April 1 - April 30, 2020

Upper Valley Climate Action 2020 Feed

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  • Talia Manning 4/30/2020 7:54 PM
    So glad I was able to participate in this challenge -- it has been a fun way to make a difference during an otherwise discombobulated, inwardly-focused, and overwhelming time!  Thank you especially to Lyn for organizing and encouraging along the way!  I look forward to more opportunities to connect and effect change with all of you in the future!

  • Evelyn (lyn) Swett 4/30/2020 6:31 PM
    Hello my friends!
    What a month. I'm so glad to have been part of this challenge.
    Thank you to all for joining the Upper Valley Team.
    I'm grateful to my family for working with our meal planning efforts.
    I'm sorry that we ate more meat than I had planned, but I'm also glad that my kids cooked and that my son gained some weight, which he really needed to do. 
    I wish I had been in more touch with people during this time of isolation, but I am grateful to have connected with those doing this project.

    What I love most about this EcoChallenge is how our individual actions, no matter how many we make, are part of a larger narrative of more than 10,000 people paying attention at the same time. So cool. The accumulation of small actions add up over time - - not just this month, but in a season, a year and in our lives.

    Can't wait to see you all again soon!
  • Reflection Question
    Fresh Water Use a Reusable Water Bottle
    Using the links provided, investigate the bottling practices of water corporations. There have been many cases where the water rights of the local people have been violated or even completely disregarded when a corporation decides to bottle water from a particular water source. How can you advocate for those who have been harmed - both humans and wildlife - by this bottling process?

    Ivy Pavick 4/30/2020 1:09 PM
    We can make sure that everyone uses reusable water bottles!
  • Reflection Question
    Fresh Water Conserve Toilet Water
    What would a sustainable water future in your region look like? What needs to change?

    Ivy Pavick 4/30/2020 1:08 PM
    Everyone should save water when they go to the bathroom, and fill up their water bottles, and while brushing their teeth.

  • Peter Bergstrom 4/30/2020 8:58 AM
    Note--if you're not already using iNaturalist to record your observations of flora & fauna, I highly recommend it. I just discovered that it has state guides such as this one for VT trees, showing all the locations where each species has been reported in VT. https://www.inaturalist.org/guides/313
    2019-06-06_2019-06-06_larch branch 2.jpeg 4.91 MB
    When you see a tree and want to check its ID, you can look here to see if others have reported what you think it might be nearby. Note that unless an observation in "Research grade" the ID has not been confirmed by 2 reviewers yet, and anything that appears to be planted probably will not be reviewed (the app is mostly for naturally occurring species). This larch from my yard was planted.

    • Peter Bergstrom 4/30/2020 2:16 PM
      Lyn, I hope you find the iNaturalist app useful. People in cities used it last weekend in a “City Nature Challenge” to see which city can submit the most plant and animal  IDs. San Francisco is the US leader.  https://www.inaturalist.org/projects/city-nature-challenge-2020

    • Evelyn (lyn) Swett 4/30/2020 12:15 PM
      Peter - - Thank you for inspiring me in so many ways. I just downloaded the iNaturalist app and am excited to use it. I have a terrible time identifying plants and am trying to create an inventory of what we actually have on our less than two acres in Hanover. So cool that there are state guides on iNaturalist as well. Can't wait to explore the tool and the local area more closely. 

  • Peter Bergstrom 4/30/2020 8:25 AM
    Through my slide show about local trees, I inspired someone in Springfield, and someone in Westminster, to work on putting tree ID signs along local trails. http://www.vosssigns.com/products/stock/tree-identification/ I'll probably help both of them with tree ID and choosing which trees to label. This sign went on a tree along a trail in Maryland, where I used to live, for a species that's rare in Vermont but common there. I'm also hoping to present the slide show as part of a museum webinar series, and have it available online.
    Tulip tree sign.JPG 1.17 MB

    • Evelyn (lyn) Swett 4/30/2020 12:21 PM
      Peter - - It is an interesting issue, this idea of identifying things. It's so satisfying to know somethings name, just as it is pleasing to remember a person's name when you run into them in a random place. That said, I sometimes feel as if I spend more time worrying about the name and less time paying attention to the plant itself and appreciating it for what it is. It's like going to an art museum and saying "oh look, there's a Van Gogh, a Rembrandt, a Hopper, etc" and not noticing the details of the colors or composition. Is it about seeing and being seen, or something deeper? I don't have an answer, but I know that I am happier being oblivious when in the woods, so I can pay attention to smells and sights and the feel of things, and being more conscious when in a domesticated space, where I am curious about names and relationships between plants. That may of course be because I'm more of a flower/veg/grasses person than I am a tree person. Nonetheless, my work with permaculture has inspired curiosity about fruit tree and other guilds. So much to think about. Anyway, thank you again for your commitment during this ecochallenge and for sharing what you learned with others and, in the process, inspiring others to do more as well. Yay!!

  • Gayle Giovanna 4/30/2020 8:19 AM
    Further thoughts on biochar: since this process sequesters carbon for thousands of years and adds to soil tilth and fertility, it is valuable. But only a proportion of the carbon is locked up; the rest is sent off into the atmosphere as CO2. It is still essentially a burning process.  My original interest in biochar was as a replacement for burning brush-piles, which many people do in this area to get rid of waste wood. So biochar is better than that, but not as good as letting the brush-pile give up its carbon slowly through decomposition. This may take many years, during which the carbon is sequestered in the wood. Even better is burying the brush-pile: then the carbon is slowly added to the carbon sponge in the soil as organic matter.  

  • Evelyn (lyn) Swett 4/30/2020 7:38 AM
    I can't quite believe that it will be May 1 tomorrow. This month has flown by. It was filled with high expectations and in some ways I am disappointed that I did not do more. But at the same time, given how distracting and disruptive this whole Stay-At-Home order has been, I'm pleased that my family is still able to laugh together at dinner -- Last night, though, I have to admit that as we ate our regular Wednesday homemade pizza, my kids and I were together, but each on our own phones, exploring whatever we felt like. It was our first meal EVER when we have done that. Perhaps a sign that we are getting tired of the routine. But it was also kind of fun and we laughed about it. My husband was still at work and we had all worked hard all day. Caring for the earth means caring for ourselves. And sometimes caring for ourselves means letting ourselves zone out and not have to talk. I hope you are all well. Again, if you'd like to stay in touch for future challenges, please email me directly at evelynrswett@gmail.com  Cheers to all!
  • Reflection Question
    Action Track: Building Resilience Earth Day Art Project
    What did you find inspiring, surprising or particularly fun about your art project?

    Evelyn (lyn) Swett 4/30/2020 7:32 AM
    Actually, I had a hard time doing my art projects. I kept trying to make things out of discarded plastic do dads or other random stuff and kept feeling frustrated. I am proud of the face masks I made for my family and finally finished and I am excited about the art I make all the time - - Compost. Here is my favorite image from the month - - snow on the compost pile on Earth Day. 
    Earth Day Compost 2020 Web.jpg 259.26 KB

  • Gayle Giovanna 4/29/2020 9:27 PM
    The biochar challenge was educational: I learned quite a lot about the pluses and minuses of making biochar. This evening  I finally had the perfect weather conditions, so I gathered everything and grabbed the matches. The feedstock was fallen branches: my path up to the cabin is littered with them.  My intention was to see if I could get the wood to char without burning all the way to ash. The idea is to start with a small, hot fire then smother it with an armload of fresh wood. This pulls the O2 up to the newly added wood; the fire below dies from lack of oxygen. As the new armload start to burn, you are preparing the next armload.Timing is everything:  you want each armload to char without burning completely to ash. When you are done, you douse the fire with water.
           Tonight's burn was okay without being spectacular. The wood was rather too small and burned too quickly; I should have used a larger diameter. Minimum of 2". But I did get some usable char, and I learned what not to do  .