Inspiration On The Eve of History…

Here we are on the eve of history, January 19th, 2009, near the stroke of midnight – galvanized and ready to serve! Tomorrow (or today, for some of you reading this) America will officially swear-in its first African-American President and turn a corner that is an inspiration to all of humanity. Hope and vision and compassion are making a comeback in the halls of our nation’s capital tomorrow, and not a moment too soon. The challenges before us as a country are immense, but the groundswell of selfless service and American ingenuity building behind the new leadership in this country is palpable and awe-inspiring. People everywhere are feeling empowered again and tapping into their own inner sense of purpose and passion for a greater good.

One of the clearest voices in this “call to arms” on behalf of the planet and humanity has been the incredible and visionary Van Jones, Director and Founding President of Green For All. We were lucky enough to see him speak at Bioneers in 2007 and were moved by his impassioned presentation of a green “wave” that “lifts all boats.” Here he is, as inspiring as ever, speaking before Congress this past week:

As if Van Jones and an historical inauguration weren’t inspiring enough, for those of you who haven’t seen it already, here’s a fantastic new project by a company called CH2M Hill developing Solar Potential Maps for 25 US Cities – the first of which is for San Francisco and can be found HERE. It’s worth spending some serious time noodling with this map – they’ve done some major leg-work to remove many of the hurdles standing in the way of a solar-powered future by showing just what’s possible and where in an incredibly intuitive way. God bless the power of Googlemaps, CH2M Hill, and the internet. The other 24 cities are: Denver; Houston; Knoxville; Milwaukee; Minneapolis; Orlando; Philadelphia; Sacramento; San Antonio; San Jose; Santa Rosa; Seattle; Ann Arbor; Austin; Berkeley; New York City; Boston; Madison; New Orleans; Pittsburgh; Portland, Oregon; Salt Lake City; San Diego; and Tucson.

Treehugger has a couple great articles on the development of these solar maps HERE and HERE. It’s simply a fantastic idea whose time has certainly come – no surprise, then, that it won the 2008 Renewable Energy Innovation Award.

Finally, we found plenty of inspiration on our YERT travels. Here are a couple samples featuring folks from future YERTpods:

And on today of all days, don’t forget to check out the ultimate inaugural address we caught from our good friend Wes Jackson at the Land Institute here:

Our bank accounts might be taking it on the chin as our national “stuff” hits the fan this year and we face some hard realities, but, who knows, 2009 could be a great year after all!

Happy Inauguration, Mr. President! Here’s to our nation’s future!

-Ben and The YERT Team

PS – For a last tasty morsel of inspiration, check out Mark’s blog about David Korten’s new book below. Best of all, you can pre-order it from the YERT website HERE!

YERTpod31: An Epiphany of Three Wise Men in Missouri

Snazzy YERT ChicoBags are back in stock and make perfect post-holiday gifts, and they’re free with any $10+ donation! Check them out in the YERT Store.

Dear YERTians,

On the 13th Day of Christmas my true love gave to me…an Epiphany!  OK, so there are 12 Days of Christmas (the 12th being January 5th), but the coolest day of all is the day AFTER the 12th day – January 6th is Epiphany!  It celebrates the arrival of and the giving of gifts by the Magi (Three Wise Men).  We fully expected Missouri, being The Show Me State, to show us some epiphanies, but we had no idea just what kind of hidden gems and geniuses awaited us.  Of course, the first thing Missouri showed us was an ice storm in Kansas City, but here in the heartland, even in the face of the harshest circumstances, a creative spirit of rebirth and renewal persists.  And so, in honor of Epiphany (the day), epiphany (the experience), and the holidays in general, we celebrate three Missouri wise men and their gifts in…

Epiphany / Wise Man #1: When Dutch Elm disease decimated the trees on Marty Kraft’s street in the 50’s, the loss profoundly affected young Marty who saw the wisdom of encouraging diversity in nature. In 1975, following the death of his father, Marty moved back into that same family home and found himself unwilling to mow down plants and wondering "what length does grass want to be?"  Thus began "The Urban Wilderness" – an experiment in how far you can push your "yard"…and sometimes your neighbors.  Even in the sleet and ice, we enjoyed the heck out of Marty’s wonderfully "overgrown" front yard forest – a unique educational tool and a source of peaceful inspiration for many locals in the heart of manicured suburbia.  Marty’s website is full of goodies related to his "yard" and other projects, like the Heartland All Species Project focusing on local food production and natural no-till gardening.  After our visit, Marty took us with him to a meeting of Kansas City’s Environmental Management Commission, on which he serves, where we met Bob Berkebile.

Epiphany / Wise Man #2: Though he would never tell you, Bob Berkebile is the godfather of the modern green building movement.  It is ironic that one of America’s worst structural disasters would give birth to one of the most important revolutions in architecture.  After the tragic Hyatt Regency collapse in KC, Bob found himself questioning the very nature and purpose of architecture, design, and community.  "What is the real impact of our work on the people we intend to serve?"  "Are we improving the planet or not?"  Inspired by this epiphany and his mentor, Buckminster Fuller, Bob spearheaded the creation of the AIA’s Committee on the Environment (COTE) and helped found the US Green Building Council (USGBC), both of which led to LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design).  Bob’s architecture firm, BNIM, has their fingers in all kinds of great green pies – as the website says, "Deep Design, Deep Green" – and is leading the green rebuilding of the country’s most devastated areas, including the town of Greensburg, KS which was wiped off the map by a tornado in 2007.

Epiphany / Wise Man #3: Finally, St. Louis gave us the eco-creativity mother lode – and another inspiring Bob.  If Bob Berkebile’s epiphany spawned the modern green building movement, then sculptor Bob Cassilly’s spawned arguably the coolest building on the planet when he took a chance, bought St. Louis’ run-down old International Shoe Building for 69 cents a square foot in the early 1990’s, and turned it into the world’s most creative, engaging, constantly-evolving, and fully-interactive work of found-object art known as City Museum. What the rest of us call junk, Bob Cassilly turns into magic.  Celebrating its 10th anniversary in 2007, City Museum was recently named one of the 10 Greatest Public Places in the World – and that’s not an exaggeration.  There are no signs in the museum…just an intoxicating maze of caves and secret tunnels and enormous cement dinosaurs and climbable vehicles suspended in midair and ladders and giant slides and a circus, aquarium, indoor train, enormous pipe organ, rope swings, sky tubes…did we mention the caves?…all begging to be explored!  Rick Erwin, the museum’s director, blew our minds with a whirlwind tour – so much so, that we came back for "seconds" the next day, including time with the museum’s fun-loving staff and its unofficial "Ambassador," Charles Whitcomb, who’s been there almost as long as Bob himself.  Remember closing your eyes as a kid and letting your imagination run wild…that place?  It’s in St. Louis, and you simply have to go experience it.  Seriously – GO.

Boy, The Show Me State sure showed US!

Happy Epiphany!

Your YERT Team,

Ben, Julie, and Mark

P.S.  For information about the topics in this video, check out these breadcrumbs!

For context, here’s some interesting background on the often misunderstood 12 Days of Christmas and Epiphany.

Here are some great articles about Bob Berkebile.  The first article traces his personal and professional journey and is particularly good.  (The second article is here). For a fun journey through the history of the Green Building movement, check out the USGBC’s 15 years / 15 stories page.

The concept of Urban Wildernesses may be an idea whose time has come.  In addition to Marty Kraft’s great website, here is an interesting website/blog called the Urban Wilderness Institute dedicated to the advocacy of urban wildernesses and an informative wikipedia entry on the subject.

As if City Museum weren’t cool enough, Bob Cassilly is working on a new project called Cementland – check out this NY Times article – and, yes, it’s what you think it is.  Once you’ve visited City Museum, and you want to hit the other 9 Greatest Public Places in the World, check out the St. Louis Business Journal article here.


YERTpod30: Perennial Good Food in Kansas

(We received a generous outpouring of money and volunteers after our last message. Thank you!! We’re still looking for volunteers to help watch and transcribe a few hours of exciting, raw YERT footage. Join over 30 other volunteers to help us meet our transcription deadline: 500 hours by Feb. 28, 2009. E-mail if you’re interested!)

Dear YERTians,

Right in heart of Kansas we found two extraordinary but very different approaches to creating healthy, smart, and local food. Wes Jackson will light up your mind with genetic innovations at The Land Institute, while Hilary Brown will light up your taste buds at Local Burger. Neither are to be missed…

With a 25-year plan and a staff filled with PhD’s, Wes Jackson and The Land Institute are on a mission to create a farm that works like a prairie. They call it "Natural Systems Agriculture," but we like to call it "the mother of all environmental solutions." Their work targets fundamental changes to agricultural systems that will have a positive impact on common human challenges including fossil fuel dependence, pesticide pollution, fertilizer runoff, water shortages, soil erosion, cultural erosion, and climate change. This is one of the most potent stories that we encountered all year– we would love to know if you agree, so let us know at

Hilary Brown has quite possibly established the first and best fast food restaurant in America to use primarily local healthy ingredients and practices. The restaurant is called Local Burger, and she regularly converts vegetarians into carnivores after they try her elk burgers and learn about the humane practices of her farm sources. She certainly converted us into rabid fans and we can’t wait to return!

That’s all for now. May your holidays be evergreen, and if you’re still trying to figure out how to simplify the season, consider the concrete suggestions in YERT’s Simple Living 101 video here.

Mark, Ben, and Julie

P.S. For information about the topics in this video, check out these breadcrumbs!

The Land Institute – It is difficult to express their mission statement better than they do: "When people, land, and community are as one, all three members prosper; when they relate not as members but as competing interests, all three are exploited. By consulting Nature as the source and measure of that membership, The Land Institute seeks to develop an agriculture that will save soil from being lost or poisoned while promoting a community life at once prosperous and enduring."

Prairie Festival – Every year the Land Institute throws one heck of an informative and inspirational multi-day festival. People travel from miles around to listen to Wes Jackson and his friends and peers. If you’re on the continent, we highly recommend it. Here is the link from 2008’s festival:

Most Important Human Challenge Ever! – Our interview with Wes Jackson was filled with incredible quotes that we couldn’t fit into YERTpod30. One of our favorites is particularly timely, as Wes indicates what he would tell America if he were President of the United States. Check it out here and share it with friends and president elects!

Local Burger – Ok, so you haven’t really lived until you’ve tried the elk burger at Local Burger. Trust us. It is as good as our faces say in the video. Stunning flavor. And for the vegetarians out there, you’re also saved– Hilary has created the mother of all veggie burgers just for you. Here’s the rest of the scoop from Local Burger’s website: "Established in historic downtown Lawrence, Kansas, the restaurant sources all of its meats locally and features a variety of burgers, including beef, buffalo, elk, lamb, pork, turkey, and tofu, and is home of the World’s Best Veggie Burger (it’s gluten-free, egg-free, dairy-free, corn-free, soy-free, and DELICIOUS!)."

YERTpod29: Construction Is More Than OK in Oklahoma


First and foremost, a gigantic YERT shout out to any and all heroic YERTians who are still dutifully tuning in.  Thank you for your patience and understanding.  Yes, it’s been quite a while since our last YERTPod as I (Ben) have gotten sideswiped by fatherhood and premiering a new musical.  Sorry ’bout that.  Oh, how I’ve missed the weekly all-nighter editing sessions!  And so it is that I honor that YERT tradition once again tonight at 4:29am. You had to know that we’d get around to editing Oklahoma, SOONER or later.  Turns out it was later, but here it is…finally.

Once we arrived in Oklahoma City, we went "underground" and "dug in" at Oklahoma City University for a few days, giving ourselves some "constructive" criticism and "building" a plan to ask some "LEEDing" questions over the coming days.  Turns out we didn’t have to look too hard. 

Brad Thomas and Sam Johnson gave us the dime tour of all the nifty bells and whistles on BOLDT Construction’s very cool LEED Silver south regional headquarters building.  We thought it only fitting that a company which offers green construction services have a LEED-certified regional HQ.  And it’s the first private LEED building in OK to boot.

We then spent one cold and rainy day with Aaron McRee of Central Oklahoma Habitat for Humanity and liked it so much, we came back for another equally cold and wet interview the next day with Kelly Parker, President of Guaranteed Watt Saver, a engineering/inspection/consulting firm whose mission is "to assist in creating working and living environments which are durable, healthy, safe, comfortable, and resource responsible through a comprehensive application of building science principles."  Sounds pretty good to us.  Habitat and GWS have joined forces in central Oklahoma to bring energy efficiency savings into the lives of those who need it the most by building "the largest green development in Habitat for Humanity history" – an entire neighborhood of highly-insulated, geothermal-heated/cooled, extremely affordable homes.  We learned that, while it may have been the middle of December and we were freezing body parts off, there’s apparently still enough geothermal potential under the Oklahoma turf to warm even the chilliest home.  And not only is the heat home grown, but nearly everything in the houses’ geothermal systems (from the piping to the mechanical units) are made right in Oklahoma.  Now if only the state made geo-thermal-underwear, they really could have scored some points with us.  Get on that Oklahoma.

Finally, as luck would have it, Oklahoma City is the capital of Oklahoma, so we spent some quality time with OK State Representative, Randy McDaniel (R), who demonstrated to us that caring for the planet really is a non-partisan cause.  And, for balance, we hopped over to the other side of the political aisle and sat down with OK State Senator, Andrew Rice (D), the man looking to unseat America’s most notorious Global Warming Skeptic, US Senator James Inhoff.  Rice may have lost that bid last month, but he certainly gets kudos for trying.  

Oh, and not surprisingly, every Oklahoman we asked knew "Oklahoma," the song.  Apparently there’s this musical…

YERTfully Yours,

Ben, Mark, and Julie (Your YERT Team)

P.S. If you’re looking for more goodies related to the video, check out these yummy breadcrumbs….

  • Wanna find out just how much energy your house is leaking?  Or become a Home Energy Rater so you don’t have to hire someone else to tell you?  Guaranteed Watt Saver can help you here:
  • BOLDT may have a sweet building in Oklahoma, but the company HQ is actually in Appleton, Wisconsin.  Find out more about the company at:
  • Habitat For Humanity does remarkable work.  Learn all about "the largest green development in Habitat for Humanity history" including "20 things YOU can do to reduce your home’s energy impact" right here:
  • Last but not least, here’s a fun and funky website all about the wonders of geothermal heating and cooling.  If you wanna learn about how it all works, this site has everything…and we mean EVERYTHING —

Most Important Human Challenge Ever!

Dear YERTians,

What will we discuss today?
– NEW YERT Video
– See YERT in Pittsburgh at Cafe Scientifique on Monday, 11/3.
– YERT Phase 2 Update

Happy Halloween! Today we present you with a special little video, just in time for the election. This one features a single quote by Wes Jackson at the Land Institute, in which he talks about what he would do if elected President. Take a look. Wes is brilliant and the Land Institute was quite possibly the most important spot YERT visited in all 50 states. We’ll be featuring more of him in an upcoming video (editing it right now!). Here’s the clip…

YERT Presents Wes Jackson Presenting the Most Important Human Challenge Ever!

If the embedded video doesn’t work for you… go here:

YERT at Cafe Scientifique! That’s right, Mark, Ben, and Julie will be presenting the YERT story to anybody who would like to show up. The format is great – eat, drink, and talk about cool stuff! We’ll also have all of our garbage on display– from the whole year. Good times all around. It all happens at the Penn Brewery at 7:00 PM on Monday, 11/3. Check out their website for more information: If you’d like YERT to present to your school, college, or community, contact

PHASE 2 UPDATE! If you’re wondering what happened to YERT and our “weekly” videos, fret not! Ben, Julie, Erika, and I are all well, there are videos in the pipeline, and we’re moving as fast as we can to build out “YERT Phase 2,” which includes a feature film, educational curriculum, and eco-presentations all over the place. We’ve been processing hundreds of hours of footage, adjusting the legal structure of YERT, and meeting with folks in the funding community in Pittsburgh and beyond.

In the meantime, we could use a little help in getting to the next stop on this YERT train. We need a little money and some people– cash and warm bodies. YERT is seeking connections to film industry professionals, hungry interns, and volunteers interested in helping out the planet while sharpening their skills on a fun, independent media project with national scope. For more information, please contact Mark Dixon–, 415-672-5537. (We have opportunities for video editors [FCPro in HD:1080p], motion graphics designers, web developers, new media marketing interns, and video watching/logging volunteers! Course credit may also be available for students.)

We particularly need lots of volunteer video watchers– to watch about 500 hours of footage and transcribe every word from the interviews. We’ll credit you in our film and on our website, and you’ll get a chance to see huge chunks of wonderful raw interviews that make up the foundation of YERT. And we’d be eternally grateful. All we ask is that you sign up for chunks of 10 hours, and we’ll help you out with the rest.

About the money – we basically depleted our funds during the course of the trip, but need $3000 for a bit of hardware (a hard drive), software (to support our video watching volunteers), and those legal expenses. It is all integral to the creation of the film and can’t be delayed. Think you can help? Please make a contribution to the project at the YERT Shert Shop. You can also put a little cash into the YERT bank by buying YERT Chico Bags, which make GREAT GIFTS and double as awesome gift wrappers. You’ll be glad you did.

That’s all for today. Have a great scary day and don’t forget to VOTE on Nov. 4!

YERTfully Yours,
Mark (and Ben, Julie, and Erika)


YERTpod28: An Agri-Culture of Permanence in New Mexico

SAVE THESE DATES! YERT will be celebrating the end of its travels with two rockin’ events. The first is in San Francisco on July 11 at the Temple Nightclub. The second is in Pittsburgh on August 9 at the Rachel Carson Homestead. RSVP on Facebook (SF)(P’burgh) or eVite (SF)(P’burgh) and bring your friends!

Dear YERTians,

We traveled to New Mexico, Land of Enchantment, to get enchanted – and enchanted we got! Sustainability is a catchword that gets bandied about quite a bit these days, but nothing is actually more "sustainable" than the Native American peoples who thrived on this continent for literally thousands of years.

Indigenous cultures all over the world have, in the deepest sense, embraced real sustainability as a way of life for eons, and we found ourselves inspired and awed by the simple yet profound wisdom of living rightly with the land. In the 1970’s, many of the best lessons on how to live effectively and ethically within nature were collected and re-codified from the world’s most "permanent cultures" by Bill Mollison and David Holmgren into an ecologically enlightened holistic agricultural system called, appropriately enough, permaculture.

We were lucky enough to spend some quality time with Scott Pittman, founder of the Permaculture Institute near Santa Fe, who was trained by and then taught along side Dr. Mollison himself for years – we even got to sit in on one of his very cool permaculture classes. In Albuquerque, we met with Clayton Brascoupé, whose group, the Traditional Native American Farmers Association, melds permaculture design courses with Native American agricultural traditions and is working hard to reverse the decline in farming as well as preserve the biodiversity of indigenous seed varieties. We also had the pleasure of visiting with the iconic Larry Littlebird, who shared with us his incredible vision for HAMAATSA – an indigenous continuum learning center on recently returned ancient lands that will serve as a model for simple, sustainable living for all people. Finally, noted musician, master craftsman, and Native American "Renaissance man," Robert Mirabal, waxed poetic for us in Taos and shared with us some of his invaluable seeds of knowledge. He also kindly provided us with the incredible music in our New Mexico video, for which we are deeply grateful.

Thoroughly enchanted by the people of New Mexico, we now know the wisdom of the past has much to teach us in the future.

Permaculturally Yours,

Ben, Julie, and Mark (your YERT team)

P.S. Breadcrumbs…yummy! Here are some links for more in-depth information about the topics in this video…

  • For all things permaculture, check out The Permaculture Institute’s incredible website at Here’s a quick definition of permaculture from the website: "Permaculture is an ecological design system for sustainability in all aspects of human endeavor. It teaches us how build natural homes, grow our own food, restore diminished landscapes and ecosystems, catch rainwater, build communities and much more." If this sounds good to you, take a course. They’re offered throughout the country and you can find one near you at Happy planting!
  • Clayton and The Traditional Native American Farmers Association (TNAFA) are working hard to get indigenous farmers back on the land. There are numerous social benefits to a strong agricultural ethic in almost all communities on the planet, and America is no exception. The group focuses on family oriented farming and provides training, seeds, and support toward that endeavor. To learn more visit
  • HAMAATSA is an incredible project that just might help save the world. Their mission? "To provide servant leadership models for living simply and sustainably on the land; to integrate healing systems from traditional cultures; and to restore indigenous life-ways and land stewardship principles through experiential land-based learning." You can find out all about it at
  • Robert Mirabal is a one-man wonder. His flutes are renowned, as is his musicianship. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg. You can check out and for Robert’s music and the complete scoop on his many hats.

YERTpod27: Everything’s Under the Sun in Arizona

SAVE THESE DATES! YERT will be celebrating the end of its travels with two rockin’ events. The first is in San Francisco on July 11 at the Temple Nightclub. The second is in Pittsburgh on August 9 at the Rachel Carson Homestead. RSVP on Facebook (SF)(P’burgh) or eVite (SF)(P’burgh) and bring your friends!

Dear YERTians,

YERT took a power trip in Arizona—to explore perhaps the cleanest and most plentiful power source available in that desert state.

Our first stop? APS (Arizona Public Service) is a utility company that has opened up the closest thing we’ve found to a solar power playground. Dan Lonetti and Steven Gottfried showed us all around the “APS STAR Center,” where we saw the latest and greatest solar panels being tested in the heat of the Arizona sun. The day didn’t end before Steven (and Flat Stanley) blew our minds with a tour of the Saguaro Solar Trough Power Plant, which uses advanced solar hot-dog-cooking-style technology to heat mineral oil that ultimately powers a turbine—creating electricity!

Our next stop took us on over to Jack Ehrhardt, Planning Director for the Walapi Tribal Nation, who showed us all around the solar powered airport that they’ve established at the lip of Grand Canyon West. We can’t wait to show more of Jack to you. You’ll see why…

Sun of a Gun!

Mark, Ben, and Julie (and Erika)

P.S. Breadcrumbs! For more information about the topics in this video, check out these links…

  • Saguaro Solar Trough Power Plant – From the APS website: “This facility is the first solar trough to combine an organic Rankine cycle turbine engine with a parabolic trough solar field. The plant generates 1 MW of power.” This facility can eventually be coupled with a thermal storage tank that saves the superheated mineral oil underground during the day and recalls it in the evening when the sun has set but demand is still high. Read their brochure about the plant, too.
  • Wikipedia includes this generic note about solar trough technology… “The overall efficiency from collector to grid, i.e. (Electrical Output Power)/(Total Impinging Solar Power) is about 15%, similar to PV(Photovoltaic Cells) and less than Stirling dish concentrators.” And more info from the Department of Energy here.
  • Scottsdale Green Building Program – Anthony Floyd knows his stuff when it comes to building solar power (and other green features) into a building. He is Scottsdale’s Green Building Program Manager and shares a few words about the city’s green building process here, and a presentation he authored that is overflowing with stats and information here.

YERTpod26: Gambling on Water in Nevada

Dear YERTians,

Water is one of those topics that keeps surfacing on this trip. But unlike a spring, we appear to be seeing the fall of water availability across the country. With explosive growth in Las Vegas and equally explosive shrinkage in Lake Mead (Vegas’ water supply), the stage is set for interesting times ahead – especially as Vegas begins trying to tap into other Nevada water basins.

We went to the source… of the water… with Dan Greenlee, a field scientist for the USDA’s “SNOTEL” program. SNOTEL stands for “SNOwpack TELemetry,” which is basically a system of sensors at “over 660 remote sites in mountain snowpack zones” in the Western United States and Alaska. This system gives scientists and policy makers a pretty good prediction of water supplies for the coming year.

Then we rolled on to Las Vegas—a city with perhaps the most sensitivity to the water supply. We all know that growing fast in a desert can be a recipe for trouble, but Doug Bennett, Southern Nevada Water Authority Conservation Manager (we met him in Las Vegas), is working hard to put his city on a path towards destruction… of lawns! That’s right, one trick up his water conservation sleeve is a $1.50 payment for every square foot of lawn that residents destroy.

And, of course, we sat down with Elvis at the Viva Las Vegas Wedding Chapel to discuss the finer points of water conservation.

In the Flow,

Ben, Mark, and Julie (and Erika)

Your YERT Team

P.S. Breadcrumbs! For more information about the topics in this video, check out the links below…

  • SNOTEL: From their website, The US Department of Agriculture’s Natural Resources Conservation Service “operates and maintains an extensive, automated system designed to collect snowpack and related climatic data in the Western United States and Alaska. This system… operates over 660 remote sites in mountain snowpack zones.”
  • Southern Nevada Water Authority: This organization is essentially waging war against water scarcity, using a barrage of innovative programs including the “Water Smart Landscapes Rebate,” which, according to their website, pays $1.50 for “every square foot of lawn converted to water-smart landscaping.” We even saw dedicated “lawn demolition” companies when we drove through town. Cool.
  • We’ve tried a few composting toilets during YERT, and they really don’t smell! And heck, why would you want to put poop into fresh drinking water anyway? For more information, check out the “scoop” on wikipedia, and you can also watch our video “YERTpod24: Non-Invasive Ways to do Holidays in Hawaii” that describes the composting toilet in service at the Lova Lava Land eco-resort.


YERT Blert 3: Breaking In 9 Months Out

Dear YERTians,

Clear the decks– it is time for spring cleaning! It seems that we have stumbled into the season of things breaking, and so we celebrate by cleaning the car’s nooks and crannies in preparation for the final 3 months of journey. This week we present to you "YERT Blert 3: Breaking In 9 Months Out."

We have some major shifts to discuss this time: Julie leaves the trip to nest and prepare for baby. Mark’s girlfriend Erika joins the team in May, and Ben leaves in early June to make sure he’s home in time for the baby birth. Then Mark and Erika head up to Alaska for state 50 and the official end of the journey. Oh yes, and we have more garbage. See all this and more laid out in plain view in YERT Blert 3.

We also have a few tidbits of news we’d like to share:
1. We have an awesome Facebook group that gets more frequent and informal news than the Official YERT mailing list. If you’d like to get more insight into the inner workings of the project, join our Facebook group here.
2. We have no place to stay in North Dakota, South Dakota, and Wyoming. It is like nobody lives there. Prove us wrong! Send us the contact info of friends and family who live in those states and we’ll send you a free YERT ChicoBag if we stay with them.
3. What was that? A YERT ChicoBag? That’s right. You can buy official YERT ChicoBags at our website. We’ll have free shipping for one week only, so put your orders in right away! (ChicoBag is a reusable and self-stuffable shopping bag. Totally destroys the problem of forgetting your reusable shopping bags!)

That’s all for now. Stay tuned for more YERT videos and we’ll check in again at the end of the journey!

Fixin’ to Finish,
Mark, Ben, and Julie, Your YERT Team


YERTpod25: YEaRTh Day in NYC (+ New Site!)

Dear YERTians,

We hit the streets of Times Square to find out if Earth Day was on the minds of New Yorkers. Problem is, as any New Yorker can tell you, almost no one in Times Square is actually from New York. Still we did learn a lot about Tuesday and soon found ourselves drawn to Central Park in search of some real Earth Day celebrations. We were not disappointed.

We also have a few exciting announcements to share– the first is that we have re-launched our website! We hope you’ll spend hours browsing around (, where you’ll find a handy trip dashboard that lets you check out my mood, Julie’s "preg-o-meter," and Ben’s shower tracker. We’ll be updating the site daily, so you can get the very latest scoop on (y)our journey.

Our second bit of happy news is that we were recently featured on Voice of America! We were contacted by Rosanne Skirble at VOA, who spent an afternoon with us while we spoke to people walking along the Mall in Washington DC. We had a blast with the interviews in every direction, and we think you will, too. She also highlighted a few folks/groups/ideas that we had covered in some of our videos: The Intervale in Vermont (from YERTpod10), Scott Brusaw at Solar Roadways (YERT Conversation 19.1), our Melting Arctic (from Bear Necessities), and bike commuters in Oregon (YERTpod22). We’ve seen text and audio versions of the interview so far. Fingers crossed for the video version coming soon…

That’s all from NYC– next state: OHIO!

YEaRThfully Yours,
Mark, Ben, and Julie

Your YERT Team (

P.S. For more ideas about Earth Day in New York, check out these websites.