Before prominent Western colonization, plants and animals adapted to frequent wildfires, with many coming to rely on fire as a cue to drop seeds or grow faster. Wildfires became rare as human settlements spread. Combined with the introduction of invasive species, this diminished the health and prevalence of native species. By using controlled burns, ecologists are able to remove invasive species (most of which are not adapted to deal with fire) and promote the growth of healthy native plants. Controlled burns make things safer for humans, too, as they remove deadwood fuel that can make wildfires worse.

The Prairie White-fringed Orchid (Platanthera leucophaea) is an orchid native to Wisconsin. This endangered orchid grows only in undisturbed and well-established prairies and fens. Beautiful and delicate, it thrives only when conditions are just right. Here it represents the hope of ecological efforts for change.

Like fire, anger is also a tool for transformation. When applied carefully, it can provide a catalyst for change and the fuel for new growth. It can also be incredibly destructive. Rage at the injustices and inequities of life burn bright in myself and in my circles, but is important to remember that they are fueled by hope. Just as the prairie orchid only grows in well-established areas, nurtured by old fires and plentiful water, my ideals of connection and change emerge through anger as well as joy.

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