The WI Green Building Alliance is challenging people across Wisconsin to spend 30 minutes a day in nature for 30 days. Unplug from your cell phone, tablet, e-readers and all electronic devices and connect with the natural world around you for 30 minutes a day.
A group of business and community leaders came together in Oconomowoc and decided to participate in the 30x30 Nature Challenge. The Oconomowoc area challenge is being sponsored by: Annie Haas Communications Consulting, City of Oconomowoc, Compass Point Consulting, Evolution Marketing, First Bank Financial Centre, Greener Oconomowoc, Oconomowoc Area Chamber of Commerce and Waukesha County Parks. The purpose of this blog is to share our experiences being in nature.
http://wgba.shuttlepod.org/challenge - click here to sign up
By Ginny Bocek, Waukesha County Parks:
I get the honor of summarizing this great 30x30 Nature Challenge --which I hope has brought us a new or refreshed perspective on the world outside. Nature is such a crazy part of our everyday lives, be it the storms coming through last night or the strawberries we wait patiently to grow, so we can harvest. It was great reading the thoughts of our bloggers, and we know these are just snippets of what was observed, learned, realized, and enjoyed.
Climbing rocks at Fox River Park – Waukesha
Don’t forget your four-legged friend and stop out at Nashotah Park’s Dog Exercise Area.
For me, June stirred some very contradictory feelings. I am so grateful that we had this opportunity to share and motivate people to stay outdoors. However, I’m disenchanted at the same time. Is it that we must be challenged like this in order for us to step outside? Why do I battle my children as we gear up for the bike ride they don’t want to take, yet once their feet hit the pedals, the laughter and smiles just flow? Are we somewhat afraid to be disconnected from our computers, phones, and other electronics, but somewhat content to be disconnected from nature? I hope others have asked themselves some of the same questions.
I believe it has been said that if you do something over a period of time, then it becomes a habit. I don’t want to get into the stats –quick search will tell you “it depends”— so, I’m going to say to myself loudly enough for you all to hear: It’s 30 days, and let’s say we are all now a bit closer to nature becoming a habit! We can learn a lot about ourselves by observing nature and how our children and pets view nature through innocent eyes. What have you learned? What habit have you created? Meet me out back by the shade tree and we’ll chat about it.
Imagine yourself here.
Thanks to everyone who took part in our 30x30 nature challenge! See you on the trial – Follow those kids!
Just trying to keep up as the kids run through Retzer Nature Center.
By Jennifer Kindred, First Bank Financial Centre:
June is strawberry season in Wisconsin. And with the cool spring the strawberries are going strong this week! It’s a great time to get outside and go strawberry picking – and you get double the enjoyment: time in nature and fresh strawberries!
Every strawberry a sweet bite of summer sun and fun.
Every year when the berries get ripe we go to a pick your own farm for strawberries, they taste so much better when they are fresh off the plants! Some years it’s just me and my daughter other times we get family and friends to join us. Two years ago was the best because we were up north for a weeklong vacation with family and decided that while we were waiting for everyone to arrive we would go strawberry picking. We ended up with 6 adults and 1 child picking, and after we ALL filled our trays we had over 70# of strawberries! And this is how that day came to be known as “The Family Jam”. Once back at the house with our harvest, we set up an assembly line: Children were washing and hulling, parents and grandparents chopping, mixing and cooking. We ran out of jars, sugar and sure-jell. So then we got creative! Chocolate covered strawberries, strawberry shortcake, strawberry daiquiris – yes by this time it was “” and we were thirsty from all of our hard work. We ended up freezing a bunch for smoothies! We had fresh strawberries on pancakes the next morning. We had a great time, a ton of laughs, and at the end of it all we had a pile of jam! And as my mother-in-law Carol says “Many hands makes light work”.
So pull out your rain boots and go find a farm to “pick your own”. Try this website to find a farm near you: http://www.pickyourown.org/ This site will list pick your own farms all over the state and the country. They don’t just list strawberry farms, it’s all types of farm fresh produce, and prices are considerably cheaper when you go out and do the work yourself! Sugar snap peas, blueberries, raspberries, blackberries, apples, pumpkins. The sight even includes a harvest schedule so you know when it’s time to pick. http://www.pickyourown.org/
Pick your own is a great way to be out and reap the rewards of mother nature. Fruit and vegetables locally grown, fresh air, time outside, and a little dirt and hard work – a win for the whole “jam” family!
Thanks for participating in the 30x30 Nature Challenge – Have a great Summer!
By Mike Bauer, Evolution Marketing:
Basil (Mike’s dog) eating mint from the Evolution Marketing garden.
“Come on Basil its time to go outside”…Here comes the pattering of little feet and the sound of a rattling collar running up the stairs and out the door. He runs into the backyard immediately and starts smelling the raised bed herb garden next to our garage, standing on 2 paws to inspect and make sure everything is growing correctly. Those floppy ears then perk up as he hears the sounds of birds and children in the playground, but wait there is a rabbit behind that bush lets go get it! However the sun is out, maybe I will just roll around in the grass for now.
Basil decides that he wants to roll in the grass, and then he flops over.
Then he rolls around, he will actually roll several feet and he likes to roll down the hill in the back yard!
Oh, what a great a life it must be to be a mini-dachshund. If I have learned anything during the 30x30 challenge this month, it is how to enjoy the great outdoors and connect with my dog Basil. Every time my wife and I let him out, it’s like he experiences the outside for the first time. As humans we become complacent and taking the dog out for a walk or potty break in the yard is just something we do…yet when I watch how Basil reacts to the sights and smells of our yard, I am able to connect with nature through him.
The 30x30 challenge is about unplugging and connecting with nature, Basil has been a great reminder of how easy it is to enjoy the simple things in nature.
By Jennifer Kindred, First Bank Financial Centre:
Above: Sunrise over Pewaukee Lake
I am not a morning person, in fact I would actually call myself a night owl! But this June my husband and I have been taking advantage of the long days of summer and setting our alarm and walking while the sun comes up. Not only do we get 30-45 minutes “in Nature” but we get to enjoy the quiet and serenity of the outside world as nature starts it’s day. The birds are always up before us, and most mornings they are my alarm clock. Being outside to see the sunrise is like being in a secret club, not everyone is awake or outside at that hour, but as the sun rises and creates it’s show of colors across the sky, it is a unique time to reflect on the newness of the day and the possibilities it may hold. Some mornings it’s tempting to hit the snooze button and skip, but I don’t want to miss the opportunity: the peace and quiet around sunrise, before the chaos of the day begins. This morning there was even a light rain, but we decided we wouldn’t melt and ended up having a great walk.
We have spotted some “friends” over the past 3 weeks on our walks: Turkeys strutting in corn field, deer having an early morning snack, sand hill cranes taking flight with their impressive wingspans………
Early morning walks are great because you can mark off exercise and meet your Nature Challenge 30 minutes before the day and your best intentions for exercise /nature get away from you! Not to mention a morning walk is FREE – No membership fees, no fancy equipment, and the Sunrise and wildlife are just a bonus.
-21 is the start of summer in the Northern Hemisphere and it's also the longest day of sunlight for us. Sunrise in Oconomowoc was at today and the sun does not set until . That’s 15 Hours and 22 minutes of Daylight for you to be outside enjoying Nature!!!
So set your alarm clock for , lay out your walking clothes/shoes the night before and go catch a sunrise! You just might be surprised to find that you are a morning person after all! (At least during Summer!)
By Bonnie J. Lewis-Tschannen, Compass Point Consulting:
Reading is really the only task that will get me to sit still for hours. Personally, it is the best way for me to relax and escape from my normal fast paced life. I really just need a comfortable spot and a good book to be content. While on vacation I have been known to consume six to seven books while parked in my favorite beach chair. An amazing view and nothing else to do really does enhance the experience.
The Oconomowoc Public Library has started their summer reading programs which provide rewards for everyone from children to adults. http://www.oconomowoc.lib.wi.us/calendar/2014-summer-library-programs/
So, stop by your local library or your favorite bookstore to pick up a good book and head out into nature to enjoy.
Favorite Book Store: Books & Company in Oconomowoc http://www.booksco.com/
Currently Reading: Heart and Soul by Maeve Binchy
Favorite Recently Read: The Book Thief by Markus Zusak
“This week I’ve been reading a lot and doing little work. That’s the way things ought to be. That’s surely the road to success.” ― Anne Frank
By Katie Miller, Oconomowoc Area Chamber of Commerce:
Above: The view from my perch on the patio at the Oconomowoc Golf Club
That’s what I thought to myself as I contemplated the start of this challenge a few weeks ago. Turns out, it’s hard. Hard to prioritize “non-productive” time, hard to disengage, hard to find the motivation to squeeze one more thing into an already full day.
Yesterday, I got lucky. My work life intersected with my daily goal to participate in the 30x30 Challenge. The Oconomowoc Chamber hosted our annual golf outing and I got to spend the ENTIRE day outside, in the sunshine and quiet. With little to actually DO while the golfers were out doing their thing, I sat and observed and listened, and finally, relaxed. A piece of a much larger puzzle slid into place for me while I sat there.
For me, the 30x30 has indeed been a Challenge but not in the way I expected. I’ve learned that the most challenging, and important, part is allowing myself to stop, to be “non-productive,” to notice the beauty around me and enjoy it, to relax.
By Paige Brunclik, City of Oconomowoc
Above: Bryan and Noah Brunclik enjoy some time on the swing at Frame Park. The park is a great draw for young and old to enjoy time outdoors together.
Even though I get to spend my days out in beautiful Oconomowoc, I am a resident of Waukesha. When I signed up for the 30X30 Challenge, I knew I would definitely find it easy to spend more time in my favorite Waukesha park, Frame Park chalking up outdoor time for June.
For years I have taken the loop around the Fox River. It’s the perfect way to end a day – especially a stressful one. On my loops I would always marvel at the beauty of the flora and fauna in the park.
But since I joined the 30X30 Challenge and have been logging time in Frame Park, I’ve noticed something else there – the people. I have discovered I enjoy seeing everyone at the park just as much as the pretty flowers. I don’t know any of them, they don’t know me. But we all have something in common here. We are all sharing the peace you gain from being in this space. This natural, refreshing, revitalizing surrounding.
For the 30X30 Challenge, I hope you find opportunities to enjoy being outside with others. The upcoming concerts at the City Beach bandshell on June 18, 21 and 27 are a good way to do it. Or, just head out to your local park and enjoy being outside with others who are sharing the same experience.
Above: Head to the Rhodee Memorial Band Shell at City Beach, June 18, 21 and 27 this month for free outdoors concerts. Visit www.oconomowoc-wi.gov for more information.
I found something out in nature I didn’t think I would during the 30X30 Challenge. I found people. I found diversity in my community together enjoying a beautiful space that belongs to each of us.
Good find your park and your people. It’s a natural connection we so often seem to lose.
By Deborah Turner, Greener Oconomowoc:
Last week my little “runt” of a dog, (3 lb. Chihuahua) slipped through the door, unbeknownst to me, while I was trying to get to a meeting. By the way, did I mention she’s 17 years old, deaf and can’t see well. I swore I saw her sitting in her little basket as I closed the door, an atmospheric anomaly I guess. I was called out of my meeting and rushed home to find that most of my block was out looking for her. The evening was brilliant, sunny, warm and perfect for an evening stroll aside from the panic and terror of having our little dog missing. We spent most of 2 hours looking for her, through people’s back yards, along the lake, across Wisconsin Avenue. I saw things that I would never have the privilege to see without the excuse of a lost dog. My neighbors were great. We were all on a solitary mission. Walking through the “hood” like we were kids again, collecting fireflies, calling out locations and giving updates. Somehow she wandered 6 blocks and was found on Wisconsin Avenue. My neighbor thought to call the police~ fortunately, she had been picked up by some kind soul. That night we all were out walking with Addie’s Guardian Angel, in the beauty of our Lake Country somewhere between paradise and terror.
We came together as one group for a simple cause for a short moment. We must never forget that the simple act of kindness is the greatest gift we can give each other.
Jennifer Kindred, First Bank Financial Centre:
Water is an essential element in our lives. The average adult human body is 50-65% water. We need to drink 6-8 glasses of water a day. We use it to cook, wash and bathe. We can use it for relaxation: a spa or hot tub, viewing a water fall, or listening to the rain. Water can be used to generate electricity.
But one of my personal favorites here in Wisconsin is that during the summer we get to PLAY in water.
There are 15,074 documented lakes in Wisconsin. Of these, about 40 percent have been named. They range in size from small one-and two-acre ponds to 137,708-acre Lake Winnebago. They range in depth from a few feet to 350 feet for Wazee Lake.
During the 30x30 Nature Challenge is a great time to get out and experience one of these 15,000+ lakes for yourself. Try out different types of non-motorized water sports:
All of the above can be enjoyed alone or with friends and family. Join a Kayak club, learn to paddle board, or canoe down the Kickapoo River. Visit the WI DNR website: http://dnr.wi.gov/topic/
Ginny Bocek, Waukesha County Park System – Retzer Nature Center:
Puddle Stomp, Puddle Stomp. Stomp, Stomp … Puddle, Puddle. That is now the little song stuck in my head, thanks to my four- year old. At my house, rainy days mean excitement. I get to wear my rain boots and use my umbrella! If only we, as adults, could be so enthusiastic about rainy days. But shouldn’t we all do a little puddle stomping? We are outside, we can get refreshed and rejuvenated. And you know, stomping in a puddle sure takes the stress away. Try it! I did, and for the first time in a long time, I didn’t mind standing out in the rain waiting for the bus. I also didn’t try to stop the four-year old from puddle stomping and I arrived at work with a uplifting feeling despite very gloomy weather. I don’t even know the official song, I just sang the important verse, “we all need a little rain sometimes” to feel refreshed and rejuvenated. Okay, so you don’t want wet feet for the rest of the day, but use those puddles to put a little jump in your step – it still works when avoiding the puddles. And take this rainy day to get out into nature, to look around at how flowers are soaking it all in. Hey, you work hard on that garden, and you won’t have to water tonight!
Above: The Adventure Trail at Retzer Nature Center. The kids had a great time in the rain! And as my son said, “You know what, Mom? I’m not getting that wet. I think those trees are blocking a lot of rain.” Perfect, no excuses! So grab your umbrella, grab those rain boots and go sing Stomp, Stomp … Puddle, Puddle.
By Ginny Bocek, Waukesha County Park System – Retzer Nature Center:
Funny that I thought I better look that up before I officially use the phrase. So I popped the phrase in the Google search and "The Free Dictionary.com" comes up first to tell me that it means the 'basic character of something'. How profound! Getting out in nature seems to be getting back to the basics. Unplugging from electronics (but yes, looking on-line for something - is just the nature of the beast, right?); telling the kids NO every time they ask to watch TV; not bringing the phone out the door with you.
The TV question comes and goes throughout the day, the kids play on the swings...help mom...the TV question is back. So this time instead of saying NO, I said why don't you go fly your kite? And I laughed to myself, yeah go fly a kite! And so we both did. Just a small kite, and princess all the way. Perfect for my four year old daughter, and she had a blast! She had to find her big brother and his friend, to show them how it's done. And yes, even big brother and friend flew the princess kite. I don't think they even noticed.
So as I watched the kite go up in the sky...the basics of nature filled in all around. Best being, of course, the giggles and screams of laughter from the kids. We are so lucky to be living in this area, so many city, county and state parks within minutes of our homes. So when I tell you to go fly a kite, just chalk it to being the nature of the beast this time of year, and I hope you take me up on it, or better yet, please feel free to answer back with "Go take a hike!" because we have so many options. (One being night at Retzer Nature Center… www.waukeshacountyparks.com)
By Jennifer Kindred, First Bank Financial Centre:
I am a gardener. I used to think it was something that I just did, but in the past several years I have come to realize that it is officially my hobby! Over the years my garden (and my family) has “grown”. My daughter became a gardener when she was about 20 months old and dumped an entire packet of chive seeds into one of my flower beds, and I am proud to say that every spring that patch of chives comes back and reminds me of the day when it all started for her. Gardening has its nature and health benefits but being able to pass these skills on to the next generation makes it that much more rewarding.
Let’s face it, living in Wisconsin our outdoor season is short and gardening can be one of the best ways to take advantage of the summer months, both by getting us outside and moving, but also by the daily motivation that you must go out and tend to your garden. And the harvests can be preserved for enjoyment through the winter months. A jar of homemade salsa tastes best on a cold Decemberwhile watching a Packer game with friends.
My now 8 year old, has graduated to having her own section of our 30x30 victory garden. Every year she actively plants, weeds and harvests her share of the garden. She changes up what she plants, but focuses on a variety of lettuce, carrots, gourds, beets, and cucumbers. This June has been even more special because of the 30x30 nature challenge – every evening she says “mom put down your phone and let’s go out to the garden”. The garden gives us time together and time to celebrate the small victories of the day – seeds that have sprouted, kale that is getting ready to cut, or my personal favorite, this sunset that happened while we were out watering the garden the other night. She grabbed me by the hand and we ran to the front yard to get a better view, then she called for her dad to come out and look and we all three stood there and admired the show. You never know what’s going to happen once you disconnect from technology and reconnect with nature.
Whether it’s flowers, or vegetables in a container on your patio get your kids outside and let them “grow”! You never know where it might lead…….
By Annie Haas, Annie Haas Communication Consulting Inc:
Above: The City of Oconomowoc, Wis., offers abundant opportunities to get out and enjoy nature! Visit www.oconomowoc-wi.gov for more information.
I’m the first to admit – nature is a bit scary sometimes. I’d much rather spend time exercising at the Y, or spend time shopping or working, then be outside in nature without my creature comforts. And I’m not alone --- according to the U.S. Department of Energy, Americans spend approximately 90% of their time indoors. So it’s no surprise this “30x30” had to be positioned as a “challenge” – each participant dedicating 30 minutes per day to being in nature, sans technology, in order for people around Wisconsin to take it on. Yeah – kind of sad.
But as I begrudgingly venture out each day without my cellphone, I keep coming back to the same thought: how lucky we are to be able to freely and easily venture onto our favorite path, route, jog, routine, etc., knowing that there will be clean air to breathe, plenty of places to stop for clean water along the way, no garbage in sight, and beautiful trees. Just one of the many advantages we have as citizens of the most powerful nation on earth, a nation with an extremely high standard of living – the subject of emulation by the rest of the world. So we have this opportunity to continue to set a good example for future generations, for other countries, of how to best utilize these many resources to meet growing demand, a changing climate and a changing political landscape as the world becomes more connected.
Cutline: The City of Oconomowoc, Wis., offers abundant opportunities to get out and enjoy nature! Visit www.oconomowoc-wi.gov for more information.
By Bonnie J. Lewis-Tschannen, Compass Point Consulting:
I love spending time in nature. I really do, but I don’t camp. I joke it is part of my Marriage Agreement that I will never have to go camping. My husband has reluctantly accepted this fact, as he knows there is nothing that he can do to change my mind. I think it goes back to several horrific childhood camping trips. These trips included bathing in an ice cold river, a tornado ripping through the campground, disgusting pit toilets, damp sleeping bags and so many bugs. I know that camping is an activity that many people do for fun, but I am reassured knowing that after a day kayaking or hiking that I will be ending my day in a comfortable bed.
This month is my chance to reconnect with nature after a horrible Wisconsin winter, and I look forward to finding new adventures in my community or wherever I find myself in our beautiful state.
By Lisa Geason-Bauer, Evolution Marketing:
Above: From the Evolution Marketing garden - tomatoes, Brussels sprouts and mint growing.
The next time you find yourself “angry and upset,” and about to say something you may regret…. take an “outdoor timeout.” Stop what you are doing and go outside! That’s right…find a little piece of green space (could be your yard, a trail, park, basically anywhere outside where there is green space).
During your “outdoor timeout,” look around and focus on the different types of plants, trees and shrubs that are surrounding you. The color green is calming and research has shown that humans are able to reduce stress by simply viewing an attractive landscape.
-Reduction in stress
-Ability to quickly release aggression
-Improve muscle tone & coordination
-Exercise aerobically while pursuing constructive outcomes (i.e. pulling weeds, planting flowers etc..)
Th 30x30 Nature Challenge is about connecting with nature, can you use “outdoor timeouts” as part of your challenge?
Above: Evolution Marketing raised bed garden, showcasing companion planting techniques.
FUN FACT – Horticultural Therapy
In 1971, Kansas State University became the first university in the United States to establish an undergraduate degree program in horticultural therapy and today remains as an academic leader in the discipline.
*Horticultural therapy is the use of plants and plant related activities to improve the social, educational, psychological and physical adjustment of a individual, thus improving mind, body and spirit.
Want to learn more…
By Paige Brunclik
City of Oconomowoc Parks, Recreation and Forestry:
Above: Riverside Park is a wonderful place for 30 minutes or more in nature.
There’s no age restriction to enjoy a swing on the playground. The park bench or picnic table invites everyone for a visit. If our city’s recreational paths could talk, I think they’d say, “Hi and thanks for passing by,” to every tennis shoe, sandal, bare foot and wheel that passed over them.
The City of Oconomowoc maintains 337 acres of recreational facilities which includes more than 47 parks and trails. These sacred, healing, picturesque places are here for you and you and you and you – everyone is invited to enjoy them.
The Oconomowoc Community 30X30 Challenge is a simple yet profound idea that gets us back in touch with the quality of life activities that our taxpayers support so we can thoroughly enjoy our natural surroundings as we far too often get boxed up and distracted by the unnatural ones.
I invite you to make a date with our parks, trails and facilities – they’ll be happy you stopped by.
Head out on beautiful Lac La Belle in a canoe, kayak or on a stand up paddle board. The city will offer a promotion on watercraft rentals during the 30X30 Challenge.
Try out the lap around Fowler Lake. Head to one of my new favorite spots, Riverside Park, psst there’s a new playground ready for “kid testing” later this week. Just sit and stare at the lake. Hug a tree in the park. Play at Imagination Station and come back June 7 with the family for the playground’s five-year anniversary. So many incredible things here for everyone.
Don’t dress up. Shoes are optional. Wide eyes, deep breaths and not rushing are required.
Sign up to take the challenge today, www.oconomowoc-wi.gov/challenge.
Pictured: Lavender (one of Lisa’s dogs) sitting next to the Evolution Marketing garden (photo taken in June 2013)
By Lisa Geason-Bauer:
The other day I got an “alert” on my iPhone, which warned me that a severe weather front was moving into our area. In an effort to prevent a doggie accident in my home, I gathered my two dogs, put them on leashes and went for a short walk around my neighborhood. While walking my dogs, a bird pooped on me.
It took me about a minute to figure out what happened (i.e. that a liquid fell from the sky that was not water!) I looked up and was shocked to see the robins flying in circles very low to the ground, right above my head. In the distance I saw large black clouds rolling in and I could smell rain in the air. As my dogs finished doing their business: I watched as the storm moved towards me, marveling at the natural beauty and power of the thunderstorm.
The 30x30 Nature Challenge is about connecting with nature, are you up to the challenge? More info at www.oconomowoc-wi.gov/challenge
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