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Jobs in the Trees

Dear Mr. President,

Congratulations on making history. Now that you’re hard work on legislation to transform health care is complete, it’s time for jobs. Past time, I guess. So, if we the people are going to be paying to make more jobs, then let’s make that investment in places that matter most. As you already know, and can see from this nice graphic I borrowed from the Alliance for Community Trees (which they first borrowed from the folks at Grist), green industries are a doubly good investment since they create jobs for Americans and help slow down the environmental destruction we’ve become so good at. It sure would be nice if our grandchildren–yours and mine–can eat good food and have water to drink and things like that. That might be even more important than making money.

And, believe it or not, the best place to put our money into green jobs is not in road and bridge repairs or shiny new cars. It’s not even in great things like windmills or bio-energy or better insulating our homes, even though those are super levers in the effort to burn less oil.

Mr. President, the jobs are in the trees. And by spending money on planting and caring for trees and the land, a whole bunch of really neat other things begin to happen too. Our air gets cleaner, for free. Our soils hold on to and clean our precious water much better. Our lands bear fruit. And vegetables too (I know Mrs. Obama will especially like that one). More and more people will grow and eat real food instead of chemicals in disguise. Best of all, our people will begin to spend less time in and on concrete, and discover how much they love nature. They might even remember that we are all part of her–one big family of families living and breathing on one small planet. Then, I think we’ll begin to take better care of her, and of each other. And lots of these troubles we’re trying to fix will become much smaller troubles.

Very sincerely,
joe

P.S. — I know you have a pretty huge to-do list, being the leader of the free world and all. Thanks for taking political risks to do what is right for all of us.

 
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Posted by on March 22, 2010 in activism, global warming, politics, trees

 

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No more toilet paper

This Tuesday night, find out what it’s like to live without TV, cars, take out, or toilet paper.

My friend Mike at MinusCar and I (actually, Sioux Falls Green Project) are hosting a FREE movie on December 8 called No Impact Man. The show starts at 7pm at Augustana College (Gilbert Science Center Rm 100), and I hope you’ll come. No Impact Man tracks the one-year experiment of Colin Beavan and his family, when they swore off all the Earth-hating stuff most of us do every day without thinking much about it, just to see if they could do it.

What they found was a happier, better, more meaningful life.

I’ve been a reader of Colin’s blog since early in his experiment, and have learned a ton from him. I think you would too. Right before the movie starts, we’ll be Skyping with Jamie Horter, live from the UN Climate Conference in Copenhagen, Denmark, to see what she’s up to.

So, if getting smarter is your thing, or you just want to get away from something/one for a couple hours, RSVP here (Facebook) or here. If you come, please bring a cup from home. We’ll provide the toilet paper.

Here’s the movie trailer:

 
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Posted by on December 7, 2009 in activism, education, global warming, going green

 

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Hopenhagen


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OK, it’s time to talk climate change. I know it’s a touchy topic for some bartblog readers (and I love you anyway), but let’s just get something clear: climate change is happening, fast. And it’s mostly our fault.

All the really smart scientists say so, and so did South Dakota legend Tony Dean. And experts say it’s worse than we first thought, especially those who study the poles first hand (like Minnesota uber-explorer Will Steger). If we keep up the status quo, our changing weather will be particularly painful for lots of South Dakotans, like hunters and farmers (and people who like to drink water). So enough about some sort of debate about wether climate change is for real. (It’s as silly as a “debate” about evolution.) The only worthwhile and super-important debate is how we (as in humanity) should do something about it. There, now that’s out of the way…

Leaders from all over the planet will be gathering in December at the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen, Denmark.  One of those leaders will be my friend and intern–if we all pitch in to help get her there.

Jamie Horter works with me at the Sioux Falls Green Project. She’s also a senior at Augustana College in Sioux Falls. Jamie was picked by Will Steger to be part of his foundation’s Expedition Copenhagen, a group of Midwest youth who will travel with him to the Climate Change Conference next month. Jamie has been interacting with kids and grown ups around South Dakota, gathering up hopes and dreams for our state’s future. She’ll be our messenger in December, talking about stuff near and dear to our hearts here in good ‘ol SD. Things like our place in the clean energy future, and our love of the land, rural communities and agriculture (see her video on YouTube). You can get more details on a blog post I wrote for the Green Project here.

Please help Jamie get to Copenhagen. She’s too shy to ask you, so I will. We need to raise some bucks to cover her travel expenses from South Dakota to Copenhagen and back. Her travel is not covered by Will Steger, and she’s a college student. You can drop a dime or two here, or give me a shout. Every dime will be used to help Jamie connect us to the talks in Denmark December 7-13. If you can’t chip in, that’s OK. Just help me spread the word, and this link: http://jamiehorter.chipin.com. I promise she’s way worth it.

We can’t all go to Denmark. If you live in the Midwest, please connect with Jamie to share your message. If you live somewhere else (or not), there’s a really cool project out there gathering up hope from all over the world and plastering it on the leaders who will attend the conference in Copenhagen. Please share your dreams and hopes and fears at Hopenhagen.

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Above is a shot of one of the awareness campaigns Jamie recently helped organize. Check that stunning little activist in the colorful hat on the far right!

 
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Posted by on November 2, 2009 in activism, global warming, South Dakota

 

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Greenwashing

Sometimes you just need to laugh at stuff. There’s so much bullshit out there that real good stuff gets lost a lot. Thanks for calling it out Jimmy.

 
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Posted by on September 19, 2009 in funny, going green

 

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Following up the VP

I was part of a panel of four speakers last night for an organization called Repower America. At least it was supposed to be four of us. 

The day before the panel, we found out former Vice President Al Gore would be joining us by conference call at the beginning of the meeting (he’s chair of the We Campaign, which is the parent organization of Repower America). Al spoke for about 15 minutes about the Cap and Trade bill that is making it’s way through congress right now (you can tell your congress representative what you think very easily by calling 1-877-9-REPOWER, no matter where you live). It was a national conference call with members of Repower America, and we just happened to be holding our event at the same time. So, he gave a shout out to Sioux Falls. 

I was scheduled to go first on the panel, to talk about the Sioux Falls Green Project and changing the way we talk locally about sustainability. So, with the late addition of the Vice President, I got to follow up Al Gore. Crazy.

It was a good event, and I learned some things and made great new friends. Others on the panel were my friend Randy Parry from the Rural Learning Center, Matt McClarty from the Environmental Law and Policy Institute, and Ned from Repower America. Plus Al Gore…

 
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Posted by on June 24, 2009 in global warming, Work

 

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Truffles for Breakfast and Human on a Stick

Jaim and I took a weekend trip to the Twin Cities to catch the Living Green Expo at the Minnesota State Fair Grounds. A research trip (I call ’em ‘learning journeys’), with the extra perk of spending a weekend with my wife, while the kids hung with Grandma and Grandpa (mostly being chased around the yard by a bottle calf…).

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We stopped at a snazzy little Food Coop in St. Peter, MN along the way. Bought some “glad corn” and groceries for breakfast. What’s glad corn? I wondered too–lucky for me they were hocking samples. It’s just kernels of organic field corn, roasted until it turns into a cross between corn nuts and those wonderful half-popped kernels in the bottom of the popcorn bowl. The breakfast was super fab–Saturday and Sunday: a loaf of crunchy multi-grain, some strawberries and a block of this legendary gouda with truffles. Legendary, because it’s made in France and shipped to Minnesota to age in the caves near St. Peter. Or so the story goes. Whatever the truth, it’s some damn tasty cheese. My first ever truffle experience. Those three flavors and textures where a heavenly mix. Twice.

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Saturday we hit the fairgrounds for some serious greeny magic. No disappointment. This event rocks the hiz-ouse. I met a new friend who loaded me up with info and ideas about becoming a vegetarian driver (that means I’d burn used vegetable oil in my tank instead of gas), watched as a kid made biodiesel right before my eyes (see the pre-diesel mush above), saw a bunch of ways to compost–with and without worms (saw a dude crazier about worms than me), studied a real green roof, got to know an author of books for kids on the environment, learned how to ‘do it green,’ and so much more.

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Oh, and of course I had to get on the Segway Personal Transporter and tootle around like a human on a stick. Wicked cool–you cannot fall off, you just lean a little here or there and that thing reads your mind…

Hawk's solar oven

Hawk's solar oven

I also met ‘Hawk,’ a rough around the edges missionary and peddler of solar ovens, and his sidekick. And now I’m cooking with the sun. (More on that later.) I rode a stationary bike and turned on a bunch of light bulbs with human power (though the hair dryer totally kicked my ass sideways). Met lots of friends–some new, some old.

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And met this guy, who laid on the floor the whole time shooting pictures of people. I hope he was getting paid.

 
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Posted by on May 4, 2009 in etc., Food, going green, Work

 

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It’s Spring, so let’s Drink

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A new friend of mine and I are starting a Green Drinks chapter in Sioux Falls. Green Drinks is an international thing, in cities all over the planet. People interested in green stuff gather for a brew once a month, and talk greenie things.

March 20 is the first day of Spring–sounds like a great reason to tip a few back and talk some eco-love. Join us at Latitude 44 in Sioux Falls beginnning at 4.30p–on the corner of 8th and Weber Ave.

Get all the skinny here, or join our Facebook group.

 
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Posted by on March 13, 2009 in etc., going green

 

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