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

Friday, December 31, 2021

ECO-Tours State of Mind

Being in nature only requires us to understand that the microbiome that inhabits us, reflects our diet and health as well as our environment. Thinking about our living organism is also an exploration of nature. Sometimes, all that is required to take an impromptu ECO-Tour is to jump time, or become unstuck in time. Contemplate the source of the calcium in our bones, or the electrolytes required to fire our nerves. Think about the water we drink, where it came from and where it will ultimately end up. If it is time to sleep, where the fabrics that make our bed came from, how they began life and how they will meet their ultimate demise. The effects of our home heating systems, or the waste we generate from cooking all present us with opportunities to re-think or deeply investigate the hows and whys that guide us to the ecological decisions we make.
There are many ways to gain entre' into the state of our ecological thinking like asking, "Have you ever washed a plastic fork?" or "Do you know what can be recycled in your area?" Or even something as mundane as "How far do you commute?" We could develop a twenty questions about ecological factors for many daily activities and attempt to answer them without even leaving our house, perhaps even our bed on a cold and dreary autumn day that even ducks don't seem to fancy could be an opportunity to take an ECO-Tour of the Mind. Here is a cursory attempt at twenty questions that can help guide any ECO-Tour. Animal, vegetable or mineral? Has it been named? Has it been claimed? Has it been shamed? Has it been tamed? What is the resource? Is it finite? Is it essential? What are the opportunity costs to procure it? What are the legacy costs of procuring it? How will the community be altered? How long will the alteration last? Is this a local phenomenon? Is this a temporal phenomenon? Is it a spiritual phenomenon? What relationships underly it? Can we fix it? Can we repair it? Can we make do? Can we do without? Answering these twenty questions about any ingredient, aspect or part of our lives, indeed, any attitude or belief, no matter how insignificant it may seem can lead to a profound level of understanding not only of the environment but of how we either fit into it or are estranged from it. By answering these questions, it gets us in touch with the depth and commitment of our life energy to our surroundings. This is every bit as profound as taking a test to find out your carbon footprint. Knowing what to do to change things is easy, once you see and understand that there really is a need to. This taking stock of any part of our lives will reflect on other aspects of our lives. How we value things and experiences ultimately creates us, as much as what we eat or drink does. The ECO-Tours state of mind can be had easily, anywhere, by anyone. Why then would people want to book an ECO-Tour with one of our Guides? Because we are trained to take the various routes that come back to the same place, answering the question, How can we appropriately give back to Mother Nature? One cannot be sure what steps are best until you begin to understand the complex interaction between and among members of the native world, the soil microbiome, the grasses and forbs, insect and bird life, mammals and predators. Seeing forests or trees may not be the lesson of the day, perhaps investigating the air that exists between and among them is more important. As with our one square foot ECO-Tour, we can use our minds in a variety of ways to produce thoguht experiments that have the power to teach and inform us long beyond the time it took to see things a different way. We wish everyone the luxury needed to slow down look and think critically and we honor the conclusions you may find when you allow yourself to see into this often forgotten world we all share.

Thursday, December 23, 2021

What The Actual F?

These words first graced our paper currency in 1957. Soon, there will be no one left alive who remembers, but it is a relatively new thing to put on our currency. As far back as 1864 those words were first put on the back of pennies, but that was near the end of the Civil War. Americans ofthe United States would have appealed to anyone at that point, they were getting completely demoralized. Except for the tiny cadre of weapons producers and war profiteers. The racist rebels had fought long and hard and victory was not clearly on the horizon. It is long past time to take those words off again. Time to go back to our more rational roots. The only thing that fuels the religious is that it is impossible to prove a negative, so they exist on the margin of possibility, repeating the mantra "So, you're saying there is still a chance."
The fastest growing group when people are asked about religion, are the "none"s. Very soon, non-believers will again outnumber those who accept that there is a supernatural being guiding events, or who has set the multiverse in motion. It is astounding to say the least that we forget that freedom of religion also equates to freedom from religion. We can change our culture in just a genration, back when the Civil War was ending, we let people think that the moral side of the fight would win out, as if god would help the righteous to vanquish the evil. The truth was much more difficult to understand. The industrialized North with it's diverse economy, transit links and voting population eventually wore down the South because even though they would never give up, they eventually ran out of resources to bring to bear on the conflict. Morality and any religious aspects had nothnig to do with the events as they played out. In the environment they faced, it was easy enough to believe that a divine being had intervened. In those days, people still used patent "medicine" which was most likely morphine and alcohol. They imagined their food to be healthful when the truth was more like what you can read in the book, "The Jungle". Trusting without question was literally killing people left and right. The imaginative people of the day had seen dozens, perhaps hundreds of posters designed to get young men to enlist that showed the Spirit of America, a beautiful angelic creature ushering young men to service, and believing angels followed your kin into battle made war4 seem less dangerous to be sure. This could be part of the imaginary mental landscape that says that prayer exists in every foxhole, on every battlefield, in every classroom on the day of the big test. The people I know who have survived battles or in fact did well on tests, had no time to pray. The ratcheting up of God, onto the penny, then on to other bills and coins, made a fantastical being into a motto, it was not done for the good of our country, but to codify religion in a group of mostly non-religious people. Who has not heard the term, C and E X-tians? Those who show up to church two days each year Christmas and Easter, but who spend the other 363.25 days each year being onn-religious folks who refused to believe that they were in th eminority. Religious "belief" actually turned into a sort of litmus test used to "prove" that you were not a godless communist. I laugh, but only to keep myself from crying. The irony is that when the marginally religious answer surveys, they often claim themselves as in the club, even though they are effectively paying no dues. Church is about community, but they don't know that because they don't show up.
Especially the later changes that were made during the Cold War, were a re-hash of earlier sentiments, that there is a moral difference between us and the "godless" heathens of Soviet-era Russia. Interestingly, the same beliefs that were exploited at the end of the Civil War took hold of our collective imagination and tainted our memory. This inculcation continues to this day and no matter how often the slogans are repeated, it will not make them right.
Hundreds of millions of us believe in people, education, science and humanity generally, not the imaginary, folkloric idols of the past, vague whisps, spirits and imaginary rulers over mankind and nature. John Lennon was actually telling the truth when he said that the Beatles are more popular than religion. It isn't even worth creating such a being because we have too much to do with things we can see, tpouch, hold, prove and love. Making up an all powerful being only frustrates our own efforts and abilities, wasting valuable time and I dare say, money. I along with other enlightened beings around the planet work to re-create a more ancient, wholistic approach, presenting a series of tools and classes to teach about the things we know and can see and prove, like the fact that people working together are much more efficient and capable than if they all worked in isolation. We can easily see the value of others if we know how to look. When we learn to give back, and truly appreciate one another, there is less reason to need an all-powerful being to keep people honest and treating one another fairly. In my estimation, when people have the opportunity to be integrated into a community that appreciates them, it only enhances their ability to serve and give back themselves. Many shun interaction with a cadre of like-minded folks because they feel insecure in their beliefs, or ashamed of their behaviors or their imagined capacities. What we need most right now is people affirming and mixing their strenths with those of their neighbors and helping to fill gaps fo rpeople who have, for so long existed alone, or without family. The Lone Ranger and/or Rugged Individualist images need to be erased from our cultural memory for the sake of every one of us. A mythology of mutualism, just like we see reflected in nature all around us, is necessary if we are to survive the 6th extinction. Some people do not know how to value or respect the work of others and often even lack the ability to value their own efforts. Many only know how to take; we need to identify those folks as early as possible, find ways to teach them the error of their ways, teach them by example what compassion is and what the give back or give-away look like as well as why threy are rewarding. Creating the world we want often requires us to identify what we really want. Once we know what that is, we can learn the ways to get there, but the biggest challenge remains, getting past the fictional characters and owning the responsibility for the seeds we sow. Benjamin franklin suggested the motto: Mind Your Own Business should be on our money, I think that would be far superior motto.

Wednesday, December 15, 2021

Thirty Days

As the old saying goes, 30 days has September, April, June and November...All the rest have thirty-one, except, well, you know, February which can't make up it's mind on how many days to have, 28, 29 sometimes. I guess for accounting's sake they say 30 1/2 days make the "average" month. Since a moon cycle is about 28, I often wonder if february almost got things right. In spite of the vagaries, I'm just looking back now, about a month. Between Mid-Nov. and now, these last thirty days have had me as crew for two Broadway shows, Several other national touring shows and I got to lead a biochar class at Lily Spring Farms a not-for-profit organization out near Minneapolis. The tour of their facility was great and they were warm, welcoming and accomodating beyond all measure. We made char in the morning and into early afternoon, about 900-1000 pounds in all and they will be making more throughout the witner months, then in Spring, I'll travel back out and do a two-day event focused on preparing the char to support the microbiome! These events have all taken place overlayed or embedded in a constant search for property and a house. Due to covid and climate destabilization, our location has changed into a space too small to officially be a home base. Charmaking materials and equipment are in several locations strewn across half the county, getting the things I need in one place is easy, because the back seat and trunk of my car hold all the charmaking essentials. Those things combined with a laptop and I can cover charmaking 101 anywhere I can drive. Since the start of covid, I have taught many times more people how to make biochar online but that's another story. The past month, We finally did a few more placards to help discuss the carbon cycle and the relative sizes of soil microbial communities. We also reached out to both CWAC (Clean Water Action Council) and CCL (Citizen's Climate Lobby) developing more community involvement. There has also been th eslow unfolding trauma of losing a loved-one to covid. My cousin Scott passed from it after a month of hospitalization. This was a man who was happier than I had ever seen him the last we met. In the same thirty days, our state, Wisconsin saw people on th enews championing how our covid rates had dropped to less than half what they had been just a few weeks earlier, but over these brief four weeks or so, we are experiencing new covid infection rates higher than ever. It seems that every time people breathe a sigh of relief and try going back to "normal" the virus remains anxious to continue expoliting the resource we provide, a warm, moist Petri dish in which to grow, replicate, mutate and slough, adapting better and better ways to spread and latch on. I won't say there were no dark times this month, because there most definitely were. Because Scott's brother also passed away during covid, I have lost two very close relatives just these past two extraordinary years. Losing Bradley, Scott's brother was horrible enough, not being able to even have a funeral or service still affects me. Now, another person whose diapers I changed has passed and I can't help saying I would not wish these feelings on anyone. My aunt has now survived her two oldest sons. We are bereft. Wherever our facility lands, we will create a memorial to these two amazing individuals. One, who coined the term "puppyducks" upon seeing ducklings for the first time and the other who came to realize not only his own deeper nature, but that of all out human and non-human relatives when he went to South Dakota to shar ehis skills as a Water Protector. We will tell their stories long into the night, around campfires not yet kindled. As we all remain, affected by covid protocols and growing awarenewss that it really is now or never, we either stop covid-19 or it becomes endemic. The reinforcement of that consciousness weighs heavily on those of us who understand and paid attention in biology when viruses were covered. That too is requiring a death of parts of us many never knew existed. fortunately we as a species have learne dot adapt to new conditions before, it surely isn't the first time we have had to change and it certainly won't be the last. I challenge everyone who reads this to spend thirty days doing as much as you cna for others, reaching out to your community, perhaps a group or organization or two and to spend some time reflecting on what you want to build for the future. Our school is getting closer every day, we still have not found the exact place, but we are getting closer and colser to finding a palce we can bring all of our resources back together into a functyioning school or at least a home base for classes. They may have to be outdoor and reaaonable socially distanced, but in-person classes hosted on site will be a large part of our continuing work.

Tuesday, December 7, 2021

Helpful Composting Information.

Many people have heard the recipe for compost; 1/3 fresh green waste, 1/3 dry brown waste and 1/3 food waste sprinkled with a handful of healthy soil, about one handful of soil for every shovel full of waste. Nearly everyone has heard that you need to water your compost from time to time as well, keeping it about as wet as a wrung out sponge. Most people also recommend turning the pile several times over about 90 days, to spread biological activity (diversity)throughout the pile and aerate it as well, which aids breakdown. Yes, yes, I know that most people don't like to turn the piles and I get it. however, that is the best way to make the compost work quickly and to yield the most uniform finished product possible. What I want to focus on in this post is the two other considerations that you need to take into account for higher level processing, making boutique compost and creating the best compost for your purposes. These involve the Carbon Nitrogen Ratio, which halps the compost to break down quickly, but also the Fungal:Bacterial Ratio which has more to do with how developed your soils are, or the type of plant life that you want to enrich your soil with using that compost. The right compost changes based on what sorts of plantas you are growing. In light of the fact that all composts are not created equal, this is to help suss out what is important for your specific applications and management goals. I urge some of the same considereations be made when maturing char nito biochar, but even for compost it is worth paying attention to these easily overlooked aspects of compost.
First, we will deal with producing compost, generally: transforming waste into black gold, this requires understanding carbon to nitrogen ratios. If you mix up a compost pile that has too much carbon, it slows the composting process. Too much nitrogen and you end up with a stinky pile. Wood chips 400:1 Cardboard (shredded) 350:1 Saw Dust 325:1 Newspaper (shredded) 175:1 Pine Needles 80:1 Straw and Corn Stalks 75:1 Leaves 60:1 Peanut Shells and Fruit Wastes 35:1 Then, we get into the range of what composts most easily, right between the magical range from about 25 to 30 to one ratio. (Carbon:Nitrogen)Things like: Weeds and Garden Waste 30:1 Wood Ashes, Vegetable Scraps and Hay 25:1 Beyond that we get into the stuff that needs more Carbon to compost well, like Clover 23:1 Coffee Grounds, Food Waste and Grass Clippings 20:1 Seaweed 19:1 Manures 15:1 Alfalfa 12:1 Human Feces and Urine 8:1 Before you get offended or upset, the U.S. of A. Federal rules for application of human urine to cropland is six months between application and harvest for human consumption and a full year between application and harvest for human fecal matter. It also allows the material to be composted for those same lengths of time prior to application and then no specified period between application and harvest is required. Gettign the ratio right makes th eentire process go faster and with less smell. It is worth figuring out exactly what you are putting in, so you can get the best results, the most and the greaest functionality from what you get, so keep these concentrations in mind when mixing up your specific compost bin or pile. Secondly, soils go through a life span as well, pay attention to where the soils you have are in their development, and where you want them to go. This part of the development of specific composts rests on wher ethey will be used. If you only have microbial crusts and lichen, that is the earliest phase of soil generation. Areas that ar elike that can't just fast forward to garden soil overnight, it will require several years or more of development. You can only push nature sofar, so fast. These proto soils cannot offer anything fungal hyphae might want and there are some microbes that exude anti-fungal substances, so even if you introduced them, they would die out. If you can only grow pioneer weeds, the probable fungal-bacterial ratio is around 0.1 to 0.3 to one. When Early-successional grasses come in, that increases to 0.3 to 0.6 to one. Mid-successional grasses indicate 0.7 to 0.85 to one and Late-sucessional grasses row crops and vegetables thrive on soils with 0.9 to 1.5 to one ratios. Shrubs, vines and native prairie typically range from 2-15 to one. Deciduous Forest typically weighs in at 5-50 to one. Conifer Old-Growth Forest ranges 50-100 to one with not only rich, but diverse communities of fungi and virtually no bacteria. So, what does that mean where the rubber hits the road? Your farm, acreage or own back yard? If you ar emaking compost for the deep dark recesses of a forest preserve, you would make sure to have fungal spores from diverse communities included in the mix. You might do the same for makign compost that was to be used in a mature deciduous forest. Even if you are managing for a vineard or parairie restoration, you would probably want to be sure to add substantial fungal representatives within your compost mix. When the compost is for vegetable beds or rows, you may get plenty of fungal spores from the air itself, another reason to turn the pile periodically and protect the compost from the sun with mulch immediately after it is applied.

Tuesday, November 23, 2021

Monetizing Good Sense.

Be forewarned, you will be asked for money before this post is over.
In the realm of ideas, we have been witnessing the bullies getting all the cash, all the attention, all the press, even though they are an extreme minority we let them guide not only public discussions, sometimes the very definition of terms we use to speak but they also guide our policies as well. I have noticed that in all my days, the bullies have invariably been wrong, about everything. From the "importance of sport", to the equating the stock market and the economy. From the dog-eat-dog world they theorize to the competition for scarce resources. they all stem from a lack of awareness about physical reality and what actually exists. The vast majority of people I meet are co-operative, curious, compassionate and are, generally speaking, trying to make the world better or at least they hope to not make it worse. In fact, many have a deep and sometimes unexpressed self-loathing because they know our systems are prearranged to make some forms of harm unavoidable. Think, for instance of the number of times you have felt a pang of guilt or regret when you realize you left the water running, or let it continue running as you watched it run down the drain for no reason. Perhaps you are one of many hundreds of millions who would want to carpool if you knew a co-worker or co-shopper who lived along your route to the store or work. Maybe you're one of the people who never washes clothes unless the washer is at maximum capacity,perhaps you ar eone who still line dries clothes or who hangs shirts out in the yard to wear a second or third day. Whatever your ecological awareness leads you to do or to "know" about has interesting ramifications, if/when you are willing to learn. This message may seem far from the talk of bullies, but they are right here, in the blind spot of our discussion. So much is it the rule that bullies are the oddities, we often stand dumbfounded when they spout their strange ideas. In essence yeilding the floor to them because their ignorance and blindness. What we know to be true, is so far from their reality that they seem to be coming from a distant planet, so we stare in utter disbelief blinking and questioning, "Did they really say that?" The vast majority don't even want to call people out for stupid comments or the expression of misogyny, racist hate or anti-whatever-the-case-may-be. Inhumanity. It is obscene. Flat-out, unquestionably loathesome, but we stand there, with our mouths hanging open, wondering where to start.
I have often wondered how many steps back we would have to go to help educate and inform someone who already thinks they know it all about one person or another based solely on their sex (or how they express it) their creed or color, yet it happens. Usually we given it some quarter, regrettably. This is how a tiny percent of the population can have out-sized voice and control over our culture. Remeber, they already know that they are right. (Otherwise they wouldn't say it.) We even tell them that they ar e"right" with terms like we use in The U.S. of America, right-wing, conservative...terms that sound authentic and which reflect being right and good. There was a time not that long ago, when Democrats, or the "left-leaning" party, made room for the racists in their tent. I get it, thinking the balance is so precarious that you hav eto enlist the fringe to get your way... My grandmother was a staunch Democrat who left the party when the Southern Democrats (racists) made their play for power back in their heyday. Again, regrettably, there are still a few of those racists among various "liberal" causes. We need to turn the corner on bullies, call out their "Competition is god" mentality and remind them that human beings, like the rest of nature are stronger and have a higher quality of life when we work together insted of estranging over half the population, as misogyny does, or demonizing and or isolating ourselves from other groups. Most anyone with a lick of sense will agree, every human being loves their children the way we do. Every love, no matter how you think it is being "expressed" is not an attack or reflection on you. None at all. All moral objections you may have about what others do in the privacy of their own bedrooms, closets or kitchens for that matter are none of your business and fall flat when yo urelize that your judgements ar etearing a tthe fabric of humanity. Demeaning others, de-moralizing them and/or trying to shame them is not adaptive in any way, it burdens not only the person being bullied, but our entire human race. This is where the rubber hits the road my friends, I am calling everyone to expect the unexpected, when you least expect to be burdened by bullies, be ready, perhaps even practice what you will say the next time you hear a blithering idiot trying to tear down someone else with their harmful rhetoric, their blatant disregard for the truth and prejudicial statements. Or just practice saying, "This is where it stops." That will give you time to collect your thoughts and decide what the best words are to say, "No, you are out of bounds." and "This is why." Peace Warriors is the rough translation of shanti sena, a term used by the Rainbow Family of light and Love to describe our common responsibility. A concept that is rarely taught but essential to living without the yoke of capitalistic dogma that servitude is righteous is to know that we cannot have true freedom without ultimately paying the price of responsibility. If you cannont bear the costs of your own behavior, you certainly should not be allowed to foist your shortcomings on others! Surely, we can all agree with that! Finally, our group, ECO-Tours of Wisconsin, Inc. works constantly to bring about awareness regarding the give-back, otherwise known as the give-away. Reciprocation. Just this week, we shared a resource of our organization with another not-for-profit that will be able to sequester several, perhaps many tons of carbon in their soils using the equipment. The people involved with that non-profit are working to bring a heavily impacted, eighty-acre parcel back to health and although it is just a tiny place in the middle of other severely impacted areas, it will be an outdoor school, working to re-train humans to be part of, not estranged from, nature and the natural world around them. Thousands of people are starting new ventures that honor the Earth and her people, the creatures we share the land with and the natural cycles of energy, water, carbon and nutrients. None of them came to that awareness because they listened to bullies. They did it because of what they learned is actually true, not someone's opinon. I have done everything in my power to keep this site from falling behind a paywall, but it does cost something to put these posts together. I pay nearly constant attention and it takes time to clarify my thoughts on these issues. I'm a slow typist so it takes time to translate my ideas to words and getting the money to purcase an occasional new piece of equipment or upgrade/continue internet services all cost money, so this is the blatant pandering for money that I try to avoid. Checks and cash can be sent directly to ECO-Tours of Wisconsin, Inc. at 522 Acreview Drive, De Pere, Wisconsin 54115, our temporary home until we find our post-covid place. You can send contributions directly to paypal using my e-mail address, which is also our account number for You can send contributions directly to the gofundme page, where we are raising money to purchase land to create our own outdoor school, or you can send directly to our ECO-Tours of Wisconsin, Inc. account at Capital Credit Union using Zelle. We can make the change we want to see in the world, we have both the right and the responsibility to make it happen.

Monday, November 15, 2021

Upcoming Class Near MPLS

Next week, we will be having a day-long biochar class. It will be held near Osceola, about an hour Northeast of Minneapolis. I can be reached for more information, by e-mail at: Contact me to reserve tickets.

Monday, November 8, 2021

DE-stabilization of Servoglobe

Since WWII, there has been a proliferation of Western thinking dominating and colonizing the planet. The idea that Plato and Socrates were special, or that the apex of human intellectual activity was centered around people whom they believe looked quite a bit like themselves. We have sold the human race short if we do not honor the fact that the great figures we tease out of history are only able to be pretty much like us, for other parts of the planet were not even "discovered" in their time. Intact human cultures with great schools and scientific enquiry had been established even before those greats, but they were from other races and places. The edge of the known world even today is amorphous, changing based on who is telling the stories. Our culture is based on a finite, shared knowlege and what had become a variety of distinct, culturally unique and relatively stable sub systems. In days of old, since vast regions and cultures could exist far beyond the edge of the "known world", it became easy to be self-absorbed and functionally fixed in our specific and unique pattern language, our definitions and our own understandings, shaping our perceptions. A person of five hundred, or fifteen hundred might not even be able to conceive of people from Asia, Africa or the Americas, but in each of those locations, great thinkers were present, ancient engineers with a gifts for their necessary science. For a sobering insight into world knowledge, study the early libraries and what happened to them. Our archaeological history is replete with astronomic and geographic awareness beyond what modern humans typically even imagine. Exacting scientific awareness brought to the ancients by trial and error, asking rigorous questions, making hundreds, even thousands of experiments and observations, appreciating the results of multiple trials. Apart from publishing their results, pretty much all the styeps involvedin our refuined science to this day. We now know that at least nine thousand years ago, people were making anthropogenic soil from virtually pure carbon, made pretty much the same way charcoal is made today. The process is still fascinating to modern humans even though we have lost much of our daily contact with fire, it still stirs our primal spirit. Why wouldn't the ancients thrill to a fire the same way we do in 2021 or two or ten...? There really is not better symbbol for the cleansing, re-birth possible when all that stored energy gets thrown off in a raging inferno! The Westrnization of thought has taken us all the way to confronting the very limits of the planet. Our atmosphere, drenched as it is with carbon dioxide is the direct result of linear thinking and exploitation of all resources with little regard for the cause and effect relationships between our actions and what they unleash on the world around us. The concept of Servoglobe is not new, like the "Twittering Machine" of Pual Klee, our fragile, and broadly applied systems have been contrived in the idyllic world of Autocad and Newtonian Physics. Disneylandesque flow charts and diagrams in real life trying to standardize and mega-size everything, without regard for the planet. What we have not planned for is resource limitations, the end of fossil energy and continuing and prolonged disruption of global trade. The tiny and widely spread gearboxes get ornery when their preferred energy sources are withheld. Much like asking a thoroughbred racehorse to pull a gypsy caravan over a mountain range without food or water, the tools of our daily trades are giving up the ghost without fuel or the throughput that they normally require for daily operation. Even the throwaway workers, have been retiring at record rates. They know life is more about experiences than things. what is life without time to enjoy it? As supply chain impacts continue, there will be continuded loss of functionality, whether it is from large scale truck assembly facilities, not being able to get computer chips, to daycares, elder care facilites and schools that can't get enough food to feed children, students or elders, even down to tire stores and places you would normally get your windshield wipers. None of the things we used to take for granted are for sure in the unique time we are living in. Who really knows what product we will be told is about to be in short supply next, leading to runs and price gouging. Fortunatelty,we can turn our technologically advanced communications system to work bridging gaps and making connections. I know that my ability to teach biochar classes has increased a hundred fold over having to get people to attend in-person classes. Outside the one-size-fits-all approach there exists a large array of systems that co-create, enlist the help of one another, co-operatively own or manage properties and other resources. The more humane, smaller is better groups are often the most efficient and it is with that reality firmly in my sights that I say, we do have the power to step off the fragile and fracturing old-way systems in favor of a new paradigm. That is why ECO-Tours of Wiscosnsin continues to fund-raise for our outdoor school, to have a large enough facility to host class events for dozens of students, possibly hundreds. Our growth has been organic and slowly growing, as most natural things are. This is the qualitative opposite of plopping a franchse store from a national chain in a town. Though our organic growth, we have taught many hundreds, perhaps thousands of people to create biochar. back in th eday, we planted sixty thousand native trees and many tens of thousands of native plants to help stabilize the soils and rebuild a maor natural environment in our wake. The real stability comes when we take these management strategies that value the give back or give away into practice in th ereal world. As we see modern structures failing, it is natural to look to the way we did things before, but we also need to take the valuable tools we have available today and turn them to good uses. That is what we teach on our ECO-Tours.

Saturday, August 21, 2021

Lake Superior Traditional Ways Gathering

Char created, approx. 130 gallons everyone who received char also received instruction on turning it into a forever soil amendment that will enhance the habitat available for the soil microbiome for tens of thousands of years!
This was my process laid out to mimic the timeline. First, on the left, a small retort made from a dog dish and a lid found at St. Vincent DPaul thrift store as well as a cookie tin and self tapping screws. When making char using a retort like this, you need to put your dry woody material inside the tin, secure the lid with three self-tapping screws, then poking a few holes in the top to let the flammable gasses escape. The evidence that you char has finished, is when th egasses stop coming out, to cool, just flip the container upside down, holes down on a relatively flat surface that is fire proof. Between the two retorts for making char is a one ounce chunk of completely pyrolyzed char, propped up on an herbal supplememnt container. For scale, the container is just over four inches (10.16 cm)tall and two inches wide (5.08 cm) on the bottom part The white lid is 2 1/8 inches (5.4 cm)across.The one ounce chunk easily fits inside. Just a handful of char has fourteen acres of surface area, so adding the proper amount of nutrients, minerals and essential life takes time. The next two items can be interchanged, but the best end of the wood to mount the crusher was after the screening step. In fact, they must be interchanged, until it is crushed, it can't really be screened. I heard of an event that took place this weekend, where three and a half tons of char were "danced" down into small particles! That will be some seriously energized material! The crusher in small scale can be a hand crank coffee mill. Larger scale crushers can be made from concrete mixers with a few boulders in them, hammer mills and grain mills are also serviceable. A functional large scale screen can also be made by inserting 1/8 inch (2mm)screen inside a slotted 55 gallon drum, then rolling it on a tarp or over a wheelbarrow. Again, for maximum efficiency and carbon free operation, human powered units count for more carbon storage points than electric ones. Beyond that, of course are the nutrients and minerals. I found an eloquent way of saying succinctly what folks need to know about nutrients and minerals. Add nutrients and minerals that are abundant under your management scheme and cultural practices. That allows each farm to understand the words the way their scale and particular land offers. If you have livestock and manure is available, use it! If you have slaughter operations, or catch a lot of fish, use that waste! As many sources as you can get, added a little at a time. When you can't have the scent of the nutrients disappear after stirring the char for a few days, stop adding, you are approaching stauration! Between the black box and the blue box, is where the longest part of the process takes place, adding microbes and allowing time for their maturation. Think of it like having a pet for about six to ten weeks. During this phase, you need to check on and stir your 3-D black petri dish two to three times every day. At 14 acres (5.6656 ha.)per handful,microbes need many, many generations to populate it.Since most of them are not very mobile, the stirring helps tranfer them surface to surface, so stir them with love and compassion, you don't want to be aggressive and violent about the stirring, but just take some effort to thoroughly mix the material, it really helps get the transfer to take place. If youhave done well, providing a wide varit=ety of nutrients and minerals will enhance the availability of habitable space when the ransfer is complete. Several "tricks" exist for getting good microbial communities. It does not hurt to have them be local either, the stronger the members and local winners of the local microbiome, the stronger your biochar will be. Find the best microbes under compost heaps, elder trees wherever your best soils are, or make a compost tea. Try a little of all three! The blue topped container is the biological "test" that I use to determine whether char is "done" or not. The sides, which I temporarily segregate with a small piece of cardbord, are labelled "WORMY SOIL" and "BIOCHAR" I fill the two sides, then remove the cardboard, loosely cover it overnight in the garage or basement. If the worms can be found on the biochar side the next day, it is ready to be released into the environment. I have had them reject the char and after stirring and keeping th emoisture level perfect, abotu a swet as a wrung out sponge, they deemed it finished! At the very end were a few containers of crushed, charred material that I had for sale, enough to do three to five gallons and a larger one that would be enough for a four by four foot (1.2m X 1.2m) bed. After the burn, the tools were packed up and the buckets were filled with finished char. We also had a few larger volume containers, a couple thirty gallon ones and a twenty gallon one, plus a half dozen containers large enough to hold two grocery bags full each. It was a veritable char fiesta!

Friday, August 6, 2021

Human Ecology

When I first heard about the covid-19 virus, I prepared myself mentally for two to two-and-a-half years of quarantine. Understanding how viruses work and how little people seem to understand the science we have about nature, I knew that this was no short-term problem. A year-and-a-half in and we are finally getting some movement toward a resolution, at least in my country. because I'm inquisitive, I have been reading up a bit on the history of vaccination and how long it has taken to eradicate different illnesses using vaccines. The first disease eradicated through widespread innoculation was small pox, which took 200 years to eradicate. In fact, charles Darwin encouraged people to not get vaccinated because he felt that nature would save some people and that they would "naturally" be immune. The problem is, he didn't understand virology and may have personally doubled the length of time it eventually took to vaccinate enough people to defeat the disease. We have had much better luck with other vaccines. Many of us remember getting regular tetanus shots or the boosters for that. We all lined up to get our polio vaccines, measels, mumps, rubella (MMR) and others. The idea that public health and the lives we could save by getting vaccinated have no value is particularly heinous especially when the same people are ready to jump at the opportunity to say "all lives matter" and every fetus has the "right to life".
If we start from the perspective that claims all lives matter, it follows that we would use scientifically proven methods to protect and defend life, but that's not what right-wing folks believe. We are now seeing the most vehement denial of fact I have seen in my lifetime. About half of the people in my nation don't intend to get vaccinated against covid-19. The fact that the overwhelming majority of deaths are currently in the un-vaccinated population matters not to many who still claim that thei rlies are more important than the facts. I won't list the dozen or so excuses that people are clinging to or muddy the waters with repeating their lies. We have all heard them. I want to point out that just yesterday I heard of a brilliant way to gain compliance from those who refuse to step up and do the right thing. I can't recall what company has done it, but they have developed policy that specifically and explicitly states that if an employee gets vaccinated and later gets covid-19, they will be paid their full salary during their illness and convalescence. Any employee that refuses to ge tthe vaccine that later contracts covid-19, will be fired without receiving any compensation. changing the work environment has led to a massive increase in employees getting vaccinated. It seems that when people are put in an environment where they can clearly see the difference between one course of action and what may result from it and another that has very different possible outcomes, they frequently make the best choices. This is no longer theoretical. Humanity faces a clear and present threat and those people who think they have the right to do what they want, even if it risks all of the rest of us need to be removed from society. We have the right to a safe environment, that's the only way to practice what we preach.

Wednesday, August 4, 2021

Rhinelander, Wisconsin Closes Two Wells

Most people who are familiar with Wisconsin know about the Rhinelander/Eagle River Area. Many who live there or have cottages in the area refer to it as God's Country. This is the area that I typically harvest wild rice. It has gotten more difficult over the past thirty years to find waters that are not contaminated with oil and/or gas, but that is the cost, it seems, of places being popular. There are places that still remain somewhat untouched by modern maladies, but two municipal drinking water supply wells have tested positive for PFAS, you may know it as an ingredient in high performance fabrics made by DuPont, or perhaps as Teflon, the non-stick cooking surface that was touted as revolutionary but that flaked off the pans it was coating. It may be something you have un-knowingly purchased as flame retardent clothing. Most children's sleepwear has it and a tiny bit is released every time you wash the garment. These wells in Rhinelander are not just a little bit contaminated, the health advisory has been exceeded by nearly fifteen times. Regulators set the action level at 40 ppt (parts per trillion) these wells are at nearly 600 ppt. The reason PFAS is called the forever chemical is because it literally does not breakdown, not in nature and certainly not in our bodies. It presents a long term problem that cannot be ignored.
Especially now, when property values are peaking and tourism brings in 90% of the income to several couties around this great lakes and rivers district, having to deal with forever pollution of the public water supply has an even more profound cost.The Mayor was interviewed and he said that they are taking a position that noone is at fault.7,500 souls spread out over nearly ten square miles will have a difficult time funding even one more well and for the people outside the city limits, they are completely on their own as far as finding clean and fresh water. This problem has been known since 2013. Since the municipality only had five wells to begin with, this makes their fresh water source rather precarious. It has been reported that if they have to close one more well, they won't have enough water to meet the needs of residents.

Saturday, July 10, 2021

Emergent Prophesy

I am coming to understand that seeing the future is not as much about having some sort of divine intervention or transformative experience involving the divine, but it is arrived at by paying acute and critical attention to details, motivations behind some of the slightest actions and grasping minute details about the now and trends that have been established over time. The more deep the dive we take into experiencing fully both the past and how it affected our moment in time, the more likely we are to "see into the future". Not one of us can say with certainty what the next big thing will be. A short list of trends will prove that. For instance who could have said before hand that chipotle, which has existed for centuries, perhaps millennea, would become so ubiquitous that you could not swing a cat without hitting something with smoked pepper spice in it? Pet rocks, clackers, fidget spinners, blogs and books "on tape" seemed extremely odd, quirky and arcane until they became ubiquitous. In hindsight we say, that it was inevitable, but to presage those trends required not just out of the box thinking, but an element of understanding what humans want and need, their underlying perception of lack that drives them to the marketplace, or what makes them feel guilty. Even though if you asked the person they might not know or admit to it, but we all have a sense of guilt that we are not being "productive enough" when we drive to and from work every day, or do the tasks that have become rote with basic,boring repetition. I mean, there is only so good a job you can do pairing socks or folding shirts for heaven's sake and driving, well...One of my mentors who taught me little else used to say, driving is like a contest that everyone can win if we all get safely to our destination with no damage to any of the vehicles. The books on tape allow us to learn, have fun with and be read to while doing some jobs that just need to be done, but that we could nearly do without a thought. If the stressors get too high to pay attention or you have to concentrate on changing loads of laundry for instance or if you like the turn of phrase and just want to hear it again, you can always rewind the tape a bit or have an instant "do over". All of these trends have been based on conscious as well as unconscious wants, needs and desires. The main taproot of prophesy, it is my contention, goes deep into the heart of humankind and pulls up what is salient when others might scoff or blatantly deny those needs, wants and desires. Honestly, I still don't understand the fascination with chipotle.
Growth and adaptation are the rule, not the exception. We can look at trend lines until we are blue in the face, but in virtually all things sociologic (dealing with people and their behavior) all trends seem to have a break point where things steadily change and then suddenly, the sky is the limit or the next day the trend falls flat. Anyone who has participated in a trend knows what I'm talking about. Remeber when the cool kids collected Pogs or when beanie babies were the hot new item? What about the Mrs. Beasley dolls or Cabbage Patch Kids? If you are of a certain age, there was a time when yo-yos were hot, or stuffed Smurfs and E.T.s could not be kept on the shelves of stores. I know it sounds odd, but trends almost presage their own elimination simply because they are trends. Trends start with a few odd balls. in the business, they are called early adopters. Then, the cool kids think it makes them special to get on board or it fills a need in them. Soon everyone wants to, using the yo-yo example "Walk the Dog", successfully pull off "Around the World" or perform "Cat's Cradle". The only reason they still sell yo-yos is because some people are still fascinated by the inertia of the spinning top turned horizontally. If a trend helps us to excel or refine hidden talents, develop or show off, have more time to do the things we love or to simply feel seen or heard, in the case of clackers, standing out from the crowd, the trend line goes up. If these factors get removed, that is when the trend line crashes. That is why the most annoying trends have to constantly reach extreme levels. That is why some people juggle while standing on their head and simultaneously balancing on three chairs stacked on a ball. Or two people do all these things on opposite sides of a teeter-otter. To keep things interesting at this point, one person may juggle knives while the other juggles flaming batons. It is also why luxury cars, monster trucks and blowing coal exist. There will always be those who want to be the oddballs and will pay any price to remain the most extreme.
This is a photo of me in my garden. When I bought this property, every inch of it was hard-packed, expansive clay. When it was dry, cracks up to an inch across would open up across the whole surface, deep enough that until there was a full inch of rain, they would not fill up. when it was dry, there was so little life in it that you could throw a sharpened spade down, in an attempt to pierce the surface anywhere in the yard and it would bounce off and ring like a bell. My passion was for organic gardening and this image is of me when I had acheived three crops on the same square foot of soil for the first time. Now, I'm up to five crops on one square foot in a single growing season and don't get that level of joy from it because it is not as novel as three crops was back then. This is another reason trends occasionally die out. If you need to constantly out do yourself but the technology or technique has finite limits, once you are up against them, you may lose interest. Going back to yo-yo tricks, I have seen it claimed tha tthere are fifty of them, but if the cool kids only did ten, you may lose interest when you master those ten. you may only get good at three and that could make you lose interest. You could even tangle the string or tie it to the shaft with the wrong knot and you might give up the whole undertaking on day one, but at least you bought the hot "new" trendy item. But, for now, let's go back to the garden. What allows some people to sustain what would otherwise become just a trendy diversion or after the activity or item loses that lustre that can only come from "newness"? I contend that it has to do with how well it serves the future and this is where we can sidle up to prophesy. When we can see through the now into a future time and understand the wants and needs of those people who inhabit it. We have always known that some people will always say, "I have a black, (or brown) thumb." or "I can't keep a cactus alive." So, the chia pet was created. That one, as strange as it may sound was sort of a no-brainer. What is odd, to my way of thinking is that they have not yet offered chia self portraits. I guess not enough people want to see themselves with green afros. How much people invest in trends is often directly related to what they get back. For some, having a crowd pay to see them perform does the trick. Chances are, if you ever see the two people balanced and juggling on a teeter-totter, you will have paid to see them perform or you are also part of the troupe who are backstage watching them practice. My gardening gets practiced in relative isolation, but as I offered neighbors some of my extra produce, it brought a handful around to start asking, "Hey, how did you do that?" When I strted, I was the weird guy at the end of the block collecting everyone's leaves that they put out to the curb in the fall. those who asked, or paid attention realized that the yards that were full of trash or outright garbage had their leaves passed over and when the leaves turned to lawn clippings the next spring, the people who used chaemicals also had their grass clippings left behind. If I didn't see parts of dandelion leaves or flowers in their yard waste, I didn't want or use it.
Building up the organic matter in my soil took years but I never got bored with it. I pushed the limits of what I had heard is a "good amount" of soil organic matter. I began to study just what I was doing in a scientific sense and tried to grapple with how and why I inherited such awful soil. It was because it had been treated like dirt for so long, abused and taken advantage of, there really wasn't any soil left. Then, I learned that on average, agricultural soils in the U.S. have as little as 1% SOM (Soil Organic Matter)I have seen soil tests as low as 0.6% and heard of them as low as 0.4%. I stopped checking when I got over 10% but I know that you can and I did go higher. The USDA (United States Department of Agriculture)and the NRDC (National Resources Defense Council) have known for decades that increasing SOM 1% will allow soil to hold 25,000 gallons of water per acre, making that water available to plants. It does not take a sage or soothsayer to understand that if humans are to survive on this planet as a species, we will need to increase the moisture holding capacity of soil and this trend has already begun. The results of what we have done since the advent of fossil energy use in agriculture has created a devastating trend and the line, when followed into the future will give us more drought and more floods, more desertification and less healthy crops. The trend we are on the threshold of is to flip the script and build soil, with organic carbon. Not doing so will result in the elimination of our species. The stakes are high but the propensity of people to jump on the hottest new trends should not be overlooked, it may be the only thing that can save our species.

Thursday, July 1, 2021

Biochar Kiln Arrives

Now, we will be making quick work of brusgh piles, slash and dry woody agricultural debris. If you have a need for us to help produce biochar onsite, contact us by e-mail at:
We are limited to providing our sevices to Northeast and North Central Wisconsin as well as the Northern tier of Counties and the U. P. of Michigan. We can bring one of the Wilson Biochar kilns and would love to work with your not-for-proift or small farm or logging operations. We can transform dry woody debris into char cheaply economically and advise on how to prepare the char for soil building whether you want to use it in forest land, agricultural acreages or home gardens. Have brush pile, or other fire hazard onsite? Reduce the volume by half and turn the resulting char into rich soil amendment. we can show yo uhow our ancestors did the same for thousands of years, building a thriving soil microbiome at the same time!
Update: 25-11-21we have already sequestered more than three tons since getting our Wilson Biochasr Kiln! Thank-you Kelpie and we will continue to hold classes with the kiln!

Tuesday, June 22, 2021

Words Fall Short Post Covid

I learned that my community is Global, just like Todd Rundgren's album says. The glowing electrons of Zoom and other portals to the digi-realm are representations of real people. (not the people themselves) It is not any of our faults that we cannot make eye contact through this techno-meeting medium. We can actually honor our affinity groups and "see" into the hearts of what matters to us by our belonging to groups. My experience has been that the anonymity of the digital interface allows a$$#*les to operate with relative impunity and I have learned that the people I didn't like before are even less tolerable post covid. Many either refuse to or are unable to change. Perhaps they are happy being miserable hot-heads and morose complainers, that has zero bearing on who I am or choose to be. Now, I won't waste time on them. The fact that I can teach people from around the planet to sequester carbon cheaply, efficiently and virtually forever has been one of the most liberating things about not being able to interact with "real" people, in person or wasting time trying to talk to people who just happen to be in my physical presence. I don't have time to spend on players. I spent the last year learning about more than twenty types of soil organisms, what they "like", need and rely on for their quality of life. What they prefer to consume and which organisms consume them, which are cannibalistic and which are not. I am becoming "friends" with them instead of human-beings. I don't miss two-leggeds as much as I had expected to and I have discovered that soil organisms will never sell you out or lie to your face. They won't try to commodify the relationship or turn on you over a misunderstanding or feign compassion in an attempt to gain your trust. In short, I have grown into a different person with new perspective and will continue to share deeply with those who respect who I have become. Those who regressively cling to their out-dated beliefs, practices and neuroses are welcome to keep them, I just won't waste time concerning myself with their mal-adaptive behavior. I mean are we not all responsible for our own development? I don't want to bring anyone down, but I'm not going to spare anyone the truth either. I still detest chickenshits and liars, that has not changed. What I value has changed and most importantly it is my time that I value.

Saturday, June 12, 2021

12-06-2021 Status Report

ECO-Tours has been working to purchase land for an outdoor school. Not only will we be able to teach carbon smart farming in a hands-on way, but regenerative grazing, permaculture principles, Leave No Trace Ethics and skills needed to be more sustainable. In the old days, we called some of the skills Home Economics, or Folkways, and we will also teach skills for enhancing energy efficient and healthy home retrofits that dfon't require people to have hundreds of thousands of dollars to drop on a home renovation. We will also teach strawbale construction, Living Home systems design and construction. We have recently received a large contribution from an anaonymous donor and want to thank everyone who has contributed through our gofundme page as well. We now have more than ten percent of the total needed for the land purchase and we have more than a dozen experts who are anxiously waiting to teach as soon as we close on the land.
In the interim, we have reached out to several Land Trusts to see if we can begin teaching some of our classes even before we finish our fund-raising efforts and several other not-for-profit organizations have voiced an interest in collaborating and participating with our programs in several important ways. Bringing students, offering classes of their own and helping spread the word about what we offer. This word of mouth advertising is invaluable for making the transformation we need to happen. At this moment there are thousands of voices raised to tell people that there is no hope, that we are devolving into some sort of Apocalyptic mayhem and our message of peace and cooperation, mutualism and intentional communities that allow people to thrive is more important than ever. If there is any way that you can help share information about our efforts, or use anythnig that has been written at this blog or at theotherfishwrapplease share it. Education has always been and continues to be the second most expensive thing in the world, ignorance is number one.
For now, we continue to give away what we can afford to and hope it finds traction because we cannot wait for better times to do our best.We are anxious to work with you and are willing to teach via the digital realm wherever you are. If you want to contact us, we are available in a variety of ways. will get you to my personal e-mail. You can reach out via facebook. Tony C. Saladino Drirector/Guide ECO-Tours of Wisconsin,Inc.

Monday, June 7, 2021

Save Money Reduce Your Carbon Footprint

Most of us live in stick built homes. Wood, cut into rectangular boards or sticks are used, most often at a standard distance from one another to create a frame. Within this frame are holes that are later filled with windows or doors and in places that are eventually covered with siding (outside) and drywall or plaster (inside), it leaves a voids the thickness of the sticks that get filled with insulation. Most of these types of buildings are built upon a deck of some sort which becomes the floor of the finished space. The most common area to be forgotten, especially by insulators is the space directly under the floor. Often, it is just what is referred to as the rim joist. Often a single wide board, set on edge, holding all the floor members (joists) together. The structure that is made of the intersection of rim joists and the floor joists is often called the sill box, because the end of the floor, above the foundation looks like a series of small boxes along one wall of the basement, or foundation and the opposite wall the two walls going the other direction may just have a single, or in some cases a double joist to supprt the rest of the floor deck.This area, especially if forgotten in an otherwise insulated home can account for up to thirty percent of the heat loss in the entire structure and it causes floors to be permanently cold in winter and it even wastes the expensive cooled air in an air conditioned space in summer. some people like to spray foam insulation into that area but unless you take your time, to make sure all the gaps are filled completely and work slow enough to build up a thick layer of spray foam, this may not be the best approach. A more time consuming but also more reliable way to make sure adequate thickness of insulation gets put around this area is to use rigid foam, which can be cut to the proper size and wedged into the space.

Wednesday, June 2, 2021

The Beverage Manager of Beantown

I met up with a friend for coffee yesterday and she has started using the term "spoons". Instead of telling people that she has "no more fucks to give", or something that could be considered abrasive, she'll say, "Too many spoons." In some cases, she'll say, that dealing with certain types of people would require a whole ladle and "I just don't have the spoons." for that level of interaction. It is interesting to think of parceling out our fucks by the spoonful. I think it is tied up with my theory that if I don't know you, I'll try once (perhaps one spoonful) giving my energy to share the truth with that person. I always try at least once to educate people, even strangers. If I am more invested, like with a good friend, relative or someone I deeply care about, I definitely have more spoons, perhaps a whole ladle to put into sharing my vision of truth. You don't want to waste a whole lot of energy on folks who you may never see again, so "Ain't got the spoons" for them might be the perfect amount. Wear a "Make America Great" hat around me, you are getting served with a coke spoon. I'll still share my truth, but don't want to squander too much truth on someone who is in active denial. I'll still tell the truth, but won't waste much of my energy doing it. I ain't got the spoons. I also had an interesting interaction with the Barista, who happens to own the coffeehouse. She is from near Boston and I told her about the time I was invited to go to The Athens of America, Beantown and how the folks who brought me were going to stay with paranoid friends who didn't want to open their home to me, so I nearly spent the night homeless. About 2 AM, I was outside the Hilton, looking as dejected as a young punk ever did, I am sure; when the beverage manager walked out and saw me. He was on his way home after a long, long day of making sure that people he may never meet could have their desires fulfilled. He said, "What's wrong, you look like you are in trouble." I told him what had happened and he said, "Do you like dogs?" I said that yes, I did and he said, "You can stay at my place, but my dog will want to sleep on the bed with you." So he took me out to Squantum on the train, telling me about how his whole neighborhood was built atop the garbage of Boston that had accumulated during the previous century. He let me stay the night in a nice big bed with a lovely pit bull terrier named beast or something like that. In the morning when I woke up, he was gone to work already and his wife sent me off with breakfast and a brown bag lunch in case I didn't meet up with my friends before I got hungry again. She even gave me train fare back to the city along with great directions for finding the train station because the neighborhood looked completely different in the light of day. The Barista from Wrightstown reminded me that hospitality is not about how we treat the people we know, but those we do not. How can a guy live nearly sixty years and nobody ever explained that to him overtly? I mean, I had lived the experience! In my industry, "hospitality" is an actual place, where you can go to get fueled up, re-hydrate or catch a quick snack. When you travel around the country, you may never even meet the people who care for you and provide you the service of caring for you. Catering to your essential needs. Hearty thanks to all those strangers who have the spoons to provide hospitality! The world would be a dismal place without you!

Saturday, May 29, 2021

Late Season Frosts

Our winter, in my part of the world, was relatively mild. We had a few days that were cold and a few more nights that were bitterly so, but it was nothing like when I was growing up. Back then, we would have whole weeks where the temperatures remained below zero. Your nose couldn't run while you were outside, because the snot would freeze each time you took a breath. Ice would grow so thick on the Bay that motorcycles and cars would race on the ice and in Spring, when the ice shoves would happen the giant blocks and sheets would be feet thick. That thick ice would not be plain white, riddled with long thin crystals, but it would have the azure, turquoise of pale blue sky or the luminance of a marl bottomed lake. Pantone 17-4139 The clarity of the ice being like a vast prisim that transmitted only that one color. This winter, we had ice and a few foolish drivers put their cars through it, but it was stable enough to walk on and do some ice fishing, but the season was cut short by warms days and nights above freezing. Interestingly, maple sap flowed early and for a long season this year, warm days and cold nights seemed to come early and stayed late this year to the delight of many sap collectors however, when that time passed it did so abruptly and we have been having fairly warm evenings for over a month now. So many were led to plant early. This, combined with the resurgence of victory gardes and so many new growers has led many to cove rtheir newly planted sprouts and larger tomato plants with blankets for the recent cold nights.I'm glad that so many new gardeners are coming to learn about the joys of eating food produced in their yard or on th eporches and patios of the world, however the late season frosts are always a concern if you get the urge to plant your seeds or seedlings too early. Many old-timers waited until after the Indy 500 to plant. I don't put anything in the ground until Memorial Day Weekend they would say, as if Mother Nature cared about our calendar. In their defense, they had a family to feed and no money for buying more seeds, so they could not afford to take any chances. I listened intently when I was young to this relatively ancient wisdom. Memorial Day was only 100 years old back then however, my life had been less than a decade, so it seemed ancient to me. I did not realize for many more years that what I was hearing in those words was their conservative nature speaking. They also wanted to avoid the extra work of putting plastic or blankets over their gardens as many old folks do now. Many of my ancestors didn't have extra sheets, blankets or quilts to throw over their rows and rows of tender plants. Even if they had, it would have been too much work covering an area larger than the footprint of their house! What we find when we look into the whole climate issue is that Mother Nature really does bat last and as we destabilize the atmosphere more and more, the planet is constantly seeking to stabilize itself. After all, that is why the wind blows. it moves from high pressure areas to low pressure ones. That is why the seasons follow the relationship of the Earth to the Sun by about six weeks, because it takes that long to heat the atmosphere and the water. That is why the ephemeral plants of spring jump up to grab as much sunlight as they can before the trees leaf out and that is why, if you are going to plant early, you have to invest in blankets or green houses or enough plastic to cover your rows for a few of those late season frosts.We are living through an age so out of balance that we don't care to honor the systems that have existed for generations. We like to eat sprouts instead of waiting until the whole plant matures. Think of it. I like sprouts as much as the next guy, but think, just for a moment. In the case of alfalfa or mung bean, sunflower or radish, all make tasty sprouts, full of life's energy and vigor. The tiny seed combines nothing more than water with its' inherent genetis lust for life and makes ten times as much food for us as we might have been able to get from the unsprouted seed. If we let it mature and express the genetic code fully, we would experience a thousand or perhaps even a million-fold increase in the food value of the plant. We are willing to sacrifice at least a tenfold increase, possibly one of a thousand fold, but boy those sprouts are sure tasty and who has time to let a radish mature? Who has time to wait for a sunflower to set seed? I would like to end this with something Cat Stevens said, many years ago. "Take your time, think a lot, think of everything you've got for you will still be here tomorrow but your dreams may not."

Saturday, May 1, 2021

Biochar Introduction in 2 min.

We have been teaching people to make and use biochar for more than a decade, but the past year we have turned almost exclusively to online classes. It has been much easier and more efficient in many respects, but there are still a number of people who would rather have in-person classes. That is why we are fundraising to buy land on which we can teach about this and other skills important to become more sustainably oriented. Permaculture design, foraging classes, animal husbandry and regenerative ag. skills, even home economics and other sustainable living skills are more necessary now than ever and there are dozens of great teachers who have offered to teach at our facility. Things from knitting to soap and candle making, canning, drying and putting up th eharves during the fat times so we still can appreciate Earth's abundance during the lean times, etc.
Making and use of biochar can be taught in a fairly comprehensive way in just two or three hours, but some of the other skills we teach can take considerably longer to learn. For guests who want or need to stay longer, we have a plan to offer glamping opportunities as well. Just enough "roughing it" with just enough luxury to have fun and stretch to the limits of our comfort level. That is why we are developing a broader plan to purchase a significant acreage upon which we can offer opportunities fo rno trace camping while teaching a variety of management strategies that layer functions, emulate nature by closing the loop on nutrients, energy, carbon, water and other "resources" and adapt creatively to our rapidly changing world. In our experience, we find that appreciating the gifts of the nature and investing in them often pay dividends that are not necessarily financial, but are every bit as important to our quality of life. what we put in, or give away often comes with unimaginable rewards.
One of the most important aspects of permaculture is that one needs to look, listen and learn, really get down to the level of what goes on in nature, before ever trying to make change happen. The often quoted belief that native people have that every decision needs to be weighed for the good of the next seven generations may seem like far too long a timeline to consider seeing as many are predicting that human actions may make our species extinct within a decade or two, but for those people who have been paying attention, we know that even if people don't want to change, they are going to have to. Far from being a drag, or predicting destruction of society as we know it, we teach ways that the recovery of sound ecological practices will enhance quality of life, jobs and the sense of community that seems to have evaporated under the powerful, but often nearly invisible hand of capitalism.

Far too many use words to describe themselves that were arrived at by focus group or polling data, so I try to refrain from naming myself, our group or the direction our guests are headed. A wise older gentleman laughed at me once, when I was struggling to give him a word to describe myself. I know that far too often descriptors can be pejorative. He said, "I know what you are, a bioneeer!" and at first it felt a bit like the same slap in the face that tree hugger had always been, but as I learned the depth of meaning behind the term and came to understand that he meant nothing negative about it, I took it to heart and more and more have grown to like it. After all, pioneers are eternally optimistic that perhaps over the next rise will be some sort of Shangrila, a place where the cool fresh springs will be plentiful enough that our livestock will have water and that the lush, green grasses will feed them abundantly, the winds and snows won't be too harsh and that we can find straight, tall and strong timbers with which to build shelters that will serve the coming generations. Bioneers do the same, but they can find their lush abundance right where they are, without packing all of our worldly goods in a prarie schooner and striking out across a vast sea of grass to get there. We often find rich abundance by turning over a single rock, or collecting enough from nearby to build the foundations of a new, rich and abundant life, through interaction with the natural world. We invest time required to turn wast to resources or trash to treasure, getting creative to save money and eliminate waste. When I was first called a bioneer, I was still a young man. I had explored hundreds of thousands of places, slept out under the stars in hundreds of them, gotten to know biota on their terms and within their various biomes. I had come to find many dozens of wild foods that thrive where I live and learned how to propagate ones that were finding it difficult to thrive, learning what they needed that had been missing, creating more stable and habitable niches not only for myself, but hundreds of thousands of other species even though I could not name them all.
At this point in my life, I may be an elder, but the motivation I have is not the same as the elders I met and saw when I was young. Most of them had exuded a holier than thou attitude and explicitly said that things were "My way or the highway." Many of the elders I had when I was growing up taught me far more abotu the wrong way to be than how to grow adapt and create meaningful positive change in the world around them.
I choose to continue to strive toward something better, more fulfilling, to learn and grow, even though it sometimes brings painful consequences. Yes, I am sometimes forced to admit I was wrong or to stretch my boundaries, adapt and change. That hope for a better place, for the bioneer lies in the same space we are in today, the same culture, the same location, we don't find it by traversing a vast wilderness. More likely it lives within us already and by digging deeply into the difference between needs and wants, understanding that there is no "away" and that once we discover how to help nature to be abundant, the hardest task becomes equitably redistributing the abundance. I have written at length about the give away, or the give back. The time I have left may be short, but the depth of experience I bring to the table will not die with me. Stories allow us to transcend death, as long as people continue to tell them and find the meaning worth putting into practice. When I teach people to make and use biochar, it is a story that was told over nine thousand years ago. Before humans had developed written language, there were those who knew how important it was to give back to the soil. The only thing that has really changed is that today it is far more important to know, instead of me speaking, think of it as our long dead human ancestors, reaching out across time to show you how to make the soil healthy and life thrive.

Friday, April 2, 2021


Our gofundme page has reached the first of a few important milestones. In our intitial phase of community building, we have begun to find other groups and opportunities for our work to harmonize and meld with th elarger community. Lots of local lodges are interested in having more guests as we ramp up our classes. A local resort is offering to give us a first shot at buying their site too, which is within walking distance to our land, somewhat off the beaten track, but easily reached by car and able to provide some of the creature comforts we will not be able to provide on the land. Today, the news came out about Biden wanting to fund a civilian climate corps to rehabilitate and help sequester carbon. We are well-positioned to be one of these teaching facilities that will train future land managers!we have trained thoud=sands of people already and with a larger facility and mor eland to teach these principles, we can do many more times as many training sessions and for larger groups than we have been able ot teach before.
If you are interested in helping to fund the protection of eighty acres and to help endow such a sustainability school ,please either contribute through our gofundme page, or you can still send contributions through our patypal account as well. The paypal account number is the same as our email, or

Thursday, March 25, 2021

ECO-Tours Creates Community with Living Soils Association

During covid-19, outreach has been mostly limited to on-line and digital links. The half dozen times I had to be around others were because we were moving or had to see a doctor, little things like getting a car repair done. I put it off for over a year because I drove less than twelve hundred miles last year. As often happens when I have time on my hands, which quarantine gave us in spades this past year, I discovered the history of the Lincoln Highway. The first coast to coast road in the U.S. There was a great public outpouring of support for this road and not just upgrading the quality of it from end to end, but to include signage and comprehensive directions, so travel could be much safer with less adventure. There was a new way of thinking about the automobile then an dthe public was glad to step up and sponsor th enext big thing, it seemed that millions wanted to help fund that first big step toward becoming a mobile society, they invested in th esort of future hey could only dream of, a road that would take you from coast to coast.
I would like to think that our understanding has grown. Many lines of research prove the need to rebuild our soils and stop their wanton destruction the way "modern" industrial agriculture does. I live in a Wisconsin County with the highest number of tons per acre blowing or washing away each year. Living soils create the opposite conditions. Many are coming to realize that it is our duty to be the first, to show by doing and to preserve as much soil as possible for the future of our species. The question for many is: How? ECO-Tours of Wisconsin has been teaching these principle for over a decade and we can scale this up and replicate it virtually anywhere! We are having a major influx of interest in biochar classes, permaculture and sustainable living classes just in the past few months. More importantly, we are beginning to see a possible route to end the pandemic. The way we go back to will never be the same as before. People are valuing everything differently. They feel, a need to learn how to grow their own food, put it up for harsh times, live like the soil matters and that is what we have been teaching for generations. I see the need for hundreds of schools like ours that can train thousands, hundreds of thousands, perhaps millions of new-age CCC recruits. Civilian Conservation Corps made many changes to our landscape, especially parks and public spaces that are still giving back after half a century of service. Our new version, a Civil Climate Corps could turn th etables on our assaultive behaviors toward soil in a generation. We have no time to waste! In the Spring of 2021, we have more than thirty million unemployed young people, imagine unleashing their potential in building soil, managing for diversity and carbon smart management goals. We cannot afford to squander the desire of our youth to be part of the soul-ution. We all know what the problems are, but we rearely speak about solutions, these Living Soils Association Camps will train next-level permaculture practitioners, carbon-smart agriculturalists, sustainability experts and folks who know how to restore carbon to soils at pace and help reverse the atmospheric carbon trend. It is time for growth, in my hemisphere, the life is expanding, we need to mirror, emulate, mimic, whatever you want to call it, nature. We need to do it now. Nature models for us mutualism, where all organisms benefit from the life force of other organisms. Communities collecting and equitably redistributing resources is the rule, not the exception in the natural world, we can teach one another to do that as well. The many are always more stable and healthy than a few, especially when they know how to share. We need to honor that, respect it and give back in ways that honor this natural system.
Living Soils Association can deliver to soil a level of recovery, protection and restoration that will reduce erosion, increase infiltration rates, increase CEC (Cation Exchange Capacity)build soil carbon, both organic and mineral, increase soil life, soil aggregates and productivity and all while reducing the need for irrigation and fertilizer. By using dollars raised from the general public for a model, living laboratory teaching these skills and creating a replicable program for a larger national effort is essential. Our organization has always used contributions and all volunteer staff, because we are committed to ECO-Tours, reforestation, land reclaimation and ecology, but to grow this movement will require funds, we just want to model how to spend those dollars efficiently or ideally fund stipend for service from the Federal Government, we could employ millions, across the country at short notice. We need mobilization of resources and I'm sure that our youth will respond just as they did during the old CCC days. Back in the Thirties, they were paid just a dollar per day, but they got tents to sleep in and meals too.

Saturday, January 23, 2021

The Great Reset

In the course of human events, one often needs what we might think of as a a page break, a place to catch our breath, change our behaviors for a moment and briefly do something physical intead of what we were doing before. If we seem to be running on a treadmill, this might take the form of stepping off, going to the rowing machine for a while. If we have been riffing on a certain tune in out heads for a while, perhaps a change of station. When studying hard for finals, why not take a half hour to watch a favorite show or listen to a favorite piece of music, with the books closed? It often can be a great way to revive when times get tough, take a break or change oyur activity level even for five minutes! When we need a more significant break, often we cannot know why or how long it will need to be, but we just know, instinctively, to put down those tools and walk away, before mistakes are made that cannot easily be erased. In very real ways, covid-19 has provided an opportunity as well as a hardship. Many of us have had more time off in the past year than we have had in our entire adult lives. This may provide such a page break for our culture, perhaps all of humanity.
My part in this is to stir the pot of course. This viscous social space and time are liable to stick to the bottom of the pan without folks willing to stir things up deeply and vigorously. The 100% volunterer not-for-profit that my wife and I and a handful of friends created to teach eco-ehtics is twenty years old and we have lots of great projects that attest to our unconventional approach. We have helped to plant over sixty thousand native trees across Northeast Wisconsin in forty or more locations. We have planted over a hundred acres with native perennial food crops, medicinal plants and plants used as dyestock for natural dyes. We have hosted hundreds of events to share what we know about living more sustainable lifestyles, from plant-ins to composting lessons, biochar classes and square foot ECO-Tours. We have presented informaion to thousands of readers around the world through digital media and when people ask what we charge, we often just ask them to give what they can afford. When we plant a tree, it is the best one suited to each particular location, not a specimine tree that stands out against a background of native trees, but what literally belongs there. We have used several techniques to get free trees to plant, and often, now, we only plant tree seeds, becaus etheir roots experience far less trauma when th eseedlings can start where they will eventually grow. We have stood the paradigm of commercialism on end, not asking for money as much as to be seen, to be heard as we speak for the trees. We have led canoe trips down some of the most pristine as well as some of the most impacted rivers around, participated in Earth Day events and been involved regionally in diverse groups that advocate for th egreat Lakes generally and renewable, clean energy and pro-peace groups as well. I was trained as a teacher in a time when the jargon was all about knowledge skills and attitudes. Knowledge lives in your mind but can exist without outward evidence, skills only exist as action and can be seen, practiced, perfected and can only be made your own through repetition and attitudes, like knowledge only exist internally, although sometimes they can be plain to see, because they are reflected in many of our actions.
This group, these projects, have never been expected to be as important as they turn out to be. In our experience, nothing done as a group can ever be fully appreciated until much later. Creating memories and the deep sort of knowing that our tours engender has such long term impacts that generations down th eroad, ther emay be benefits completely unrelated to the time or place, bu tsomething heard or seen will bring back information or ideas that resurface at just the right moment, or help imform an action that has become instinctive, bu tthat has th epower to teach someone else. Living amongst such a technologically focused society, there is something that deeply enriches us when we love a plant's roots into the soil, easing them down so they are comfortable in the world they will inhabit for many years and whose very life changes the world around them for the better.
Only once per century has Mother Nature felt it necessary to still humanity with a deadly virus of this severity. It comes to us to make the best of what we have, that means with the deadly virus as well. As Cat Stevens wrote so eloquently, "Take your time, think a lot, why think of everything you've got; for you will still be here tomorrow but your dreams may not." In this Great Reset we are being granted a chance to change everything we have known, reevaluate whether it served us, decide wha tto leave behind and in very real ways what we are going to create. Let us not shirk from th echallenge, but put our foot down firmly and move forward. As was drilled into me as a child, I say to everyone now, we can all have total freedom, but only if we are willing to be supremely responsible. We cannot have one without the other.
This is a photo of a simple tool caddy, easy to make, keeps long-handled tools at hand and easy to organize. This rack can be adapted to your needs but I learned of it from a props person on a touring show. when you need th ewhole village to get to the implements, quickly, this is a great way to have them handy an all in one place. Please share this blog with friends. share our go fund me page widely. We don't have any time to lose! If not now, when? If not us, who?

Sunday, January 3, 2021

Dry January

I had known that quitting drinking was a relatively common thing to do as a New Year Resolution, but I always thought peole just fell off the wagon at different times. Having never heard of this limited liability engagement, or temporary quitting, it really created a mind storm when I heard. There may be a girlfriend or two that I should have given up for a month, to see how our relationship would age, but I was too young, just inexperienced enough, or maybe just ddin't care to, to know. I have never been a daily drinker, not even while at college. Since alcohol was never my favorite reason to get together, hang out or something to focus a lot of attention on, whether it was there or not never seemed to bother me. Since I did know that some of my friends did like it more than I, being sure to have drinks for parties was always part of planning, but certainly not the main objective. For instance, when we hosted our 1984 Party, which, of course, was in 1984, we recreated the opening scene from the book for each of our guests in turn and making sure we had enough Victory Gin and Victory Cigarettes for everyone was a top priority.That wasn't as much about the alcohol as the story. If a friend would take charge and bill it as a magerita party, or a daquiri party,of course, it made booze shopping easier, but beyond making sure the booze matched the theme, it was mostly just background. My friends and hand-chosen family as well as our relationships were far more important to me.
This brings me to my reqalization this year. First, I have always disliked the end of year push that most not-for-profit groups do just before New Years. Double matching and triple matching donations, trying to get people to commit before the end of the tax year. It always feels like that sort of pressure being exacted during the holidaze is a bit, how can I say it, car salesman-ish. this year, because I found out about this interesting thing, Dry January, what if it could be used as a force for good? Here's a simple thought experiment. What if, the thousand or more friends that I have met and loved, shared and cried with over the years were to take the Dry January events to heart. What if, they donated whatever money they would save over that month to the land purchase? How much would that be? Well, I'm not really in that close contact with my friends, because of covid-19 and all, so to think I have any idea how much they are drinking would just be silly. however, I have heard that alcohol sales generally increased greatly because of the pandemic. Let's just say, with me maybe having a few glasses of wine per week, or a few mixed drinks, I've probably got a budget of about ten dollars a week in drinks. At the end of a four-point two-five week month would have an extra $42.50 from my estimated booze budget to spend or share at my discretion. I used to drink a case a week of Huber Bock. Today that would cost $22 per week so when I was drinking the most, a month's worth of Huber Bock would have cost, in today's market, about ninety-three dollars and fifty cents. That would be a huge help toward building our outdoor school! If you are considering, or better yet, if you have pledged to do a dry January, please consider contributing what yo0u save on alcohol this month to our land purchase. It isn't often that our choices can directly change the world around us and it is even more likely that you will follow through on the pledge if you can see the results and actual benefits that come from your sacrifice. Please, let me know if you are interested, if yo uhave your own good Dry January stories or if yo uhave any idea how I could have not known about this apparently common thing for more than fifty years. also, please don't say because I grew up around too many alcoholics, who never even considered giving up drink fo rany length of time, much less an entire month! I already knew that! to prepare myself for writing this, I even said the little mnemonic device to figure out if January is one of the "long months" which it turns out, it is! If you have decided to stop drinking for the month, I appreciate that and wish you the very best in your absinance. If you do indeed save money by not drinking, let me re-post the link to our gofundme page, you could be part of saving 80 aces for our outdoor school! If you are suspicious about links, check out the go fund me site and search my name, Tony C. Saladino My first update includes the Powerpoint slide show that I use to teach th eclassroom portion of my biochar classes and anyone who contributes at least fifty I offer to spend up to two hours explaining any of the materials or helping to translate the class into a useable form. May abundance find you during the New Year, wherever your path may lead!