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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Back to Basics Registration Now Open

*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.*

Registration for the 13th annual sustainable living event, Back to Basics, is open! With 45 workshops to choose from, nearly 50 vendors to shop at, an informative keynote speaker, door prizes, a delicious lunch, and school aged (K-6) children’s programming available, there’s fun for the whole family!

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45 sustainable workshops are planned, with some filling out already. Hurry to sign up!

The day will kick of with a keynote presentation by Kent Solberg, Livestock and Grazing Specialist with the Sustainable Farming Association. Kent will be answering many “buzz” questions regarding soil health and what it could mean for our future, our food, and our natural resources.

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Conscious Consumerism – Giving Differently

It’s that time of year where we all turn our minds to the holidays. It is a time we’re supposed to spend cherishing loved ones, family, and friends. A time we are supposed to sit back and relax, to take a break from the stress of everyday life. Unfortunately, most people don’t feel that way about the holidays anymore – it has become a time where we feel obligated to meet all sorts of expectations, like finding the perfect gift for everyone, traveling far to see relatives, and spending time with extended family.  A 2016 study indicates that 84% of consumers feel stressed out gift giving during the holidays.1

And what’s the point? Americans are accumulating more and more stuff, while facing the mental health issues that living in clutter can cause. Only 3.1% of the world’s children live in the United States, yet we buy 40% of toys produced globally.2 But we’re not just buying for our kids!  Only 12% of the world’s population lives in North America and Western Europe, yet these regions account for 60% of private consumption spending.3 The $100 billion Americans spend on shoes, jewelry, and watches is more than we spend on higher education. Where does all this get us? Homes that have tripled in size in the last 50 years (which cause stress due to maintenance and upkeep), 62% of people with two-car garages can’t use one or more of the stalls, and 1 out of every 10 Americans rent offsite storage.4 Unfortunately, the amount of stress we experience at home is directly proportional to the amount of stuff we have accumulated. Clutter overloads our senses, robs us of mental energy, and leads us to feeling anxious, tired, and overwhelmed.5

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