Stand With All Good People

November 12 at 3:35am

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?

#NoDAPL: More than a Hashtag

#NoDAPL — I’m sure you’ve seen the hashtag. By now, most of us know what it means, at least to some extent. It’s more than just a hashtag. It is a vitally important movement happening right now that will change the course of history, regardless of the outcome.


As an environmentalist, the Dakota Access Pipeline first caught my attention by its very definition. It is a $3.7 billion oil pipeline construction project that will span four states and deliver fracked oil from North Dakota to Illinois.




Carbon emissions.


My inner monologue instantly waved a red flag for this project. This was all I needed to know and I supported the #NoDAPL movement. Nothing drastic, just the basic acts of engaging with social media posts to try to build awareness.


At Up to Earth, Aaron and I get out there with other amazing volunteers to make a measurable difference in the state of our environment through regular litter cleanups. Filled trash bags show us we are doing something beneficial for the planet, our communities, our neighborhood, and it is very rewarding. We talk about recycling and reducing waste in casual conversation, and when the conversation reaches the point that we realize we may have changed the habits of those we are talking with for the better, a feeling of overwhelming satisfaction reminds us that we are making a difference. I feel that with Up to Earth, I am taking a stance and fulfilling my role in environmental action.


It’s a lot harder to get involved in something when you aren’t directly affected or where your actions are not sure yield visible results in an age where instant gratification is often a subconscious motivator. This is the case for me, anyway, and is probably the case for many of you reading this. Aaron, on the other hand, has a much broader and more spiritual connection with the planet and its inhabitants, so I was not surprised a few days ago when he told me he felt divinely inspired to go to North Dakota to support the #NoDAPL movement.


I admire his passion and wholeheartedly support him, so while the decision was swift, I realized that I was vastly under-educated on what exactly was going on and quickly took to the internet to get some answers.


The answers took some digging. I began to realize my ignorance on the topic wasn’t necessarily my fault. How could something so important to so many be receiving so little media coverage? The deeper I dug, the more I discovered that this is about SO much more than the environment. The environmental impact of this project would be devastating, but what is more devastating is what is happening to indigenous people ON THEIR OWN LAND. IN AMERICA.


In the last 48 hours since Aaron decided to embark on this journey, I have spent every free waking moment trying to gather as much information as I could find, from as many reliable sources as I could locate. I like to have faith in journalists. I would assume many enter the field because they want to spread the truth. But major network news sources, the ones I normally rely on for accurate information about the important things that are happening locally and afar, just aren’t covering the story.


Is this Dakota Access Pipeline media blackout happening because reporting the facts would uncover horrendous crimes perpetrated by the government and other organizations we entrust to protect us and our best interest and cause nationwide revolt and uproar? Or is it because big oil and major corporations who have a large stake and investments in this project are encouraging the media to keep quiet so that they can continue to overstuff their pockets? I’m not really in the mood to delve into the politics and big money aspects of this whole situation, but I strongly encourage you to do your own research and come to your own conclusions.


In the meantime, here are some of the facts:


The pipeline was originally to be constructed through Bismarck, ND, but the residents rejected the idea because it would almost undoubtedly poison their water supply.


The project was moved to go through the reservation of the Sioux Native American tribe, with apparent lack of concern for the safety of these people.


The land the Sioux are fighting for is sacred and sovereign land, protected by the Treaty of Fort Laramie, and Energy Transfer Partners (the company responsible for the pipeline) are blatantly disregarding this treaty by trespassing upon, seizing, destroying, and desecrating the land including bulldozing the burial sites of the Tribe’s ancestors just to continue to lay the oil pipe.


The pipeline is planned to be laid under the Missouri River, which the Sioux tribe fully relies on to survive. A leak or break would contaminate the water to devastating and fatal proportions.


Hundreds of pipeline breaks resulting in billions of dollars of damage and irreversible environmental effects indicate that its not a matter of if the pipeline breaks, but when – which would mean certain death for the Sioux tribe.


A break in the pipeline would not only harm the Sioux tribe, but all people and wildlife connected to the Missouri river as well as surrounding farmland.


The #NoDAPL indigenous water protectors at Standing Rock are fighting to protect their land and their rights, and are doing so peacefully and prayerfully, but risking arrest and brutality by armed officers and military in riot gear. Arrests and brutality are becoming more commonplace with each day this has to go on, which is completely unnecessary given the peaceful stance the water protectors are taking.


This movement has resulted in the largest collaboration of all Native American tribes from around the country gathering to show their unity and support.


Thousands of non-native water protectors are traveling from around the world to support the cause and protect the rights and land of the Sioux tribe as well as the planet on which we all reside.


Aaron is one of those travelers, going out there to actively try to make a difference. I don’t know what was the straw that broke the camel’s back that made him say “I need to go to North Dakota to support the water protectors.” I frankly didn’t have time to ask in the brief moments between his decision and his departure. All I knew was that I trusted his judgment, admired his passion, and respected his divine calling.


DING! I receive a text message that reads “I’m so close. I’ll let you know whats up real soon” Literally received right at this moment while I type this. I immediately log in to check his GPS. I can’t help but be worried about him. As is also the case for his concerned friends who replied to his initial Facebook post announcing his journey with requests of caution and self-care. But you know what, if not for Aaron going out there, I may have remained mostly in the dark about all of this.




And this is all for oil, one of the main contributors to the devastation of our planet. We don’t need to be making it more readily available. We should be spending those billions of dollars in construction costs and inevitable cleanup on creating a framework for clean, renewable energy instead.


Lives are at stake, the environment is in jeopardy, human rights are being trampled, international treaties are being disregarded. This is not the world we want to live in. We need to wake up and take responsibility for making a change.


With Aaron on the road, I am now directly involved in the situation. And if you know him, you are too. I don’t care what it takes to make you care about #NoDAPL, I just want you to care enough to do something, anything to show your support and stand in solidarity with the Sioux tribe.


If you have an immediate personal investment in this such as having a loved one at the camps or if you live off the Missouri River, DO SOMETHING.


If you are an environmentalist and dread the disaster that this pipeline will cause, DO SOMETHING.


And most importantly: If you are repulsed by centuries-old patterns of the horrific treatment of Native Americans, DO SOMETHING.


If you do not fall into at least the third category, I suggest you do research and soul-searching for as long as it takes for you to fall into that category. This is about more than just a pipeline, this movement is necessary for the continued well-being of of the Native’s seventh generation as well as all the people this water connects.


There are lots of ways you can help. Do research. Look for inside sources of people living this struggle, the protectors at Standing Rock who have been holding their ground day in and day out. Find the things that make you mad, that make you disgusted, but also the things that inspire you and give you hope. Now share it. Spread your knowledge and encourage others to arm themselves with education as well. But information is powerless without action. We all need to take a stand.


Do a search for something like “how to help Standing Rock” or go directly to to find links, needed supply lists, and other ways that you can help protect the water and rights of the Sioux.


Lastly, never underestimate the power of your voice. Sign the petitions, call your senators, the president, everyone who has any power in the situation, and let them know that the people of earth will not stand for this. You may think that your voice is small and doesn’t matter, but when we all stand together, we will be heard. A drop of water is very small, but together, all the drops of water on the planet work together to form the oceans and waterways that allow our planet to survive.


Mni wiconi. Water is life.


The Roots of Up to Earth

Hi there and thanks for visiting our blog! As this is my first post as a contributor, I figured this was a good time to introduce myself. My name is Kim and the journey to where I am today began when I decided to break free from the treadmill grind and move my running routine outdoors.

SC running trail

On a wooded trail in South Carolina was where my love and appreciation for nature truly began to flourish. The fresh air, greenery, and wildlife were peaceful and inspiring, and the first time my shoe hit the dirt I knew I wasn’t going back to the gym.

When I moved back to my hometown in Illinois I switched to road running out of convenience and it provided all the things I enjoyed about trail running with the added benefit of easily accessible water and the safety of not being alone in the middle of the woods. It wasn’t long before I started noticing litter on the streets, and since it was easy enough to pick up random pieces and throw them in people’s trash cans as I jogged by, I decided to take the initiative to do my part to clean up and beautify my quaint little town.

I soon started identifying problem areas during my runs and set out with a trash bag afterwards with the sole purpose of picking up a block or two. The stray styrofoam cup or potato chip bag are eye-catching from the street, but when you actually get up close you find that the problem is much worse. Pieces of broken glass, plastic lids, crushed cans buried halfway in the dirt – they’re there and they’re not going anywhere until somebody cleans them up.

It was about this time that I was reacquainted with high school friend, Aaron, who just so happened to have started cleaning up trash himself. We decided to team up and found that the impact is greater and much more noticeable when working together – and so the grassroots unity effort of Up to Earth was born.

We are here to encourage people to be mindful of their consumption and waste, inspire others to do their part to clean and beautify their neighborhoods and the planet, and bring individuals together in our effort to restore nature to a more organic state. We hope our passion will encourage you to take responsibility for the future of our planet and take steps, no matter how small, to make our earth a cleaner, safer, more beautiful place to live.


In what ways are you already making an effort to reduce your environmental impact? Do you recycle? Use reusable grocery bags? Or do you need help getting started? Feel free to ask in the comments, we’re here to help!

Joyce Island Cleanup 1.0

A few shots from our first official Up To Earth cleanup
A few shots from our first official Up To Earth cleanup

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)

* 1 Partial tub of Broken Glass

Best of:

* 1 Whole Turtle Shell

* 9 Lighters

* 1 Baseball

* 1 Golfball

* 1 Antique Pabst Can

* 1 Partial Hannah Montana Jump Rope

Things that were very common:

* Plastic and Glass Bottles

* Aluminum Cans

* Plastic Bags

* Polystyrene/Styrofoam

-Polar Ice cups

-Bait containers

-Broken Styrofoam pieces

* Broken Glass

* Snack food wrappers (Chips, Candy, etc.)

* Fast food packaging (Cups, Wrappers, Bags)

* Cigarette Butts

* Clothing (Shoes, Socks, Shirts, Pants, Coats)

* Fishing goods (Poles, Lures, Line, Bobbers, Bait Containers)

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.

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.

Volunteers :

Myself and Kimberly

Adam Ouderkirk

Sherri Stiles

Jason Jones

JoEllen Hill

Matt Nivens

Jeremy Delgado

Andrea Nicole


Steve Hill

Brian J. Strunk

Adam Fritz

Linda Welch


Living Lands & Waters

Hy-Vee, Clinton,  IA

Howard’s Tap, Albany, IL

Special thanks:

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.