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

Thursday, June 28, 2012

FYI-We deserve the Truth!

For the benefit of next seven generations, we need to seriously question the pap and Pablam  spewed by both the public officials who roll out new programs to make us feel better about our dire straights as well as industry leaders who feel that we are just raw materials for their exploitation and abuse. To this end, I want to share some information that I came across this morning. Recycling Myths Debunked

Learning new ways of being always take a little time and thoughtful effort, but the massive benefits that come from re-thinking our consumer culture have lasting benefits and over time will help lance and empty the painful boil that the plastics industry has become on the face of our culture. Poverty looks the same everywhere it is allowed to fester. Those with their hand on the tiller of the various ships of state have driven us further than anyone could have imagined into the dangerous waters of degrading the planet, defiling her bounty and poisoning the most precious resources that are needed to produce a liveable lifestyle that ensures the health and well-being of our children, their children and the coming generations that depend on us learning to live in harmony and accord with Mother Earth, not only for our own bounty, but for the survival, no, the very existence of future generations of homo sapiens.

I know that most of us are extremely busy, but please, put the time in to read this link. expecting the industry, or our current slate of "leaders" to "do the right thing" or for them to somehow make things easier for us is to neglect our own due diligence. Education is the second most expensive thing in the world. The real costs begin to add up when we devolve to ignorance. The most revolutionary thing we can do is to seek truth in the face of power, to reconsider everything we have been told and to find out whose money is paying for us to be taught certain things.

The same folks who want us to think that plastic is environmentally benign are the ones whose hands are deeply into raping the planet for profit. Just as there are no dollars available for researching the efficacy and health benefits of natural herbs, there are no funds available to research the extent of the damage being done by the plastics industry worldwide. When the truth is finally known, those responsible will have garnered enough wealth to hire the best lawyers to drag out any remediation attempts for at least another generation or two. Examine the track record of the largest corporations and you will find a disturbing proclivity for picking our pockets while simultaneously tearing away at the fabric of Spaceship Earth. As crew of this vessel, we have every right to mutiny.

It is past time for us to wrest the cold dead hands of the current captains of industry from the tiller. The time has come to change course, find our way to sustainability and stop the headlong run into the meat grinder of environmental destruction. The only way our great grandchildren will be able to thank us for pulling back from the brink of destruction is for us to make better choices today so that they will have the chance to make a life for themselves in the future. Seriously consider the anthropological facts behind the myth of increased leisure. Technology cannot solve problems created by the adoption of earlier technologies that were sold to us as necessities without reconsidering the true costs of their use. Reject, Reduce, Re-use, Re-purpose, then when you run out of other options, Recycle! It is a mantra, if you can't refurbish or repair something, all it is good for are a few uses, then become trash. Gasoline is the ultimate in planned obsolesence, once it is used, you need to buy more, a single use product if ever there were one! Plastics and petroleum go hand in glove, the costs to the Earth grow by the day. We blew by peak oil so quickly, telephone poles looked like a picket fence.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

What Wonders Lie In A Drop Of Water?

Water, as most know, is a fluid. What some do not usually consider is that air is as well. Water is six times more viscous than air, consequently holding about six times the energy of air while in a liquid state. Every organism on the planet is made up of a significant amount of water and it floats when frozen to a solid. One of my favorite characteristics of the stuff is it tastes great when it is cold, clean and clear. It also holds a mysterious place for me because I have witnesses it sublimating, that is, turning from a solid directly into a gas without melting to liquid first. We are as unable to live without this amazing substance as air, the earth, fire and spirit. Flowing water has captivated our imaginations throughout time and whatever words I try to put to explaining how important water is to life, they will surely pale when compared tot he true value of this elixir of life.

By now, we have all heard of the deadly effects of tainted water. Many of us have seen the pictures of water that has been disgustingly contaminated by fracking. I even saw a video of a man who could light his "water" on fire as it came from the tap because of fracking. We hear about people who are dying from lack of clean water and yet, most people in developed nations take for granted this substance that we cannot live without. I have heard people boast that they don't drink water, only coffee, or only soda. then I wonder why they have not taken the time to realize that the quality of water that goes into both of those beverages is as important as it is to those of us who drink ours in a more pure form. Once our source of clean water is taken from us, most basic life functions get much harder to accomplish.

Just for fun, I wanted to know how many molecules of H2O are in a drop of water. The answer? 1.67 X 10 to the27th power. A truly amazing number. each and every one of us bears responsibility for keeping this precious fluid as clean as possible. Although it is the "universal solvent", many of the things that are now showing up in our water are harmful to humans and other life on the planet. we have mostly grown out of the worldview that treated rivers, lakes, streams and oceans as unlimited sources of disposal, but there are those who still use the old philosophy that water is, in fact, inexhaustible. It is for us to come to terms with the fact that is just isn't so. Each precious drop of water is capable of both helping bring miraculous benefit to life on the planet, or insidious harm, depending on what toxic or biological ingredients it brings with it. We need to respect the fact that we can never be healthier than our watershed. To this fact we must return, regardless of how wealthy or e3ducated we tell ourselves we are, no one gets to live without fresh and pure water. Planting trees is the best way that I know to secure quality water for the next several generations. We may never be able to drink from our local streams, but reversing the damage that has befallen watersheds around the globe begins with bringing back forest cover over as large an area as possible.

We will also need to stop the application of toxic compounds in agricultural areas, urban and suburban lawns, and to stop letting the waste the we are so fond of discharging into our surroundings end up in the local streams. The miracle of life that is based on this sacred fluid is as precious as it ever was and to support and revere it will change things faster than any government or regulation ever could. to the next seven generations, I tip a glass one of the most precious fluids on Earth!

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Open Letter to Mark Zuckerburg

First off, congratulations on your wedding! May your lives compliment one another and benefit one another in ways as yet unimaginable. Secondly, hats off to you on the recent public offering of stock in Facebook! I was trying to conceive of what a valuation of 101 billion would be like. Surely, it is at best arbitrary and as fickle as any other stock that is offered in certain ways, but what if there is something more valuable than profit to future generations? What if a private institution put, for instance, just one billion toward conservation or sustainable travel destinations. I am thinking specifically about the ability to preserve nearly one million acres of Lake Superior Watershed. Making a substantial commitment to conservation would create a platform on which to build the next seven generations of your product line. Certainly, a set aside of any land for watershed protection would put your company in good stead with the truly conservation conscious. As more and more people realize that 90% of native ecosystems have been eliminated. The old business models that always produce boom bust economic cycles. Investment in intact ecosystems that are established as conservation reserves, literally saving acres of both head-water and estuary, along with all the creeks and streams that tie them together

Imagine the slogan, One percent for the Earth. Not only is it funny in light of the occupy movement, but it could be a trend setting business model to jump start more sustainable ventures.

I have never understood the short sighted world view of most corporate entities. There are places for people to invest that pay back benefits far more valuable than mere dollars. If a single river can be protected, would it not be worth investing in? I have long-awaited (since age seven. I'm fifty now) a time when there would be enough wealth in the hands of young people to get investment in improving our relationship with the planet. I hope that this is the time I have been waiting for.
Trees planted nearly twenty years ago now cover about three acres, part of headwaters between the East River, Brown County and the Devil's River, (West Twin) Manitowoc County, Wisconsin.

My dream project is building a series of summer camps for both children and adults. A place that provides therapeutic respite from the hectic pace and pressures of modern life. My wife and I have knowledge, skills and attitudes that would assure success in whatever venture we undertake.  The guests, eco-tourists, campers, or members, would have all inclusive stays, like the best resorts. To keep costs reasonable and maintain our sustainable farm, guests would learn to do some chores and participate in work parties as well as find time alone by a waterfall or hiking along the North Country Scenic Trail. A recent controversy here in Wisconsin is that a tiny minority wants to site a "sulfide overburden" mine upstream of tribal lands. Their best estimate was that about seven hundred jobs would be created. This same outcome could be accomplished with a sustainability school/camp/resort, there just are no big investors standing by to fund eco-friendly development.

My wife and I started a local not-for-profit about seven years ago and since then our group has planted tens of thousands of trees as well as spreading over two million tree seeds across Northeast Wisconsin. I believe, reforestation, especially in the head water areas of the water that we depend upon for our survival makes more and more economic sense. The worse pollution gets elsewhere, the more valuable pristine air and water become. A great man once said, "One day, we will find that we cannot eat money," I believe it to be the greatest gift to learn to nurture nature, share what I have learned from nature and perhaps train others to protect it, to recover the Earth from our arrogant abuses.

I recently heard the term for people like me... we are bioneers. In the early eighties, I built a system for fish, food and filtration that fed and watered my porch garden and my compost closed the loop. What I continue to learn about sustainability is that understanding and appreciating all of our relationships to the Earth and one another echo whether we understand the environment to be sacred, or profane. Sustainability requires that we master the art of the give away. No abundance is  inherently valuable. It only has value when you give it away. Nature has virtually infinite abundance when you treat it well, caring for the planet may be our only hope to sustain our culture, and getting to the business of teaching ECO-Ethics needs to be a

Please let me know what you think of these ideas, anxiously awaiting a response,
Tony C. Saladino-Director, ECO-Tours of Wisconsin Inc. Green Bay, Wisconsin

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Walking In The Rain

 This morning, as my wife, Nancy and I walked past the Angry Trout Cafe, we were being pelted with pretty emphatic droplets of the best rain that you could imagine walking in. I felt very appreciative for my sunglasses. We left the car in the driveway, not wanting to taint the local air, perfumed as it was with blossoms and burgeoning life. We walked too, through the gift shop at the North House Folk School droplets began to fall as we left, pelting us with the freshest rain we had experienced all year. My wool shirt stayed warm enough, even through what would have rendered lesser shirts useless. A touch of wet came through a bit onto my 100% cotton t-shirt.

In years past, I had pedaled my bicycle through the streets and parks of this town, today I walked slowly, in spite of the wet to re-live those fateful days twenty-five years ago. The old pizza place I remember is gone, but we will certainly try the new one. I keep remembering the ride and how early it was in Spring. It was still early April and I was nearly two weeks into my two and a half month ride. We walked and shopped for about five hours, walking through the parks and squares of the historic town. Sailors say that fair weather sailors miss most of the good sailing there is. It is the same with tourism. Nancy said that she felt bad for the folks in Quetico and Boundary Waters. but in my mind, even paddling in the mists beats stating indoors during bad weather. It has always presented a great challenge with equal reward when I have ventured on in spite of the weather.

Today was no different. We saw an Eye of Thoth in the clouds just minutes after we embarked, always an auspicious event. We got to experience the quality of light as if you were inside a neon tube, everything enlivened by the light. we saw clouds scuttering along the hill tops, shrouding the tops of the local hills and saw huge roiling vortecies being squeezed of their moisture. We stood in sun and rain simultaneously, and were nearly uniformly whipped by freshening breezes. Twice, we were briefly graced with warm and still moments in between bluster. We got to see one of the times that the Greatest Lake in the World is the exact same color as the sky, each one melding into the other in a disorienting way that defies description.

No doubt we are appreciative. Were we not on this walkabout, the drought back home is nearing the end of a second month. Perhaps this whole chance to get wet has been my karma for all the watering of things that I have done this year. Seeing the wetter parts of the world thriving, I'm all for the rain, just a little jealous of the areas that have had enough. The steamroller of a storm that followed us up the North Shore flooded tunnels, washed away bridges and created sink holes large enough to swallow cars. In this case we can truly say that when it rains it pours. Had this been in winter, the storm system could have dumped 100" of snow. Places near here got over ten inches of rain over twenty four hours. Fully 1/3 of a normal year of rain overnight! The least I could do is to walk about in the awesome power and beauty of it.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Approaching the Solstice

The Earth is leaning ever so slightly toward the Sun, if you are lucky enough to be in the Northern Hemisphere. Our southern neighbors are on the short end of that stick, but the time signature of the year is dictated by the circular route we all take around the Sun. The long days and short nights have influenced farmers, lovers and poets through the ages. Even though we know more than ever about the hows and whys of the process, the mystery of it still captures our collective imagination. even though, or perhaps especially because we live modern lives that are noticeably out of balance, just realizing that the earth leans as far one way as the other during the course of the year can give us a sense that everything is alright.

This year, we are headed North. It will be the furthest north I have ever been for a Solstice in my entire life. As a consequence, the day will be the longest that I have ever experienced. The night will be the shortest as well. Friends along the shore of Lake Superior have told me that because of the extra daylight hours, they can catch up with their southern farming friends because the extra hours of growth each day far outweigh the weeks of extra frost and cold that they get in both the Spring and Fall. I have been along the South Shore of Lake Superior for several July Fourth celebrations and the fact that they needed to wait until nearly eleven o'clock at night before it was dark enough for fireworks made me realize in a very profound way, that we are on a massive, spinning sphere.

When we seek to understand the world around us, we often forget that the location we are in has a profound impact on what we see, who we share it with and what sort of neighbors we may, or may not have. In the North, we may get to hibernate a bit longer, but working dawn to dusk will more than offset any rest that we may have during the cold times of year. It is quite odd to look to the northeast after midnight and to see the sky starting to lighten, even before we go to sleep. Often, when I camp out, I like to be up before the Sun. The further north we go, the earlier the Sun will reappear each morning of the Summer. Creatures of the night must have a bit of difficulty during these times, just because they have to get their foraging done between sunset and sunrise.

Each year on this weekend, the one closest to the Solstice, the Midwest Renewable Energy Association  hosts the Energy Fair in Custer, Wisconsin. It is one of the greatest events. Typically there are about 40,000 folks who are interested, curious, passionate about and committed to renewable energy, sustainability and taking care of the planet for the next seven generations. I have been going to the fair nearly since the beginning. It has been an annual event for over twenty-five years. Although there have been many technological advances over that time, the basic intent has not changed. Those of us who have continued to work for positive change have seen remarkable things occur over that time.

In my own home, I still don't have much that runs on solar energy or wind power, but my electricity and fuel use have been steadily reduced to the point that i probably could sustain myself on solar panels and a small wind spinner. My rental, which absorbs a large part of my time, money, attention and cash flow has had a solar panel for several years. It produces about 1/3 of the heat for the building and has been adapted to provide hot air for the dehydration of food during the warmer seasons. I continue to give thanks for the opportunity to to utilize our closest star for heat. Even at the winter solstice, as long as the clouds are thin, we pull eighty degree air out of the panels and duct it into the living space. The entire unit runs on a very efficient squirrel cage fan.

One of my favorite ECO-Tours is to take guests on tours of the renewable energy systems that I have installed, explain their components, show them how they work together and share a bit of the love I have for these technologies with others, pointing out how simple they are and how we can each live a little more lightly on the planet if we just learn the difference between wants and needs, how to meet our needs at the least cost and with the least throughput and waste. It is empowering to help begin the process with others that we must each tackle in our own way to make sense of the tools and techniques that are available for living sustainably and begin to figure out what makes the most sense for our unique situations.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Reading List

I keep a running list of titles that have been recommended, that I have heard reference to and that are generally accepted as "important" to read. Upon awakening today, I realized that I am experiencing a new sort of history, one with a different time signature. I was tracking some of my blog posts and found that certain posts were well-read, while others were not.

In an effort to increase my exposure on all of my bolgs, I like to periodically link them, one to another for my readers. I can be found writing at The Otherfish Wrap, this is a continuation of the eco-fanzine that I created in the early eighties, as a local forum for eco-discussion and awareness. That is perhaps my most read blog. I just checked and it was just about to reach four thousand views. Today, between all of my blogging, there have been over five thousand views. It is an irony that when I started writing Otherfish, I would reduce pages and pages of painstakingly hand written text to "conserve resources and it is now accomplished by electrons frantically scurrying about!

Of course, this blog, you know about because you are here.

I also write on sustainability and Permaculture at Permaculture, ECO-Ethics, Trees @ Wordpress, this was in response to the great push to industrialization of the food sector of the economy. There are positive steps that we need to take immediately to stop estranging farmers from their land. Permaculture, if you have not heard of it is like health care for the landscape. It honors natural balance, soft edges between microclimates, and sanctifies diversity as no other food production system can. If we ran mass balance studies on "modern" agricultural practice, we would find massive amounts of energy, mostly petro-chemical, being squandered in the process.

I also write at as Saladman, I write a bit more on esoteric issues there.

I hope you all enjoy some or all of these, I appreciate your readership immensely!


Thursday, June 7, 2012


The transit took place whilst I was attending the polls for the Recall Election of Scott Walker for Governor of Wisconsin. We are close to this distant heavenly body. Her influence is supposed to enhance communication, so here goes. What we fail to accept, often with dire consequences, the magnitude of our power to influence change. About 6 BTU per day, just through metabolism, warms the area around us. We eat and excrete, reproduce and die, forever changing the world we leave behind. Venus is one of the most frenetic planets, we are in the closest proximity to this planet that we will be for over one hundred years. The influence that it has on us today, may not return for five generations.

We need to speak from our hearts and persistently for the things that endure. Not the petty whims of what we are told is important, the real stuff, family, education, thrift, and culture are as much a right as a responsibility. supporting local music, local food and honoring the teachers. These things created a nation out of a wide-eyed group of criminals and a few Puritans, who have long since perished. Our future depends on rites of passage, awareness, continued growth and striving toward what we know works, abandoning what is not in service to the greater good and finding the path of least resistance to sustainability.

ECO-Tours involve grappling with questions like, what is the difference between wants and needs, how much does this cost, or where will this end up? We honor the place we are in and all that the moment has to offer, often finding wealth beyond measure outside the boundaries that we are usually comfortable in. We are both giving back and receiving at once, transiting in a way, between source and the world. We take time to distinguish between many courses of action, relative costs and benefits of as many as we can and with practice, we learn to integrate a wealth of knowledge and bring it to bear without thought when we learn the ways of the heart. Love means letting go of fear. If we see the world around us as a buffet, we can never again fear starving in the wilderness. When we learn to make fire, or build shelter, we need not fear exposure. As we give ourselves to the task of planting trees, learning how to make solar energy cost effective, or making pickles, we also find time for refinement of our ideals. Knowing what we want most often takes a meditative and quirt relaxed state, just what the doctor ordered in these trying times.

If you get through northeast Wisconsin, give us a call in advance or let us know when you will be around, we will create a special tour, just for you!