Sustainable Lifestyle—A fair highlight

StoryImage( ‘/Images/Story//Auto-img-1186591496788.jpg’, ‘Photo by Sonia Vogl’, ‘“Bear” with Bunny Grahams from SL tent.‘);
StoryImage( ‘/Images/Story//Auto-img-118659152916128.jpg’, ‘Photo by Sonia Vogl’, ‘Jon Barnhart from Stone Corner Farm Market, Oregon, Ill.—shown tilling his garden—will sell organic produce.‘);
StoryImage( ‘/Images/Story//Auto-img-118659155617426.jpg’, ‘Photo by Sonia Vogl’, ‘Rows of vegetables at Stone Corner Farm Market.‘);

The case for renewable energy has always included environmental justifications. Yet, technology alone will not stop the widespread environmental damage resulting from our use of energy. The environmental challenges must include a reconsideration of how we live our lives and how our communities are structured.

When Lin Vogl was asked to organize a Sustainable Lifestyle component to the annual Illinois Renewable Energy Fair, she dug into the topic to see what she could develop. After working at it for a while, she realized that if people would take the time to “think about how they live their lives and what they might do to change them to be more sustainable than the existing consumptive lifestyle common in our culture, they would be in a much better position to change how they live.” She hopes “the interest in sustainable lifestyle will become integral to how we live rather than just a passing fad.”

Once their awareness was awakened, and they asked questions about making some lifestyle changes, they would need to find answers to those questions. She saw her role as one of directing people to sources that could help them find answers. If she receives some questions she cannot answer, she has a sense of what she might include for next year.

In some cases, contacts have become fair exhibitors. She secures information from others for display in her Sustainable Lifestyle Tent (which is a must visit).

Interest in eating local foods continues to grow dramatically. While fresh local foods, free of chemicals, picked when ripe may be somewhat more costly, money spent on them stays in the community and helps the local economy. Buying local foods can be an enjoyable social event interacting with those who grow the food or picking fruits or vegetables at a “Pick it Yourself” operation.

It is exciting to see local resources being used, food being raised locally and people having jobs that feed fellow Americans. “We have some of the richest soil in the world, and it is so wasteful seeing it neglected or covered by endless developments.”

At this year’s fair, Alisa Smith’s presentation “The 100-Mile Diet: A Year of Local Eating” should be informative and entertaining. Keith and Mary Blackmore add a philosophical perspective in their description of how using less gives them more. Kivirist and Ivanko’s “Organic Eating on a Dime” points out how to cut the cost of eating local foods while protecting the environment. Bill Wilson’s “Introduction to Permaculture” provides ideas about environmentally-sound practices of raising food for both personal consumption and community needs by duplicating nature’s patterns.

Who else besides the conservation programs manager from the Shedd Aquarium in Chicago would provide information about sustainable seafood? Michele Jost will identify the best seafood for you and the planet and provide some tips about where to find it and how to prepare it. The Shedd Aquarium’s vermiculturist will teach participants how to make soils healthy by using worms to turn kitchen scraps and yard wastes into rich natural fertilizers.

Jon Peck, executive director of Family Farm Defenders, will explore ways in which food sovereignty can help reclaim the Midwest’s local food/farm system. Robert Poe, executive director of Circle Pines Camp in Michigan, will describe how the cooperative movement has served to fill the gap between government and marketplace solutions.

Sustainable Lifestyles involves personal choices. Rebecca Wilson will highlight what individuals can do to develop and implement a personal health plan combining healthy eating, exercises and self-health techniques. In addition to ideas for healthy living, Dr. Jifunza Wright of Chicago will discuss how resource depletion and climate change could produce some positive changes in medical resources. We will have to assume more personal responsibility for our health care and increase our reliance on medicines from natural sources if petroleum-based medicines become increasingly costly and scarce.

Booths and displays that focus on sustainable lifestyles will interest fairgoers. Baabasshoppe will feature products from sheep, including organic mattress toppers. Countryside magazine features ideas about how to live sustainable lives.

Learn Great Foods provides culinary farm tours and retreats that introduce guests to great cooking, family farms and Community Supported Agriculture. Rolling Meadows Sorghum Mill produces and sells sweet sorghum, maple syrup and honey. Richland Organics provides property owners with organic lawn and garden products. Solarcone turns food scraps into organic soil. Iowa Healthy Edge Meats provides quality specialty meats. Stone Corner Farm Market will sell fresh produce from their organic farm. Try fun products such as SoyJoy, a natural nutrition bar with ingredients you can actually pronounce.

Soysafe Products provides a range of nontoxic, soy-based products for home use. Soy candles by Sharon provides a variety of hand-poured soy candles. The Soap Shoppe offers homemade organic soaps. Energetic Essentials features oils and seminars about sustainable lifestyles. Healing Scents provides products to detoxify our lives. New View Massage and Bodyworks offers home and office visits to refresh weary bodies.

Horigan Urban Forest Products specializes in turning dead urban trees into a variety of forest products and will make a favorite yard tree into an attractive piece of furniture for the homeowner.

For those with an interest in Green Building Supplies, Joel Hirshberg’s booth is a must visit. He has supplied environmentally-friendly, sustainable, energy-efficient products and the information about how to use them since 1991. He offers flooring, finishes, cleaners, furniture and energy, water and air purifiers.

For animal lovers, Alley Cat Allies offers compassionate and humane animal control practices. Purrfectplay has pet products lovingly crafted from organic, dye-free natural fibers.

It is time to reconsider how to meet transportation needs. Zing Tikes will demonstrate the pleasures of pedaling along on a recumbent trike. Team PrISUm from Iowa State University will exhibit the solar electric car they have built and raced. Saturn of Naperville will display two hybrid vehicles. Chris Schneider, the Hybrid Guru, will both display cars and remind us to walk when we can and use energy-efficient cars when we must drive. He will call attention to alternative transportation options available to us in his alphabet soup presentation of HEV, PHEV, CNG, UCD and FCX. Several booths and presentations will offer a range of technologies for making biodiesel from used cooking oils.

Outdoor wood- and corn-burning furnaces and Harvest Heat’s biomass pellet and corn stoves will be on display. Sun Ovens will demonstrate their performance for personal use or community use and will have products for sale.

Red Buffalo Nursery will supply prairie plants for those who want to try native gardening. The Wild Ones will offer advice about landscaping with native plants. The Prairie Preservation Society’s display will highlight their efforts to preserve native landscapes.

Be sure to stop by Lin Vogl’s Sustainable Lifestyle Tent for information and materials from organizations and business with this focusing. Make a donation or purchase coffee, tea, sugar and chocolate products provided by Equal Exchange, T-shirts and bags. The Lifestyle Tent needs financial support as it takes a lot of time to secure and organize all the materials available.

Check the booth display listing on our web site: Many more organizations, including environmental, spiritual and community-focused groups, will be available to discuss their efforts and your interests with you.

No matter what the weather, the fair will go on. Major sponsors include The Clean Energy Community Foundation, The Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity, ComEd and The Rock River Times.

Based in part on a taped interview with Sustainable Lifestyle Coordinator Lin Vogl.

Drs. Robert and Sonia Vogl are founders and officers of the Illinois Renewable

Energy Association and coordinate the annual Renewable Energy and Sustainable Lifestyle Fair. They have 3.2 kW of PV and a 1 kW wind generator at their home. Forty acres of their 180-acre home farm are in ecological restorations. They are also active in preserving natural areas. They are retired professors from Northern Illinois University.

from the Aug 8-14, 2007, issue

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