Thursday, April 20, 2017

Nelson Institute 11th Annual Earth Day Conference

April 18, 1917
Reviewed by: Dolly Potts, 4/19/17

     I attended the 11th Annual Nelson Institute Earth Day Conference in Madison, Wisconsin. The conference was held April 18, 2017 in the Monona Terrace Community and Convention Center a beautiful building designed by famous architect Frank Lloyd Wright. The building sits on the shores of Lake Monona, the building’s design is spectacular. I was happy to have spent the day there.

     The first session that I attended was The Future of Food. The presenters talked about how we will feed a growing world.  Some of the technology and social issues these choices will affect are health and culture. Irwin Goldman, Professor and Chair, Horticulture, UW Madison presented about an issue surrounding the ownership of seeds. The Open Seed Source Initiative is an organization working towards freeing the seeds. The other presenters spoke of adapting to the social issues and population of the earth today.

     The second session I attended after lunch was Who Owns the Future? This session was about how today’s environmental decisions affect future generations. The moderator was Patty Lowe, Professor, Life Science Communication, UW-Madison, and LacCourte Oreilles Ojibwe. I liked Patty she led a very interesting session.

     What made this session so interesting was 18 year old, high school student, Victoria Barrett, Activist with Earth Guardians. She is part of the 21 plaintiff suit, Our Children Trust. It is a suit involving the rights of children to have a say in environmental quality and natural resource availability. The suit was declared to have merit and is in federal court. Victoria is from New York and spoke of how she became involved with the suit.

     I enjoyed the conference immensely there were a hall full of exhibits. I did some networking, and met some very interesting individuals. Everyone was involved with the environment and ecology. The presenters, whether they were students or professors, led the sessions were very well and were knowledgeable and committed to the subject.  

The two most significant responsibilities we have as a society are the education of our youth and the preservation of our Resources”, Gaylord Nelson, founder of Earth Day. 

Friday, December 9, 2016

Global Indigeneity and Sustainability Seminar

November 28, 2016

One of the last seminars of the year was great one! I was able to hear from health professionals as well as a community member with his own perspective on this very important and urgent issue.

Alex Adams, MD, PhD, Montana State University presented about Partnerships for Health with American Indian Communities. She talked about the health issues affecting Native American communities in Wisconsin, specifically, Menominee. Childhood obesity prevention was the focus of the study because the Native American population had the highest percent among other minority groups. The factors that played a role in the Menominee community were lots of convenience stores, no grocery stores, no playgrounds, and no access to fresh produce. Using the Menominee community engagement meetings as a starting point in 2011, the Menominee people were able to implement programs to address childhood obesity. The community gardening program through Food Distribution is an example of how the Menominee people took action and began to work towards a healthy solution.

Guy Reiter, Menominee County Community Organizer, spoke of using language and cultural as an approach to community health. He talked about balancing our spiritual, mental, physical and emotional health. “Standing on my head, I see the strength of our community is in the roots”, Guy stated. One way he has addressed community health is implementing monthly Pre-contact feasts in the Menominee community focusing on traditional foods without preservatives. Another way, is sharing community knowledge by working to develop a calendar of seasonal events and happenings, such as, specific times of the year when most people are sick. This calendar will be yet another way to help the community to be healthy by tracking patterns. Having community dances is also an option Guy and fellow community members are considering in the near future.  So look forward to a jigging competition in South Branch.

Lori DiPrete Brown, UW Madison-Global Health Institute presented on, “Making the Local to Global Connection in Health and Well Being”. Lori worked with young girls in Honduras using a global health approach. Global health, Brown said contains collaborative research, health, and action in all environments. Global health works with populations, not individuals. Under the scope of global health are communicable disease, nutrition, environmental health and special populations. Trends include growing and shrinking populations, urban dwelling, diets high in sugar, fat, salt, and physical inactivity. Challenges in global health are AIDS, no clean water, inadequate bathrooms, obesity and sexual violence. Policy dealt with national security, trade, and inequality that is unethical and unjust. Lastly, Lori spoke about the girls in Honduras and of other women groups in Latin America and the inroads she has achieved with the groups.  

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Global Indigeneity and Sustainability Seminar

November 8, 2016

Filiberto Penados - Engaged Scholarship and Service Learning Director, Center for Engaged Learning Abroad, Belize
Paul Robbins - Director, Nelson Institute of Environmental Sciences, UW-Madison

Filiberto Penado’s topic: “Colonialism, Sustainability and Maya Land Rights: Challenges to the Real Plan” was about Belize’s colonization by the British. Belize is the only English speaking country in South America. Colonization brought about changes to the indigenous communities of Belize.

Filiberto told us a story of a farmer. The farmer had a relationship with the land, providing for his family. The Real Plan was an abundance of food. The farmer grew everything so his children did not have to want. The children grew, went to school, and go to the city to work. When they come back they do not like the food. This hurts the “Real Plan” there is no relationship with the land, the society loses sovereignty, and the importance of land rights to survive decline. Land rights and the importance of land mean survival. Land and the relationship with land is like “constructing a ship to navigate the rough seas of capitalism.”

Filiberto spent Tuesday at the College of Menominee Nation visiting with Sustainability Leaadership Cohort students and passing out information about studying abroad in Belize. I also spent time visiting with him comparing the similarity of native indigenous communities with those in Belize . We talked about our gardens. Our gardens are similar because we grow foods that are consumed by our families. Gardening is important to both of our communities.

Paul Robbins presented about “Producing wildlife: reconciling biodiversity, commodity production and labor rights in India. The Adivasi is the umbrella term for the heterogeneous set of ethnic and tribal groups considered the aboriginal postulation. The Adivasi inhabit the land area next to a region established for animal conservation. Through the laws of the Court of India the Adivasi cannot harvest, collect or graze on this land. The locals respond by not doing these activities if there is threat of officials finding out. In many cases local authorities look the other way. The practices of the Adivasi have not affected the animal population in any adverse way. The Adivasi go about their herding without hurting the animals in the hills. While a goat may be sacrificed to the jaguar the loss is not noticeable. Climate change has been the biggest factor in animal conservation. The droughts of the area are longer and when the monsoon season comes this causes land erosion. Loss of habitat and food sources then occur. 

Thursday, November 3, 2016

Cultural People's Survival in the Modern World

Cloconda Corello was the first presenter her topic:  “Networks of care: Buddhist Environmental Education in Thailand. Small Buddhist communities in Thailand incorporate sustainability using indigenous faith that makes a citizen that take care of human and non- human. On small farms they will combine nature and work activity to actualize a socially driven friendship of interconnectedness. She worked on a farm on the outskirts of Bangkok that focused on dhammajati. Dhammajati is using the way of nature to reap the spiritual benefits of living, seeking the help of the entire system. She talked about the markets where the vendors share information on what the community needs.
Armando Muyolema,  Andean,  the second presenter his topic was, “Institutions and Human Behavior, Perceptions and Attitudes”. The presentation was about the preservation of the Quechua language and the survival of the Andean world. He spoke about indigenous people’s right to indigenous language and knowledge in the education system. Muyolema gave several examples of how the Ecuadorian government suppressed the indigenous language focusing on using “Castellanizacion”, the only language used in schools. He talked about the Quechua language and knowledge of the indigenous people not being used when teaching students. He showed photos of the schools remarking many are very modern and nice but do not allow the students to be indigenous. 

Putting The Turtle Garden to Bed for Winter

The SDI staff and interns put the Turtle Garden at SDI to bed for the winter. The Turtle Garden is a project started in the spring of 2014. The garden was developed from ideas brought forward at community engagement meetings involving the concept of food sovereignty. The garden is planted in the shape of a turtle with 13 garden plots, for the 13 cycles of the moon. The shape and 13 garden plots represent the outer shell of a turtle’s back.  Individual plots are adopted and planted by SDI interns, CMN students and the community. Produce from the garden is also sold at the campus Farmer’s Market, Kehtekaewak (they eat food) during summer and fall.

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Fall Harvest: Wild Rice Casserole Baked in a Pumpkin

Take one medium size pumpkin and hollow out the inside. Cut the top off big enough to scoop out the casserole. Once stuffed you will place the top back on the pumpkin.


Boil carrots, celery, and onion in chicken broth covering vegetables. Boil until they are partially tender. Season to taste salt, pepper and sage.

Mix vegetables when done with cooked wild rice and one can of cream of chicken or celery.

Add in cooked cubed chicken. Mix together.

Put the mixture into the hollowed pumpkin placing the lid back on. Make several pierces along the sides of the pumpkin.

Cook the now stuffed pumpkin on a baking sheet or pan in a hot oven of 350 degrees for around 1 hour for a big pumpkin or smaller 45 minutes. Test with a fork for tenderness.

Enjoy (:

Recipe by: Dolly Potts

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Field Trip to the Menominee Forest with the Ashwaubenon High School Conservation Class

Yesterday, I accompanied my Mentor for a field trip with the Ashwaubenon High School class. It was a warm, pleasant day and the forest was in its fall regalia. The leaves were colors of red and gold. We began our morning with a walk on the learning path here at CMN. Dean Fellman, Center for First American Forestlands Director, talked with the class about the forest management and sustainability practices of the Menominee Nation. The class had questions about the age and number of the tree species in the forest. Some of the White Pine are at least one hundred years old.

Our next stop was Keshena Falls, then we moved on to the Wolf River Dells. We were honored to have as our guide Jeff Grignon, a forester with the Menominee Nation. Jeff talked about two aspen clear cuts on the way so the students were able to see the amount of growth and diversity in each plot. At the Dells we hiked a half mile trail to a spot on the rocks overlooking the Wolf River. After lunch, Jeff spoke to the class about the relationship of the trees to the environment around them. He emphasized how each mother tree took care of all the plants surrounding her. Jeff compared the trees to humans and how we each are a part of a community. The students then had time to explore their surroundings and learn from the forest.

The last stop of our trip was to the beautiful Woodland Bowl of the Menominee. At the beginning of the trip staff was given a list of questions the students had. On the list were several questions about a Powwow. Jeff and I spoke about what goes on at a powwow,  the reason for dancing in a circle and how the being outdoors was special to Native people.  I invited the students to join us for the Powwow in August and explained that everyone is welcome to come learn from us and experience the dancing styles and contests. I spoke on the importance of diversity of people to learn from each other. It was a wonderful day out in the woods on a splendid fall day.