Love is Green

December 9, 2008 by  
Filed under Activists, Artists, Blog, Ecopreneurs, Front Page, Sustainable Living

What Joe and I like most about this venture of ours is the fascinating people we are fortunate to meet. We learn something from each of them, and our lives are enriched.

This morning we interviewed an amazing guy, a lifelong surfer who also happens to be an ecopreneur (you’ll meet Harry Johansing in a future post). When we asked him one of our favorite end-of-interview questions about what we all can do to help the planet, his first response was “Love.” Before you jump to conclusions, he wasn’t being flip. He meant it, and we were touched.

Love is green

Love is green. Photo: J Wasson

During the recent political campaign here in the U.S., Joe kept telling me that candidates should have to tell the people how they support love. “The candidate that has love for the people, the environment, and the world should be the one who wins,” he said. Okay, I admit, I looked at him with more than a little skepticism. It’s not the kind of thing a political candidate could espouse in the U.S. without getting laughed off the platform. But maybe it shouldn’t be that way. Maybe we need to hear our leaders tell us that they love more than just themselves and their families, that they love their people and our fellow humans and the world that we share.

What we’re noticing is that the people we interview are truly full of love — for the planet, for their families, for their gardens, for animals, for people. Love is what motivates them to do what they do. Yes, they want to make a living. Without a reasonable expectation of paying the bills, perhaps they wouldn’t have the courage to choose the more difficult path to be an ecopreneur or to live sustainably.

Jill Schutts and Ely

Jill Schutts and Ely. Photo: J Wasson

We’re reminded of Jill Schutts and her son, Ely. Jill stands at her kitchen window and basks in the beauty of the goats she raises. But what really motivates her is the wish to provide the best-possible life for her son by Pursuing the Dream of a Sustainable Life.

Jeanne Freymiller kept thousands of pounds of usable fabric out of the landfill by teaching others how to quilt and make things from fabric. That’s love. And now that Jeanne has died, the love of friends like Peggy Schmidt is making sure the Legacy of a Green Artist and Dreamer is carried on.

Kurt Friese

Kurt Friese. Photo: Joe Hennager

Kurt Friese believes mightily in eating locally grown foods. We’ve known him for some time, and he is all that his book implies. We loved how Kurt Friese Shares His Passion for Slow Foods in a New Book (and I learned something about the wisdom of short titles after that one was published). Kurt, his wife, Kim, and their restaurant staff fed my daughter’s love of cooking when she volunteered as a dishwasher just so she could learn from them. Their Iowa City restaurant, Devotay, exudes that same love of nutritious, tasty, local foods that he writes about.

Mary Somerville and organic hops

Mary Somerville and organic hops. Photo: Joe Hennager

Jessica Klein loves her garden. Kevin and Mary Somerville love their farmland. Both have a fondness for vermiculture — Jessica in a single bin, and the Somervilles on a grand scale. Their passion has inspired readers who also are passionate about gardens and worm farming (see Ranching Underground Livestock). (Now Joe wants to put a bucket of worms in our kitchen…)

Kevin Somerville telling about their organic fields

Kevin Somerville telling about their organic fields. Photo: Joe Hennager

You’ll read in a future post about our new friend, Bob Packard, whose worm farming adventures led him to volunteer in a gardening program for inner-city youth. He loves what he’s doing, and “the students have gone from ‘Yuck!’ to ‘Wow!’” as they, too, are becoming fond of worms.

Though I may not have mentioned the others in this post, every single one of the people we have written about and will feature in the future is filled with passion. If they’re not, no matter what enterprise they’re engaged in, they don’t interest us. Where there’s no passion, no love, there’s no real story.

Karen Ande and Kenyan orphans

Karen Ande and Kenyan orphans. Photo courtesy: Karen Ande

A couple of days ago, we posted our first Premier Sponsorship. AndePhotos might not sound, on the surface, like it’s an enterprise that’s “organic,” “green,” or “natural.” So why do we think Karen Ande belongs on our website? Because we believe the work she does to support children orphaned from AIDS in Kenya is as “natural” as it gets. Through proceeds from her nature photography and the photos she takes of the orphans, she is helping provide a sustainable life for children whose futures have been all but ripped apart. Her photos touch our hearts.

Sabrina Potirala, University of Iowa

Sabrina Potirala, Contributing Writer. Photo: Joe Hennager

We also want you to know about the volunteers who are responsible for bringing you many of the stories we post. Most are college students, writing about green living in ways that are meaningful to them.

Emmalyn Kayser

Emmalyn Kayser, Contributing Writer. Photo: Joe Hennager

Others are a bit more “seasoned,” sharing the perspectives gained over a longer life. Some have specialities, such as Veterinarian Doreen Hock, who recently wrote to encourage pet owners to take a Holistic Look at Vaccinations. All are motivated by love of the earth and its inhabitants. They are eager to make a difference, in whatever way they can, to make the world a healthier place for themselves and for generations who will come after them. Please get to know our Contributors, for their passion also inspires us.

Our families, too, support us, in ways too numerous to count. They are our ultimate loves. And, fortunately for us, they understand and share our love for the rest of the world.

Belinda Geiger

Belinda Geiger, Contributing Writer. Photo: Mark Geiger

Soon, we’ll be bringing you original Blue Planet Green Living videos. Our goal is to engage viewers with humor while passing on important content that you can really use. Joe has the vision, the passion, and the knowledge.

The BPGL video crew: Aaron Render, Justin Mangrich, and Jake

The BPGL video crew: Aaron Render, Justin Mangrich, and Jake Mathias. Photo: J Wasson

But without our dedicated team of volunteers (whose profiles will appear under Contributors once our first video is posted), this creative project would never materialize. Once again, college students and other young people (young to us, anyway) are selflessly giving their time to this project. Their dedication and passion have kept us going through disappointing technical issues like a new camera that refused to talk to the editing program we purchased. (Yes, we’re learning things every day.)

And so, I’m getting to the final point of this post about love. Last night, we purchased a Panasonic camera on line. Joe and I were working late, preparing a post for today (which you’ll now see tomorrow), when the phone rang. It was 10:30, not a time our phone often rings except in emergencies. On the other end was an effervescent voice, an inquisitive person who wanted to know more about Blue Planet Green Living, to whom she had just sold her camera. We instantly bonded. Her interest in our mission was genuine. And when we learned about her own important work, we all felt there was a greater reason we met than to transfer ownership of a camera.

Amy Louise Williams and friends

Amy Louise Williams and friends. Photo courtesy: Amy Williams

Amy Louise Williams is an Emmy-winning documentary producer. She has a passion — a love — for people and the environment that she shares through her work. We plan to tell you more about Amy as time goes on. But today, we want to introduce you to her through a short promo for a PBS video that we are posting on our home page. What does Amy’s video about the children in The Road to Matveevka have to do with things “organic,” “green,” or “natural”?

Like Karen Ande’s photos, Amy’s video introduces us to children who may never have the luxury to think about how to make the earth a better place. They are the forgotten children of Ukrainian orphanages, children whose futures are all but sealed to a life of crime and prostitution and sometimes suicide. They, too, are part of this planet we love so much. We don’t pretend that our website can solve the incredible problems that they face, but we want to shed a bit more light on the issue in whatever way we can.

To us, and to other environmentally minded people, saving rain forests and sea turtles and song birds and whales and all of nature is important — essential, in fact. But we must not lose sight of the urgency of caring for our fellow humans. Please take a look at Amy’s video, then look inside your heart. We think you’ll understand why we found this so important to share.

I’ve called this post “Love is Green.” That might sound a bit simplistic. Love comes in all colors, after all. What I mean by this is that we can share our love for people, for animals, for the beauty of nature, for each other, in fact, by making this planet a better place for all to live. The changes we need to make take money, time, and commitment.

We have a choice. We can each love “locally,” focused only on what directly affects us, or we can reach out with love to others we’ve never met and will never get to know. We can reach into the future by Living Green today, leaving the world a healthier place for the generations that come after us. But let’s not forget to also reach across borders, to make the world a safer place for our fellow travelers on this Blue Planet.

Julia Wasson

Blue Planet Green Living (Home Page)


7 Responses to “Love is Green”

  1. Bob Packard on December 10th, 2008 8:59 am

    WOW!!!! Julia, you amaze me. Each day comes with truly interesting stories about real people who try and succeed at making a difference. The rest of us get to meet and appreciate what each has done because you and Joe set out to make a difference. I know from experience that it is alot easier to teach a child to love than to hate. When you really love someone you try to do nothing to harm them or their space. Thank you.


  2. Julia Wasson on December 10th, 2008 1:03 pm

    Thank you, Bob. Now I’m touched again. We are so blessed to be able to do what we do. Support from you and others like you keeps us going from day to day. Plus, we’re having so much fun!

    I couldn’t agree with you more. Here’s to all of us teaching love with our actions as well as our words.


  3. Jake Shkolnick on December 11th, 2008 7:37 pm

    What a great article. As a student at the University of Iowa, I am often disheartened by the number of my peers who only care about making a six digit income right after graduation. I certainly wouldn’t mind that either, but I hope that the work I do will be able to help others as well.

    I met you guys a while back while I was rollin’ on my Segway, glad to see your website is doing great!

  4. Julia Wasson on December 11th, 2008 7:44 pm

    Hi Jake!

    So good to hear from you! We haven’t forgotten you or the article we need to do on the Segway. One of our interns is planning to give you a call.

    We are meeting a host of wonderful people doing important work. If you want us to put in a good word for you with any of the folks featured on our site, just give us a call.

    Thanks for visiting. Come back often, Jake.


  5. Bonnie Larsen-Dooley on December 21st, 2008 2:03 pm

    What is Green? Some of us are naturally green. Or maybe green by default. Depends on your perspective. I ride a bicycle, I compost now, I tend a garden. I use my mother’s car as little as possible. Most of my forty-eight years I depended solely on my bicycle for transportation.
    For years I’ve wanted to volunteer at the animal shelter but was afraid to commit myself. One year ago I decided to go ahead and do it and I love it. I never want to give it up. Even if I adopted my own dog one day I will still make time to walk the dogs at the shelter. The exchange of good feelings I get from contact with these charming beasts is like no other. Being green is a win/win situation.
    Love is green. We all have a green story to tell and Julia’s article inspired me to tell a little bit of mine. I am enjoying this website very much and I look forward to watching it grow.

  6. Julia Wasson on December 22nd, 2008 1:30 am

    Dear Bonnie,
    Thank you for sharing this glimpse of your own green life. You certainly seem to live your beliefs. As you know full well, embarking on a green life requires a decision, many decisions, in fact. But becoming green is a journey, not a destination. Our hope at Blue Planet Green Living is that each of us will learn from — and inspire — our fellow travelers. I’m gratified that you find this article and our website helpful.

  7. Bonnie Larsen-Dooley on December 23rd, 2008 10:41 am

    Becoming spiritually green is life affirming to me. It is unfortunate that “being green” has become a catch phrase in the media. But it is indicative of a sort of hundredth monkey phenomenon going on in the world. I love the pure grass root nature of your website. Real people doing what is in front of them to make a better today than yesterday.