art, Nature, New Green Economy, Saving the World

Contest: Beauty in Nature

A contest everyone can join: show the world where you see beauty in nature.

wonder of nature example
long island sound at sunset

The thrust is this: when we teach our eyes, ears and other senses to focus on the wonders of nature, we open ourselves to the experience of beauty & wonder of the natural world. Just as when we get into city life we open ourselves to the great things about that realm, or even when we open ourselves to suburban life (it does happen) we find lovable aspects.

These days – the thinking goes – the world needs artists to reveal and remind us of the wonder of the natural world.

Can you help?

The U.S. EPA, Generations United, the Dance Exchange, National Center for Creative Aging, and the Rachel Carson Council, Inc., have announced this poetry, essay, photo and dance contest.

Here’s the catch: entries must be from a team of two or more persons:  a young person and an older person.

Can you do it?

The creative work should express the “sense of wonder” that you & your team feel for the beach, the sky at dawn or dusk or night, the ocean, forests, birds, wildflowers — wherever nature is beautiful to you.

Come on, writers!  Also: dancers and videographers and directors.  Use live performers.  Use movement in nature: birds landing, wind in the trees, snow falling, a deer crossing a field, a fish struggling against a stream current… or just plain rain.

In 1951 Rachel Carson published her second book The Sea Around Us.  The New York Times Book Review wrote, “Every person who reads it will look on the sea with new pleasure.”  That’s kind of the whole idea.

Have fun!  Have art.

2011 Contest: Submissions are due June 10, 2011.

Environmental Regulations, Health, Nature, New England, Saving the World, Science

Removing Fluoride From Drinking Water

Calgary’s drinking water will soon be fluoride-free.  City councillors have voted by a margin of 10 to 3 to eliminate the controversial additive from the city’s water.

The issue had become a divisive topic.  Fluoride has been in Calgary’s drinking water for over two decades.  The city still has to inform Alberta Environment of its decision so that the chemical can be removed.

According to the Vancouver Sun, the fluoride debate isn’t just in Calgary.

Should fluoride be mandatory for all citizens?

Interestingly, few argue that fluoride is anything but good for teeth.  Although the Fluoride Action Network points out that humans can have good teeth without fluoride as an additive; then they point out 49 other reasons to oppose fluoride as a mandatory chemical medication metered to the general public by the government. (The 50 reasons are worth a read.)

Activists have a problem with a pharmaceutical creation, a medication, being mandatorily fed to a population.  “What next?” is the thinking.  Maybe Valium is good for people, too.

Valium is not a good example.  But it illustrates the problem.   Just because a chemical compound is believed to be “good for health” by current health measures, should the chemical therefore be added to public consumables?

Who’s got fluoride?

As noted in  “Oral Health in America: A Report of the Surgeon General” (the Surgeon General was David Satcher, May 2000), community water fluoridation continues to be the most cost-effective, equitable and safe means to provide protection from tooth decay in a community.

“The report cites scientific studies finding that people living in communities with fluoridated water have fewer cavities than those living where the water is not fluoridated,” says the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research (NIDCR). “For more than 50 years, small amounts of fluoride have been added to drinking water supplies in the United States….”

We’ve all been drinking this Kool-Aid.

And while fluoride in drinking water may be good for teeth, Kool-Aid with Vitamin C added could be said to be good for an immune system.  Keep it out of my drinking water.

Portland, Maine resident Oliver Outerbridge is leading an effort in Maine to stop fluoride as an additive in public drinking water.  “Our feeling is that adding fluoride to your drinking water is a decision that should be made by an individual. It should not be left up to the government to medicate the people,” said Outerbridge.

Well, if you put it that way….

Where’s the grief?

Many communities have rejected fluoridation.

Others say a low threshold must be established.  “If EPA just did simple arithmetic in a risk assessment, it would have to come up with a standard for fluoride in drinking water of less than 1 mg/L,” said Paul Connett, emeritus professor of chemistry at St. Lawrence University, in a statement.

In Canada, about three-quarters of Alberta’s population have fluoridated water, compared to roughly 45 per cent nationally. In British Columbia, less than 4% of citizens have fluoride in the water.  And in Waterloo, Ontario, residents recently voted by a tiny margin to stop adding fluoride to their drinking water.

In Calgary, fluoride was added to the water in 1989.  City voters narrowly approved adding the substance at the time – so it was never welcomed by an overwhelming majority to begin with.

Wag the dog…?

A great followup to this blog post would be to track the supply chain.  Who’s supplying all this fluoride chemical compound to the utility companies and the public?  And who’s paying for it?

Because it sounds a little like the ubiquitous corn syrup story.  And it doesn’t sound quite right.

Environmental Regulations, Health, Nature, New England, Saving the World

NH’s Stonyfield Farm on GE Alfalfa

Gary Hirshberg, owner and CEO of Stonyfield Farm in New Hampshire, was profiled last May by his wife in an article for Inc Magazine.  It’s hard to say if the profile was complimentary or not.  Surely the article didn’t seek to make Hirshberg sound like a jerk — but it kind of did anyway.  You be the judge:  the Stonyfield CEO profile.

organic farmers jailed by deregulation of GE alfalfa
Organic farmers barred by deregulation of GE alfalfa

Anyway, Hirshberg hit the wires recently with a plea for community support regarding the USDA deregulation of genetically engineered alfalfa seeds.  Outlets like the New York Times published a story (many stories, actually) about this.  It’s big news, for starters because whether you’re an organic farmer or not, wouldn’t you want to know if the seed you’re buying is genetically altered?  Without regulation, there’s no way to tell.

And that’s just the tip.

We hope you’ll take the time to read the letter below from Maria Rodale, Michael Pollan, filmmaker Robby Kenner, and the organic community.

The hope is that you’ll share the letter with your on-line and off-line communities.  Here is a snippet – link to full letter is below.

We stand united in opposition to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) decision to once again allow unlimited, nationwide commercial planting of Monsanto’s genetically engineered (GE) Roundup Ready alfalfa, despite the many risks to organic and conventional farmers.

Last spring more than 200,000 people submitted comments to the USDA highly critical of the substance and conclusions of its draft EIS on GE Alfalfa.  Instead of responding to these comments and concerns, including expert comments from farmers, scientists, academics, conservationists, and food safety and consumer advocates, the USDA has chosen instead to listen to a handful of agricultural biotechnology companies.

USDA’s decision to allow unlimited, nationwide commercial planting of
 Monsanto’s GE Roundup Ready alfalfa without any restrictions flies in the face of the interests of conventional and organic farmers, preservation of the environment, and consumer choice.

USDA has become a rogue agency [wow!] in its regulation of biotech crops and its decision to appease the few companies who seek to benefit from this technology comes despite increasing evidence that GE alfalfa will threaten the rights of American farmers and consumers, as well as damage the environment.

The Center for Food Safety will be suing on this decision.


  • Christine Bushway, Organic Trade Association (
  • Jay Feldman, Beyond Pesticides
  • Michael Funk, United Natural Foods Inc (UNFI)
  • Elizabeth Henderson, NOFA Interstate Council
  • Gary Hirshberg, Stonyfield Farm
  • Liana Hoodes, National Organic Coalition
  • Kristina Hubbard, Organic Seed Alliance
  • Faye Jones, Midwest Organic Sustainable Education Service
  • Robby Kenner, Robert Kenner Films (Remember the movie Food, Inc.)
  • Andrew Kimbrell, Center for Food Safety
  • Russell Libby, Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners (MOFGA)
  • Ed Maltby, Northeast Organic Dairy Producers Alliance (NODPA)
  • Robyn O’Brien, Allergy Kids
  • Keith Olcott, Equal Exchange
  • Michael Pollan, Author
  • Maria Rodale, Rodale Inc.
  • Eric Schlosser, Author
  • Robynn Schrader, National Cooperative Grocers Association (NCGA)
  • George Siemon, Organic Valley
  • Michael Sligh, Rural Advancement Foundation International (RAFI)
  • Megan Westgate, Non-GMO Project
  • Maureen Wilmot, Organic Farming Research Foundation (OFRF)
  • Enid Wonnacott, Northeast Organic Farming Association of Vermont (NOFA-VT)

Interested persons are urged to join in the action to stop the widespread use of genetically engineered seed.  Mind you, it’s not the seed itself that is a problem.  It’s the unregulated, free-for-all use of the seed that leads to its mixing with nearby organic farmers’ crops.  When the genetically modified seed shows up in the field, organic farmers can no longer call their crops “organic.”

Organic farmers’ hands are tied without regulatory support — they’re out of business simply because genetically altered seed creeps into the crop – literally blowing in on the wind.

A dairy producer like Stonyfield is against the deregulation of engineered alfalfa because without regulation Stonyfield can’t tell if the alfalfa they are feeding their cows is genetically engineered or organic.  Organic dairy farmers need to be able to tell, says Hirshberg.

Makes sense.

If you want to get active, sign up to receive action alerts:

Tell the White House you do not support the deregulation of GE alfalfa:

Full letter: