Robin Kobaly | Ep 123

Like the roots of the honey mesquite and creosote, Robin Kobaly's desert roots go deep. Her immediate family moved to Morongo Valley when she was 2 years old. At six, Robin had an extraordinary experience with desert wildflowers - an experience she was hesitant to share, being part of a scientific community, fearing her work would not be taken seriously.

In her studies of plants, Robin also came to appreciate the ways in which Native Americans used plants dyes for basket-weaving, textiles and ceremonial paints and tells a story about the dye found in prickly pear cactus.

Studying plants with her mother in the Morongo Valley, they would collect and sometimes serve them for dinner. "My brothers were always petrified about what they were going to eat the next night".

Having spent time as a botanist for the federal government, her life has been dedicated to try and protect plants and the desert while educating people to do the same. Robin is the Founder and President of The Power of Plants as well as serving as Executive Director of SummerTree Institute.

In this episode, Robin explains how much more alive the desert is than it appears, what is happening underground, how the plants are partnering up to survive, and the value the desert provides in naturally removing carbon from the air.

Robin's recent book, 'The Desert Underground', began as a scientific 'white paper' of sorts to assist the San Bernardino County Board of Supervisors to understand what happens to the desert when it is prepared for thousands of acres of industrial solar fields. With a number of folks asking for a copy of this 'report', Robin decided to turn it into a book. The book was extended to large display boards, creating expositions, which Robin is now developing for a traveling exhibit and along with her husband, Doug. If that wasn't enough, they are also creating a documentary on the subject, to educate even more people about the importance of the desert.

Robin was the 2018 recipient of the Minerva Hoyt California Desert Conservation Award, presented annually by the Joshua Tree National Park Association. "The Minerva Hoyt California Desert Conservation Award recognizes annually individuals or organizations that have worked to further Mrs. Hoyt’s legacy by making notable achievements in the areas of leadership, protection, preservation, research, education, and stewardship of California’s desert lands. The award seeks to recognize an individual or persons whose efforts lead to a significant and lasting contribution on behalf of the deserts of California."

When things slow down a bit, Robin is looking forward to hearing the flowers talk to her again.