11.20.12Alan Harris

5 Conservation Lessons from District 13 and the Capitol

Mockingjay - a Symbol of the Conservation RevolutionIn the Hunger Games the Mockingjay is a symbol of Revolution. Perhaps we should borrow it for a conservation revolution.
Photo Courtesy - damnyeahnich

Spoiler Alert: If you have not read Mockingjay (the final book in the Hunger Games trilogy) then save this post to read at a later date.



The Capitol is where the lavish consumers reside. Their abundant lifestyle is a result of controlling and then draining the natural resources of the outlying 12 Districts. There used to be 13 Districts, but a civil war led to the ultimate destruction of the 13th District…or did it? Amazingly District 13 retreated to subterranean living where it survived due in part to their commitment to conservation.


Conservation Lesson #1 – Strict Sharing of Resources

…But it always managed to pull through due to strict sharing of resources, strenuous discipline and constant diligence” (ch. 2, para. 6)

Isolated from the other Districts by the Dark Days war, District 13 had to figure out a way to survive without being discovered by the other Districts. Life underground required great sacrifice and resources which were previously available in plentiful quantity were no longer available. Creativity with limited resources and conservation became a life requirement for survival as opposed to an option.

Conservation Lesson #2 – Waste Not, Want Not

They are so frugal with things here waste is practically a criminal activity” (ch. 2, para. 8)

Over the course of 75 years conservation became a way of life. Just as today we think nothing of buckling our seat belts in the car or putting our trash in a bin, conservation became a way of life in District 13 over the course of two generations. Parents will teach their offspring what is required to survive. Survival is a basic instinct of all species and those who buck the requirements of survival find themselves ostracized from the pack.

Conservation Lesson #3 – Life’s Little Necessities

“Somewhere food is grown. Power generated. Air and water purified. “ (ch. 6, para. 57)

Growing up my daughter used to say, “…but I NEED it!” The parental response was always the same. “You need air, water and food. You only want it.” Air, water and food are what we require to survive and in that order. We can hold our breath for a minute or two; go without water for a few days and go without food for a few weeks, but eventually we need all three to survive.

Conservation Lesson #4 – Survival does not Equal Living

“What I need is the dandelion in the spring. The bright yellow that means rebirth instead of destruction. The promise that life can go on, no matter how bad our losses. That it can be good again.” (ch. 27, para. 66)

Perhaps my daughter had a point…sometimes.  Life’s true necessities: air, water and food may be all we require to survive, but much more is needed in order to live. District 13 was surviving, but it had turned into a stern, unhappy place.  Luxuries were not required for survival so they were eliminated. Even Buttercup the cat was an oddity to the residents.  While District 13 may have survived, life there was not what one would consider living. The residents lived in a prison they had built for themselves.

Conservation Lesson #5 – Mother Nature is a Survivor

Although no one seeds it, the Meadow turns green again.” (Ch. 27, para. 65)

Despite being fire bombed into oblivion the Meadow starts to grow again. Whether man made  or natural disasters the earth tends to heal itself. Given enough time, air, water, sun and minimal human hindrance nature will self-heal and survive . The biggest challenge we have today is to minimize the continual human interference of the healing process of nature.

When it comes to your personal conservation are you a resident in the Capitol or a resident in District 13 or perhaps a Mockingjay leading the conservation revolution?

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Author’s Comments and Links:

As I was researching this post I found a few interesting websites and tidbits:

  • The Hunger Games Movie page on Facebook has over 8.1 MILLION Likes.
  • Wikipedia has a number of pages dedicated to The Hunger Games. I found the page dedicated to Panem to be most intriguing.
  • You can take a virtual tour of the Capitol.
  • You can interact with their 670,000+ followers on Twitter.
  • Of course it is a #1 Best Seller on Amazon and has over 5000 customer reviews many of which are longer than this post. Also, if you are a Prime customer you can now borrow the book for free to read on your Kindle. I paid for my copy.
  • If you are a student, please note I took liberties in citing the quotes to help provide clarity for the many versions of books that exist. For the record here is the MLA citation: Collins, Suzanne. Mockingjay. New York: Scholastic Press, 2010. Print.


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Alan Harris

Alan Harris is a water management pioneer. With roots in landscape architecture, Alan has worked with irrigation throughout his career experimenting with hydrozones and a variety of high efficiency irrigation systems. Now, over thirty years in the landscape industry, Alan continues to stay apprised of the latest technology even in a sales leadership capacity as our Director of Sales Operations and Regional Sales Leader for our landscape maintenance division. In addition to his contributions to this blog, Alan keeps his hand in water management as a regular contributor to Lawn & Landscape Magazine.

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