Dispatches from the Field & Project Summaries
September 26, 2012
Join us on Monday, September 17th for a Short Film Showcase in partnership with The International Ecotourism Society (TIES) and their ESTC 2012 Conference in Monterey, CA. We will be showcasing an exciting collection of our best global and domestic sustainability films!
Come experience the expedition team’s journey and witness the latest efforts in sustainable tourism, adventure travel, wildlife conservation, community development, education, sustainable food and more! Learn about exciting travel destinations and discover ways YOU can get involved. Mix and mingle with your community, our event sponsors and the GLP team.
Exclusive raffle prize – SEEtheWILD volunteer trip for 2 to Nicaragua to work with critically endangered hawksbill sea turtles! Work alongside local researchers studying and protecting this charismatic turtle in the beautiful Padre Ramos Estuary, a wildlife hotspot in the northwestern corner of the country. These turtles are among the most endangered in the world and you’ll help handle their nests and eggs, study and release hatchlings, and collect data on the size of the nesting turtles.
About Ecotourism and Sustainable Tourism Conference (ESTC):
The ESTC is a one-of-a-kind industry conference promoting sustainability in tourism. Organized by The International Ecotourism Society (TIES), the conference builds upon the successes of past national, regional and international conferences by TIES and our partners.
Learn more at www.ecotourismconference.org/about-estc
Dr. Wallace “J.” Nichols – Founder, Ocean Revolution
Dr. Wallace “J.” Nichols is a scientist, activist, community organizer, author and dad. He is a Research Associate at California Academy of Sciences and founder/co-director of Ocean Revolution, an international network of young ocean advocates, SEE the WILD, an international conservation travel portal and LiVBLUE, a campaign to reconnect people with our water planet. “J” works to inspire a deeper connection with nature, knowing that what really moves people is feeling part of and touching something bigger than ourselves. He blogs at wallacejnichols.org
March 29, 2012
Short Film Showcase and Party in partnership with WMEAC and BALLE
Join us on Tuesday, May 15th for a Short Film Showcase and party to celebrate our exciting collection of the best global and domestic sustainability films!
Come experience the expedition team’s journey and witness the latest efforts in sustainable tourism, adventure travel, wildlife conservation, community development, education, sustainable food and more! Learn about exciting travel destinations and discover ways YOU can get involved. Mix and mingle with your community, our event sponsors and the GLP team while enjoying live music, local beer, and fantastic food.
Find out what our premieres are all about!
Find out what Green Living Project is all about!
November 20, 2011
The Green Living Project mobile tour was excited to visit Umass Amerherst during their recent sustainability fair. Umass Amherst is a very large progressive university in the quaint little city of Amherst, MA, which is incidentally overwhelmingly populated by young college students. The youthful energy of the area and the fact that Umass Amherst is a nationwide leader in sustainability education has lead to some new transformations on the campus especially in regards to permaculture education. Permaculture is a ecological design system based on natural principals used to build sustainable human habitats. It has applications that range from agriculture, to building integrated systems in cities, to community organization, and it’s been catching on accross the country like wildfire. Umass had previously been blessed with an organic student run farm but thanks to the efforts of students and the facilitation by permaculture designer and sustainbility coordinator Ryan Harb they now have this amazing permaculture garden for the entire Amherst community to enjoy. The Franklin DC Permaculture Garden is located right next to the university dining commons and new efforts have been made to include a larger share of local and student farmed produce in meals served at the hall. The model that Umass has helped promote is now being replicated in other campuses. You can watch the video of their garden transformation below.
If your looking for a place to learn more about permaculture, natural building, and ecological design we recommend checking out the Lost Valley Education Center outside Eugene, OR
August 22, 2011
By now most people have heard of the popular trend of “buying local” goods and services as a great way to make a positive impact on your local economy and as a way to boost regional sustainability. Well, now with the continuing economic volatility there are more reasons than ever to become full fledged “locavore”.
July 30, 2011
Hands on outdoor learning is a wonderful way to get young students to connect with their subject matter. Sauvie Island Center takes this direct connection seriously by having kids pick and prepare there own meals while learning about importance of sustainable land management and wholesome local food. Here elementary kids are eating their own homework even before their pets can!
Sauvie Island is a beautiful fifteen-mile-long, four-and-a-half-mile island just outside the Portland, OR city limits and the the Sauvie Island Center is located at Howell Territorial Park which includes an organic farm and orchard.
Allowing kids to come and connect with the land is a Sauvie Island Center tradition which they carry on through frequent events. Earlier this month the mobile tour was on hand while they held a summer cooking camp and farm tour event inviting children and their parents to learn about local food and gourmet cooking. Chef Paul Folkestad and members of Le Cordon Blue College taught the day long class. On the menu was farm picked salad, penne pasta with kale based pesto, greek yogurt with fresh rasberries, and lavender lemonade! The kids picked their own salad greens, learned about the importance of organic local foods, and even the meaning of the word emulsify! They all had a great time and so did the GLP Mobile Team as we caught all their excited smiles.
This is part of exciting trend to connect students with local organic farms that is sweeping the country. If your would like to learn more ways that you can be involved in getting local organic foods into schools in your please check out the Farm to School movement.
July 6, 2011
Bayfield, Wisconsin Pop. 561. To say this town is small is an understatement. It’s the kind of place where people don’t just leave their cars unlocked; they leave the keys in the ignition. Ironically, the smallest city in the state has probably the biggest opportunity to inspire change.
In early 2000, Wisconsin Tourism launched their Travel Green initiative. With it came a set of pilot programs to help identify key locations where eco-tourism had a strong foothold. Bayfield came out on top. The city continues to breed the most Travel Green-certified businesses in the state. “They pretty much live it,” said Ruth Goetz from the Wisconsin Governor’s Tourism Council.
Year-round Bayfield residents, Steve and Nancy Sandstrom, own and operate the state’s premiere eco-accommodation – Pinehurst Inn. Built in 1886, the historic home was once owned by a lumber baron. In fact, much of the surrounding woodland was decimated by logging in the early 20th century. Knowing they could provide a place to share their connection with the land, Steve and Nancy purchased the property in 1996. “It was a no-brainer when we found out this place was for sale,” said Nancy. “This is where we were suppose to be.” This husband and wife team is committed to limiting their environmental footprint and sharing a model of sustainable business with others. “The more attention we pay to how we are doing business, the more we benefit the community, the visitor, and Wisconsin as a whole,” she said.
Pinehurst Inn includes abundant examples of sustainable innovation. An organic plot borders the side of the house, a rain “garden” collects roof runoff (and funnels it to the plantings below), and giant solar panels lay nestled in the native landscaping. It’s the hope that these details serve to communicate facets of sustainability to the inn’s many guests. “Visitors come away with a better understanding of how small changes can lead to big impacts on the land,” said Nancy. The couple is happy to play the role of educator in order to set a lasting example for their guests. “Bayfield has a real opportunity to continue to build itself as a sustainable tourism destination. And if we can continue to guide that process, all the better.”
July 6, 2011
Summer in Portland!
Portland, OR is a paramount US city in terms of innovative sustainability thinking and so it’s fitting that its the launch city for the Green Living Project Mobile Tour. Davi and I on the mobile tour team have been keeping ourselves busy this week working on a best of Portland reel that will dive into some the most exciting green projects, people, and stories happening in the Portland region. So far in last couple of weeks we’ve explored the Lost Valley eco village and education center and got schooled in some neat permaculture and forest garden techniques by head instructor Rick Valley. If you’re looking into learning eco building or permaculture in the near future be sure to check out their excellent upcoming summer and fall courses. We recently celebrated amazing organic beers at the annual North American Organic Brewers Festival, there we watched some folks make delicious solar powered beer, pedal a mobile beer bike, as well as, pedal a mobile organic beer bike bar (now that’s a tasty mouthful). It’s great to see that the organic beer market is alive and thriving right now on both coasts. This last thursday we filmed at the Ecotrust Sundown Concert Series in downtown Portland which will be happening consecutive thursdays through July (you catch us filming tomorrow July 7th from 5:30-830pm). If you like good music, good causes, and good food then the Sundown is the place to be, the best part is that it’s free! You can check out our footage from the beer festival at and all our mobile exploits via our facebook and twitter pages.
July 2, 2011
A handwritten sign in big block letters greets us with a hearty salutation – “It’s a Great Day to Paddle!” Yes, indeed. The mid-morning sun sparkles on the placid waters of Lake Superior as we pull in to the gravel drive of one of Bayfield’s most popular kayaking outfitters, Living Adventure. Owners Gail Green and Grant Herman have operated this thriving little business for the past 9 years. Gail credits their success with the unique combination of her outdoor adventure experience and Grant’s education background. “We were able to put our personal and professional passions out on the lake.” said Gail. The bulk of their excursions put a tremendous focus on educating the guests about the local environment, where guides can “sneak it in under the umbrella of recreation”.
A crew of hard-core paddlers meets us at the lakeshore. They’re decked out in calculated adventure gear including 3mm wetsuits. It may appear a bit overly cautious, but respect for this giant body of freshwater – the largest in the world – is ingrained in the fabric of the Bayfield community. Lake Superior has notoriously temperamental weather. Conditions on the water can flip-flop dramatically in a matter of minutes, where blue sky gives way to thunderheads and gale force winds. Average temperature on the lake? A zesty 42 degrees! Fortunately for us, the morning is crisp and clear.
Rob gears up and plops his kayak in the water. An avid paddler himself, he regards the unpredictability of the lake with the enthusiasm of a little kid. He can’t wait to get out on the water. The less “seasoned” crew opts to track the kayakers from the boat and capitalize on the great filming opportunities this vantage point will present.
It’s easy to see why people are so captivated by this place. The wild remoteness of the Apostle Islands gels nicely with a community that values wild places. Gail sums it up best. The connection is found “in the rhythm of the water and the rhythm of people’s everyday lives”.
July 1, 2011
A road made of ice? You bet. From early February to late April, northern Wisconsin receives glacial temperatures creating the perfect conditions for Lake Superior to freeze over. A thick layer of ice extends from shore to the edge of the Apostle archipelago. It serves as a temporary highway for residents and visitors from Madeline Island to reach the mainland – 2 1/2 miles away – free of charge. It’s considered a crucial boulevard to an otherwise isolated island community.
Mike Radke operates the Madeline Island Ferry Line. “The ferry is an important part of the cycle of life here,” he said. “It’s part of the rhythm of living in Bayfield.” In recent years, Mike and his crew have seen that rhythm interrupted by rising temperatures on the lake. Some might argue that having things a little warmer in northern Wisconsin might not be such a bad thing. However, the impacts of these temperature shifts can be dramatic. “When the freeze starts later and the ‘break up’ ends earlier, it means more open lake,” said Mike. “And more open lake means more evaporation.” The ferry – and recreational boaters – are constantly playing ‘catch-up’ with the changing climate. Fixed docks and boat ramps have been lowered in order to accommodate vessels and the declining water levels.
Local residents are also finding it difficult to adjust to the early thaw. When the ice melts, the ferry service must launch their operations sooner and in turn spend more to accommodate the longer operating season. Appropriately, these increased costs are passed on to paying passengers, specifically the year-round residents who call Madeline Island home.
In response to these issues, Mike’s ferry business has “greened” its operations by becoming more efficient with vessel fuel consumption and incorporating sustainable business practices that improve their bottom line. “Green and efficiency, call it what you want, they’re really the same thing,” he said.
“What’s the worse that could happen from instituting changes in our behavior? Cleaner air? Fresher water?” said Mike. He takes a moment to gather his thoughts and looks out over the water. “Lake Superior is a treasure for all who live here. It’s worth preserving.”
June 30, 2011
A local Ojibwe legend tells of a Great Spirit who trapped an enormous beaver in a sea cave on the shores of Lake Superior. When the beaver escaped into the water, the spirit was so enraged that he threw rocks from the shoreline after the retreating animal. The rocks that landed on the lake created what we know today as the Apostle Islands. Like the Ojibwe people centuries before, the cultural ties and preservation of these islands continues to hold strong. But today they have a new defender – the National Parks Service.
“I have the best job in the world.” Bob Krumenaker is standing in front of the historic NPS building in downtown Bayfield. Bob acts as Superintendent of the Apostle Islands National Lakeshore; a position he’s held for the past 9 years. Arguably, there’s no greater authority on the region’s natural and cultural resources. The NPS is charged with preserving the 21 islands that make up the Apostle archipelago in addition to the mainland’s 12-mile strip of scenic lakeshore; a responsibility Bob doesn’t take lightly. “The legislation that dictates what we do is all about conserving for the enjoyment of future generations,” said Bob. “While sustainability is a relatively recent term, the idea of sustaining things over a very long period of time…. well, that’s just what we do.”
In terms of sustainable initiatives, the folks at the NPS are really getting their hands dirty. They’re going beyond preservation and getting involved in research, environmental restoration and current global issues like climate change.
“Climate change is not some abstract thing,” said Bob. “People tend to think it’s about the coastal regions and sea levels, polar bears, mountains and glaciers. And while it is about those things, it’s also about this place. “ Water temperatures in Lake Superior are increasing at twice the normal rate. This generates a significant decline in lake level and means big impacts on the local ecosystems; an environment that relies on “things being cold”. Currently, the NPS is trying to limit their impact by minimizing the use of fossil fuels. From boats to lighthouses, they’re reverting to “a more primitive style of operations”.
Of course, none of these initiatives would be possible without the unwavering support of the local Bayfield community. “There’s a real synergy here,” he said. “Where people care deeply about each other and the environment.” This shared value has allowed the NPS to carry out its long-term preservation goals. “We can lend our name and our stature of being a National Park but we’re not pulling people along. We are part of a community effort and that’s very rewarding for us.”