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Sustianable Tourism, Buy Local, Rural-Urban Connections

Archive for July, 2010

Minnesota Garlic Festival a zero waste event

Posted by deborahmclaren on July 29, 2010

5th Annual Minnesota Garlic Festival

Saturday, August 14, 2010
(2nd Saturday in August)
10:00 a.m. – 6:00 p.m.
McLeod County Fairgrounds in Hutchinson

Adults: $5, Kids under 12: $3, stroller/carried babies free

No Pets Please


Minnesota Garlic Festival is the premier event for lovers of garlic, great local foods and good times! Family friendly, fun filled and fragrant, this festival features fantastic foods, celebrity chefs, marvelous music, area artisans, goofy games and lots of GARLIC – all in support of a healthy environment, sustainable farms and vital rural communities in Minnesota.

Minnesota garlic growers will have the first of their fresh 2010 gourmet garlic crop at the festival, and it can keep in your kitchen for up to a year! There are over 100 varieties of the country’s finest garlic grown here, all planted in October, harvested in July, and cured to perfection just in time for the festival. Other than the great taste, it is well documented that garlic is one of the healthiest foods you can eat.

The Garlic Festival offers a unique culinary experience with a cadre of renowned Minnesota chefs converging at the festival cafe, “The Great ‘Scape”, and a sumptuous selection of celebrity chefs will present cooking demonstrations on the main stage throughout the day, all under the direction of the our Maven of Mmmmm, Mary Jane Miller. Check at the web site below in the summer to get the full roster.

We’ll continue our tradition of unique entertainment, with festival favorites returning, plus some new acts. There’s plenty of activities for the kids, including the popular kite flying attraction, the Peculiar Pragmatic Promenade, and old-style country picnic games.

MN Garlic Festival is A ZERO WASTE event! We make a concerted effort to produce no trash – if you can’t take it home, it’s recycled, re-used or composted.

Come to farm country and Taste the Bounty!

Sponsored by the Crow River Chapter, Sustainable Farming Association of MN and others.

For more information, contact:
See for more information.

Posted in Buy-local, food and wine, Minnesota, Slow Foods, sustainable tourism | Tagged: , , , , | 3 Comments »

You are more influential than you thought

Posted by deborahmclaren on July 22, 2010

Join the Influence Project!!

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a Comment »

Indigenous Tourism Biodiversity Award and Interview with Oliver Hillel

Posted by deborahmclaren on July 22, 2010

Briefly, the ITBWA is a unique, important award for Indigenous Peoples involved in tourism. Listen to Ron Mader (host of and interviewer) and Oliver Hillel of the CBD who sponsors the award.

Click here for the Youtube interview, Oliver Hillel and Ron Mader.

Posted in award, ecotour, Indigenous tourism, sustainable tourism, Technology | Tagged: , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Biking through the Twin Cities…

Posted by deborahmclaren on July 6, 2010

Alternative, human-powered transportation is fun, healthy, helps Minnesotans reduce our carbon footprint, and provides a totally different way to experience our cities

Minneapolis is the bike-friendliest city in the country!

The April ’10 issue of Bicycling magazine ranks Minneapolis ahead of 49 other large and medium-size cities in accessibility to bicyclists. Portland has long ranked first, both in the magazine’s rankings and other surveys. “Despite the cold wintertime climate, Minneapolis has a thriving bike community. It has 120 miles of on- and off-street bicycle facilities, plus indoor bike parking and other cycling-friendly facilities.”

It’s pretty good when you live in this climate but can still bike to work and play six months out of the year. The Twin Cities have excellent bike lanes, plenty of bike racks, great trails, a bicycle “Midtown Greenway,” and some new free and fair priced rental bike programs. Check out the Minneapolis bike website for maps, trails, detours, and cool things like the new bike sharing program.

What could be cooler than this happy rider?

Bike sharing allows individuals to check out bicycles for short trips. The local non-profit Nice Ride Minnesota operates Minneapolis’ bike sharing system. Individuals must purchase subscriptions to check out bicycles – these are offered at daily, monthly, and yearly rates. Approximately 700 bicycles are located at 65 kiosks in Downtown Minneapolis, the University of Minnesota, and nearby commercial areas. View the real-time map to see bicycle availability. I’ve noticed that they are not just available along riding paths – you can easily find them in front of Minnesota’s beloved food co-ops, restaurants, museums and even City Hall. There are over 60 kiosks to choose from.

The “other” Twin (of the Twin Cities) is St. Paul – the most livable city in the US and my town!

Sibley Bike Depot
is a not-for-profit community bike shop and volunteer run organization. It grew out of the Yellow bike Coalition (YBC) and The Minnesota Bicycle and Pedestrian Alliance (MNBPA). The Depot has Free Open Shop hours every week, even during the winter! This means that anyone can come in during their open hours, work on their bike, use the Depot’s tools, and talk to mechanics free of charge. The Earn a Bike program is an innovative program to provide bikes to people who could not normally afford them. By working in the shop, people can earn-a-bike. The Depot organizes group rides that focus on teaching safe riding techniques and the skills needed to utilize bicycles as a form of transportation. The Sibley Bike Depot is a collective that relies on volunteers. If you are interested in volunteering, Email Volunteer Coordinator

Sibley Bike Depot's motto

Saint Paul’s Smart-Trips helps visitors and locals find alternative travel and commuter options. Their website provides info about
· Bike locker information & locations
· Metro Transit’s Bike and Ride program
* Biking and walking maps
· Midway Biking and Walking Maps
· Downtown Bike Parking & Lockers Map
Online Bicycle Route Finder:

Luckily the bike-friendly cities are easy for families to bike on. We started out with our little one in a Burly. By the time he was 5 he graduated to a half-bike and now that he’s 9 he rides his own bike. I’ve blogged about Twin Cities bike-a-thons, festivals, and other events in the past. Let me give a shout out for the Saint Paul Classic Bike Tour coming up on Sunday, Sept 12, 2010.
Sign up as an individual, family or group for traffic-free glee, five options from 15 to 54 miles long, music at every stop, and beautiful tree-lined streets and bridges over the Mississippi River.

I love my city!

Posted in alternative transportation, Minnesota, Saint Paul, Uncategorized | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

Kickapoo Country Fair

Posted by deborahmclaren on July 2, 2010

Now in its seventh year, the Kickapoo Country Fair is the Midwest?s largest organic food and sustainability festival. The fair serves up a generous helping of fun for all in celebration of family, culture, and community, all the while looking toward a healthy, sustainable future.

The Kickapoo Country Fair will bring together thousands of attendees for two fun-packed days of food, music, bike and farm tours, cooking demonstrations, theater, kids? activities, dancing, author readings, and speakers, all offered at an affordable price for families.

Authors, activists and innovators including Temple Grandin, author of Animals Make Us Human;
Wisconsin Author Michael Perry reading from his latest book Coop and performing with his band, the Long Beds

Weekend passes, which provide access to all activities, are only $10 for adults, $5 for kids 12 and under, and kids five and under are free. For more information about the event, including schedule details and lodging information, or to purchase tickets, visit

Location: Organic Valley Headquarters, LaFarge, WI
Date: July 24-25, 2010

Posted in family travel, Uncategorized | Tagged: , , , | 2 Comments »

I’m Young, I’m Positive, I’m Your Future

Posted by deborahmclaren on July 1, 2010

I’m Young, I’m Positive, I’m Your Future
Rob Ramer, parent, St. Paul, MN
June 2, 2010

Sixty students at JJ Hill (Montessori), an inner city elementary school in Saint Paul, rapped, drummed, played recorders and xylophones, danced, and sang their stories to a rhythm and melody of their own. The school auditorium was alive with excited teachers, parents and other students representing an assortment of wonderful colors of America. The kids were excited about learning and being part of their school community. They were rapping about hard work, perseverance, respect and other good old American values. Lots of people give our public schools a bad rap but this rap exemplified the real treasure that is our public education system and made me proud to be an American and a Minnesotan.

This inner city K through 6th grade school has pretty good test scores but is known for its wonderful atmosphere of respect for learning and for each other. It has a smart and dedicated principal, teachers devoted to their pupils, lots of involved parents and hundreds of bright-eyed students representing many of St. Paul’s 60+ language and ethnic groups. On stage at the Spring Concert you could see it all: little brown-eyed boys rapping about their puppies, blonde kindergartners performing folk dances, almost teenage girls rapping about love and justice. Mostly you could see the children and their whole community powerfully responding to music, creativity, art, communication and self expression. The kids were recognized not only for their singing, dancing and musicianship, but also for writing lyrics, developing the beats, and composing their own songs.

American public schools historically have produced the basis for our democracy and economy. I’m a proud parent in my late fifties. My grandfather never finished eighth grade. My father went on to become an engineer; I’m a computer security specialist. Most of us have similar stories that are the basic foundation for our progression from agricultural to industrial to a knowledge-based economy. And this progress has been, in a large measure, due to our strong, universal public education system. Public education has also brought together people of all classes, nationalities, religions and races to create our vibrant democratic culture.

These positive attributes and skills are often ignored by the drumbeat for educational reform. Many people denigrate our American public schools by comparing test scores to those in other industrialized societies – often falsely portraying US students as dumber than those in parts of Asia and Europe. What these studies don’t point out is that poverty rates and test scores are related, and the US has higher poverty rates than other “developed” countries. When accounting for the differences created by our poverty, US schools compare favorably with other developed countries.

I grew up in India where students excel at taking tests; where fifth graders had to memorize facts that most American college students don’t know, and where high test scores are considered the main goal of one’s studies. India has produced many great scientists, computer engineers and doctors, yet because of the focus on test scores, its public education system does not prepare most students for the tasks a modern economy requires. America’s economic and social development was not pushed forward by the facts students learned but rather by our ingenuity, problem solving, ability to collaborate, and striving for the common good. Testing has its place but learning to pass an exam doesn’t teach vital life skills. Students learn these life skills through sports, music, classroom life, student government, and art and science projects – building and living in a school community.

While there is a lot that needs fixing in our schools, many critics of public education are calling for radical changes on one hand while cutting funding with the other. And these funding cuts are eroding many of the programs that make our public schools the treasures that they are. J.J. Hill’s Spring Concert and music program do not directly contribute to the school’s test scores but they do create the enthusiasm and sense of community that animate young minds. Music and other arts programs produce an atmosphere of enthusiasm, curiosity, mutual respect, creativity, and safety that enable kids to learn geometry, and principles of engineering, algebra, and biology (all things that I never learned in grade school).

About ten years ago, Governor Ventura pushed for a tax cut because Minnesota had a budget surplus. I received a refund of $400 and bought a new lawn mower. That was the last we heard about state surpluses and we have been cutting school budgets ever since. While I liked that tax cut in 2000, my lawnmower is now starting to rust, the funding for music has again been cut, and my son’s school is losing the teacher who built the music program that set his nine-year old heart on fire.

Where would we be if our parents and grandparents had demanded the same kind of immediate gratification rather than struggling through the Depression, World War II, college educations and going on to build our highway, communications, healthcare systems and other modern industries? All along the way they were also paying the taxes to provide for many of those advances. My 8th Grade educated grandpa used to say, “You get what you pay for.” and that is still pretty true. However, when it comes to schools our generation got what our parents and grandparents paid for. And now we don’t want to pay for the kind of public schools that enabled us to get where we are at.

Those kids rapping “I’m Young, I’m Positive” are indeed our future. They are going to be our future engineers, scientists, and technicians or the burger-flippers, car-washers, and unemployed of our economy and the voters of our democracy. So the kind of future we are creating for ourselves and our country depends on keeping them positive about education and learning.

Let’s get our own priorities straight and re-invest in our schools, our future. I’m ready to give up a new tax-return financed lawn-mower to make sure my kids and grandkids have the kind of educational foundation that we did. Now, where are the political leaders willing to tell the truth that we do have to reverse the tax cuts and start paying for a positive future?

Posted in Minnesota, Saint Paul | Tagged: , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Shout out to St. Paul parks and Theresa Boardman, photog…

Posted by deborahmclaren on July 1, 2010

St. Paul Capitol by photographer & blogger Theresa Boardman

Beautiful St. Paul capitol

The City of Saint Paul has great places to visit and fun activities for the whole family to enjoy. Included among its facilities are more than 170 parks and open spaces, the Como Park Zoo and Marjorie McNeely Conservatory, a 9 hole and three 18 hole golf courses, over 100 miles of trails, indoor and outdoor pools, a public beach, sports and aquatics facilities. I love my town!

I just found Theresa Boardman’s wordpress blog with amazing photos – a lot of St. Paul but also the upper Midwest from Chicago through the Dakotas. She’s a wonderful photographer. Please give her some love and check out her photos. I hope she doesn’t mind me sharing them here on my blog.

Amy Toscani’s sculpture “Muscle” with an Elroy Jetson-ish spinning beannie on the top.

For more information about Saint Paul Parks & Recreation visit

Posted in Minnesota, photography, Saint Paul, Uncategorized | Tagged: , , , | Leave a Comment »

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