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

Friday, April 25, 2014

Beehive Collective‎ sent a couple of emissaries to Green Bay last night. They brought two of their giant works of art. These phenomenal 10 X 20 foot (3.3 X 6.6 meter) collaboratively produced parables exist as a testament to thought provoking ideas and the deep and abiding commitment to solving problems, not just shying away from them. The overwhelmingly positive messages that they send are vital to the survival of humanity and perhaps our specias as a whole. They will be showing their work again tonight at 6 PM at UWGB (University Wisconsin Green Bay) in MAC Hall, room 208. In addition to the works as a whole, they have a slideshow that focuses the attention of attendees on the myriad vignettes within each piece. They are physical manifestations that prove that each of holds the power to change the world in our hands and hearts.

About sixty people showed up to see their work and hear some of the stories that their art illustrates. Their presentation was not only about our current situation, but how the art is inspired by actions being taken by people (both individuals and groups) around the world to make necessary changes to support and find a path to sustainability. Their original artworks are accomplished by a complex dialog between and with the artists, native people, local residents and scientists who understand, sometimes all too well, the destructive capacities of "developers", mining interests and the energy giants who crush local economies and ecological systems in pursuit of ever decreasing benefits for the highest echelons of our culture. As their name implies, many workers make light work and the production of beehive collective art requires many people investing large amounts of time to create salient and moving pictographs about old way versus new way thinking.

Repeatedly during the presentation one issue was made clear. Life is tenacious. In the face of profound assault from corporate entities, the consumptive mind set of the oppressors and the paradigm that sanctions desecration of the planet, laying waste to her (Mother Earth's) organisms and natural processes for the sake of cash. Citizens of the world are united in their quest to find a path to not only survival, but retaining their humanity, their culture and ways of life. The income distribution has become such a top heavy contraption that the top wage earners have incomes that would support millions of their "lesser" countrymen. Contrary to what we have been told, the crucible of creativity is heated by the friction of old way versus new way thinking. I discuss this issue in most of my writing, but often we forget that in Earth's history, several mass extinctions have occurred, several ages have come and gone, but these young artists confirm the facts of our history in a rather interesting and most impressive way. What many believe to be "old way" thinking is what has been the dominant thinking for the past several thousand years. I refer to the old ways as that of tribal people, natives that had found ways of living on the planet that were not extractive in the sense that we know today. More and more however, we are closing the door on what was known as "new way" thinking or perhaps a "modern/industrial" mind set. The concept of bigger always being better is relatively new, but for most of us having grown up within that thought structure, it is just the current paradigm. Wrestling with the future will require that our "modern" approach will need to fall by the wayside of history and a new, new way thinking will need to take hold. The irony for many is that the old ways, those of tribal people everywhere, ones that sanctify the Earth, understand the unique gifts of the "gods and goddesses", as our ancestors did and operate within the "I am because you are" world view.

What the hippies were onto, was not just a drug induced dream, it was a very pragmatic worldview that peace and love really could heal the planet. Now we know that to a very large extent, we have found them to be right on the money. Spewing toxic compounds about can only lead to death, organics, renewable energy and a better land ethic can only enhance our quality of life, right? Many of us see daily the detritus of humankind, the vast wastelands that have been perpetrated against Mother Nature, against our people. For the sake of what? Vast wastelands that have had their worth shipped elsewhere, our cities are now hollow shells, the warehouses have gaping hollow eyes for windows. The mural that these people paint about my world would have miles of vacant buildings staring out at desperate consumers, looking to top off their buzz with the next acquisition. 
To the peaceful loving people, the growing majority...
Each bend of the stream is sacred, every wing beat of every bird echoes their music in harmony with Great Spirit, every rock and stone literally sing, in the Church of Mother Earth (or whatever you want to call it) We all learn to open ourselves differently. Some may delight in stories that trees have to tell, or perhaps hear the echo of Om in forest glens, some tune in to the slithering creatures that love sunning themselves in fen. If we pay attention, we can learn to speak the language of the sacred spheres. We can find a truer sense of self than by living in the built up world.

This collective is aware that times are changing and a new phase of existence is required if we are to stop the oppressive and abusive ways of those who wish to turn our planet into Servoglobe. The paradigm that we are living under today is based on the tallest pyramid ever conceived. The rarefied atmosphere at the top is dizzying, the wealth virtually unbounded, the greed insatiable and the corruption thorough. Life itself is ground under the wheels of this sort of "progress" and now at the dawning of the Age of Aquarius, we are beginning to realize that after a certain point, the ever increasing height of the pyramid has made it unstable. Every major resource, nutrient and even water itself are becoming harder and harder to get. more and more energy is required each year to even stay at a "steady state". The unending quest for more has taken us to places that even the most hideous fictional dystopia could not hint at. As the "reserves" become lower and lower quality, those on top deem more and more dangerous, more and more destructive methods necessary for their recovery. The flip side of this corporate marauding is that the poorest and "most desperate" have been sold a bill of goods even before they know that they are enslaved. The mystic web, as if of a great spider, has reached into all pof our lives and the beast must be done away with. This is just a relatively recent blip on the screen, a pixel if you will, within the panorama of life on Earth, our historical reference point and the future of humanity on the planet, will matter not one whit. Our species could die off just as many have before. The Earth, ultimately will go on of course until the Sun supernovas and engulfs the planet in His corona.

Technocrats often overlook the anthropological truth behind the myth of increased leisure. Every technology has a down side and only some of them are revealed by the collective. It is easy to say that "If we just exploited one more resource...that would solve this or that problem." However, the truth of the matter is that abuse and neglect of the planet can never yield benefits, without holding hidden cost overruns that make the value questionable at best. So what if you can send three BTUs of energy to wrest five from the Earth, does it make sense if you have to write off thousands of acres forever? The resources are a gift from the Great Spirit, it is high time we started acting like it!

When native people burned off forest, it was to select for tree species that fed the creatures that they relied upon to maintain their food stores. The beasts were roving food storage units if you like and the forest was maintained in unique ways to facilitate the continuation of many different species. An interesting side note that I thought was interesting was when one of the presenters was talking about frac sand mining removing entire bluffs and leaving great scars upon his homeland, in Southwestern Wisconsin. He said that for at least three generations, his people removed nothing but milk from that landscape and the effects of that did not change the topography one iota compared to the removal of the forest, the creatures and the hills that used to be his family's local landscape. This may be true, in a broader context, but the soil has nutrition taken that was not returned. The nutrients that were in that milk got carted away, gone forever. The cycles exist whether we can see them or not. We are currently faced with a situation in which we almost have to pray that no resource of any consequence will be found nearby where we live. It is, in fact, the only way to avoid having your part of the world destroyed.

Luckily, there are people like those involved with and supporting Beehive with their efforts, their donations and their impulse to further the mission of bringing on the change from Servoglobe to Gaia. As frequently happens with our people, the artists are the most forward thinking of the tribe. Being from a state that has "Forward" as it's motto, I humbly submit that we need to take a step back to see a way forward in this case. Like a rock climber, if we cling desperately to the precipice, we will never find our next hand or foot hold. These works, and their massive scale, allow us to gain vital perspective on what can seem to be overwhelming issues and for that I am both thankful and proud. I am because they are and that relationship is sacred.

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Earth Day 2014

If you listened to the talking heads, you might have missed this important celebration completely. There are tens of thousands of events going on around our nation and the world that reflect Ecological awareness, teach-ins and protests that reaffirm our commitment to ecological integrity. many are demanding an end to the poisoning of the planet, her people and the creatures that need clean air and untainted water. Even our food supply is being changed, primarily by everyday people as we embark on our rediscovery of what non-food and food-like materials we have been putting in our mouths. Thousands massed in Washington D.C. for example, to say "NO!", in no uncertain terms, to the Keystone XL pipeline. Pipelines leak. Even as we celebrate the Earthweek events, there has been a blowout in a natural gas pipeline that required the evacuation of an entire town. Thousands are still calling for the clean up of Fukushima's ongoing tragedy. The oil sands of Canada continue to ooze poison into the environment and the climate continues to shift. Dolphins are still dying in the Gulf of Mexico and even the oil that remains in Alaska from the Exxon Valdez spill twenty five years ago continues to wreak havoc on the environment there.Talking heads say the it is "too hard" for most people to understand what part they can play in solving a global catastrophe, but the data contradicts them.

Ecological efforts are being made across the board. To conserve and utilize energy in more efficient ways, to create more liveable environments by utilizing local resources and sustainable materials and to become aware of the life cycle costs of both the products we select as well as the services that we rely on. Buying local is a huge and growing field, organic yard care and produce are both growing iby leaps and bounds and people are finally finding out that their own health id dependent on making better choices for the environment that we rely on for clean air, water and safe food supplies.

State after state are finding this to be true. Many are trying, in a variety of ways, to get money from those that are finding ways to make their carbon footprints smaller.  Many of our tax dollars are based on either income or our use characteristics and as we learn to live better on less, the costs fall to those who continue to consume without regard to their impacts on the planet. The public is finding ways to be far more efficient than the corporate elites ever thought possible, but the ways that we used to raise funds, by taxing energy consumption are falling short of projections as we use less and less fuel. Many of us are driving 55 MPH by choice, even though many states are increasing the speed limits that had been lowered to save fuel. Sweaters are coming back, much like they did under threats of higher energy prices back in the seventies. Thermostats are being turned down all over the country and the air conditioners will be set higher than ever before just to cut the humidity a bit. Instead of trying to refrigerate our homes this summer, more and more people will be opening windows at night and letting the cooler air in that they don't have to pay for, then closing them when they wake up in the morning to keep the steamy summer outside. We are re-using more than ever before, fixing things again, rather than replacing them and doing our part by raising more food in out kitchen gardens, or at the very least, attending local farmer's markets. Keeping our dollars local and avoiding the corporate pickpocketing that we had become used to.

It is easy to see why the powers that be wish to tell us that we are unable to grasp what needs to be done. Think how quickly they would lose their fortunes if we were to solve our looming ecological catastrophe. I understand that there are pockets where people have been duped into believing what the corporate outlaws have told them, but it is not the case in my neck of the woods. In addition to driving more fuel efficient cars, driving less miles and both walking and riding bikes more, people seem to be making better choices about their homes, their yards and gardens that contribute to better long term health and often consider the welfare of the environment as well. Tonight, the Beehive Collective will be in Green Bay, Wisconsin. If that is not enough, there have been events all week that ranged from a waterwalk, where people came from all around to reaffirm the sacred nature of our waters, to tabling events, clean-up efforts, and reforestation efforts, designed to teach the next generation and some adults about the values associated with a land ethic, to teach-ins, and building more gardens across our city (and probably yours). Eco-tours is currently working to produce a You tube video that should be posted within the next few weeks and a radio advertizement to share what we are doing to remediate, recover and reestablish ecological integrity and we expect a great outpouring of support for our efforts as news about our work grows.

We still ask those of you who support this sort of work to make a financial commitment and donate through our Paypal account.(use the link above) or send donations to our headquarters at 1445 Porlier Street, Green Bay, Wisconsin U.S.A. 54301-3334. 100% of our donations buy trees, pots, dirt to plant the trees in and protection for the seedlings once they are put in their final locations. The administrative tasks and other costs associated with our work planning, preparing and planting are made by generous donations made by our all-volunteer staff, hard working ECO-Tourists and those who believe in a future that we can see only with our mind's eye. The thousands of people working for positive change in our community have reforested hundreds of acres that used to be prone to flooding and drought. This in turn has provided habitat for millions of creatures, perhaps billions if you count the microbes and creepy crawlers. when we pass by properties that we have interceded on behalf of, it is not hard to see that the world around us has become a better place. This is one time during the year when no matter how hard the opposition tries to paint us as "bleeding hearts", "tree huggers" or "do-gooders", they cannot say that we are not making positive change that will last for generations. A few of the sites that we have reforested have been bull dozed in their youthful budding, but for the most part, nearly every place that we have put our hands, hearts and minds to reforesting, a myriad of species find homes, and humans can find shade on a hot summer day, a refuge from the harsh winds of winter and a place to smell the fresh air that trees provide. Thank-you in advance for your continued interest, your help in making our dreams reality and for the changes that you have been willing to make to give peace with the planet a chance. 

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

ECO-Tours, What are they?

When we pass through the world with a sense of respect for the living systems that blanket the earth and honor the wisdom and insights of local cultures who have made their way in discreet ways, based on principals of co-existence, the give-back, and humility. As travelers, we too often pass through areas without seeing them for what they are. Instead of experiencing the depth and joy that is encompassed in each place, we see the road as a ribbon, when truly each step would reveal a rich and complex local flavor.

Occasionally, it is easier to describe what something is not, to get at the heart of what it is. Ecotours are not for folks who “know it all”, the basic structure and principles of ecotours is that the traveler becomes a student, learning and letting go of preconceived ideas about the place they are visiting, as well as themselves, their own concepts of home, comfort, scheduling, and direction. Ecotours cannot be highly regimented or scheduled, because usually the environment is characterized by change. Being aware of this change, and respecting the unfolding of our experiences requires roadmaps that are changeable. Reflecting and honoring the unique experiences of the travelers as they interact with the ecology of place is part of why ecotours are qualitatively different than what we have come to know as tourism. Ecotours cannot be a series of shopping trips, punctuated by natural wonders, and commemorated with the appreciation of trinkets (cheap plastic crap from China) with the names of places you had gone printed upon them. More than likely, the change of heart that ecotours bring will be your most precious keepsake, punctuated with a rock, feather, handcrafted local textile or drum that embodies the energy of the place it was created.

The practice of ecotouring is a discipline of discovery. Respecting the earth, her flora, fauna, local cultures and unique gifts of Creator. Fortunately, we all have it within our power to begin the process of retooling our own travel to accommodate this new way forward, re-envisioning what it means to be “on the road”, and recreating new ways to perform our own intimate dance with place, raising the bar for what we are willing to learn from and see within all life on the planet.

When I was young, I made a pilgrimage to the site of ancient Pipestone beds in Minnesota. This site, mined by locals for centuries, was (according to Native American tradition) where “The Blood of Mother Earth” was made physical for human beings to use. This red stone is a yielding material for carving peace pipes, because it’s spirit is of earth, giver of so many great gifts, gives birth to the smoldering coal of fire, and carries our prayers and the energies of sacred tobacco to the spirit realm, in offering of our thanks, this stone has great power. My pilgrimage to this site was to honor the spirit of the place. I had no intention of removing any of the sacred stone, just to see it in place and know the spirit of the earth as it is expressed in that location. This was many years before the word ecotours was coined, but I was definitely on one. With reverence, I approached the place where the stone is mined. I could literally feel the stone, pulling me toward it. It was uncanny. The last hundred feet before I saw an actual mine was as transformative as the whole trip up to that point had been. We came over a rise, and the pit became visible to us. It was not much to see at the time, just a small hole really. I remember thinking, “my bedroom isn’t much bigger than this place.” Some trash and cigarette buts littered the area, and in the bottom of the “mine” there was some stagnant water with mosquito larvae in it. I remember thinking, “What have we done?” It astonished me that one of the most sacred sites that I had been to would be so desecrated. I guess that I expected to see native people quarrying the stone, and blessing the chunks as they pulled them from the ground. In that moment I was overwhelmed by an urge to take a bit of the red rock, if only a tiny piece, just a few bits of the red gravel that was nearby. Then, and without warning, I turned to see the largest Snapping turtle I have ever seen. It was a messenger, and it brought with it a silent testimony to many things that cannot be expressed in words that I know. It spoke of the Water Spirit, of course. The long dormant spirit of the earth and her people was reflected in that turtle. It told of the great energy that rises each spring with the return of Father Sun. It spoke of the healing ways, the security of “home” and tenacious grip with which we hold onto things that are dear, or sustaining to us. (This was reflected in the great beast’s fearsome jaw.) Even the juxtaposition of the hulking behemoth associated with water in this dry sun-baked and desolate place was at odds with my vision of what it might be like here. Without thinking I saw more in that moment than I could explain in a book of any length. My path had fallen away within, and all around me. I was immersed in place and had to go no further to receive the blessings of the ancestors and earth’s, turtle’s and the stone’s messages.

Since this time, Pipestone has come and gone from my life. Small bits, fist-sized pieces, and once a great slab graced the threshold of my tipi. As an adult, I was given the opportunity to carve my own sacred pipe from this stone; the power of this treasure is that it can carry my spirit back to my great teachers at the quarry. This same implement can also carry my prayers to Great Spirit. When the Earth gives you a gift, as long as you respect it and honor the gift with one of your own, the circle completes itself rewarding the future with even more than was there in the past. May the circle be unbroken, may your days be blessed, and may the path you are on bring you insight to the great mystery.

Peace, Tony “Saladman” Saladino Director- ECO-Tours of Wisconsin Inc.

Monday, April 21, 2014

Earthweek and Beyond!

The garden beds are finally thawed, but here the frost is not out of the areas that were heavily mulched or in deep shade yet. In many places, the heavy clay soil is still too wet to work up, but Spring activities have ramped up and nearing full swing.

This particular Spring has seen us restart our ECO-Tours website. Since we cannot afford a special person to be our wed guru, we have faced several challenges regarding our web presence. Originally, we had a computer in our basement that hosted the site. We had a bang up website that included our history, structure, bios of our board and reports on our work, but whenever we would have cars running into power poles or thunderstorms that would take out our power, we would have to reestablish the site and it would fall off the grip so to speak several times each year. My tech prowess is limited and if we were not home when the lights would go out, or if we were asleep when it happened, I wouldn't realize or notice. Needless to say, it was not the ideal situation. More recently, it was hosted elsewhere, but there too we had problems keeping it updated with our limited all-volunteer staff. Several of our members have computer savvy, but everyone seems so busy that we can go weeks or months without getting the site updated.

A recent search found that the site had been highjacked to a server between Madison and Milwaukee and I'm not sure how that can even happen. So this week we began development on the third incarnation of our website. should be up and running again! It will need lots of hours of development and our current tech helper says that the dream I have about the design of the site will take a lot of work...As usual nothing worthwhile is easy, but we are back on the right track toward global recognition!

This week, we have also begun to develop an even larger nursery site. Our annual tree order is out and the days are getting longer by the day, so we foresee plant-ins starting up again in the very near future. We have one or two requests for major plantings. We are also excited about a long-term supporter who has pledged thousands of dollars for our programs over the next few years. It has been a few years since a major donor has stepped up, but as they say, Times they are a changin'!

There was a wonderful water walk here in Green Bay, bringing together those who honor the Earth, a display and presentation of the Beehive Collective that continued to speak in very plain terms of our reliance on Mother Earth and that is just part of the build up to Earthweek. The trash collection after the long cold winter had also begun in earnest. Whenever we walk the trails or take forays into possible planting sites, we keep an eye out for trash that needs to be picked up. Plenty of opportunities exist to make positive change, don't let a single one pass you by! There has never been a better time to change the world in a positive way.

Last evening, we had a visit from a Solidarity Singer who shared with us a few of his recent works and we made arrangements for our website to have some of his powerful and moving music on our website. The Earth is waking up and the time for us to move beyond the confines of our old ways is upon us. Reach out, touch the Earth, make connections and you will find, that nature's abundance will provide. It always has and always will, we just need to learn how not to poison or strangle the flow of energy and resources that abound in nature.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Calling All Pagans: Your Mother Earth Needs You | Common Dreams

Calling All Pagans: Your Mother Earth Needs You | Common Dreams


We have got to understand how policy has been set if we are to change it. We must also understand that the great wealth that has been amassed by the top 1%brings with it both power and prestige amongst decision-makers. Many of us realize that this should not be the case, but it is and has been for generations. Now, at least in the U.S. of A., we have a situation where over half of the Congress are millionaires. They may still be out of the class that are 1%ers, but they certainly emulate them, apologize for them and hold them up as living proof that our capitalistic system "works".  What we need is citizen representation that is less biased toward wealth and power and more intimately connected to real world problems, the results fo crushing wealth and the insidiousness of decisions based solely on capital.

In the current American (U.S.) political system, we often distill every idea down to a conflict between two parties. Not necessarily political parties, but two factions or sides of the argument. This has been the case for many, many years, but recently, the intensity has been turned up immensely. In the case of nuclear energy, for example, scientists, who were at the table trying to decide what, if any health, effects should be allowed so that the nuclear industry could reap the benefits and cash flow that would be generated by the new technology. Science and health officials knew and stated explicitly that no exposure to radioactive material should ever be considered "safe". Military officials who were also part of the decision making were adamant that we "needed" the bomb, and whatever it took to develop it, including the creation of nuclear energy production facilities would "have" to be done. As one can plainly see, this is the root of a very deep conflict.

Policy, in the end was set to allow commerce and burden the public with an unknown cost, the health effects created by nuclear fallout, nuclear waste sites and nuclear by-products that have found their way around the planet. Remember that the truth of the matter is that there is no "safe" or "acceptable" level of exposure to this radiation. Our policy has been set based on not having the guts to stand up for what is right, what makes sense or even what would be the safest thing for our planet, her people, or the future. We almost always have set policy with an eye to how much money stands to be made. This never shakes down to the lowest echelons of our culture, but is based on what the uberwealthy have decided is expedient for them.

In rare cases, an issue will rise to the level of a "Vietnam", or the public outcry will be so great that some changes can be affected, but the vast majority of these fights take place under cover of massive disinterest by the media (who are also owned and controlled by billionaires). The outright lies and deceptive tactics that are used to get our policies to be skewed in favor of the wealthy are as plain as the nose on my face, yet the decisions are made the same way they have always been, as a compromise between what is best and what is expedient for the richest interests and in the name of profitability.

We are seeing this play out in so many aspects of our modern life that it calls into question the very tenets of "democracy". When I was growing up they used to frequently say, "One man, one vote", now, with the advent of the Citizens United case that recently went through the Supreme Court, "one dollar one vote" if wealth is speech, then the dollars will always talk the loudest in favor of what the 1% want. Sadly, many do not understand how or why ecological issues are tied up with economic ones. The irony is that when you look closely, they are often the same issue. Policy is informed, set and made by the very people who stand to lose a tiny bit of their wealth if the right thing were to be done. As we can all plainly see, this is certainly not the best way to make policy, yet we continue to do it in spite of the inherent flaws.

Saturday, April 5, 2014

Ready To Dig In The Dirt

This winter, in my part of the world was noteworthy because four separate times, the Polar Vortex was broken up and arctic air didn't just blast through in a day or three like it normally does, the arctic air stayed for more than a week at a time. We had many weeks where the temperatures here were lower than those in Barrow, Alaska. The first time we experienced it, the sun was not to rise in Barrow for nearly two weeks, but we were colder. We had the awesome Al Roker went after the climate change deniers who claimed that the Polar Vortex was part of a left-wing conspiracy with his discussion about it on Good Morning America. The length and depth of our winter was the worst I have experienced in fifty years, but on the whole, the planet was warmer than ever. For some, this just will not make sense, but the fact remains. Just because the whole planet is warmer, it may have areas that are experiencing record cold, record snow and record rainfall simultaneously. Climate change is as real. more records will be broken and they will be more and more disruptive, we will need to get used to it. Extreme conditions in every measurable parameter are the new normal.

I have a cool tool that allows me to make paper pots for potting soil. It has been out and being used for days now, creating little containers for soil.  It is designed to use newspaper for the container so that it can decompose easily when put into the earth (soil). The brand name on the product is PotMaker. I think it dates back to the nineteen seventies or earlier.
I have used this system before and the only drawback that I can find is if the pots are anything less than full, they are a bit too broad for their depth. This could be less of a problem if the form was a bit narrowerAnother tip, drill (bore) an air channel through the center of the cylinder that the paper wraps around. This will relieve air pressure behind the paper planting cell as you pull it off the form. For trees, let the paper run taller. Another tip, pre-fold the paper that wraps around past the bottom of the form with tight creases before placing on jig for bottom. The cells that this is designed to make are 2.25" (5.7 cm) diameter. It would be interesting to try 1.75" (4.45 cm) or even 1.25" (3.8 cm). especially for deeply rooted seedlings.

That's enough, I'm going to get the wheelbarrow, the thawed earth and sand that I have been saving, biochar,and some potting mix. I'm getting my hands in soil whether the ground is thawed or not! This technology is proven. No one stands to make a million dollars making these widgets, but our future may depend on things like this. Sustainability requires infinite imagination and elegance of design. Having only two pieces that will virtually never wear out holds infinite possibility. Think outside the box is a way of life. It makes future generations possible, but not only that, it enhances them. Live to create positive change for seven generations. If that doesn't make you humble, nothing will. Namaste'