Blog for Earthkeepers by Dave Van Manen

Homeschooling During the Covid-19 Pandemic: A Few Thoughts from a Veteran Homeschooling Parent

  I’ve been reading all sorts of stories and comments about the homeschooling challenges associated with the Covid-19 pandemic. Much of it has been how hard homeschooling is, how ill-equipped parents feel, and how it is not going so well. When I heard that one parent was ripping the “my child is an honor student” bumper sticker off her car, I thought I’d share a few … [Read More...] about Homeschooling During the Covid-19 Pandemic: A Few Thoughts from a Veteran Homeschooling Parent

Does Anyone In Your House Whine?  We have a song for you!

When I finished writing the song Don’t Whine, I just had this feeling that it would become one of our more requested songs – particularly by parents. It was catchy, it was fun, and, I mean, really, don’t all kids whine? My hunch was somewhat confirmed on our way to the Denver recording studio, where we were to begin recording the Healthy Planet Healthy People album, which includes the song … [Read More...] about Does Anyone In Your House Whine?  We have a song for you!

My Favorite Earth Song for Preschoolers – A Resource for Educators

Of all the songs I have written about taking care of the Earth, there is one that stands out as being especially appropriate for preschoolers and kindergarteners. I have probably sung I Am an Earthkeeper more than any other song for young children, and I find that little ones like it as much as any other age group. Truth be told, I have performed this song for people of every age, and it … [Read More...] about My Favorite Earth Song for Preschoolers – A Resource for Educators

Putting the Garden Back in Kindergarten

Governor Polis’ efforts to bring free, full-day kindergarten to Colorado’s public schools have been in the news quite often the last several weeks. Currently, Colorado only pays for half-day kindergarten. Those districts that do offer full-day kindergarten pay for it with funds designated for other programs, with local property taxes, or by charging families. Polis recently stated, "It's time to … [Read More...] about Putting the Garden Back in Kindergarten

A Couple of Questions on Climate Change for Political Candidates and Policy Makers

I find it serendipitous that, a few short weeks before the 2018 elections, a dire warning has been issued by the International Panel on Climate Change, a warning that should be of major concern to every political candidate, be it for federal, state, or local office. While acknowledging that the negative impacts of a warming planet are already underway, the IPCC says that to avoid catastrophic … [Read More...] about A Couple of Questions on Climate Change for Political Candidates and Policy Makers

Two Minutes to Doomsday!

The clock is ticking. According to the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists’ Doomsday Clock, “a universally recognized indicator of the world’s vulnerability to catastrophe,” the clock is the closest it’s ever been to doomsday (https://thebulletin.org/timeline).  This looming doomsday has me comparing today’s chaotic politics and other challenges to another tumultuous time in our history, the 1960s. I … [Read More...] about Two Minutes to Doomsday!

National Monuments: Land Grab or Legacy?

A Utah Senator says that setting aside this land as part of the National Parks is “a hasty, impetuous action to lock up the area, a step that the people of Utah and the nation would regret for centuries.”  A Deseret News article asserts there is “no other place in the state which [has] greater potential for mineral production.” A Moab Times Independent editorial states, “We wholeheartedly agree … [Read More...] about National Monuments: Land Grab or Legacy?

Vuja de

I’ve been writing about various facets of the natural world for the newsletter of the Nature education non-profit I started in the Mountain Park in Beulah, my small southern Colorado town, for a long time. The recent issue that was just published begins the eighteenth year of the Mountain Park News.  I can recall writing articles on all sorts of birds and wildflowers, bears, trees, mountain lions, … [Read More...] about Vuja de

My views on Trump and Climate Change

I’ve been reading about how we need to get behind president-elect Trump so he has a successful presidency. If a successful presidency would be defined as finding common ground to begin healing the divide that so defines our country right now, I’m all for it.  I suspect, though, that the president-elect and the team he is gathering to run the country would define a successful presidency primarily … [Read More...] about My views on Trump and Climate Change

40 Day Love Fest: Daily Marriage Practices for Easy Living

Forty years is made up of a whole lot of individual days. It is what happens routinely in those days that add up to make a life, or a marriage. Sure, vacations are nice, breaks from the routine, opportunities to do some different things and see some different places. But vacations are just that - temporarily vacating the familiar. Then it is back to the familiar. One of our philosophies of … [Read More...] about 40 Day Love Fest: Daily Marriage Practices for Easy Living

40 Day Love Fest: Kindness Guides Our Days

This song sums up what we strive for...in our day to day connection. ps Let us know if you love this song by David Wilcox as much as we do. Dave and Helene Van Manen celebrate living intentionally together for 40 years with honoring 40 days during the summer of 2016. They have joined forces to raise children, create music, build a community non-profit and more. Kindness is one of the secret … [Read More...] about 40 Day Love Fest: Kindness Guides Our Days

40 Day Love Fest: Books That Taught & Inspired Our Marriage – The Early Years

We love books! Sometimes a book can change your life - after you read it, you can't see or do things the same way you saw or did them before. In our early years we found books that helped shape our shared interests, values and ultimately our life together. Some books can be that powerful, and here is a short list of some of the books that have had such an influence on our lives: Living the Good … [Read More...] about 40 Day Love Fest: Books That Taught & Inspired Our Marriage – The Early Years

40 Day Love Fest: Music Brought Us Together – The Van Manens are born

In the beginning, there was music. If there is a thread that connects the entire length of our marriage, as well as the couple of years we were together before we were married, it is music. Making it and listening to it. Just a few months before we met, Dave did his first public performance at his high school (Brooklyn Tech) after abandoning the plan to become a professional football player … [Read More...] about 40 Day Love Fest: Music Brought Us Together – The Van Manens are born

40 Day Love Fest – Our Magical Mystery Marriage

We've been talking about how to honor and celebrate our 40 year wedding anniversary (which we cannot even believe we are saying "forty"). We originally thought we would take 40 days off (one for each year), but that did not work out with our work schedules. So we grew that idea into creating the "40-Day LoveFest," which will consist of doing something special each day for 40 days to celebrate … [Read More...] about 40 Day Love Fest – Our Magical Mystery Marriage

Redrock Wilderness Retreat, Part 4

DAY FOUR Up at first light, I break camp as the canyon slowly becomes day. I am on the trail as the first rays of sunlight hit the upper walls of the canyon. As I hike these last few miles, I am filled with a great sense of energy and lightness. Yes, my pack is a bit lighter, having eaten most of the food I packed in, but that’s not really the reason for this feeling. Sixty feels pretty darn … [Read More...] about Redrock Wilderness Retreat, Part 4

A Redrock Wilderness Retreat, Part 3

DAY THREE Except for a gusty wind that woke me several times, I had a warmer and better sleep last night. I climb out of the tent to a cloudless, desert blue sky. Oatmeal, nuts and tea are my fuel for a hike that, at this moment, I am not sure how far will be. I start up the wash where I get my water and continue until I reach an unpassable pass were it not for the two ladders the Park … [Read More...] about A Redrock Wilderness Retreat, Part 3

A Redrock Wilderness Retreat, Part 2

DAY TWO I slept cold and poorly last night. The slow leak in the air mattress, which eventually eliminated the insulating layer of air between me and the cold rock underneath, might have had something to do with it. I was happy to see the light of the new day through the walls of the tent. Tonight I think I’ll do a middle-of-the-night refill and see if that helps. I decide to warm my … [Read More...] about A Redrock Wilderness Retreat, Part 2

A Redrock Wilderness Retreat, Part 1

DAY ONE The clock in the car reads 6:21 as I pull out of my morning driveway and head down the dirt road. Destination: Elephant Canyon, Utah! I listen to NPR as I work my way south towards I-25, and then west on US160. Presidential candidates Donald Trump, Bernie Sanders, Marco Rubio, Hillary Clinton, and Ted Cruz seem to monopolize the news stories. Especially Donald Trump. I climb La Veta … [Read More...] about A Redrock Wilderness Retreat, Part 1

Looking Back at Turning 50 on a Wilderness Retreat

I turn 60 next month. I will turn 60 only once, and so I've been thinking about what I might do to acknowledge this milestone (and try to understand how I could already be 60!). This led me to dig up a little essay, which I called Living in Awe, that I wrote when I turned 50. I can now say without hesitation that I am so glad I carved out a few days to step away from my busy life ten years ago to … [Read More...] about Looking Back at Turning 50 on a Wilderness Retreat

The Call To Take People To Nature

“Thousands of tired, nerve-shaken, over-civilized people are beginning to find out that going to the mountains is going home; that wildness is a necessity; and that mountain parks and reservations are useful not only as fountains of timber and irrigating rivers, but as fountains of life.” ~ John Muir What was left of the daylight was rapidly fading. The primeval silence of the forest was as much … [Read More...] about The Call To Take People To Nature

How Many More Autumns Do I Have Left?

​"The seasons come and go, summer follows spring and fall follows summer and winter follows fall, and human beings are born and mature, have their middle age, begin to grow older and die, and everything has its cycles. Day follows night, night follows day. It is good to be part of all of this." ~American Indian saying  “One thing I want to do on this little getaway is walk in an aspen forest!” I … [Read More...] about How Many More Autumns Do I Have Left?

Hanging Out in a Treehouse

Fifteen feet above the forest floor. Enveloped by the needled branches of white fir and Douglas fir trees. Cooled by a most welcome breeze that carries the slightest hint of fall. Chattering pygmy nuthatches from the tops of the nearby pines. It’s been a good long while, and way too long – decades, in fact – since I spent any time in a treehouse.   Every kid should know what it is … [Read More...] about Hanging Out in a Treehouse

Why John Muir is One Of My Nature Heroes

I’m reading yet another book on John Muir, this one by a fine writer, Kim Heacox, about Muir’s travels to Alaska to observe and explore glaciers. I am always moved by accounts of how Muir’s love of wild places was such a driving force in all that he did. I especially appreciate the story about Muir’s meeting of Ralph Waldo Emerson. It was 1871, Emerson was 68, Muir 33. In spite of Emerson’s … [Read More...] about Why John Muir is One Of My Nature Heroes

How Loud Did He Burp? What Kids Learn At Summer Camp

Ah, summer – long hot days, rainstorms, no school, vacations from work, fishing, swimming, picnics, visits to National Parks, trips to the beach… We all have our own associations when we think of summer, these and others. Last week, I picked up my 10-year old grandson Jude from a summer camp that he attended, one that focused on wilderness skills such as shelter building, finding safe drinking … [Read More...] about How Loud Did He Burp? What Kids Learn At Summer Camp

If Not Me, Then Who?

I took a trail walk this morning, enjoying the cool moist morning air and the woods full of bird song. As I was nearing the end of the trail, I stopped to pick up several pieces of trash when I noticed another piece off the trail a ways. My hands were pretty full, and I did not really feel like scrambling through the brush to get the last piece. In the short mental moment when I was deciding … [Read More...] about If Not Me, Then Who?

To Blog or To Walk, That is a Silly Question

I was planning on writing a blog now, maybe on the metaphor hiding in the 8" of new snow we just received in the middle of May. But then I heard this voice, which I decided was coming from outside. I am not sure if it was the trees, or the sky that just can't shake the clouds and occasional snow squalls, or the black-headed grosbeaks and dark-eyed juncoes at the bird feeders that were calling me, … [Read More...] about To Blog or To Walk, That is a Silly Question

The World Needs Non-Profits -You Can Create An Amazing One!

A couple of weeks ago, I was discussing with a client the question of whether or not creating a non-profit would be the right way to proceed as he developed his vision of bringing groups, especially boys and men, to Nature. One factor that often comes up when people have a desire to provide meaningful experiences and other human services is that such services cost money, and so many people who … [Read More...] about The World Needs Non-Profits -You Can Create An Amazing One!

Living in the In-Between

Late March and early April is, according to the calendar, the beginning of spring. When I think of the word spring, I think of gentle days of wildflowers, soaking rains, a greening landscape, warming days.  Yet, when I look out at the southern Colorado landscape around me today, I see lots of white – the remains of yesterday’s seven inches of wet snow. Regardless of the fact that my homescape is … [Read More...] about Living in the In-Between

Chopping Wood

"The ordinary arts we practice every day at home are of more importance to the soul than their simplicity might suggest.” ~ Thomas Moore There was a book I read thirty years ago that I’ve been thinking a lot about lately. I don’t remember many details of the chapters themselves, but the essence of the book that is captured in its title, Chop Wood Carry Water, has been coming up for me a lot … [Read More...] about Chopping Wood

Winter Has Arrived

A lone snowflake drifts out of a slate-colored sky and finds its way onto the page of my journal that I am writing on. A woodpecker squawks. I trudged through over a foot of new snow to get to this somewhat protected place along a path I have walked a thousand times. In precipitation of every variety, in sunlight, in moonlight, in violent winds that brought down trees, in every condition have I … [Read More...] about Winter Has Arrived

What does Nature have to do with Business?

If you’ve read much of my writing, you’ve probably noticed that I love to spend time in and write about the natural world. What does all this Nature-this and Nature-that, you may have asked yourself, have to do with helping someone start a not-for-profit, or address a community need, or run a business? I’m glad you asked. Any real look into the natural world reveals that Nature is all about … [Read More...] about What does Nature have to do with Business?

The Calm After the Storm

This morning's 1.33" of rain that I measured for the previous 24 hours brings the past week's total precip for the park to 3.53"...a nice amount that came in tolerable and manageable amounts, and a far cry from the record rainfall that parts of Colorado's northern front range received the last week. After a drizzly morning and mostly gray afternoon, the skies were clearing on my after dinner walk … [Read More...] about The Calm After the Storm

Magic in the Evening Sky!

I was outside this evening around 7:30, trying to get a bit more done on building a three-compartment compost bin while the light was quickly draining from the sky. As I was cleaning up some tools, I looked up and noticed the moon and Venus hanging like jewels in the southwest sky. Just then Helene called out to me that a zucchini crusted pizza (zucchinis continue to find their way into many of … [Read More...] about Magic in the Evening Sky!

I Am Rich

From my post May 2013 at http://ipinionsyndicate.com/i-am-rich/ I am rich I recently stumbled upon a website that ranks your wealth compared to everyone else on the planet. It offers two comparisons – your net income and your net worth, the latter stated as being a more precise ranking (http://www.globalrichlist.com). This should be interesting, I thought, so I figured what my numbers are and … [Read More...] about I Am Rich