Kim Carlson

Often accused of doing just about anything to preserve the planet long before going green hit the mainstream radar, Kim Carlson is an eco-chic lifestyle expert, eco-savvy entrepreneur, and green business author. Carlson practices what she preaches. (Except she doesn’t really preach, she enthuses.) As the “EarthSmart Consumer” on television, host of the national radio program, “Livin’ The Green Life” and the regular guest writer for many blogs and national magazines, Carlson educates the public on the pleasures of a planet-friendly lifestyle. Read more about Kim Carlson.

Green Art At The Bakken Museum

Posted by: Kim Carlson Updated: July 12, 2011 - 3:06 PM

The Green Energy Art Garden  is a whimsical new outdoor display at The Bakken Museum, which opens July 15 as part of the 2011 Minneapolis Aquatennial and the "10 Best Days of The Bakken." A unique mash-up of art and science, the Green Energy Art Garden will be home to four large, interactive sculptures -- each specially designed and created for this project by local artists -- that actively demonstrate a green energy technology, of course.
Four artists, or, in some cases, teams of artists, were selected from nearly two dozen submissions for the Green Energy Art Garden. Here is a closer look at the projects and people that captured the spirit of innovation, art and science envisioned for this unique project:

Solar Spitters
The Solar Spitters are three bobbing water goblins perched in three tubs of gurgling water created by Marjorie Pitz. Solar pumps power these comical heads that “spit” streams of water into the air. When visitors stand directly in front of the solar collector, the goblins stop spitting. Adorned with sparkly eyes, silly expressions and green growing hair (made of wild spiky pond plants, of course!), these whimsical water goblins are a visual delight, and also educate about solar energy. And, each tub is a self-contained beautiful, healthy ecosystem, home to water lilies, underwater oxygen-making plants and goldfish.

Finite to Infinite
As visitors peer into a large series of kaleidoscopes, they’ll be dazzled by the stunning Finite to Infinite visual displays that open before them by Mayumi Amada. Each kaleidoscope in Finite to Infinite houses a unique arrangement of recycled plastic bottles, egg cartons and other cast-off materials to create dramatic, unexpected patterns illuminated by LED lights that are powered by wind and solar energy. The serenely beautiful, multi-colored patterns are reflected in a series of mirrors, giving the illusion of never-ending vistas of fields of flowers, lacy doilies or whatever a viewer imagines them to be. This one-of-a-kind interactive sculpture creates astonishing beauty in a hidden dark space, while demonstrating the intersection of art, sustainable energy sources, and use of recycled materials.

The Sonic Articulation of Sunbeams
Daniel Dean, Ben Moren and Emily Stover created the Sonic Articulation of Sunbeams is a solar-powered acoustic sculpture. What’s that, you ask? Imagine a large steel megaphone that collects sounds, converts those sounds into solar-powered electricity, then harnesses that electricity to activate small percussive devices, called robotic critters. These robotic critters then produce a chorus of dings, buzzes, clicks and pops in direct response to the amount of sunlight collected and converted by the solar cells. In this highly original art piece, visitors will “hear” solar energy. A truly full-body experience, museum-goers stand at the mouth of the sculpture and let the sounds reverberate out of the megaphone and envelope their bodies, or use their hands to block the solar panels, minimizing the sun exposure and, consequently, altering the frequency of sounds created.

Make it Rain
Make It Rain is a playful interactive sculpture by Peter Sowinski and Lucas Koski that invites visitors to experiment with the physical manifestation of the sun’s energy. Comprised of three main parts — a solar telescope, a rain arbor and a solar collector — Make It Rain teaches visitors about activating solar energy. Visitors will step up to the telescope (fitted with perma-dark safety glass) and search for the sun. Once the sun is in the telescope’s sights, a chain reaction begins. An optical switch in the telescope’s barrel activates pumps that push water up the sides of the arbor and down onto a skylight above The Bakken’s permanent galleries, tying together the outdoor Green Energy Art Garden with the museum’s indoor displays. Visitors both indoors and out will watch rain fall while appreciating the beauty of solar energy in action.

Admission is free and the exhibit runs July 15th through the 24th 10 a.m. – 5 p.m. daily. And evening hours on Friday, July 15th and Thursday, July 21st until 8 p.m.. The Bakken Museum is at the corner of West Calhoun Parkway and 36th Street on the west shore of Lake Calhoun. Free parking is available in The Bakken’s lot. For more information, visit or call 612-926-3878.


Green Dinner Down On the Farm

Posted by: Kim Carlson Updated: June 10, 2011 - 12:29 PM


Dinner On The Farm  at Garden Farme in Ramsey, MN

Dinner On The Farm at Garden Farme in Ramsey, MN

Food just plain tastes better when eaten at the source – a farm.  When I was a kid, my Swedish immigrant great grandparents had a dairy farm in the Milaca area of Minnesota.  Each summer my parents would head north to “the farm” for a day long picnic, packing up the kids, dog, melamine dinnerware and a cooler full of beer for dad. 

The day was always the same dreamy event for us city kids: barn exploring, games on the lawn followed by “dinner” at 12:00 on many tables set end to end covered in white tablecloths. Then we would play more games (like jarts - the product liability laws were a bit more lax in those days) or nap on blankets on the lawn before we would eat  “supper” at 5:00 featuring leftovers of what wasn’t gobbled down at the noon meal. Oh, those were the good old and forgotten days!

Until this past Sunday, when I went to a dinner hosted by Dinner On the Farm  at Garden Farme in Ramsey. It was only about a 45 minute drive from my house in downtown Minneapolis and featured The Curry Diva’s, Heather Jansz, fabulous culinary skills and spices.

Garden Farme was homesteaded in 1913 by the relatives of current owner and steward of the property, Bruce Bacon. As one of the first to be labeled "organic", they grow organic greens, fragrant herbs, fruits, vegetables and have bees that make honey. They sell to many local restaurants and food coops, not necessarly to the public.  It was a lovely backdrop for the meal whipped up by the Curry Diva. 


Curry Diva, Heather Janz and the author

Curry Diva, Heather Janz and the author

The late afternoon event started with a farm tour where we learned some of the secrets to Bruce’s organic growing technique. There was also an optional hour of group yoga instruction on the lawn by Patrick Nelson of Corepower Yoga and Betsy Weiner from Yoga Center Minneapolis.

When dinner was ready at 6:30, there were no long tables with white tablecloths, it was more of a casual picnic setup where everyone brought their own chairs or blankets for sitting and eating. For $50/person we supped a senses activating spread of Heather's finest cuisine:  roasted lamb, rhubarb chutney, veggie quinoa, kale and red chard salad served with Knot Stock Beer. For dessert a simply amazing ice cream that was perfectly rich and runny was served with ice chai tea.


Jack Klatt and the Cat Swingers

Jack Klatt and the Cat Swingers

Jack Klatt and the Cat Swingers   played a hipster combo of relaxing music for most of the evening.  The guests were a fun mix of the local restaurant industry crew, and some conscious foodies, some with their kids or grandkids in tow.

 I forgot bug spray so we left before the bonfire (and the mosquitoes) got cranked up. The entire evening was a trip down farm memory lane for me and a wonderful experience all around.  I highly recommend this true farm-to-table experience. Check out the Dinner On The Farm website for more farm dining possibilities this summer and fall.

Another group  offering farm dinners is Tour de Farm  featuring Chefzilla Stewart Woodman at Axdahl's Family Farm on June 27th and several other farm experiences through the summer and fall months. 

Greatest Green Gardening Gear

Posted by: Kim Carlson Updated: April 29, 2011 - 4:14 PM
The first signs of spring leaves many of us itching to get into the garden or prepare outdoor spaces for the luscious lazy summer months. As the world around us literally turns green, it’s a great time to try living a little greener too. 
Here are a few ideas including newer products and services that can save money, promote a healthy lifestyle, and are good for the planet:
Integrate native plants into your gardens.  
You can easily mix and match native plants in with your traditional gardens or even I your container plantings. Plants native to our region, were here before we were.  So they grow easily with rain water, no fertilizers or pesticides.   They also provide critical habitat for creatures great and small. The non-profit group Wild Ones  offers demonstration projects and workshops of how and where to plant natives. You can also buy flats of natives that appeal to a particular butterfly or cute critter.  Landscape Alternatives  sells a terrific selection of native plants retail. 
Use manure or compost as your garden base.
Healthy soil with the critical microbes and bacteria makes for healthy plants. Bovine Basics produces a “cooked” dairy cow manure with the smelly and harmful bacteria removed for use as a compost or peat moss.  Laverne’s Worms sells a worm bin for home or office use. Worms can eat a pound or two of kitchen scraps each week! That means less in your garbage and less in the landfill. The nutrient rich dirt that worms poop out is amazing for houseplants and your garden. It’s also a good green teaching tool for the kids teaching them that “waste = food” in natural systems.
Reduce your use of chemical fertilizers.
This is becoming more common place with lawns and vegetable gardens, but what about tree care. Rainbow Tree Care  has concocted a “prescription organic material” for trees that is specifically formulated for your tree’s age, condition and health issue. Instead of pumping the root system full of synthetic chemicals, they carefully blow the compacted soil away from the surface roots replacing it with their prescription concoction. It fixes the problem at the root in a non-invasive and natural way.
Reduce your runoff.
We all have hard surfaces on and around our homes: blacktop driveways, cement sidewalks and roofs. Water pours off of these surfaces and goes into the nearest storm sewer, each time it rains or snow melts. This runoff can carry pollutants like oil from our drives or chemicals from our lawns to the nearest river, lake or pond. Borgert Products  sells interlocking permeable paver systems so that the water seeps into the ground around the pavers and doesn’t runoff. Their systems can be used for walks or drives. They are winter plow friendly and help to recharge ground water.  
Start your own backyard Farm. 
In the city, our soil is highly compacted and contains arsenic and lead from polluting car exhaust so it isn’t ideal farmland. A very cool company, A Backyard Farm is solving that problem with raised beds for vegetable gardens. They design and make the wood framed beds, fill it with good organic material and sell you the plants that go into the garden. For a reasonable weekly fee, they will also tend, weed and harvest your garden, if you don’t have the time or interest. So for about the same cost as buying a share in a CSA, you can have your own farm and farmer! How cool is that??
Use moss to reduce dangerous chemicals in your pool or spa.
Creative Water Solutions has come out with a line of pool filters that use sphagnum moss to help control bacteria growth called Spa and Pool Naturally products. Using their filter systems, they promise that you will use less chemicals less often thereby reducing costs and creating a less toxic swimming and spa environment. It’s better for your skin, lungs and your pocketbook. 
You can check out all of these products at The Living Green Expo (May 7-8 at the State Fairgrounds). To learn more about the Living Green Expo, visit, “like” Living Green Expo on or follow the event on twitter (@livinggreenexpo).

ArtStart – kids re-imagining the world with a green parade

Posted by: Kim Carlson Updated: April 15, 2011 - 9:36 AM


Kim at Kare11 studio with Eric Perkins and ArtStart artists and mentors

I had the pleasure, recently, to be introduced to an environmental art non-profit program in the Mac-Groveland neighborhood of St. Paul.

ArtStart teaches kids to be stewards of the environment by making art out of stuff that would otherwise be thrown away.

Kids learn about the environment in various ways: watching parents recycling, a school program (which are fewer because of budget cutbacks), or spending time outside in nature. Another way to be introduced to anything new is through art. ArtStart makes the connection to protect the environment in a emotional yet practical way by combining creating something fun or useful with striving for an environmental good like zero waste or re-use.

ArtStart’s founder, Carol Sirrine, has teamed up with the Living Green Expo  this spring to bring a sense of whimsy and the fun of creative activities for kids of all ages to the Expo. On Saturday, May 7th everyone is welcome to join the Green On Parade at 1 p.m. at the Minnesota State Fair Grounds in St. Paul. The parade starts at the Creative Arts Building and runs along Cosgrove Ave.  Musicians, dancers, stilters, and more will lead kids that show up, in a parade complete with costumes and hats and masks that the kids have created.

ArtStart is getting kids involved early in the parade by helping them make funny hats and Minnesota animal masks out of recycled materials like bubble wrap, foam and colorful Mylar stickers that can be cut into cool shapes. Artists will help kids ages 4-17 make their green headpiece over the next month for the parade.  To get a child involved:

• Stop by Art Start through May 1 to pick up a "grab bag" of art supplies and templates for $5. (Hours: M-F 10 a.m.-6 p.m. or Sat 10 a.m.-4 p.m.) They are located at 1459 St. Clair Avenue in St. Paul

• Participate in a workshop Sunday, April 17 or Sunday, April 30 between 12-4 p.m. to create your very own "Think Green Headpiece" and accessories out of repurposed materials. Cost $3 per child or $5 per adult. Call ahead for reservations.

• Make a headpiece or mask during the Living Green Expo on May 7th at the Art Start booth. Depending on the weather, it will be located outside near the main stage or inside the Creative Arts building.

If you are a business or company that has something in larger quantities that you want to get rid of and it could be creatively used as an art supply, contact Cindy at ArtStart 651-698-ARTS or visit their website at Cash donations are also welcome.

To watch the Kare11 segment:  Click here...


Green Wedding Giveaway

Posted by: Kim Carlson Updated: March 18, 2011 - 4:36 PM

Here comes the bride all dressed in … green?!?!?  

The Living Green Expo


KSTP's Twin Cities Live

will give one lucky couple the green low impact wedding of their dreams! From delicious menus created with local & organic ingredients to repurposed gowns, invitations with two-way envelopes, and a green bed & breakfast honeymoon, we’ll show you how to celebrate responsibly without sacrifice!

Submit an entry and you can win a free Green Wedding - valued at $27,000, compliments of the 2011 Living Green Expo, held May 7th and 8th at the MN State Fairgrounds.

You don't even have to plan the wedding - it's all done for you! Some choices will be necessary, like color schemes, dresses and other formal attire, but you catch our drift. It's a free green wedding, ensuring that your day won't leave a jumbo carbon footprint. Did you know one large wedding can emit more than 2,000 pounds of carbon? That's more than a single person uses in an entire year!

So tell your green love story - and explain how you practice living green.  This could add up to you and your significant other tying the knot at the Living Green Expo on May 7th.  Stories will be judged on the couple's "greenness," creativity, and willingness to get married on May 7th. Good luck, couples!

Encourage your green love-struck friends to enter! To register click here

To get you thinking green nuptials, here are some tips and green wedding vendors that are part of the Green Wedding Giveaway: 

Buy vintage engagement and wedding rings. To avoid guilt with your matrimonial gilt, Barristers Estate Jewelry  specializes in selling original diamond rings from the 1920′s-1950′s. All diamonds are original to the time period and are antiques. With a few exceptions, all of the items that Barrister sells are antiques or repurposed from antique jewelry. Rather than destroy any damaged items, old rings are restored to their previous luster, elegance and relevance. For a private appointment call 952-393-4552.

Send the right message with re-useable wedding invitations. With EcoEnvelopes , everyone can participate in environmental stewardship. Your communications can be sent in a single reusable, 2-way envelope instead of two envelopes. Now you can reduce your environmental impact and save money too.

Choose an earth-centric wedding cake baker. Yes, wedding cakes can be green and gorgeous. The pastry chef at Kim Bartman’s restaurant, Bryant Lake Bowl, strives to present locally sourced and organic products on thier menu and for special events. Kim has been on a mission of moving toward making her business as sustainable and earth-friendly as possible for many years. They compost in partnership with Eureka Recycling at all of their restaurants, and offer zero-waste summer picnic catering. They also created the first USGBC LEED rated restaurant in the region.

Serve local and organic wedding reception food. Chowgirls Killer Catering  serves up sassy catered fare for weddings and all types of events. They use local, organic, and seasonal ingredients whenever possible to create naturally good appetizers and special banquets with an earthy flair.

Make green music together. Experience the elegance of Tre Corda Trio , a string trio specializing in weddings and other special events. They are committed to sustainability in all aspects of their music, including reusing & recycling materials and carpooling to gigs. To book Tre Corda call 952-890-1284.



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