Community Tree Planting: Dig In, Fairfield!

Happy Spring!
During the winter months we have been busy planning a big tree planting project.  This will be a collaborative project and the entire community is invited to take part; we are looking for 250+ volunteers over several days!!  The Tree Planting initiative serves as the kick off for a series of educational events focused on energy savings sponsored by Alliant Energy Hometown Rewards.  It also happens to be Global Youth Service Day, the largest service event in the world and celebrates the work that young people are doing to improve communities.  And don’t forget, Sunday the 22nd is Earth Day…this is a great way to be involved in a meaningful project by working together with fellow residents to make a difference here in Fairfield.  There are volunteer needs leading up to the big tree planting as well as actually digging in the dirt and getting the trees in the ground.  Here are some opportunities:

Saturday, April 14th: 10 volunteers per ward, to hang doorhangers and posters

Sunday, April 15th:  10 volunteers per ward, to hang doorhangers and posters
Friday, April 20th: 15 volunteers to prep the orchard site, deliver materials and possibly dig holes at school planting sites
Saturday, April 21st: 15 volunteers to prep the orchard site, deliver materials (volunteer needs on these two days will vary based upon the weather that week and final needs so some flexibility is needed here)


Sunday, April 22nd (EARTH DAY): 90 volunteers to plant the orchard, 30 in each of three time slots:
                9:00 am – 11am
                11:30am – 1:30pm
                2:00pm – 4:00pm

Sunday, April 22: 10 volunteers to help with clean up efforts after the picnic dinner

Volunteers should sign up ahead of time for their preferred time slot so that we can plan accordingly.  Bring your friends and family and share this email far and wide!

Plan to wear clothes and shoes that can get dirty, consider a pair of gloves and bring along some drinking water or snacks.


Volunteers are encouraged to bring shovels. Parking is at the entrance to Chautauqua Park and then walk down to the trail entrance.  Map of the planting site to come.


All volunteers are encouraged to attend the tree planting workshop on Wednesday, April 18th at 7:15pm at the old St. Mary’s building, N. 3rd and Grimes.  All volunteers will receive a free Dig In, Fairfield t-shirt or bandana.

At the end of Sunday, we will be hosting a picnic dinner in celebration of the tree planting efforts and to kick off the entire Alliant Energy Hometown Rewards Grant and the series of events and educational efforts that will follow.  A Dinner (catered by Hy-Vee, including vegetarian options) and Entertainment (Jefferson County Green Band) will follow from 4:30-8:00.

Dig In, Fairfield Partners: Trees Forever, Alliant Energy Hometown Rewards, City of Fairfield, Iowa State University Extension, Fairfield Volunteer Center, Fairfield Parks and Rec, Fairfield Trails Council, Fairfield Schools, Maharishi School, Singing Cedars School, EcoFairfield

Hometown Reward Program Partners: Alliant Energy, City of Fairfield, Iowa State University Extension, Fairfield Public Library, Fairfield Volunteer Center, Fairfield residents

Hometown Reward Program Sponsors: Ideal Energy

Please RSVP with your availability via phone at 641.209.9045 or email by April 6.  If you are a student contact James


Molly Reiff
Executive Director
Fairfield Volunteer Center, Inc.
EcoFairfield 2012
Serve. Connect. Inspire.
Because our locals are awesome!

Community Tree Planting

Earth Day weekend this year is promising to be one to remember in Fairfield, as the ECOFAIRFIELD planning team is establishing partnerships for events in the community, one partnership has come together to plant upwards of 300 6-foot trees around the community. The funding for this project is available through a grant from Alliant Energy, which awarded the City of Fairfield $7,500 to plant trees for energy efficiency. The trees will be a mix of fruiting and edible varieties as well as non-edibles.

Serve. Connect. Inspire.

Planting sites include:
• Portion of trail near Chataqua Park (confirmed)
• Maharishi School (confirmed)
• Singing Cedars School (confirmed)

In negotiation:
• Fairfield public schools
• Portion of trail near Sky Factory
• Hospital
• Parking lot on Broadway ave.
• Wastewater treatment plant

A group of 15 people (myself included) met at the Library recently to discuss planning details and discern our plan of action. Representatives in the group included people from the local schools, the “Trees Forever” organization, the city’s sustainability coordinator Scott Tim, Sierra Club representatives, and others.
My personal involvement stems from my original initiative to organize a “Day of Service” in the community on the afternoon of 4/20, the official start-day of ECOFAIRFIELD. My vision was to invite Fairfield Public Schools  students, MSAE students, and MUM students to volunteer together around the community on Friday afternoon. It looks like that will happen, and the energy will go toward planting trees! But now, instead of 1 afternoon on Friday, tree-planting volunteers will be needed throughout the weekend. The final site selections, timing and other details are TBA.

We are looking for people familiar with ecology or tree planting to serve as group leaders at various sites. If you are interested in participating in any part of this weekend-long event and you are a student please contact me, James, at If you are not a student and you are interested, please contact the Fairfield Volunteer Center: Phone number:           641-209-9045 Email address:

United in Service,
James Schleppenbach
EcoFairfield 2012 team
Serve. Connect. Inspire.
Because our locals are awesome!

The Earth is Full?

Have we used up all our resources? Have we filled up all the livable space on Earth? Paul Gilding suggests we have, and the possibility of devastating consequences, in a talk that’s equal parts terrifying and, oddly, hopeful.

Paul Gilding has spent 35 years trying to change the world. He’s served in the Australian military, chased nuclear armed aircraft carriers in small inflatable boats, plugged up industrial waste discharge pipes, been global CEO of Greenpeace, taught at Cambridge University, started two successful businesses and advised the CEOs of some the world’s largest companies.

From his website about this ted talk: “Although I’ve done a hundred or so public talks around the world in the last few years around my book The Great Disruption , speaking at the opening session of the annual TED event is an experience and opportunity like no other. Another speaker backstage, feeling similarly hyped about the opportunity, described it to me as being like ‘the world series of public speaking’!


For me the pressure was really on because I was going into the lion’s den of “techno optimists” – those who believe that technology can solve everything. My message is a tough one for this audience – that sure technology will do wonderful things for us, but the reality is we are going to face some very difficult consequences of our overloading of planet earth and its too late now to stop those consequences. I argue strongly that humans are amazingly capable and will recover from this inevitable crisis and indeed in the end build a stronger and happier society.

My focus in life is to motivate and inspire people to act on the urgent challenges of climate and sustainability and it is a real honour to speak to the TED crowd. This passionate and engaged community has an amazing capacity to make a difference in the world with their creativity, influence, innovation and entrepreneurship, so I was delighted to make a contribution in the opening session.”

Paul is confident we can get through what’s coming and says rather than the end of civilization, this could be the beginning! He argues we will rise to the occasion and see change at a scale and speed incomprehensible today, but need to urgently prepare for The Great Disruption and “the end of shopping”, as we reinvent the global economy and our model of social progress.


Sobering reality, and yet we are not alone.
We have each other.
EcoFairfield 2012 team
Serve. Connect. Inspire.
Because our locals are awesome!

Meet the team Part 1

The EcoFairfield team has a varied background, but the most important common denominator across the team is our passion for sustainability and our love for the Fairfield community. We are all happy volunteers that enjoy meeting weekly, sharing ideas, collaborating, working hard, and even arguing, to bring you the best possible Earth-Day weekend event. Get to know some of us here:

The Planter

Meet James Schleppenbach. He is a transfer-student from Christopher Newport University in Virginia, born and raised in Dunellen, New Jersey, currently in his 3rd semester at MUM studying Sustainable Living with an emphasis in sustainable agriculture. He first got involved with EcoFairfield last summer after being elected Sustainable Council President for MUM’s Global Student Council. No longer President, he is still involved with EcoFairfield as student representative coordinating Day of Service and a tree planting project as part of the Hometown Rewards Program for the City of Fairfield. He enjoys making great food, making great compost, and spending time with people who appreciate life.

Minca Borg
The Connector

Minca Borg is a Sustainable Living student originally from California, though she considers Fairfield, IA, to be her hometown. She is coordinator, and most of times meeting-facilitator, for EcoFairfield: Serve, Connect, Inspire; Student Council representative; and Resident Adviser at MUM.  In her words:  “My first year at MUM, I asked a senior how to get things done.  She said, ‘Be a Connector.’  So I am.  It seems to be an effective strategy for every aspect of my life.  I am here to help you connect with you interests, passions, goals and community.”   Minca’s interests include: Human, Organizational, and Social Development; Community Building; Gardening; Writing; Nature walks in all-weather; Math; Community Service; Why & How. She watches House when she can and likes to listen to Cat Stevens.

David Fisher
The Overseer

David Fisher is primarily a botanist. He received a B.S. in Biology from North Carolina State University, and an M.S. and Ph.D. in Botany from the University of Wisconsin. He then served as a research scientist at the USDA Forest Experiment Station in Rhinelander, Wisconsin, and was a Humboldt fellow at the University of Göttingen, Germany. Prior to joining MUM faculty, he was a professor and researcher in leaf structure-function relationships for six years at the University of Hawaii. His research at MUM on breeding potatoes for resistance to the Colorado potato beetle has been supported by grants from the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the Leopold Institute for Sustainable Agriculture. He is the founder and Director of the Sustainable Living program at MUM and has been the primary advocate for the design and construction of the new Sustainable Living Center. Otherwise, his pursuits are reading, playing basketball, vegetable gardening, tree climbing, and bicycling around the Fairfield Loop Trail.

More profiles coming soon. Have a great week and thanks for reading!

EcoFairfield 2012 team
Serve. Connect. Inspire.
Because our locals are awesome!

Green economy: does it include you?

In honor of World Environment Day, in honor of EcoFairfield, and in hopes of winning a trip to Brazil this summer (yay!) for the annual WED conference organized by the United Nations Environment Programme since 1972, today I blog about the theme of the conference this year: Green Economy. Does it include you?
World Environment Day -June 5th-The Green Economy is a fuzzy and complex concept. My definition of it includes triple-bottom-line businesses, cooperatives, private industries, non-profits, and charities; political reform (revolution?), fair-trade and global markets; as well as timebanks, volunteerism, barter, and gifting circles; women’s empowerment, agroecological practices, and renewable energy technologies.

EcoFairfield 2012

But more than these elements, vital to a green economy is a shift in thinking and understanding how things influence one another within a dynamic whole, and then prioritizing accordingly. The Green Economy is not a one-size fits all solution but many different solutions applied appropriately. The Green Economy is not one ideology but the healthy balance of many.
To paraphrase Michelle Long, instead of a global village, a Green Economy is a globe of strong, healthy interconnected villages.
What we have today is a global village in which a country’s Gross Domestic Product is considered
by most to be the only indicator of standard of living. GDP’s focus is Market Value a.k.a. Money. It ignores income disparities and depletion and degradation of natural resources. It counts your parent’s divorce, hurricane Katrina, and the alarming rate at which we are losing our soils as “gains”.

Contrast this scenario with a globe in which nations strive to boost Gross National Happiness which measures factors conducive to happiness. Here, in this world, you are guaranteed care when you fall ill, and proper education, here mothers won’t die from childbirth if preventable, and you won’t go hungry. GNH is even a useful comparative indicator; research supports the notion that markers of individual and social well-being are remarkably trans-cultural. Pinker likes to say that because we are all relatives, it’s not all relative.

And though I celebrate globalism, I acknowledge unchecked globalization is seriously un-sexy. Ignoring labor rights, human rights, and damages to the environment in international agreements leads to a world of corporate hegemony. A tricky balance needs to be resolved between globalism and localism. Imo more localization is needed. Localizing efforts lead to diverse, harder, better, faster, stronger villages and communities.
As Fairfieldians would say: there is unity in diversity.
So does the green economy include you?
Only you can say and somehow you already have the answer. Are you interested in seeing your town flourish in every way imaginable? More specifically, do you want to see more and better movies offered at the local movie theatre? Top that how about watching locally directed and produced media? Have you ever wanted to be an actor? Are you a videographer? photographer? screen writer? Think about all the new gigs that would be available, now multiply that to include every industry!
Also, what is that small business idea that whispers to you while you try to sleep? And to speak about food, aren’t the veggies and fruits from the farmer’s market just oh so ripe and delicious!? Ever thought about growing your own? Wouldn’t it be fun to manage a community garden along with your neighbors? And exchange seeds? And have potluck parties?
The questions are endless. But the main one still is: Does it include you? You with your valid worries and problems; ambitions, needs and responsibilities; and a set way of doing things: Does this so-called Green Economy include you?
I bet the better question ought to be:
Do you want to be left out?
EcoFairfield 2012
Serve. Connect. Inspire.
Because our locals are awesome!
Fabiola Domenique
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Further Reading
 UN International Year of Cooperatives
And if you are curious here are the contest guidelines: