ECO-Tours only purchases trees and dirt to plant them in...

Saturday, December 19, 2015

Oh, and Happy Solstice! (the real reason for the season)

...from somewhere near the far right boob area, Northeast Wisconsin East River Valley Estuary.
May Grace dwell in your soul. Not just this holy day season, but throughout the coming year!
Thanks for reading my stuff! Blessed Be! Namaste'. Ubuntu.


Friday, December 4, 2015

Four Families Moved Away

I met some people the other day who were dead set against having wind turbines anywhere. Especially anywhere they would have to see them. They claimed that four families had moved away in response to wind turbines going up in their area. What they claimed that they do was a collection of things that I wanted to understand. There must be some sort of cohesive understanding of what these ideas are based on, right? How they "learned" these things only becomes important when you begin to understand how much money, time and effort have been put into studying and teaching these false claims to others. One of their claims is that turbines are getting louder. I am hearing/feeling the throbbing of our local coal fired electric generating station four and a half miles away. But to be fair, it produces more power than 200 wind spinners. Using machines to do work is not quiet by any means. These people also said that all the turbines interconnected so that when one went down, or stopped running all of them stop producing power. The most interesting complaint was that if enough turbines are put up, it will slow the Earth's rotation, lengthening days, reducing gravitational forces and creating climate change. These extremely strong-headed folks also made an outrageous claim that each turbine gets what they claimed to be an $11,000 subsidy each year just for being there. So I went out, trying to find out if any of it was true.

I hate taking the word of others only because I have been burned by doing so in the past. I try to be impeccable with my word, but to do so means not accepting the claims of others until the facts behind them are understood. Sometimes, even the motivations of those speaking need to be taken into consideration before one can understand their claims completely. It seems that virtually none of what these folks had to say was based on fact, however, as fervent as they were, it is hard to envision a process by which they could be educated out of their delusion.

What I found was, that there is a subsidy that was set in 1992 at one point five cents per kilowatt produced. (that number has been annually adjusted for inflation.) To get a thousand dollars each month, you would be producing 100,000 Kw. Aka 100 megawatts (mw). I went on to study even more critically, trying to find out where he got that number. For perspective, the Pulliam power station, which sits at the mouth of the Fox River, the main tributary feeding into Green Bay produces 350-375 mw, but it does so continuously, nearly without stop. It seems that if the wind towers are producing 1.6 megawatts, each, which would lead to the subsidy being in that 10-11,000 dollar range, It would take over 200 wind turbines to equal the output of our nearby coal-fired power generating station and they would have to spin 24/7/365. Wind is intermittent and I frequently see whole groups of turbines sitting idle. When I began to understand the meaning of this, virtually all of the other claims became questionable at best.

First, noise is the result of inefficiency, the wind turbines that I have sat under and walked around are quiet, very quiet. In fact, that is part of why they seem so beautifully elegant to me. The quieter they are, the more efficient they are and the owners know this and have a vested interest in running them as efficiently as possible, especially if their subsidy is based on their production of energy. The fact is that turbines have actually gotten quieter, to harness as much energy from the wind as possible.

Even in the most blustery conditions, it seems that on the large wind farms there are one or two turbines that are not spinning.  There would be no point in running all of the others if a single stopped turbine was taking all the energy produced by the others away. Considering the costs of putting even a single tower up, running them this way would not be worth the subsidy. I'm not an expert, but these machines are smart now, if they are not running efficiently, the things stop themselves, which occasionally requires power, but broken down ones mean jobs, for real people, like me, not a guy blasting away at a mountain or setting explosives deep in a mine, technicians at turbines are high tech versions of me and probably get far better wages than either me or coal miners. Good jobs. I have lived in the Coal Region of PA and can attest to the death, destruction, desperation, misogyny and mayhem that boom-bust economies foster. Turbine technicians, on the other hand, could sleep in their own beds at night if we had wind farms abundantly in windy areas. The economies of scale are making wind far cheaper to install than coal or even natural gas generating facilities. I'm not a technocrat, but conservative thinkers should all agree that fossil energy will only exacerbate climate change. I have a ticker on one of the blogs I follow that shows a graph of how many Hiroshima bombs of energy have been released to the atmosphere since 1970. Over four billion four hundred million and counting. http://climatechangepsychology.blogspot.com/  Reviewing now, so forgive me, each of the 400 million is a thousand thousands. The billions are thousands of millions...Take your time, think it through. Four thousands of millions. We all saw the pictures of the sorts of clouds and energy released when that amount of energy happens all at once, but when it happens slowly over time from many areas of the globe, the way we release it, from millions of discreet, often mobile sources spreads the release over millions of discreet environments. Wherever humans congregate, releasing their BTUs near others, giant invisible high pressure ridges build up over the cities, roads and towns, which in turn act like invisible mountain ranges. Expanding air is the result of burning. I have seen these effects since the early eighties and continue to see them get more pronounced and more pronounced over the last thirty years. I have even seen repeated events where this high pressure ridge actually gets sandwiched under colder, dense air for days on end, stagnating and picking up the pollution released over several days into a giant bolus of nasty air, before "fresh" air blows the nauseating bolus somewhere else. This is the result of fossil energy and renewable energy gets extra points with me on this fact alone.

The idea of slowing earth's rotation is actually pretty funny on the face of it, but I had to look into the energy available, the relative amounts of energy in natural phenomena and the affect that wind has on keeping the Earth spinning and the more I understood, the more ludicrous the claim becomes. A single hurricane  contains more energy than humans use in a year. But even if we lined the entire coast with wind turbines, and somehow all the turbines took a direct hit from the storm, we would not reap even 1% of the energy that one of these storms contain. I also discovered that winds don't effect the spin of the Earth much at all. The winds are more likely affected by the rotation of the Earth more.

My most recent theory is that the four families that moved away were just able to use the wind farms and turbines as a timely excuse. Anyone keeping up on the lives of farm families knows that they are under extreme stress already, mostly stemming from their reliance on fossil energy and one more thing to worry about is often just enough to push them over the edge. Restless sleep, exhaustion and the host of supposed medical problems that farmers are attributing to the turbines is much more likely to be from chemical exposure, contaminated wells and/or financial stress than the nearby wind turbines. In fact, many people prefer to sleep with white noise in the room.

Ironically, we have had more than four families leave our neighborhood in the past year and the closest wind turbine is more than a dozen miles away. Crushing debt burdens, homes and farms that are financially under water and having to pay more for flood insurance to cover the increasing claims, primarily from uberwealthy home owners on the coasts, are more to blame in my neighborhood for the hollowing out of our community than wind spinners. Heck, even the crippled job market and the policies of our horrible slate of currently "serving" Teathuglican operatives in Wisconsin politics has more to do with people moving away than wind turbines. We need to look hard at why so much is going into the process of misinforming well meaning people. Oddly enough, the ultrawealthy are spending more to try to stop wind towers from going up than the industry spends on building them.

We have a problem Houston... 

Thursday, December 3, 2015

Nine Intrepid Fans

ECO-Tours has put out the call for help from our followers, our tribe as it were. We are wordsmithing and redesigning a flyer and would like trusted eyes to see what they would change/improve. Your suggestions will be humbly accepted and as we embark on our next journey, we will be able to connect with more people, the better our materials are, so those who choose to join us in this task, consider yourself thanked in advance!

We can offer to either e-mail you a PDF format copy or send hard copy if you prefer the feel of paper in your hands. The draft we have is pretty rough, so don't be afraid to tear it apart or completyely start over. We need a clear, concise way to encourage readers to host classes and/or enough information to inspire them to become students.

At a cost of $35, the value is many times higher! Every bed that I have added biochar to has yielded double the harvests! What I am going to offer, only through this blog is that our helpers on the flyer project become eligible for a half off the baker's dozen special, instead of getting a free class with a dozen paid students, you can get the free class with only six paid students! Half the work for the host, twice the time to practice your technique!

Twelve sided structure encloses maximum space with minimum of material.
It is well to realize that the current conditions exist because we humans, or our ancestors, did something in the past. We humans made the decision to set ourselves at odds with nature, or outright against her. Mother Earth is beyond our ability to quantify, so the raping of the planet is beyond our comprehension. The living planet presents far too many relationships to keep track of all of, so we may never understand the depth of our damage. It does not take any great stretch of the imagination to understand that the dust bowl days blew away nearly all the humus on the Great Plains. Precious soil that mother Nature builds at the rate of only one inch every ten thousand years. It left. There were reports of ships having great storms of dust 300 miles out at sea, where after the storm, they would have to sweep dirt and mud off the hull. Those soils were lost from Kansas, Oklahoma, and a dozen other western states, remnants of those soils may still be settling to the bottom. More important for this post, they never came back. Using biochar, and aggressive composting, we can build soils at thousands of times the rate that nature would, but when we do, it is best to do it in raised bed situations where footfalls can be eliminated. soil, especially healthy soil, has air in it, any footfall or traffic can compact the ground, leading to less healthy conditions.

Another secret to maximizing soil creation is mulch. In addition to keeping soils well composted, mulch helps keep ultraviolet rays from the Sun from sterilizing the soil  surface. Intact mulch helps to preserve soil organisms that help moderate conditions and whose waste products are important parts of the soil biome. It may seem out of place, to include a picture of the earthship (dodecagon) design, but it helps to imagine the microbial landscape as well. Even the tiniest organisms reflect the compact shape...conditions can be menacing, so they expend as little on outside as possible to contain and protect their vital protoplasm and structures. Like us, microbes are over 2/3 water and they too help to stabilize soil temperatures and moisture. Sheer mass of microbes in healthy soil equals about the combined weight of a cow and her calf, per acre! Biochar has fourteen acres of surface area per handful. Slowly, let those two ideas merge and play in your mind for a while. Fourteen acres of surface area. If that amount of area were to be colonized with as many microbes as healthy soil contains, it is like adding a mass of microbe to the soil equivalent in mass to fourteen cows and fourteen calves. These microscopic plants and creatures metabolize carbohydrates, fats, protein, etc, creating heat and  exchange gasses, just like we do. I have a few beds that have had biochar added at a rate of one kilo per cubic meter (2.2 pounds to 1.2 sq. yards.) and these soils always produce an extra two weeks in fall, freeze up as much as one moon later and in sporing are ready to go that much earlier in Spring because the microbial community is thriving in them. They thaw out sooner and are ready to plant a few weeks sooner than similar untreated areas.

Getting these concepts encapsulated in just a few words is the main mission of this effort. If we could get the thrust of the message down to just nine words, or less, which ones would they be? Reverse atmospheric carbon one fire at a time? Begin sequestering carbon today? Roast wood for posterity? What do you think would motivate people the best?

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Recovery Park Farms

There is a plan and a movement in Detroit that will be transforming a small part of the city into one of the largest urban farms in America. Eco-Tours has offered to teach their lead people and a core group of their employees. This project envisions transforming a large urban parcel, 60 acres, into a food production, and distribution center as well as a community resource for the urban Renaissance of one of our nation's most blighted cities.

ECO-Tours has reached out to Recovery Park Farms and plans to present our biochar classes for them before planting begins in the Spring. If you would like to sponsor a class, let us know and we can make arrangements.

Sunday, November 22, 2015

11-22-33-44

I'm never very amazed or stunned when numerology is mentioned. Numbers are a language that, I believe, we should all speak. Just as we have all practiced math well enough that we have mastered concrete operations to solve problems that we encounter, there are more esoteric and ethereal relationships, numbers to one another and numbers to earthly creatures. The way a snail grows, for instance traces an algebraic spiral growth, as does the fractile nature that is the heart of natural architecture, structure and growth. Today, me computer designates the date 11-22 an when I came to this blog site and checked in, the records said that my blog has been visited 3,344 times. If each visitor to my blog shared it with with, 1,2,3 or four people, my worldwide reach has been multiplied many times over. One of my previous posts, perhaps at The Otherfishwrap, was about trining the triple Goddess, Maiden, Mother,Crone, that sort of growth is exonential, but there is a beauty to the ascending scale of basic addition as well. It is significant that growth has been on my mind more than usual. That is enough to get me to thinking.
A maxim that we have all become familiar with states that slow and steady wins the race and some of that energy/reality manifests in the natural progression 1-2-3-4, however, the doubled nature of the sequence has another relationship to energies that we recognize as dyads.  Paired objects relate to one another as well as their surroundings and that reflects an energy unique to itself. I have written on this before. the nature of the relationship between an author and their reader is a dyad. Reflection on numbers can lead us to other, more durable relationships between and amongst ourselves. Occasionally, that which we learn from these relationships can be part of healing or growing our future self in profound ways. Several friends recently thanked me for a facebook post reminding people that millions are thousands of thousands and that Billions are each a thousand millions. The news seems to delight in telling us about massive numbers, but they almost count on a large number of people just glazing over large sums. Hearing all that numbers can teach us is part of why I write. Pardon me for using numbers and words together, but I'm just using them as a tool, or actors on a stage, to write about a larger topic.

In old way thinking, I went door-to-door, to get the word out about ecological issues. I was a fund-raiser for Citizens for a Better Environment (CBE). When I began working there, we funded research and science about environmental concerns and published our work in the environmental Review, a quarterly publication that let members know about important ecological threats and what could be done about them. I was able to contact about 20-25K people per year. Less than half of those people even wanted to listen, but at least they saw us out on the streets saying the name of our organization. It has taken me two-and-a-half years to reach 3,344 visits, as many as I used to reach in about two moons. I have seen a growth in interest, but it is spread worldwide, rather than just being in my region as well, so the spread of information, as my readers tell others about the blog grows readership as well. Unlike the Environmental Review, these posts last in the digital landscape virtually forever and relatively small paper magazines typically got recycled. I would like to think that the recycling of these words, ideas and concepts will continue to go a long way to guiding our culture to a more sustainable approach to living one, or better yet in cahoots with this finite planet.

I have reminded my readers that have not grown up in intact native communities and cultures that the representation of "four directions", the supposed Native American spiritual Icon is only part of the picture. The true nature of their world view contains at least "six" directions. There is the Sun/Moon energy that comes in from above and the Mother Earth energy rising through us as well. The closest approximation of this that I have found in other readings that I have done is the mercabic principles of old. We exist in a structured, yet swirling fractile, a vortex of these six directions/energetic principles and when enlightenment or grace permeate us, or flow through our bodies, we resonate with nearly the clarity of a bell.
 Now, we switch the gears...
This is a picture, made with a scanning electron microscope of bamboo char. It is nearly 100% pure carbon.

When char begins to be transformed into biochar, first it is hydrated and nutrified. When done organically and thoughtfully, bacteria, fungi and many microscopic creatures begin to readily inhabit these surfaces. One amoeba divides into two, one bacterium can reproduce in less than a day. In relatively short order, thriving communities of organisms that enhance soil health and boost plant health as well colonize and inhabit these microscopic pores.

 The stories that I tell about abundance and building soils, while fixing carbon for long periods of time, may be the most important information on the planet right now, but the fact that virtually no money will be made on the transformation of waste carbon to soil, assures that you will not see a commercial on the tee vee or advertising in magazines about it. All who change to restorative agriculture will experience easier lives at less cost. This is just one more reason that the oligarchs want this ancient technology kept quiet. I have even read high budget "research reports" that said terrible things about char and emphasized that in their estimation it was nearly worse than useless. The study, to anyone who knows about char was flawed from the start. They used the raw char, instead of a finished biochar.

The water holding capacity of carbon structures in biochar holds about six times the weight of the material in water. The microbes who inhabit the surfaces are capable of holding even more.
Fourteen acres of surface area in a single hand full, char can support complex microscopic food webs. Olive wood.  

When I walked door to door, most of my message was kept within a sphere of influence that did not extend much beyond Northeast Wisconsin. Today the spores of my awareness and the state of the art ecological research that I do can be spread worldwide with a few keystrokes. Thorough the magic of our minds, and the language of mathematics, we can see old-way thinking swirling in and around one of the large cavities, (my city) now I can spread the word like a mist over areas far beyond the picture plane. Each one, teach one and we can transform at an ever-increasing exponential rate!

Even progressions increasing, at similar rates to the decreasing frequency of prime numbers is possible.
Sweet gum char can be seen as a sponge for water and life.
I am available to teach classes on how to make this amazing material and utilize it in restorative agriculture. My costs are $250 U.S. plus travel, per 3 hour class, or week long intensives can be held for $2K U.S. plus travel.

Please spread the word and let others know that this material can easily double agricultural production, "fertilize" soils for hundreds, perhaps thousands of years, and help to offset climate change, desertification and prevent flooding. We can reach millions if each one teaches one and we take the time to grow the message.

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Please Share

One of my heroes has always been Joseph Beuys This fall, ECO-tours of Wisconsin will be planting seven thousand acorns in Fonferek Glen County Park, in the headwaters of the East River Watershed. This area in turn feeds the Fox River near the mouth and Green Bay, Lake Michigan and points east including Lake Huron, the St. Clair River, Lake St. Clair, Detroit River, Lake Erie, Lake Ontario and the St. Lawrence Seaway downstream to the Atlantic Ocean. Rather than planting each one in relationship to stellae, as Joseph Beuys did, ours will just be planted in an appropriate soil and microclimate that favors oaks.

We ask that people who read this, appreciate our work and wish for it to continue help fund us either by sending donations to our ECO-Tours of Wisconsin Inc. Paypal account: tnsaladino42@hotmail.com
or by snail mail to 1445 Porlier street, Green Bay, WI 54301 U.S.A. We are a small local not-for profit, and the work we do has worldwide implications, as we offer classes in making and using biochar, reforestation, habitat restoration, composting and water conservation measures.

Joseph Beuys has helped re-define our relationship to the planet, Eco-Tours continues to do the same.

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

7,000 Oaks

One of my heroes has always been Joseph Beuys This fall, ECO-tours of Wisconsin will be planting seven thousand acorns in Fonferek Glen County Park, in the headwaters of the East River Watershed. This area in turn feeds the Fox River near the mouth and Green Bay, Lake Michigan and points east including Lake Huron, the St. Clair River, Lake St. Clair, Detroit River, Lake Erie, Lake Ontario and the St. Lawrence Seaway downstream to the Atlantic Ocean. Rather than planting each one in relationship to stellae, as Joseph Beuys did, ours will just be planted in an appropriate soil and microclimate that favors oaks.

We ask that people who read this, appreciate our work and wish for it to continue help fund us either by sending donations to our ECO-Tours of Wisconsin Inc. Paypal account: tnsaladino42@hotmail.com
or by snail mail to 1445 Porlier street, Green Bay, WI 54301 U.S.A. We are a small local not-for profit, and the work we do has worldwide implications, as we offer classes in making and using biochar, reforestation, habitat restoration, composting and water conservation measures.

Joseph Beuys has helped re-define our relationship to the planet, Eco-Tours continues to do the same.

Saturday, October 3, 2015

Trophic Law

I believe that there are certain laws that govern the natural world. Darwin, bless him, was onto something, but missed the boat rather grandly. I will explain later, but he could not help the way the world had been sliced, diced and parceled out before him. Suffice it to say, he did what any of us would do if confronted with the same problem, the best he could with what he had. Human beings who have studied Mother Earth and her rock, soil, water features,  lifeforms, etc. often overlook some of the most intrinsic qualities of the planet as a whole by simply choosing a discipline. Taking the planet as a whole one can see, hear, smell, touch and taste a vibratory crescendo of activity. The Gaiia concept is more than an idea, it is a real thing. This actual factual, living, breathing, be-ing has an integrity that can be described by definite laws. Trophic law is just one of them.

Those who are savvy about ecology know, there are trophic levels that exist in nature. Cow eats grass, man eats cow. One is the primary producer of "food" and the other occupies a place on the food chain whereby they consume or prey on the lower trophic level. The grass that the cow feeds upon is technically a sort of prey or "lower" trophic level. This theory is great in some senses, but the totality of the cyclic nature of the food chain can elude us. there is no "higher" life form...some may differ in complexity, but no part of the cycle can be made inferior, no part really occupies the base. Microbes can, and often do, have more validity or beneficial affect on the environment than do the larger organisms, like mammals. The primary decomposers, who science deems the "lowest" forms of life are in many ways the pinnacle of importance, without them, all other trophic levels are forced to live out of balance.

People who have studied the environment speak of the Tragedy of the Commons, it has been recognized since the first herdsmen found their territories overlapping. Anytime everyone gets to use the same resource, no matter what that resource is, the majority of the benefits go to the people who have the most access to that resource (largest herds) and the majority of the costs fall upon everyone else (those who have smaller herds). This fact has existed for so long that the people who have the most access to all resources have a get big or get out philosophy. Resource extraction is cutthroat. The truth exists in our blind spot. We have known the way of the world long enough that those who choose to abuse and enslave us have developed whole tapestries of ;lies to obscure the truth. We now have a condition on earth that exponentially increases the disparity of wealth between the oligarchs and their slave class. Bernie Sanders, a democratic candidate for President of the United States of America recently outed the ten worst companies as far as taking massive government tax refunds on top of obscene earnings. Keep in mind, many of these corporations have been receiving tax subsidies, welfare, for decades. GE General Electric, the same folks who built most of the nuclear electric generating stations across our nation (which saddles U.S. taxpayers with the burden of 10K years of "safe storage" of millions of tons of hazardous waste) Over the most recent five years we have data for, they paid -9% tax.  Boeing 2% tax rate, Verizon -2% and the list goes on. Bank o' America, Citigroup, Pfizer, Fed Ex, Honeywell, Merk, Corning. we all subsidize their activities directly, simply by allowing our government to carry them to even greater heights in their pursuit of wealth. Have they not ravaged our world enough? We are making it lucrative to do so?

My first law of Trophic interaction states that when we de-stabilize any natural system, the biomass filling each and every niche of each and every trophic level will remain the same. The biomass may seem to be displaced, but the niche will be filled with equivalent biomass, perhaps by another species. In cities we often see people who some call wolves and sheep. This may be a reaction to a very hard and real law of nature. I saw this when I was first beginning to understand dumpster diving. I was filling a niche in my efforts to reduce the waste stream while simultaneously gleaning my living. It seemed parasitic at first, until I realized that for every ton of waste that I diverted, it saved the dumpster owner disposal costs. I lost track, but when I was following the cost per ton for tipping fees closeley, the last number I heard was eighty dollars per ton. I was actually symbiotically existing as part of a mutually beneficial interaction/relationship with the wasters. The recent upgrades that we have done to our physical plant were accomplished with over 80% salvaged, reused, repurposed and ecologically the most benign materials. The other 20% were locally sourced as much as possible, high efficiency appliances, or the result of the need for having contractors do parts of the job we could not get done by our own hand. We have filled niches of primary decomposers, salvaging material from the "waste stream" (even hundreds of pounds of fasteners got recycled from this one project) this is like creating a negative ecologic impact at a mine somewhere on the planet. We used far less metal in the new configuration of resources than the old facility, opened up the space so more air and light make it into the space, plus by eliminating several walls and poorly laid out closets and halls, we gained over 100 square feet (9.3 square meters)! We were primary producers and primary decomposers when we used waste wood that was unsuitable for building, but safe to burn to make biochar. Some of the wood used to construct our facility in the 1920s was used to build and enrich soil of today, rather than getting buried in a landfill. I tried to consume everything as efficiently as possible, create the least waste and create a far more efficient living condition for occupants of this property for decades into the future. In many ways, my activities have emulated soil organisms, insects, grass, the cow and indeed, I do like a good steak from time to time, so part of me filled the niche of top predator.

As we wipe out entire populations of microbes, somehow the work that they would have done will be done somewhere else, or by something else. The cannibalism of small farms by bigger ones over the past five decades resulted in huge acreages being abused and neglected. In some countries, like New Zealand, if you own more than a certain number of acres, you must hire a land manager who has devoted their life to understanding natural cycles and management strategies for large acreages that protect the environment so that we might all benefit from the resources. Healthy relationships between the organisms that exist around us are essential to our own health and welfare.

I started by mentioning how Darwin got it wrong and those who read my writing a lot should scroll though this paragraph quickly, I've said this before. It is survival of the luckiest, not the fittest. Darwin was absolutely living the most privileged life imaginable. He only thought he was among "the fittest". We must understand that the most fit antelope or gazelle can be crushed in a landslide, or have a tree fall on them. When the fittest person alive lives downstream of a facility that spills toxic chemicals, poisoning the water, you die. It is by sheer luck that some species are allowed to continue evolution unmolested by human activity, however across the entire surface of the planet, the effects of human activity have changed forever the entire ecosystem. 400 new, never before existing compounds are released into the environment each year. Corporate welfare whores have made sure that the innocent until proven guilty rule applies to these new compounds. After all, without proof that they harm the environment, they must certainly all be considered benign until proven dangerous.

We may want to slow our headlong run into riskier and riskier behavior, our luck may be running out.

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Seeking Input

I am currently working on a support statement that introduces people to ECO-Tours of Wisconsin Inc.
It needs to be brief, but clear, invitingly rational and still convey our creativity and the important work that our tours get done. This message will be the header of our sign up sheet for those who want either more information, to join us on a tour or who just want to donate to the cause. This idea is modeled after the one that we circulated with Citizens for a Better Environment decades ago, but the idea is the same. It works as both an introduction to who we are and a starting point for asking people to join us in the revolution that is not being televised. ECO-Tours has never advertised, other than putting signs out on the days of our tours and classes, but the time has come to pursue spreading the message that we are all needed to make the necessary changes to stop climate change, protect our watersheds and to produce more food closer to where people live. These necessary changes bring with them challenges, but all of us here at ECO-Tours believe that each challenge is really an opportunity.

Those familiar with the Trickster myths of native cultures will understand that although crisis usually results from every action taken by Trickster, humanity is always better off or receives some important benefits from having to deal with his shenanigans. In our culture today, asserting that individuals matter, that they have the power to change the world around them and that their efforts are worth expending in activities that they feel are "worth" doing can be a challenge, but this statement needs to be an invitation to participate in our efforts to share the work involved in building stronger communities, a more stable environment and improving environmental quality for future generations. Conveying the fact that this work is important and worthy of support is probably the most crucial part of the message, but the wording also needs to make it clear that their signature represents agreement with our goals and mission, to leave a better world in the wake of our passing. This is a first draft, but I have been thinking about how to say what needs to be said for far too long. I'm not sure what to think about the following or if it even does the things we need it to.

"We the undersigned support ECO-Tours of Wisconsin Inc. and their ongoing program of research, education and outreach. We support their ongoing efforts to create healthy soil, plant trees, improve water quality and to encourage diverse communities where none existed before. I wish to add my name to the list of state residents who understand the need to stabilize climate, provide habitat for wildlife, plant trees, restore healthy soils and protect water quality."

If you are interested in either helping to wordsmith this statement or join us on a tour, please contact us by e-mail at tnsaladino42@ hotmail.com, write us at 1445 Porlier street, Green Bay, WI 54301 or call at (nine twenty) double eight four-triple two, four.


 

Friday, September 25, 2015

Char Update

Burning waste gas from our char retort. We are heating the organic material inside the retort to glowing hot. Pyrolysis changes the carbon like firing clay. It fixes carbon into tube- like structures that exponentially increase the surface area in soil. Microbes flourish in this matrix when it is nutrient dense and inoculated with healthy soil organisms.
For those who are new to this site, ECO-Tours of Wisconsin Inc.  began many, many years before we incorporated. we were an informal gathering of like-minded individuals who mostly worked at citizens for a Better Environment, a now defunct not-for-profit that educated the public and represented the public's right to clean air, pure water and protection from hazardous substances that corporate welfare recipients (polluters) unleash on us in the process of making their living. This informal group of friends would meet up and take tree seedlings into denuded areas, corridors along parkways, publicly held land and parks. We also reforested private property if the owners would understand that we were not a landscaping concern, we used expert understanding of habitat, soil type degree of slope & aspect, moisture,and a range of conditions to guide our planting. Some lanowners were surprised when we told them that we could not plant climax species trees until there were thriving communities of pioneer species to provide cover so that the mature forest trees would have a fighting chance.

We treat our non-profit as a business, but the usual modus operandi by which businesses are run are not something we expect to work in a sustainable system. We model what we do on the way nature has always worked. We build relationship through the process of finding our way in the world. If there were to be a single moment or two that exemplify our work, it would be the moment of realization that came about, speaking with a developmentally disabled friend who said, "I love trees. They make oxygen that we need to live!", or perhaps the times that birds have come to alight on tiny seedlings, just planted moments earlier. The bird, seemingly curious about the new addition to their neighborhood, performs their pre-flight checklist before flying off and drops a bit of fertilizer on the ground beneath the tree. We teach a different kind of logic about ecological reality. Our methods put people, profit and the planet on the same scale of importance. A three-legged stool of economic relevance. Our tours are always fun and educational, but with a more important twist, their benefits last for generations. We create relationships which have the power to outlive us.
This is our 55 gallon retort. It was created with over 80% salvaged materials. The char we produce has at least fourteen acres of surface area per handful. This drum, once fired, yields nearly 1,000 acres of surface area.

This different approach can be difficult to understand. In the early days, before we formally organized, I was doing outreach to potential landowners whose land looked perfect for planting, places that would have big impacts downstream. Property that frequently got rained out or always produced marginally, you would think that even the farmer would know that it was not worth their time to pull equipment through it. I had several farmers try to argue, "That's not a creek, that's a ditch." Thirty years later, someone else owns the land and they have started to reforest the places that we would have targeted for recovery all those years earlier. The tide can be turned, but it can only be by a tide of understanding and realization brought about by expanding our horizons, making friends, participating in relationships. Just like nature does it. Treat all those you spend time with as if the moments you share are sacred and you will find infinite blessings about you.


We touch one another and the world in profound ways. Each string in the web of life touches many others. As with most growth processes, ECO-Tours needs to adapt to several challenges that came about upon trying to scale up our char retort. We went from a five gallon (20 liters) retort to a fifty-five gallon (220 liters) one. Our current hearth was only capable of partially charring the material. We need a much larger fire, or an oven large enough to enclose the entire retort to create that much material at one time. The good news is that we now have commercial quantities to sell! Send us your garden dimensions and we can help you to either make your own char or we can mail char to you because it is ultralight and pretty fun to enrich and colonize, you can tailor your char to your location with our unique instruction book. In our passing through the planet, we leave a wake, a trail of gasses and fumes, we consume resources and procreate, seek shelter from storm and strife. The concepts that we have taught from the beginning are all alive within the char. By mimicry of natural processes, we can fix atmospheric carbon directly into soil, creating a diverse mix of organisms invisible to the naked eye, but not insignificant by any measure.

On an acre of typical "healthy" soil today, soil microbes per acre are as much as a full grown cow and her calf. Each handful of char has fourteen acres of surface area. You can do the math. Planes grow not by soaking up chemicals in the soil directly, their preferred foods are the waste products of microbes inhabiting the soil.

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

$77 K Needed

Now you might think this request is a bit pretentious, but there is good reason for the number. There is a home at the end of our street that would make a perfect Montessori school. Our ECO-conscious curriculum would continue to focus on soil building and responsible food production. In fact, the building we are looking at could also be a great place to have aquaponics because the cistern is still in part of the old basement. Instead of doing multi-million dollar redevelopment, asking the neighbors what they need and basing pour efforts on providing that, is a much more sound business plan. There are developers out there who are not as opposed to debt, but their projects tend to serve mostly out of state interests. I will cherish the people of the neighborhood as sources of both inspiration and lessons, rather than existing apart from the neighborhood.

Tony's Creative School seems like it could be an appropriate name for the institution, but Eco-logically may be the name as well. In any case, since school is starting and some children may find themselves at a loss for how to "fit in" the Eco-school will be a great advantage. I will offer each and every student personalized instruction, and fully expect the parents to be involved in the education of their children as well.

The building and first year equipment costs only total 77K. since I would be teaching, which is one of the things I'm best at, I would have to make a go of things with just the fees that students pay. The costs of a mortgage for the space on top of student fees would make the school unsustainable. The building is in good repair and would only need minor improvements to be used as a teaching facility. Since it is out of the flood zone, there would be no unreasonable insurance costs, nor would there be exorbitant heating bills as it has a second floor tenant and less heat loss because the upper is heated by the renter.

donations can be made through Paypal, account number tnsaladino42@hotmail.com or, for larger contributions, contact us about routing numbers to donate directly through our bank.

Thursday, September 3, 2015

Wild Rice Harvest Report

This year we focused our efforts on the area East of Eagle River, Wisconsin The areas we harvested, for the most part have more water than land and the area has distinct weather patterns compared to places just fifty miles in any direction. Harvest times vary, but can start as early as the first week in August and can run as late as the first week of September or so. Generally, mid to late August there will be some rice, but the window for harvest in any one area is about a week to ten days.

We had quite a few conflicts with schedules and only got one serious day in, but we got a reasonable amount of rice. Everyone who participated was happy with the results. We would like to thank the staff and students at Teaching Drum Outdoor School, especially Tamarack song for the loan of a couple paddles because we forgot ours on the way up.

The wildlife we saw was amazing, not just because we got so close to so many species, but the numbers and variety was just amazing considering the short time we were in the Northwoods. Before we even crossed Highway 64, we saw a fairly large bear, then we saw cranes, swan, bald eagle, blue jay, hummingbird, toads, loons, woodpeckers, near our campsite, scurrying around the forest floor we saw red, black and ground squirrels and we heard very close to our site, both turkey and owl as we were leaving our camp, we saw a doe and her fawn, very close to the road. All of this withing just over 24 hours!

We got about thirty pounds in about four hours, it was not back breaking work, but you did feel like you had gotten a good work out afterward. Next fall, if you would like to attend the rice harvest encampment, let me know ASAP as I would like to plan ahead and figure out how many campsites to plan to utilize. If we know how many people are coming, we can be sure to have enough canoes, paddles, push poles and knocking sticks and flotation devices for our guests.

Blessed Be and may you find many ways to harmonize with the rhythm of Mother Earth.
 

Sunday, August 9, 2015

Free Floating Organisms

In essence, we are all free floating, especially in the digital world. Not on;ly in space, but time. a series of pulsating electrons are all that stand between you and I, yet the universe could come between us and we might not notice.  It is as if we are all adrift in a cyber fluid of extreme viscosity. Some of the most pertinent ideas stick, or we use them as armor against assault, or ammunition for our ideas cannon. some fuel our own growth and development or when shared influence tribes and races. (Although I do not mean to say that races are even a valid thing...) There is institutional racism for there to be a concept of races. We are all one, free floating culture upon this Earth utilizing resources and energy for our devices, our sustenance, and frequently to our own ends in ways that degrade the planet for others and in other parts.

We consume what comes near enough for us to reach and if we do well, our wastes can be utilized for other lives and other life forms downstream.

I remember vividly when I first peered into a microscope at real, healthy pond water. It was confounding, as quickly as something would come into focus, it would "swim" out of focus and away from my view. It took me a while to understand that just like stars and planets seeming to move, either by a tiny jolt to the telescope or the turning or the Earth, the motions of the tiny creatures were seemingly rapid because of the tiny scale I was seeing. Half a drop away might as well have been an Olympic swimming pool at the scale of the tiny creatures who lived there.

It is difficult to understand but these microcosmic/macro-cosmic relationships remain, in many ways constant, however imperceptible to us. Each a fractile of one another and repeating in scales in both directions. The "om" of eastern religion is the residual decay of the sound from the Big Bang and the pulsating flagella that rhythmically sweep the water in a paramecium or rotifer are playing the same tune in their own harmonic. even the single celled organism knows when conditions are getting better or worse, how is it that humans want so desperately deny what they learn from the environment?

This will be the assignment for the day. Look at each relationship that comes your way today. Consider the environmental conditions and how they change throughout the day, even moment to moment, you might be surprised. Think about these three things as you make every decision: Am I bringing resources in, or am I banishing waste? Am I nourishing growth of other organisms, or handicapping them? What is the energy flux within this relationship? How might I become carbon/resource neutral? how might I become emotionally stable enough to exhibit grace at each moment? If you recognize a totem animal or spirit, How might I more purely reflect Deer, or Bear, Owl or Salamander? Of course, fill in your own totem. Ultimately, how does fit my concept/understanding of  seven generations?

When we begin to make these basic assumptions, rather than really studying our relationships with earth and her creatures and bounty, it is easy to feel entitled, or a sense of privilege. Learning and ultimately, understanding flow from a place of humility, where you are willing to question, even the basic assumptions you have made about yourself. It is far more rewarding to meet a future self who has been informed that grow old with the person you always thought you were. enhancing culture means making sure that whatever passes from our hand can be utilized by another trophic level and lead to survival for other forms of life.  Contact me directly for specific ideas for becoming carbon and energy neutral, reducing your ecological footprint or for rites and rituals to assist you along your path.


Sunday, July 19, 2015

Summer of Dragonflies

We have lived in the same place for over ten years, owned two properties across the street from one another and have managed our bit of the planet using organic methods and attention to details, like what plants need what conditions, when planning garden spaces and beds. When we first bought the property across the street, I had hoped to set up the Tipi, after getting a new cover for it. In the grand design, there were to be radial beds spreading out from the tipi. now, with ten years of life lessons, the center of the radiating beds should have left more space to the East and less to the West. Still, fixable; since much of went on back there was left to chance and the whims of a former tenant. This year is noteworthy because there are not just ten times more dragonflies than in former years, there are hundreds to thousands more dragonflies than in previous years.

While out, I often see them, rather than a few times per year, there is hardly a day that I don't see squadrons of them, or at least associations of them. I see different sizes and types, sometimes several near one another. I am optimistic that all of the things that I speak of in my blogs, the changing of the thought process of the average person is taking place.

My own footprint may seem small, at less than 1/2 acre (.177 hectare), but with the soil building that I have accomplished in just ten years, I have added hundreds of acres of surface area for microbes to inhabit, made them fertile, through composting, adding life giving carbon to this tiny shred of the planet and for over twenty years ECO-Tours of Wisconsin has been planting trees in the headwaters and building soils there too. Attacking both the lower reaches of the watershed as well as the headwaters, and all down in between, positive changes can be made, not only to local and regional climate shifts, but worldwide if we all learn to make carbon (char) and build soils everywhere.
These tiny seedlings dwarf a car now, providing habitat for all manner of critters and shade to help them beat the heat.

The dragonfly speaks to me of communication. We dart and flit from place to place, sometimes hovering almost imperceptibly over a moment or chance encounter, then we continue to spread the news that life is all around us and every spot on the planet is holyland. Spread the good news, people, abundance comes when we learn to dance with earth's spirits instead of destroying them in our quest to reap every BTU of fossilized carbon. Please lend your ear to the recent release of Todd Rundgren, Global. It is a great soundtrack for staying motivated in our efforts to save a place for humanity on planet Earth.

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Most Of Our Time

The past few moons have been spent just trying to keep up with the harvest of our investments in the approximate 1/2 acre. that we have here in Green Bay. At last count, thirty six different edible plants return year after year to beautify and nourish those who take the time to walk slowly and attend to the plant world. We have given half a dozen tours to visitors to our permaculture gardens and welcome others to stop by for a tour of your own. Please let us know before you come, so we can be here to show you around and accept your donations in person. We encourage guests to offer twenty dollars for our educational tours and our biochar classes as well.

We have given several biochar demonstrations and are slowly perfecting our large retort system that will yield approximately twenty five gallons of char. I have made the offer a few times and it seems to be popular, but if you get a dozen paying customers, I will offer your class free of charge. Contact me at: (nine twenty)double eight four, triple two four to arrange classes.

We have also made several dozen batches of char recently for applications around the country. Several stations are running field trials and I hope to be able to post photos of comparison plantings soon on our Facebook page. If you are interested, like us there at ECO-Tours of Wisconsin Inc. Our energies have been split several ways and it has impacted our tree planting efforts this Spring we only planted a few dozen trees and about 10 plantings of native forbes. We have been putting more effort into food forests and spreading gifts for wildlife, both raspberries and elderberries to provide wind barriers and provide some medium sized islands of some shade for trees that we will plant in the future. Some of the sugar maples we have planted are nearly halfway to tapping size!

Thursday, May 28, 2015

Quality Works By Example


As my regular readers know, I do not write for today, tomorrow or for yesterday. I only write for this moment, upon which all life, past, present and future, hinges. Life, achieves balance, or dies out, we can force it to become neither "sustainable" or "permanent", trouble-free or enduring no matter how hard we might try. This moment, is always a moving target, now and now, and now are seemingly sequential, but all writers know that time is malleable. Just as Heisenberg expressed that at any moment you can say where, exactly, electrons might turn up in their orbits, but you could not, also, reliably say when, or if you isolated one in time, you could never say where it might be. this also holds true for exploiting being in the moment. By the time I would tell you how to do it, there would be a series of instructions that masquerades as sequential. Those who use the relaxation response, (explained at length in the book of the same name)find that on a moment, they can call up the deep peace and sense of utter relaxation and harmony, allowing them to deal with otherwise stressful events in day to day life.

During my growing up, from the early sixties through about 1984, I learned Zen Koans, was raised as a Unitarian Universalist, developed my own path to shamanism and I spent time at half a dozen yoga ashrams and institutes. By the time I heard of the relaxation response, I had years of informal and formal training in mind body unity, exercise and balance. I theorized that this terminology was as good as any for what can take place when we take time to consciously relax our brains and bodies. Stillness on our inner levels creates harmonious waves in the outer ones. This is why some people seem to be constantly "on edge", randomly careening about caught, destroying things rather than creating them. It is not so much karma, it is just a need for tweaking their world view. The more they strive to get out of their "fate", chasing the cheese of a distant future, they become immediately caught in the trap of self destruction or suffering. The stillness within us echoes out through our relationships, our ways of making a living and our ability to help others in ways that get very difficult to measure.

I have heard that a smile can heal a thousand wounds. I believe that. This week I meticulously described the process for making char and charging it with local resources, to double agricultural production. I would normally cover the same material during the three hour class that I offer, but I wanted to help someone who may not have had the money to pay. for class schedules, or to schedule a group of twelve or more at your location, please contact me. My rig for making char is able to travel. At the class site, all we need is five to ten gallons (about 20 to 40 liters) of dry sawdust, about a quart of rain water, some local compost, a fire pit and enough firewood to have a bonfire for several hours. The classes work best if there is a potluck at the end. This gives participants time to make some of their own to make sure they get to own the process. This material gives you the ability to love soil back to optimal performance, it sequesters carbon and stabilizes soil moisture.

I am pledging to send char to the headwaters above Austin, Texas. they are ground zero this week for the effects of climate change. If we utilize char on a large scale, we could stem the tide of climate catastrophe. What we seem to lack is the will. There is no reason that char did not make it into the current farm bill. In my experience, quality works by example and invites reciprocation. Taking steps to heal the rift between humankind and nature needs to be out focus for at least a few dozen generations, just to find out if we can tame the carbon footprint that we blew out of scale over the past hundred years. In the now, we have the power to change course, in a huge way. Doubling agricultural production allows so many changes to come about. We can reduce acres under cultivation and yet still raise more food. We can begin to produce larger amounts of food closer to population centers, to increase health, reduce costs and kick the habit of petroleum. since char can hold up to six times its own weight in water, it would reduce negative effects of both drought and flood. Once char gets colonized by microbes, the water holding capacity is increased again, to more than double that amount.

I am available for classes in making char and although I need to make a living, teachers never get rich. I can work as a biochar consultant for far less than anyone who might want to, or claim to do with fertilizers and hazardous chemicals. Char facilitates healthy plants which are naturally resistant to pests. If you are at all unsure, run your own test plot, treating half with char and leave half alone. I guarantee you will want more for future growing seasons!
I am always willing to help. Contact me through my e-mail. tnsaladino(number fourty-two)@hotmail.com or send payments for char to that as my account number through Paypal. ECO-Tours of Wisconsin is also raising funds to send char to the headwaters above where the terrible flooding was this week. Send money if you can! This is a teachable moment.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Pagan Sanctuary Update


We are earnestly beginning the fund-raising cycle for purchasing a Pagan Sanctuary. ECO-Tours of Wisconsin Inc. has begun collecting monies for a single location that will be central to Northeast Wisconsin and visible to the larger community. A place where nature is encouraged to recover and pagans are welcome to perform their rites. We are limiting this area to only non-invasive activities and there will be no permanent structures allowed, other than perhaps a trail, circle or perhaps a few cairns to signify solar and lunar events.

donations can be made directly for this purpose at ECO-Tours of Wisconsin Inc. 1445 Porlier Street Green Bay, WI 54301-3334 any donations made should also include Pagan Sanctuary on either the letter or check. You can still use our paypal account, tnsaladino42Ahotmail.com or you can make arrangements for a direct transfer to our account by e mail. contacting our director and guide, Tony C. Saladino would also be a way to make sure that your donations go to the right account.

There had been some talk about locating another gas station on the site, but the public support for some other use of the property was overw3helming, located, as it is about half a mile (in each direction) from two other gas stations. This particular location is especially beneficial because it sits between two banks atop one of the highest hills in our town. This property was also the site of the former Catholic diocese headquarters. as such it was built on an ancient pagan sacred space and is highly appropriate for continued use as a sacred space. ECO-Tours is also looking for people who want to help with fund-raising for this project in and around their own communities. Not every church has walls and this one will be for like-minded individuals and groups that just need a place to gather.

For privacy, we will be encircling the area in native plantings and to encourage others to take a moment to just sit in nature and relax, we will have a few benches.

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Just For This Moment


Imagine that we all wake up to the fact that our will is being subverted. The desires of the majority for peace, true security, ecological responsibility and an end to the concentration of wealth, yet the masses walk in lock step toward a cliff as surely as they have been told to. Herd mentality can morph into revolution only when people know the score and what "team" they are on. Class warfare has raged for so long that we no longer recognize it. Our state houses are mostly bought and paid for by the same .002% who dip into their coffers to finance campaigns, as is Congress. Taking back our birthright to free flowing clear and clean rivers, exacting real penalties to those who desecrate the Earth, those are things we all agree on. Imagine the transformations that are about to occur. The revolution that is not being televised is born from dreams, funded by action and sustained through organization. Blessings to the committed participants and may we all find the courage to get active and organize, not just resistance, but positive action toward soul-utions.

Monday, April 6, 2015

4-4 Electric Bike



This is such an awesome concept. I have not tried one yet myself, but this is the year for me, I'm about to buy an electric scooter. The scooter, from an Indian company, Mahindra will have a thirty mile range (getting me nearly all the way to work on a single charge) and the removable battery pack charges in just a few hours. I have friends who have electrified their own bikes, but the ground up design of the Mahindra scooter makes it ideal for my needs. Combining the most efficient motive force generator, the electric motor, with the bicycle, the most efficient means of transport available, slashes carbon emissions but still moves our bodies from place to place. Remember, not long ago, the Segway scooter seemed poised to revolutionize the personal transportation market. That would have required both charging stations and parking for the devices, neither of which seem to be forthcoming. With electric bikes, the infrastructure for parking exists most places already and remote charging of smaller batteries, that can be removed from the vehicles get us back into existing infrastructure support.

Worldwide, air pollution kills three million people per year. Three times the number who die in car accidents. Air pollution can create or complicate, asbestosis, chronic bronchitis, COPD (Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease), asthma, sinusitis, mesothelioma and other forms of lung cancer. It has been calculated that fly ash alone, a waste product from coal-fired electric generating facilities in the U.S. alone accounts for as many deaths as adding 100,000 new smokers to our population every year. Think about that the next time you have a choice between an efficient electric product and an inefficient one. any steps we can take to reign in our use of fossil energy is good and reducing the demand side of the equation will always be cheaper and more effective than trying to clean up the mess we have to make increasing supply.

I have always been a bike fanatic. When I got my first tricycle, the front wheel was tiny and my feet had to spin wildly to go slowly, which was not much fun. But the day I got my large wheel tricycle, I felt my first taste of freedom. That bike allowed me to go up and down the sidewalk like the wind. Bikes can actually move us through town and traffic faster than large vehicles can. I have actually rode circles around giant semis just for fun when I was a young punk. The drivers are trapped, like giant beetles on their backs, unable to get up much speed. They may have significant power to weight ratios, but because of their mass, have to start out slow. A bike can get up to speed in just a few turns of the crank. The aesthetic design, the beauty of the bicycle is that form has followed function so elegantly that it "works". On short trips especially, it is far less hassle than a car and with a motor assist, your legs are spared for part or all of the trip.

Thursday, April 2, 2015

4-3 Tiny Acts Reflect Big Picture

Context is everything. We may set a hundred, or even three-hundred and sixty-five small challenges to make the Earth a better place, from conserving water during showers or in brushing ones teeth, only running the dishwasher when it is full, or combining trips to save petrol. Now with LED technology, if every household replaced a single incandescent bulb, it would reduce emissions as much as taking one million vehicles off our roads. The avoided costs for coal alone, used to produce the majority of our power, would be 25,500 rail cars full! That would represent about two hundred million dollars worth of coal. Avoided costs only take us so far, investing in solutions that make sense longer term is the only way to build a sustainable culture. Mass transit and efficient, walking and bike friendly cities initiatives are beginning to break out everywhere. As commutes get shorter, all electric commuting becomes viable as well and that slashes emissions by over half, even when charged with dirty coal, simply because electric motors are so much more efficient than gasoline powered vehicles. We are in a position where great strides can be made with a few simple decisions and the only way to get what we want is to vote for candidates who make ecological awareness part of the decision-making process. Driving hybrids is a start, being able to rent or borrow one occasionally would be much better! I looked at my driving habits and compared them to the national average...they say that I have about .314 car. That means the average car drives over three times as much as I do! That is the power of walking and riding bike, ride sharing and carpooling.My small acts will now be to whittle that down even further, from less than 200 gallons of fuel per year to maybe one hundred, or less! Every drop counts. This is the whole reason that I teach about bio-car, how to make it and how to use it. If we develop the will to use it, and learn what we are actually doing to our soils, it would cut by half the amount of diesel used to plow the fields of the planet. Every acre would double production and there is no way to patent or trademark the material. Using what is in the public domain to solve issues of hunger and distribution of food would heal many of the worst problems across the planet.Increased production would alleviate local hunger issues greatly if we significantly reduce mega-scale farms. Another benefit that would accrue to even large farms is that char reduces the need for fertilizers by half as well, meaning less costly inputs. also, as the soil is built, rather than destroyed, it holds water and the very inputs that cost so much. These expensive inputs can easily run off the land and end up downstream choking local and distant waterways with oxygen depleting algae. Ultimately, we always face a choice. We must decide between giving back to nature, reflecting the laws of nature creating zero waste, or to blow through resources like there is no tomorrow. We must also realize that there are no dollars to be made by telling you not to buy a bigger truck than you need, or that extra boat, however, we will all be better off if you learn to borrow those things when you really need them and plant some trees along your path to work with the money you save. If you would like us to plant them for you, I looked up how many trees I would have to plant to sequester as much carbon as I burn up in gasoline every year. It turns out, that I need to plant 460 just for that. If I planted 46 trees, it would take 10 years to sequester that much carbon. Rest assured, ECO-Tours of Wisconsin Inc. will be planting far more than that, so if you want to plant trees, but don't have the time, send us a donation and we will plant some for you! We can't officially be in the carbon sequestration market, but it costs about $10 per tree with prepping, planting, protecting and weeding, but our survival rate is extremely high. so, thumbnail math here, if you drive like I do and use about two hundred gallons of fuel per year, that would be 460 trees or 4600 dollars. If you drive the average amount, it would cost about 14K to offset your emissions by having ECO-tours plant trees. Give what you can, we'll understand. somethnig si always better than nothing and don't forget to drive less and walk more!

4-2 Illegal Dumping

This is a very pervasive issue and one that comes with a bit of wry humor attached. There are millions of tons of waste discharged legally, so the illegal dumping seems to be a bit less dangerous, however, when illegal dumping is allowed, it can lead folks to think that any dumping is acceptable. There have been almost as many recovery operations for illegally dumped materials as trips to the woods for me. It seems that every time i go to the wilds, I return with illegally dumped waste. In fact, much of my life, people never thought twice about driving up as close as possible to a ravine or breach hole and throwing all manner of trash out into the environment. Many modern landfills are able to sequester waste much more effectively than in the past, but the unsightliness of refuse continues to be a problem in almost every place people settle or pass through. In addition, there are legal ways to "dispose" of waste that defy logic and even though some are allowed to pump toxic wastes into our drinking water supplies and even though surface waters are also allowed to be used as sewers in many areas, does not mean that we should grow complacent. This is something we all need to be aware of, document and demand clean up. As the cost of disposing of waste increases, the lure for people to dump illegally increases as well and for some the temptation is too great or they think that "just this little bit" won't make a difference. However, in my considerable experience, trash breeds trash and once a single item is placed in an improper resting place, other objectionable things follow. Many a trail has become strewn with rubbish because someone tried to throw a single item beyond their view, down the cliff, only to have it snag on the precipice, before long, you have empty bottles and cigarette butts all around the area. Without exception, pack it out! Whatever waste you leave behind degrades the place forever. a friend, just yesterday, told me the story of having found a beer can in the woods. It was a Bicentennial commemorative can, manufactured in 1976. When I asked him if he disposed of it properly, he laughed and said, "No, I took a picture of it, posted it to my social network, and put it back down, where I found it." Oddly enough, I'm pretty sure that is exactly what he did. Trash, can last for decades at least. One of the things manufacturers say is "It's recyclable." Well, if that is so, then take your waste back and recycle it! Many a trail head gets strewn with disgusting waste only because people are unprepared, lazy, inept, or just plain rude to fellow travelers. In the military, they have a word for cleaning up all trace of human beings, they call it policing. It is well to remember that someone else will pass by this same place and they do not need to see our mess. Only by being ever-vigilant can we hope to reign in illegal dumping, but more so, we need to cultivate in other human beings, the idea that the planet as a whole is a sacred space, deserving of our compassion. After all, our well-being, or lack of it depends on an intact ecosystem able to support our lives. It turns out that the forests really are the lungs of the planet, along with phytoplankton that float in the oceans. The habitat for many of these microscopic creatures who figure so heavily into the atmospheric oxygen equation are having to compete in the worlds gyrae for space with the plastic that is choking the oceans.

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

4-1 Fair Trade

The term fair trade implies that the producers of products that we purchase receive a living wage for their efforts. The income that they generate enables them to meet their needs for housing, food, health and education. Fair trade cooperatives are springing up the world over in communities that have faced the meager economic prospects of extraction and the oppressive conditions foisted upon them by multi-national corporations. Understanding cradle to grave where each of our consumer goods comes from and where it goes after leaving our hands is an important first step in understanding the full impact of spending our dollars, euros, yuan, etc. Keeping in mind that money is really just a stand in to represent time, we need to give generously to those who make the things we enjoy possible. A decade ago, about 1/2 of 1% of the world markets were fair trade, but the slow and steady increase in the availability of certified products and consumer desire for purchasing of these goods has made them a steady growth sector. One thing that has also come about is as more money flows into the hands of workers and certification agencies, the biggest players are mounting an all out assault on the idea of workers, especially in third world nations, being cheated by outsiders, exactly the same behavior that they have practiced for decades. check the wikipedia page and you will see a litany of sources willing to claim that paying fair wages destabilizes the economy, harms farmers surrounding the co-ops and that the ability to free oneself from abject poverty is somehow exposing local communities to hazard. I have belonged to over a dozen cooperatives over the course of my life and none of them impacted my life negatively. Most often they made it easier to feed myself healthy food for less money. That can never be bad. Trusting that we are doing our fellow humans a good turn by allowing them to earn a decent living from their labor can never be a bad thing. as far as I know there are no fair trade certified weapons manufacturers or drug manufacturing facilities, but who would question whether or not those employees deserve to make a comfortable living from their efforts? My own standard for Fair Trade is even higher than most of the certification agencies. I want to see the Earth considered, as part of a three legged stool, supported by the planet, her people and profit. Without consideration and respect for all three of these aspects, a business fails my test for being fair. That means that I do not want to trade with them.

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

The Thaw Is On-Gotta Make Char!

This is Mucky Boot Moon, Maple Sugar Moon, Cranes Return Moon, Ice Goes Out Moon and the Springtime that we used to enjoy seems to be nearly over before it began. Temperatures have gone up nearly 100 Fahrenheit degrees in just a couple weeks and the very real possibility exists that hot dry conditions of late summer will be upon us soon. Climate destabilization has become the rule, not the exception. We thought it was bad last year when we pushed the polar vortex down out of the arctic into the heartland, but this year we repeatedly bifurcated the stable weather pattern that usually sets up shop in winter over the arctic region. sled dog owners in Alaska took their dogs south to try to find snow. Here in Green Bay, Wisconsin, we had a very early bout with ridiculously cold weather, plunging below zero before Thanksgiving. Most of the winter was relatively mild and snow free, but after that, in late February we got another shot of bitter cold. Usually we have what we call the January thaw, but this year I half jokingly asked if people thought we would get a January freeze. Because of our extreme lack of snow, the drought is on already. This is taking place at a time when we usually face inundation rapidly melting ice and snow. Especially in rural areas this is noticeable because the wet soils, which appear dark, in low spots stand in stark contrast tot he tops of hills that are already completely dry and lying bleached in the steadily rising sun. The next few moons will be difficult because when the plows come out, they will just turn what little soil is left to dust and it will continue to blow away. With so little snow cover this past winter, the tiny ice particles that were blown about took out clouds of dirt and soil, depositing them on roadways, ditches and rights of way along the highways. Now that farmers are getting back outside, they will have a hard time understanding the losses that took place over the past few moons. when the last of the drifts melt, the black soil that they contain will disappear for another year. Many of our elected officials, especially during the Dust Bowl, advocated engineering vast shelterbelts of trees and shrubs to slow soil erosion from the plains states. what we have seen instead are the exact opposite changes being made to cropland across every region of our nation. Only a tiny minority of farmers are developing smaller paddocks and fields, minimizing their impact on purpose, to better care for their soils. During the Reagan years, hedgerows began to be eliminated at alarming rates. Bigger was better in every respect for the Mother Earth Rapers and greedy corporate welfare whores. It got so bad that small farm equipment went up in price exponentially and became hard to get. Banks wanted to loan and fully expected, and continue to feel that they deserve to always be paid back more. Instead of seeing the Earth as multivariate, infinitely changeable and alive, corporate farming eliminates life on a nearly unimaginable scale. In a healthy state, there might be on the order of hundreds of millions, perhaps as many as billions of bacteria per teaspoon (5ml). corporate farming practices kill off the majority of this life (equivalent in weight to about two cows) instead of cows dropping feces every so often, these critters are dispersing their wastes relatively evenly through the fields, increasing water absorption and adsorption rates, feeding other organisms and breaking down other residues that could fester into pathogenic cultures if left to themselves. This is a critical time for char making, so make as many excuses to sit around the campfire as possible. The majority of people can get their hands on a few basic items. Sawdust,(or wood shavings or chips) an old food tin, hammers and nail. Make sure the sawdust is clean and pure. No glues, laminates, foam or paint. Old food tins, cracker tins or cookie tins show up at virtually all second hand stores. Don't waste much money on this item, it just needs to provide an air tight heat proof seal. Pop a few holes in the lid so that escaping gasses can get out, but not let undue air into the container. Fill it with clean sawdust and put the lid on. The next bonfire, or campfire you go to just throw it in. This process, I call, riding the dragon. First, smoke will pour out of the holes then the smoke will change to jets of fire, so keep an eye on the process, it is fun and amazing to think of all that energy tied up in the wood shavings and particles. Technically, about half of the energy tied up in the wood comes out in these gasses. When flame stops coming out of the tin, it is time to remove your container and let it thoroughly cool before you open it. The char that results keeps the structural integrity of the wood cells, creating fourteen acres(5.67 ha.)of surface area per handful (approximately 1/2 cup 120 ml.) These surfaces are utilized as perfect habitat for soil organisms, if you create an environment that is hospitable for them. More on this process in future posts.

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Looking Out

From the warm cozy of my home, I look out to the dozens of thirty foot tall trees that we planted when we moved in. I see dozens more that are smaller, but that have potential to be around long after my demise. In spite of the recent attacks on the culture and civilization that used to embody the feelings behind the word Wisconsin, there are things afoot that will change the course of history for the better, whether our legislators realize it or not. The tens of thousands of protesters that flood the Capitol steps and the millions who are learning of the protests are being inspired to take the reigns of our lives and steer in a different direction, no matter what silly laws they try to enact. Trying to keep this blog a-politcal is not even possible under the "leadership" of the most recent cadre of corporate tools. The groundwater laws, which friends of mine and I pushed for, researched for and gave dozens of years to enact have been gutted. The air emissions limits that would have protected human health have been flaunted, destroyed and hung out to dry. Lack of ethics has turned many recycling facilities into defacto hazardous waste dumps. The places we look at day in and day out are still dying the slow death that results from fossil fuel addiction. It seems like each time we mandate higher efficiency cars, people just step into them for more hours, drive them more hours, or select less efficient models. There are days when it seems that nothing we worked for as far as environmental protection has been worth a hill of beans. However, anyone who has witnessed the power of beans, especially magic ones, a hill of beans is really not to be dismissed. Seeds and beans hold the mystery of life and creation. It was the sprouting grains on many a freighter that took their vessels to the bottom of the sea. A little moisture and nothing can stop their rapid expansion. The same is going on currently with human awareness. Our minds soak up knowledge like so many sponges and the people bent on keeping us stupid are having a harder and harder time trying to keep us in the dark. The portal to which we devote our interest is a worldwide lens, bringing us facts and information that could never had made it across a publisher's desk just a few short years go. Each of us has the power to self-edit, or not at will. It has seemed chaotic, but as we gain our feet in the new realms of news and documentary, I believe that evolution cannot help but occur. Just as I was a friend of those using the term visual literacy as the video revolution was in full flush, the new bioneers of the future will be learning more from the internet than they ever did at school. What will the use of any "education" be when we all have a Siri at our disposal? Well, today, I got an answer to the question. I asked if anyone was bored and had a smartphone. Of course I got a volunteer at work right away. We asked, How much is an Australian dollar worth? Siri said, One Australian dollar is worth one dollar, in Australia." When we choose to look outward, the world reflected back can be as cold and sterile as Siri, or as warm and friendly as having a good laugh at yourself. I guess we will always have a choice as to which way we choose to lean. We can either become irate at Siri, or realize that in looking out, we often mirror our own prejudice and intent.

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

3-3 continuation of 1-3 0n 3-1

It troubled me slightly that in the last post I had ignored part of the question of what to do with the Solstice tree. In the book, 365 Ways To Save The Earth, they mention buying a potted tree and putting it in the ground after the festival is over. I felt that there needed to be a more in depth description of this process and that it would require an entire post to describe how to do this successfully. If you live in a climate like mine, planting your tree is a great idea, but in practice it can be a bit more difficult. First, if you go outside to plant the tree around the Solstice, you will find that the ground has become solid and that it is not possible to dig a hole. This can be solved by digging your hole in the fall and making sure that it is large enough to fit the root ball of the tree you plan to bring in to your home to decorate. Ideally, you will also need to keep the dirt indoors so that once the root ball is installed in the soil, you have some workable soil to surround the root ball with. When planting a tree in winter, special care needs to be taken that plenty of water is available for the roots before the root ball freezes. Moisture loss continues throughout the winter and conifers are most often lost due to dessication because they continue to lose moisture throughout the winter and by the time you see browning needles, it may be too late to rescue them from the desiccating effects of the dry winter winds. Second, if you do get them in the earth with enough moisture, having loose soil around a tree can be a bad idea, especially if it dries out, because burrowing creatures love to be able to dig easily, especially if the rest of the ground is frozen. Water the tree in well and perhaps even flood the soil around the root ball a few times as it freezes up to keep critters at bay. Mulching the earth as well is a good idea because once the fill freezes, it needs to stay frozen and not go through freeze-thaw cycles which can heave the root ball back up out of the surrounding earth. Third, and perhaps most difficult is, when you use a live tree indoors in winter, the root ball has to stay frozen. If the roots thaw then re-freeze, the tree can be killed by breaking dormancy, then being re-frozen. The landscape artisans that I know urge people wanting to try this method to insulate the root ball and only keep the tree indoors for a short time. The shorter the better. If you have watered the potted tree well in the fall, as it was freezing, keeping the root ball insulated can keep the roots ball from thawing somewhat. Putting the whole shebang in a cooler, or wrapping it with several inches of cardboard or newspaper will also help, but even with plenty of insulation around the potted root ball, you can only keep the tree indoors for a couple days before it starts to thaw out. Getting it situated in the hole you dug the previous fall needs to happen relatively quickly, so this is going to limit your enjoyment of the tree while it is indoors. One thing that can allow you a bit more time is if you have an unheated space like a breezeway or if you would be able to put the tree just outside a window, where you could enjoy it from outdoors. In any case, remember that the stress of going through a freeze-thaw cycle is difficult enough for a tree, but that if the ground is not prepared or the tree is not put into the soil quickly, all of your extra work may be for naught. In any case, good luck with your tree if you do attempt to do this. If you pay attention to these important steps, your efforts will be rewarded.

Sunday, March 1, 2015

1-3 on 3-1

This is amazing and funny. "Compost your X-mas tree." First off, there are several things to understand before the "last word" is to be had. Our Solstice tree is usually brought in on the eve of solstice, she lasts indoors until Imbolc, then makes her way into the yard, where she attracts birds, embracing them in her protective boughs and concentrates their feces as rich nitrogen laden soil amendment. Each bird seems obligated to poo a little, as part of their pre-flight checklist/ritual(perhaps to make them lighter and more maneuverable.)and strategically placed trees can have benefits that charge the soil's battery with nutrient dense material plus, you get the beauty of a tree that slows the wind and moderates the climate, even though it is no longer actively growing. The tree can be propped against a fence, post, or a tall stake that you put into the ground (in preparation before the ground freezes, somewhere around Sowen). If you have room, you can even lay your tree down and wildlife will enjoy the cover it provides. Decorating with birdseed and suet cakes can provide both food and cover for the birds.

If you have forest trees or garden beds nearby that are acid loving, you can eventually chop the tree into smaller bits and add it to the soils around your trees or garden plants for mulch. This can eliminate the need for trucks to haul them away. It helps to remind humans not to step in the delicate soil, so that beneficial microbes and other plants can survive and flourish as well.

Alternately, you could reduce the tree to char by burning it in a TLUD (Top Lit Up Draft)unit or in a retort. This process creates syngas, which in most TLUD units is vented and fuels an afterburner which in turn draws the air up through the material being charred, that can utilize approximately 50% of the energy that the wood contained, while the rest of the energy becomes pure carbon, a miraculous soil amendment. ECO-Tours offers biochar seminars where we discuss not only the creation of char, but the colonization of char and nutrification processes to actively build soil, increasing yields and reducing the need for fertilization and chemical inputs over the long haul. If you do burn your tree, it is worth making sure that you only turn it to char, the other way of burning produces only white ash and is unhealthy for soil by comparison.

Imagine char as a massive condo complex for soil microbes and beneficial fungi. It actually creates a sort of battery of energy based on and in nutrients that persist over time made available to plants through symbioses of millions of organisms living as a culture, much like yeast inhabits bread. These microbes also contain water in their cells, by the billions, stabilizing soil moisture by their very existence. As you can see there are many reasons to "recycle" your tree.

As a last resort, take your tree to the yard waste center in your community.

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

January 2nd

"Turn down you heat one degree C." When we average out our heating costs over the course of the year, this tiny change can save about a dollar each day, and it can reduce carbon emissions by over six hundred pounds per year (300 Kilos). This savings, from just one degree, can amount to hundreds of dollars each year. The claim, as I have heard it is that the "comfort range" is between 68 and 72 degrees F (20-22 C). Oddly enough, the healthiest temperature for sleeping is closer to 61 degrees F. (16 C). I know that people don't like to be cold, but the cost of a sweater is far less than the fuel to keep us cozy. There are professionals who will utilize blower door technology and heat imaging cameras to identify heat loss and air leaks in your home or office, but they come with a commensurate cost. Technology, and the skills to utilize it are rarely cheap. Luckily, there is an option for those trying to live better for less. If you buy some incense, or a punk (sawdust compressed onto a stick) even a cigarette will work, you can use the smoke as a tell tale for where leaks in your home's envelope are located. First, especially if you have forced air heat, turn your furnace off while doing this experiment. Walk SLOWLY around your home, moving the smoke generating device up and down all of the exterior walls. watch for where the smoke gets disturbed and fill in cracks and crevices with caulk. you will be surprised at how many places are either being infiltrated by cold air or leaking warmth out. There is a very chap flexible rope caulk that is a bit like child's modelling clay, but pre-formed into long tubular strings and coiled one on another to make a sort of hockey puck looking thing. This works great and for larger gaps, you can use expanding foam. Take your time and go slow enough so that the smoke rises straight up when there are no leaks. Minute disturbances in the air will become visible using this technique and sealing any cracks will stop heat loss and cold infiltration economically. Next, do the inside walls. you may be shocked at how many voids in the walls are acting like chimneys for heat to escape into the attic, or out the roof. Another thing that is cheap and easy is to wait for frost, or a light dusting of snow and visually inspect the roof. This is best done right at dawn. Wherever the snow melts first if from heat leaking up and out of the house. The places that need better air sealing or insulation will be plainly evident because they will melt first. Also make sure to inspect the place where the ceiling of the basement meets the outer wall. This is called the sill box and by insulating and air sealing this space, not only will your floors feel warmer, but cold dense air will be prevented from getting in. The less air you have to heat the better and these three things, air sealing, insulation and making sure the sill box is sealed and insulated can reduce your heat bill and the carbon footprint of your home by 30%. Just one year of doing these three things would allow you to save enough to send ECO-Tours a few hundred dollars.