Julia Butterfly Hill – Every One Can Make a Difference

Julia Butterfly HillOn December 18th, 1999 Julia Butterfly Hill descended from the Stafford Giant, a Redwood Tree named Luna,  in the Headwaters Forest of Northern California.  Julia ascended the tree on December 8th, 1997 not knowing she was beginning the longest American tree sit on record to protect Luna and the surrounding forest from Pacific Lumber Company’s clear-cut logging.

Julia did not travel to California seeking to protect the redwoods, she more or less stumbled upon it during a road trip with her friends.  When they made a brief stop at the Redwoods, she told her friends to leave her bag at the ranger station.  She was here to stay.  After learning about a mudslide in the small, nearby town of Stafford, caused by the clearcutting of the Redwood forest, she knew she had to do something.  She joined the growing band of Earth’s First Activists, poised to protect the forest surrounding the Stafford giant.

Redwood trees are considered one of the oldest living beings on Earth.  (Luna is estimated to be 1500 years old).  They are also the tallest tree on Earth, reaching up to 379 feet and 30 feet in diameter.  The trees once covered 2.1 million acres of forest along Northern California and southern Oregon.  Today it can be difficult to determine how many of these old growth forest remain with estimates ranging from 30% to only 2%.  Trees as large as Luna are indeed the minority.

Julia Butterfly Hill - Luna the RedwoodLuna received her name in honor of the full moon.  Pacific Lumber owned the land the tree was on, and it was illegal to tree sit there.  Building a tree stand during the day would be nearly impossible.  The light of the full moon, however, allowed the activists to sneak over to the tree, raise the stand, and disappear without being seen.  The next morning, the lumber company discovered a person sitting in the tree.  A rotation began where activists would take turns living in the tree.  As pressure began to build, changing places became challenging, enter Julia.

Julia, who later took on the name Butterfly to describe her transformation, climbed the tree intending to stay for at least two weeks.  That two weeks became two years and ten days.  Braving one of the worst El Nino winters in decades, bringing freezing winds, rain, and snow, Julia also stood firm to the harassment of the lumber company including fly-bys from helicopters, jeers from loggers, periods where fog-horns were blown to disturb her sleep, and a ten-day period where the company attempted to starve Julia out of the tree.  Julia Butterfly did not succumb.  Instead, the harassment seemed to feed her determination.  She withstood and remained in the tree until it’s protection was bought.  Hill and partners raised $50,000 to pay Pacific Lumber Company to save the tree and the surrounding area.  Julia Butterfly could then descend from the tree, knowing its safety was ensured.

Julia Butterfly Hill FarmNearly twenty years later, Julia Butterfly Hill has continued her record of direct action activism taking part in movements in the US and South America.  She protested a pipeline in Ecuador that threatened a virgin Andean Cloud Forest.  She conducted a 38 day hunger fast to protect South Central Farm, one of the last-remaining large farms in Los Angeles from developers.  The farm was lost but her courage continued.  She was also instrumental in the stand against the Keystone XL Pipeline in the southern US.

Julia Butterfly continues to encourage activism in her motivating talks which highlight spiritual activism.  She has published several books including Becoming: Pictures, Poems, and Stories, The Legacy of Luna, One Makes the Difference, and an audio book of one of her presentations, Spiritual Activation, Why Each of Us Does Make a Difference.  She contributed to essays in Mindfulness in the Marketplace: Compassionate Responses to Consumerism. and wrote the forward to Heritage Salvage: Reclaimed Stories  She is also the subject of a children’s book, Luna and Me by Jenny Sue Kostecki-Shaw.

The reason I am writing this post is because I recently had the chance to get to know Julia and was pleased to find she is the most genuine person I’ve ever met.  She made me feel it feel was as much a pleasure for her to meet me as it was for me to meet her.  Over one hour of coffee, I learned what a phenomenal person she is, empowered by her sincerity and her unwavering beliefs.  She is a role model.  Not only for past generations but for generations of children, activists, and environmentalists to come, letting us know that every one person can make a difference.

Julia Butterfly Hill

Want to learn more about Julia Butterfly Hill?  Watch the videos below.  Also check out her website Julia Butterfly and her event calendar for an opportunity to hear her speak.  Her next event is the Wild and Scenic Film festival in the Grass Valley, California area.  She’ll be at the Center for Performing Arts next Sunday, January 17th, 2016 from 1:30 to 3:30.




Wind Turbines – Blowing Fresh Energy Into our Future

If you’ve driven across the American landscape lately, you’ve probably noticed the increasing population of a new and fascinating structure. Wind-generated power is an wind turbinesincreasingly popular source of renewable energy. Unlike oil, coal, or natural gas, it’s clean, safe, and reliable.

The average wind turbine stands at 328 feet – 116-foot blades on a 212-foot tower. The windmill (as I fondly call them) sweeps a vertical airspace nearly equaling an acre. These massive tools are even more noticeable because they are generally painted a gleaming white – making a field of them look like angelic versions of the whirligigs we played with as children.

Wind as an energy source is available to anyone with a bit of land for a large or small turbine. These smaller turbines are combating original concerns people held about wind energy, often referred to as “not in my backyard” or NIMBY. Today, wind energy is gaining popularity in private and residential locations. Farmers, for example, can generate revenue by allowing large companies to place wind turbines in their fields. Individual households can also participate by partnering with companies (see Windspire below) who have created smaller versions for individuals’ backyards.

The American Wind Energy Association (AWEA) provides interesting statistics about the growing interest in wind energy as a renewable resource in the United States. According to AWEA, wind energy projects are present in 39 of the 50 states, totaling in more than 48,000 operating utility-scale wind turbines. The industry employs 73,000 people and currently generates enough energy to power 18 million homes in a year. To see the geographic spread of wind energy in the United States and the increase of Wind turbines in the past 15 years, see the two tables by AWEA below.

wind turbines - Number of States with Operating Utility-Scale Wind Turbines

Number of States with Operating Utility-Scale Wind Turbines Courtesy of AWEA

Total U.S. Installed Wind Capacity 2001-2014

Total U.S. Installed Wind Capacity 2001-2014 Courtesy of AWEA

Windspire Energy – Wind Energy for Everybody

In its earlier days, wind energy was confined to large farms in rural areas. Today, the landscape is changing. New forms of wind turbines are being developed that are less invasive and encourage people to install wind turbines in their own back yard.

Windspire Energy Turbines Windspire Energy’s mission was to make wind power available to businesses and home owners. They invented a smaller, more attractive wind turbine that is low cost and has a “plug-n-produce” ability that allows it to fit into smaller businesses and residential environments. Unlike the traditional wind turbine, Windspire’s appliance is only 30 feet tall and 4 feet wide. There are no propellers and the machine generates very little noise. Consumers with smaller yards can meet their energy needs by placing one or more of these Windspires on their property. Each unit is $9,000-$12,000. A tax credit generally drops the price to approximately $3,800.

Windspire has focused heavily on the aesthetic appeal of their wind turbines, painting them in a non-corrosive substance that can be repainted in any color to match your home or backyard décor. It’s also been built with birds in mind – with a vertical and slow wind turbines - windspire energyspeed ratio that is not only quiet but easier for birds to see and avoid.

For businesses, owning a series of Windspire turbines can do more than produce energy – it’s a visual display of your company’s commitment to corporate social responsibility – protecting our planet and choosing renewable energy.

An Interview from a worker in the field

My sister in law works in a wind energy consulting firm. Below are her answers to a few questions about wind as a renewable source of energy.

Describe what you do – what is a week/day in your career like?

wind turbinesI work for a consulting firm, so in a typical week/day I perform quite a variety of tasks.  They may include technical studies such as sound modeling, writing reports for wind farm permits, reviewing projects as part of due diligence work, and working closely with my team members and others within the organization to manage and deliver work to Clients.

What would you most want people who know nothing about wind energy to understand?

Wind energy is a clean, safe, reliable form of energy. There are wind resources available across the country that can be effectively used to produce power and reduce carbon emissions.

What are the greatest benefits of wind energy?

The fuel is free and plentiful, the energy is cost-effective, and the power produced uses zero carbon. There are wind resources available across the country, so the wind can be harnessed in many states and offshore. In rural states, wind energy can provide important, stable economic benefits, and landowners can receive long-term financial payments by leasing their land to wind farm developers.

What are the greatest challenges of wind energy?

wind turbines - nimbyFederal policies in support of wind have been inconsistent, leading to uncertainty for wind farm developers. Additionally, some states and local jurisdictions have passed NIMBY-esque laws creating citing challenges for wind projects. Finally, even the greenest forms of energy are not zero-impact on the local environment.  Wind farm developers are constantly working to minimize any potential impacts of their projects on communities, protected species, birds, protected lands, and other natural resources. Typically, the benefits of wind energy far outweigh any negative implications, but their consideration is important.

What is your position?

I am an avid supporter of wind energy as an increasingly important part of our nation, and the world’s renewable energy mix.

Wind Energy – the Power of the Future

The days of dirty energy are coming to an end. As awareness increases people are tired of oil spills, coal sludge, and dirty air. We want future generations to enjoy a planet that has fresh air, clean water, and biodiversity. If you want to learn more about wind energy follow the links below. Also consider sharing this post so more people can learn about this valuable, clean, and reliable source of renewable energy.

wind turbines


American Wind Energy Association

National Wind Watch

Windspire Energy

Why we should choose a minimalist lifestyle: three reasons to cut back

by Heather Kallevig

minimalist lifestyle - the new American DreamThe American Dream was established on principals of freedom, equality, and the pursuit of happiness. Initially these concerned religion, commerce, and day-to-day activities. As time wore on, the pursuit of happiness became more about property, a nice home, and items to fill that home. The 20th century is marked by many accomplishments, failures, and trends. One of the major trends was consumption.

Especially during the second half of the century, Americans’ buying and spending increased at a shocking rate. As wealth spreads globally, so does consumption and awareness of the problems it creates.

minimalist lifestyleIn the 21st century we are seeing the start of a new trend, one that celebrates minimalism. We are attracted to quality products, conscious capitalists, and tiny houses. This perhaps may be the inception of a new trend, one that is healthier for people, our future, and our planet. If you are considering a minimalist take on life, below are three benefits of this lifestyle.

Lower consumption

minimalist lifestyle - lower consumptionEach year 35 million cell phones land in the garbage, 25 billion Styrofoam cups are not recycled, and the average American is responsible for 65 pounds of clothing tossed in the landfill. These are the result of a consumptive society.

Think about the activities you participated in over the past week. Now consider the items that were used and thrown away. Whether it was disposable food containers, plastic decorations for a party, or bags at the grocery store. (The average American uses 300 plastic grocery bags a year!)   These are only a few examples of the items we are creating, consuming, and tossing.   If everyone in the planet lived at the consumptive level of Americans, we would need 3 planet Earths to support the minimalist lifestyle - stop being a customer, be a humanresource need for goods!

Next consider the items you’ve purchased in the past year. How many of those things do you use on a daily basis? Weekly? Monthly? If you haven’t used it in the past six months, do you really need it?

World household consumption increased fourfold in the years between 1960 and 2000. 60% of this consumption took place in the US and Europe – regions that account for only 12% of the world’s population. The consumption class is a group that has been growing since the 1960s. As developing nations gain technology and wealth, the consumption class will continue to grow, stressing our already over-taxed resources.

Minimalism is a growing response to the negative impacts of over consumption. By choosing a minimalist lifestyle, you decrease the goods you purchase, and minimize the items you need. If everyone adopted a minimalist lifestyle, it would have major environmental benefits for our planet.

Gain Freedom

minimalist lifestyle - getting rid of stuffGeorge Carlin, a famous comedian, had an infamous bit about “stuff” and the encumbrance of having more. As he sardonically stated, “The meaning of life – trying to find a place to keep your stuff.”

Minimalists choose a different meaning of life.

Whether its clothes, tools, gadgets, or trinkets – people have things they’re attached to. The problem with this attachment is you cannot get away. When the time comes to relocate, whether it’s to a new house, state, or country – the more items you have, the more stressful the move!

You also have to spend more time and money taking care of these items. Consider the amount of time you spend sweeping, dusting, cleaning and repairing. Now cut that time because you have fewer things. You can instead enjoy yourself doing something fun outside with your family, friends, or pets. Using the same idea, reflect on how much money you have spent on items you brought home, stashed somewhere, and soon forgot. If you had not wasted money on more “things” you may have instead applied those funds to travel, charity, or built up a healthy savings account.

minimalist lifestyle - the tiny house movement

Choosing a minimalist lifestyle can be liberating. Decreasing your “stuff” gives you more freedom with space, freedom with time, and freedom with money.

Shorten the workweek

shorten the work weekThe American public works harder than any preceding generation. According to the Center for American Progress, 85.8% of males and 66.5% of females clock in more than 40 hours per week. While 134 countries worldwide have laws regulating the workweek length, the US does not. Americans are also taking fewer holidays and sick days. The image below by the Center for Economic and Policy Research compares work days and holidays across several developed countries. The US is at the bottom level of the chart.

minimalist lifestyle - paid vacation and paid holidays in working days

So why are Americans working so hard? You may assume it’s the passing down of the age-old American work ethic, but researchers are finding new reasons. Many argue the increase in work is a result of our consumerist culture and our growing consumption class. The more things people want to buy, the more they must work to afford them.

minimalist lifestyleBy choosing a minimalist lifestyle, you can live with much less money and can significantly decrease the time spent in the workplace. The overall health benefits of this decision are invaluable.

Go minimal

The minimalist movement is gaining the attention of people at all wealths, ages, and cultures. Whether you are attracted to the freedom, the affordability, or the opportunity to lower your footprint, minimalism is a choice with innumerable benefits. By reconsidering our values and choosing to deny consumerism, we break away from an existence tied to “stuff” for a more fulfilling, enriching lifestyle.

The minimalist movement is growing, and there are many helpful leaders to follow. Check out The Minimalists for more helpful information.

In the end, choose simple living. Choose Minimalism.

minimalism - because less is more


20 Something Finance


Center for American Progress

Center for Economic and Policy Research

Center for a New American Dream


Facing the Future

National Wildlife Federation

World Watch Institute

For the Love of Fostering a Pet: Four questions answered before bringing a pet into your home

Homeward Bound Foster a Pet

Chance, Sassy, & Shadow of Childhood Favorite Homeward Bound

by Heather Kallevig

Do you remember those animal-related movies we used to watch when we were kids, the ones we can barely handle as adults? Movies like Fox and the Hound, Homeward Bound, and Milo and Otis? They’re filled with frustrating moments and memorable heartbreaking scenes. Yet, the happiness of those movies far outweighed the sadness, and made it worthwhile to watch over and over again.

Well, those childhood movies are similar in many ways to fostering an animal. Training a new pet and bringing them into your nuclear household can have its frustrations, giving up the pet you fell in love with can be heartbreaking, but the overall joy, happiness, and satisfaction generated from doing a good deed and changing the life of an animal in need makes fostering worthwhile. This is the reason many people return to pet fostering time and again.

Why do people foster animals?

foster a petWhen a pet is surrendered from their current home, or rescued from an inhumane condition, animal rescues often prefer to avoid the overwhelming environment of a shelter. Many rescued pets are already facing a very stressful situation, being separated from their home or recovering from danger. For these animals, living in a shelter can increase their anxiety making a foster home their ideal living situation. Also, shelters have limited means and can only keep animals for a brief period of time. By opening their home to these animals, fosters increase living space and lengthen the time and potential a pet has for finding their forever home. When placed in the proper home, pets can have the comfort of free movement, engagement with other pets, and the socialization of their foster parents. This eases the transition and helps better prepare an animal for their future home.

What is it like to foster a pet?

Similar to people, all animals have unique needs and personalities. Whether you open your home to dogs, cats, birds, bunnies, or chickens, fostering is unique on a pet-to-pet basis. That being said, as a foster parent, there are certain steps you can take to increase success. When fostering a pet, here are a few things to remember.Foster a pet

  1. Be Patient. Your new family member is already under a lot of stress. They don’t understand their situation – why they have left their home or why they have been treated poorly in their previous setting. You must be patient with animals in this position. Give them time to adjust. Consider making a room or space theirs, so if they want to relax there alone it’s ok. Give them space if they need it.
  2. Make them part of the family. Do not create a distinction between your own pets and your foster pets. They will feel it. If your dogs sleep in a kennel, give your foster dog a kennel. If they sleep on the bed, give him/her that option too. If you need to separate them, that’s ok. Just make sure you aren’t alienating your foster dog for your pets and visa versa. Your pets also need to know they haven’t lost their place in the household, so make sure you’re also giving them the attention they require.
  3. Begin training right away. It’s never too early to begin learning good habits, and it’s very likely your pet has never been taught.   They may have good habits and not-so-good habits. Either way, they are not likely to come with a training manual or personal profile, so it’s your job to teach them.

foster a catOur most recent foster didn’t know any commands including his name. We had to immediately begin teaching him important words including no, stay, and come. On the other hand, he was housebroken and kennel trained. You may have to housebreak the pet to your home as well. Teach them where the litter box is, or set a schedule to take them outside regularly. Set clear expectations and stick to them. Your pet will be much happier and behave better if he/she knows what’s expected in your home.

  1. Make sure he/she is healthy. Watch for any signs that your foster pet needs healthcare. Depending on the rescue organization you’re working with, the pet should already have their shots and a vet check before they arrive, but you still need to be aware. Many foster pets have been neglected and may have hidden health issues that need addressing. These issues may not have been noticed during the vet visit and could include stomach issues, anxiety, etc.
  2. Give them lots of love. The best way to help your foster “child” adjust is to give them unconditional love. This is the most important thing to remember when fostering a pet. They need attention, affection, and love. Above all else, this will help them adjust and grow.

Who should foster?

Anyone can foster a pet, but you do need to consider whether or not now is the right time for you. Adding another member to your household is a lot of work. It’s intensely rewarding, but it is also challenging. Be prepared, and understand you must be willing to care for the animal, train them, and nurture them. Here are a few things to consider before fostering a pet.

  1. Examine your living situation. Are you suited for another pet? Is your home large enough? Do you have a yard? If you rent, make sure your landlord will approve another pet in your home.
  2. Can you afford it? Depending on the rescue you’re working with, foster parents may be responsible for zero expenses, or they may be responsible for quite a few. Make sure you know what the expectations are, and whether or not this is a financial option for you.
  3. Do you have time? Fostering a pet requires a lot of extra time. You need to be able to exercise them, train them, and spend time with them. Make sure you are prepared for that commitment.

volunteer dog walkerIf you are not prepared to foster a pet, now may not be the best time for you. That does not, however, mean you cannot foster in the future. Remember, if it’s not a good situation for the foster parent, it won’t be a good situation for the animal. The last thing you want to do is move them from house to house because the fostering situation isn’t working. If you don’t have time, there are other options too. You can start by volunteering at your local shelter. They always need people to help at pet drives, walking dogs, grooming them, petting cats, and giving them all a little T.L.C.

Warnings aside, if you do qualify, and you are ready to foster a pet, than fantastic! You are ready to take part in a very rewarding and growth engendering experience. While there will be challenges, the benefits to all involved make fostering worth every trial and success. If you are ready to foster a pet, call a shelter and get on board!

What if I fail as a foster parent?

foster a dogThere is no shame in failing as a foster parent. I have fostered three pets, a cat and two dogs, and failed once. When you fail as a foster parent, it means you have become so attached to the pet you just cannot bear to let him/her go. This tends to happen to all regular foster parents at one time or another. If it does, you have just gained yourself a new family member who will love you absolutely for the rest of her life. Foster parents are generally softhearted animal lovers, and be weary it is always a possibility you may fall in love with the pet.

Final thoughts and a Happy Ending

I am writing this post because last night I brought foster dog number three to his new home. We partnered with a local rescue, Loving Heart Animal Shelter to foster Oskar who we began to call Kenai.  As mentioned earlier, it was a very rewarding and heart wrenching experience. It is always hard to give up a pet you have come to love and enjoy in your home. However, this emotion is very small compared to the joy and satisfaction derived from finding the perfect home for your foster animal.

When I visited Kenai’s future abode, they had purchased him a fancy new kennel to sleep in at night. It was modeled on child playpens and offered the perfect little cuddle hole for Kenai. Their four year-old daughter was bubbling over with excitement, their six-year-old boxer was sprinting up and down the halls with glee over her new playmate, and the parents were simply gushing with love.

How did Kenai feel? It was clear he had finally found his forever home. I reserve the opinion that dogs smile, and Kenai’s smile spread from ear to ear, split by a lolling wagging tongue. He is the happiest of dogs. He has found a home where he will be treasured, and he in turn will make them very happy.

Foster a Pet

Kenai with his new family

As foster parents, Joe and I were a part of that happiness. We had the opportunity to give Kenai a resting place, and because of our role he was discovered and adopted by a family who lived right across the street. If I hadn’t volunteered, they probably would never have found him. This is the essence of fostering – making a difference not only in the life of the dog, but the family who will love him. The more people who foster, the more lives we can save, and the greater difference we will make in this world.

If you are not ready to foster right now, it’s ok. You may be some time down the road. If you are ready to foster, please seriously consider it. You will never regret your role in the dog’s life and the future happiness you will create.

Foster a Dog Today!

Foster a Dog Today!

Three Easy Ways to Make a Difference for Birds

by Heather Kallevig



Birds are everywhere right? It may seem that way, but the truth is, though you may see and hear plenty of birds in your local neighborhood – the avian species are facing troubled times. Due to habitat loss, climate change, pollution, and human encroachment – many birds are in danger of serious population decline. To combat these challenges, we can all offer our support and lend a hand for birds.

Depending on your current situation, there are many different things you can do to help our feathered friends. Below are a few options to choose from, some require time, some space, and others are financial support. Choosing even just one of these contributions can make a difference and create a brighter future for birds.

Part 1: Rethink your Backyard

Cities can be a dangerous place for birds. Glass windows, vehicles, prowling predators, are only a few of the threats to contend with. With a few small changes, we can make the city landscape a more inviting and safe place.

When you step into your backyard, what do you see? What would be most helpful for birds? Do you have plants and trees with lots of foliage? Is there a bird feeder? Maybe some bird houses? How about a water source? These are all valuable and easy things you can provide to create an ideal birding habitat.

Choose a tree, shrub, or section of grass you don’t mind becoming a tad overgrown, and let it bush out. This is a great habitat for birds to hide, rest, or even build a nest. If you have grass clippings or branches from your gardening, leave them in areas of the yard for nest building in the spring. Bird feeders offer valuable food sources. Bird boxes and houses provide a home or shelter. One thing we often forget is the dire need for a water source, especially in dry climates. If you don’t have a birdbath, a pie pan full of water works just as well. Just make sure you clean it regularly so you’re not harboring parasites or other illnesses that can negatively impact the birds you’re trying to help.

Finally, consider the potential threats in your yard. Do you have a cat? Using a belled collar gives birds fair warning when a hungry feline is on the prowl. If your house has many large windows, consider using bird stickers and other signals to help birds realize they cannot fly through. Addressing these two major threats can make a big difference for birds in your area.

Part 2: Donate to a Birding Organization



There is a plethora of organizations committed to the protection of birds, habitat, and conservation. Many of these programs, by addressing the needs of birds, target many other issues threatening our planet. Conservation and habitat protection are key for birds, but the protection of these swaths of land also create new areas, safe from pollution, development, and industry. These conservation efforts help stem the tide of climate change and protect natural regions for our children and their children.

There are many options for donating. You can become a one-time donor, contributing only when it’s financially feasible, or you can choose to become a regular donor, with a scheduled gift. You may choose to contribute to only one organization, or you may prefer to share the love. Another choice to consider is whether you prefer to support local, national, or international organizations. Research local organizations in your area.

Below are a few popular national and international organizations to consider.

Bird Specific Organizations:

The American Birding Association
The Audubon Society
Cornell Lab of Ornithology

Conservation and Wildlife Organizations:

National Wildlife Federation
The Nature Conservancy
World Wildlife Fund

Part 3: Participate in Citizen Science

Several prominent birding groups depend on the contribution of people just like you to help them track the health and populations of birds. They use nest observation cameras, birding festivals, and organized counting events where supporters are encouraged to record and share their findings.

You may have heard of a Big Year or seen the 2012 movie. This is a major, yearlong event for dedicated birding enthusiasts. Spending an entire year crossing the continent counting birds is not a realistic option for most people. Fortunately, you do have ways to participate. This weekend, May 9th, Cornell Lab of Ornithology, the Audubon Society, and the American Birding Association are teaming up to sponsor a Global Big Day. Participants take to the woods, streets, fields, and waters to count as many different birds as possible in a single day. These numbers are then reported to the Cornell Lab of Ornithology for compilation and study. Many participants also contribute valued donations to the cause. You don’t need to be a birding expert to participate – even the recording of two birds in a day is helpful. By recruiting friends or family, you improve your odds of seeing more birds and make a fun, social event of the day. You will learn something new, get some exercise, and spend your Saturday outside.

Help the Birds



Imagine a city where every yard is a bird sanctuary, members contribute to birding protection and conservation efforts through donations, and family and friends participate in citizen research, tracking current bird populations and habits. This is an example of a brighter future for the people, the birds, and the land. Each member who takes a step toward avian protection is giving our winged friends one more chance to flourish for future generations.

Choosing a Second Chance – Why you should shop second hand

by Heather Kallevig

Nice quilts and blankets, full sets of plates, silverware, and glasses, stereo equipment, and of course shoes and clothes. These are just a few of the items I found during my recent perusal of our town’s local Goodwill. We were there looking for items to supplement our BBQ set, spending money on reusable goods rather than disposable plates and platters. As I walked through the well-organized aisles, bobbing my head to Backstreet Boys’ “Bye, Bye, Bye,” I realized there was more value to recycled goods than the 90s music. There were great household items, clean, attractive clothing, and friendly staff. Buying used is not simply a second hand option, it’s a solution.

In our grandmother’s generation, you were more likely to purchase used goods than new ones. Today, consumer products are so affordable, people don’t have to shop vintage but they still should.   There are many reasons to buy second hand: you have the opportunity to recycle, your goods will have character, they’re unique and cheap, and you get to regenerate great stuff. Below are mindful reasons to buy second hand and some great ideas where.

Reason 1: Recycle

In a world where the human population is increasing exponentially, the need for recycling coincides with our rapid growth. We cannot continue to produce new, expendable goods at our current rate. The planet’s resources won’t keep up. We need to be mindful of our products – choosing high-quality, single goods that will last a long time, rather than a closet full of cheap goods that last three wears. One great way to recycle is to purchase our clothing and household goods used, bringing them back into life rather than sending them to the landfill.

Reason 2: Your Goods Have Character

Often in today’s consumer-driven world, it’s not unusual to buy a shirt at target and see fifteen other people wearing the exact same thing. Not that this is a big deal, but the most you can say about that item is it was a cheap shirt at Target. When you purchase goods second hand, you get to imagine the life it once lived, taking part in your new life. Your goods are unique and well loved. Also, it’s not unusual to find great, expensive brands, that will last ten times longer used, than that cheap, single shirt from Target.

Reason 3: You Can Find Cheap, Unique Items

It’s not surprising many thrift stores reach their peak around Halloween – people often scour these locations looking for the unique and unusual goods to supplement their costume. This treasure hunt doesn’t have to be limited to October, however, think about all the other times you’re looking for something a bit different. For example, my husband likes to find unique crockery in antique stores to serve as vases for special occasion flowers. You can find cool furniture for your house, or used goods in an REI attic. Second hand is the way to make sure your stuff stands out.

Reason 4: Regenerate Great Stuff

I already mentioned your stuff comes with a story when you buy second hand. You may never really know the tale, but you do get to breath new life into great stuff. We’ve seen the advantages of second chances and come backs – rescue pets, oldies music, Robert Downie Jr. – to name a few. Also, fashions are cyclical, the clothes worn in the 80s and 90s will eventually be back in style. The china from someone else’s wedding becomes your treasure. A priceless antique, built by the hands of a farmer in the 30’s is now the family kitchen table. Very few products are used to their full potential before they are given away, they’re just waiting for a second change to show their potential.

Where to Buy Second Hand

The options for buying second hand are as unique as the shoppers. The most affordable are generally your nonprofit locations such as Goodwill and Value Village. If you’re looking for higher-end brands, look up your local consignment shops – often people are selling $150 jeans for $30, shoes and purses too. For furniture, dishes, and trinkets – check out antique stores and furniture dealers. Many stores are popping up selling used and new furniture in separate show rooms. If you’re looking for outdoor gear, REI has their attic – in which they sell returned items that cannot be sold new. This is a great place to find good quality sleeping bags, skis, boots, and expensive coats for very low prices. If books are your handle, set down the kindle for a while and check out a used book store! There’s many great books that you can read and return at your convenience.  Finally, if you prefer to do your digging online, another great option for purchasing second hand is craigslist. This gives you the option to choose your goods before ever leaving the house.

Whatever your need, consider checking second hand first. Not only will you be helping reduce our footprint on the planet, you’ll be breathing second life into great old products. You’ll be unique, have character, and in all likelihood have a lot more fun in the experience.

If you know of other great places please share them in the comments!


Steps for a waste free BBQ

by Heather Kallevig

If you’ve taken a walk through your neighborhood lately, you’ve probably noticed spring has sprung. Flowers are on the trees, the grass is green, birds are in full song, and there’s a new scent on the air – the smell of grills and BBQ. That’s right, with the passing of the seasons comes a time-honored event, the year’s first outdoor get togethers.   As you’re planning your upcoming events, think about the ways you can make an impression, by lessening your footprint and increasing the fun.

The common go-to for outdoor events is disposable consumer products including paper plates, napkins, plastic cups and cutlery. While these may save you time the day of the event, think about the years it requires for these convenience products to decompose. For this year’s BBQs, consider a little earlier preparation, so you can throw away these bad habits and throw a WASTE FREE BBQ.

Step 1: Buy reusable plastic goods

A new plastic set, especially for a larger party can be expensive at the store. No worries, there’s a secret to overcoming this quandary. Your local goodwill is likely filled with many different plastic sets of cups, plates, pitchers, and serving platters. I was able to buy 12 plates for $.99 and they’re still in good shape.

If you can’t find a matching set in the numbers you need, consider picking and choose different and fun, unmatching sets. Your guests will enjoy picking their own goods, and they’ll have no problem remembering whose is whose.

As for cutlery, goodwill usually has trays and trays of utensil sets, but if you can’t find what you’re looking for don’t worry! We use our own silverware and spend the 10 minutes washing them at the end of the evening rather than throwing away mounds of plastic utensils.

To keep these goods from taking up space in your kitchen, consider storing a BBQ tote with your reusable goods. If this is not an option, return the items to good will – at $10 a set, you’re spending little more than you would have on disposable plasticware.

Step 2: Reusable Linens


Paper napkins are also very wasteful, so replace these items with sturdy, reusable cloth napkins. They work better than cheap paper napkins, and there are several options. Choose which works best for you!

Go to your local fabric store – “Fat Quarters” are large square pieces of material for $.99 a square. You can pick 12 different colors so each person has their own napkin and remembers whose is whose.

Handkerchiefs also make great napkins. You can find these cheaply online, or you can look at your local Walmart, goodwill, etc.

If you can’t find what you’re looking for in a store, 12 packs of napkins can be as cheap as $10-$15 for a set. You can order these on Amazon and have them delivered to your home w/in a few days.


Tablecloths are also something to consider for your BBQ. There are a few good options for these too.

The best choice for reusable tablecloths are bed sheets. Believe it or not, these can be pretty, light, and recycled! For a large picnic table, fitted bed sheets are fantastic. My mom has been using them for years. They band around the table edges, stay in place, don’t blow away, and are a sustainable option for sheets you may no longer use as bedding.

If you do not have any sheets to use, find a set on clearance at the store. It’s ok if they’re a bit scratchy because you’re not sleeping in them.  Also, if the décor is a bit unusual – it will only add to your fun picnic set.

When the BBQ is done, throw your napkins and sheets in the washer and fold them up for future outdoor get togethers. You’ll never have to buy paper napkins or vinyl tablecloths again.

Step 3: Décor

For your BBQ décor, it can be fun to have unique outdoor décor. However, once the BBQ is over, there’s often no use for these items and they end up in storage or the trash. Save your money and choose reusable, outdoor friendly décor. Goodwill is packed with extremely cheap glass vases and canning jars – fill these with wildflowers, fallen tree branches, or rocks and sand. You can return the old vases to goodwill when you’re done and save your storage space. Your choice of décor will accentuate the outdoor beauty and save you money and energy for enjoying your time outdoors rather than messing with decorations.

Step 4: Enjoy – Eat, Drink, and be Merry

Once you’ve developed your waste free BBQ consider other ways you can make a difference – fill your grill with fresh, local vegetables, sustainably produced grass-fed beef, and make sure it’s only as much as you can eat. Make your waste-free BBQ, food waste free too.

Happy Spring!!



Animal Place – Hosting First Annual Farmed Animal Conference

by Heather Kallevig

The planet is populated by 7 billion people.  While that is a large number, it is miniscule compared to the number of animals with whom we share the planet.  The Earth is a wonderful landscape of biodiversity, and it’s our job as the most influential species to ensure that biodiversity is maintained.  Advocacy is raising awareness of the impact we bear on many different groups including endangered species and domesticated animals.  Animal welfare groups are increasing in number and the support they receive from activists and donors is necessary to maintain this growth.

One group of animals who tend to receive the least amount of attention is the group on which we are most dependent – farm animals.  Farm animals meet a variety of human needs including clothing, food, and labor – not to mention companionship.  The number of animals used in agriculture is shocking.  The population of cows in the US offers some perspective.  According to the National Cattlemen’s Association, in 2014 there were 89.9 million cows in the US alone!  Because of our dependence it is disheartening we take these animals for granted and know so little about the intelligence, emotions, and capabilities of farm animals.

Animal Place in Grass Valley, CA works to raise awareness and advocate for health and wellness of farm animals including cows, goats, sheep, chickens, ducks, and pigs (to name a few).  This great organization offers opportunities for people all over the world to learn more about the animals we depend on and to help improve their situation.  While their work is year round, they will be having an event to take note of this summer.

On June 5-7, 2015, the organization will be hosting the first annual ANIMAL PLACE FARMED ANIMAL CONFERENCE.  Attendees will have the opportunity to tour the facility, spend time with the animals, participate in interactive workshops, and listen to engaging speakers.  The whole purpose is to discover more about farm animals and learn how to become stronger advocates for this wonderful group of animals. 

If you’re in the California area this summer, make time to travel to Grass Valley, one of the most beautiful regions in the state, and take part in this great new event.  If you are unable to attend, visit the organization’s website, and consider stopping by the facility at another time.  You can also offer your support by donating or fostering an animal.

Make the future brighter for this important group of beings.

Patagonia – The Cleanest Line

by Heather Kallevig

Photo courtesy of chuitna.org

This article by Patagonia’s Paul Moinester is a great follow up to Why Protect ANWR.  This opens our eyes to even more threatened areas in Alaska’ frontier.  Patagonia is lending their resources to protecting these vital lands and waters.  The region of concern here is the Chuitna River, near the village of Tyonek.  This region is a valuable, pristine environment for salmon, bear, moose, birds, and other wildlife.  It is threatened by open-pit coal mines, specifically the infamous Pebble Mine, and other industrial threats.  Join Patagonia and other activists to lend your support in protecting this region for future generations humans and wildlife.

Save the Chuitna – Watch the trailer and join the fight against coal mining on salmon streams