top of page
  • Jenny Hill

Engage & Take Action at B2B

For the 18th Annual Back to Basics, there are more than 45 workshops on a wide variety of topics. From Zero Waste to Gardening to Clean Energy, you can get your sustainability questions answered and learn some amazing new things. See the full line-up here. Over the next few weeks, blog posts will explore the workshops in more depth.  

This week we explore workshops on becoming engaged citizens and taking action on some of the crucial sustainability challenges we currently face. One of the most appealing aspects of Back to Basics is its depth of workshop presenters: from academicians to experts who work for non-profits or operate their own business to people who are passionate about sharing their interests, there are a myriad of approaches and styles which can instill inspiration. Why be an engaged citizen? As you read through these offerings, you’ll see people dedicated to improving how we live, how we take care of our health and the health of others, and how we care for our planet.


Closed-Loop Zero Waste Living with April Hepokoski was a very popular workshop from 2023 and we are glad to have Hepokoski back. Living Zero Waste is more than following the 3 R's: reduce, reuse, recycle. The presenter will share the 7 R's of her adapted lifestyle, called Closed-Loop Zero Waste, which helps her live a sustainable, low-waste life that is more aligned with nature. You will walk away inspired with many simple tricks & tips to apply to your life right away. 

Peter Olson, WonderTrek Children’s Museum’s Project Director, wants you to know the culture of childhood is under threat. “It's up to caring adults to be part of bringing back everyday play to the lives of children. “Getting Back to the Basics of Everyday Play is perfect for people who aren't afraid to tap their inner child to let loose and play!” says Olson. “I'm excited to meet Back to Basics attendees and fellow presenters, to be part of this community of learners.”

For the Health of Everyone

Many people are concerned about the high cost of healthcare in the U.S. and the millions who are denied access to healthcare. The workshop Healthcare as a Human Right: A System that Covers Everyone in Minnesota with Mark Friedman, Health Care for All Minnesota, offers an alternative. ”People might be surprised to learn a proposal for single-payer universal healthcare that covers everyone is progressing in the Minnesota Legislature,” says Friedman.” This workshop will help participants see an alternative to our crazy non-system of healthcare. We can catch up to the rest of the world!”

Pam Broekemeier, owner of TheHERBAL Cache, is a popular vendor and presenter from past Back to Basics. The Takedown and Resurgence of Herbalism in the US addresses just how important herbalism is, how it was crushed in the United States and why, and how it is starting to make a huge comeback. “There are the simple ways we can help herbalism continue to grow and flourish,” says Broekemeier. “I look forward to offering this workshop because this topic needs to be addressed and understood.”

Another popular 2023 workshop is being offered again on a timely topic. Taking Action Against Health-Harming Plastics will explore why and how plastics are harming us and personal and legislative actions we can take to limit plastic pollution. Jane Dow of Mankato Zero Waste & Beyond Plastics Greater Mankato Area will highlight crucial information such as how plastic contains more than 10,000 chemical additives, many of which interfere with our hormones' ability to regulate our bodies. “We will cover how microplastics are able to travel all over the planet, what products are the biggest sources of plastic pollution,” says Dow. “And, what legislation is coming up to address plastic pollution; how to reduce plastic use.”

Community and water quality figure prominently in Grassland 2.0: Well-Managed Pasture for Water Quality & Community Vitality with Anna Cates, University of Minnesota & John Strauser, University of Wisconsin. The three areas can be mutually beneficial. “Pasture management like grazing intensity changes the grass, soil, and water responses,” says Cates. “I look forward to offering this workshop because we'll showcase a neat online tool where users can re-design the landscape to meet different goals.”

Northern Waters Land Trust’s Elizabeth Mboutchom & Annie Knight are offering

Watershed-Based Conservation. This workshop will cover the basics of what a watershed is and why they serve as good boundaries for conservation work. Learn about efforts to establish healthy watersheds, the various roles individuals can play in watershed-based conservation.

Waadookawaad Amikwag/Those Who Help Beaver is a grassroots group that includes Tribal Members and Descendants, trained and community scientists as well as everyday lovers of water. Emma Needham, Jami Gaither, & Bee Kakac of Waadookawaad Amikwag are bringing the workshop Protecting the Water Underfoot: The Hidden Dangers to MN Aquifers. Needham says this workshop is for, “People who want to help ensure a clean water future in Minnesota. Among other topics, the workshop will focus on how volunteers and drones are collecting the data needed to drive change and how Treaties can protect our watersheds. “Information is power and sharing information is empowerment,” says Needham.

There is an abundance of new incentives for installing solar systems. John Hageman, Wolf Track Energy will demystify the process in Solar for Less: Going Green with New Incentives. The workshop will cover the ins & outs of tax credits, grants, & other programs that make solar more affordable than ever for homeowners, business leaders, non-profits & government agencies.

The goal of the work of Clean Energy Resource Teams (CERTs) is to help people and organizations save energy and money. Heidi Auel & Maren Butenhoff of CERTs will offer Become an Inflation Reduction Act Ambassador to help spread the word about how to use tax credits and rebates to increase energy efficiency in homes, businesses, and communities. 

“People might be surprised to learn about stacking rebates to get even more funding,” says Auel. “I look forward to offering this workshop because if there are more people spreading the word, it will be easier for people to make their home and business environments more energy efficient.”

Find registration information here. Registration has been brisk and several workshops already have waitlists. Find the schedule for the whole day and more details here:


bottom of page