Linda Gorchels blogs


Earth Month Turns 50 During COVID

In 1970, a team led by Wisconsin Senator Gaylord Nelson promoted the first Earth Day on April 22. People were spurred into action by Rachel Carson’s book, Silent Spring, by the 1969 California oil spill, and by an awareness that the health of the planet was critical for future generations.

That first Earth Day launched a series of efforts. The Clean Air, Clean Water, and Endangered Species Acts were authorized. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) was created in the United States. Many countries adopted similar laws and actions. A concurrent Earth Month was established by a citizen-based non-profit.

Earth Day’s 50th anniversary occurred at the time of COVID. Two consequences are notable. First, COVID restrictions paused some contributors to pollution.… Read the rest

Quotes for the Times

“Incredible change happens in your life when you decide to take control of what you do have power over instead of craving control over what you don’t.” Steve Maraboli, author of “Life, the Truth, and Being Free”

“It’s not what you look at that matters, it’s what you see.” Henry David Thoreau

“The future depends on what we do in the present.” Mahatma Gandhi

“If you’re going through hell, keep going.”  Winston Churchill

“There is no small act of kindness. Every compassionate act makes large the world.”  Mary Anne Radmache

“Everyone you will ever meet knows something you don’t.” Bill Nye

“We can complain because rose bushes have thorns, or rejoice because thorn bushes have roses.”  Abraham Lincoln

“Believe you can and you’re halfway there.”Read the rest

Elevate Your Kindness

Last year I overheard a conversation. A woman told her friend she would practice random acts of kindness for Lent. I liked the idea and posted a blog about it then.

Well, it’s Lent again. Time to dust off the kindness file. And perhaps elevate your kindness to make it the new norm.

Make Kindness the Norm

There are days when I scroll through the news that I’m discouraged. It’s hard to think of kindness as the norm. But we should always make the effort. There’s even a twitter feed, (#MakeKindnessTheNorm), filled with people trying to do just that. Most of the examples were from Random Acts of Kindness Week (February 17 to 21, 2020). Yet it’s a start.

Here are a few examples.… Read the rest

What happened to moderation?

I remember growing up believing that moderation was a good thing. Eating and drinking were rarely good or bad per se, as long not done to excess. Sunshine was a healthy source of vitamin D, if exposure was limited to avoid sunburn. Working hard was valued, but so were social connections with family and friends. And the middle class was large and relevant.

But that was then, and this is now.

We’re living in an increasingly polarized society. The far right and far left are growing at the expense of the center. Economic inequality is creating haves and have-nots to the detriment of the have-somes. And posts to news articles are pro or con, black or white. Social media has enabled people to live within their chosen bubbles.… Read the rest

Contemplate a Smile

It’s cold outside. So, I opted for warm and fuzzy contemplation topics this week. Something to make you smile or say, “huh?” Let’s start with animal sounds.

What Does a Rooster Say?

I was listening to A Way with Words on NPR recently. One of the listeners called in to comment that children in different countries pronounce animal sounds differently. Actually, it’s the name of the sound (rather than ani imitation of the sound) that’s pronounced differently.

There are different rules for different languages. Some are more nasal and others are more guttural, changing the pronunciation of the sounds. And some have different alphabets. While the name of the sound cats make (some variation of meow) holds steady across most languages, that’s not true for other animals.… Read the rest

Time to Declutter

Another year is over. But chances are, your clutter isn’t.

It’s time to declutter before starting another year (and another decade).  Studies show that being organized reduces stress and increases efficiency. The co-author of Emotional Intelligence 2.0 cites the following facts about productivity:

  • The average office employee spends over one hour each day just looking for things.
  • The average U.S. executive spends six weeks per year searching through messy desks and disorganized files for misplaced information.
  • 23% of adults say they’re late paying their bills because they lose them

In these cases, clutter is the enemy of productivity. Being efficient starts with decluttering.

Where to start? Pick an area of your choice and dive in. Then move on to another area.… Read the rest

The Poison Squad Review

How was your Thanksgiving meal?  I hope the food was delicious, fulfilling, and safe. That hasn’t always been the case, as pointed out in Deborah Blum’s book, The Poison Squad.

Travel back in time to the early 1900s to observe the state of food safety in the United States. Formaldehyde. Coal tar. Salicylic acid. Lead. Borax. These were added to many food products. Chalk was used to make thinned milk appear whiter and thicker.  Formaldehyde (embalming fluid!) was used to extend its salability. Decaying meat was preserved with salicylic acid. Food was dangerous. People died.

This was the situation during the industrialization of the food industry in the United States. Large-scale processing and distribution with no oversight created conditions that pushed profit over safety.… Read the rest

10 Safe Thanksgiving Conversation Starters

As you prepare for the potential onslaught of relatives on Thanksgiving, here are a few questions you might ponder to steer conversations away from politics.

  1. Information about the first Thanksgiving came from the diary of
    • a. Sarah Josepha Hale
    • b.William Bradford
    • c. Abraham Lincoln
    • d. J.L. Ferris
  2. How long did the first Thanksgiving celebration last?
    • a. one day
    • b. two days
    • c. three days
    • d. four days
  3. Thanksgiving became a national holiday in
    • a. 1621
    • b. 1789
    • c. 1863
    • d. 1941
  4. In what year did the Macy’s Day parade start?
    • a. 1918
    • b. 1924
    • c. 1938
    • d. 1943
  5. Which president was the first to give a turkey a presidential pardon?
    • a. Lyndon Johnson
    • b. Richard Nixon
    • c. Ronald Reagan
    • d. George H.W.
Read the rest

Eco-Smart Innovation

Articles about the importance of innovation to the growth—or even survival—of a company saturate the internet. I even stress its importance in my monthly posts on the topic. However, not all innovation is socially or environmentally compatible. Short-term financial gain may cause long-term environmental pain. Can we do it better? Can we think in terms of Eco-Smart Innovation?

Social Ecosystem

Let’s start with the social ecosystem.

While the average family size in the United States declined over the past seven decades, the average house size increased. A standard single-family house in 1950 was 983 square feet. It now averages 2631 square feet. Additional closets and room sizes enabled us to pack the building with more possessions.

Over the years, advertising bombarded us with messages that we need the new cell phone, the most up-to-date fashion, or the improved household items.… Read the rest

There is No Planet B

There is no Planet B

Contemplate this! What is our moral responsibility regarding climate change?  I must admit I am embarrassed by my own superficial acceptance of that responsibility.

There are many things I could do better. For example, I could:

  • walk or ride my bike instead of driving my car for short distances
  • dress more appropriately for the existing temperature rather than adjusting the thermostat up or down
  • consciously and actively spend my food dollars with companies that practice sustainable agriculture
  • look for alternatives to fossil fuels for energy needs and in manufactured goods
  • avoid single-use products and containers
  • cast my vote for politicians who acknowledge the science of climate change and who will push hard for policy solutions

And that’s just the tip of the iceberg.… Read the rest