Monday, December 7, 2009

Lisa Hish - Newsletter 2009

Health & Sustainable Lifestyle

This was a quiet year for the health department at the school.

We discontinued both the monthly health class on seasonal living and physical care as well as the 5 element review included during most of Elizabeth’s seminars. We found that people are overwhelmed with scheduling obligations as the result of the changing economy. Even though there was no charge for this class for ongoing students, students’ schedules seemed full and attendance dropped. We will reinstitute this class when there is once again a demand.

Because the Health portion of the Sustainable Lifestyle was temporarily put on hold, this allowed us to focus our efforts elsewhere, and a new department was formed. We created an environmental arm to the school, which can be found under Sustainable Return on the website, divided into four categories: Water, Air, Land, and Lifestyle. It has a dual function of increasing awareness and creating a format for Tai Chi and Qigong students to jointly volunteer for environmental causes in the name of the school.

We formed a volunteer group of four in Chicago: Sas, Elizabeth, Christine and myself. In addition, we now have Rob Wittig as our Minnesota branch! Sas recently volunteered at the Alliance for the Great Lakes. For those of you who don’t know, water shortages will be one of our biggest concerns in the near future.

B.T.W. Elizabeth say's that the rain barrel went two weeks empty due to the lack of rainfall!

Elizabeth and 6 other Tai Chi’ers did a short video called 350 Breaths for, an organization focused on bringing awareness to global warming and the amount of carbon dioxide in our atmosphere, which is currently at 387ppm. 350ppm is what we need to return to in order to arrest global warming. That video was then re- posted on the website on October 24, 2009 as part of the International Day of Climate Action. A day where people came together during 5200 events in 181 countries for the most widespread day of environmental action in the planet's history. It was a documented protest with the goals of raising awareness and bringing pressure on the UN Climate Negotiations in Copenhagen taking place this month.

Elizabeth and Don Tomei also had a booth at Chicago’s Carbon Day where they promoted the low environmental impact that both Tai Chi and Qigong have on our planet. A video of that day will soon become available on our YouTube page.

My major contribution for the year was an experiment in Backyard Beekeeping. The hive(s) are currently kept on Grace Street, but are officially Tai Chi Center bees and may have pollinated the flowers on the Lexie Bruce patio garden this summer (see bee trail on the website). Did you know the little buggers travel 3 miles from their hive in search of pollen?

The remaining hive of sweet, Italian honeybees has been winterized and is ready for the cold. They are wind-sheltered (between the garage wall and 7 foot fence on two sides), insulated for warmth, and have a moisture-averting device to keep them from becoming damp from their own respiration.

From what I have read, they will attempt to form a small ball o’ bees, with the outside bees slowly migrating to the center, the inside bees migrating outward, and all of them flapping their wings to maintain a core temperature of 95 degrees near the queen (think penguins).

We left all of their honey in the hive (about 80 lbs), which they will pass along from bee to bee, choosing the type of honey based upon the medicinal needs of the bees. They still have access to the outdoors to fly on warmer days, giving them the opportunity to shake off any mites or illness they may have accumulated.

So we kicked off backyard farming with the bees. Next we will consider a bat house which will then cover both the day night pollinators. I have also begun research on chickens… Names being; Agnes, Fern, Gertrude, Hazel. Check out and

Next upcoming event is a “burn” at Angelic Organics, date TBA, conducted by two Tai Chi’ers, Laurel Ross, and Stuart Goldman of the Field Museum, and coordinated by John Diversey, a Tai Chi alumnus, on his prairieland project at the farm.

Elizabeth and I gave a lecture to the St. Ben’s Garden Club in February on Sustainable Gardening. OF course, we could not color in the lines, so we expanded it into “The Greening of St. Ben’s, a Sustainable Lifestyle.” In truth the two cannot be separated.

We covered:
Pollinators: Day pollinators: bees; night pollinators: bats
Colony Collapse Disorder: The negative effects of dryer sheet use
Dark Skies: Light pollution and its negative effect on bat populations, wildlife, plant life and human health
Soil nourishment: Biodynamic, organic nourishment of the soil (instead of fertilizer use)
Pesticides and genetically engineered plants: Trees providing our oxygen needs
Global Warming: Basics including the breaking apart of the Arctic shelf
Moss: A lawn alternative that holds both moisture and topsoil
Winter sidewalk management: Sand vs. salt

We asked them to consider doing one thing differently in their gardening this year and now ask the same of you!

Be well,

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