Book Review: Pilgrim at Tinker Creek by Annie Dillard

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What is the true nature of Nature? Is it a harmonious, interconnected system, operating according to the principles of co-dependence and benevolence? Or is it red in tooth and claw — an unfeeling, unthinking force, in which the individual is overwhelmed and subsumed to serve a larger purpose, one mysterious and obscure? This is what Annie Dillard’s Pilgrim at Tinker Creek is all about: an exploration into the nature of Nature, an attempt to discover the true character of the natural world around us. Appropriately, it is neither a rapturous celebration of Nature, nor a grim survey of its various cruelties. Rather, like Nature itself, it is something in between — and something quite beautiful…

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Community Supported Agriculture – A Win-Win for Farmer and Shareholder

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If you’re in the Northern Hemisphere, as we are here in Iowa, you’re coasting through spring on the way to summer. Either you’ve planted a garden, you’re getting ready to plant — or you aren’t intending to plant at all. This post is for the third group, those of you who either don’t want to, or don’t have the space to, plant a garden of your own.

There’s another option: Community Supported Agriculture (CSA). A CSA is a mutually beneficial arrangement between a farmer (or farm collective) and members. Members become shareholders in the CSA farm by pledging a certain amount of money for regular deliveries of a season’s worth of vegetables, fruits, and/or meat. The farmer sets the price and the amount of produce/meat to be delivered, how often, and how long in the season…

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Audubon Society Honors Women Conservationists

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I am admittedly more sensitive than many people about the lack of attention paid to the contributions of women in science. Since I was a young girl, I have bristled at stories about women who did the same work as men — better, often enough — but whose names never were put forth for prizes, awards, or any kind of recognition. The simple fact is, more talented women have been overlooked by history than celebrated in it. Certainly, this is also true in cases of racial and ethnic inequities, and I ache to hear these stories, too. Though I do not wish to denigrate the work of talented, deserving men of any race or religion, my own hot button, quite honestly, is about women. So, I was gratified to find in my inbox today a press release about an award honoring the contributions of six outstanding women conservationists…

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Small Sacrifices for a Healthier Planet

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It’s no secret — and, sadly, no surprise — that those of us living in industrialized nations are using up more than our share of the planet’s resources and releasing alarming amounts of greenhouse gases. In 2006, for example, the Sierra Club reported, “industrial countries with less than 20 percent of the world’s population are responsible for more than 60 percent of the total carbon dioxide added to the atmosphere.”

Yet, when we talk about making small sacrifices to save our species from extinction — or from future water wars, as the planet heats up and snowfalls all but disappear — most people resist making changes. We all have our limits, certainly. But without making sacrifices now, what quality of life will we leave our children or our grandchildren? What gives us the right to run lights, TVs, and air conditioners with no one in the room? To drive huge, gas-guzzling vehicles with no passengers or cargo? To plant and water lush lawns in the desert? To waste space, resources, water, energy — all of which are in limited supply? …

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In Loving Memory of Dave Church

May 25, 2009 by  
Filed under Blog, Front Page, Seniors, U.S.

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What I am about to tell you about Dave Church may not be entirely factual. I may have misheard it or misremembered it, or the person who told it to me may have exaggerated a little. I don’t know. The facts are hazy at best, but the story is deeply etched in my heart and mind. I cannot corroborate the facts and, quite frankly, I don’t care to. If you prefer to read only facts, then don’t read this. This is a story of emotion…

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Conserving Water, a Sinkful at a Time

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Slowing global warming is a long-term process that requires efforts on a global, or at least a national, scale. What can Californians — or any other drought-affected people — do about the water shortage right now, on a local level?

One suggestion is to reuse the waste water generated by showering, washing clothes, and using the sink. These sources of waste water are called greywater, and though you won’t want to drink it, you can easily reuse it to water some of your plants and trees…

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Chef Helen Sandler, Contributing Writer

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Helen Sandler is used to being an innovator and at the cutting edge of whole foods/whole grains awareness. After graduating from SUNY, New York with a teaching degree, she began to follow her real passion for healthy cooking, which took her from Los Angeles to Boston to attend the cooking school of the late and great master Japanese natural chef, Aveline Kushi…

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Healthy Kids – Yours, Mine, Ours

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With the meteoric rise of childhood and young adult health diseases: diabetes, obesity, eating disorders, high cholesterol, asthma, high blood pressure, depression, ADD, ADHD, and the lists goes on and on… Diseases once thought to be brought on by age deterioration in adults are now epidemic, even plagues, among our children. Drugs are not the answer. One definite answer is natural foods. Too simplistic? Things in life don’t have to be that complicated. You really are what you eat…

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Product Review – Larabar Apple Pie Bar

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Last week, when I wrote a review of the Bora Bora Organic Almond Sunflower Bar, I mentioned that I’d purchased another bar as well. The Larabar Apple Pie bar is, according to my 29-year-old son, Aaron, “Not as bad as you would expect from an all-natural bar. Pretty cinnamony, with a little less apple taste than cinnamon.” Overall, he said, “It had more flavor than you would expect from something without artificial flavors added.”

Larabar Apple Pie Bars are packed with raw dates, almonds, unsweetened apples, walnuts, raisins, and cinnamon.

I suppose that’s high praise from a guy who thinks Mountain Dew is the nectar of the gods…

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The Leakey Collection – Making “Something from Nothing” Creates Sustainability for Maasai Families

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Under the shade of a small stand of acacia trees, more than a dozen Maasai women are laughing, talking, and singing. Their brightly colored dresses create a cheerful contrast with the buff grass beneath them. Nearby, their children run and play together while the women string colored beads cut from strips of Zulugrass.

The result of their labor is both versatile and lovely — necklaces, bracelets, belts, and earrings in a rainbow of colors. Each piece is made primarily of natural materials harvested sustainably from local resources. The jewelry they make will be sold by the Leakey Collection in more than 20 countries around the world…

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A Halo for Haley – Active-Airflow Mattress Helps Prevent SIDS

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After Bill and Cathy Schmid’s tiny daughter, Haley, died of SIDS, they wanted answers. What they learned was that Haley likely suffocated in her own exhalations when her tiny arms cradled her face as she slept. While oxygen deprivation doesn’t explain all SIDS deaths, Bill, an engineer, was determined to find a way to prevent that particular cause from ever taking another baby’s life.

He invented a crib mattress that allowed fresh air to flow up through the surface to the baby, providing a constant, gentle supply of fresh air. While the idea was good, there were problems that he hadn’t yet solved. The mattress was heavy and hard for a parent to lift without help. And it was difficult to clean. He sold a few mattresses to parents who were eager to prevent a SIDS tragedy from happening to their child. But sales were not brisk, and Bill was not satisfied with his invention…

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TED Challenges Old Thinking with Inspired Ideas

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When I first heard of TED, I thought (admit it, some of you did, too) that TED was a person. I soon learned that the word is an acronym for Technology, Entertainment, and Design. If you’re not yet familiar with TED, you’re missing out on a phenomenal resource for ideas worth hearing. The site hosts lectures, called TED Talks, by some of “the world’s most fascinating thinkers and doers, who are challenged to give the talk of their lives (in 18 minutes).” While I’ve viewed only a fraction of the 400+ TED Talks posted on the website, I’ve never been disappointed by the quality of the speaker or the importance of the information shared.

But, in my estimation, as brilliant as any speaker is the idea of TED itself…

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Earth Cinema Circle – Environmental Films in Your Mailbox

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At the beginning of 2009, Joe and I signed up with Earth Cinema Circle, which sends us a DVD every two months. Each DVD contains four videos about environmental topics. As members, we receive the same DVD as everyone else, enabling common conversations among like-minded individuals. Topics include:

* Wildlife
* Adventurous Eco-Travel
* People Making a Positive Difference to Our Planet
* Environmental Choices
* Conservation…

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Product Review – Bora Bora Organic Almond Sunflower Bars

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You eat snacks, don’t you? Most of us do. And if they’re good snacks — natural, healthy foods that aren’t too high in refined sugars, salt, or the dreaded high-fructose corn syrup — we can even feel good about eating them. At least that’s what I told myself when I set out to review a couple of natural and organic goodies for this website….

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This Should Scare the Meat Out of You

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We’ve heard it all before. We’ve read it a million times, and now we’re sick of it. We’ve all had it up to here about why we shouldn’t eat red meat. You did hear about the recent study published in The Archives of Internal Medicine — the one in which researchers followed half million people for ten years. Oh, you missed that one?

It involved 322,263 men, and 223,390 women ages 50 to 71. That’s my demographic — and the single largest demographic in the US. Maybe it’s your demographic, too. Or your parents’ or grandparents’ (if you’re really young). Ever wonder why we Baby Boomers are experiencing such high rates of obesity, diabetes, heart disease and cancer?…

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Green Festival in Chicago May 16, 17

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If you’ll be in Illinois this weekend, head on over to Navy Pier to attend Chicago’s third annual Green Festival, May 16 and 17. Billed as the “original green consumer living event,” the weekend will provide “a vision of a cleaner, more efficient future for American businesses, homes, and lifestyles.”…

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AmeriCorps/VISTA Flood Recovery Project Job Opportunities in Iowa

May 8, 2009 by  
Filed under 2009, Blog, Events, Flood, Front Page, Iowa, Jobs, Slideshow, U.S.

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The school year is nearly finished, and many young adults are looking for work in a depressed job market. They’re not alone. Unemployment is at a record high across the nation. People who’ve had the same job for decades are out of work and wondering what to do next. Some are now changing career paths and considering opportunities they would never have imagined if they hadn’t been laid off.

Perhaps you, too, are a job seeker. Perhaps you are looking for a challenge unlike any you’ve tried before. Maybe you’re even looking for an adventure and a way to help others…

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Green Investing — The Next Step to Green Living

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Okay. So you recycle, you use biodegradable cleaning products, eat organic, conserve water, and bike to work — how much greener can you get? If you are fortunate enough to have a little discretionary income, rather than investing in another hemp sweater, you could actually invest in the company that makes them. It’s called Socially Responsible Investing (SRI), or eco-investing.

More and more consumers and investors are beginning to show an affinity for understanding and protecting their environment. Investing in environmentally and socially responsible companies can also prove to be profitable. But, just because a company is “green” doesn’t necessarily make it a good investment. If the company you support isn’t making any money then neither are you. Also, beware of “greenwashing” — a company may profess to be more eco-friendly than they actually are…

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Terri French, Contributing Writer

May 7, 2009 by  
Filed under Alabama, Blog, Contributing Writers, Writers

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Terri French is a writer living in Huntsville, Alabama. Her work has appeared in The Valley Planet, Texas Parks and Wildlife Magazine, Boston Seniority, and The Canadian Organic Grower. Terri and her husband, Ray, recycle, use “green” products, buy organic, and make environmentally friendly investments.

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The Unhealthy Truth: How Our Food Is Making Us Sick and What We Can Do About It

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In yesterday’s post, Blue Planet Green Living (BPGL) talked with Robyn O’Brien to find out what motivated her to start AllergyKids, a nonprofit group dedicated to protecting children with food allergies. In Part 2 of this two-part interview, O’Brien tells us more about O’Brien’s book, The Unhealthy Truth: How Our Food Is Making Us Sick and What We Can Do About It, which was released by Random House yesterday.

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