World Environment Day – Teaching Our Children

It should never be understated the importance of raising awareness amongst future generations, our children, of sustainable practices. It is essential that future generations see our planet in a different way than we do, i.e. that they don’t see it as a source from which to extract any needed material to satisfy any slight desire.

worldendayToday, Friday, June 5 is World Environment Day. It’s a day that was created to bring political and social awareness to the environment on a global scale. It’s intention is to make aware that our planet is, indeed, all of ours. We are the planet’s caretakers.

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Dave taking the time to show some gardening techniques.

Since World Environment Day’s inception, and it’s grand motivation, many great things have been done to help ensure that we can live in symbiosis with our planet. Awareness has risen on the importance of our place in the environment. Worldwide campaigns against deforestation, global warming, food waste, and air pollution have brought these concerns front and center. However, in the last several years, there have been political and commercial agencies that have disregarded these lesson.

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We’re All in this Together: A Social Distancing Blog, Part 1

This is an unprecedented time. If you need help with your mental health, here are a list of numbers from the Minnesota Department of Health that are searchable for your county. For more information on mental health preparedness, here’s a good article from PBS

We are individuals. We are separate. We’re being asked to stay away from friends, family members, worshipers, and colleagues.

But, humans are social creatures. It’s in our nature to be in close contact with others. We love our get-togethers, our barbecues, our baseball games. Our society we fashion our lives around these social interactions.

However, for now and the near future we are being asked to run counter to what’s in our biological programing, what we’ve done in the past. Now, we are being asked to distance ourselves from each other.

Data is showing that people are doing this in Minnesota. You are flattening the curve and we are so proud of you because it is so hard!  That’s why we wanted to show you that you are not alone, not really. We are all in this together.

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Does this look familiar to you? Our crew has been social distancing for several weeks but we still need to keep in contact. Online is one of those ways. This is our monthly all-campus meeting…not held on campus, of course.

Our staff has been social distancing for close to a month, and we’ve each fallen into our own routines. We are keeping up our workload but we are finding ways to make our families and ourselves stronger.

Maybe reading how we are individually managing at our homes will give you the inspiration and strength to battle on and maybe also the solace in knowing that we are all in this together.

Executive Director Quinn

My days seem to be passing even more quickly. Are yours, too? Although I haven’t identified the reason, I think there are many contributing factors. At-home-working means less physical and mental separation between work and home so my “to do list” for home is growing all day waiting for lunch break or the end of the work day.

So far this morning water plants, empty dishwasher, kitchen clean, and deck sweeping have made the list. Plus, have you been seeing the myriad of amazing online opportunities being shared each day? Facebook Live and Zoom yoga classes, lectures/learning sessions on nearly any and every topic and so on!

*Note, I may never want to visit an in-person yoga class again; I am in love with yoga classes from afar.*

Also, it’s getting nicer outside! My husband and I take a near-daily walk. It used to be each weekday morning about 4:40am. Now it’s shifted to an afternoon/evening after he returns from work time-frame. As the days have grown lighter longer and snow has melted revealing litter the last few have been trash pickup walks.

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We can find purpose even in an afternoon walk. Here Quinn shows off how she’s cleaning up her stretch of road.

Before that, I was searching for acorn “tops” on walks. In the evenings I enjoy craft endeavors and as of late, the craft project du jour has been felting “acorns” to set into the tops.

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Quinn has been able to enjoy crafts with nature while at home.

I have been able to more frequently have catch ups with friends and family, utilizing calls, video chats, and texts, too. Typical or normal and new ways to while away time have made for quickly passing days.

Simply though, I recognize with deep gratitude, that I am fortunate to get to spend any day, let alone these days, in good health.

May we, looking back, find that these days were but quick, maybe productive, blips.

Program Coordinator Michelle

These last few weeks have been a big change for all of us. One of the things that have helped my family stay on track and maintain some sense of normalcy is having a schedule. Even before we started distance learning last week we made a schedule that included time for reading, writing, outside time, and STEAM games and activities. Now that they are doing formal schooling again, this schedule has helped my girls focus on their work and be productive.

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Getting outside is important.

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Focusing on the good things is too.

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Finding time to relax

We aren’t strict with our schedule, though. My girls are 8 and 10, in 2nd and 5th grade. Suddenly being home all the time and trying to figure out distance learning can be hard and stressful. Sometimes we need a break, even during our scheduled “work” time, so we take a break if we need to.

Getting outside is almost always what we need to regain focus. We’ve taken daily family walks, sometimes two or three times a day. There have been hula hoop contests, batting practice, and target practice with a bow and arrow. With the snow mostly gone, my youngest has finally been able to get to the swing set. She could swing for hours! My oldest and our puppy love to head off into the woods to explore and almost always come back with a pile of sticks to practice her fire building skills with.

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Routine is important.

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Schoolwork can keep you busy.

The guidance and support we are receiving from our school is absolutely amazing, too! Their teachers have gone above and beyond in providing instruction and work for our students. Each of my girls have spoken on the phone with their teachers, more than once, and that is a huge morale booster for them. The teachers are delving into new, unknown territory right along with us and they have more than risen to the occasion.

We recently started receiving lunch and breakfast from the school that they deliver each day. We didn’t sign up for them at first because we didn’t think we needed them. That was before we tried to come up with something different for lunch every day! The girls so look forward to that walk to the end of the driveway every day to pick up lunch and there hasn’t been anything yet that they haven’t eaten!

All in all, while this is not an ideal situation and there are still a lot of unknowns, I am thankful to have this time with my family and incredibly thankful for all of the support and services that are available.

We hope you found a little inspiration today in reading this. We will drop another post next week where other members of our staff share what they are doing through this difficult time.

Microplastics

This year, World Water Day occurs on March 22, focusing our attention on one of earth’s most important resources: water. According to the United Nations, we’ll hit a global population of 8 billion by the year 2023. As our population continues to grow, our water resources are becoming increasingly stressed. The World Health Organization shared that 29% of the world’s population still do not have safe drinking water located on the premises and roughly 2.2 million people die from water-related illnesses each year. Unfortunately, there is a new cause of concern as it relates to our water.

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Global plastic production has skyrocketed over recent decades as we’ve increased our reliance on plastics to allow us to live a life of convenience. Originally, plastics were introduced as a “cheap” alternative to other materials, such as fabrics, animal products (like bone or tortoise shells), metals, and other ores. They made many consumer goods less expensive, increasing accessibility for many products. Plastic production continued to increase as we moved into the convenience of disposable products: diapers, cups, straws, eating utensils, plates, to-go containers, bags, cleaning aids, and more. If you look around your house, you’ll probably find that many (if not most) of your items have some sort of plastic in them – food containers in your fridge, toothbrushes and other cosmetic products, most fabrics, carpets, electronics, office supplies, home decor and so much more. If it wasn’t made with plastic, there’s a good chance that it came packaged in plastic. But what does our use of plastics have to do with the safety of our water? Continue reading

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!

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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 – 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.

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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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Growing Gratitude

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 TED.com blog article with neat options to try.

Do you, like me, receive PassItOn.com 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.

Get Your Trek On!

Each year, Happy Dancing Turtle offers camping trips for girls and boys in 2nd-8th grade through our Turtle Treks program. These camping trips provide youth with a chance to visit parks across the state. In the past, campers have canoed the lake at Bemidji State Park, explored the falls at Gooseberry Falls State Park, hiked the trails at Itasca State Park and learned how to set up camp and build a fire at Forbes Park right here in Pine River.

 

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Soil Health for Earth Day

By Allison Rian

My 6 year-old daughter wanted to help make soil mix for planting vegetable seeds this weekend. As we got our hands dirty mixing compost, peat, and nutrients, and then adding water, I was treated to a passionate oration on the importance of plants for food and trees for clean and fresh air. (I was one proud mama.) “It all starts with the seed,” she told me. “What about the soil?” I asked her. “The seed grows in the soil,” she answered.

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My 6 year-old helping prep for garlic planting last fall.

Yes, the trees and plants grow in the soil, but it is more than just a medium. It is a living ecosystem, capable of providing the essentials of life to plants and animals. Leonardo Da Vinci said, “We know more about the movement of celestial bodies than about the soil underfoot.” True in the Renaissance Period and still true now.  

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Outdoor Adventures on Snowshoes & Skis

As a Minnesotan, I find you get the most out living in this state if you come to embrace all four of our very distinct and wonderful seasons. Most people have the hardest time embracing winter – the cold temps, the snow, the often difficult travels, and the extended periods inside with your children on polar vortex and snow days take a toll on a person! Personally, I love winter. I probably spend more time outside in winter than I do in any other season. The secret is to find outdoor activities that let you marvel in nature, while also keeping you warm!

Both cross-country skiing and snowshoeing have a wealth of health benefits, plus these types of “workouts” will keep you warm in even the most frigid of temps! These outdoor recreation options are good cardio exercise, allowing you to build strength, endurance, and balance while providing a full-body workout! Not to mention, the time outdoors in nature helps reduce stress and anxiety, and who doesn’t need that!? Whether your flying solo or with friends and family, this time in nature can be rejuvenating. Plus, did I mention they’re fun? Both snowshoes and cross-country skis come in a variety of sizes, meaning this can be fun for the whole family!

 

 

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Back to Basics Presenter Spotlight – Chris Glassmann

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

 

There are 45 workshops at this year’s Back to Basics and over 50 vendors in the giant vendor fair. A lot of these focus on food, nutrition, and making meal time a better expereience for participants. I pulled one of the presenters aside to talk on what he’s excited to talk about.

Chris Glassmann (who also works as the campus chef here at HDT), will be doing a workshop titled How to Use Those Weird Fruits and Veggies. He wants to focus on making his workshop attendees more comfortable in the kitchen using the produce that is less popular than more other produce.

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Chris G. in his habitat

I got a chance to pick his brain.

CM: The Midwest has gotten along pretty well with dinners made primarily from “meat and potatoes”; it’s pretty brash, wouldn’t you say, to start introducing other more unique veggies?

Chris Glassmann: Local grocery stores, markets, are bringing in different fruits and veggies into their produce section because they hear that people are interested in trying them. But, what’s happening, is that people that go into the market look at that odd looking fruit and walk on by because even if they wanted to buy it and take it home, they still don’t know how to make a meal with it. My hope is to make a difference for not only the people eating the new type of produce, but for the markets that have taken the leap away from “meat and potatoes” basics. There’s room for both!

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