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Natural Awakenings Milwaukee

July 2011 Publisher Letter

Every summer I renew my complex relationship with dandelions when their appealing yellow flowers pop up, looking quite beautiful. As first-time homeowners five years ago, our family knew little about yard maintenance. The heart of our lawn care program has been, “We don’t use chemicals.”

That first summer in our new home, our son Yonatan, who was 3 years old at the time, would excitedly scour the lawn for the occasional seeded dandelion to joyfully blow upon, dispersing it to the four winds. It’s become his annual ritual, and a significant part of our summer is spent digging out these squatters.

So, the question bears asking: Are dandelions really that bad? Not at all. In fact, according to Diane Olson-Schmidt, of LaceWing Natural Gardening and Consulting Services, dandelions actually heal deficiencies in the soil by providing important nutrients, such as calcium. Although not native to this area, dandelions attract beneficial insects and pollinators. They are also used in herbal remedies and are edible.

So, I’ve learned to appreciate dandelions as one of nature’s ways to bring balance and healing to the land. I’m also happy to report that our family has now embarked on a completely organic lawn care program. Yonatan, now age 7, continues to delight in blowing dandelion seeds about, and I join in his fun, accepting it as part of the happy chaos of raising an active child.

Growing concerns about the misconceived abuse and depletion of all of Earth’s resources is beginning to drive a change in people’s concept of ownership. “Sharing Our World,” on page X, provides innovative ideas for building a stronger sense of place and healthier communities that are kinder to the Earth.

Riverwest residents Dave and Marti Fine experienced this phenomenon firsthand as they bicycled from California to Florida, staying with private hosts that opened their homes. They linked up through, a community and hospitality site for biking tourists. Read about their adventures on page X.

In the same spirit, this month’s Community Spotlight introduces us to three business owners that collaborate in sharing a workspace, employees and equipment; they each bring welcome talents and services to their green consortium. On page X, meet John LaPointe of Greener Roofs and Gardens, Darrell Smith of Earthcare and Bradley Blaeser of The Green Team. Let’s show our appreciation for these and other local eco-friendly businesses that are going the extra mile to ensure a viable future for our children by becoming conscious consumers and supporting them.

In honor of July 4th, we are pleased to also recognize the millions of unsung heroes that are creating positive change. One of these extraordinary people is Gigi Pomerantz, the founder of Youthaiti. This Milwaukee based nonprofit encourages Haitian youth in their development of local programs for ecological sanitation, protection of water sources, hygiene education and community gardening right where they live.

People like Gigi remind us of humanity’s inherent spark of goodness. If we all take tiny steps in the right direction, if each day we bestow one act of unselfish loving kindness on our planet and the people around us, the results will be immeasurable. Here’s to you.

Happy Independence Day,

Gabriella Buchnik, Publisher