winner this year is Hilton Kelley, who is now leading the battle for environmental justice on the Texas Gulf Coast.  Hilton Kelley fights for communities living in the shadow of polluting industries in Port Arthur, Texas. Click to learn more.

Hilton Kelley, Goldman Awardee

Since that inspiring ceremony, I have imagined the ways caring and understanding related to ones local environment begins, and how it might evolve into stewardship. Since the awards, my friend Phoenix Smith, an Ecotherapist, shared with me the following Ecosphere Quiz from her class that helped bring home some common gaps in knowledge about the places we call home, and our sources for fundamental natural resources.

What follows is a self-scoring test on basic environmental perception of place. Scoring is done on the honor system, so if you fudge, cheat, or elude, this provides information as well. I hope that for each question you do not know, or are unsure, you are inspired to learn more.

Post your answers to a question you know or don’t know in the comments, and if you’d like,  explain the significance of the question or answer to you or your community.

  1. Where does the water you drink originate?
  2. How many days until the moon is full (plus or minus a couple of days?)
  3. What kind of soil is under your home?
  4. What is the pH of the soil where you live?
  5. Name five edible plants that indigenous persons from your bioregion used.
  6. Where does your garbage go?
  7. How close to you is your food grown?
  8. What USDA zone do you live in?
  9. On what day of the year are the shadows the longest where you live?
  10. Name five trees in your area. Are any of them native? If you can’t name names, describe them.
  11. Where does your sewage go?
  12. Name five resident and three migratory birds in your area.
  13. What percentage of your bioregion is covered with impervious surface?
  14. What primary geological event/process influenced the land where you live?
  15. What species have become extinct in your area within the past 200 years?
  16. What are the major plant-associations in your area?
  17. From where you are reading this, point west.
  18. What spring wildflower is consistently among the first to bloom where you live?
  19. What kind of rocks and minerals are found in your bioregion?
  20. Can you see the stars at night?
  21. Name some beings (nonhuman), which share your place.
  22. Do you celebrate the turning of the summer and winter solstice? If so, how do you celebrate?
  23. Do you have neighbors that grow food? Do you?
  24. What plans are there for the coming ecological changes your bioregion?
  25. What is the largest wilderness area in your bioregion?

This test was adapted from the version appearing in CoEvolution, no. 23 (Winter, 1981)



5 Thoughts on “Ecosphere Quiz: What Do You Know About Your Local Environment?”

  • What an excellent idea to help gauge our awareness. I love quizzes, and I look forward to seeing what others have to say!

    1. Where does the water you drink originate?

    Our drinking water comes from the beautiful Bull Run watershed!

    2. How many days until the moon is full (plus or minus a couple of days?)

    Gosh…It was full Monday. So about 34 days?

    3. What kind of soil is under your home?

    Good question! I believe this is fill dirt, but beneath that I haven’t really got a clue!

    4. What is the pH of the soil where you live?

    Not sure of that one either.

    5. Name five edible plants that indigenous persons from your bioregion used.

    Salal, stinging nettle, red huckleberry, salmonberry, and thimbleberry!

    6. Where does your garbage go?

    Well this household, unfortunately, sends all of its garbage to a city dump. But those who utilize municipal garbage disposal usually separate it into yard/kitchen waste, recycling, and garbage. I don’t know where it goes, though.

    7. How close to you is your food grown?

    I don’t know.

    8. What USDA zone do you live in?

    I’m not sure of this one, either.

    9. On what day of the year are the shadows the longest where you live?

    June 21st?

    10. Name five trees in your area. Are any of them native? If you can’t name names, describe them.

    Pacific madrone, Douglas-fir, western hemlock, western redcedar, and shore pine. All are northwest natives!

    11. Where does your sewage go?

    I believe it goes to a wastewater treatment plant down near Shilshole, right near the sound.

    12. Name five resident and three migratory birds in your area.

    Resident:

    American crow
    Bewick’s wren
    bushtit
    black-capped chickadee
    red-breasted nuthatch

    Migratory:

    Vaux’s swift
    barn swallow
    yellow-rumped warbler

    13. What percentage of your bioregion is covered with impervious surface?

    That’s definitely a new question. How could you figure that out?

    14. What primary geological event/process influenced the land where you live?

    Glaciers carved out the Puget/Salish trough millions of years ago, and seafloor upheaval produced the Olympic mountains.

    15. What species have become extinct in your area within the past 200 years?

    Ay-ay-aye…I couldn’t answer that one without looking up some historical range maps.

    16. What are the major plant-associations in your area?

    Douglas-fir mixed forest is the first that leaps immediately to mind. I know relatively little about the coast, except that there are some reputedly spectacular kelp forests offshore, and that the Olympic peninsula harbors the only temperate rainforest in the United States.

    17. From where you are reading this, point west.

    Towards the Pacific!

    18. What spring wildflower is consistently among the first to bloom where you live?

    Beaked hazelnut, for sure.

    19. What kind of rocks and minerals are found in your bioregion?

    Ooh…I’d have to ask my brother that one. I’m not sure.

    20. Can you see the stars at night?

    Well it depends on the season, but I sure can, even in the city!

    21. Name some beings (nonhuman), which share your place.

    Bobby, Max, and Tootsie.

    22. Do you celebrate the turning of the summer and winter solstice? If so, how do you celebrate?

    I like to find a spot outside and think about how the world is turning and hurtling through space and staring at the sky till my brain hurts.

    23. Do you have neighbors that grow food? Do you?

    We don’t, and I’m not sure about my neighbors.

    24. What plans are there for the coming ecological changes your bioregion?

    What do you mean by that exactly?

    25. What is the largest wilderness area in your bioregion?

    I think the Olympic National Forest is the largest /contiguous/ wilderness area, but it’s possible the collected area of protected lands in the Cascades surpass it.

    Excellent quiz! Can you guess my ecoregion?

  • Sonja – I just LOVE your answers and overall engagement with the quiz!

    I would guess you live in the Seattle; Puget Sound area…am I warm?

    Thank you for your comment and sharing!

    Rue

  • I’ll print this list out and make it a project. I don’t know most of it, but will make it a fun learning experience. I’ll document some of it and post it up. Instead of looking the information up online, I’ll visit some of the facilities with my list and camera/video in hand.

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