Collective Energy = Wow

The energy of a collective makes pursuit of big ideas possible. This is true for Back to Basics: without the effort of a few for months followed by an intense amount of effort and energy by many, this long-running event wouldn’t be the success it is today!

Another great example of collective energy resulting in realized dreams is that of co-ops. While there are different types of cooperatives, the one many consumers see commonly is that of food co-ops. In this region of MN, we are fortunate to have a few options up and running with a few more in process or emerging! Co-ops have been supporters of Back to Basics (B2B) from the beginning! We gratefully accept the donation of Peace Coffee made possible by the Crow Wing Food Co-op (Brainerd, MN). The Ideal Green Market Cooperative (Ideal Corners, MN) donates tea and the Countryside Co-op (Hackensack, MN) is donating trail mix ingredients this year. Often, local co-ops host booths at B2B, too. This year, visit with Crow Wing Food Co-op, Ideal Green Market Cooperative, and the in-formation-phase Free Range Food Co-op (Grand Rapids, MN). This is a great opportunity to ask questions to understand membership, offerings at each co-op, and much more!


Back to Basics has become a hub in the winter for people to connect. Our local food co-ops are an integral part of making it happen.

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Back to Basics 2020 – An Interview w/ Presenter Laura Adrian

*For complete event details including workshop descriptions, vendor list, and to register and pay online, visit If you’d like to register now, you can go to our online registration site.*


At every Back to Basics, we try to get a wide variety of workshop presenters. We stick with ones that have filled out year after year but we also like to make sure that new topics are introduced to bring a fresh feel to the event.

We do this to keep B2B an attractive use of your time, which is a challenge we love to attack. We get so many quality speakers and workshops, it’s amazes me. However, the underlying truth is that available time is becoming more and more of a diminishing product. There are constant demands on our attention from sun-up to lights-out.


Laura Adrian will be presenting two workshops at this year’s B2B, one on Kundalini Yoga and the other focusing on using Earth energies to heal.

I had a chance to chat with first time B2B presenter Laura Adrian who’s trying to tackle this phenomenon through the art of targeted yoga and nature immersion experiences.

In her first workshop, Healing with the Earth, Adrian, founder of Whole Life Elevation & from the School of Earth Medicine, will help participants focus on becoming aware and in tuned with the energies of the Earth. She feels that once a person is able to become more in synch with these energies, they will be able to defend against many issues currently assaulting our society.

“Historically, people have spent most of their lives outdoors, [yet] now in a very short time we’ve inverted that to spend most of our time indoors! Add in sedentary living, less community, and changes in food sources, it’s no wonder people are experiencing off the charts physical and emotional health issues.”

In a frank disclosure, Adrian opens up about working in a well paying, stabilizing, yet increasingly dissatisfying career, which made her feel stifled and trapped as a “caged bird”. (If you want to read more about it, you can at Adrian’s website Whole Life Elevation).

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Back to Basics 2020 – Our Longtime Partnership with PR-B Schools

We’re about to hold the 14th annual Back to Basics sustainability event and everyone on the Happy Dancing Turtle staff works with a passion and vigor for months before the event even takes place (Saturday, February 15). Yet, even with our “all hands on deck” mentality, we must ask for outside help, and that’s why we’ve continually returned to the Pine River-Backus school system year after year.


We use countless rooms in the PR-B school and even though our event causes disruption, teachers and staff continually agree to let us hold B2B at the school. Why? Because they’re awesome!

As B2B has increased in attendance and prominence in the region, we’ve discussed if now was the time to move to a larger, more centralized facility. We’d hold these discussions and we would, every time, come back to the conclusion that the PR-B school district bends over backwards for us.

Let’s go over what awesome work the PR-B school district does for B2B.

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Back to Basics 2020 – A Primer

It’s several weeks into the new year, and things are growing busier and busier around the HDT office. Workshop sessions and vendor spaces are filling up so it appears we’re well on our way to another spectacular Back to Basics.


Last year’s B2B Keynote Speaker, Kent Solberg, reaches out to a room full of listeners.

Back to Basics has become the premier sustainable-living event in north-central Minnesota! Each year returning and new participants eagerly await the wide variety of workshop topics. Presenters come from MN and WI to share their knowledge, skills, and experience.

What’s the draw, you might ask?

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HDT’s 2019 Top Ten

Who doesn’t love to occasionally look back and see from where they’ve come, and reflect on where they’re going? 2019 was a year we tackled new topics and connected with new partners, yet, we also wrote about things near and dear to our hearts. So, we thought it would be fun to look back at our most read posts written in 2019.

1) Get Your Trek On!


Every summer we love to encourage kids to get outside. So, for the last few summers, we’ve hosted camping trips to local and state parks throughout Minnesota. Michelle writes about the fun had on these trips in the most read article of the year.

2) Holiday Gifts – Made from the Heart

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Just posted a few weeks ago, Nora’s article on using your skills and time to make gifts seemed to resonate. (Plus, it’s not too late for some last minute gifts before the holidays are over for this year). 🙂

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Happy Holidays from HDT

Earlier this December, we hosted our annual Grateful Gathering and Bites Bar & Grill, just south of Pine River. It’s a moment where we pause before the busy holiday season and take the time to reflect on the past year and ponder the future.

This gathering was a bit bittersweet as we bid a fond farewell to three of our favorite coworkers, Bob McLean, Kathy Hoefs, and Janis Redfield.

Kathy will be leaving us to work on her growing event center with her husband, Marlon. Bob, a Resilient Living Campus mainstay since the start, is retiring. Though mid-2020, he’ll take up the mantle of District Governor for Rotary District 5580 (accompanied by his wife, Terri). Janis and her husband, Robert, are snow-birding south to Florida to soak up rays, walk on beaches, and live life to the fullest (in sandals). We wish them the best.


Janis’ (left) last day is at the end of December. We will miss her dearly.


Bob’s seeing triple!

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Alternative Holiday Wrapping

According to an article in the Wall Street Journal, the average American spends so much on wrapping paper during the holidays that they could use it to cover almost 6,000 football fields with shiny, Santa clause covered paper. This year, we should try to see if we can minimize how many fields we can cover with these alternative wrapping ideas:

1. Furoshiki

If you are a long time reader, you may remember Quinn’s article on Furoshiki. Furoshiki is a traditional folding technique originating in Japan. All you need is a pretty square of fabric big enough to wrap your present with. No tape or ties needed!

You can buy cheap cuts of fabric or use old bedsheets to create your very own wraps. Check out this great video demonstrating how unique your gifts will look.


2. Brown paper
This is a timeless classic. If you want to add even more style, be creative with markers or crayons to draw your very own artwork. Colleague, Nora W. just told me the other day that she gifted a package wrapped in brown paper to her nephew. He refused to open it because Nora had drawn Rudolf the Red Nosed Reindeer in her own style. He cherished it more than what could have possibly been inside the box. Very cool.

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Eco Friendly Holiday Decor



Smaller trees and homemade ornaments can make your holiday greener.

You don’t need to have new decorations each year. You can make your own ornaments from paper or make your very own play dough and paint them. You can also see what your parents or grandparents might want to pass on. The majority of my tree ornaments are from my mother after she cleared out her basement. (My most favorite ornament given to me is a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle Leonardo with my name across his belt. It’s *ahem* radical.)

You could spend time with your loved ones by stringing popcorn, cranberries, or Kix cereal together. When the Christmas season is over, you can hang it outside for the birds to eat. Another idea is bringing in pine boughs and pinecones to decorate your mantle or entrance way. You’ll carry the scent of nature inside, making for a special experience. 

Another fun activity that helps with is going to see light displays in your community! Think about it this way – it can be a fun activity for the entire family, and if you’re not putting up as many lights in your home, your technically saving some energy with praising the community holiday displays. Often times must-see holiday lights can be seen at local parks and historical buildings.

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Holiday Gifts – Made from the Heart

As we’ve discussed in previous blog posts, there are a lot of great alternatives to material gifts – volunteering/donating, giving experiences, spending quality time together, travel, etc.  However, if you are choosing to give a material gift, there is something you can do to make it far more meaningful and extra special: Make It Yourself. Sound scary? It’s not! I promise. Let’s start with the warm fuzzies of why you might do this before moving on to tips and ideas.


Reasons to Make Homemade Gifts

  1. They’re Gifts of the Heart: Let me tell you, making gifts is not a quick feat, but they mean more. Not only does the recipient appreciate the item, but they’re appreciating the thought, creativity, time, and work that went into making them something extra special – what a great way to show you care during the holidays! I love hearing the shocked “Auntie you MADE that?!?” when a gift is unwrapped. It’s so much better than any “wow!” from a store-bought gift.
  2. They’re One of a Kind Gifts: When you’re making your gifts, they are absolutely one of a kind. Which means making a gift for that person who has everything and needs nothing may be a lot easier than finding the perfect gift for them.
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    My fav hat made by a friend.

    Even if you’re making the same thing for two people, chances are they’re slightly different! If the gift is a common item, such as a hat, it’s not just another hat. It’s going to hold a special place in their collection because it was made with love (see reason number 1).

  3. They’re Personal Gifts: If you’re willing to take time to make a gift for someone, chances are you’ve put thought into it ahead of time and chose that gift because you know it’s something they’ll love. Beyond that, making gifts allows you to personalize every detail. In homemade gifts you have the luxury of choosing the style, size, colors, type, fragrance, flavors, etc., all ensuring it’s just right for that special person.
  4. They Can Be Fun & Relaxing to Make: Notice that I said “can” – which is addressed in number 1 below. Many times, people find a lot of joy and relaxation in the actual making of a gift, so it’s a win-win for everyone involved! I’ve found making no-sew blankets while I watch a movie with my husband or listening to an audiobook while I paint decorations for kids’ rooms to be oddly therapeutic.
  5. Reuse & Upcycle: Making gifts gives you the perfect opportunity to turn old things into new, helping us reduce our environmental impact.   Recycling or fabric scraps can be used in many kids’ toys, old house hold items like jars could be used in home decor, old clothing could be turned into new fashion. Get creative!

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Growing Gratitude


One of the values that I endeavor to live with is gratitude. There are many ways to inject gratitude into your life and the benefits of doing so are well documented. This time of year especially, there are scads of mentions of thankful, grateful, and blessed. And while these have become pop culture buzz-words with shirts, home decor signs, and mugs imprinted with them, people that embody these sentiments note feeling calmer, more content, and happier!

On the heels of a car breakdown, stressors at work, and a snowstorm, I was reflecting this morning how easy it is to fall into complaint as the primary communication tendency. For me, it’s recognizing the pattern and choosing to flip my perspective. Are these challenges? Yes. Are they insurmountable or life-threatening? No. Even with my car suddenly and completely quitting on my way home Monday, I was not in danger and neither were other commuters. I am grateful that there was a road, just where I needed, to coast the car off the main highway! I am grateful that I had a coworker willing to take me home. I am grateful that there is a spare vehicle that I can call into service to not be wholly inconvenienced by catching rides. And so on….

The same process can be repeated for each concern and for all the blessings too. Are there 3 things that you right now, in this moment are grateful for? They can be mundane and small to grand and sweeping. For me right now – I am grateful for warm feet, a favorite pen, a lovely coworker, and as it’s just after lunch, a full stomach! Want to be better at flipping the gratitude switch? Choose to set a prompt for yourself to list at least 3 things. This prompt could be: a time of day (maybe even set a reminder on your phone?), when you pass through your door on the way to work, or just after your head hits the pillow at night. Whenever you choose, the integration of a small practice like this can reap big benefits.

Dr. Bryan Sexton,a Duke University faculty member, has research that highlights how a ‘3 Good Things’ practice can build resilience and reverse burnout.

5 Exercises to increase your gratefulness – a blog article with neat options to try.

Do you, like me, receive daily emails? Each day a new quote comes to my inbox. Monday’s quote from Melody Beattie is above. Check out this search of their list of Gratitude quotes and many, many more quotes on different values.