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The Northwest Earth Institute is excited to be a part of 21 Acres non-profit school‘s offerings on sustainability and stewardship in 2012!

21 Acres, located in Woodinville, Washington, is dedicated to teaching people how to grow, eat and live sustainably. Its new series of core courses is beginning in February, with continuing education classes focusing on principles of sustainable agriculture, including those related to not only food and food systems, but also home energy and water conservation, tools for local economic development and quality of life improvement.  Future courses feature NWEI’s Choices for Sustainable Living, Sustainable Systems at Work, as well as health and climate change issues.

If you are in Washington in the Sammamish Valley area, first courses are on Backyard Farming and Food Processing. For more information, call 425-481-1500 or email deb@21acres.org. You can also visit the 21 Acres website.

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This week we are delighted to feature the photography and writing of Kallia Milillo, a 21 year old student photographer who will be transferring to the independent study program at Evergreen State College this Fall. She will be a seasonal guest blogger for NWEI in 2012, as one of her goals is to bring her art and perspective to the environmental community.  To learn more about Kallia’s work, visit her website here. Thank you Kallia!

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I prefer winter and fall, when you feel the bone structure of the landscape – the loneliness of it, the dead feeling of winter. Something waits, beneath it, the whole story doesn’t show. ~Andrew Wyeth

Every year the earth enters a transitional time where the leaves slowly change from greens to oranges, yellows, reds, and browns. Gradually week by week all the leaves begin to find themselves down on the terrain underneath the branches they once called home. The days start to show that they are becoming shorter. The squirrels start collecting as many nuts as they can find laying about on the ground. Hibernation has clearly shown it’s face with winter right around the corner. The final leaves make their way to the ground. Autumn turns into winter. The landscape has become bare, dull, quiet, and cold. The stillness is almost haunting. Mother nature looks as if she has laid down and decided to die. The days don’t seem as bright as normal, as if high noon turned into dinner time. Time seems to being going slower and everyone feels as if life has been sucked out of the air. Weeks pass and there is not much sign of movement. Mother nature seems beyond the point of no return. She looks, feels, smells, and sounds dead. Suddenly as if out of no where, life shows itself in the tiny bud of a blue flower that has slightly opened it’s petals. 

We face this transitional storyline in our everyday lives with the current situation on Earth. Our choices and decisions have been impacting the state of our planet and will continue to do so. Economic, environmental, and social reasons are all huge contributing toward our current affairs. How we use land, general human consumption, energy choices, eating habits, our lifestyles, and wastes all add to the condition to the environment. Our behaviors are having a negative impact on where we all call home. It has shown through in numerous ways like climate change, pesticide drift, land degradation, air pollution, and habitat destruction. Sometimes this can be discouraging and people can become overwhelmed: the flooding feelings of continual mess that has gotten out of control. The massive amount of damage can make things seem like they’re past the point of no return. People even start to believe that we have done so much damage that it wouldn’t matter even if we tried. Sometimes we loose hope, just like after weeks of the quiet dead winter days. We start to question if renewal will ever come again. 

However, like Spring, the Earth’s vitality will be replenished through the growth of caring individuals. The development will come with perseverance, commitment, sharing knowledge, and through maintaining our goals. The earth is in need of more attention, care, and overall consideration. Instead of living in a world where we live our lives only based upon economic and social factors, we can add the environment as a equal factor. We could start to have consideration for our environment as the one big home we all live on. It can be as simple as planting a tree to help replenish the world’s forests,  considering windmills for an alternative energy for your farm, sustainable food systems, supporting and protecting farmers, local food, not using chemical fertilizers for your lawn, recycling, even reusing a yogurt container, standing up for peace, or understanding the dimension of sustainability and poverty. Integrating the value for our planet into every aspect of our lives can help reduce our human footprint. The road towards renewal is a long path similar to the prolonged days of winter, but together we can make a difference. 

The difference we all can make together will take commitment and time for this new system to finally show itself in it’s entirety. From time to time, choosing to undertake the sustainable lifestyle can seem more expensive. Many of us feel the money pressures in our lives, especially in the state of the current economy. There are actually tons of ways though in which your investments will actually put money back in your pocket and give back to the environment. Reducing your waste can help with saving on disposal costs, or investing in energy efficiency options can reduce your energy bills. Choosing sustainability is about our future, our earth, benefiting local business, being aware of social issues that need attention, growing our economy and society in a new dynamic way, and to replenish our environment. Much the same as winter, our planet may look damaged, but nature can defy all odds.

Precisely when you think there’s no hope – the bright side shines through. If we work towards making sustainability a reality in it’s totality we can give the world a chance to be resilient and restore itself… 

This spring the Sound Policy Institute at the University of Puget Sound will host one of NWEI’s community discussion courses, Menu For The Future.  The Sound Policy Institute builds the capacity of individuals and groups, both on campus and in the regional community, to actively and effectively engage in environmental decision making.

The Menu for the Future group will meet on Wednesday afternoons from 12:00-1:50, beginning January 25th, 2012.  Participants should bring their own lunch.  There will be reading packets available for you to purchase for the cost of $21.00.
Registration is required.  Please contact Katharine Appleyard at kappleyard@pugetsound.edu to reserve your space. We are excited that the University of Puget Sound is offering this course to the community!

One of NWEI’s long time volunteers, Betty Shelley, will be offering a “Reduce Your Waste, Reduce Your Impact” class beginning Tuesday February 7th – hosted at the NWEI office in Portland. Alarmingly, since 1900 the US population has tripled but use of materials has increased 17-fold (from David Wann’s Simple Prosperity). If you would like to reduce your waste and lessen your impact on the planet, this class is for you! Below is information from Betty regarding the class:

I will be offering my three-session “Reduce Your Waste, Reduce Your Impact” class this winter at the Northwest Earth Institute office beginning Tuesday, February 7th from 6:30 to 8:30pm.  The class will deal with solid waste, aka garbage, but will also touch on reducing water, energy, and other resource use. The format is interactive with the goal of engaging participants through discussion and assignments to explore their actions and behaviors, and learn ways to make lasting changes.  Learn my techniques and share your own.

*To sign up for the class, either email or call no later than January 31st. The number of participants needed is a minimum of eight and a maximum of twelve. The class will be cancelled if fewer than eight sign up.  The $25 fee (cash only) is due in full at the first meeting.

Please share this with anyone you know who is interested in making a commitment to reducing their impact.

Betty Shelley      503-244-8044        greenhouseone@gmail.com

“It was great to talk to other people about their efforts to reduce, reuse and recycle. Just going to the class made me feel great and inspired to take more action.”  Barbara

“Even knowing as much as I know, I still learned quite a bit that I take and use at home and in my business.”  Lane’

“The activities and lecture portions were just short enough to keep people interested. The small tips had the best impact for me.”  Jessica

Download the class flyer here: BettyShelleyWasteReductionClass

The Northwest Earth Institute is seeking an experienced development associate to join its team. This 15 hour a week position will provide key coordination and support of NWEI’s fundraising efforts in the areas of annual giving, campaign support, database management and miscellaneous department support. The Development Associate reports to the Development Director.

Please see the complete job description for more details and application instructions: NWEI Dev Assoc Job Description.

Barbara Duncan of the Catamount Earth Institute in Vermont, a partner organization of the Northwest Earth Institute, recently announced their winter initiative: a series of Healthy People, Healthy Planet discussion groups based on the World of Health discussion course created by NWEI. Courses will be happening at multiple local libraries, food co-ops, a nature center, the Upper Valley Land Trust, local bookstores and the Women’s Health Resource Center. Thanks Barbara for sharing this update!

Catamount’s winter project is offering Healthy People, Healthy Planet discussion groups. Winter in the Upper Valley is long, dark, and cold; one way to cope is to gather with friends and neighbors for good conversation, on a lively topic …  such as shedding light on the connections between our health and the health of the planet.

Healthy People, Healthy Planet conversations are being hosted at 15 venues around the Upper Valley this winter. The 6-session series topics include preventive medicine, food issues, our chemical legacy, simplicity and consumption, and healthy natural systems.

 This free discussion series is based on a discussion guide/anthology, A World of Health, by the Northwest Earth Institute of Portland, Oregon. Guides are available at the Hanover Co-op service desk for $15. (Participating libraries have discussion guides available on loan to their Healthy People, Healthy Planet group participants.) This series of community conversations began with a group at the Grantham Town Hall. Upcoming groups are hosted by the Baldwin Library, Wells River on Sunday, January 8; Shiretown Books, Woodstock, January 11; and Quechee Library on January 12…Sponsoring organizations for the 2012 discussion groups are the Catamount Earth Institute, Co-op Food Stores, the League of Women Voters of the Upper Valley, Sierra Club, Sustainable Hanover, the Upper Valley Land Trust, Upper Valley Localvores, and the Upper Valley Household Hazardous Waste Committee.

We’re grateful to the Jack and Dorothy Bryne Foundation, the Mascoma Saving Bank Foundation, the Upper Valley Sierra Club, the Stettenheim Foundation, the Frank and Brinna Sands Foundation, and King Arthur Flour for subsidizing the discussion guides and providing sets of books for loan by participating libraries. Thanks also to the Co-op Food Stores, the Upper Valley Food Co-op and Health Connections of the Upper Valley for purchasing sets of books to share with discussion groups.

Catamount Earth Institute will soon be on Facebook so that discussion group members can share their thoughts, concerns and information. See you there!

If you are local to Vermont and want to see a listing of where groups will be taking place, click here.

Happy New Year! We are excited to bring you another edition of our EarthMatters newsletter. The Winter 2012 EarthMatters feature article, by Sarah van Gelder and Doug Pibel of YES! Magazine, lays out a plan for creating an economy that builds real prosperity without undermining the natural systems that we all rely on. Inside you’ll also find a wonderful Knowing Your Place piece, “Thinking like Aldo Leopold” and the latest news from the NWEI community and partners.

 

We are excited to announce that two of our classic discussion courses are now offered at a reduced rate.

Published in 2008,  NWEI’s first course on climate change, Global Warming: Changing CO2urse is now available for $15. This four session course contains useful information about our current state of affairs based upon human-caused climate change, how we got here and what we can do to change course. Place your  order online, or call us at 503-227-2807 to purchase this informative and useful discussion course. Also, stay tuned for info about an upcoming supplement to this course, available in spring 2012!

Healthy Children, Healthy Planet is now available for $12. As relevant today as it was when first published, Healthy Children, Healthy Planet examines the impact of media culture on our children, explores alternatives to the material focus of celebrations, considers the importance of nutrition and healthful eating, and addresses the importance of a child’s connection to nature. Healthy Children, Healthy Planet shows that to care for Earth is to care for your family.

We encourage to you to promote sustainability in your community by organizing an NWEI course this winter! Remember, the right conversations can changes lives. Happy New Year!

Today’s post is a guest blog post by Kaitlyn Nakagoshi of the University Alliance, who submitted this article on behalf of The University of San Francisco’s online program. The University of San Francisco provides all the tools and resources necessary to gain a sustainable supply chain management certification online. Read on for tips on how to make your new year’s resolutions last beyond the month of January!

Make Your New Year’s Resolution Last – Make it Sustainable!

New Year’s resolutions are notorious for being broken – some after a few weeks, others after just a couple of days.  How can you make resolutions that are both meaningful and easy to keep?  By thinking sustainably and taking small steps towards positive change for the earth, you can make a resolution that you’ll be proud to carry with you throughout 2012 and beyond.

The resolution success rate will be much higher when helping others becomes a factor. It’s not just about the “new you” of the “new year”. Consider creating a healthier planet for future generations. Here are some suggestions to help get you started.

  • Start with baby steps and write reminders to yourself, placing them around the house.  In the laundry room, post a note to use cold water for all your wash loads.  Most of today’s detergents are so effective that clothing which once required warm or hot water will get just as clean in cold water.  Post another note by the back door as a reminder to take reusable bags with you to the grocery store, and by the mirror in your bathroom, tack on another note telling yourself to turn off the water while brushing your teeth.  These small, simple steps should become habits in no time.
  • Remember: You are what you eat and drink!  Farmers markets are an excellent way to support local agriculture and stock up on produce.  Many offer CSA options (Community Supported Agriculture) where individuals pay in advance for a portion of the farmer’s total seasonal crop.  Seek out restaurants that are locally owned and prepare dishes with local ingredients.   Have fun with meal planning and try some vegetarian and vegan recipes several times a week.  Other food and drink related ideas include using reusable tumblers and travel mugs for drinks and containers for keeping your lunches hot.
  • Paper towels are more wasteful than most people realize.  Purchase stashes of kitchen towels (or better yet, recycle your old and worn towels) that can be washed as often as necessary.  Use them for drying hands, wiping down counters and cleaning up spills.
  • Get off the couch and help both your heart and the environment! Start walking and/or riding your bike to nearby locations.  Many communities are making strides to become more walkable, and others have added bike paths that include stops at local shopping plazas.  Start exploring your hometown from more perspectives than the driver’s seat of your car.
  • What kind of recycling services does your community have?  If you don’t know, call to find out the guidelines for trash and recycling.  Some towns allow all recyclables to be combined in one receptacle, while others require residents to separate glass, plastic, newspapers, etc.  You might even have to drive your recyclables to a transfer station in some cases.  If you’re used to tossing everything in the trash, dump this old habit and resolve to be an informed recycler this year.

Many of us get caught up in the exciting potential of New Year’s resolutions, but isn’t it time we found something we can really stick to?  Start small and tackle changes that are manageable and instantly gratifying.  Gradually build good habits and by the end of 2012 you’ll be able to finally say you’ve stuck to your sustainable resolutions!

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