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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.




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Lake of the Woods Campground
N9070 14th Avenue
Wautoma, WI 54982
920-787-3601
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lakeofthewoods@diparks.com

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