June 22, 2017
We hope you enjoyed Parts 1 & 2 of our “Pin-worthy Camping Tips” Series! Let us know if you tried any of the delicious camping recipes or exciting, family-friendly camping games. Today, we’re coming in with even more tips to get you geared up and ready for your next camping vacation with us. We have found some must-have camping items that we just had to share. You can pin your favorite tips to your own Pinterest Boards so they’re always just a click away! Here are our Pin-Worthy Camping Tips - Part 3: Must-Haves!
- THOUSANDS of RV owners around the country submitted their must-have RV camping accessories and so this amazing catalog was born. This expansive list covers it ALL! Seasoned RV campers are knowledgeable - they know what works and what doesn’t. Click to read their tips: https://www.pinterest.com/pin/332070172501137269/
- This is a list of must-have items to keep in your car at all times...so why are we sharing it? Because your next camping trip in an RV, cabin, cottage, or tent will also benefit from having these must-haves on hand. Convenience is key - you’ll be so happy you read this list and have these items readily accessible! https://www.pinterest.com/pin/422281195871223/
- The items on this Pin-worthy list may seem obvious and simple but they are definitely must-haves for your next camping adventure. Sunscreen, kitchen utensils, and bug spray are just a few of the items on this list. Click to see even more of these helpful must-haves: https://www.pinterest.com/pin/705798572823209397/
- Camping with your children? Many of our guests are! Kids love being in the great outdoors - fresh air is good for the entire family - but don’t forget the essentials! Flashlights, bottled water, and board games are just the beginning of this must-haves list. https://www.pinterest.com/pin/AVyRlSzuW0-vhQCocipSTB0hpTwkzsSJXEGjZFHmcA8tanELy4AaeRE/
- Yes, yes, and yes! Here are 25 must-have camping essentials that are sure to make your camping trip the best it can be. https://www.pinterest.com/pin/20195898307363110/
Remember to save these Pin-worthy must-have camping items and share them with your family & friends. Then, leave us a comment and let us know which items you plan to bring on your next camping adventure at our resort!
June 15, 2017
Pin-Worthy Camping Games
We hope you enjoyed Part 1 of our “Pin-worthy Camping Tips” Series! Let us know if you tried any of the delicious camping recipes. Today, we’re coming in with even more tips to get you geared up and ready for your next camping vacation with us. Camping games are a great way to get to know each other better, get in a good laugh, and create fun memories together. You can pin your favorite tips to your own Pinterest Boards so they’re always just a click away! Here are our Pin-Worthy Camping Tips - Part 2: Camping Games!
- This one will be fun for everyone! Explore and enjoy the great outdoors with this nature scavenger hunt. Keep your eyes open, and work in pairs, to find all of the items on this list! The pair that checks off every box first - WINS! You’ll be amazed at everything you can find outside. https://www.pinterest.com/pin/307300374556500114/
- These camping games don’t require any light or preparation. You can do them anywhere - plop down in your cabin’s living area or set up some chairs outside your tent or RV - and bring the kids.
- Nature tic-tac-toe, camping bingo, and capture the flag...just to name a few! There are over 100 camping ideas in this pin-worthy post (we’re not kidding!) so there are plenty of games to choose from. The possibilities of inexpensive fun are endless! These are kid-approved but appropriate for the entire family.
- Summer weather gets toasty! While there is always the pool, there are other ways to beat the heat. Check out these 15 outdoor water games that the kids will really enjoy - most of these games include water balloons!
- Who doesn’t like a little friendly competition? These insanely fun outdoor games will keep you and your kids busy all summer long. Let the games begin!
Remember to save these Pin-worthy camping games and share them with your family & friends. Then, leave us a comment and let us know which games you’ll be playing on your next camping adventure at our resort!
June 9, 2017
2017 is literally flying by! Lucky for us, summer officially starts this month and we’re already knee deep in CAMPING SEASON! We want to make sure you’re armed and ready for your next trip to our resort - and so we begin our “Pin-worthy Camping Tips” Series! We will be focusing on Recipes, Camping Games, Must Haves, and Extravagant Extras. You can pin your favorite tips to your own Pinterest Boards so they’re always just a click away! Here are our Pin-Worthy Camping Tips - Part 1: Recipes!
- Breakfast is the most important meal of the day. And, when you’re camping, you want it to be fast, simple to make, and easy to clean up! Enter these 15 delicious camping breakfast recipes that will make you want to eat ‘the most important meal of the day’ for breakfast, lunch, AND dinner!
- Grilled cheese is a staple in most households - kids love it, adults love it, everyone’s happy! It’s an easy camping lunch option and, with these 20 delicious grown-up grilled cheese ideas, you’ll never get bored!
- Like to spend cleaning pots and pans? We don’t either! With these one pot recipes, you’ll have a delicious meal for the entire family with only ONE pot to clean - sounds like doing dishes won’t be so bad after all!
- Dare we ask….what’s better than having only one pot to clean? That’s right, having NO pots to clean! Most of these foil-wrapped recipes can be cooked over a campfire, on a grill, or in the oven - with very (very!) little cleanup.
- A little something sweet is the perfect way to end any meal! Throw this easy, delicious s’more cone recipe on the grill next time - everyone can pick their “toppings” and make their own sweet treat!
Remember to save these Pin-worthy recipes and share them with your camping family & friends. Then, leave us a comment and let us know which recipe you’ll be trying on your next camping adventure at our resort! Happy Cooking!
May 30, 2017
Revving Up the “Home on Wheels”
With recent passenger scuffles and power struggles, air travel has lost its luster. But sometimes the journey is just as important as the destination. If travel is your least favorite part of a family trip, why not consider an RV – otherwise known as a “home on wheels”?
Going camping in an RV allows you to slow down, kick back, and savor family time “in flux” from one stop to another. There’s no need to worry about unpacking your luggage, missing your connection or placing your pet in a kennel – your entire family travels with you. And just as homes and hotels run a gamut of shapes, sizes and styles, so do RVs vary, from the palatial to the petite to the pop-up trailer.
But no matter the level of amenities and creature comforts, RVs can boost the power of your vacation budget. Most RVs excel at weight and wind resistance—translating into fuel economy between eight and 20 MPG, depending on the RV you select. Here are tips to maximizing your RV muscle:
- Rent before you buy. It’s the only way to explore and define your comfort level. Find an RV dealer who rents out the type of rig you're interested in; and try your home on wheels for a weekend. Try finding a realtor who will let you do that with a house!
- Bigger isn’t always better. The bigger the rig, the more complex the maintenance, and the larger your insurance bill. Shop around for the best rate and service before you buy.
- When you’re crunching numbers, remember: camping fees may vary according to your RV’s size and style. Also, when you’re not traveling, you may need to store your rig at a facility for a fee.
- Make sure you have the right equipment. That includes everything from a trailer hitch (for safe towing) to the GPS and Wi-Fi Booster to keep you connected.
- If your family enjoys home-cooked meals, make sure your RV has kitchen options. If you prefer to dine out, look for two-for-one coupons and early-bird specials while rolling by restaurants. And if you fall somewhere in between, consider eating out at lunch and eating dinner in. To trim even more from your food budget, think beyond the big box supermarkets: buy food and sundries at discount stores, dollar stores, church bazaars, flea markets, roadside veggie stands, thrift bakeries, and u-pick orchards.
May 29, 2017
From pitching tents to gathering twigs, you need energy while camping. You can boost that energy by setting goals to eat more fruits and vegetables—ideally, the five to nine servings that nutritionists suggest. Some experts call it “eating low on the food chain”; and it packs a rich supply of benefits for energy, wellness and health.
- Lowers blood pressure
- Supports weight loss by keeping appetites in check
- Reduces risk of heart disease, stroke, digestive problems and some cancers
- Fights fatigue by releasing energy slowly, instead of that sugar rush
- Sharpens eyesight—it’s true! Especially vitamin-rich veggies like spinach, kale, sweet potatoes and (yes) carrots.
Take advantage of farmer’s markets, supermarkets, and salad bars as you navigate campgrounds and country this summer. When it comes to packing produce for the great outdoors, here are a few tips:
- Fruits with staying power to last a few days without denting, browning or molding include apples, cherries and blueberries. Plus, they're not a mess to peel or clean up--just wash and serve. Bananas last a couple of days, but require a bit more TLC. If you have time, store a fruit salad of melons, pineapple, peaches and strawberries in a plastic container. The flavors will mingle to keep each other fresh.
- Dry fruit is a champion: portable, compact and low-maintenance, supplying a quick dose of energy to boot. Mix raisins or Craisins with nuts, yogurt, oatmeal or dry cereal; or enjoy right from the bag.
- Baby carrots and cherry tomatoes spell veggie victory. Add cucumber slices to dip into salad dressings; dip celery sticks in humus. Onions travel well to be chopped into one pot or pan dinners. And potatoes keep well for days, ready to support everything from breakfast hash browns to dinner casserole.
- Canned veggies travel well and don't need cooler space. Green beans, corn, peas, black beans and mixed vegetables play well with noodle, pasta and potato-centered one-pot meals.
May 29, 2017
Watching TV in the RV
In the newest Diary of a Wimpy Kid movie, Greg Heffley’s mother confiscates her family’s phones and devices at the start of their cross-country road trip—even her husband’s—much to their torture and chagrin. The only connecting they’ll do, she declares, is to each other. Of course, the children and even the father resort to elaborate schemes to sneak the phones back into their possession without puncturing her idealism.
On long travel days that stretch over miles, it’s tempting to allow kids to fall back upon screens big and small, especially if your RV is equipped with the comforts of home. Why endure endless questions of “Are we there yet?” when the TV is a reliable distraction with minimal talk-back?
A little screen time is fine. But too much passive watching, whether on the big screen or the smart phone, lulls kids into sedentary states—failing to engage their bodies or even their minds. Harvard studies find that children who watch excessive television or YouTube have higher rates of obesity, due to both inactivity and the relentless food marketing during shows and commercials. Research also finds that kids’ constant access to small screens cuts into the sleep they need at night, contributing to lethargy and fatigue. And that can sap the energy they need to build for camping.
“Beyond the health effects, more than anything else when children are young, they need to spend time with real people: other children and adults,” says Steven Gortmaker, professor at the Harvard School of Public Health. “So we are very interested in helping parents lower the dose.” (link to http://news.harvard.edu/gazette/story/2015/09/keeping-an-eye-on-screen-time/)
Instead of screen time on the road, try the following car games (courtesy Parents.com):
Theme song game. One player hums the tune to a favorite TV show, and everyone else tries to name the show as fast as possible. The first person to guess correctly hums the next song.
Animal Name Game. One player names an animal. Then each person in order has to name another animal that starts with the last letter of the previous animal named, without repeating!
Secret place race. One person looks at a road map and finds a small town, village, river, etc. That person announces the name of the place she has chosen. A second player has 60 seconds to look at the map and try to find the secret place.
May 6, 2017
Yes We May! #1: Look Out For Lyme
What makes you tick? Probably not ticks.
Since the late 1990s, reported cases of Lyme disease have tripled in number. And this year, after observing a spike in tick-borne illnesses across the country, scientists have reported this camping season could be the worst tick season in years. They give credit (or blame) to the white-footed mice, able carriers of Lyme disease, who are feasting on copious amounts of acorns to thrive in number and play host to ticks. Experts also say that warmer weather fueled by climate change allows ticks to remain active longer, with more opportunity to venture into places formerly too frigid—introducing their pathogens to new regions of North America. Even during a run of severe winter days, ticks are able to bury deeply into the soil to survive. Ticks are now most prevalent in the Northeast, mid-Atlantic, and upper Midwest. But everyone who plans to camp this summer should learn the facts about tick bites.
Make a fortress around your feet. Ticks don’t fly or land on you; they crawl up your body. Feet and ankles are the way ticks gain access to the body. Watch your legs, wear close-toed shoes, and use tick-killing repellants on both shoes and socks. And though it may be a nerdy look, try tucking your pants into your socks. Lyme disease is never in style!
Beware black legs. Lyme disease and other tick-borne illnesses are commonly carried by black-legged ticks, which are most active between May and July. Black-legged ticks have doubled in number in the last 20 years.
Repel the rascals. Use repellent that contains 20 percent or more DEET, picaridin, or IR3535. Contrary to myth, DEET is not harmful.
Remove immediately. Don’t waste time trying to “coax” a tick off your skin or trying a folk remedy like Vaseline, nail polish, or burnt match heads. Grab the tick with tweezers as close as possible to the skin, and pull straight out.
Watch for symptoms. Sometimes contracting Lyme disease leads to noticeable symptoms: a bulls-eye rash at the site of the tick bite, facial paralysis, and even swollen knees. But it’s not always obvious, and could lead to chronic complications such as memory problems, heart arrhythmia, and debilitating arthritis. If you experience visible symptoms or any fever, aches, fatigue, and joint pain, it’s best to seek medical attention immediately. Early intervention decreases the risk of serious complications.
Scrub and soak. Take a shower, give your children a bath, and dry clothing on high heat for 10 minutes. Have a spouse or friend check your back, neck, and scalp.
May 1, 2017
Spring Ahead #4: Keeping Safe While Camping (Part 3 of 3)
In our final installment of camping safely, we explore how to cook safely so you can enjoy “al fresco” dining that’s not fraught with risk for food-borne illness. Keep these tips in mind while planning your menu.
Yes, you “can”! Canned goods are safe and shelf-stable. Plan meals that include peanut butter in plastic jars; concentrated juice boxes; canned chicken, beef or tuna; and dried fruit mixed with nuts.
Take temperature. If your menu includes burgers and hot dogs, make sure you have the proper equipment to keep hot foods hot, and cold foods cold! Besides the obvious equipment, such as portable stoves, make sure you have a food thermometer handy to determine whether your meat or poultry has reached a safe internal temperature. Ground beef may harbor Salmonella or E. coli, and only a thermometer can verify that patties are cooked to a minimum of 160 degrees F. Hot dogs should remain steaming hot.
Stay cooler. On the flip side (pardon the pun), keep perishables cool to stop contamination in its tracks. It’s thrilling to leave the dinner table by languishing under the sun with your meal; but remember: toxic bacteria multiply quickly within two hours, and within one hour on sweltering days. Pack at least two insulated coolers for your camping trip: one for drinks and snacks, and one for perishable food. Ice or frozen gel packs are a good idea, too. One last tip: pack coolers in reverse order, with food you plan to use first on top. That way you’ll avoid rummaging around to the point of disarray.
Sanitize hands and surfaces often; separate raw food from cooked. Roughing it outdoors shouldn’t mean throwing all caution to the wind; food safety is just as important in the great outdoors as in your kitchen.
Boil that beverage. Don’t rely on a lake or stream for your drinking water, no matter how clean it appears. If you’re not using bottled water, you should boil it for at least one minute.
May 1, 2017
Spring Ahead #3: Keeping Safe While Camping (Part 2 of 3)
Besides the 15 minutes of total solar eclipse in mid-August—a spectacle that’s worth a trip in itself—the sun will always factor into your preparations for safe camping. And while we all pray for a sunny day to explore the great outdoors, that bright yellow ball overhead can produce too much of a good thing. Overheating is a serious risk, especially for children and older adults. Keep your cool by reading our tips:
Consider hiking first thing in the morning or in the early evening, staying in shade or shelter during the most oppressive heat of the day (usually from 10 am to 4 pm).
Drink plenty of fluids. Tweak the old real-estate saying to “Hydration, Hydration, Hydration!” If plain water doesn’t excite you, add slices lemon, orange or mint; or bring an iced tea mix to enjoy. The key is to drink something; even coffee is better than nothing.
Spot the symptoms of heat exhaustion and heat stroke. Goose bumps, skin tingling, muscle cramps, dull headache, shallow breathing and nausea are all warning signs of heat exhaustion, caused by the body losing salt through exertion and perspiration. In cases of heatstroke, the body’s temperature rises to 104 degrees, causing impaired mental states such as agitation, confusion, or lethargy. That’s because the nerve cells in the brain and body are the most vulnerable to heat damage. As heat stroke progresses, blood flow to the skin increases; which, coupled with copious amounts of sweat, poses serious danger to the heart. Avoid a medical emergency by spraying your camper with cool water and applying wet clothes or ice packs to the armpits or groin.
Keep your sunscreen close at hand! Avoid the red, sore, blistered or peeling skin that comes with severe sunburn. We’ve already reminded you to pack sunscreen—one that offers broad spectrum protection. Remember that sunscreen chemicals often degrade in the sun or rub off on towels and clothing; so re-apply frequently.
April 17, 2017
preventable. In this multi-part series, we will cover ground on how to camp safely.
Sunburns and downpours and bears, oh my! For all the joys of camping, there are potential hazards we want to avoid. Most aren’t nearly as dramatic as a bear bursting through your tent—they’re far more mundane, far more frequent, and (luckily) far more preventable. In this multi-part series, we will cover ground on how to camp safely.
Smart camping begins with preparation—and that means packing right, even if you’re packing light. Here’s what to bring:
Long-sleeve layers, rain poncho, and emergency blanket. Have you felt the chill at sundown or while camping at high altitudes? The most important thing for campers to remember is that sudden temperature and weather shifts happen—inevitably. Pack clothes that layer easily, and bring ample protection against a rainstorm or a cold snap. Even at the height of summer, temperatures can plummet overnight. Breathable layers of long sleeves not only keeps you comfortable; they also prevent insect bites.
Sleeping bag. The best bet is a dark-colored one with a water-repellant, windproof shell. Dark colors will absorb the sun’s warmth in the morning, keeping you cozy and comfortable at dawn.
Sunscreen. It’s essential throughout the year, not just on scorching summer days; clouds and snow actually intensify rays. The best sunscreen is a broad-spectrum version, protecting against both UVA and UVB rays, with an SPF of 15 or higher. And don’t forget lipscreen to avoid disruptive chapping!
High-energy food. Think trail mix with dried fruit and nuts, energy bars, packets of oatmeal, and hard-boiled eggs: a good balance of carbs, protein and fat. Pack food in tight, waterproof bags and containers, tucked securely into insulated coolers.
Bug/insect repellent. Did you know that bites from mosquitos and ticks can cause harmful diseases? You can find repellents in many forms, from aerosols and sprays to creams and sticks.
First-aid kit. Rather than toss a pre-purchased one into the car, you should customize the kit with supplies that fit your group’s needs the best. Some things to include: medications, hand sanitizer, gauze, latex gloves, antiseptic wipes, cotton swabs, tweezers, and compresses.
Emergency supplies. A map, compass, flashlight, knife, waterproof fire starter, and whistle will all serve you well. Do not rely on smartphone apps; there are few outlets in the wilderness!
Leave at home: Perfume or cologne can trigger allergies at close quarters and attract undesirable insects. Too many layers of cotton can leave you perspiring. And remember: alcohol in excess causes dehydration (not to mention panic and confusion).
April 12, 2017
Spring Ahead #1: Gimme S’more
Graham crackers, chocolate slabs, and marshmallows: simple to construct and sweet to enjoy, the gooey S’more transcends the sum of its parts. Done right, the freshly-toasted marshmallow melts the chocolate, with the sturdy cracker holding everything together while boosting the “ooze” factor. It’s true that packaged S’more-flavored cookies and candy are available in between camping trips, but there’s no match for the authentic char of the firepit and the satisfying squeeze of the sandwich. It’s no wonder we all want “some more”!
Daydreaming about S’more got us thinking: what is the history behind this campfire creation?
First off, we can give thanks to Sylvester Graham, who developed the Graham Cracker in 1829 as a sweeter version of the traditional cracker. We can also credit the invention of the gelatin marshmallow, allowing mass production for the first time and fueling the fad of marshmallow roasts in the 1890s, which newspapers called “an excellent medium for flirtation.”
The basic template for the S’more—cookies and cakes that sandwich a clot of squishy, gooey filling—dominated desserts in the Victorian era. The closest ancestors to S’mores appear to be Mallomars and Moon Pies, introduced in 1913 and 1917. But the first recorded recipe for “Some Mores” was printed in 1927—that’s ninety years ago—by the American Girl Scouts. That’s right, this camping classic is related to the Thin Mint and the Samoa. So when the Girl Scouts introduced its “new” S’mores cookie this year, double-dipped and coated in chocolate, they were really pulling a throwback out of the proverbial pantry.
As for the contraction of S’more: Some say that the sticky nature of the treat makes it impossible to pronounce “Some more.” The original recipe notes that “Though it tastes like ‘some more,’ one is really enough.” But traditions were made to be broken, right?
One thing is for sure: the prospect of S’mores leaves us hungry for s’more (lots more!) camping adventures!
March 20, 2017
March Forward #4: The Goal Standard
“Watch your thoughts, for they become words. Choose your words, for they become actions. Understand your actions, for they become habits. Study your habits, for they become your character. Develop your character, for it becomes your destiny.”
Spring doesn’t blast away winter in a day. Yet each morning, we see the signs developing: birdcalls filling the air, grass piercing the snow, flowers about to burst open.
So it is with us. Each day defines us and advances us, incrementally, toward achievement. We are what we repeatedly do. Once we have hit upon our needs and desires, we need to articulate them into goals to help kindle motivation and replenish reserve. These goals should be specific, measurable, and realistic—though still challenging—and then pursued with the certainty of success. Toggling between the big picture and the daily calendar represent both sides of the success equation.
Write it down. If it’s not written down, it won’t happen. There’s something powerful, even magical, about the act of committing to something in writing—“putting it out there” before one’s eyes and the eyes of the universe. It’s a way to up the ante and turn wishes into goals and ultimately affirmations. Writing a “base” (practical) goal and then a “stretch” (aspirational) goal is a worthy idea, with benchmarks set for both scenarios. Each success builds momentum for the next, and each request can get bigger and bigger.
Visualize it. Buy an assortment of glossy magazines and take a pair of scissors to the pages. Cutting out pictures of travel destinations, dream cars, lovely sofas and tailored suits is another way of bringing vivid immediacy to one’s goal. Having one’s aspirations “mapped” in tangible form will help achieve them. After all, a picture is worth one thousand words.
Change your self-talk. Not only every day, but literally every second, opportunities for self-talk manifest: the thoughts and images that pop into one’s head. It is in everyone’s control how to steer that self-talk: into bright light, or into dark shadow. We knew a struggling financial planner who called 350 prospects on his first day on the job, with nothing to show for it. His voice was hoarse; his neck was stiff. Yet when he walked into the break room, he told a sympathetic colleague he was proud—of the fact he made it through the morning. Energized by the positive spin he’d created, he returned to his desk that afternoon and secured five appointments. Not only had he made it through the afternoon; he was on track to break the firm’s weekly record.
Affirm your “why.” That night, the planner went home and asked his wife to take his children to Sears for a portrait that he could place on his desk next to his phone. Twenty years later, the picture remains a visual reminder of his core beliefs, and a powerful force to channel his self-talk into the right direction.
March 20, 2017
March Forward #3: Finding your purpose
“Choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life.”
In today’s culture, that Confucian statement endures in fortune cookies, but otherwise flies in the face of society’s attitude toward jobs. The jokes about countdowns to Happy Hour, dreading Monday morning, and needing Lite FM radio to “tune out” of work imply that work is at best a time-filler, at worst a time-waster—just a way to while away the days between camping trips.
But having passion for work is key to living with purpose, and it’s not limited to the elite few who run empires or clinch “dream jobs.” Nor does it mean a job that’s free of challenge, conflict or stress. On the contrary, challenges and setbacks are key to engaging your heart, stretching your mind and igniting your passion. One of the world’s most famous dreamers, Walt Disney, enjoined people to “Think, Dream, Believe and Dare.” The cure for thinking small is to dream big.
Helping others take control of their lives, building something that can change the world, supporting critical missions, creating something of lasting beauty: any job can feed one’s passion, inspiring ways to improve and advance. From entry level to senior executive, it is not the title that counts—but rather, its alignment with core values and passions. Aligning work with passion means matching core values and daily activities. When work is aligned with passion, it confers energy instead of draining it.
One of the most famous career self-help books, What Color is Your Parachute, asks readers key questions such as:
- What do you give your free time to do?
- What are your favorite skills?
- Where do you most enjoy using them?
You might wonder why you deserve success in your career; after all, isn’t it just a way to put food on the table? The better question why you do not deserve it. The belief in limited sources – that one’s gain is another’s loss – is a myth. Playing small doesn’t serve the world; it deprives the world of the benefits derived from one’s true talents. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking one’s potential.
Thinking big is the most powerful—and least utilized—technique on the planet. By fulfilling your passion without hesitation, and thinking without limits, you’ll achieve anything you desire. In the spirit of spring cleaning and nature’s renewal, we will dedicate the next few blog posts into upgrading your life.
March 10, 2017
March Forward #2: Discarded Junk Becomes Art
“Litter: it’s blending into the background of our lives. But what if we brought it to the forefront?” – Jeff Kirschner
It’s not just during camping season that we savor the delight of pristine, unspoiled nature. Whether we’re pitching a tent, roasting dinner, getting our daily step-count in good weather, or just enjoying the view outside the window, we all cringe at the litter that turns landscapes into dumping grounds. On a recent walk in her neighborhood, this blogger found soup and soda cans, plastic cups, chewed straws, crumpled coupons, cigarette butts, and more. And these aren’t just eyesores; they can
What if a community existed to make picking up litter not only worthwhile and productive; but also fun, engaging, and knit into a larger, powerful effort that spanned the globe?
Enter the website Litterati (literati.org)– a global community that is crowdsourcing cleaning efforts. On the website, users take photos of the litter they pick up—and go on to identify, tag, and even map trends in a region’s “litter profile.”
Litterati’s founder, Jeff Kirschner, drew inspiration for the site when he recalled his days at sleepaway camp. On the morning of visiting day, the director would direct each camper to pick up five pieces of trash. It didn’t take long for the camp to look a whole lot cleaner. Kirschner decided to apply that “crowdsourced cleanup model” to the entire planet. To that end, he took a picture of a cigarette butt. Each time he saw a new piece of litter, he recorded each piece—and picked it up. At the end of just a few days, he had 50 photos of trash he had disposed of. The idea caught on, and soon a photo reached him from a user in China. The users, scattered as they might have been, were creating a community. And by geo-tagging and time-stamping each photo, they helped Kirschner build a Google map to plot points.
This data quickly proved invaluable. When San Francisco wanted to collect information on smoking habits to determine tax rates, they turned to Litterati after pencils and clipboards failed them and provoked outrage by Big Tobacco.
Kirschner says every city in the world has a “unique litter fingerprint” – from coffee cups to soda cans to plastic bottles. In Oakland, most of the litter in a blighted area stemmed from a well-known taco brand’s hot sauce packets. So to cut to the heart of the problem, the brand could give out hot sauce only upon request, or install bulk dispensers. Recently, in Oakland’s hills, a user found a Coke can with a vintage design. It had been perfectly preserved since 1966, and points up questions about minimal or more eco-friendly packaging.
If you’re counting the days till camping season, try geo-tagging your litter to observe your positive impact on the planet in real-time!
March 6, 2017
March Forward #1: Can You Hear Me Now?
Communication is tricky, even face-to-face; even without poor cell reception; even between two people who speak the same language.
The definition is simple: any exchange of information, verbal and non-verbal, between sender and receiver. But because humans are so fascinatingly complex, it is virtually impossible for us to convey isolated bits of data.
Every time you speak to someone you are revealing yourself—often before you even open your mouth. It’s your tone of voice, pace of speech, or facial expression; the clothes you select and the way you wear your hair. Are you crossing your legs, folding your arms, cocking your head? Are your hands on your hips or in your pocket? Are your palms clenched into fists, or open for a handshake? All of these are messages in themselves—messages about you.
What’s more, the people we address interpret what we share in light of their own beliefs and values.
Sometimes, so many variables and hidden messages accrue—casting both light and shadow over any exchange—that the original information is deeply buried. And yet, expressing how we feel and asking for what we need is key to our emotional and physical health. And communication is the thread that binds and strengthens our relationships. How can we effectively communicate our thoughts, feelings and needs?
Slow down. Take a deep breath to get centered, stay positive and focus on the other person and your connection in the moment. Don’t try to conduct an important conversation while doing something else, even if it’s just folding laundry or making dinner.
Speak the truth from your heart. Don’t rush through it, even if it seems tedious or unpleasant. Slow, steady pacing can lend clarity, coherence and calmness without wasting time.
Learn how to listen deeply. Think about the essence of what you heard, and rephrase in your own words. Try to express empathy: “I hear you.” “Tell me more.” “I’m so grateful you told me.” Says Joan Boysenko, Ph.D: “One of the most important ways that we can show respect and love is by carefully listening while another speaks.” Allow the speaker time to fine-tune; and only respond when the speaker seems heard. Listen for the natural pause that implies completion.
Avoid interruptions. No matter how important we believe our contribution is, interrupting squelches the flow of energy and sends a powerful non-verbal message that our thoughts and feelings trump the ones they’re struggling to share.