Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore

Wetland Preservation & Restoration

Wetland preservation is crucial to maintaining biodiversity, stabilization of climate and purifying surface water. Restoration efforts by the National Park Service for the The Great Marsh wetlands are underway. The goal is to diversify the ecosystem and improve water quality through the removal of non-historic buildings, seed collection, controlled burn to restore prairie, sand replenishment to reverse erosion.

Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore


Cuyahoga River & Cuyahoga National Park — Ohio

River Fires & The Creation of the EPA

While it is still designated by the EPA as one of 43 contaminated sites in the Great Lakes Areas of Concern, we can thank the Cuyahoga River for being a catalyst for establishing the National Environmental Protection Agency (Jan 1, 1970) and Clean Water Act (1972). The river had caught of fire 13 times due to pollution, starting in 1868. It would be over 100 years before the Environmental Protection Agency would be proposed by Richard Nixon to regulate pollution.

Cuyahoga River & Cuyahoga National Park

Tallgrass Prairie National Preserve — Kansas

Bryophites and the Tallgrass Prairie

Less than 4% of tallgrass prairie remains in the US, formerly 170 million acres. In part, for that 4%, we can thank the rocky soil that prevented early farming. Bryophytes are both heavily disturbed by strip mining, and help restore prairie altered by strip mines. These little miracle plants are amazing.


Wadena, Minnesota — Jack Pines

Jack pines cleared in Wadena for potato farming for McDonald’s french fries

12,000 acres of pine forest were purchased by a North Dakota company to convert into potato crops. The clearing of this rare Minnesota forest impacts wildlife unique to the area and creates a possible water safety issue. Potato crops typically use heavy pesticides, a potential threat to a local aquifer and drinking water source. 42 square miles of Jack Pines were cleared, an area equivalent approximately to three cities combined, before the clearing was stopped by the Minnesota DNR.


Heather On Collaborative Partnerships and the Human Need to Connect

Heather Dudley-Nollette is co-founder of The CoLab, a coworking space in Port Townsend, Washington. This increasingly popular model of sharing space and resources strengthens community and encourages entrepreneurs and freelance professionals to share ideas, collaborate and innovate. While Heather is investing energy into the new collaborative workspace model of The CoLab, she is also helping to preserve and restore a prominent historical landmark in Port Townsend. As project manager of the Hastings Hotel Project, she is leading the historic rehabilitation of the 125-year old building into a boutique hotel.

The synthesis of cultivating the new, restoring the old and preserving the historic, gives Heather a unique and broad understanding of the effort and humanity required to collaborate. She believes that at the core of this work is the human need to connect. Whether she is collaborating to restore and bring into service a cultural and historical landmark or creating partnerships with small business owners to stimulate a new economy, the intent is the same: to bring people together to connect, make good things happen and help community thrive.

I’m a performing artist, a business person, a mom, a wife, a daughter, a niece, a sister, a friend. Art and relationships tend to lead my perspectives on the world. So, when I put on my entrepreneurial, business and community leadership hats, I tend to see all of my work through that lens.


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Anna and Aris Start Dreaming on Santa Monica’s Third Street Promenade

Santa Monica’s Third Street Promenade is full of stories—stories about performers from varied backgrounds looking toward their own unique futures. Everyday, dozens of performers share a stage on this 3-block pedestrian walkway. Originally designed by Frank Gehry and Victor Gruen in 1978, the project (then called Santa Monica Place) halted during the recession in the 1980s, and was reimagined and rebranded by ROMA Design Group in 1990. This urban renewal initiative has become a shared public stage for countless performers with an average daily audience of over 40,000 people.

Permit in hand, musicians, jugglers, dancers and performers of all kinds can entertain and present their craft 40 feet away from each other performer. The sounds of music, comedy, banter and poetry all blend together, creating a slightly overwhelming, but festive continuously shifting event. Shoppers wander from store to restaurant to street vendor, witnessing performers of all types, from a 5-year-old playing Led Zeppelin licks on guitar to a seasoned songwriter to a comedian drawing a crowd next to a man painted entirely in silver who flaunts a wink as he transforms into a living statue. You can literally never have the same experience on Santa Monica’s Third Street Promenade as performers switch cue and rotate throughout the day and evening.


Anna Berg (19) has been singing her whole life. Aris Weathersby (18) started playing guitar when he was 12 years old after he found an old acoustic in a shed at his mom’s house. Anna and Aris met at Musicians Institute in Hollywood, California, each working toward a Bachelor of Music degree. They started playing together a few months ago.

I knew Anna was a great singer so I figured that as long as I had my stuff together we could do well in Santa Monica.


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Wherever You Go, There You Are


Public Field Guide’s 2014 Retrospective art exhibit features photographs of nature and land while on my journey to find people who are creating their New American Dream. The show can be seen at Kopplin’s Coffee in St. Paul, MN until January 4, 2015.

At the opening reception, I asked a few people to share their stories of rethinking life and work or following a dream.

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Alfonso Makes Paint From Local Flowers to Make Art About Community

When Alfonso was a child his family did not have enough money to buy art supplies. Instead, he would scavenge in the various towns where he lived to find posters that he could use as paper. He would search around train tracks to find coal to draw with. As a child, when he was running around and grabbing all those flowers and coal to make pigments and pencils, he felt he was somehow connecting the community or making a map of a specific neighborhood. Today he does the same some thing but with a higher level of understanding.

Artist Alfonso Fernandez


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Brian and Marianne Grow Their Urban Homestead

Brian’s academic training is in groundwater geology and environmental engineering, but his interests are much broader and have been always evolving. He spent a lot of time at his grandparents’ house on Lake Michigan, which imbued in him a deep reverence for water. He also spent some time living on a hobby farm in rural northeast Wisconsin, where he worked on dairy farms. In the past, his jobs involved remediating contaminated groundwater—mostly from leaking underground storage tanks. He wanted to help clean the planet. His job at Chevron, and later engineering consulting work, allowed him to see oil production in far-flung places (Azerbaijan, Angola, Kazakhstan).

I began to realize that humans were mis-using this one-time bounty of stored energy from the sun—cars and plastic bags being examples of mis-use. We’re using this carbon too quickly—and we might just eliminate our species in the process. Not to mention all the others. I am trying to fight my own anthrocentrism.

Marianne Combs and Brian Davis

Marianne works as an arts reporter at Minnesota Public Radio, and has always had a strong connection to the environment, which has deepened significantly over the past decade. She grew up along the Pacific Ocean, and remembers picking up plastic trash that washed up on the shore with her mother. Her mother and walking buddy Laurie would using a Swiss Army knife to release birds caught up in fishing wire.

When I return to the coast these days, I’m always saddened to see how the wildlife—starfish, sea anemones, mussels—has diminished.

As a high school exchange student in France, she learned the importance of locally-sourced food, but didn’t connect it to her own actions until she bought a house in 2002. She planned to fill the yard with roses, lilies and tulips, but her mother suggested she start a little herb garden behind the kitchen. Now the tulips she planted have been overrun by strawberries, and the lilies are crowded out by the tomato beds.


Continue on to read the interview with Bran’s 3 Tips for Urban Gardeners and Marianne’s 3 Tips for Reducing Household Waste.

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Marc Starts a Mindfulness Movement

Marc Anderson of M2

Marc Anderson is the founder and executive director of the M2 Foundation, an organization that cultivates advocacy for mindful-living in our schools, workplaces, and communities. The mobility of programs like nomadic mediation, nomadic drumming, and retreats promote the idea that mindfulness can be anywhere and go everywhere, making it possible to gather at a central hub within any community.

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