Living lightly on the planet

StoryImage( ‘/Images/Story//Auto-img-112127414731833.jpg’, ‘Image courtesy of’, ‘The book 'Rural Renaissance: Renewing the Quest for the Good Life' by John Ivanko and Lisa Kivirist with foreword by Bill McKibben, author of The End of Nature, blends inspiration with practical how-to’s. Rural Renaissance captures the American dream of country living for contemporary times. More than farming, rural living today is about a creative, nature-based and more self-sufficient lifestyle combining a love of squash, solar energy, skinny dipping and serendipity.’);
StoryImage( ‘/Images/Story//Auto-img-112127419230920.jpg’, ‘Image courtesy of’, ‘The Rural Renaissance Network (RRN) aims to empower the rural sustainable living movement and create eco-friendly homes on a budget by providing educational resources, how-to information to individuals, families and communities wishing to support "right livelihood" and creative, healthy, ecologically mindful and socially responsible living in rural and small town communities across North America. Among the network initiatives are demonstration homes and businesses with how-to resources, a mentorship program, and educational workshops. ‘);

Last week, a public television program highlighted the environmental leadership of Gaylord Nelson, the father of Earth Day. We fondly remembered an extended conversation we had with him on a flight back from an environmental meeting. He expressed his concern that citizens must live environmentally sustainable lives and expect their governmental leaders to enact policies to reflect similar values. We planned to invite him to next year’s Energy Fair, but he died of natural causes a few days after the program.

His spirit will live on in several presentations at this year’s fair. Birgit Wolff, retired director of the National Center for Vehicle Emissions Controls, will highlight the principles that guided the lives she and her husband have lived for the past 30 years. They have found voluntary simplicity ecologically and personally rewarding as well as good for the planet.

Jon Haeme, a builder from Kempton, will share his family’s experiences with sustainable living. They constructed the first straw bale home in Illinois with a passive solar design, energy-efficient lighting and appliances, solar electricity, solar hot water and a rainwater collection system.

John Berton of Chicago continues his quest to live sustainably in an urban environment by installing an off-grid photovoltaic system, converting a truck to run on electricity and installing a rainwater collection system.

Lisa Kivirist and John Ivanko, co-authors of Rural Renaissance, will share the story of their transition from green living rookies to running Inn Serendipity B&B in Browntown, Wis., which now serves as a model for sustainable living. They will share their ideas for creating an eco-friendly home on a shoestring budget.

A panel presentation and group discussion will focus on the relevance of spirituality to sustainable living. The session features Judy Speer, Small Waters Gathering Center, Harvard, and Rael Bassan, Chicagoland Permaculture.

Bill Wilson, director of the Center for Sustainable Living in Stelle, will discuss what is at the heart of sustainability and the strides being made toward producing power, growing food and living lightly on the planet while creating more meaningful ways of living.

The full schedule of events can be found at:

It will also appear in future editions of The Rock River Times.

The Fair is sponsored by the Illinois Clean Energy Community Foundation, the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity and Commonwealth Edison.

From the July 13-19, 2005, issue

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