Atlas of Mud: A Cautionary Tale

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A young girl emerges from the darkness on stage. She is awakening, deep in the belly of a vast, wooden ship, reminiscent of Noah’s Ark. I listen intently as she vividly recounts a dream:

“I was in the sky…

“I was flying…

“And there were people – so many people. They were all moving towards the water. They didn’t notice me so I swooped low over them looking for you. There were boats – just like this one but hundreds and hundreds of them. And around every boat were soldiers. People were crowded onto the decks of the boat and all of them had suitcases and boxes. There was no room to move and still more people kept climbing on.”

Her dream is frightening and the event confusing. Who is this child? What prompted her nightmare? Who is she talking to?

This is the Working Group Theatre’s production of Atlas of Mud in Iowa City’s Riverside Theatre. The audience is in rapt attention as the scene the young girl describes gets worse, horrifyingly so. The images are chilling…

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Stop “Chocolate Milk” from Running in Iowa’s Rivers – Vote for Iowa’s Water and Land Legacy Referendum

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Iowans have a crucial choice to make that will impact future generations: the choice between clean water and dirty water.

On November 2, Iowa voters will see a referendum on a constitutional amendment called Iowa’s Water and Land Legacy (IWLL) on the back of their ballot. If it passes, it goes into effect for the next sales tax increase. Three-eighths of a percent of all Iowa sales will go into the trust fund, which will be used for soil conservation programs, to improve water quality, and to promote outdoor recreation.

“This is a way to not have chocolate milk running down our rivers,” said Mark Langgin, campaign manager for Iowa’s Water and Land Legacy….

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Our 5: Briggs Shore and Avi Pogel, Sustainable Living Coalition

September 7, 2010 by  
Filed under 2010, Blog, Events, Front Page, My 5, Slideshow

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This past spring, Blue Planet Green Living (BPGL) met Briggs Shore and Avi Pogel at the Natural Living Expo in Des Moines, Iowa. Pogel and Shore work with the Sustainable Living Coalition. Shore is the Administrative Coordinator and Pogel is on the teaching staff.

According to the group’s website, “The Sustainable Living Coalition is a group of enthusiastic individuals actively working to create communities that are: environmentally sustainable, spiritually fulfilling, and socially just places to live. The SLC’s Vision is: to empower individuals and communities to live fully rooted in the abundant flows of natural systems.”

Following are Shore’s and Pogel’s joint responses to the question we most like to ask everyone we speak with….

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BLUE Ocean Film Festival and Conservation Summit Coming to Monterey

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Monterey, California, is a lovely seaside community with a world-class aquarium. It’s long been a vacation destination for ocean enthusiasts. And now, it is the new, permanent setting for the BLUE Ocean Film Festival and Conservation Summit.

If you’re planning to be in Northern California August 24–29, consider attending the festival to see the year’s leading films about the wonders of the ocean, to hear lectures and panel discussions by leading ocean researchers, to view an ecstatically beautiful photo exhibit by National Geographic photographer David Doubilet, and to participate in other exciting events….

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Iowa Rivers Revival Invites You to Rivers Rock! September 11

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Whether you’re a paddler, a lover of rivers, or someone who wants to find out what all the fuss is about, Iowa Rivers Revival invites you to fall in love with Iowa’s rivers at Rivers Rock! Float and Music Fest on Saturday, September 11….

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1 Mississippi Photo Contest Ends Sunday

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The Mississippi River has long been memorialized in song, story, and legend for its beauty and the spirit of adventure it inspires. Uniting 31 states in its watershed, the river is a part of our culture and our heritage as Americans. And it serves as a superhighway for goods that flow north and south, connecting communities along the way. This valuable asset deserves our protection and our respect.

A group called 1 Mississippi has invited both amateur and professional photographers to submit photos of this diverse and important waterway that unites our nation. But hurry! The contest ends on Sunday.

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Cast Your Vote for the “Hardest-Working ___ in America”

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Mitchum’s brand team calls its product the “hardest working anti-perspirant in America.” And, as part of their latest advertising strategy, they’re running a contest that invites people to submit videos of the “hardest-working ____ in America.” Entrants were invited to fill in the blank with a noun, then to post a video about themselves or someone else they nominated. The goal is to convince the rest of us to vote for them.

While this is obviously another clever marketing strategy similar to a few other companies’ efforts (Pepsi and Intuit come to mind), the stakes are high enough that the prize could do some real good. And that’s why I’m weighing in with a suggestion that you take a look at the videos of the ten finalists and choose the one that resonates with you….

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2010 Gulf of Mexico Dead Zone Among Largest Ever, Scientists Say

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The delicate ecosystem of the Gulf of Mexico was wounded long before Katrina stormed ashore, and her wildlife was poisoned by chemicals streaming down the Mississippi River long before BP stirred a few million gallons of crude into her waters. The Louisiana Universities Marine Consortium (LUMCON) has been monitoring hypoxia — lack of oxygen — in the Gulf waters since 1985. Much of this hypoxia is caused by agricultural chemicals and farm animal waste products that flow into the Mississippi from 19 states to the north. (Iowa alone is estimated to be responsible for 25% of the farm chemicals and fecal matter pouring into the Gulf.) Efforts are underway to reduce the agricultural pollution that is contributing heavily to the Dead Zone, but more must be done to make a positive impact on the area.

Yesterday, Blue Planet Green Living received an email from Dr. Nancy Rabalais, Executive Director of LUMCON, with the group’s latest report. The following information is reprinted from “2010 DEAD ZONE – ONE OF THE LARGEST EVER,” dated 1 August 2010, from Cocodrie, Louisiana….

“The area of hypoxia, or low oxygen, in the northern Gulf of Mexico west of the Mississippi River delta covered 20,000 square kilometers (7,722 square miles) of the bottom and extended far into Texas waters. The relative size is almost that of Massachusetts. The critical value that defines hypoxia is 2 mg/L, or ppm, because trawlers cannot catch fish or shrimp on the bottom when oxygen falls lower….”

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Take Action Today to Support the Safe Cosmetics Act of 2010

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In our house over the past two years or so, we’ve been carefully examining every personal care product we buy. If you’re a long-time reader of Blue Planet Green Living (BPGL), you already know that we are huge fans of the Environmental Working Group (EWG) and their Skin Deep Cosmetics Safety Database. Today, we received […]

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Notes from Canada: Giving Back to Uganda with Love

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I was born a white child in Uganda, East Africa to missionary parents, Velma and David Freeman. When I was 8 years old, our time in Africa came to a sudden and frightening end.

Just three months earlier, my dad had witnessed the brutal killing of our town mayor in Masaka. The mayor had been dragged through the town on the back of a pickup truck, and then a major in the army openly slit his throat as a warning to anyone who might stand against the regime of the ruthless and unpredictable dictator, President Idi Amin. My father was the only white man he could see, along with a few Asians in the crowd.

Our deportation was ordered shortly thereafter. Idi Amin’s soldiers picked up my father late one night and took him to jail. We had 48 hours to leave. Little did I realize at that young age that everything I knew as normal would change forever….

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The Creative Circus Students Say, “Nice Backside” to Used Paper

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As you might guess from its name, students at The Creative Circus, an advertising portfolio school in Atlanta, are among the most talented and creative minds in the nation. Constantly immersed in the creative process, they learn what it takes to excel in the advertising, interactive, design and photography industries. And they learn that “what it takes” is often a lot of paper.

A small group of students realized that students were discarding more than 5000 sheets of paper per week on campus. More shocking: Most of this paper was being recycled after it had only been used on one side. At a school where creativity reigns king, they knew something unprecedented had to be done to change the way paper is used.

On Monday, July 19th, students, faculty and administration were stunned when they arrived to a campus adorned in advertisements and free notebooks made using students’ previously discarded paper. The message? Flip the page over and use the backside. Fresh ideas don’t need fresh sheets of paper….

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Where Not to Take Your Family – A Dolphin Show

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Recently, I saw a video of a dolphin that had thrown itself out of the pool in which it was held captive. This dolphin was trained to do tricks for the pleasure of human visitors. It was held captive, along with several other dolphins, in a small pool….

Dolphins are intelligent animals. Why would one deliberately try — twice — to hurl its body out of the water and over a high wall? Was it searching for food? Was it trying to harm the human on the other side of the wall? Or did it simply want to end its captivity, even if that meant death? I have no idea, but the dolphin did. This was no random accident.

In the video, did you notice how several other dolphins gathered around and watched through the glass as the humans tended to their companion? Did they understand that their fellow dolphin was in mortal danger? I think they did.

Since I was a young girl, I’ve been fascinated by stories of dolphins who have saved humans from certain death. The stories included dolphins protecting swimmers from a shark by forming a barrier between predator and potential prey, rescuing drowning humans by pushing them up to the surface so they could breathe, guiding lost boaters to land, and more. These are intentional acts arising out of what appears to me to be empathy. They are acts of reasoning creatures who understood the dangers awaiting the humans they saved.

So why would a reasoning sea creature deliberately jump out of its tank?…

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Energy Healing, A Form of Holistic Medicine

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Natural healing modalities allow us to tread lightly on the earth while improving health. They don’t require synthetic chemicals or an investment in expensive technology. And, they have been used in various traditions since homo sapiens first trod the earth.

Today, Blue Planet Green Living (BPGL) interviews Maureen Longworth, M.D., who is board certified in both Holistic Medicine and Family Medicine, and is an internationally respected Energy Healer. Dr. Longworth practices medicine in Juneau, Alaska, and is visiting Iowa City through July 17. She will be teaching a Root of Healing Mini Workshop in Iowa City this Sunday and is available for private healing sessions throughout the coming week. More information is provided below. — Julia Wasson, Publisher

BPGL: What is Energy Healing?

LONGWORTH: Energy healing is a global term to describe healing that occurs by creating a shift in the energy field. In a way, even prescription drugs or surgery are an Energy Healing because a shift occurs, but when we speak of Energy Healing in holistic medicine, we mean the natural shift that can occur without drugs, herbs, or surgical intervention.

You might begin by comparing it to any energy modality you know, like chiropractic, massage, Reiki, acupuncture or acupressure, etc. All of these are energy-healing modalities. Even prior to my certification in Holistic Medicine I studied many of these modalities. This tradition I have settled with is the most effective for my patients — and for me personally — for ongoing health and well-being….

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Recycled Wedding Dresses Get New Life with Shakespeare

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“We use every part of the animal,” says renowned costume designer Lindsay W. Davis. He’s holding what used to be a pink party dress. “This little girl’s 1950s party dress had chocolate stains on the front. We opened it up and stuffed it, and now it’s a bustle!”

By “animal,” Davis isn’t talking about a living creature, but about previously worn clothing that he deconstructs and re-imagines into costumes for venues such as Iowa City’s Riverside Theatre Shakespeare Festival. To their previous owners, they are castoffs, but in the hands of Lindsay W. Davis, they gain a new life and vibrant personality.

Davis, whose impeccable credentials include designing the original costumes for The Mystery of Edwin Drood, a Tony Award Winning Best Musical on Broadway, is no stranger to the notion of recycling old clothing into wearable art….

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Fauna Extreme Coloring Book Inspires Girls

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Fauna Extreme publishes a coloring book targeted to young girls. But it doesn’t have a princess theme or a cute kitty or an adorable pony in it. This is a coloring book about power and strength and athleticism. And I’m going to tell you about it. But first, I want to go back into time and talk a bit about the world I grew up in. Please bear with me.

When I was a little girl (oh, about a million years ago), boys got to do all the cool things. They played with trucks. They played Army. They were daredevils. They even occasionally swore (swear words weren’t as commonplace among kids as they are today). I didn’t want to be a “girly-girl.” I wanted to be tough, too. I had opinions. I liked being physical and running and jumping. But I was frequently told, “You can’t do that; you’re a girl.” It didn’t always stop me, but sometimes it did.

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There’s a Lot to Love about Denver

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I fell in love last weekend. Oh, it was a rash thing to do, I know. But love at first sight isn’t particularly logical. It doesn’t require scrutiny and deep consideration. And love at first sight is exactly what I experienced as soon as I entered Denver.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m quite attached to my own hometown, Iowa City. It’s a lovely place, full of the culture and history of famous writers who’ve lived here and walked the same streets I walk. Iowa City has a lively pedestrian mall that hosts concerts and street fairs. It’s friendly. And it’s a great place to meet like-minded environmentalists. I love living here. Yet, I have to admit, I am tempted by the charms of another city….

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Wolf Trap Foundation Inspires Green Living through Theatre

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The “3 Rs” of Readin’, ’Ritin’, and ’Rithmetic have been replaced by the “4 Rs”: Reuse, Repair, Recycle, and Reduce.

For the past two years, Wolf Trap Foundation for the Performing Arts, based in Washington, D.C., has been teaching children these lessons through its musical puppet show, Junkyard Pirates.

“We thought, what can 3, 4, 5 year-olds understand?” says Mimi Flaherty Willis, Senior Director of Education at Wolf Trap Foundation. The organization commissioned some of their artists to create a show for children to teach the importance of recycling. All puppets are made out of recycled materials and pirates are the “good guys.” Their leader, Captain Spare Tire, is up against his nemesis, Land Fill….

“The arts are very powerful for children and adults,” says Flaherty Willis, speaking about why it’s so beneficial to teach lessons through musical performances. “As children, important messages are taught through games and songs — like the alphabet. We did the same thing to teach recycling.” …

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Beauty Night Heals Mind, Body, and Spirit for Marginalized Women

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Survival sex-workers, drug addicts, and homeless women rarely have an opportunity to feel that someone truly cares about them or to experience human touch in a healthy way. But the volunteers at Beauty Night Society in Vancouver, British Columbia (B.C.) are striving to change that.

Caroline MacGillivray is the National Executive Director and Founder of Beauty Night Society. A 1995 graduate of Gastown Actors Studio in Vancouver, her interest in helping marginalized women arose while volunteering at WISH (Women Information Safe House) to conduct research for an upcoming role.

She explains, “My best friend from theater school married a gentleman who was going to school to become a preacher. They were ‘house parents’ at a transition home for sex workers who were trying to get off the street.

“When she would tell what she did, people sometimes seemed judgmental. She’d get questions like, ‘Why are you helping sex workers?’ ‘Why are you helping people with addiction issues? They have no discipline; they have no control,’ and those types of things….

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Finding Meaning in Memorial Day

May 31, 2010 by  
Filed under 2010, Blog, Events, Family, Front Page, Holidays, Slideshow, U.S.

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On Memorial Day, in the United States, many of us pause from our regular workday routines to honor those who died while serving our nation. The tradition dates back to post-Civil War days. Here’s an excerpt from Memorial Day History, a website that claims to share the true meaning of the holiday: Memorial Day was […]

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Practical Farmers of Iowa Offers Free Field Days

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Despite its name, Practical Farmers of Iowa (PFI) isn’t just for farmers. And it isn’t even just for Iowans. In fact, anyone can attend the free field days presented by PFI on members’ farms; they’re a welcoming and diverse group. Of course, as you might expect, most PFI members are farmers, so field-day events are targeted largely to their needs.

According to the organization, “PFI’s programming stresses farmer-to-farmer networking through research and demonstration, field days, conferences, and more.” But non-farmers might be surprised at how relevant some of the topics are to anyone who has a yard or a plot of land. Here are a few of the 30 topics scheduled throughout the summer and fall of this year.

July 10-Weed “Appreciation – Grinnell

July 17-Scheduling Crops for Storage – Minburn …

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