Notes from Iowa: Foliage Skateboards Asks for Your Vote

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Ecopreneur Eli Shepherd is the founder Foliage Skateboards, “an environmentally friendly, community-focused skateboard start-up.” Joe and I met Eli when he was volunteering for Iowa City Summer of Solutions and conducted an energy audit on our home. Eli recently contacted us because Foliage Skateboards is currently competing for a $5,000 business grant for start-up companies in Johnson County, Iowa. Like many young start-up business owners, Eli has a big dream but small resources. Winning the Dream Big, Grow Here contest would enable Eli to build the organization he describes below. He is asking for BPGL readers’ support.

If Eli’s company mission and vision resonate with you, we invite you to vote for Foliage Skateboards. Simply click on the Foliage Skateboard link in the Dream Big, Grow Here contest. Then click “Log in with Facebook,” confirm the app, and click “Vote!” You can vote once per day until the polls close at midnight on November 9. Eli also asks supporters to spread the word about the competition on Facebook and Twitter.

So, why should you vote for Foliage Skateboards? And what will the start-up company do if they are awarded the grant? Fair questions. Here is what Eli has to say.

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Obama, Romney, and Women’s Healthcare

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In this election, arguments about women’s healthcare have often focused on abortion and contraception coverage. While I agree these are important issues, I would like to share my views from the perspective of a female cancer patient. The Affordable Care Act (ACA), a.k.a. “Obamacare,” requires insurance companies to cover such preventative services as breast cancer mammography screenings every one to two years for women over 40, breast cancer chemoprevention counseling for women at higher risk, and annual screenings for cervical cancer. Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan have pledged to repeal Obamacare, meaning many women could lose these important benefits from their paid insurance plans.

Even worse is the Republican plan, or lack thereof, for the many women currently without coverage. When money is tight, women are often the family members who go uncovered because we are often charged as much as three times the insurance rates of men (a problem Obamacare resolves as of 2014). I know many hard-working women — single and married — who are self-employed or work jobs that offer no insurance coverage and who can’t afford to pay for coverage themselves. Many married women whose spouse has a good health insurance policy still go uncovered because of the high cost of adding family coverage. Obamacare will make more options available to ALL women when the program goes into full force in 2014. But meanwhile, women without coverage need Planned Parenthood….

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Aromatic Infusions – Luxurious Gifts for Mom (or Yourself)

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If you’re heading to the Des Moines Farmers Market tomorrow, be sure to stop by Candi Karsjens’ booth: #N208 2nd Ave. and Court. You’ll find her selling items that we’re quite smitten with here at Blue Planet Green Living. Your mom, grandma, or aunt will likely be, too. (It’s Mother’s Day on Sunday, if you didn’t get my hint.)

In my last post, I wrote about UpCycled Style, glasses, vases, and more that Karsjens makes from repurposed wine and liquor bottles. But that’s only one of her product lines. She also sells pleasantly fragrant, hand-crafted soap and candle items that even this scent-free-workplace advocate can love….

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Mississippi River Distilling Company’s “Grain to Glass” Philosophy Fills Niche in Iowa

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When the Burchett brothers first started talking about the idea of starting their own micro-distillery, they didn’t have much experience. Now, more than a year after its opening, the Mississippi River Distilling Company boasts locally made and award-winning spirits.

Located in LeClaire, Iowa, just above the banks of the Mississippi River, the micro-distillery has been in operation since December of 2010. Ryan and Garrett Burchett honed their skills for distilling by visiting and researching the craft in Germany, eventually bringing back what they learned to their home state of Iowa….

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Huddling for the Home Team (Habitat for Humanity) on Super Sunday

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Super Sunday is an American tradition and, football fan or not, the vast majority of us find ourselves in someone’s living room or den gathered around the television watching the game (okay, the ads). For enterprising fundraisers, it’s also a fantastic opportunity to gather friends together for a good cause.

This evening, Jeff Capps, Executive Director of Cedar Valley Habitat for Humanity, and his wife, Amber, hosted one of 85 house parties that will benefit the local Habitat for Humanity organization. These Home Team Huddles raise money that goes directly to building homes for deserving—and hard-working—families….

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My Night in Jail (Occupy Iowa)

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Dear Friends,

Last night, I was one of over thirty protesters arrested at “People’s Park” on the Iowa State Capitol grounds. Honestly, I was surprised by the hostile response of the State Patrol. We were on public property and obstructing neither vehicular nor pedestrian traffic. We were peaceful. We were exercising our right to freedom of speech and to petition our government. The demeanor of many of the troopers made no sense to me, especially coming from a division of State Government that I respect and worked well with when I was a state lawmaker.

Today, as I dialogue with some of the 500 people who participated in yesterday’s “occupy” events, it appears the arrests have only further fueled people’s commitment to push the movement forward….

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Moving Planet: A Play in Two Acts

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Last weekend, climate advocates and activists in more than 180 countries performed in over 2000 showings of what may very well have been the world’s largest production to date: Moving Planet. Billed as “A Day to Move Beyond Fossil Fuels” and built on the backs of tens of thousands of impassioned participants, “energy” was both the central theme and the real star of this show. The production—massive in size and yet purposefully carbon-light—focused on moving our world from dirty energy to clean energy while showcasing the human energy powering the movement….

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Ryan Gourley, Contributing Writer

October 1, 2011 by  
Filed under Activists, BPGL Crew, Iowa, Ryan Gourley

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Ryan Gourley is an organizer for Moving Planet and the Iowa City Climate Advocates, a local division of the Iowa Climate Advocates.

A native Iowan, Ryan received his Bachelor’s degrees from The University of Iowa, where he studied psychology, communication, and theatre. He combines this background with his interest in healthcare as a research specialist for the Iowa City VA Health Care System and a communication instructor for The University of Iowa Colleges of Medicine, Dentistry, and Pharmacy….

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In Memory of 9/11: Let Us Wage Peace

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We all speak today of healing, understanding, and peacemaking.

The images of September 11, 2001 are etched in our minds. But we need to be more concerned with what we have done with 9/11 than with 9/11 itself.

Yes, we mourn the loss of so many innocent victims. We laud the heroism of the firefighters and so many others. And we will always be outraged at the inhumanity of the attackers. But I don’t think that the 2,977 victims on 9/11 died to usher in a period of perpetual war….

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Edible Gardens Make Summer Tasty and Fun in Iowa City

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When I first moved to Iowa City, I decided to try and conquer my terrible sense of direction by walking around and getting to know the area. Instead, I did what I always do. I found one path that took me from Point A to Point B, and I started taking that path every day.

Along my walk is the Robert A. Lee Community Recreation Center. I first noticed the Recreation Center because I was looking for a gym to attend while living in Iowa City (I can proudly say that I’ve been to the gym a total of one time.) But, I was more intrigued by the garden attached to the side of the building.

Normally I would ask someone about the garden, receive a short explanation, nod my head and go on my way. But, this summer I am a Blue Planet Green Living intern. I get to satisfy my curiosity by being a journalist. So, last Wednesday Hayley Noneman, a summer intern with Iowa City Parks and Recreation, took me on a tour of Parks and Recreation’s garden projects….

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Iowa City Summer of the Arts Goes Green

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To get a sense of the strong community living in Iowa City, attend one of its summer festivals. This weekend, the annual Iowa City Jazz Festival will take over the downtown area and provide residents with delicious food, music, and the opportunity to learn about the environment.

Environmental education may not be what you expect to see at a festival. But, Iowa City’s summer events attract thousands of people, and that generates a lot of trash. To reduce the waste that Iowa City’s festivals send to the landfill, Summer of the Arts (SotA), the organization behind Iowa City’s festivals, has begun a program called Green Initiatives (GI)….

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Practical Farmers of Iowa Field Days June 18 and 26

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Whether you’re a farmer or a wannabe, the Practical Farmers of Iowa (PFI) Field Days may be of interest to you. Two upcoming events, June 18 and June 26, are geared for farmers (and farmers at heart) who strive for sustainability along with production.
June 18: Improving a Perennial Pasture

What does it take to establish and care for a pasture with perennial plants? One that is good for grazing a growing herd of cattle? Come find out from farmer Nathan Anderson of Cherokee. Together with his dad, Randy Anderson, and his fiancée, Sarah Joachim, Anderson participates in a Practical Farmers of Iowa project to monitor “ecological productivity and financial indicators” related to improving pastures and grazing systems….

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Eating for Health – Wahls Diet Fights Multiple Sclerosis

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In 2000, her doctor diagnosed Terry Wahls with secondary progressive multiple sclerosis (MS), a disease that was steadily robbing her of the independence she treasured. A former Tae Kwondo instructor and marathon runner, the loss of mobility was devastating. For four years, she required a tilt-recline wheelchair to conduct the affairs of her daily life. […]

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David Rowley, Contributing Writer

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A native of Iowa, David Rowley is getting ready for his impending exit from the state. He’s not sure what awaits him next – grad school or the real world – though David is sure he will be traversing new roads….

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The Green Side of Art – Making New Beauty from Old Objects

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Have you ever looked at a beer bottle and thought, That would make a good candle? Like many people switching to a more environmentally friendly – “green” – lifestyle, artists are finding new ways to show their creativity while recycling material that otherwise would be tossed in the garbage.

Tom Brown has found an outlet for his creativity by participating in the Iowa City Public Library’s Altered Book Sale and Exhibit.

For the past few years, people of all ages have been encouraged to participate in creating fun works of art using old books as the focal material of the work. Those who participate have the option of using their own library for material or picking up an old book from the Iowa City Public Library (ICPL).

Using recycled material such as books and copper, Brown went to work creating his piece for the exhibit: a lamp. Brown made the body from copper tubing and the shade from the pages of a medical encyclopedia.

“It was covered in skulls and kidneys and other body parts,” says Brown….

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Iowans Take Action to Ban BPA in Baby Products

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There’s good news for the children of Iowa today — though it’s not quite a done deal yet. The Iowa Senate passed a ban on Bisphenol-A (BPA) in the manufacture of certain children’s products sold in the state, including baby bottles, baby bottle liners, sippy cups, pacifiers, and teething rings.

A synthetic estrogen, BPA is used to harden clear plastics in all sorts of products, such as water bottles, containers for storing leftovers, plastic eyeglasses, ice cube trays, beer and soda cans, baby food jar lids, thermoses, and cell phones. It’s even likely to be in the cash register receipt you get at the grocery store. And, you can find BPA in the plastic lining inside cans of food and in some children’s toys….

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Dr. Jason Bradley, Contributing Writer

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Dr. Jason Bradley practices naturopathic and chiropractic medicine in Iowa City, IA. After finishing his undergraduate degrees in Anthropology and English Literature, he attended Palmer University in Davenport, Iowa, where he attained his Doctor of Chiropractic, graduating summa cum laude.

Early in practice, he realized that his patients were coming to him with complex questions about metabolic and nutritional medicine and that naturopathy school was calling him. He attended Trinity College in Warsaw, Indiana, where he earned his Doctor of Naturopathic Medicine, again graduating summa cum laude.

A lifelong learner, Jason recently completed a Master’s Degree in Journalism at the prestigious Adler School at the University of Iowa. While continuing to see patients, he is currently completing a Doctor of Nursing Practice at Frontier School of Medicine in Hyden, Kentucky and will sit for the Board Certification exam in Anti-Aging Medicine in April of 2011.

In his practice, Jason specializes in treating complex metabolic disorders, weight loss, fatigue, thyroid and adrenal imbalances and bio-identical hormone replacement therapies….

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Green Therapy Grows into Medical Mainstream

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Kathyrn Cummings walks along a wooded nature trail in Hickory Hill Park near Iowa City, with her patient a few steps ahead of her. She stops every so often to examine the colors in a leaf or point out the number of rings in a tree stump. It’s the third time this week that she has visited a park to walk the trails, but not because she enjoys the sunshine.

Cummings, an assisted-living counselor, works with a nonverbal, disabled woman, who suffers from severe anxiety and aggression issues. When the woman begins to show signs of an impending panic attack or begins to clench her fists out of frustration, Cummings knows it’s time to go for a walk. Taking a hike is often the only way to relieve the woman’s symptoms.

This is just one example of how interest in the therapeutic benefits of spending time outdoors is starting to gain attention in the medical mainstream….

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Lauren Mills, Contributing Writer

December 6, 2010 by  
Filed under Iowa, Kansas, Lauren Mills

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Lauren Mills is a junior at the University of Iowa, majoring in Journalism, English, and Spanish. She recently returned from studying abroad in Chile and loves to travel, but she’ll always come home to her beloved Kansas City.

Her interest in environmental journalism began when she worked the environmental beat as a reporter for the The Daily Iowan…

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Woofables – A Gourmet Bakery Your Dog Will Love

December 4, 2010 by  
Filed under Blog, Ecopreneurs, Front Page, Iowa, Pet Food, Pets, Slideshow

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Although Woofables, The Gourmet Dog Bakery in Coralville, Iowa, sells dog food, it has the light scent of a real bakery. Owner Laura Taylor, who used to work in marketing, now spends her days crafting handmade treats for canines out of all-natural, all-human-grade ingredients.

While frosting a cake, Taylor explains that everything made in the store can be eaten by people; they’ll just think it tastes bland. Salt is unhealthy for dogs, so items are flavored with pumpkin, peanut butter, and cinnamon. Frosting is made with carob and yogurt and tastes like white chocolate….

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