Feb 13

New Face for Green Living Bemidji

Hello Sustainable Bemidji Friends,

You are in the right place!

We are proud to announce the release of our new website design. We have fresh new look for a brand new year. We attribute our hiatus to conversations regarding the future of our web presence. Needless to say, changes are coming. For now, we will keep Green Living as our hub for sustainability updates in our community.

What’s been going on:

Sustainable Tuesdays

On Dec 10th Sarah Verke discussed her experiences as a parent who has worked over the last 4 years to become better informed about our exposure to toxic chemicals in the     environment, food, products, furniture, toys, water, air – almost every aspect of our lives. Her message was that as parents, we have to make choices, and we aren’t getting the information we need to adequately protect our children from exposure to these chemicals. But, once we learn to identify, and ask questions, we can change our  behavior and work to minimize our exposure. Sarah shared useful resources with us as well as focused on some high exposure chemicals that we can identify and avoid.  Sarah ran a few products through the EWG Skindeep database which is a useful tool to identify exactly what the ingredients are that are on the  labels of our products.  You can find a link to the website she introduced to us here:
EWG Skin Deep Database

On Dec. 17th We focused on Yuletide Cooking and the Mead Hall. Bemidji State University’s Medieval Club teamed up with local chef and BSU student, Trevor Plendl to share their insight and expertise in the history and exposition of popular holiday foods from England circa 16th century. We learned how to spice up our holiday meals with this history and cooking class held at Harmony Foods  Co-op!

On Jan. 14th We kicked off the new year with a continuation of our Permaculture Series, Planning Spaces with Jerry Stensing and Diana Kuklinski.  At this event, Jerry Stensing, founder of Trees Minnesota coached us in selecting trees and shrubs that do well in our area. He helped us understand how to best plan and set goals for our spaces, taught us about some of the things we should consider regarding specific site condistion and climate change as we kept last month’s discussion, ideas, and goals for the Rail River Folk school in mind.

On Jan. 21st We had an Idea, Solution, and Stuff Swap. In the spirit of the new year we decided to take the opportunity to think about what we’d like to change within our lives and the environments of which we are a part. At the swap we looked at ways to better manage the things we keep around us by using thrifty and clever ways to keep our spaces sanctuaries. Folks that came to the swap were encouraged to bring things to share/trade/get rid of. Left over items were distributed into the community.

On Feb. 4th Diana Kulklinski continued our Permaculture Series as we focused on Harnessing the Energy of the Sun. In observance of the old Celtic festival of “Imbolc” (The Gathering of Light), we frosted-seed a native grass/flower bed at RRFS. We discussed permaculture principles for harvesting and cycling energy, focusing on Zone 0, our homes and buildings.  By using the energy triangle and case studies of solar site assessments at RRFS, Harmony Food Coop, and a private home, we discussed the elements of siting, orientation, and systems we can use to capture and cycle energy. Most of the energy we use is fossil fuels coming from out of state, leaving us incredibly vulnerable. This evening we had a frank discussion about our energy situation and discussed low cost strategies anybody can use to capture the energy of the sun.

On February 11th Our focuses turned to Light and Energy as we heard reflections from a Family Physician on Health and the Environment. This evening we had Dr. Diane Pittman, Family Physician and expert on Integrative Medicine, who discussed some of the latest science on health and the environment and reflect on what it means to be a human organism in the world’s energy economy.  How do our bodies generate energy from our food?  What goes wrong when we consume food that we have not evolved to handle?  How is our health and well being influenced by the natural environment and the challenges modern life?  How does light affect our moods and sleep patterns?  This wide ranging discussion pulled in 21 folks from our community together to discuss our as we explored together the relationship of light, energy, and human health.

More Updates

Sustainability Committee

Dec. 16th Sustainability Committee Updates City Council on GreenStep Cities progress. Requested at City Council in a Quarterly Capacity.

Jan. 8th Sustainability Committee meeting at 6:30-8 at City Hall

Jan. 9th Bemidji State University Sustainability Office Free Store teams up with Goodwill and Community Food Shelf to get excess goods that would otherwise end up in the waste stream to the community. Free Store space now extended at Food Shelf.

Jan. 15th Chat About with Kelly Stone aired regarding GreenStep Cities Celebration and Sustainability in our community

Jan. 18th First-Ever GreenStep Cities Celebration at Brigids Pub with Presentation by Mayor Albrecht and local community members. Event broadcasted via Upstream T.V.

Feb. 1st BacktoBasics Workshop in Pine River. Present “Bleeding Green in Bemidji” by Erika Bailey-Johnson, Sara Dennison, and Alex Miller

Feb. 6th MN GreenCorps member, Sara Dennison presents “Don’t Feed the Grease Monster” at the Bemidji Middle School Science Fair to educate community about the effects of grease waste on waste water treatment. Sustainability Office’s Trevor Plendl and Jordan Morgan present variety of projects happening on the BSU campus.

We’ll have more updates for you soon!




Nov 18

Middle of the Month

Happy Monday, Bemidji.

I don’t know about you but it seems like the days are moving more swiftly. Perhaps it is because the sun is set by five-thirty on a good day. November is a tricky month to maintain balance. It is that chunk of time where we are reminded of family and memories, some good and bad. In this time, it is helpful for us to have a network of people that are closer in proximity to us than the people we love but don’t get to see very often. Our place is this place and I can honestly say it is a joy to commune together.


So far this month, we have had the very good pleasure at Sustainable Tuesdays to be focusing on fiber as a theme. Our November 5th session went off without a hitch as Diana Kulklinski and Megan Arndt guided us through integrating the needs of wildlife with the needs of people  and showed us how to use the plan for an installation of food/fiber landscapes at the  Railriver Folk School as a model for a useful design process.

Last week we joined Kirstin Majkrzak at the Two Eyes Weaver Studio and learned hands on about spinning fiber into yarn and weaving our fibers into a tapestry. Together we began weaving a tapestry for the Railriver Folk School, where each of us selected a lock or spun a shock of fiber that represented something about us and placed it into the loom. The lesson, apart we are fragmented. Together, we are something unified.

JOIN US TOMORROW NIGHT, NOVEMBER 19th @ 5:30pm @ Railriver Folk School for: THE ART OF FELTING!

Also, keep on your radar the exciting project below!



Bemidji, MN – The public is invited to participate in the creation of a community mural focusing on environment and culture in the northwest Minnesota region. Red Lake Anishinaabe artist, Wesley May will lead a series of hands-on sessions to discover vision and experiences of the natural world to express both diversity and commonalities through art. Together, participants envision, design, and paint a mural to reflect our unique region, cultures and population. Everyone is invited and encouraged to attend, regardless of painting experience or artistic ability. It is our hope that this painting will reflect the beauty and diversity of not only our unique region, but of our unique and diverse community.

Join us at the Railriver Folk School, 303 Railroad Street, in Bemidji, for these free workshops. Session 1 begins Thursday, November 14th from 6-7:30 pm, with 4 sessions to follow: Saturday, November 16th from 10am to 1:30pm, and from 6-7:30 pm- Thursday, November 28, Thursday December 5th, and Thursday, December 12th.

# # # #

For more information contact Wesley May at wesley@wesleymayarts.com or Simone Senogles at 218-751-4967 or simone@ienearth.org

This activity is funded in whole or in part by a Region 2 Arts Council Grant through an appropriation by the Minnesota State Legislature, and the Arts and Cultural Heritage Fund passed by Minnesota Voters on November 4, 2008


That’s all we have for you today. Thanks for tuning in.



Nov 04

November Events

Happy November, Bemidji.

The time has come where we bundle up in our favorite sweaters and start preparing for the months ahead. As winters in the northwoods can sometimes silo us into our respective corners of the forest, this month at Sustainable Tuesdays we will be working to leave that tendency behind, come together, and stay together. Much like the fibers in that favorite sweater mentioned before. We are indeed the fibers of this place.

Join us as we weave our community at the upcoming Sustainable Tuesday events.


Join us a bit early at 5:00 tomorrow, November 5th at the Rail River Folk School for a raking party. Bring a rake and bags of leaves if you have any to donate to mulch-making.  


Northwest MN Campus Clean Energy Forum, Wednesday November 13, 2013 from 8:30-3:00 at Bemidji State University! 

Please consider attending this FREE energy event at BSU!

The forum will be a day-long event where people from all over NW Minnesota will come together to discuss opportunities for and barriers to clean energy and energy efficiency on college campuses. Whether you are a Sustainability Coordinator, Student, Facilities Manager, Financial Officer or Professor, you will have the opportunity to learn from what others are doing on your campus and around the region, share your own unique experience and perspective and be a part of an important larger discussion on how to make our college campuses more energy self-sufficient! Our goal is to celebrate the incredible work you’ve all been doing on sustainable energy issues, learn from each other’s experiences and work together to brainstorm creative ways around barriers to clean energy and energy efficiency projects on our campuses.

We are also thrilled to have Jason Edens, Executive Director of the Rural Renewable Energy Alliance (RREAL), give the keynote address at this event! You’ll get to hear about Jason’s experience with turning his passion and educational experience into a successful non-profit endeavor and how RREAL is working with campuses on innovative clean energy solutions!

Lunch will be provided, and therefore we’re asking you to register…however registration is FREE!

So please visit our event website to register today at : <http://nwcampusforum.eventbrite.com/> and spread the word!

Send along this invitation to others at your institution that might be interested in participating!

Oct 30

Sustainable Tuesday Feedback Opportunity

Hello Sustainable Tuesday Friends!

We would like to first thank you for your continuing support of Sustainable Tuesdays! It is our every effort to facilitate Sustainable Tuesday events that draw on the interests and strengths of our community. To help us keep these programs spirited and fresh, we would like to invite you to share your input with us! If you would like to participate, you can click on the link below to take a short survey. Please share your opinions and visions with us!

Link to survey:


With warm regards,


Sara & Simone

Oct 17

Seeds in Review, Next Week in Preview

Good Morning Bemidji,

In the substance of a seed, there lies a story. Not only the story of that year’s journey, but in the journeys of the generations that came before it. This October, as the harvest wanes, we have focused our attention to the nature and possibilities for seeds.

Seeds in Review
I’d like to send a resounding thank you out to those who attended our Sustainable Tuesday events the last few weeks at the Rail River Folk School. On the 8th of October Cheryl Krostosek of Chill Creek Ridge farms began our discussions about seed saving. We send out another thank you to Zachary Paige of the White Earth Land Recovery Project who continued our seed saving discussion and introduced us to seed banks and seed libraries as well as directed us to a wellspring of resources that will aid us in our seed banking journey.

If you want more information about seed saving, please come to the:

Seed Saving Workshop at Leech Lake Tribal College, tomorrow in the LLTC Drum Room from 930 to 430 October 18th, 2013. This is a free event – come learn and share!

Please register online by clicking here. 

Next Week in Preview 

Next Week, October 22, Sustainable Tuesday will be meeting at Harmony Foods Co-op at 5:30 for a hands on session lead by Rochelle Johnson regarding  tips and tricks for canning and preserving pumpkins and other fall harvest goodies. Please bring 5 dollars to cover the cost of materials and a love for pumpkins. 

Also, next week marks Bemidji State University’s Half Way to Earth Day celebration. Several Events are open to non-students and we would love to see you there. Come to a documentary and discussion, a traditional skills workshop, or the Bemidji Natural Choice Farmer’s Market! We hope to see you there! (click on the image below to increase its size)





Oct 15

Sitting with Rain

Hello Bemidji,

Today, I think it timely to celebrate rain.  Chilly beads of the stuff have been pattering at the window for the past day and a half and have rendered me in a mood. It is a good mood, no doubt, and for it I am thankful. There is something about rain that soothes and slows and gives us a rest from the rat race of daily do’s and don’ts.There is something too, about being a little chilled, that makes it all the merrier to cuddle up in a blanket on the couch with something hot to drink and something good to read or think about.

In my rain induced reflection, I’ve been tinkering with some thoughts that have been swimming around my head for the last few days. Last week,  I had very good fortune to travel to Nashville, TN to a conference run by the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education. Approximately 1700 people from across the U.S. (and world) assembled at Music City Central to network and share their understanding of sustainability within their regions. It was a stone soup of disciplines, personalities, and bright ideas. A common thread throughout the conference, however, was a focus on the necessity of resilience when speaking in terms of sustainability. Another resounding thread was an understanding that sustainable communities cannot be siloed. Individuals are the backbone of productive communities and are undeniably the most valuable resources communities have. Many voices help us have a greater understanding of the complex context that surround our common understanding of place. When we are offered the opportunity to share our voices in the spirit of connecting, I think it’s something we like to do.

In the very spirit of sharing voices,  I ask: What do you like to read, write, or think about when it rains? Or maybe, what does it mean to be resilient?

If you’d like to share your thoughts, please post your comments in the Village Forum at the top of this page.

Don’t forget to join us tonight at 5:30 at the Rail River Folk School for a Sustainable Tuesday event focused on Seed Banks and Seed Libraries! We hope to see you there! Until next time.



Oct 03

Our Village

Happy Thursday, Bemidji.

It’s been a busy week. As the temperatures steadily drop, it seems the pace of these autumn days have quickened. In the whirlwind of our weeks, somewhere in-between work, and life, and play, it is useful for us to take a moment to sit with our thoughts before we dive unblinkingly into the next. The cacophony of the lives we tend to lead leaves us with little time to celebrate the simple joys of good ideas, the laughter of strangers, or even the silence of close friends.

This week, it is my very good pleasure to reflect on another successful Sustainable Tuesday at the Rail River Folk School. This past Tuesday, was one of those rare-seeming opportunities to sit down with our thoughts and delve, for a moment, into the philosophies of social permaculture in the second session of our Permaculture Series.

On Tuesday, participants were welcomed to become part of the growth and future of the Rail River Folk School as the hub of our community village. Our conversation began with defining permaculture. Patrick Whitefield was cited as defining it as “the art of designing beneficial relationships.” Beneficial relationships come into play not only through the careful consideration of garden and green space arrangement or through the particular architectures of facilities, but also in the interactions and relationships of individuals within our community.

Our conversation continued with a discussion about Kelda Miller’s article “Being the Change in Your Village” available in its entirety by clicking on the article’s title.

We continued with a walkabout through the RRFS and considered the importance of individuals being empowered to share their passions, ideas, and wisdom in a place that is eager to house such things. As our evening came to a close we ended with a productive and passionate brainstorming session regarding the future of RRFS.

Here is an image of what we came up with:

In an effort to continue these discussions, you will find a new tab at the top of this page entitled: Village Forum. Please use this space to share your thoughts, pose questions, or comment about the state of Sustainability in our community.

Be sure to join us next week on:

Tuesday, October 8th for a Seed Saving Workshop. Bring your own produce and we will teach you how to harvest and preserve seeds to grow wholesome and healthy food at your own home.

Thank you for tuning in. We’ll catch you soon.

Sep 30

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Sep 30

Unacceptable Levels Documentary Coming to Bemidji

Unacceptable Levels is coming to Bemidji. This documentary takes an unflinching look at the implications of the “chemical revolution” of the 1940′s. A series of testimonies and interviews initiated by filmmaker Ed. Brown have been stitched together into a compelling narrative regarding the effects of “over 80,000 chemicals flowing through our system of commerce,” and bodies.

Join us Thursday, October 17th  at 7:00pm at  the CEC Bemidji Theatre for a showing of this film, hosted by Tugg. Be sure to purchase your tickets by October 10th to save yourself a seat! Hope to see you there!

Take a peek at the trailer by clicking the link below.


Sep 26

Welcoming Autumn and Revisiting this Week’s Sustainable Tuesday

Greetings, Green Living Bemidji friends.

As September is fast coming to a close, telltale signs of fall are in the air. As temperatures crisp and as the leaves begin to blush, we close a door on another Bemidji summer and open another for autumn. It is timely, as the Northwoods brushes on her rouge, for us to delight in the spectacle of the natural world, to say farewell to another green season, and tip our hats to oncoming transition.

In light of this transitional time, it is with deepest gratitude and sincerest appreciation that I thank the Bemidji community for their warm welcome of me as Bemidji’s third GreenCorps member. I am honored to be received with such kindness and am inspired by the beauty of this area, the creativity and passion of its people, and this community’s abundant love of place.

This past week’s Sustainable Tuesday event: Eating in the Forest-Edible Plant and Mushroom walk with Joe Knutson, student at Bemidji State University, was a striking example of Bemidji communing together in the outdoors. An inspiring 33 individuals attended this event eager to learn about the tasty treats growing in our backyards.

After gathering at the Rail River Folk School, we headed down to Diamond Point Park for a tour of edible delights and information regarding best practices for the harvesting and preparation of wild edibles. Along our walk, Joe pointed out chaga-a medicinal fungus-growing from a Birch tree, chicken of the forest growing from an oak stump, puff ball mushrooms popping up from the lawn, as well as a slew of edible foliage including cattail rhizomes, plantain, jewel weed, willow, sumac, rosehips, wild chamomile, among many others.

Joe directed us to several useful print resources with excellent information regarding the identification of wild edibles. These titles as well as other images from our adventure are  in the gallery above.

As the sun began to set, we finished up our walkabout in front of Bemidji State University’s OPC boathouse with a cup of sumac tea.

Be sure to join us next week for our next Sustainable Tuesday to continue our Permaculture Series with Diana Kuklinski.

Tuesday, October 1st: A Rail River Folk School (RRFS) Village – Planting Seeds of Possibility Together

Become part of the growth of RRFS as “Our Community Village”! In this lively and interactive conversation, we collectively envision the future of RRFS – Gardens, greenhouse, edible landscaping; alternative energy and conservation; green spaces; celebrations; gathering spaces to share ideas, services, pizza parties and more! Grounded on principles of social permaculture, we will tour the RRFS grounds and engage in a shared visioning process that embraces all levels of engagement as we move forward to make this collective vision a reality.

For more information on village crafting, check out the Permaculture Activist article at:


We’ll keep you posted with October’s Sustainable Tuesday Schedule. 


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