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November 3, 2017

Yesterday, I stepped over one of my barriers.  I lit a candle and spoke my prayer out loud to a congregation of strangers.  My heart was pounding, I had to catch my breath before I spoke.  Then I walked back to my seat and thought to myself, next time I don’t want to be nervous.  It’s uncomfortable to make change, to do how we do things, differently. 

As I sat in the backyard of my home, the sound of I-70 was roaring in the short distance.  My little one and I watched the bees coming in and going out of the Apiary that our neighborhood cooperative, Stuart St. Coop, has built.  My daughter and I noticed the workers stationed at the door,...

November 1, 2017

About 10 years ago, with my middle child swathed on my back, I planted vegetable seeds in the ground.   I wanted to figure out how it worked.  I wanted to teach my kids a way of eating separate from a grocery store purchase.

Each year since a new patch of grass has disappeared into the past and has become a new little urban garden somewhere in my yard.  What was at first an experiment evolved to become a mission to learn to plant and raise foods that could feed my family.  Now, looking back, it has produced something far beyond what I ever could have imagined…gardening has helped me to build my community.  On all sides of me are people that in th...

October 31, 2017

I have met with but one or two persons in the course of my life who understand the art of Walking.

-Henry David Thoreau

I ran across this article, The Fine Art of Walking, written by Dionne Lapointe-Bakota in Taproot, the magazine for makers, doers and dreamers (Issue 19 if you want to enjoy).  Sounds lovely just reading the titles.  The authors words set in and came back to me days after I had read them.  There is something interesting to think about our lives as these series of fast moving events, leaving one to get to the other, hardly a moment for self-thought in between.  How often do we take time to breathe, to think about what we know, or to dream ab...

September 27, 2017

A different world cannot be created with indifferent people, says the fortune cookie.

Sustainability could be…

Just doing it, but differently.
     Seeing the whole system,

When you buy and do.
     Where does it come from?

How was community left, 
     did they shoulder a burden, 
          did they have access to also enjoy?

Whose hands put it together?
     What did their hands look like when it was over?
          Can we encourage better from across the world?

How far did it travel?
     How was the land treated?

Maybe sustainability is more than the idea of being...

September 21, 2017

Life can feel so busy, just packed full of the little everyday things we do all day long. Yesterday I was humbled by the thoughts of these high schoolers that I am working with. We are talking about sustainability, a topic I have taught and thought about for many years.

Are humans over reaching the capacity of the earth?

Are we using too much?

How can we change the gloomy outlook in such an age when we are so controlled by media, established corporate, political, and social norms?

There was this moment where it dawned on me, all I know is to hope. My work to guide these young beautiful minds to seeing something else, something even I don’t know fully yet. M...

August 29, 2017

The first thing that I have been reminded of this week is that changing a habit is difficult, it almost feels counter intuitive. We have all done it, right? Try to work ourselves into functioning in a different way, but still finding the norm in what it was before. The bike ride didn’t happen on Monday, one sweet kid had an early dismissal, another had a rough time entering into the first day of school. I felt frustrated trying to keep with the plan. Then, the second reminder came, have patience in the imperfection as it shifts into something new… go slow… let the change become what it is. Our habits have formed over years, so to reform will also take tim...

August 23, 2017

I have three kids, all are going to be in three different schools, and I work full-time downtown.  Today, I mapped out the crazy pattern of driving that will begin at 7am in Denver, take me to two schools in Wheat Ridge, then around back to Sunnyside in Denver.  I drop my car next to school number 3 and then grab the bike from the back of it.  Now, just a few more minutes to the office with some fresh air and no parking problems. 

It’s been burning me, how do I secure, and rationalize, bike riding time over car time when every minute counts?  A ten-minute bike ride…it’s just a small slice of my fossil fuel pie, but a very important time and...

August 16, 2017

This summer, I drove across North America from Manitoulin Island on Lake Huron, through Michigan, Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Missouri, then Kansas, and finally to Denver, Colorado.  The morning we left the island there was this beautiful fog gently laying over the land.  The rolled hay bales sitting quietly on the freshly mowed field felt so familiar and sad to leave.  I was thinking about my my own connection to this land.  Then I thought about the history of this island and how this was originally all First Nation’s land, it was even guaranteed by treaty in 1836.  Like an echo all over North America, the familiar story of cultural genocide is woven throug...

July 27, 2017

Years ago, one day after a lesson on sustainability, a student said, ‘This is so interesting Austine, but I have to be honest with you, what does it mean for my life or my work as an elementary teacher?’  Suddenly, it came crashing down on me that in educating about sustainability, I had been showing these beautiful examples of a Platinum LEED certified building, the initiatives in Pudre School District to build a geothermal energy source, and the story of Nick Chambers with Choke Cherry farms in Crestone living off of the land and off grid with his family, but they weren’t practical examples for everyone.  This simple question revolutionized how I wanted...

July 22, 2017

I remember when I first started the process of removing rocks from landscaping walls.  We had just moved in, it was 2003, and there were rocks everywhere.  I dreamed of growing beautiful gardens everywhere, but I didn’t know the first thing about gardening.  First, I planted mint, then sage, then oregano.  The next season, one by one, I removed the rocks from the next garden and planted chives, valerian, tarragon, lavender, and raspberries.  Eventually, year by year, almost every inch of grass was removed as well and replaced with asparagus, rhubarb, sweetgrass, a peach tree, grapes, butterfly weed, blackberries, the list goes on and on....

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