Jul 08

3rd Annual Sustainable Places Tour

Jul 07

3rd Annual Sustainable Places Tour (July 26th) SAVE THE DATE!

Jul 07

July Sustainable Tuesday Calendar

Tuesday, July 1st: Permaculture Series, Healing Spaces, Healing Places
Join Kathryn Gonzalez in an exploration of the Health and Spiritual Wellness petal of the Permaculture flower.  Research has shown that our physical spaces can affect our physical and mental health.  We will focus on how our senses connect with our environment in nurturing us, using the Rail River Folk School outdoor campus as our classroom.

Tuesday, July 8th: Stepping Stone Workshop
Add a touch of color, personality, and peace to your gardens and healing spaces. In this hands-on workshop, MN GreenCorps Member, Sara Dennison will guide us in making garden stepping stones that can be taken home with you! If you have bits of glass, beads, or small stones you would like to use in your piece, please bring them with you! Broken jewelry? Found objects? Old coins? Old keys? Pleasant mantras? These things work too! We will have some adornments available for you  to use.

Tuesday, July 15th: Bee Keeping 101
Join us for a hands-on bee keeping workshop with Simone Senogles of the Indigenous Environmental Network and Perry Eddy. They will guide us in the basics of bee keeping and give insight about the bees that call the  IEN hives at the Rail River Folk School their home!

Tuesday, July 22nd: Fire Building Workshop
If you were out in the wilderness, could you start a fire if you needed to? Fire keeps us warm, gives us light, and cooks our food. Join us for a hands-on fire building workshop with Robert Saxton!

Tuesday, July 29th: 101 Uses for Zucchini 
Are zucchinis the bane of your harvest? Not sure what to do with this summer’s prolific   bounty? Join us for this cooking and preparation workshop with resident chef Trevor Plendl to guide us through how to prepare and preserve this familiar veg. Please BYOZ (Bring your own zucchini if you have some to share!) This workshop will meet AT THE HARMONY FOOD CO-OP COMMUNITY KITCHEN.









Jun 02

Sustainable Tuesdays for June

Join us for Sustainable Tuesdays at the Rail River Folk School between 5:30-7:30

Tuesday, June 3: Build a Portable Rocket Stove from Soup Cans!

Rocket stoves burn small diameter sticks (or other biomass) in a high-temperature combustion chamber to ensure virtually complete combustion of the fuel, which not only makes for a cleaner burn, but a more efficient one, and use   only about half as much fuel as an open fire. Natalie Gille will lead groups to complete several examples and show us how to build a small version that can be used for outdoor cooking, for a camping stove, or for an emergency preparedness kit. Bring a couple of soup cans (regular #10) and safety glasses if you have them!

Tuesday, June 10th: Service Learning Day!
Join us for an exciting work day at the RRFS campus! We have lots of outdoor projects to work on including gardening, weeding, and other permaculture installations! Join us to help out and learn from our local landscaping and gardening buffs! Bring your friends and family for a great afternoon with the Sustainable Tuesday crew!

Tuesday, June 17th: FIELD TRIP! Bog Walk at Bemidji State Park

Join us for a guided Bog Walk tour with John Fylpaa, devoted naturalist at Lake Bemidji State Park. We will plan on meeting at the RRFS at 5:20 to car pool if folks need rides. Then we will head out to the park by 5:35 to start our tour with John at 5:45. Please wear shoes appropriate for light hiking, bring a jacket in case of rain, and as the friendly mosquitos are back, be sure to plan accordingly so you are comfortable along the tour! Don’t forget that vehicles going to the state park will need to have park stickers.

Tuesday, June 24th: Toxic Taters!

In central Minnesota, large-scale potato production covers the landscape for thousands of acres. The Toxic Taters Coalition is a group of rural residents who live near these potato fields. They are small farmers, White Earth tribal members, parents, grandparents, and other community members who are dealing with health problems and livelihood loss from pesticide drift. Since 2006, the Coalition has been calling on RDO to change their practices and reduce the use of hazardous pesticides. Now, the Toxic Taters campaign is calling on McDonald’s to raise their standards for their potato producers nationwide, cutting pesticide use and transitioning to more sustainable potato production. Members of the Toxic Taters Coalition are traveling around the state this summer, sharing their stories in communities across Minnesota. Join us to hear about how potato production is impacting people and ecosystems just a few hours north of us, and how to support local organizing to change it.

Please feel free to print out a poster by following this link. 

Jun 02

Sustainable Tuesday Recap (5/27/14): Mason Bees!

Last week at Sustainable Tuesdays Shirley Nordrum, visited with us about mason bees. Lately we’ve heard a great deal in the media about the struggles of honey bees and the problems and very real dangers that arise with food production when these benevolent pollinators aren’t in tip top shape. As we are learning, it isn’t just our honey bees who are having troubles all of our pollinator friends are deeply impacted by our ever growing reliance on the use of pesticides, fungicides, GMOs, and monocultures. What we sometimes forget is that in the US alone, there are over 4,000 native bee species working on keeping our environment in check. Anything we can do to help our bees keep buzzing is a plus. Shirley directed us to several types of mason bee habitats which can be viewed via the links below:

Mason Bee house 1
Mason Bee house 2
Mason Bee house 3 



Jun 02

Sustainable Tuesday Recap: Carbon Tax and Carbon Trading (5/20/14)

On May 20th we had the honor of sitting down with Tom Goldtooth, Executive Director of the Indigenous Environmental Network and Brett Cease, former MN GreenCorps member and community leader, on the topics of Carbon Tax Policy and Carbon Trading where we learned about the complexity of these issues and their social and economic implications to our world and wellbeing.

20 individuals from the community joined us for an interactive discussion where we considered the complexity of how to effectively, ethically, and responsibly shape policy regarding complex issues that involve the cost of human wellness.

Some words to take with us:

“The Creator has entrusted with us a sacred responsibility to protect and care for the land and all of life, as well as to safeguard its well being for future generations to come.”

-Albuquerque Climate Declaration 1998

Any effective U.S. climate policy must address:

a) Economic, environmental and social injustice
b) Take a holistic view of the economy and ecological systems
c) Close the door to false solutions

We also viewed several short videos on these topics which can be viewed below:

Cap and Trade 101
Dangers of Carbon Trading
Getting Involved With Carbon Policy (Citizens Climate Lobby)

It was a spirited and incredibly important conversation and we are so glad to have had so many people attend and share their ideas and questions with us!




Jun 02

Sustainable Landscaping Workshop: Outta the Ball Park Success!

This past Saturday, May 31st, approximately 30 individuals from the community and 6 talented presenters assembled at Bemidji State University for a Sustainable Landscaping Workshop focused on remixing landscaping practices in our community to be more environmentally savvy. The workshop was a hit and all available spaces were filled right away. There was tremendous excitement regarding working to make our yards and outdoor spaces more sustainable and we look forward to seeing the seeds of re-visioning greenspaces spread throughout the Bemidji area.

I’d like to extend a special thank you to the folks involved with organizing such an outstanding event and to the folks who took time out of their Saturdays to attend. It is through the dedication and devotion of our community that these events are made possible.

Special thanks to those who sponsored and presented:
City of Bemidji Sustainability Committee
Karvakko Engineering
Bemidji State University Sustainability Office
Erika Bailey-Johnson, Sustainability Director at Bemidji State University
Mayana Rice, Planning Administrator for the Greater Bemidji Area Joint Planning Board
Diana Kuklinski, Permaculturist;
Cathy Peck, University of Minnesota Extension Master Gardener
Christine Herwig, Nongame Specialist for the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources
Keith Kinnen, Landscape Architect at Karvakko Engineering.

May 16

Upcoming Sustainable Landscaping Workshop


Join us Saturday, May 31st, 9 a.m. to Noon

for “Sustainable Landscaping:  Weeds or Wonderful?”

at the American Indian Resource Center, Gathering Place, Bemidji State University

parking is free

Register at Karvakko.com (Max of 30 participants, so sign up early!)

So, what is beautiful landscaping?  Is it a manicured lawn that takes so much time, money, and resources to maintain? Or is it a space that is rich in biodiversity and promotes the health of people and the planet?

Sign up for this free workshop on Saturday, May 31st, to learn more about sustainable landscaping, including what you can and can’t do with your lot if you live within the city limits. Local experts will discuss choosing locations and plants to benefit the soil and pollinators, including both native plants and vegetable gardening.  This workshop is geared towards city residents, but anyone can register. This workshop is sponsored by the City of Bemidji Sustainability Committee, Karvakko Engineering, and the Bemidji State University Sustainability Office.

Presenters will include the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, Beltrami County Master Gardeners, the Greater Bemidji Area Joint Planning Board, a landscape architect, and a local permaculture expert.

Click here for a Sustainable Landscaping Poster. Please help us spread the word about this exciting event by sharing this information with those you think would be interested in attending!

We hope to see you there!

May 14

Sustainable Tuesday Recap (5/13/14)

Last night at Sustainable Tuesdays,  Diana Kuklinski, our resident permaculture advocate and expert, lead us in an important discussion about the good work of pollinators and how we can attract these species to our outdoor spaces.

Pollinators are fundamental to the wellness of the environment and to people and to the food needed for all of us to survive. At the Rail River Folk School,we have already begun working to create an environment which is rich in food and fiber for local wildlife (including us). One of the exciting initiatives we have been working on is the installation of several pollinator gardens. Last Sustainable Tuesday and at another planting session on Friday, groups of devoted individuals dug through the rocky soil of the RRFS campus to tear up sod, build a hugelkultur, and plant 25 pollinator shrubs including elder, american hazelnut, chokeberrychokecherry, rugosa rose, and Saskatoon or juneberry.

Before a walking tour of the campus and a discussion about future installations, we viewed a short video series about one woman’s journey to convert her lawn into a bonafide cornucopia of edible plants. View the videos here: Lawn Gone Part 1, Part 2, & Part 3. Some of techniques shown in the videos we will try at the folk school. We are excited about the progress of these installations and will be doing a lot of planting early this summer. And we can always use a few extra hands.

Sustainable Tuesdays are a blast and a tremendous opportunity to experience a side of Bemidji that highlights good people doing good work. Please join us! I can attest that these events are, without a doubt, the highlight of my week! If you are looking for something fun to do with the whole family or want to learn about an array of topics devoted to promoting wellness and equity within us as well as within our environment, please join us Tuesday evenings at the Rail River Folk School at 5:30pm.

We hope to see you there soon!

May 13

Green Living Up to Date!

Hello Sustainable Bemidji Friends,
We’ve been busy over the last few months. Below, you will find a timeline of the events and sustainable ongoings that folks from our community have facilitated or participated in. We are glad to share these events with you and hope to see you at our May Sustainable Tuesdays!

December Sustainable Tuesdays
December 16th: First Report to City Council from Sustainability Committee
January Sustainable Tuesdays at the Rail River Folk School
January 18th: First Ever MN GreenStep Cities Celebration of second step status
February Sustainable Tuesdays at the Rail River Folk School
February 1st: Back To Basics Workshop in Pine River
February 5th: Sustainability Committee Meeting
February 6th: Science Fair Presentation at Middle School “Beware of the Grease Monster”
March Sustainable Tuesdays at the Rail River Folk School
March 5th: Sustainability Committee Meeting
March 7th: Attended Solar Powering MN Conference
April Sustainable Tuesdays at the Rail River Folk School
April Earth Month at Bemidji State University
April Documentary Thursdays at Bemidji State University
April 21st: 2nd Report to City Council from Sustainability Committee
April 23rd: Grease In Bemidji: Cleaning up the Headwaters
May Sustainable Tuesdays at the Rail River Folk School
May 7th: Sustainability Committee Meeting


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