Magnificent Trees for Earth Day 2016

Old growth forest in Hartwick Pines, Grayling, MI

Last week while traveling in Michigan we spent an afternoon in Hartwick Pines State Park. When I was a kid my family spent a lot of time vacationing in nearby Grayling so this whole Au Sable River region holds special memories. It was great to be back (snow and all, ha!).

Chapel in the Pines, Hartwick Pines State Park, Grayling, MI

It’s also fitting because today is Earth Day and this year’s emphasis is Trees for the Earth. If you want to celebrate trees, Hartwick Pines is the place to go. It’s a 9,672-acre park that during the late 1800s was owned and logged by the Salling-Hanson Lumber Company. Thankfully in 1927, Karen Michelson Hartwick, a company heir, donated the land to the State of Michigan as a memorial to the logging industry. With that came 85 acres (now 49) of old growth, 350+ year old, red and white pines. Talk about glorious trees! There’s also a second growth forest that was planted in the 1930s by the Civilian Conservation Corp.

How blessed we are that people in the past cared enough to preserve trees for us today. Now we have an opportunity to pay it forward. In recognition of its upcoming 50th anniversary, the Earth Day Network has set a goal of planting 7.8 billion trees by 2020 and they’re looking for us to help.

Reliance Peach bareroot trees

Here’s our contribution: Peach trees. They’re replacement for those we lost a few years ago to Wisconsin winters. Since peaches aren’t native to this area, their lifespan isn’t as long as it might be in a more southernly climate (oops, we’re not exactly following the article I wrote for Forward Mutual’s weekly news:-). Nonetheless, I’ve been missing the home-canned goodness they offer, so we’re happy to replace them as needed. Grow fast trees, grow fast!

Happy Earth Day everyone! Plant a tree and celebrate the good earth God has given us!


Nature, agriculture, food and history are some of my favorite topics. If you need copywriting for your organization, drop me a line!

Celebrating Possibilities on National Ag Day

In celebration of National Ag Day , I bought my first bee hives

Today is National Ag Day and we celebrate our abundance of food, thanks to American agriculture. Think about it, where else can we enjoy such epicureous quantity, quality and diversity?

I was recently discussing my design project for this autumn’s Fermentation Fest, a convergence of agriculture, art and fermented foods. October seems so far away but as event co-founder Donna Neuwirth shared new ideas, I was inspired with anticipation. As Donna said, oh, the possibilities.

Oh, the possibilities

Such a simple phrase, yet so fitting for National Ag Day. This year’s theme is “Agriculture: Stewards of a Healthy Planet,” and the possibilities ahead are bountiful. Farmers are increasingly listening to consumer demands and striving to produce their products in healthier, more earth-sustainable ways. CSAs, farmers markets and farm-to-table organizations have become a societal commonplace, meaning our access to local food is so much greater. And the ever-growing specialty food market offers us cleaner ingredients and values we care about.

Speaking of specialty foods; several weeks ago I took a beekeeping class from Mad Urban Bees. This bee farmer, as owner Nathan Clarke describes himself, keeps an office in the vintage-li-cool Madison Enterprise Center. He describes the neighborhood as burgeoning with specialty food businesses. How cool is that?

So yes, today, in celebration of National Ag Day, I bought my first bee hive. It’s my effort, small as it is, to produce better food and be a healthy steward of the planet God has entrusted to us. I’ll certainly not make it to the eminence of farmers, but I’ll be a good writer and designer for them. Oh, the possibilities!

Give me a buzz :-)

National Ag Day 2016 banner

Difference Between Giving and Taking? NYPL’s 187,000 Images

Dinner by Food and Cookery Magazine“DINNER [held by] FOOD AND COOKERY (MAGAZINE) [at] “THE MONICO, LONDON, [ENGLAND]”

Generally, professional designers don’t like crowdsourcing. We hold little enthusiasm for so-called “opportunities” offered by profitable companies to submit work—for free, of course—in hopes of winning their approval (like when Dog é Style Restaurant announced its logo contest). In most cases, crowdsourcing results in companies taking a lot for themselves and giving very little to designers.

That’s one side of the issue. Here’s another, more positive side:

The New York Public Library

The New York Public Library (NYPL) is “chronically underfunded,” as PCMag says in this article. Yet, the 105-year-old public institution initiates brilliant crowdsourcing programs that benefit the givers (doers) and much as the receiver (NYPL). Take, for example, What’s On the Menu?. Launched in 2011, this epicurean’s delight crowdsources the transcription of 45,000 historical restaurant menus, which, by virtue of their type and design, are indiscernible to optical character recognition when digitalized. To date, online volunteers have transcribed more than 1,331,929 dishes from 17,545 menus.

In return? We, the people, whether we volunteer or not, are given viewing access to NYPL’s magnificent collections.

Just last week, NYPL thrilled the world once again with this news release:

“Today we are proud to announce that out-of-copyright materials in NYPL Digital Collections are now available as high-resolution downloads. No permission required, no hoops to jump through: just go forth and reuse!”

That’s right, 187,000 public domain images for digital download. For free! For artists, historians, educators, scientists, well, for everyone, this is an unimaginable treasure trove. Oh, the glory of it all!

In celebration of this release, NYPL invites us to participate in its Labs Remix Residency. Yes, this is crowdsourcing of sorts (the PR will certainly generate donations). And yes, it’s a contest. But once again, NYPL puts the people back in public and offers us something in return—creative use of 187,000 images!

So here’s the dish:

NYPL invites us to brainstorm “transformative, interesting, beautiful new uses” of its digital collections. They’re looking for projects that use pre-existing works to create new things (you know, a remix). Maybe a menu? Maybe a quilt? Maybe a board game? They encourage us to surprise them!

Here’s another way NYPL is unique in its crowdsourcing: Participants are only required to submit a proposal of their project. From there, NYPL will choose two proposals and award them each a $2000 stipend for completing their project. How cool is that?

Start brainstorming! Proposals are due February 19, 2016.

Looking for ideas? Here’s a good article. In fact, any one of the NYPL blogs is a good article!


Want to show your appreciation for 187,000 free images? Consider donating to NYPL or your own local library. Libraries offer us so much!

Wednesday Webs: I AM AIGA

Adunate is a proud sustaining member of AIGA

I just renewed my annual AIGA membership. This is a big expense for me, a solo entrepreneur, but it’s a statement I’m willing to make. I support the joining together of creative professionals, both newcomers and seasoned professionals.

On that note, among others, here’s an interesting article on AIGA’s opinion of the logo for Tokyo’s Olympics 2020:

Wednesday Webs: Potica and Other Delicious Musings

Slovenian Potica

Last weekend we gathered the family together and made potica. If you’re of Slovenian or Austrian descent, you likely know how delicious this heritage coffeecake is—tons of butter, cream, honey and nuts. No calories whatsoever!

While beer-touring in northern Minnesota this fall, we ate lunch at the Biwabik Pub, easily the friendliest, tastiest bar and grill in all the Gopher State. The owner Sharon was more than happy to discuss potica with us because in that area everyone and their brother is Slovenian. According to her, each family has its traditional recipe and, like all traditions, each claims its is best. Sharon even offers annual potica classes right there in the pub (this year her Christmas class was cancelled because a family baby is on the way, instead she’s offering it at Easter—she’ll let us know).

So this week I’m eating potica, deliciously packing on seasonal pounds, and perusing interesting sites: