Friday, September 22, 2006

Northland Bioneers Conference

I should make sure that everyone in Minnesota and around knows about this inspiring event that is sure to be flipadeedoo FANTASTIC!

The Northland Bioneers Conference ( is first and foremost a forum to "share solutions and strategies to develop and restore the earth." It is a satellite event to the national Bioneers Conference held for the past 16 years in San Rafael, California - thought of by many as the conference on sustainability. Some of the highlights that I'm excited about are keynote addresses that will be sent to us from CA (Michael Pollan, Amy Goodman, Paul Hawken and more), our own local speakers (including Ronnie Cummins of Organic Consumers Association and David Wallinga of the beloved Institute for Ag and Trade Policy), and "the vibe" that will no doubt be flowin' that weekend assisted by artists, a meditational space, the lovely Loring Park and the amazing people in attendance.

I'm completely stoked....

Wind blows

Oh, PLEASE! This shit is priceless....

Thanks to the fine online enviro mag, Grist, for turning me on to this and so much more. While you're there, check out my favorite Grist blogger, Tom Philpott, who is a small organic farmer writing about food and ag issues. He's got his finger dead on that pulse.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Where O where has my recycled paper gone?

Woe to those of us who do not work for environmetally oriented organizations. Where is our recycled paper? Must the light in the storage room always be left on? What's up with those stanky white board markers? And what's this? Styrofoam in the break room!? Aaaaarrgh!

Currently, I work for perfectly lovely childcare-oriented nonprofit that does, indeed, provide valuable services to society. However, they do not see themselves as connected to the greater web and the future seems to go no further than the first day of Kindergarten. As a result, I am at this very moment breathing the offgas from recently applied paint and new carpet.

I've been trying in ways subtle and obnoxious to up the sustainability quotient at this perfectly lovely nonprofit and one of my major victories of last year was to get 100% post-consumer chlorine-free recycled paper in all of our copiers and printers. Yes! Thanks to a much-needed buying cooperative hosted by the decorated local nonprofit waste handler Eureka Recycling we had all the plain white and colored paper we could want! What a glorious day it was when our first shipment arrived!

It didn't last long. After two orders from the co-op and the departure of our sympathetic administrative assistant, ye olde Office Max paper starting showing up again. I finally sent an e-mail to our associate director yesterday. I just couldn't stand it anymore.

OK, I finally have to say it. I’m disappointed that we don’t have the recycled paper anymore. I don’t know what happened. I really feel that it’s a small step that we can take in the right direction. And it IS related to what we do as an organization. Today’s children will be very much affected by how we adults choose to use resources, eliminate/use toxins, etc. I know you don’t need a lecture so I’m sorry about that! I just wanted to emphasize my point a little bit. The co-op paper is comparably priced, good quality & supports another important local nonprofit, Eureka Recycling. They have also added compostable cutlery, etc. though I’m not sure what the costs look like on that.

The e-mail seems to have worked and, theoretically at least, we'll be back to the recycled paper very soon. So what's this post about? Perseverence, I guess. I don't think the problem is that people don't care about preserving trees and wilderness and ecosystems or reducing toxins. They just need to be reminded of the connections and be shown how to act upon the information. Our American experience does not include these more sustainable options among the more convenient ones that we've been trained by marketers to prefer.

Although I would recommend finding a local enterprise to support (or starting your own!), here's another recycled product cooperative that delivers to anywhere in the US: Recycled Products Cooperative

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Choices - ya gotta love 'em!

OK! I finally went and did this thing. I couldn't take it anymore. I am exploding with resourceful assistance for you all (although I suppose this is in the eye of the beholder...?) & just a hint of angst (I'll try to keep it in check).

Let me explain. I have a brain that has been thinking about the sustainability of the human experience for some time now. Everything is connected - this much is clear - but how do we honor our understanding of this concept in our everyday lives? Our choices matter - who & what we give our money to, which potato we choose in the market, whether we are cooperative or combative, what we teach our children. That's what I'm talking about! Choices. I just love 'em. I especially love that even the smallest ones done right can make you feel so good.

You may be asking now, what is sustainability? Well, I can certainly say a lot on this subject but in a nutshell sustainability means that our current generations use resources (in the broadest sense) in a manner that preserves the ability of future generations to also find what they will need to live happily.

This is a discussion, please, so feel free to talk back, ask questions, rant (intelligently, please) about how we disagree, or relish our parity. Think of me as your personal Dear Abby/punching bag for sustainability. I won't have all the answers but I'll give it my best shot. (I know there's a certain someone out there who is just brimming over with inquiries so bring 'em on, EC!)

Next year, I'll be attending a the Master of Arts program in Humanities & Leadership with an emphasis in Culture, Ecology & Sustainable Community & a concentration in Ecological Agriculture at New College of California. I'll try my best to keep this blog going & include some nuggets from my graduate work.