Category Archives: Environment

4th Annual Earth Day Contra Dance at the Northfield Ballroom

Jim Bohnhoff and Suzie NakasianJim Bohnhoff and Suzie Nakasian were practicing their contra dance moves today on Bridge Square, in preparation for tonight’s 4th Annual Earth Day Contra Dance at the Northfield Ballroom, where everyone will be dancing to the music of Contratopia.

See this blog post for details: Celebrate the Season with the 4th Annual Northfield Earth Day Contra Dance.

What’s a contra dance all about?

See my album of the 2008 Winter Stomp Contra Dance, the large slideshow, or this small slideshow, and below, a one-minute video.


Cows, Colleges, and Compost: Northfield’s Earth Day celebration is next Saturday, April 30th

Arlo Cristofaro-Hark and Will Haslett  Arlo Cristofaro-Hark and Will Haslett ARTech greenhouse
I stopped by ARTech last week to visit with two students, Arlo Cristofaro-Hark and Will Haslett. They and other students at the Northfield High School are members of Transition Youth/ Youth Energy Summit (YES) and will have a booth at next Saturday’s Earth Day Celebration in Northfield, 12-4 pm downtown.

I got this info via email but see the Transition Northfield Earth Day page and Earth Day Celebration poster for more:

Earth Day Celebration 2011 posterOther attractions include a rain barrel workshop by Cannon River Watershed Partnership (call 507-786-8400 to register), a dance clinic with the NAG’s Mexican Folkloric dancers, wool spinning demos, a compost exhibit by Prairie Creek Community School, local music and more.

Local exhibitors include Transition Northfield, Just Food Co-op, Cannon River Watershed Partnership, Waste Management, The Sustainable Farming Association, Rice County Soil and Water Conservation, Innovative Power Systems, Community Supported Agriculture and many others! If you are interested in being an exhibitor by sharing something sustainable that you are doing- down load the registration form at

Enjoy break dancers, music, and local food.  There’s something for everyone! This is a zero waste and carbon-offset event.  We encourage you to walk, bike, or rollerblade down to the river. Rain Location: First United Church of Christ- 300 Union St.

Sponsored by: Transition Northfield, Cannon River Watershed Partnership, Just Food Co-op, Carleton’s ACT Center, Prairie Creek Community School in partnership with the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency, Healthy Community Initiative, First United Church of Christ and the Center for Sustainable Living. ASL interpreter will be present at this event.

And for more about the ARTech greenhouse in the photos above, see:

In the Cannon River Wilderness Area, the snow is deep and the water table high

Griff Wigley and Chad Dougherty Chad Dougherty at the Cannon River Wilderness Area Chad Dougherty at the Cannon River Wilderness Area
Chad Dougherty (my mentee) and I went snowshoeing at the east end of the Cannon River Wilderness Area this afternoon. I wanted to show him the site of where Henry Fisk, the Rice County hermit, lived.  In the small protected meadow adjacent to where the Fisk cabin was located, Chad dug down to the ground. You can see that the snow is about 3 feet deep.

groundwater flowing at the Cannon River Wilderness Area groundwater flowing at the Cannon River Wilderness Area groundwater flowing at the Cannon River Wilderness Area Chad Dougherty at the Cannon River Wilderness Area
Up on the bank just south of the footbridge over Fisk Creek, Chad spotted this area where the water is flowing out of the ground. It appears to be a new flow because the grass sod is still visible as it turns to muck.

The fight over wind turbine siting moves from Greenvale Township to Rice County

"Township Wind Turbine Discussion" is agenda item #6 at tonight’s work session after the Northfield City Council meeting.

Dr. Gary Carlson, a physician at Allina, has a commentary in today’s Strib titled Wind energy’s ripple effects.

Gary CarlsonI just returned from a meeting of my county planning committee, where we debated the pros and cons of our neighbor’s proposal to put up two 400-foot wind turbines, with the closest about 1,300 feet from our property line. My family lives on a bluff on the edge of Northfield…

Getting up to speed on the science of sound and the medical research related to wind turbines has been exhausting, and in the process I have discovered the dark medical underbelly of industrial-sized turbines. They produce a lot of infrasonic and low-frequency noise.


Scattered across four Rice County townships and capable of producing as much as one megawatt of power each, the six turbines that received preliminary approval would be constructed by Gro Wind LLC. — a company presided over by Leone Medin.  Medin was a co-owner of Medin Renewable Energy, which attempted to construct the 11-turbine Greenvale Township wind farm in Dakota County along with another company, Sparks Energy.

The companies’ plans failed last year after the wind farm ran into heavy opposition from township residents. According to permit applications submitted by the companies to Rice County, the two turbines that did not receive preliminary approval from the Planning Commission would be developed by Spring Creek Wind LLC., co-owned by Anna Schmalzbauer, Medin’s daughter.

Photos: whooping cranes in the Arb

John Pauley from Prairie Restorations stopped by my office at GBM last week and told me about the pair of whooping cranes that he spotted in the Carleton Arb recently.  There are only 400 of these birds in the wild.

Whooping_Cranes_by_Nancy_Braker_81 012 Whooping_Cranes_by_Nancy_Braker_81 004 Whooping_Cranes_by_Nancy_Braker_81 006 Whooping_Cranes_by_Nancy_Braker_81 010

He sent me photos taken by Arb Director Nancy Braker. I’ve taken the liberty to crop 4 of them. See the stories on the Carleton site:

Sept 15: Whooping Cranes Make Rare Visit to Northfield

Sept 22: Update on Northfield sighting of Whooping Cranes

Carlson SEEDS interns Chelsea and Natasha: planting, growing, selling, blogging

It’s not often that someone beats me to a blog post after a community event. But it happened this week.

SEEDS interns - L: Chelsea Wagner; R: Natasha Hegmann; C: housemate Julia ? Basil from the Carlson SEEDS field Thunderhead over the Carlson SEEDS field 
At last Saturday’s Riverwalk Market Fair, I took the photo on the left of Carlson SEEDS interns Chelsea Wagner and Natasha Hegmann (housemate Julia in the center) selling their wares, including the fantastic basil (center) that Robbie purchased from them. What’s SEEDS about?  The St. Olaf Center for Experiential Learning has a page on it:

The Carlson SEEDS (Social Entrepreneurship, Environmental Design, & Stewardship) internship program, founded by Greg and Nancy Carlson ’82, is designed to engage students in experiential learning and discovery that fosters a deeper understanding and appreciation for environmental stewardship and sustainable agriculture.

Natasha’s July 19 blog post, Produce for Sale, chronicles their Saturday, including the game of "How many farmers does it take to set up a tent?" and a visit from a “professional blogging consultant.” Heh.

Chelsea and Natasha are natural born bloggers, telling interesting stories with fun photos on their Carlson SEEDS blog.

Carlson SEEDS blog