We are inspired by the beauty of nature and motivated by a desire to expand awareness and reverence of that beauty. Mni Wiconi, Water Is Life. #nodapl
I run a public organization with my fiancée called Up To Earth.
Our mission statement is simple but honest:
"Up To Earth is a grassroots effort inspired by the beauty of nature and motivated by a desire to expand awareness and reverence of that beauty. Our projects main goals are to help organize volunteer based events to better ourselves, our immediate surroundings, and our relationship with the world we live in at large. Our first task is mainly litter removal and disposal with the principles of sustainability and environmental restoration being paramount. We hope to inspire change by changing ourselves and the places around us for the better."
Stand with all good people of all races, creeds, religions, genders, identities, backgrounds, and economic status. Stand up for what is right and true. Stand with those in prayer. Stand with those in pain. Stand with those stepped upon. Stand for good people from here and abroad, lost to senseless violence, lost to greed, lost to poison, lost to madness, and lost to abandonment and starvation. There are both friend and foe of all color and nationality. The evil of man knows no boundary of race or religion. It is a perversion of what is sacred. It seeks to destroy from both sides of the struggle. That struggle lies within us all, and we must decide what we stand for, now. Do you stand for Corporate Mafia’s pushing for a war between Protectors and Police.. or do you stand for Peace and Equality and Reason? Do you stand for Oil and Money… or do you stand for Earth and People and the Future of our people.. Humans?
It’s been awhile since we’ve posted here on our site, as we’ve been sharing updates mostly through word of mouth and social media at this point. As time goes on, though, we’ll be utilizing this site more often and posting about our personal experiences and ideas regarding Up To Earth, the environment, sustainability, and pretty much any other topic that tickles our fancy. So be on the look out for more blog posts here and please feel free to follow us here and on other social platforms.
As of right now, we’re gearing up for a very active spring and summer. We have some new ideas about how to implement our cleanups effectively and efficiently and get people involved, and I’ll be sharing those ideas as soon as they are ready to see the light of day!
In the mean time, I’ll share what I’ve been up to.
A few weeks ago I realized that, due to the state of Midwestern winter, it felt as if I hadn’t been outside to pick up trash in quite a long time. I spent a lot of that time taking care of other matters (or suffering from Seasonal Affective Disorder). I have a PT job, a new dog, a girlfriend, friend and family obligations, house renovations, and I’m trying to launch a screen printing business this summer on top of all that!
So, when the weather got nice again I knew I had some catching up to do. I made a promise to myself, and to the Earth, that I would start doing daily cleanups on my own. In 8 days I’ve made what I feel to be a huge dent in specific locations. The Albany Mounds is one of my all time favorite sites in this area, and I feel a very strong connection to it, so it’s been a frequent spot for me this last week, and I can say that I believe I’ve picked up damn near every beer can or bottle on the whole property that is still above ground, despite the place being heavily wooded.
Since I’ve begun these #dailycleanups, I am flooded with the familiar feelings of joy in nature countered up against the disappointment in humans who do not treat the Earth with respect. Suddenly, though, I also am getting over that duality and finding that it’s much better to focus mental energy on what I can do to help, rather than dwelling on the negatives that humans collectively bring to the table. I also feel like I am not alone in this, and that, somehow, the people in this world that are on that same page, they are drawing nearer together and gaining strength daily! The most important things in life are always the things that help us to change, grow, and evolve, and work together, and in that way we are no different than all the life around us, provided that we embrace that and gear up for the changes that must come.
The first official Up To Earth Volunteer cleanup event at Joyce Island was on July 5th, 2015. Everything went smoothly and we got a lot accomplished as well as some new insights about how we can make a bigger impact looking into the future.
Here’s the stats..
Volunteers: 9 people (including us)
Total Volunteer Hours: 47 hrs.
Area Covered: Approximately 28 Acres (One Million Square Feet!)
We picked up:
* 1 Tent
* 1 Matress
* 1 Lawn Chair
* 1 Pesticide Container
* 3 Very Large Pieces of Styrofoam
Plus 16 Large Trash Bags sorted into:
* 100 lbs. of Landfill Waste
* 2 30 Gallon tubs of Recyclable Plastic
* 1 30 Gallon tub of Dirty or Nonrecyclable Plastic
* 1 30 Gallon tub of Polystyrene and Foam (Non-recyclable)
* 1 Partial tub of Scrap Metal
* 1 Partial tub of Refundable Cans and Bottles
* 1 Partial tub of Hazardous Materials (Aerosol Cans, Chemical Containers, etc)
We got a lot accomplished with only 9 people total throughout the day. Our next event is Saturday, July 11th and we’ve decided to just focus on Joyce Island for the next cleanup or two. Please let me know if you can attend for an hour or more, and RSVP to the Facebook event if you care to. https://www.facebook.com/events/1440256462965730/
Big thanks to everyone who showed up to help or helped by donating items or money for supplies! We couldn’t do it without you.
Myself and Kimberly
Brian J. Strunk
Living Lands & Waters
Hy-Vee, Clinton, IA
Howard’s Tap, Albany, IL
Dan Breidenstein at Living Lands & Waters
Officer Ben Huizenga for lending a hand and supporting our cause.
The kid who pulled out 2 bags of garbage for us on his own time.
Other people who stopped to thank us or showed interest in becoming involved.
When you open yourself to change, and then act on it, you change the world around you. When the world changes, it’s a better place to live in for everyone. It’s something we can be proud of. We have to do this together.