Chatting With Cyclist & Writer, Nathan Winters

nathan

TGSG Note: The world is full of people who are really good at talking the talk, but Nathan Winters is a man that walks the walk. Or in his case, pedals the pedal.

In this interview, you’ll find out more about a person that not only loves nature, the environment, and people. but who is a great appreciator of life. For me, I think there is no greater lesson to share with children than to be bold — to really live life and love it. Thanks for the reminder, Nathan.

See ya outside! ~ The Grass Stain Guru

1.    What kind of kid were you? Can you share a favorite play memory from childhood?

I was undoubtedly the rambunctious type and always full of energy. I would roam via foot and bicycle with little regard for rules or consequences. I guess you could say that I haven’t changed much.

I spent so much time outside as a child and created so many memories I don’t believe that I can specify one favorite. What I can tell you is that I absolutely loved a 20 minute game of two hand touch football at the bus stop early in the morning. The kids in my neighborhood and I played every day in the rain, wind or snow. Unfortunately for my mother every pair of jeans she bought me had grass stains on the knees within a few days until I was old enough to drive to school.

2.    How did you develop such a strong conservation ethic and connection with nature? Did you have a mentor in your life that helped you develop those interests?
That is a great question and I didn’t have a mentor per se. My connection with nature came through travels and hands on experience. In 2003 I took a long and adventurous road trip covering the United States from Maine down to New Orleans and up to Seattle zig zagging along the way. Most of this time was spent in National Parks which created a catalyst form my relationship with the land and its immeasurable value to the human species. You could say the rest is history.

3.    Biking across country is an amazing feat. What personal characteristics did you rely upon most during your journey, and how do you think the way you were raised helped you develop those traits?

I would have to say that my strong sense of freedom played the biggest role in the success of my journey. As a child I was given an abundance of play time and freedom which has instilled the strength and understating of the importance of things in the natural world.

4.    In today’s culture, many of us spend very little time alone, and children in particular. On your journey, you had a lot of time alone with you and your thoughts. I personally believe it’s an important skill or characteristic to have: being comfortable with being on your own. Do you have any advice for parents to help foster this in today’s kids?
Talk to strangers. My recent journey and encounters in the past have taught me that too many children are raised on the old “don’t talk to strangers” mentality.  Sure we need to apply common sense to this practice however in my honest opinion I feel we need to encourage children to engage and conversate without fear. It bothers me to see communities where people rarely speak to their neighbors. Those people will be regretful in a time of need.

5.    What are a few of your favorite outdoor or nature-based activities to do?

What benefits does participating in these activities bring to your life?
Hiking in the wilderness alone with my dog Chaya is hands down the most gratifying activity for both her and I and the benefits are endless. We both get exercise and build a partnership in a natural landscape we enjoy, share and explore together.

6.    If you could visit any natural area, where would it be and why?

I have been blessed with the flexibility and desire to travel a good portion of the world thus far. If I were to pack my bags and go anywhere tomorrow I would head to Fiordland National Park in New Zealand. The ancient landscape and the diverse ecosystem look to be amazing.

I would like to add one note to that subject… I know a lot of people and many of which I grew up with who have traveled the world but have never seen the Grand Canyon or the Smoky Mountains. I strongly encourage people to explore America and get to know their fellow Americans. It is a beautiful country with beautiful people.

Guest Blogger Bio: Nathan has recently completed his 5 month and 4,300 mile journey across America on a bicycle where he conducted an extensive research project taking a close look at agriculture, food chains and environmental issues. He currently lives in rural Vermont where he enjoys quality time with his beautiful dog Chaya.  He works diligently on writing and marketing his novel which he hopes to be completed in the next few months. He remains passionate and is a strong advocate for protecting our land and the people on it.

For more information about his latest adventures please visit http://www.follownathan.org You can also follow Nathan on Twitter, @follownathan.

Chatting With Eco Writer & Mom, Wendy Gabriel

Wendy

TGSG Note: I am so excited to have writer, eco mom, and all-around good egg, Wendy Gabriel stop by The Guru today. Wendy is my go-to source for green living info and is a huge supporter of outdoor play and time in nature. BIG thanks to Wendy for taking time out of her busy schedule to chat with us. Enjoy the interview. See ya outside! ~ The Grass Stain Guru

1. what kind of kid were you? how did what you loved as a child translate in adulthood?

What a great question… I was a skinny, geeky, tomboyish, artsy, bookwormish, shy, talkative complexity of a girl.

When I was five we moved to a 100 year old farmhouse located in the middle of nowhere and we went from city life with a dog to country life with two dogs, numerous barn cats, cows, horses, chickens, geese, a pig and a lot of space to run, play and explore. It was heaven for a child.

Some of my favorite memories are playing outdoors with my three sisters, drawing with my Nana, hiking with my Dad and baking with my Mom. I have fond memories of making mudpies, building forts in the woods and sledding in the snow.

Reading was also a big part of my childhood. Both of my parents are book lovers and they passed on their love of reading and learning to me. It was a major crisis if any of us were without a good book.

So, to answer your questions, I’m still a complexity of a girl who likes a good mudpie and a great book.

2. Why is living and promoting a green lifestyle important to you?

I guess it’s not even that living a green lifestyle is so important to me, it’s more like why would I live any differently. It’s what I know. I’m definitely not saying I’m perfect or even live as sustainably as I would like. For example, a dream is to be completely off the grid and have our own sources of electricity.

It wasn’t until probably high school or college that I realized everyone didn’t grow their own produce. And I was shocked to learn that people used toxic chemicals on the produce they were going to be eating.

I also thought that my Mom cleaned with vinegar and baking soda primarily to save money until I began to research the toxins that are in every day cleaning products.

Another source of amazement, the things people throw away; perfectly good things that could be fixed, given to charity or recycled.

I feel it is each of our responsibility to be kind to every living creature and treat the earth with respect. Isn’t that how we all would like to be treated?

As far as promoting a green life style, I try to be a good example to my children and the people I live around without being too annoying. One of my favorite quotes is, “Be the change you want to see in the world.” I don’t get it right all the time but I do my best. I write about green living because it provides me a creative outlet for something I’m very passionate about. The fact people actually read what I write is both gratifying and humbling. It makes me want to write better, and be better.

3. If you could speak to your child’s principal and have them make adjustments and changes at school — in the classroom and beyond, what would you say and ask for?

First, I think I should warn you that I’m THAT mom. I didn’t know what that meant until I heard someone talking about not wanting to be THAT mom; everything she described, I had already done. I have already talked to my daughter’s teacher about having the children using Clorox wipes to clean their areas every morning (among others things, the warning on the label says it’s not safe for humans and animals). I’ve talked to the teacher and the principal about the lack of recess for ½ day kindergarteners. I’ve called the teacher at home when she said the kids couldn’t bring red food for snack (and found out that she meant food with red food dye in it). I’m currently working on a recycling program and my next campaign: using non-toxic chemicals for cleaning at the school.

In my mind, cleaning without toxic chemicals should be a priority for all schools. Why would we use toxic cleaning supplies that impact our children negatively when there are effective non-toxic cleaners available?

Then when all that dust has settled I’m going to work on the need to stop motivating the students with food. In my daughter’s school it seems every other day they are having ice cream, pizza or candy, all tied to meeting some sort of milestone. They read a certain amount of books and they get a pizza party. They make it another ten days in school and they eat ice cream. I’m going to suggest maybe extra recess or extra gym time is better motivation and healthier for their bodies.

Having said all that, we absolutely adore our daughter’s teacher and the school that we’ve put her in. Like anything else, there is always room for improvement.

4. You have an afternoon free to yourself. what do you do?

Sleep.

Bio: Wendy Gabriel is wife to a recovering stage actor turned radio talk host, mommy to two amazing little girls and a green living writer. She is the owner of My Green Side.org , writer for TwilightEarth.com, a columnist for Examiner.com and a weekly on-air contributor to The Christopher Gabriel Program. You can listen to her Wednesdays on AM970 WDAY where she talks about Simple Tips for Green Living. Follow Wendy on Twitter @mygreenside.

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