It’s an early Saturday morning and our community-wide churches’ youth group had just spent a week in Minneapolis. Twenty-three teens and a handful of adult chaperones collectively provided over 700 hrs. of service work sorting panty foods and gently used clothing, weeding community and cultural gardens, assisting children in crisis centers, and scraping and painting homes. It’s evidence that our future leaders are a compassionate and hard-working generation.
Having earned some recreation time, we challenged ourselves to raft and kayak the level 2 and 3 rapids of the Kettle River in the north woods. The natural beauty and the clear spring-fed waters left us exhilarated and reminded us of the strong environmental legacy we Midwesterners embrace as demonstrated in our state parks, forests and wilderness areas.
That afternoon and on into the evening hours we traveled almost the entire length of the western side of Wisconsin – a picturesque and productive landscape. From the small tourist towns in the lake country of the north woods we made our way to the cleared farmland and agri-business operations farther south. All around us was evidence of the solid economic foundation these industries provide. As darkness descended our headlights caught familiar town names on signposts – almost home. Pulling into the lot, a supportive community of family members and friends crowded around.
Even as another exhausting youth group adventure drew to a close, I couldn’t resist the opportunity to rise early the next morning to visit the Midwest Renewable Energy Association Fair in Custer, WI. This event never fails to inspire confidence that a vibrant, cleaner future is on the horizon. This year was no exception. The keynote speaker delineated numerous reasons why historians may well look back on 2016 as the turning point in the world’s irreversible journey to a clean energy future.
Thirty-six hours chockfull of reassurances. This holiday we needn’t have reservations about the sacrifices our forefathers (and mothers) made as we head toward a bright future, here forever…Earthbound.