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

Friday, September 28, 2012

Benefits For Guests

Over the years, ECO-Tours has taken hundreds of individuals out on plant-ins, stuck around our place to for potting up parties to put large numbers of trees into landscape pots to fill our nurseries, and invited people to join us on tours of zero-net-energy homes, walks in the natural areas across northeast Wisconsin and taken scouting and release parties as well. now, before you get the wrong idea, a release party is really just a better name for weeding parties. In essence, we are releasing the seedling trees from the encroaching weeds that often colonize disturbed ground. I have heard so many wonderful comments from our fellow travellers, our guests and those in search of their own path to sustainability to know that there are undeniable benefits for the people who come on ECO-Tours as there are to the planet, soils and the wildlife that abounds in the areas that we restore to a more natural state.

 The exercise that we get is always aerobic and refreshing, because we can work at a slow enough pace to not worry about overdoing it. There is no time constraint on how long it takes to plant a dingle tree and we encourage guests to have fun, not work like dogs. Many people comment on how good it feels to be part of our restoration efforts, if only for the opportunity to be out in nature and lend a hand in a solution to so many problems instead of being part of the great ignorance that allows the Earth to be mistreated. there is a stretching and bending that occurs while planting a tree that is healthy, invigorating and if there is any soreness after an hour or two of effort, it is just a reminder of how sedentary our lives have become.

The emotions that our guests have spoken of are complex and wonderful as well. Being part of a solution and learning techniques that benefit the planet empowers and relieves the guilt that many feel about not doing enough to heal the damaged planet. I recently talked to one ecotourist who felt that leaving such a positive mark on the planet helped him to make a commitment to the future that would not have been possible in any other way. Some folks like to attend plant-ins along their daily commute. This is especially exciting when they begin to see growth and changes that "their" trees make as they mature. We frequently hear stories about how our guests utilize the knowledge they gain while on tour to enhance their own property and that the skills that they gain during one of our events leads them to cultivate changes in their lives beyond planting more trees.

Being part of growing something bigger than ourselves also helps spur a trend toward growth in our lives as well. Just as true healers heal themselves as well as their patients through the process, our fellow travelers grow as well as the trees they plant. The seeds of knowledge that we put in place often grow to affect the lives of people we meet without even realizing it. there is a strong movement afoot worldwide to reassess both the costs and benefits of serving economic interests above human interests and exploiting both the Earth and her people for profit. that is why we have no set "fees"
. We do ask that people come with the goal of having fun, doing a little work (of course) but also trusting that those who do attend will give an appropriate amount for the insights and experiences that they receive. Yesterday, one of our board members explained that she is now calculating the cost of travel by how long it takes. $10/per hour is what she has calculated it to cost to drive her vehicle. I have always used a calculation of $1 per mile (including half the cost as damage to the environment) To put these numbers in perspective, it costs about $10 per tree for us to plant them, factoring in the cost of seedlings, dirt to pot them in, water for our nurseries, transport to the site and planting. We do not factor in the human elements of time, work or care because all the human effort that goes into our programs is donated. As far as I know, there are very few 100% volunteer labor organizations on the planet. The rewards that we receive from our participation in these efforts is, in many ways, more valuable than money and our philosophy is that we certainly need trees far more than we need money anyway, so it seems to "fit" our ideals to only ask for people to give what they can to further our efforts.

The spiritual aspects of our work are a bit harder to talk about, but if you listen closely to the stories that our travelers tell about their ECO-Tours experience confirm that their lives have often been qualitatively changed by the experience. The enlightenment that they reflect in their comments hint at the depth of their awareness changing and with it a greater sensitivity to issues surrounding sustainability as well. We often ask folks who have received trees to send us a donation when they see the first bird alight on the branches, when the fall colors begin to dazzle them, or when they are finally able to stretch out under the shade of their trees. When they have confirmation that the trees are, in fact, seen to be making their lives a little better is a great time to make a donation through Paypal or send us a check. For our guests, we often ask them to be aware of insights and changes in their lives that they have made because of their time with us and to send what they can to allow us to continue our important work. This past week, we were only able to plant another 2,000 trees, but if we had more funding coming in, we could plant many, many more.

It has been said that the most hopeful act we can engage in is the planting of a tree. I have seen seen perhaps billions of them and attest to the fact that, for me, and as a fellow traveler along the path to sustainability, the tree is a strong symbol of hope and abundance growth and shelter. In the turbulent and often hostile world that we find ourselves in, these are all qualities that we need more of. please give what you can to support our important work and if you would like us to develop an  ECO-Tour for you, that you can use in your area, let us know, we will work something up for you. Again, our doors are always open to guests and if you get near Northeast Wisconsin, or are planning a trip to the area, let us know in advance and we will work to craft an experience for you that is both fun and rewarding, sharing what we have learned helps make the world a little better than we found it.

Blessed Be and namaste'

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