Thanks to my sister Michelle McIlroy for designing the logo!


Ever since I was a child, I have been very interested in nature and the environment. I have a B.S. degree in wildlife biology, and have worked as a zookeeper, wildlife biologist, and ecologist. I am conducting a brief survey of world leaders, government officials, religious leaders, corporate CEOs, environmental groups, wildlife experts, and others regarding nature and the environment. I am also very interested in religious views, customs, and beliefs from around the world, and the interactions between religion, culture, society, and the environment. This is something I am doing out of personal interest, and is not connected to any group or organization. I have been working on this project since the summer of 2006, and hope to eventually turn it into a book and/or documentary. I am hoping to make this into a global project, with responses from all segments of society. Feel free to contact me directly if you have any questions or comments. If you have not already done so, I hope that you will consider taking part in my project, and please spread the word to anyone you think might be interested! Thanks for stopping by!


January 14, 2009

Michelle Clay

Game Artist and Designer, Turbine Inc.

Today's Date: 1/14/09

1. What interaction with an animal and/or nature in your life has had the biggest impact on you?

See below

2. Did you have a favorite place in the great outdoors during your childhood?

My favorite childhood place and the encounter with nature that had the biggest impact on me are one and the same: I used to live in a house with a wooded back yard that backed up to a large power easement. The power easement was a meadow that offered a place for everyone on our side of the street to have gardens, play sports, dig holes, investigate plants and animals, and go sledding. It offered access to the woods, creeks, and a stand of bamboo. In retrospect, I see now that the space unified our community and gave us a wide swath of nature, while also filling the function of delivering electricity. It exemplifies the permaculture value that everything must have multiple functions.

Though, to answer the first question further, I had an encounter with an elephant while visiting Ahmadabad, India. At the end of a long and uncomfortable day, I found myself in an empty lot helping to decorate floats for a religious procession. In a corner of the lot, largely ignored, was an elephant, who was to be featured in the procession. The elephant’s keeper was asleep nearby, and nothing was there to prevent people from walking right up to the animal, so I carefully approached and handed her some grass from her feed pile. Standing in front of, and touching, an animal who loomed above me and who could have easily killed me, I was overwhelmed with emotion. There she stood, majestic, and at complete odds with her surroundings. There in that dark and grubby lot, it was as if a god had been forgotten by humanity. How could we treat something so profound as if it were ordinary?

Now? Now, my favorite place in the outdoors is my own yard. In the front, it is a standard suburban lot; in the back, it is a wooded wetland backing up to an estuary of the Charles river. I love that it is both a wild and undeveloped place, in which I can observe native flora and fauna, and that it is a standard boring suburban plot that I can work at turning into something better.

3. As a former zookeeper, I would love to know what your favorite animal is, and why?

I had to stop and think about this question – and it turns out that I don’t have a favorite animal. I tend to be enthralled by whatever living thing is in front of me at the time.

4. What do you think is the greatest environmental challenge facing us now, and what do you think will be the greatest challenge in the future?

The greatest challenge facing us now is the same challenge that will continue to face us for as long as humanity dominates the planet: how can we as a species prosper sustainably in harmony with the natural systems around us?

5. If you could give everyone one piece of advice regarding the environment and our natural resources, what would it be?

The one piece of advice that I would like to share with everyone is to think about the things that come into your area of influence. Where did it come from? How much energy was used to make it, and where did that energy come from? What will happen to it when you are done with it? How and when will it decompose, and what will it decompose into? Will this leave behind a mess for someone else to deal with?

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