Thursday, October 31, 2013

Fog in the park

Yesterday was foggy in the park.  It added an interesting dynamic to the green willow, yellow tamarack, and red dogwood.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Orange gull

The early morning sunlight casts an orange hue onto the gulls flying over the pond at Bassett Creek Park.

Monday, October 28, 2013

Canada Geese in Flight

The Canada Geese have been gathering in large numbers in the pond at Bassett Creek Park.  They fly off to fields during the day, and return at night to rest on the pond overnight.

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Southern Minnesota

Enjoyed beautiful scenery while on a trip to Lanesboro, Minnesota yesterday.
Field Corn
Red barn
Black Angus
Corn field

Saturday, October 26, 2013

By water's edge

Below freezing early morning temperatures have caused the plants growing alongside of the pond to turn from green to brown. How gracefully they end their active growing lives on this earth.

We will be burying the ashes of one of my brother's today.  He too was a great model of such grace, as he calmly and courageously faced death.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Guns alone don't kill people...

Another tragic school yard shooting occurred just this week in Nevada.  A twelve-year-old shot and killed a teacher, who also happened to be a marine and war veteran.  

It is absolutely true that guns alone don’t kill people. They also need ammunition and a person with access to them who might be… depressed, vengeful, desperate, immature, suicidal, hateful, rebellious, psychotic, poorly trained in gun use, in a state of rage, intoxicated, paranoid, fame seeking, bullied, racist, grandiose, overly stressed or perhaps on drugs.

Monday, October 21, 2013

Leaves flowing on creek

Leaf in motion

Poplar leaf
I enjoyed watching the autumn leaves float along Bassett Creek in yesterday's light rain.

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Senator Amy Klobuchar and the Senate Farm Bill

Senator Klobuchar at podium (Center)
From left to right: Second Harvest Volunteer,
Rob Zeaske, Second Harvest CEO,
Kevin Paap, MN Farm Bureau President
Doug Peterson, MN Farmers Union President
Dave Nomsen, Pheasants Forever VP of Government Affairs
We had the great pleasure of having US Senator Amy Klobuchar visit Second Harvest Heartland yesterday to discuss the farm bill that was passed by the Senate. This bill would cut spending on large corporate farm subsidies, encourage environmental practices and maintain supplemental food support to needy families.

Republican tea party candidates in the House are staunchly opposed.  An article on the Farm Bill, US farm bill negotiators may begin work next week, is available on the web.

Senator Klobuchar bagging potatoes

Friday, October 18, 2013

Beyond GDP: How might we best measure what matters in our society?

The following commentary comes from a Moyers and Company blog on "Commonomics: How we can build local economies that work for everyone."
Aggregate counts of economic activity like gross domestic product, or GDP, give all activity equal value. The cultivating of an urban farm, which may involve little paid work and consume few bought materials, is less “productive,” in GDP terms, than paving that farm over.“When grain prices go up, that’s good for GDP but terrible for hunger,” says Joshua Farley, a professor in community development and applied economics at the University of Vermont. ”GDP is an excellent measure of cost; a terrible measure of benefit.”To even start a new conversation, we need new measurements. As the Business Alliance for Local Living Economies (BALLE) puts it, it’s time to start “measuring what matters.”
Farley’s been involved in studies of Burlington, Vermont, using a ‘genuine progress indicator,’ a version of the index of sustainable economic welfare that looks at a community’s overall well-being. There are many variations of these alternative indicators. Though most still equate value with consumption and growth, some include factors that GDP leaves out — like the value of unpaid household and volunteer work — and factor in the cost of pollution, depletion of resources and the consequences of uneven distribution of wealth.
We don’t yet measure the real costs of these problems in the United States, because, for example, we tend to under-price energy, transportation and education and pay no tax on environmental pollution.
According to Robert Reich, former US labor secretary and a professor at the University of California, Berkeley, “A true tally of all that might reveal the value of being more local.”

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Pond Mask

I discovered this amazing design on the pond yesterday.  It is a reflection of some sticks on the water with the autumn leaves also gracing the water's surface.

World Food Day

Today people around the globe are taking time to  focus on best practices to end world hunger.  The theme for 2013 is "sustainable food systems for food security and nutrition".  Tragically there are thought to be 842 million hungry people on the planet. One out of every 8 people doesn't have enough food to live a healthy and productive life.

Two billion people are thought to lack the proper micronutrients necessary for good health. Many lack fresh vegetables and fruits; important components of a healthy diet.

Due to current land practices it is estimated that nearly 60 percent of the ecosystems around the world are degraded and are not being used in a sustainable manner. One of World Food Day's goal is to draw awareness to efficient and productive farming practices, in order to reduce waste and pollution.

You can read more about World Food Day on the following website,

Monday, October 14, 2013

Exceedingly long receipts

Bakery and Post Office receipts
I'm getting tired of exceedingly long receipts.  It seems most everywhere I go the receipts have gotten longer and longer.  Some, such as the lengthy post office receipt at right, invite the customer to purchase greeting cards, utilize the self-service kiosk, order stamps on-line, sign up for a Secure Post Office Box, provide a Bill # and Clerk #, and remind the purchaser that all sales are final on stamps and postage, and finally invite the customer to tell them about their recent postal experience through and on-line survey.

Breaking this trend toward excessiveness was a receipt I received after purchasing a slice of baklava, from a small eastern European grocery and bakery.  This receipt thanked me, indicated the date, time and item purchased, the type of purchase (cash/credit) and total amount of purchase.  Now that's a receipt after my own heart!

Siskiwit River

Over the past weekend I enjoyed a brief visit to the Siskiwit River that flows into Lake Superior by Cornucopia, Wisconsin. The changing fall colors made it even more beautiful than usual.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Overcoming the empathy gap

How do we overcome the empathy gap? This is one of the questions raised by Daniel Goleman in his article "Rich people just care less."  He noted that with the dramatic increase in the gap between the rich and everyone else, it becomes a central question as to how to generate awareness and sensitivity to those who are on the lower economic rungs of society.  Research notes that one of the best ways this can be done is through developing personal relationships.

With the advent of freeways, suburbs and exurbs, it is increasingly more common for people to have little opportunity to develop meaningful relationship across economic and racial lines.  I recall vividly how a former health care executive was simply shocked to discover long lines at free health clinics for people without insurance. Among his circle of friends all had adequate resources and insurance.  Living in a well healed neighborhood and working in a high level corporate job, little did he realize how much of the rest of America lives.

It would serve us, and our members of congress well to get to know more of the folks working at K-Mart, Sam's Club, or the people riding on the bus.  We need to work at reducing the "Us" and "Them" mentality that runs contrary to our long held nation's motto "E pluribus unum".

Monday, October 7, 2013

Fall colors starting to arrive at the park

A pair of Canada Geese took off for their day's journey from the pond at Bassett Creek Park in the early morning mist.

Sunday, October 6, 2013

The Peace of Wild Things

When despair for the world grows in me
and I wake in the night at the least sound
in fear of what my life and my children's lives may be,
I go and lie down where the wood drake
rests in his beauty on the water, and the great heron feeds.
I come into the peace of wild things
who do not tax their lives with forethought
of grief. I come into the presence of still water.
And I feel above me the day-blind stars
waiting with their light. For a time
I rest in the grace of the world, and am free.

— Wendell Berry

Friday, October 4, 2013

Storm coming

Canada Geese and Airplane flying with approaching storm front
A big storm rolled into town a couple of days ago.  The clouds made interesting formations.  Having
Cloud and reflection on pond
been in a drought the rain was really welcome.  

The stormy weather seems to fit well with things going on with the government in Washington, DC.  For the good of the government, workers and the economy I hope things will soon be resolved with the government shut down and extension of the nation's borrowing limits.   

It reminds me of an Indian proverb... 
"When the elephants fight, the grass loses."

Thursday, October 3, 2013

The Story of Solutions

Do you ever think we may be heading down the wrong path as a nation, with our seemingly ceaseless desire to consume ever more?  "The Story of Solutions", a brief, 9 minute, animated video points out, our nation's rules for winning the GDP game involve the key components of Faster, Cheaper and Newer.

Instead of a goal of getting MORE, this new economy would have a goal of BETTER!  This video suggests a paradigm shift, that utilizes new roles of the game, which include Safer, Healthier and More Fair.

We need creative solutions to help us move toward a more sustainable economy.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Great Blue Heron and Pond Art

This Great Blue Heron was finding the "pond art" to be a useful perch while surveying the pond yesterday morning.