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

Saturday, May 31, 2014

Why The Black Background?

Well, I find it easier reading, but I have been told that it conserves battery life for device users.

Monday, May 26, 2014

Ward Chuchill-In A Pig's Eye

I received this two CD lecture from a friend. It is not one that is easy to hear. Granted, I knew very well, what I could find out for myself, about the five hundred year history of oppression and resistance that has been played out on this continent as well as the others around the world. He spoke eloquently about a prisoner, currently detained in Federal Prison, Leonard Peltier. On the Pine Ridge Reservation, June 26, 1976 a pair of conflicting lines were crossed, which bring us to a point of reference that overshadows anything we can say about them. Nearly five hundred years before, a lost man washed ashore completely ignorant of where he was and is known by history as the Great Navigator. The dominant (settler) society absconded with virtually all the continent, leaving native people a mere 50 million acres (about 25 acres per capita) Upon these acres, 2/3 of the nation's uranium deposits lie, 25% of the low-sulpher coal, 20% of the oil and natural gas, bauxite ore, copper, iron ore, industrial grade diamonds timber, 50% of the salmon harvest and water rights exist. On paper, the "value" of these resources, which the oppressors deem to be of a very real value, would make all native people very wealthy. However, the plenary relationship between the U. S. Government and the native people assures that they will never be remunerated adequately for their use.

I could go on and on about the injustices that native people continue to suffer. Let it be said that I will not stand for the government continuing to practice genocide against native people of these lands. The extraction and burdens of ecological catastrophe must stop.
For an introduction to or information on creating Council Of All Beings workshop, please contact Tony C. Saladino c/o ECO-Tours at or use snail mail by sending contact info. to ECO-Yours of Wisconsin Inc. at 1445 Porlier Street Green Bay, WI 54301-3334 USA This artwork generously provided by Beehive Collective and this tiny fragment is but a miniscule part of a much larger work. it is part of the creative commons.

Much wisdom resides in tribal culture. Many features of the most advanced societies ever formed were of native tribes and bands. Far from "primitive" the more we understand, the more we find them to be amazing architects, engineers, designers, scientists and artists whose work would be as relevant today as it was thousands of years ago. It has only been in the last nanosecond, relative to geologic time, that we have developed everything since white men stepped ashore in the Caribbean, the lines that carve up our sacred Mother Earth. The concept of "right to own" discreet parts of the beating breast of Mother Earth, these are all fallacies foisted upon us by relatively recent ideas. The truth about Mother Earth is that we do not own her, at best, she owns us. We learn her rhythms and work at her pace. The seasons change and the same rituals play out year to year and on forever. We listen with our hearts as well as our ears and nature speaks our words, calling us back to pray, to sing and to dance to the beat of ancient drums and patterns. Developing this pattern language facilitates a great leap in both our abilities and our effectiveness.

Living by the seasons and recognizing unique attributes of our discreet microclimates will have to occur as the costs of transportation continue to increase. Native people the world around share the understanding that the Mother Earth is sacred. It is well beyond high time that we all take that seriously. Utilizing carbon in newly "rediscovered" old ways is our only hope. I have put several hundered pounds ofcarbon into my soils and the results are nearly unbelieveable, until one realizes that in each handful, there are fourteen acres of surface area! This may seem far afield from Ward Churchill, but it really is not. The most revolutionary act that we can partake of is to change the paradigm. Instead of consuming the lies, deceit and repercussions of the corporate welfare whores in our nations, we need to stand as a worldwide tribe of people who refuse to allow our nations to be squandered for short term gains that are doled out to the oligarchs, the corporate elites who criss-cross the skies with their own fleets of jetliners, all underwritten by easy tax law and subsidized fuel.

We the people need to reassert our control over any government that has run hopelessly amok. In the new paradigm, there will be massive prisoner releases in my country, for all non-violent drug offenders, legalization of all plants, funding for schools and education and far less waste fraud and abuse because corporate criminals will be held to account for their recklessness, rather than placated with ever more comfortable regulations. We need a leadership class of diplomats who know how to speak truth and not knuckle under to expediency for the 1% nor their threats. Many of the current recipients of our tax dollars do not deserve them and lying to cover their tracks is a form of treason. It is hurting not only our country, but the planet!

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Yesterday's Tour

I am one of the first to become frustrated by the day after stories that often get on the news. The day after a concert, protest or rally is the worst time to learn about it. On the other hand, when an event is so interesting, spectacular or memorable that people just have to talk about it, there is some solace in knowing that it took place. With luck and a bit of imagination, one can see just far enough into the past to come away with a sense of what went on and what it must have been like. To set the stage for this story, you have to understand a few things. First, I had a major root ball with some new growth, but the main trunks of this plant had been cut down a few weeks ago. There are probable around thirty new shoots coming out of a root ball bigger than I could lift. You see, this particular plant is an elderberry and it had grown too big for the part of the garden it was in.

This is one of the funny things about permaculture...It has the prefix perma, even though everything changes with time. A few years ago, when this plant was put in my garden, we had just a few beds and the area was not fenced, so having a large plant that helped to define the back edge of my yard was necessary. Our production of vegetables was perhaps modest at best and the elderberries that were produced were an important part of our winter diet. Several things have changed since then. We have 100% access to the yard across the street, where our rental is, the elderberries over there are coming into their own (reaching full production) so we don't need the big one in our yard as much. We continue to build raised beds and add plants, other fruit trees, grapes and asparagus and the shade produced by the ten by ten by ten (3X3X3m) elderberry was starting to cast shade over plants that will produce even more food for us. As the garden grows, the space available for a large plant shrinks and from the start, we were only going to provide a nursery for this plant, using it as a source of clones and smaller babies that we have been planting out for several generations.

So, to remove this relative giant, I set to work as soon as the ground had dried out enough to shovel. First I cut a ring about two feet away from the trunks. We continued to pot up babies that were scattered around the main plant. Finally, when I had dug well below the deepest roots, the prying began. I would lever the root ball up, at first by tiny bits, then by inches at a time, blocking it up with other boards as I went. When I got it clear of the earth, I kept using long levers to raise it to the height of our wagon. The wagon alone is a microcosmic story about how we do things around here. The parts for it are salvaged from a junk pile and the plywood top that forms a flat bed and holds the wheel units together is painted with chalkboard paint so that it can be used in the field as a teaching tool. Not only has something dubbed waste gained new life through our program, but the utility has been enhanced by giving the tool more than one purpose.

This event needed to have especially powerful ritual associated with it, because part of the event was to welcome our first apprentice healer and guide. A few weeks ago, I met a young lady who was seeking knowledge about herbs and healing using natural remedies. As part of her training, I though it would be important to the process for her to understand the elderberry straight away. Developing relationships with members of the plant kingdom is the best way I know to understand the healing powers and traits that these important friends share with us. In my work guiding ECO-Tours, I often speak for the plant kingdom anyway, but as an herbalist, I often find myself trying to let the herbs express themselves by providing what they have to offer the human community. One of the challenges for me in sharing the knowledge that I have of herbs, and staying healthy using them exclusively, is to try to explain that we have a birthright to an open dialog with members of other species and phyla. Broadening the scope of our understanding of the world around us often requires stepping back, looking around and trying to create new mental maps to help us navigate new terrain. A rite of passage can help make a break from the past and begin anew with a more or less clean slate. This plant in did triple duty as a class (it included an herb walk as well), a nurturing event at a sacred space, and a way to bond inexplicably with a very important species in the herbal apothecary.

Because of uneven terrain, we were a bit limited in our choices for planting sites, but just off the trail a few hundred yards from the vehicle, we found a great spot. The blossoms and fruits will be close enough to the trail to be of use to folks walking there but not too close to the trail as to become an eye poke hazard. The elderberry likes moisture and will get enough where we put it and the shade will help cool and slow the water coming in from an unnamed rivulet that feeds the creek after tumbling down the side of a steep ravine. This, in turn, should lead to less erosion and a more stable rim along the edge of the ravine.

The weather was perfect. Other than a few very high cirrus clouds, it was clear. The temperature was wonderful, just warm enough that while working we would not overheat, but still cold enough that there were no bugs. The soil was perfectly moist, easy to dig and dry enough to not get mushy or gooey. We were planting into pretty heavy clay, but in our efforts we were able to mix in some richer topsoil from the hole we dug and aerate the area around the plant. After a good watering in, we stepped back and appreciated the magnitude of our efforts with great satisfaction. After just a few hours, not only had we transformed the possibilities for a little part of the planet, but we had begun a process of changing the way we relate to that part of it forever. We met a few great people who feel invested in our process and took another hopeful step toward a sustainable future. This particular tour has several interesting aspects. It is the largest root ball we have ever moved to a distant location (we took this one about ten miles) (16 km) It helps to stem the flow of one of the highest elevation tributaries that we have been reforesting (creating the one of the largest downstream benefit zones) This site has one of the highest populations of humans downstream and the entire area that is being reforested around this site has some of the most highly erodible soils in our county which, in turn, has the highest potential for helping to keep streams clear and silt free.

We will continue to plant this area, albeit with smaller elderberries, other trees and seedlings. We also got our second canoe painted and ready to be included in future ECO-Tours. Book yours today! We are moving into our busiest season, but are still booking tours for those that will be coming through Northeast Wisconsin this summer. We always graciously accept donations through either our Paypal account. (You can use our e-mail address as our account number: If you prefer to send a check by snail mail, avoiding the Paypal charges, we are located at 1445 Porlier Street Green Bay, WI 54301-3334. If you need to call directly, for info. or booking your ECO-Tour you can reach our land line at area code nine2zero-double eight 4-triple two 4.
This shows our burgeoning garden before we added an espallier apple tree, several blueberries and two aronia bushes.

Blessed Be and Namaste'.

Monday, May 19, 2014

Spring 2014

We have had several developments this Spring that will increase our exposure, impact and membership that were beyond our imagination just a few short moons ago. In the depths of Winter, we were still trying to come up with fund-raising ideas to buy broadforks. Because the land we rehabilitate has often been compacted so thoroughly, getting air and water to penetrate deeply enough to be of use to soil organisms can be difficult. The broadfork is the single most effective tool at opening up soils to these important life giving substances. Just in the past moon or so, we have had offers of radio advertizing, a You tube commercial (which will be finished soon) and we have had several ECO-Tourists show up and ask to be included on our plant-ins. The message that we have been putting out in the world for over a decade is beginning to resonate for people who are exposed to information daily that reminds them of the need to do the best they can with what they've got, to live more lightly on the planet and to enhance their community for the good of all of us rather than ripping and tearing at the planet we call home.

One donor has come forward who is offering substantial quarterly donations for the next couple years and with their support, we will be able to reforest several dozen acres. Now, the difficult tasks remain, to find the best places for seedlings, places that will need soil remediation first and critical staging areas for our volunteers to meet and greet, have our lunches and distribute tools and water. The process has slowed because of limited funds, but we have been running skeleton crews for years, this larger donation will allow us to increase both our effectiveness and scope of our next several dozen ECO-Tour events.

Also this Spring, a generous donor has supplied a video projector which will enable us to share information more effectively to larger groups. Much like the Beehive Collective, our work is far more difficult to explain than is is to get done. There is a continuing groundswell of public support for doing the right things, but sharing the millions of tiny interactions and billions of discreet stories that lead to an ecology of mind can be difficult.

At the beginning of this moon, our director participated in the Green Bay Garden Blitz. This event lasted an entire weekend and we put in 111 (one hundred and eleven) 4 X 8 foot (1.3 X 2.6m) raised beds, and filling them with soil. Even though this effort only increased the number of gardens available for local residents by a tiny fraction of an acre, the beds are situated where people can grow their own food close to home. It was amazing to see hundreds of volunteers coming together for one purpose and these people will make great contacts for making future ECO-Tours possible, just by helping us to find participants, ECO-Tourists and folks who are interested in long term sustainability.

We have been spreading the volunteer elderberries, black and red raspberries and many dozen more cup plant seedlings as well as many hundreds more milkweed seeds in areas that will help wildlife to make their way. We have also created many more brush piles so that cover is available for creatures that might otherwise make easy prey. We have also been experimenting with biochar more and more, adding it to garden beds as well as areas that will later be planted with trees. This miracle substance was well-known to many "primitive" cultures, but because it can be made anywhere by anyone for a few pennies per quart, the mega-ag corporations that guide our current agricultural direction have not been interested in it. In speaking to South and Central Americans, Hmong people and other Asians, I have found that the tribal societies, wherever they have come from are quite familiar with using biochar, terra preta, or what is more commonly known as carbon as an amendment to soil. The problem that we are experiencing with these cultures is that many of the gardeners that come to America feel the need to assimilate and therefore they seek the "modern" ways of practicing their agriculture that we have in abundance here which poison the soil, kill off beneficial organisms and sterilize the soil ecosystem.

We will be offering to mentor new gardeners as well as continuing our tree planting efforts, this way we can bridge the gap between our own backyards and the neighborhoods that we find ourselves within.