Archive for November, 2012

Recycling Thanksgiving

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We had some questions about what gets sorted out from the dumpsters we use, so we turned to our knowledgeable garbage guy Steve Christen from AA "Always Available" Roll Off Service.


What is getting recycled these days? Steve said the market is always in flux. One of the easiest things to recycle is construction wood, which is chipped for landscaping mulch.


For a while, Steve found a market for non-typical plastics in Ashland with a company that was recycling lawn furniture, but then that market disappeared. "With plastics, petroleum is embedded energy. At some point we are going to find the value in these materials."


One of the issues is that unlike some countries that have limited land area or broader protection policies, we still have plenty of space that is being used for landfills in the U.S. Until the price of land becomes more expensive than the value of the materials we are throwing away, markets for recycling will continue to be transitory.


Steve writes a monthly column as the "Recycling Guy" for the Superior Telegraph. It's a great read! You can email him your recycling quesetions at:


On another recycling note, folks had a great time at our Second Annual Leftover Thanksgiving potluck. We were having so much fun we forgot to make any photos until the party was over.


Leftover Thanksgiving!

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You are cordially invited to our second annual Leftover Thanksgiving, a drop-in potluck Friday November 23, 4 - 7 pm.

Turkey and drinks are provided--bring something you like to eat! Drop by and say hi or tuck-in for lively food and conversation.


We'd love to see you!

More Chickens

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This week we added to our Icelandic flock with assistance from David Grote at Whippoorwill Farm in Iron River, Wisconsin.

We took a road trip to Whippoorwill Farm and purchased two hens and a rooster, with the intentions of adding the hens to our pair, and giving the rooster to Theresa, one of our chicken benefactors.

Whippoorwill farm is beautiful. Even the overcast chill didn't take the spark out of the rolling hills and happy animals--three farm dogs, Priscilla the fjord horse, a pile of Icelandic sheep and an energetic coop of Icelandic chickens.


We had a great time, and finished our trip with a purchase of some of the beautiful hand-spun yarn David makes from his sheep's wool. We'll keep you posted on what creations come of the yarn from Monika and Opha. Vickie, our knitting friend, will whip up some warm goodies--note her matching sweater and half-gloves.



Theresa reports that the rooster is really mellow and is working well with her flock. Our chickens have been a different story--we now have Matilde on her own for awhile, to reflect on and hopefully reform her actions and stop pecking at the new hens, Bianca and Björk, who are patiently sitting in the background of this photo.



Some Time to Dream

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This week we reconnected with the Duluth Graduate Design Studio, checking in to see what questions and sites the students are tackling in their final phase of the semester. The course is a combination of graduate Architect and Landscape Architect students looking at opportunities and issues that Duluth is facing now and in the next 20-50 years.


There are 17 project teams. Each team presented their preliminary thinking, choice of site/s and reason for why they are focusing on their chosen issue. Many groups cited the ideas and goals stated in presentations of Mayor Ness and other city and Port officials, making good use of the information they gathered during their survey visit in September.


Projects ranged from stormwater mitigation solutions to environmental and entrepreneurial research to trail systems in the Iron Range.


Bob Bruce came down from Duluth to give feedback to the students, and connect them with folks in Duluth with expertise on the topics and sites they are exploring in their designs. Bob is an architect who has been active in Duluth and the region for 30+ years, with experience ranging from the executive director of the Sigurd Olson Environmental Institute at Northland College to head of planning for the City of Duluth.


Bob was excited about the opportunity to see new ideas and hear how the students were thinking about Duluth's future.


"Dealing with emergencies and the day to day is essential, but it's not the only thing. You need to take time to position for the future, and think about what you want it to be," Bob explained. "There has to be some time to dream."


The students will be presenting their design concepts at a public event at Clyde Iron Works on Wednesday, December 12 from Noon - 2:00 pm. Come on by to see and hear what the students are dreaming for Duluth.


Duisburg’s Shifting Landscape

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Famous before completion, Duisburg Nord Landscape Park (Latz+Partner, design 1990) is a stunningly successful example of the repurposing of an industrial site into a multi-functional landscape. We had a chance to tour the park between attending the IENE conference and Glasstec.

Formerly an ironworks plant in the Ruhr area of Germany, the site became a shining example of how a polluted industrial site, or "brownfield," can become home to new human use and ecological opportunities. Once-rare examples like Seattle's Gassworks Park (1975), projects to remediate and repurpose brownfield sites are now too numerous to count.


This shifting of use marks how the location and scale of our industrial processes transform, and who performs the "work" of our current industrial era. Duisburg Nord is still surrounded by active industry, but is also adjacent to freeway and retail expansion.


Minnesota is no stranger to changing industrial markets and scales. From the fur trade to white pine to iron and other minerals to wheat and corn, the landscape and culture have continually re-formed to fit viable and profitable modes of extraction and production.


Below are links to some folks who are imaging and analyzing industrial landscapes. Edward Burtynsky's photographs examine "nature transformed through industry." Landscape architect Kate Orff and photographer Richard Misrach have imaged and visually analyzed Louisiana's chemical corridor in "Petrochemical America."

How, what and where we procure and produce things will continue to evolve. Each change signals an opportunity to adjust and refocus our cultural intentions.