October Surprises: Superior Views

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“There is no season when such pleasant and sunny spots may be lighted on, and produce so pleasant an effect on the feelings, as now in October.”
– Nathaniel Hawthorne

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A golden-orange hue color brightens the landscape, but the shortness of the days makes thoughts of winter unavoidable.  Cedar Waxwings and Robins devour Mountain Ash berries, and harbingers of winter.. the Juncos, are everywhere!  Nuthatch and chickadees are stocking up with many trips to the bird feeder.  An active hunting fox keeps the chipmunks up in the tree branches.

A warm September has created some native plant surprises:  The fall blooming Wide-leafed Asters are finished, but fresh new cone flowers, hyssop, bee balm, spiderwort, goldenrod, and even a dianthesis (not native) sport fresh new blooms. Also despite heavy wind off the lake the colors of fall have been extended as they reach full vibrancy.

July flowers bloom in October
July flowers bloom in October

The big lake moderates the fall freeze, and some flowers could bloom for a another month.

http://www.startribune.com/local/228250501.html  Saving the trees of the north woods

Eastern Europe and the Environment

Recycle Campaign in MoldovaI have just returned from a three weeks of travelling by trains, buses, trolleys and trams through Romania, Ukraine and Moldova.  Because recycling, climate change, and pollinator plants are our interests, we do our own environmental travel. and watch for best practices as something we can all learn from.  This is our 6th trip to Eastern Europe in 7 years.

The best practice for our earth I observed is their farming. The patchwork and DIVERSITY of crops: Corn, wheat, sun flowers, cabbage, potatoes, and animal grazing all work together. This is so much healthier for our bees, birds and butterflies.  One person told me they didn’t need to use chemicals because of the diversity of their crops!  They also still use lots of hand labor and horses to pick crops.

The streets often have many pedestrians, and I love these great crosswalks.

Pedestrians are a Priority
Pedestrians are a Priority

Garbage cans are small and they generate less waste per person than most countries.  We went 3 weeks using real plates, cups and the napkins are tiny.  Often the toilet paper is made from recycled paper.

Recycling is dismal and plastic pollution is a serious problem. These countries lack the resources to educate and recycle like they know they should.  The young men we meet are frustrated with their job opportunities and futures. With some resources Eastern Europe could be a perfect opportunity to create new green industries and jobs to recycle plastic.

The brain drain of the young is serious.  Many we talk with think success is leaving their homes and moving to the United States or EU countries.  Loans should be available to generate new industry around green issues.  We met environmental scientists helping Moldova on energy efficiencies because of a loan from the World Bank…Perfect!!

Coco Cola and other bottle and plastic bag manufactures,  should take responsibility to help support these countries to recycle the trash that their products generate!! https://health4earth.com/2012/10/22/should-the-soft-drink-industry-help-communities-recycle/

Jobs and economic hope could help Eastern Europe be economic drivers of the E U and could be good for our earth also.

English: Map of Eastern European Countries
English: Map of Eastern European Countries (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

http://www.romania-insider.com/only-1-percent-of-trash-recycled-romania-bottom-of-eu-league-again/53958/

Romania has less trash per person

http://www.cleanair.org/Waste/wasteFacts.html

http://www.kleanindustries.com/s/environmental_market_Industry_news.asp?ReportID=143587

Three Sisters Stew for Meatless Monday

218The Iroquois Indians started practicing companion planting in their organic vegetable gardens almost a thousand years ago. They mixed corn, beans, and squash and thought of them as the “three sisters.” I love this recipe!

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup dried beans or 1 can of beans of your choice
  • 3 cups water
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 2 tablespoons fresh or 2 teaspoons dry oregano
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 large onion
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons sea salt
  • 2-3 cups winter squash, cut in chunks (peel if not organic) I think butternut squash is the easiest to work with.
  • 1 14-ounce can chopped tomatoes
  • 1 tablespoon chili powder
  • 1 1/2 cups fresh or frozen corn

Directions:

  1. I used canned beans but if you have time to cook your own: Soak beans according to package. Drain soaking water off beans. Place beans, water, and garlic in a pot; bring to boil. Cover and simmer until beans are tender (50-60 minutes) or pressure-cook with 2 cups water (45 minutes).
  2. In a separate pan: Add oil, onion, salt, and minced garlic; sauté until onion is soft (5 minutes).
  3. Add squash, tomatoes, chili powder and cook until squash is soft (about 20 minutes). Add a little water if mixture is dry.
  4. Add cooked beans and corn to squash mixture; simmer until corn is tender.
  5. seasoning to your taste. Serve hot with slivered almonds or grated cheese garnish.

Source:

Adapted from: Feeding the Whole Family by Cynthia Lair

My New Lawn Sign

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  • Rain and wind carry leaves and other pollutants into the storm drain.
  • Most of our storm drains empty directly into Minnehaha Creek or Lake Harriet; a few drain directly to the Mississippi River.
  • Leaves and grass clippings contain phosphorus.
  • Phosphorus is the main pollutant stimulating the growth of algae in the lakes and creek.
  • It is a violation of City ordinances to rake leaves into the street.
  • We are all part of the solution to preserving water quality.

Syrian Climate Refugees

Climate Refugees                                           

A picture I took in Jordan(Syria's neighbor) this spring.
A picture I took in Jordan(Syria’s neighbor) this spring.

This is an incredible story about how drought was one of the sparks for the Syrian Civil War.

From 2006 to 2010 Syria had a serious drought.  Farmers lost 80% of their cattle, and 60% of the country became desert.  With farming losses they became Climate Refugees moving to the Syrian cities looking for work. The Syrian government was not happy with the situation.  As their wells dried up they needed to drill new wells.  The permits for new wells were awarded on a sectarian basis so they had to drill illegal wells.  They felt their country was discriminating against them.  Drought creating conflict. Conflict after conflict, and then a civil war!

Listen to the NPR story:

http://www.npr.org/2013/09/08/220438728/how-could-a-drought-spark-a-civil-war?ft=1&f=1001&utm_campaign=nprnews&utm_source=npr&utm_medium=twitter

Labor Day Thoughts

 We value our Employees                           

Map of minimum wage rates in the United States...
Map of minimum wage rates in the United States. See List of U.S. minimum wages. (Photo credit: Wikipedia) Red is the lowest, and green is the highest

The following is written on my yogurt container, ” We value our employees.  We are a family-run company in California with just over 50 employees.   We pay a competitive wage to all our staff members and provide an excellent benefit package, including full health care insurance for all who work here, and their families.”  On Labor Day let’s praise companies that value their employees!!

According to NPR 1 in 4 American workers makes less that $10.00 an hour.  We give these “job creators” so much political power.  Can we please have “Living Wage Job Creators” and job creators that understand we need to take care of our earth for the future generations!!

As consumers we must reward the companies that pay a living wage and offer affordable health care to their employees!!  Happy Labor Day!!

http://www.credomobilize.com/petitions/national-strike-help-us-be-loud-1?akid=8792.2561347.dNDAUw&rd=1&t=3

http://www.greenvalleylactosefree.com/

living wage
living wage (Photo credit: kyle.rw)

http://www.minimum-wage.org/wage-by-state.asp

What American Cities are the Most Vulnerable to Climate Change?

Climate Change is expensive for us all, and big changes lie ahead!970832_10153091136195497_1060532036_n

A few weeks ago while riding the bus in Chicago I struck up a conversation with my seatmate.  She worked for AIG Insurance of New York City, and related how concerned the insurance industry is with the expense of climate change.  AIG Insurance had just paid out 2 billion dollars for Super Storm Sandy, and they were nervous how they were going to manage these mega storms in the future.   Some insurance companies in Florida are pulling out of the state because it is becoming too expensive to insure some homes. Read the link below and you will see why!

This week the Huffington Post named the 14 American cities that could be underwater in this century because of rising sea levels due to our warming climate, warming of the oceans, and the melting of Arctic ice.  What fourteen U.S. cities are the most vulnerable?

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/08/26/global-warming-flooding_n_3799019.html

Can we do something?  Yes we can!!  We can put a tax on carbon emissions, we can each drive less, use less electricity, and support renewable energy initiatives.   Contact your members of Congress and ask them to put a tax on those that our polluting our air with carbon emissions.  The sooner we act the better!

Find contacts for the U.S. Congress:

NOAA Projected Arctic changes.
NOAA Projected Arctic changes. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

www.house.gov        and    www.senate.gov