Monthly Archives: May 2009

Linden Hills Festival

There is no shortage of things to be depressed about when it comes to climate change. Rising sea levels, deforestation, smog… the list goes on.

I have found however, it is much more productive to take a realistic rather than optimistic or pessimistic view on the matter. In fact, people who are overly pessimistic about climate change, while probably able to provide some valuable information, have no place in my book.

Last night I was frustrated while looking online for a good environmental place to volunteer for a couple days this coming week. While the frustration was mostly thanks to my lack of planning ahead, I have now realized (yet again) my narrow-mindedness when it comes to being helpful with climate change.

This morning I woke up to a sunny day in the Linden Hills community of Minneapolis, MN. Looking out my window, I noticed particularly crowded sidewalks and I remembered that today is LH Festival day!

Taking to the streets with my mom, I realized that there are some very smart LH residents who are thinking both realistically and actively about climate change. And more importantly, tying their concerns into local action. Oooh how I wish I could have had a hand in planning this! Today was a valuable lesson for me, yet again, to see how global climate efforts do NOT have to be global at all.

Anyway I was SO pleased to find the community-centered and environmentally focused day!

DSCN0022From a barrage of yard sales, free stuff bins, book swaps, and sidewalk tables, someone was thinking of the most forgotten of the 3 Rs (REUSE) in a big way.

In addition to the sharing and exchanging of goods (or in many cases junk), today’s festival was successful in just getting people out of their houses, talking to each other, and being active. There were carnival activities, snacks, animals, and kid stuff everywhere! I was so happy!

Anyway, last summer I was part of another smart DSCN0024_2effort in LH called Linden Hills Power and Light that worked to establish a community-wide composting initiative and then took on the task of educating the community members and getting the city to sign on board. I was lucky to be around a team of such motivated, organized, and experience leaders. The program has now been successful for almost a year (and is growing) and I was very pleased to see the compost coming back as free planting soil at the festival!

So, today I just have to brag about my own community and learn the lesson that I can help the environment by helping at home. I hope the efforts of some very smart LH residents can inspire people in other communities as well.

Thinking of the 3 Rs,

Jenny

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City Busses

Beeeep. Good Morning.

Beeeep. Thank you.

Beeeep. Good Morning.

On Wednesday morning I took the city bus. For the first time.

As I sat in my seat watching the friendly bus driver greet the regulars as they scanned their cards to get on, I felt so proud of myself for taking the bus.

But, as I thought about it, I realized that it’s quite silly that I have never taken the city bus. It also made me realize that even with how environmentally friendly Minneapolis can be, it is really a very suburban, spread out metro area. I have no excuse now though, because I live right in Minneapolis, instead of the suburbs. In fact, the bus stop is two doors down from my house. (A bus just went past my window as I wrote that sentence.)

Anyway, I am writing tonight to say  a few things:

1. That Wednesday will not be my last time riding the bus.

2. I am planning a trip to Africa that will hopefully be very educational and enlightening, and I am hoping to leave next week. So, that is very often on my mind and I really hope it works out. (I bought a new Nikon camera in preparation!!)

3. I am looking into some cool things to write in this blog. I have high  hopes for this space, although it is currently kind of an overwhelming mystery to me. But I’m sure that will change… right now I’m just looking for a little motivation.

4. I’m hoping to take up running a lot more. Not only are the runners I see in Minneapolis generally in great shape, I feel like they experience such a special bond with the nature of the city. There’s no way to take in the crisp, quietness of Harriet or the Cedar Lake Trail in the morning except by being there!

Anyway, just wanted to make sure you know that I haven’t abandoned this blog already… I’ll be back soon hopefully with some interesting things to say!

Maybe I should hop back on the city bus to find some more motivation. Either way, Stay tuned!!

-J

Word Associations

Let’s play a game.
When you hear the word ‘politics’ what comes to mind?

Here are my answers:
Politico news magazine
Congress
Confusing
Obama
Bills and laws
Media
Elections

I’m gonna be honest though, I don’t really follow politics.
So, to many (specifically my friend Alex Vitale!), those answers couldn’t be more general or dissatisfying.

Let’s try another one.

When you hear the word ‘environment’ what comes to mind?

An image of a vast wilderness?
Global warming?
Al Gore’s face?
Polar bears?
Recycling bins?
The Amazon?

I’ve tucked away the idea of me fully understanding politics with distant memories of trying to pass freshman Civics class and constantly feeling out of the loop with the news. So, I know that everyone has certain issues where their word associations may not align with the day’s leading experts.

I am obviously no exception to this rule, but I am here to give readers some better words to associate with ‘environment’ than those given above.

I don’t claim to be an expert on the topic, but in this blog I want to continue to play the word association game. I’ll call it the Frame Game.
Hear me out here.

When I started my sophomore year of college at Madison, I would have grouped ‘environment’ with:

Hippies
SOS club at my high school
Bikers with peace sign buttons on their backpacks
Hiking

But, what I have come to learn is how the environment can be framed in any way you want, and like politics, its importance doesn’t diminish – it just becomes more or less personally important. What I fear though, is that the vastness of ‘environment’ or the vagueness of ‘green’ makes it sort of out of grasp; a project that will inevitably be saved for another day. I still feel that way sometimes.
Everyone has an idea of how the world may or may not be warming and that it may or may not be my or your fault. They may know that the polar bears are going extinct, and someone somewhere is probably asking them to turn down the air conditioning….

But what’s the big picture?

My goal here is to remove partisanship and hippie pretenses, and continue to evoke a passion and concern about the environment in you and myself while adjusting the focus from blurry, random word associations, to a clear frame of whatever image of ‘environment’ best fits into your life, your knowledge, and your capabilities. I think it’ll be different for all of us.

Here are words, exciting words, that I have come to associate with environment:

Community
Good, healthy food
Seeing, expanding, and appreciating natural beauty
Healthy living
Teamwork
Looking out for posterity!
Lessening the gap between social classes and societies
Fresh Air

What’s not to love about that?
So, while even I get sick of hearing about saving the environment by buying a Prius or taking a shorter shower, I know that if everyone had the chance, and the time, to learn enough (and be scared enough) about the environment, they’d be sitting here writing this blog too. Since I have college professors and volumes of reading to tell me of its urgency, the will to write, and the motivation to improve my frame of ‘environment,’ this will be a place to explore the optimistic, practical and necessary side of making some environmental progress in everyday life.

I hope you join me!

Jenny

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