Eco Camp Registration Open

ECOCAMPTREE3

WHAT WILL MY CHILD DO AT ECO CAMP?

Eco camp is a week-long day camp for children ages PreK-6th grade. We believe a passion for stewardship begins with cultivating a love of nature and being outdoors. We’ll discuss plants, animals, renewable energy, gardening, composting, recycling, and how to be a responsible caretaker of our planet. Children will be engaged in environmental education through a variety of lessons, activities, games, stories, crafts, garden experiences, outdoor play, healthy snacks, field trips, and more!

WHEN IS ECO CAMP & HOW MUCH DOES IT COST?

  1. 1st & 2nd Grade – Nature Nuthatches – June 18th – 22nd
  2. 3rd & 4th Grade – Sustainable Sparrows – July 9th – 13th
  3. 5th & 6th Grade – Conserving Chickadees – July 23rd – 27th
  4. PreK & Kindergarten – Recycling Robins – August 6th – 10th

Continue reading

Advertisements

Less Plastic

With Earth Day right around the corner, it’s a time when many pay extra attention to the Earth. It’s an opportunity to take a look at habits in your life that are supporting and even promoting plastic use. Yes, it might be time to consider your plastic consumption a little closer. We have a duty as global citizens and consumers to be making wise choices for the sustainability of the planet. Just as you “vote with your fork” when it comes to food (farming practices, ingredients, food miles, etc) and you “vote with your dollar” when it comes to products, clothing, and supporting organizations and initiatives. Our choices are often equivalent to a “vote for the environment or against it”. So why focus on plastic? In short “If nothing changes, by 2050 there will be more plastic in the oceans than fish (by weight).” 1 Perhaps you’ve heard there is an island of plastic trash that is floating in the ocean. “It’s a dubious honor, but humanity has managed to amass a giant trash mass about twice the size of Texas, or three times the size of France, or about 1,600 miles.” 2 This isn’t a benign issue; aquatic animals are consuming this plastic and a growing number are dying because of this. Beyond that, if you eat fish – you too might be eating small bits of plastic.

There are simple and often repeated suggestions like declining the plastic bags at the store. *Did you know that many stores have bag recycling somewhere on their premises? But far before we get to the end of a purchase and bag selection, we make choices that support a clean planet in the future.

Some New and Some Tried & True Suggestions –

Think twice about buying pre-bagged {manufacturer-bagged} vegetables or those that are wrapped in cling/saran/plastic wrap on a styrofoam tray. Additionally, instead of pulling down and using a new plastic bag for your produce – consider reusing the ones from your last trip. *Keep reusable produce bags (plastic or cloth) in your reusable shopping bags then they’re ready for the next trip to the store. Also, when buying just one (or two) of something – skip the bag.

Continue reading

Back to Basics 2018 – A Primer

**Registration for the 12th annual sustainable living event, Back to Basics: Navigating Changing Currents, is open! With 45 workshops to choose from, almost 50 vendors to shop at, informative and entertaining keynote speakers, door prizes, a delicious lunch, and school aged (K-4) children’s programming available, there’s fun for the whole family! Workshops ARE FILLING UP! So, don’t miss out.**

Every winter in Northern Minnesota brings with it four things.

  1. Bitter cold
  2. Time to perfect your hot tottie recipe.
  3. A reinvigorated perspective on what is more uncomfortable: being “too hot” or “too cold”*
  4. Something wonderful.

For the last 12 years, that wonderful something has been the annual sustainable living event, Back to Basics! It’s here. It’s finally here!

We wanted to focus on the importance of water, so we made this year’s theme: Navigating Changing Currents. We wanted to make more aware the troubling times in our nation, politically anyways, so we brought in two amazing keynote speakers who are well-versed in the the importance of recognizing climate change, the worldwide ecosystem, and our place within it.

“We’ll share ‘Why we need to be concerned and what you can do about it’” stated Phil

b2bkeynote2018

Mike Duvall and Phil Hunsicker will keynote the event with “slides and songs.”

Hunsicker when commenting on the keynote he and friend, Mike Duval will deliver on environmental challenges facing Minnesotans. The duo will educate and entertain with a mix of slides and songs on topics like climate change and aquatic invasive species (AIS). Both Phil and Mike work for the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources where Phil is an AIS Prevention Planner in the Division of Ecological and Water Resources and Mike is a District Manager of the Division of the Ecological and Water Resources.

Continue reading

Back to Basics 2018 Presenter Focus: Zachary Paige to Talk on the Industrial Hemp Revolution

***If you haven’t had a chance to check out the presenters at this years Back to Basics (the 12th annual sustainability event), I highly recommend you hurry.***

We try to get a wide variety of workshop presenters. We stick with ones that have year after year sold out (I’m looking at you, Abbie!) We also like to make sure that new topics are introduced to bring a fresh feel to the event.

One presenter is looking to start a revolution.

zachpic

Zachary Paige is looking to start an industrial (hemp) revolution.

Zachary Paige, a first time presenter at this years’ Back to Basics, has a passion for spreading the word of industrial hemp.

Paige insists, “Products such as plastic, high protein food products, building materials – rope, hempcrete, fiberboard, as well as textiles can be made at an affordable price right here in America from a crop that yields well in organic systems.”

Hemp and marijuana are related, but are different strains of the same plant species. Paige explains on the White Earth Natural Resource Department website,

Continue reading

Sustainably Back to School – College Edition

While the heat of summer wanes, for many, the thought of school just around the corner hammers our nerves and sense of freedom even more. So, why not make the most of it? Look forward to that new year of classes. Now add to that a hint of green thinking, and it might just be the best school year ever!

Let’s focus our sustainable minds on the products college students need. To make sure life in the dorms is as comfortable and efficient as possible, there are a few key areas to address: technology, clothing and school supplies.

Technology

Unlike the school days on campus that your parents reminiscent over (perhaps way too frequently for your taste), today’s supplies include some high-tech gear. While laptop computers, cell phones and tablets are energy sinks, they do offer some sustainable benefits. Most notably, these products are eco-friendly in that their existence makes other products unnecessary.

desktoppic

Working at a desktop can be less expensive. You definitely lose the mobility, though.

One can take an endless amount of notes in class, thus limiting the necessity for notebooks. The fewer notebooks used, the fewer trees cut down. And, if you want to take it one step further, read how to find the most energy-efficient laptops.

Continue reading

3R’s for Sustainable Clothes Shopping

With the start of school comes (another unsuccessful) football season, new (successful) teachers and a(n overwhelmingly long) back-to-school shopping list. Before darting out to the store to pick up new clothing and supplies, take a moment to revisit the 3Rs – reduce, reuse, recycle.

3rsgraphic

Just like you do with your garbage, you can utilize the 3 R’s for your school clothing.

Because you’ve taken to heart the rules of our 3R’s video, you already use the 3Rs on a daily basis. Decisions about back-to-school clothing provide the perfect opportunity to put the 3Rs to work and step up the sustainability in your household!

• Reduce – Rummage through your kids’ closets and see what you have on hand. The greenest back-to-school clothes are the ones you already have! Make a list of items you already own and only purchase what’s needed.

Continue reading

Back to School Shopping: Big vs. Small

I don’t know if you readers know this, but I have six kids, aged 19 years all the way down to 6 years. Five of them are going to be in school this year. Along with the transition from summer to school bedtimes, my wife and I are trying to find creative ways to get our (younger) children ready for school. We even thought of back to school essays, (What I’m looking forward to most this upcoming school year), but we think there may be a small riot.

We are lucky, however, that every grade sends each student’s family a handy-dandy supply list. One thing that stood out was the need for not only single subject notebooks, but also composition notebooks and loose leaf paper. I thought we were going to a paperless society. (Not soon enough, it would seem!)

 

walmartsuppllies

You’ll probably find exactly what you need in the big box stores, but do you REALLY need it?

Looking at these lists, they don’t say to go directly to Target/Walmart/BigBoxStore. No, they leave where you get these supplies up to you and you have to make decisions based on what your goals are. Do you want to get your list checked off as inexpensively as possible, or do you shop with sustainability in mind?

Continue reading

Sustainable School Lunches

With six kids, I understand that it is infinitely easier to let your child eat a hot lunch prepared by the hard-working cafeteria folk. For the most part, the lunch that your school district offers is tasty, well-balanced, and cost-effective. However, if you want to and have the time to make your child their very own lunch, why not make it the sustainable way?

We’ve put together a quick list of how you can make your child’s lunch both delicious AND better for the environment.

Reach for reusable sandwich bags and containers

snacktime

On a related note, there’s no need for single-use plastic sandwich bags. Instead, consider a waxed fabric sandwich bag, or one of the many reusable lunch containers on the market. From bento boxes to tiffins, there are loads of choices, although glass jars may be a bit too breakable for some kids. Here’s a collection of some plastic-free lunch containers (from Treehugger).

Continue reading

Happy #WorldTurtleDay

We here at Happy Dancing Turtle have an affinity with the turtle. The majestic turtle is seen in our culture as both patient and wise. From children’s lessons that indoctrinate the values of “slow but steady wins the race” to famous anecdotes of our world consisting of turtles “all the way down“, the grand turtle permeates our modern mythology in many ways.

Take a look at modern turtle poetry. One of my wife’s favorite poems is a classic by Shel Silverstein. It’s called “The Bagpipe Who Didn’t Say No”. It’s a charming poem told in a bouncing rhyming pattern about a turtle who discovers a set of bagpipes on the shore of the sea. If you’ve never read it, take a quick moment to enjoy it.  It’s only just one way we see an aspect of the turtle in our culture.

 

bagpipeturtle

Shel Silverstein’s “The Bagpipe Who Didn’t Say No” is a classic.

Another way our culture views the grand turtle is through its use in cartoons. You have many iterations that highlight the eggheaded nature of the turtle. Just look at these two examples:

 

On the left, you see Toby from the classic Robin Hood. He’s good-natured, well-intentioned…nerdy, but a scaredy cat. You could call the turtle on the right a nerd, as well. Donatello from Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles delivers a punch just like the rest of his brothers, but with the use of his brains.

But, what do these examples say about the turtle? They are continually being represented in our culture, which says to me that they are popular. They’re popular because they have desirable identifiable qualities, such as determination and intelligence. And, above all that, I see another quality in turtles that should be emulated far and wide: resiliency.

Turtles (or more specifically, tortoises) are well-known for their longevity. Only just last decade, the tortoise captured by Charles Darwin himself passed away at the ripe old age of 175 years. Lonesome George, a monument to conservation efforts, passed away at 100 years old. Both these stalwarts lived long, and what is the key to living a long time? You guessed it: Resiliency.

jonathan

This is Jonathan, an 182-year-old tortoise. You can see him at age 81 in the picture on the left.

Who would you say has a more resiliency, a turtle or a frog? Who would you peg to have the ability to bounce back from hardship, a turtle or a rabbit? Moreover, who would you say has the ability to endure difficulties, ups, and downs, and do it in a manner only described as “stoic”? You bet you’d say a turtle. I know I would.

So, let’s celebrate the turtle. Let’s hold it high among the best animals. Not that the mighty turtle would ask us for it, but let us pay tribute to it. Good job turtles! You’re an inspiration to not only our organization but to the world! Keep it up!

Water Water Everywhere, Why Bother Conserving?

#WorldWaterDay is today, March 22. This is a day where we take a closer look at our water consumption habits and see what we can do to increase reduction (that makes sense, right?) However, looking at my driveway currently covered under a foot of snow and ice, I can make a general statement that we are nowhere near using up our allotment of earthly freshwater (less than 1% of all water, btw). Therefore, I declare that we must drink and use up as much water as we can.

In fact, since there is an abundance of water (an…overflow, if you will) I decided to see in what ways I could increase my family’s water consumption. Drinking more water equals less water (snow up here) that will fall on my driveway. Here’s a couple ideas that could help. Feel free to use them, too! Continue reading