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

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@, 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 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.