Podcast: Holistic Nature of Us; Meet Kyleigh Hillerud, Campaign Coordinator for Zero Waste at UConn

Description: Kyleigh Hillerud is a sophomore at UConn,a Fine Arts major studying visual media and design. She is also UConn PIRG (Public Interest Research Group) Campaign coordinator for PIRG’s Zero Waste Campaign. PIRG is a student advocacy group, non-partisan, non-profit, one where students can join and make a difference in a variety of ways. Zero Waste is an option. Kyleigh, as Coordinator, and her team are celebrating a  huge success on campus, taking practical action over the past eight months to effect change. Because of their efforts, dining services have adopted zero plastic bags. Today she and her team are poised to work with our state’s Legislative body to enact legislation for ‘zero waste’ particularly, ‘no plastic bags.’

Join us for an insightful discussion and practical tips.

About My guest: Kyleigh Hillerud is a sophomore at UConn, studying visual media and design, a Fine Arts major. She is also UConn PIRG Campaign coordinator for PIRG’s Zero Waste Campaign. PIRG is a student advocacy group, non-partisan, non-profit, one where students can join and make a difference in a variety of ways. Zero Waste is an option. Kyleigh as Coordinator and her team are celebrating a  huge success on campus, taking practical action over the past eight months to effect change. Because of their efforts, dining services have adopted zero plastic bags. 

Transcript: #54 Kyleigh Hillerud final

Blog: The Dirt on Relationship




“To forget how to tend the soil is to forget ourselves.” M. Gandhi

It seems like nothing much is happening to the natural world around us. Winter has a couple of weeks yet to linger around. Though hostas peek through the snow, spring bulbs sprout a few leaves and tease us by popping up a little early, it’s still winter. This time and place on the wheel are traditionally thought to be a quieter time, a time for making garden plans, checking seed supplies, a time for dreaming of the blossoms to come. A tension builds though, before spring’s explosions of flower and beauty. Can you feel it? Though we have snow on the ground here in the NE, birds are more active, even tree buds are more obvious.

My podcast guest this week, Dan Blanchard, Author, Teacher, Coach is passionate about growing positive relationships. He shared a couple of stories about how his honesty, though not popular in the moment, touched a student. Dan reaped the rewards years later.

Working with our soil is about relationship too. Soon we will be digging in this dirt, itchy to plant seeds. What is your relationship to dirt? Sounds silly but to farmers and gardeners, the soil is the source of fertility on this planet. Do you take the soil for granted? What does soil mean to you? Have you taken a walk lately, felt the cold bite your cheeks, felt the sun getting warmer, appreciated the clear blue skies? What about putting your awareness to the ground, where so much is taking place. Tension is building. It has to. It takes tremendous energy for a seed to break out of its shell and begin its journey of growth and potential. Like the teenagers that Dan works with, we have to wait and watch. Under the right conditions, we blossom and so does the earth.

Getting back to our gardens: I highly recommend a soil sample of your garden beds before you plant. Contact your local agricultural extension office to obtain a kit and easy directions. The fees are usually nominal and the results worth it. Or use a lab like Logan Labs in Ohio for a more comprehensive analysis which I highly recommend. It cost a little more but if micro and macronutrients are not in proper ratios you could be wasting your time and money adding amendments that will not be able to be utilized. Also, take a separate sample for different areas. For example, collect one soil sample from your vegetable area, a separate sample for the ornamentals, And again, take a separate sample for flowers or for blueberries. Different types of plants have different needs.

Lastly, if or when you can, take time to smell the soil, feel it….be grateful. It is our lifeblood. We have not been good stewards either. Remember “humus” comes from the same root as “humble”. So being grateful begins to foster a more meaningful relationship, a more respectful one with the dirt beneath our feet. If it works for us then it works for all that we seek to grow. Remember all comments are appreciated. Judith

Blog: Ocean Sound Pollution Affecting Our Friends


The ocean world is dependent on sound more so than vision. Sound travels differently in a watery medium. It moves faster and can travel longer. Water can bend sound waves too, diverting a straight line into a zigzag type of path. What is our noise, from boats, oil rigs, deep water testing, and sonar, doing to our friends who live in the sea?

A lot.

My guest this week, Dr. Leesa Sklover, ocean activist, musician, and composer, says that whales, dolphins, shrimp, turtles, and zooplankton cannot escape harm from these practices. It’s disorienting, and if a whale cannot hear it’s basically dead. Disorientation causes stress chemicals and hormones to increase which has the potential to enter our food supply. She inspired me through her writing, her songs and passion to share with you the seriously detrimental effects noise pollution has on our ocean friends.

“The speed of sound in pure water is 1,498 meters per second, compared to 343 meters per second in air at room temperature and pressure.” Sound travels faster in the ocean because there are more molecules — specifically salt molecules — for waves to interact with, as well as higher surface temperatures.”(Sciencing)

Noise pollution has increased dramatically over the years. Increased shipping, advanced military sonic testing technologies, commercial boats, huge liners all contribute to noise pollution. Echolocation, finding prey becomes harder. Populations are diminishing, not only whales, dolphins, and other sea life but food for the larger species is scarce too. Factor in the inability to hear the click of a salmon due to noise pollution and we are finding whales who are malnourished and some cannot bring a fetus to full term

Legislation is against them too. The Cetacean Society states:

ACTION NEEDED: The newly released Presidential FY 2019 budget has taken direct aim at programs that are critical for the conservation of whales and dolphins. The Marine Mammal Commission (MMC), an independent government agency that provides science-based reviews of U.S. ocean policies that impact marine mammals and their environment, has been targeted for elimination. The cost of the MMC’s work to the US taxpayer? One penny per person per year.

The budget also looks to cut overall funding to the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) by 14 percent. Even worse, the NMFS enforcement budget would be slashed by 25 percent putting cetaceans at risk from a variety of illegal activities. There are also serious cuts proposed to critical research on protected species, and habitat conservation and restoration.

If holism means the whole is only as strong as its parts, what’s happening in the oceans affects us. Ocean species are suffering and what are we doing to protect them? Do we have some responsibility to them as part of this world? Are we at a tipping point and seduced in thinking all is okay?

My Native elders would point to nature over and over again as precious, invaluable to life, and in a sense, nature’s operating system mirrors ours. If one part is dying, are we dying? In Earth Calling, by Ellen Gunter and Ted Carter, we are poked and prodded with facts to look around and feel something for the destruction going on and take action. Many of us enjoy these creatures from the sea. But are we doing enough to protect them from harm?

Enjoy Dr. Sklover’s song: See Me As I Am:  

What are you doing? I enjoy hearing your comments/your stories. Please share. Thanks.



Blog: Land Trusts: Preserving, Protecting Woodlands and Wildlands




The forests here are in full bloom. Bright green leaves unfurl into their fullness. Sex is in the air as birds give birth, toads finish their mating song and tadpoles abound in our pond. New life, new vigor, warmth, and breezes. We get out more too, finishing our home chores before we head out onto trails, lakes, ponds for fishing, canoeing.

My guests this week, Paul Pribula and Julia Roger, both GIS experts, continue to map Joshua’s Land Trust parcels and trails, ultimately for our benefit. My interest in Land Trusts and Joshua’s Trust, in particular, helped me understand the great value they contribute toward protecting land here in CT and throughout our country. Land Trusts, in general, serve many purposes.

“According to the report, New England is seeing its forestry vanish at a rate of 65 acres a day, with trees in Connecticut disappearing at 3,700 acres a year to development — the fourth fastest rate out of the six New England states.” (The Hour )

How do Land Trusts help? They are charitable organizations who acquire land for one or more purposes.

  1. Conservation: they protect natural habitat, watersheds and water quality, scenic views and ensure land is available for farming, forestry, and recreation.
  2. Depending on the purpose/intent of the land in trust will depend on its public or private guidelines. Some provide trails, education, and recreation benefits. Some are left alone.
  3. Most are independent, tax-exempt 501 (c) (30 of the Internal Revenue Code
  4. They follow the Land Trust Standards. They were first developed in 1989 and recently revised.
  5. Land Trusts cooperate with landowners for real estate transactions.

Many communities do not seem to have any forestry guidelines in place for preserving invaluable ecosystems. I mentioned in a couple of podcasts, I watched a hill

Landscape with the sun shining through the foliage with a clear turquoise lake behind the trees

being bulldozed down for apartment development. Hundreds of oaks and other species were removed. But the dot we have not connected yet is that an intricate ecosystem was damaged and the trees left will struggle for survival. Not to mention habitat was destroyed for innumerable species and many species lost their lives or cannot sustain life with what remains. This dot needs to be connected in town planning and development along with environmental committees.

Organizations like wildlandsandwoodlands.org have a vision for forest conservation here in New England:

“New England forests are at a turning point. Following a 200-year resurgence, forest cover has begun to decline in every New England state. Public funding and the rate of conservation have followed suit in recent years, even as landowner interest in protecting land increases. What will we do with this challenge and opportunity?”

That’s a good question. As Paul and Julia mentioned, visit and use your trails in your area. Get out and explore a different part of the state.

Here in CT, we have a weekly column, Paths Well-Traveled, featured in the Hartford Courant by Peter Marteka, who goes out and explores our trails, historic landmark areas and gives us a detailed account. Have you checked your local resources? I encourage you to do so. The more we get out to use our trail systems, support land trust efforts such as the Joshua’s Trust, we contribute to conservation efforts that again benefit all of us including non-human species, as well as preserve water, soil and air quality.

Do you have a favorite trail? Are you involved in your Land Trust system in your neck of the woods? Drop me a line. Tell your stories. Today we can make a difference.

Enjoy. Judith


Podcast: Holistic Nature of Us: Joshua’s Trust: Benefits of Land Preservation

Description: My guests this week, Paul Pribula and Julia Rogers, members and volunteers with Joshua Tract Conservation and Historic Trust here in Eastern Connecticut share the geographic developments and benefits of land trusts preserving woodlands, watersheds, and more for future generations. Joshua’s Trust is the largest in Connecticut, protecting over 4000 acres within fourteen towns.

“Generous landowners who donate conservation easements to Joshua’s Land Trust are inspired by many things: they love Eastern Connecticut, they feel connected to their land, and they wish to leave a legacy of protected land for future generations. This inspiration is at the heart of our work to permanently protect valuable natural resources here in northeastern Connecticut.”

About My Guests: Paul Pribula is a re-tread music educator (band and orchestra), application systems programmer/analyst/designer, and recently retired as a senior project manager and VP at RBS Citizens. Subsequent to moving to Connecticut from the south side of Chicago, Paul became an avid hiker, backpacker, whitewater kayaker and snowshoer, which led to a great respect and need for the forests and rivers, which in turn led to a 15 year stint with the Willington Conservation Commission and an associated interest and developed skill set in GIS mapping technology. He is now GIS mapping team lead, Board of Trustees member and VP at Joshua’s Trust, a Land Trust Alliance accredited land trust dedicated to preserving natural landscape through collaborations with landowners and our communities.

Julia Rogers is a master’s degree candidate at the University of Connecticut, and a volunteer at Joshua’s Trust. At the Trust, much of her work is focused on using geographic information systems (GIS) to enhance the regional planning capability of the Trust. She also works with interns from UConn to update trail maps and management plan maps. Julia is currently a member of the Mansfield Conservation Commission, and a high-value volunteer for Joshua’s Trust, assisting with GIS mapping and training, UConn intern coordination and supervision, and is currently drafting our 5-year Strategic Land Conservation Plan document.

Transcript:  #15 Julia Rogers

Podcast: Holistic Nature of Us: Jen Frey: Music From the PLants

Description: Did you know we can hear the plants sing? Science and technology have advanced so we can capture a plant’s vibrations and translate it into music. As a healer, mentor, earth advocate, and voice of the plants my guest, Jen Frey, does just that. Their music stirs us to fall in love again with this mysterious realm. And, at the end of this interview, Jen offers us a treat: we hear music from red roses.

About my Guest: Jen Frey is a Healer, Mentor, Earth Advocate and Voice of the Plants. She is the Founder of Heart Springs Sanctuary, where she helps people deepen their connection with nature through plant communication. With over 20 years of experience with plant essences, energy work, and herbal practices her private consultations and plant-based protocols are known for helping clients through emotional life transitions, physical health crises, and chronic conditions. Jen has dedicated her life to the spiritual path of plant work. Her apprenticeship certification programs, ceremonies, retreats and workshop offerings are designed for people wanting to open their hearts, fall in love with plants and deepen their relationship to the planet.
Visit www.Brigidsway.com to learn more.

TranscriptsTranscript Jen Frey