Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Bag It, Duluth! It’s time to quit single use plastic bags

 Above:Screenshot from Movie trailer for Bag it.

Below: Youtube trailer for Bag it.


By Rebecca Yaeger-Bischoff
For The Hillsider

I grew up in a small town and on the weekends my dad and I would drive to the “big city” to stock up on supplies for the upcoming week. We’d usually go the the grocery store, home improvement store, and the mall. Each one of these stores gave us plastic bags to carry our items home.

Rebecca Yaeger-Bischoff
Even as a kid I didn’t like to throw away things I thought could be reused, so I’d stuff all of the plastic bags into one big bag to reuse again later. We’d inevitably get way more plastic bags than we could ever reuse, and my dad would throw some away. Even though I didn’t like waste, I didn’t think anything about using the plastic bags from the stores. It’s what everyone I saw was doing, so it was normal.

These days I carry my own reusable bags when I go shopping. Not only do I feel better about reducing my waste, but I have also learned how harmful plastic bags are for the environment and our health.

The average amount of time a plastic bag is used is 12 minutes, but plastic bags remain in the environment for hundreds of years before they degrade, and they never really disappear. Instead the bags break down into tinier and tinier pieces, eventually becoming microplastics.

Microplastics are a pollution double-whammy. On top of contaminating our soil and water, they act like a sponge for toxic chemicals, absorbing toxins such as PCBs and DDT (chemicals linked to hormone disruption and cancer). Much of these microplastics end up in our rivers, lakes, and oceans where birds, fish, and other marine animals mistake these toxic plastic pieces for food.

In a recent study from the Rochester Institute of Technology, researchers that found nearly 22 million pounds of plastic debris enter the Great Lakes every year—about 70 thousand pounds of it into Lake Superior. Lorena Rios Mendoza, a chemistry professor at the University of Wisconsin-Superior, has been researching microplastic pollution in the Great Lakes and says she is surprised by how much she is finding in fish stomachs. Bad news, especially for those that enjoy fishing on Lake Superior.

What Can Each Person Do?

Start by learning more and meeting with others that want to help. To help address the impacts of single-use plastics, Bag it, Duluth, a group of citizens, community leaders, businesses, and organizations, is calling for legislation that would encourage reusable carry-out bags and environmentally preferable food to-go containers. As part of the Bag it, Duluth campaign, the League of Women Voters Duluth is sponsoring a free showing of the film “Bag It” at 7pm Thursday, February 16th at the Denfeld High School Lecture Hall. The film will bring greater insight to the impacts of plastics on our environment and ideas on reducing plastics in our community. 

For more information on Bag it, Duluth go to www.bagitduluth.org

(Rebecca Yaeger-Bischoff lives in Lincoln Park, has a degree in environmental science, is a 5 Gyres Ambassador, leads Zumba classes and is interested in health and wellness. Full disclosure: She is also the daughter of The Hillsider editor Naomi Yaeger-Bischoff.)

Sunday, January 22, 2017

Duluth Women's March draws more than 1,400 participants

Some 1,400 people gathered in downtown Duluth, Minn at the Technology Village at the corner or Lake Avenue and Superior Street on Saturday, Jan. 21, 2017. 
(Video by Rebecca Yaeger-Bischoff)

On Saturday, Jan. 21, thousand of people descended on the capital of our nation for a Women's March on D.C.  Some 673 marches took place on  seven continents. Some 1,400 attended the Duluth Women's March.  (More Videos and photos to follow.)
From the Women's March on Washington:

We stand together in solidarity with our partners and children for the protection of our rights, our safety, our health, and our families - recognizing that our vibrant and diverse communities are the strength of our country.  The rhetoric of the past election cycle has insulted, demonized, and threatened many of us - women, immigrants of all statuses, those with diverse religious faiths particularly Muslim, people who identify as LGBTQIA, Native and Indigenous people, Black and Brown people, people with disabilities, the economically impoverished and survivors of sexual assault. We are confronted with the question of how to move forward in the face of national and international concern and fear. In the spirit of democracy and honoring the champions of human rights, dignity, and justice who have come before us, we join in diversity to show our presence in numbers is too great to ignore.  We call on all defenders of human rights to join us.

The Women’s March will send a bold message to our new administration on their first day in office, and to the world, that women's rights are human rights. We stand together, recognizing that defending the most marginalized among us is defending all of us.

This is an INCLUSIVE march, and EVERYONE who supports the march's goals are welcome to join this peaceful gathering!

Hundreds gather at Technology Village for Women's March

Thursday, January 19, 2017

Creative Watershed: Duluth Arts + Culture Plan: Thursday, Jan. 19, 5-7 p.m.

Duluth Public Arts Commission announces the formal release of Creative Watershed: Duluth Arts + Culture Plan

What: Official Release of the Creative Watershed: Duluth Arts + Culture Plan
When: Today, January 19, 2017, 5:00-7:00pm (short program at 6:00 pm)
Where: Mayor’s Reception Room, Room 405 City Hall, 411 W 1st St., Duluth, MN 55802
Who: Public is invited, hosted by City of Duluth Public Arts Commission (DPAC)

[Duluth, MN] - Featuring textile art by Kirsten Aune and Lisa Fitzpatrick, music by The Sound of Strings Trio, and refreshments by Zenith Bread Project, the public is cordially invited to celebrate the release of Creative Watershed: Duluth Arts + Culture Plan. The celebratory event will take place from 5-7 pm on January 19, in Duluth City Hall, 4th floor Room 405 with a short program to commence at 6 pm.

The Duluth Public Arts Commission (DPAC) contracted consultants Forecast Public Art and Creative Community Builders of St. Paul and Minneapolis to facilitate the development of Creative Watershed, which included gathering feedback and direction from approximately 80 regional stakeholders over an 18-month process.

One of the plan’s early recommendations was to relocate and better connect DPAC with a City department. DPAC is happy to report that the Commission's new home is with the Business and Economic Development Department. Jason Hale is the staff liaison, and Gary Anderson is DPAC’s City Council representative.

Surrounded by local art, music and artisan food, the short program will highlight some of the major features and recommendations of Creative Watershed, a document that has been endorsed by the Duluth City Council and that is intended to guide the future vision and collaborative efforts of DPAC its public and private partners.

The plan identifies 5 major goals, along with detailed recommendations for each:
1. Cultivate Our Talents: Arts Development and a Creative ‘Maker’ Economy
2. Activate and Connect Our Neighborhoods and Downtown: Creative Placemaking and Public Art
3. Amplify Our Message: Audience Development and Tourism
4. Capitalize Our Strengths: Infrastructure for the Creative Sector
5. Make It Happen: The Role of City Government -- Expand scope, partnerships, and resources for the City’s Arts Commission to
implement goals in this plan.

Creative Watershed: Duluth Arts + Culture Plan can be accessed at:

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

5 Green New Year’s Resolutions for 2017

By Rebecca Yaeger-Bischoff
For The Hillsider

When people think of New Year’s resolutions they usually think about lifestyle changes for weight loss, healthier diets, and exercise routines. This year, along with any resolutions you might be making for your personal health, I encourage you to make resolutions for a healthier planet. Plastic pollution and climate change can seem like too daunting of a challenge to make any real difference, but, by incorporating one or more of the small lifestyle changes listed below, you really can make a big difference in reducing the amount of waste that ends up in the landfill and decrease your carbon footprint.   
Ethyl’s, the cat, first bus ride! She went to get her nails done and brought smiles to the the people she sat by on the bus.
(Photo by Rebecca Yaeger-Bischoff)

Here are some small steps you can take to make a positive impact on environmental change.

  1. Carry your own reusable water bottle instead of purchasing bottled water or accepting bottled water at an event. Single use, plastic bottles create a lot of waste. According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) only about 31% of plastic bottles are recycled. Bottles that end up in landfills take thousands of years to decompose. When they do start to decompose they leach out toxic chemicals into our environment. Many plastic bottles also make they way to rivers, lakes, and eventually the ocean where animals mistake the plastic for food and starve to death or get stuck in them. If you are concerned about the quality of your tap water, consider investing in a water filter or go to www.findaspring.com to find a natural spring near you.

  1. Bring your own mug to work or your favorite coffee shop. The EPA estimates over 100 billion disposable cups that are thrown away each year. These cups of often made of Styrofoam or paper lined with thin plastic coating. Neither can be easily recycled. Styrofoam is especially problematic because it made up of very toxic chemicals and never decomposes. It breaks up into smaller and smaller pieces that can leach toxins into our water sources and animals mistake for food. Coffee shops often give discounts for bringing your own mug. And besides, having a coffee (or tea) in a real mug is more fun!

  1. Bring your own reusable shopping bag. If you’re starting to see a theme in switching out one-time use, disposable items for reusable ones you’re onto something. Plastic bags are the second most common form of litter after cigarette butts. As with the plastic bottles and Styrofoam cups, plastic bags are very hazardous for animals and take thousands of years to decompose in a landfill. All are made of oil, a nonrenewable resource and large emitter of greenhouse gases (the ones driving climate change) and take a lot of water and energy to manufacture. Remembering to bring your own bags into the store can be the trickiest part of switching to reusable bags. There are companies that make foldable bags that you can carry in a purse or attach to a keychain so you’ll always have a bag with you. I’ve also seen signs in store parking lots asking customers if they remembered to bring their inside. Many stores like it when people bring their own bags because it saves them money. 

    If you’re starting to see a theme in switching out one-time use, disposable items for reusable ones you’re onto something.

  1. Compost your food waste. The EPA estimates that 33 million tons of food waste ends up in the landfill each year. About 40% of that waste is food that never even made it to anyone’s plate according to the Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO). Not only does food waste in landfills take up unnecessary space, it anaerobically (without oxygen) breaks down, releasing methane, a greenhouse gas that is 21 times more potent than carbon dioxide. Composting your food waste is a great way to reduce the amount of waste that ends up in a landfill and recycle nutrients back into the soil. It breaks down food waste faster and more efficiently food waste in the landfill. Here in Duluth we are lucky to have a large-scale composting facility operated by Western Lake Superior Sanitary District (WLSSD). If you're like me and not able to compost at home, you can drop off food waste at WLSSD’s 27th Avenue West location or check their website www.wlssd.com for a drop-off site near you.

  1. Bus, bike, or walk to your destination. Reduce your carbon footprint, improve air quality, save money, and get some exercise by using alternative transportation. Duluth celebrates Bus Bike Walk month in May but it’s never too early to try alternative transportation. I work downtown and hear many complaints about paying for parking or finding parking near businesses. Taking the bus, biking, or walking makes that part of the trip a lot less stressful. While I realize that the these alternatives may not be as convenient for you, I encourage you to check Google Maps to see if there’s a bus or bike route near you. I started by biking and taking the bus for fun and eventually become confident enough to work it into a regular routine.
Rebecca Yaeger-Bischoff

(Rebecca Yaeger-Bischoff lives in Lincoln Park, has a degree in environmental science, is a 5 Gyres Ambassador, leads Zumba classes and is interested in health and wellness. Full disclosure: She is also the daughter of The Hillsider editor Naomi Yaeger-Bischoff.)

Friday, January 13, 2017

Got Talent event set for tonight Jan.13 is canceled

  Ivy Vaino has informed us that as late last night, that the Got Talent event set for tonight (Fridiay, Jan. 13) is cancelled.

Duluth Chief of Police Mike Tusken speaks about Sex Trafficking

Mayor Larson says the community needs to put a stop to sex trafficking

The Hillsider
Mayor Larson says people understand more and more the implications of sex trafficking.
"Everyone single one of us in this community knows someone who has experienced sexual violence," Mayor Larson says.
"You have to have these conversations with your kids," she says.
"It's on all of us in the community to call it out and put a stop to it." she says.

Thursday, January 12, 2017

Trafficking Awareness Month, January 2017

The Hillsider

Sex Trafficking. It’s here. Help end it. Together we can make a difference. Several events are planned this month to help people understand the scope and impact of trafficking, as well as how to help victims and help stop this abuse. The January events (free and open to the public) are:
Jeff Bauer with The Family Partnership in Minneapolis, MN, will speak.
-January 17, 2017: “Safe Harbor for All.” Jeff Bauer with The Family Partnership in Minneapolis, MN, will speak. He helped lead a successful effort to pass a Safe Harbor law in MN, obtaining some of the most significant state investments in the country for shelter, services, and training to protect children from trafficking and commercial sexual exploitation. Venue and time TBA.
-January 19, 2017, 6:30 p.m.: Book read and discussion, “The Guest Room” by Chris Bohjalian. Gold Room. Main Library, 520 W. Superior St., Duluth.

Happy New Year!

A mother/daughter in traditional costume. Mom is Blia Moua and daughter is Selena Xiong. Selena attends Denfeld High School.
(Photo by Ivy Viano)
The Hillsider
The secular New Year is January 1, 2016, but the Twin Ports Hmong celebrated the new year on the first Saturday in December 2016.
The Hmong came to the United States as refugees from the Vietnam War. They had been in Laos where they were recruited by the CIA beginning in the early 1960s under President Kennedy to help Fight the communist invasion of Southeast Asia.
The first Hmong family arrived in the Twin Ports in 1978 .
Their culture, language, and background are all very different from that of the other Southeast Asian refugees who came out of Vietnam, Cambodia, and Thailand following the Vietnam War.

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Take a Moment to Color and Relax your Mind

By Lydia Walker
For The Hillsider

The above image was drawn by Lydia Walker, art therapist. She and The Hillsider invite you to get out colored pencils or crayons and enjoy a few minutes of relaxation by coloring her design.
It seems like suddenly everywhere you go you can find adult coloring books, including grocery stores, bookstores, department stores, and coffee shops. Many of them label themselves as art therapy. As an art therapist I can tell you that they are not art therapy, but a tool that can be used by therapist and general population alike to induce various health benefits. Now one may wonder what type of health benefits can come from coloring.

Dr. Stan Rodski, a neuropsychologist and author of a line of adult coloring books, states that coloring stimulates a relaxed mindset, which is similar to what one could achieve through meditation. Coloring allows us to distract our brains from other thoughts and focus on the moment and task in front of us. Tasks with predictable results and repetitive motions such as coloring can be calming and relaxing. Both meditation and coloring help to relax and reduce the chatter of one’s restless mind. Additionally, coloring keeps a person focused on the present moment and helps them to be mindful.
"Coloring can lead to lowered heart rate and slowed breathing causing physical relaxation as well."

Not only do the repetitive actions along with the attention to patterns and detail associated with coloring aid in mental relaxation but there is also a physiological response as well. Coloring can lead to lowered heart rate and slowed breathing causing physical relaxation as well.

Most of you remember coloring as a kid.  As an adult colors, they are linking to memories of coloring as a child, whether they are aware of this or not. One is transported back to the stress-free days of childhood, which aids a person to relax and feel more optimistic and energetic. This leads to increased positive emotions and thoughts. Now who doesn’t want to be a kid again and who doesn’t want to have happy thoughts?
Lydia Walker, art therapist

(Lydia Walker is an art therapist and artist specializing in how art & brain interact promoting healing & healthy living and owner of Studio 15. For more information visit Facebook.com/pg/Studio15Gallery or phone (612) 203-4300)

The images below were drawn by Lydia Walker, art therapist. She and The Hillsider invite you to get out colored pencils or crayons and enjoy a few minutes of relaxation by coloring her designs.