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We recently learned that students at Fukuoka Women’s University in Japan recently participated in NWEI’s Choices for Sustainable Living discussion course as part of an “Exploring Sustainable Living” program (which included a study trip to Australia to learn about sustainable applications underway in other countries). Students participated in the NWEI course during the program in order to more fully consider sustainable lifestyle choices and their implications.

Students shared some of their experiences on their group’s Facebook page and cited several group commitments after learning more about sustainability. Early action choices included not using elevators in the dormitories to save energy, buying less plastic bottles each month, thinking for at least 30 seconds before purchasing something, and discontinuing drinking mineral and bottled water. The students also mentioned how the NWEI course book helped them to begin making more sustainable food choices.

We are excited to hear about this group’s Choices for Sustainable Living experience!




We recently spoke with Babs Adamski, the Community Outreach Coordinator for Be Cart Smart (your new curbside collection service). For those of you reading from Portland, Oregon, consider joining the Include the Food campaign and raise funds for your community organization along the way.

What: The Bureau of Planning and Sustainability (BPS) invites neighborhood associations, nonprofit groups, ethnic groups, and communities of faith to mobilize volunteers to go door-to-door to answer questions about changes to the curbside collection system, to promote composting and to earn money for the group.

Why: Just like when Portlanders first started recycling, it takes time to create and establish new routines for households.
Portlanders are doing a great job adapting to the new Curbside Collection Service with food scrap composting and the change to weekly pick up of the green Portland Composts! roll cart and every-other-week garbage collection. The City wants to continue to help Portlanders adapt and to answer questions about the changes.

How: Participating groups commit to mobilizing volunteers ages 18 years and older. BPS provides training, safety vests, maps, walking lists and literature. Volunteers earn $2.00 per conversation or $.50 per piece left behind for their organizations.
Any group providing five or more volunteers is welcome.

When: February 28 – May 19, 2012
Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Thursdays (evenings), Saturdays; Groups pick days and times for the training and to canvass together.

Where: Target neighborhoods include St. Johns, Woodlawn, King, Concordia, Cully, Centennial, Lents, Powellhurst-Gilbert, Brentwood Darlington and Woodstock.

Ready to jump in? Contact Babs Adamski, 503-823-8753, or Renée Johnson, 503-823-1862,

Today we are checking back in with Sustainable Together, a blog by Shelly Randall (our guest blogger at NWEI’s bi-annual conference last year). We also wanted to see what was going on in Port Townsend, WA several months after our sustainable food conference. Read on for a host of tips from Shelly on eating locally and affordably!

…When I launched Sustainable Together as a personal/professional endeavor, I made an ancillary pledge: to make food my main hobby.

I have other hobbies, many of which have fallen by the wayside as I raise a young child (pleasure reading, scrapbooking, kayaking, the list goes on!). Thankfully, I also enjoy cooking, baking, gardening, and shopping at farmers markets. At some point in my sustainable transition, I realized I wouldn’t be able to consistently feed my family seasonal, local, fresh, homemade meals unless I embraced sourcing and preparation of the food.

This takes time, so it helps if you enjoy it.

It also takes a financial commitment. We in the U.S. are conditioned to expect cheap food, year-round. But learning to shape your food budget around seasonal and local foods has many levels of benefits, both for your health and your community.

“With our food dollars, we create the future we want to have,” says Malcolm Dorn, co-owner of the new Chimacum Corner Farmstand, which proactively sources its offerings from local farmers and producers. “The dream is beautiful farmland, healthy people and a healthy habitat.”

Money tight? It helps if you follow the three simple rules the (Port Townsend) Food Co-op brochure lays out for “eating better on a budget”—with some of my own additions:

1) Eat food. (Not junk!) Avoid highly processed foods and consider the nutrient value of foods you ingest. (I found these handy charts of fruits and veggies with the highest nutrition for the least cost at the Sightline Daily blog).

2) Cook. Meal plan. Make it once and eat it twice or thrice (leftovers!). Prep your produce for longer life. Preserve the harvest bounty. Use a whole-foods cookbook. Share recipes, try new ones, get inspired!

3) Shop smart. Make a shopping list and stick to it. Buy produce in season. Definitely buy organic if it’s on the Dirty Dozen list. Buy direct from the farmer. Buy in bulk. Join a buying club. Special-order your regular buys for 15-20% discounts (a co-op member benefit). Shop sales. “Shop” from your garden, i.e., grow your own groceries. Shift your budget to spend less on luxury items and more on good food. Etc.!

I learned a lot about our county’s food system at the affordable food forum, and I was so impressed by the wealth of knowledge and experience represented by the seven panelists that I wanted to know what personal steps they had taken to eat local foods more affordably. So in the Q&A period, I asked each of them to share a tip. Here’s what they had to say.

Seth Rolland of Quimper Community Harvest (a gleaning network) said he picks “free food” from his neighbor’s apple tree and has built a rodent-proof box on his porch for outdoor storage of apples.

Malcolm Dorn of the Chimacum Corner Farmstand said he worked out a trade with a farmer to plant an extra row of pickling cukes for him. He harvested them himself and preserved them with a friend, resulting in a stockpile of one of his favorite foods: pickles!

Al Latham of the Jefferson LandWorks Collaborative said he built a greenhouse to extend his garden’s growing season. He claims six millimeters of plastic added 600 miles of latitude to this indoor climate!

Judy Alexander of Citizens for Local Food (for more, see cover story of Nov./Dec. 2011 Food Co-op newsletter) said she bakes her own bread every week. She’s still using the 100 pounds of wheat she received as her share for volunteering for two years with Jefferson County’s dryland wheat project.

Candice Cosler of the Farm-to-School Coalition said she increased her garden’s production by adding “loads of compost”–which boosts the food’s nutrient content as well.

Irene Marble, a dietician at Jefferson Healthcare (our rural hospital) said she grows her own winter squash and preps them for storage by dipping their shells in a bleach solution.

Brwyn Griffin of The Food Co-op said she simplified her diet to be plant-based with little to no processed foods.

My tip is to start my weekly grocery shopping at the farmers market. (I am fortunate that there are twoweekly farmers markets in my neighborhood that run April-December.) With fresh produce, local meat, eggs, and a few value-added goodies (cheese, salsa) in hand, I go home and meal-plan, creating a shopping list of necessities for the Food Co-op. This one-two punch works well for my family, and I miss it in the winter-time!

For the full blog post, click here.

Thanks to our friends at Practically Green for sharing this story about two friends (Randi and Janet) choosing an ‘eat local challenge’ in Boise, Idaho! Below is an excerpt from an interview posted on Practically Green’s blog:

Practically Green: How did you ever decide to do this?

Randi: Janet and I had lunch in early December. We got the idea to develop a personal challenge for 2012 and support each other. I’d just completed a class at Northwest Earth Institute called World of Health: Connecting People, Place, and Planet, so I was in a sustainable frame of mind… I wanted to do something to appreciate where food comes from, something that would be healthy for me, my family, and the environment. I was questioning excessive packaging and what really was available from local sources. I wanted to now begin to answer those questions, and better understand what was available organically, locally, especially this time of the year.

Janet: It’s one thing to eat local in Boise during the gardening season – and Randi and I both have vegetable gardens. But in the dead of winter? We decided to try it at an intense level for the month of January…

PG: Any a-Ha moments?

Randi: One tip, set aside time on Sunday afternoon and cook for the week. Potatoes, legumes, hearty soups and stews.

Janet: Before the January challenge, I didn’t really enjoy cooking or planning meals.  When we initially discussed the challenge in December, my hands were sweating at the thought of doing this challenge. I knew I needed to develop healthier habits around food, but prioritizing the time and making it happen seemed like a big undertaking. But to my surprise, there are many local options to choose from in Idaho. The transition was much easier than I anticipated and I actually do enjoy planning meals and cooking now. I also find I’m not wasting food (at the end of the week) by adopting easy strategies and investing this time. These are habits I’m carrying forward past January.

Randi: I was amazed at how wonderful this was from a community perspective. Everyone at our local farmer’s markets was so helpful, supportive and interested in what Janet and I were doing.  Not only was it eye-opening and fun to discover the variety of delicious local food sources, it was enriching to meet the people behind them all.  These connections and relationships will be ongoing. The other thing “that’s next” for me is to learn how to can, freeze, and preserve all the bounty from my husband’s organic garden this summer and fall… so we can enjoy during the winter months next year.

Janet: My family drinks a lot of milk. I calculated: we consume an average of 140 or 150 gallons a year. I recycle the plastic jugs, but one of my goals in doing this challenge is to also reduce the amount I’m recycling and focus on “pre-cycling,” i.e., eliminate the demand on resources before I use them. I’ve transitioned to now local milk bottle exchange and I have completely eliminated the need to recycle the plastic. It was so easy to make the transition and it’s another outcome I’ll continue moving forward too…

Read more on the Practically Green Blog, where you can find tips on eating locally, and see a list of winter foods recipes.


NWEI’s New Hampshire based partner organization, Global Awareness Local Action, will be hosting Hungry for Change: Food, Ethics and Sustainability January 26th through February 9th, 2012.   Hungry For Change explores  the true meaning of the phrase “you are what you eat.” This discussion course challenges participants to examine their roles, not only as consumers of food, but also as creators — of food, of systems, and of the world we all share. Each session addresses the impact of individual food choices on a range of issues, including ecosystem health, the treatment of factory and farm workers, and the global economy.

G.A.L.A Study Circles are a great way to come together with other community members in an informal, yet inquisitive, atmosphere to deeply explore issues of social and environmental concern. The discussion courses provide an enjoyable, supportive setting in which to examine personal values and habits, engage in stimulating conversation, create meaningful community, and consider ways to take action towards creating a more sustainable future.

As a partner organization to NWEI, and the New Hampshire point of contact, G.A.L.A. can help your group get a Study Circle up and running by providing guidance, advice, assistance with press releases and promotional materials etc.  If you are in New Hampshire, contact G.A.L.A at 603-539-6460 or email

Congrats also to G.A.L.A for their recent grant to expand their Sustainable Home Makeover Program! More information to follow on this program that will be available nationwide.

It’s hard to believe, but NWEI’s 20th Anniversary is just around the corner. One short year from now NWEI will turn 20, and in preparation for our 20th Anniversary we’re creating a map that will “pin” locations where NWEI courses have taken place over time. Whether you participated in 1993 or just last week, in one course or all 11, we invite you to “pin” your location on our Alumni Map.

Click here to complete a very short web form, and we’ll use your City/State/Zip Code information to create a pin on our NWEI Alumni Map.

Thanks for helping us demonstrate the reach of NWEI’s programs and our impact across North America! As an incentive to create your Alumni “pin” on the map we have a couple of swell raffle prizes that everyone who completes the form will be eligible to win–including a free pair of KEEN shoes and a KEEN bag.

And check out the map here!

The Northwest Earth Institute is excited to announce that Colorado Mountain College has become NWEI’s newest formal partner, and NWEI’s first formal higher education partner!

Colorado Mountain College has been using Menu for the Future in several courses over the past few years with positive feedback from students, hence a commitment to integrating both Menu for the Future and Hungry for Change into ongoing and future sustainable food related courses.

A perfect resource for CMC’s Sustainable Cuisine program, NWEI course books will be used in classes ranging from Introduction to Environmental Science, Food Politics, Policies and People, Introduction to Sustainable Cuisine, and Agroecology. The NWEI course books will also be used in CMC’s Bachelor of Arts Program in Sustainability Studies.

Colorado Mountain College serves nine counties in north-central Colorado. Each year, nearly 25,000 students take classes at CMC’s 11 locations and online. We look forward to serving faculty, students and staff at CMC in the years to come, and are grateful to be a part of inspiring young people to take responsibility for Earth in new ways!

Sierra Dall with Sustainable Cities Exchange is offering a free webinar on February 22, at 9:00 am Pacific time. The webinar is called “Improve Your Local Economy with a Sustainable Energy Plan,” and is aimed at helping municipalities create a sustainable energy plan. The webinar will also feature two case studies. You can find out more or register for the event at or call Sierra at 303.554.1833.

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