Monday, June 1, 2020

Be the Change

I can’t be at rallies or protests for a number of reasons. I’ve had pneumonia this time of year and have an auto-immune disorder. If I get arrested, I can say good-bye to my teaching career. I have a child that needs me. But I still want to do what I can to advocate for and protect those I love. This is just one action I am am taking in response to these times:
I teach about the environment through art. I teach about the importance, the necessity, of biodiversity. Children thrill at the diversity of colors and shapes and textures in leaves, in seeds. I teach about pollination, not just about the introduced domesticated honey bees, but the solitary bees, the butterflies and moths, the beetles, flies, ants, birds, and even bats that pollinate. Without insect pollinators, humanity would be wiped out. We don’t get to decide which insects get to pollinate our tomatoes, which more often will be a bumblebee, nor should we. Using pesticides and enforcing monocultures is toxic. Words of hate and racism and suppression of other races and cultures is toxic.
Today I continue work bringing nature to children. I am mostly engaged online, but I prepare for the time we can be together again. I struggled with putting nature under a plastic shield, wanting kids to touch actual leaves and galls knowing some would be crushed. Now I seal some of my favorite pressed leaves under lamination so each child I teach can look at their diversity before collecting their own leaves around where we are. I will wipe all the sheets down with Lysol. I’m placing robin egg shells, cicada exoskeletons, dragonfly exuvia, and oak apple galls inside clear plastic cases to pass around and wipe between each student, as they learn how nature solves problems.
We need to change our nature as a society. Be the change you want to see.

We need to change our nature as a society.  Be the change you want to see.

Thursday, May 21, 2020

Compost Cafe Countdown

Just five days left until our Compost Cafe launch with deep underground jazz worm Blind Lemon Nightcrawler!  Join us as we plan the menu, create our brand, listen to jazz, watch silly worm antics, and experiment with bananas!  It's one hour of dirt-packed fun!  Only $6 per household for our virtual event on Zoom.  Sign up here:

Tuesday, May 12, 2020

Friday, May 8, 2020

Monday, May 4, 2020

Compost Cafe

We're going LIVE with a workshop with special guest, deep underground jazz musician Blind Lemon Nightcrawler!  Learn about the greens and browns of compost and design your own menu for the compost cafe to help you remember how to reduce your food waste at home.  Registration limited.  Sign up here.

Monday, April 13, 2020

Looking Under Logs During Covid 19

While our April 18th event at Blackstone Park has been cancelled, you can still have your own adventure! Here's a virtual trip of us looking under logs. I hope it inspires you to do the same! Please return all to their original state and leave no trash behind. Better yet, bring gloves and a bag to collect trash you find as you explore!

Friday, April 10, 2020

Repurposing My Life

Closing the Loop #429: The junk draw. 

I repurposed a party pack container to organize my junk draw. Oh what treasures did I find!  I've done so much organizing of late, I now have better places to store my candles and paper clips.  I keep twistie ties and elastics to close up packages like my frozen veggies or to hang herbs to dry from a line.  The silica packs keep my nature materials dry and safe from mold.

While I encourage you to buy food without packaging, in this current time of personal safety I understand if you're getting more packaged foods lately.  And while I don't want to encourage you to hoard the packaging, is there another life you could give it?

What about salad containers? We started mesclun greens and pea shoots in mini greenhouses using salad containers. Add water before soil and keep moist. Uncover containers when you see sprouts, then mist as needed.


We're planning some 
exciting video tutorials in the future.  Let us know what you'd like to see by commenting on our website.  Check out our other videos here.

Sunday, April 5, 2020


Need some environmental ed downloads? I just added two new ones, and everything is 20% off on Monday!…/15-Minute-Field-Trips

I hope you are all well.  I'm spending a lot of time on the computer teaching and preparing materials. I am grateful for my bird feeder just outside my window.  Today, we had blue jays, cardinals, downy woodpeckers, brown-headed cow birds, and junco, titmice, and nuthatch.  I hope the red-bellied woodpecker visits again!  Nature is a gift.

Wednesday, April 1, 2020

April Fools

If you're like me right now, you've been spending a lot of time at home.  In my state of Rhode Island, the governor has just closed the beaches and state parks because people were not keeping 6 feet away or being in groups of 5 or less.  I've also seen people leaving masks and gloves in shopping carts or on the ground. What kind of fools are we?

There is a silver lining, though.  We're in this together, and together we can start tackling the tough issues that face us by making systemic changes.  One change that needs to happen is reducing food waste.  In RI, food waste accounts for 32% of our landfill!!!  (See the end notes for places in Rhode Island that compost.)

Here's a fun game for the kids: Blind Lemon Nightcrawler, the deep underground jazz musician, wants to open up a new restaurant, the Compost Cafe!  Print out these pages and cut out the food scraps and plates from pages 2, 3, and 4.  Kids can arrange the food for different "customers" and even make menus from brown shopping bags, drawing the food scraps and adding prices and labels. (It's a great way to sneak in spelling and math!)

Don't forget to subscribe on the right to never miss a post!



You can compost at home, under your sink, in your back yard.  Follow the recipe and cut pieces small or put them through a blender.  Mix in to compost and keep damp but not soggy. For indoors in a small container, make sure to drill air holes.  I do this around the bottom to also add drainage and put the container in a larger one.  You can make one from a recycling bin or large Tupperware container.  You'll want red wigglers (Eisenia fetida) for small composting.  Earthworms and nightcrawlers are fine for outside.

If you want to buy worms or a compost bin, I like these vendors:

This activity is part of our "Dirt Pop Up Museum", where we set up several art and science stations for kids to learn more about worms!  Check out our program link on the right or here.  Learn more on your own with the links on the left under "Dirt and Detrivores", then "Worms and Compost".

But wait, there's more!  Here's how you can close the loop on food waste:

Where to bring your compost:
Rhode Island Compost Sites
Where to compost in other states.

Who collects compost:

Where to get compost:
Forbes Street Compost, East Providence

Other efforts:

Regulations and Education:

More Info:
Cool Compost Crew

Hattoy's Nursery & Garden Center

Sunday, March 29, 2020

Preparing for a New Normal

As we all adjust to these rapid transitions, I wanted to let you know that you are not alone and there are even silver linings.  With the halt in industry and travel, CO2 emissions are down. Dolphins frolic in Italy. People are enjoying nature more. We've been forced to slow down.

Well, maybe after we learn how to navigate several new platforms, make dinner, and find new ways to live...  Take a deep breath.  Go outside.

In the next days and weeks, I'll be posting very easy and quick ways to live sustainably with little or no money. Some of this will be through repurposing materials, some will be gardening timelines and tips, some will be "mini vacations" around your neighborhood.  It's how I live.

So much of the American lifestyle generates waste at a systemic and institutional level.  The skills I will post here will help you live in a "closed loop", where nothing is wasted.  I hope you enjoy them.

Please leave a comment on what you'd like to learn, what you need.  Sign up for the email list so you know when I post.  There are many free resources at both sides of this page. Use them. Share them.  Learn a new recipe, an edible plant. Look to nature and how the earth solves problems and survives.

If you're able to make a donation, the button is on the right.  (If this post was shared, go to

Sunday, March 8, 2020

Food and Fun March 15th!

Do to several circumstances, we must cancel this event. If you are interested in learning more about our programs, email us at Thanks for your support!!!

Want to learn more about what we do while enjoying great local food?  Join us March 15th, 7-9 at B.Good on Thayer St.  20% of your food order goes to 15 Minute Field trips to support environmental programming for youth. (Vegan and gluten-free available.) We'll have information, displays, games, and a 15 Minute Field Trip!  Reserve your spot by March 12!!!!

Tuesday, February 25, 2020

February and March Events

We have lots of amazing events coming up! Wednesday, February 26th, I'll be giving a free talk on sustainable gardening at the First Unitarian Church in Providence 6:30-8.

March 7th 10-11:30 we're back at Blackstone Park to learn about frogs and toads by Irving Pond.

Then I'll be doing a workshop on trees as part of the Land and Water Summit. 

Session 3 Workshops: 2:45 am – 4:00 pm

Click on the name of the workshop to see a description of the workshop above the table.

3-B. Art for Environmental Advocacy

Melissa Guillet - 15 Minute Field Trips
Learn how to teach complex environmental concepts through art and engage the 
community in dialogue and action plans. Participate in a variety of art projects 
including song, dance, costume design, and drawing, and connect them to 
topics such as climate change, carbon sequestration, erosion control, and even 
fish migration! Leave with ideas to develop programs for your organization 
to engage families, partner with schools and youth groups, and more.

There will be another free talk March 21st at the Cranston Library 2 p.m.

2:00 PM - 4:00 PM

Nature Systems in Your Backyard @ Central Nature is full of interlocking systems where nothing is wasted. Learn how to garden and landscape sustainably, how to attract more birds, butterflies, and pollinating bees, and how to create a welcoming habitat in your backyard.Presenter Melissa Guillet, Master Gardener, is an educator and expert on many topics including sustainable gardening, pollinators, and backyard habitats.This program is presented in collaboration with the URI Master Gardener Program and is the first of three sessions in our Spring Forward series. All events are free and open to the public.
CONTACT: Reference Department  401-943-9080 x3
LOCATION: Central James T. Giles Community Room

April 4th we're at Blackstone Park to look under logs.  Then there's a kid's class on fish at the HeArtspot gallery 1-2:30.

See you outside!

Thursday, February 13, 2020

A Sense of Place

 I run a monthly nature experience at Blackstone Park Conservancy where I'll have an information table and art activity that extends into a way to explore the park.  We've explored insects, spiders, broadleaf trees, and winter birds, among others. It's an outdoor program, so weather is always a concern. So it was no surprise when rain forced us to reschedule the January event two weeks later. Of course, two weeks later, it was 17 degrees.

Our theme that month was cones and conifers. I was well-prepared with samples of cones from many types of evergreen, from Douglas fir to white pine. There were clip boards with infographics I had put together making it easy to type different conifer families. I even had information on the Wollemi pine, or "dinosaur tree", that had been saved from the Australian fires.  But it was 17 degrees. And no one came.

The only other person out there was Harold. He comes regularly to tend to the ducks.  There's a raft of about 40 mallards that flock to him when his car pulls up. These ducks know Harold. And Harold knows them. Not only does he feed them, but he knows many of their back-stories. Some he's released from fishing line. He's seen two hit by a car and was only able to save one. He knows how another got its scars.  Blackstone Park is a very popular place for bird watchers, and Harold can identify many of the waterbirds that visit. He's more than just a visitor, though.  He is a steward.

The following month I did not advertise well as it was February and I expected more inclement weather or cold. But I was there as faithfully as ever, setting up my table with a table cloth and new clipboards. No more taping pictures down!  Remarkably, it was in the mid-forties that day. And people started to come...

People of all ages showed up! First, an older couple waiting for their grand-kids. Then families, other couples, a single woman. I invited them to explore the moss and lichen I had collected. We discussed symbiotic relationships, climate change, biomimicry...  How moss can insulate buildings and and certain lichens are used in medicines, dyes, and other industries.  Kids ran off with magnifying lenses to find their own. We looked at samples under a microscope and learned about the radical survival skills of tardigrades, also known as water bears or moss piglets.  

Twenty two visitors in all took time in their day to learn about nature and how we can work WITH it, be part of the interconnected web.  Do you have a lot of lichen on your trees?  Maybe even the shrubby kind?  The more the merrier! Many are sensitive to pollution, so if you see a lot, that indicates cleaner air. 

And it's not hurting your tree. Lichen is just a relationship between a fungus and algae and cyanobacteria.  They work together to make a home and food.  Similarly, we wouldn't be able to live without the help of mitochondria in our cells. Perhaps by studying nature, we'll find more ways to work together.

Join us March 7th 10-11:30 when we learn all about frogs and toads!  You can download our lichen activity here.

Tuesday, February 11, 2020

February Vacation Events and Next Blackstone Event!

Need a nature or art break soon?  We have lots of workshops coming up.  For February vacation at the HeArtspot gallery, we have;

Tuesday February 18th 10:30-12
 "Winter Birds" collage art and citizen science
Thursday February 20th 10:30-12
"Fairy House" building with nature materials
Friday February 21st 1-2:30
"Trash Turtles" with recycled materials

Sign up here.

At Adventure Base Camp in Cranston, we have:

Wednesday, February 19th 11 a.m. - 3:30 p.m.
"Animal Detectives" with outdoor scavenger hunt
(Our program runs 2-3:30.)

Sign up here.

Finally, save the date for the "March of Frogs" at Blackstone Park March 7th!  See our flyer for details.