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You Are Here : A Weekend of Maps at the North Cascades Institute

March 6th, 2018 | Posted by in Life at the Learning Center

This post is a guest contribution by Anders Rodin, a cartographer and participant in The Art of Drawing Maps class at the North Cascades Environmental Learning Center. For the weekend of February 23 – 26th, he learned more about map drawing with the talented artist Jocelyn Curry. You can view a gallery of past artful maps produced in Jocelyn’s class here.

“I sense that humans have an urge to map–and that this mapping instinct, like our opposable thumbs, is part of what makes us human.” – Katherine Harmon

I was driving East on the North Cascades Highway Friday morning through the snow, when I suddenly realized I was further up the road than I had ever been. A sense of excitement came over me. I was exploring, I was on new terrain, seeing things I had only ever seen on maps with my very own eyes. Winding up the road past the rushing Skagit River I finally came to the turnoff for the North Cascades Environmental Learning Center a few miles from the end of the road, and made my way slowly across the Diablo Dam.

Crossing the frozen Diablo Dam; photo by Anders Rodin

Several months before, I had seen a postcard in the Skagit Land Trust office from the North Cascades Institute with a list of the classes and workshops they were offering in the upcoming year. A friend leaned over my shoulder and said, “Look! A map class! You have to take it.” And so I signed up.

The Art of Drawing Maps was a chance for me to spend a weekend in the mountains, focus on creative work, and crank out some maps I had been thinking about making. It turned out to be so much more than I was expecting. Not only did I have the chance to work in a studio with a dozen other incredibly inspiring people, I also had the chance to meet several staff, enthusiastic Base Camp program participants, and resident graduate students on campus. I was happily surprised at the dining hall and the incredible food prepared by the amazing kitchen staff. And I briefly met Elvis, the residential Raven, who laughed at us once we became stranded at the Institute due to an avalanche four miles down the road. I think some of us were a little too adamant about tempting the avalanche as the snow piled up and the avalanche became a real possibility…did we forget to knock on wood?

Art supplies in Sundew; photo by Marissa Bluestein

» Continue reading You Are Here : A Weekend of Maps at the North Cascades Institute

Edible Geography: Perspectives and Practice in Foodshed Education

May 4th, 2012 | Posted by in Life at the Learning Center

With an Introduction Recounting Current Happenings in the Foodshed Project

[We are excited to publish the fifth piece in our Foodshed series, with monthly updates from the amazing chefs working hard to provide program participants and staff at the Environmental Learning Center with sustainable, seasonal, and deliciously fresh food. In an age where the production and consumption of food are heavily disconnected, North Cascades Institute works hard to preserve those ties by considering how food flows from the farms to our tables and all the processes in between. Purchasing from local farmers allows us to draw connections between their livelihoods and our own while at the same time contributing to our mission to conserve Northwest environments through education. It’s a renewing and rewarding partnership, and one we are committed to sustaining and growing. Learn more about our Foodshed Initiative.]

Summer is peeking around the corner at the Environmental Learning Center. We’re beginning to see some fresh local products coming through the door, including radishes and fresh spring greens from Blue Heron Farm. We received our first cooler full of pasture-raised chickens from Osprey Hill Farm two weeks ago, and there has been the comforting sight and smell of stock simmering on the stovetop on several occasions since.

Last weekend we hosted Molly Hashimoto’s Printmaking and Watercolor class and what a lovely crowd. It’s fun to share what we do with artists because they appreciate so much attention to detail. The only difference is that their work is going to last a lot longer than the Evergreen Sorbet we made for desert.

Chris Kiser, a graduate student who participated in the printmaking workshop, even made us a bit of food-inspired eye candy for the salad bar (a carrot).

This week we continued treating the Mountain Schoolers to our best efforts, as well as sponsoring a luncheon for the Chamber of Commerce in Sedro-Woolley on Wednesday. We served pasture-raised chicken and Tillamook smoked cheddar crepes with a Washington apple glaze, grass-fed Swedish meatballs and gnocchi with garlic-cream sauce, local grilled asparagus and some of those greens and radishes from Blue Heron Farm with nettle & honey vinaigrette. We received a warm greeting and more than a few compliments from the local business owners in Sedro-Woolley. A good day!

North Cascades Institute staff members Jessica, Codi, Mike, Amy, Shelby, and Jason livin’ it up in Sedro-Woolley!

In terms of our Foodshed, the chefs estimated that about seventy to eighty percent of the ingredients were local, and that’s pretty good work. Cutting, pulling, rendering fat, and making stock from twelve whole birds is definitely not like throwing some boneless, skinless chicken breasts on the grill. But that is the work we do here and we enjoy it.

So after loading up 700 pounds of organic flour and chatting with Kevin Christenson at Fairhaven Mills in Burlington, we headed back to the Environmental Learning Center to find chef Rusty serving up some yummy stir-fry for the Mountain School crowd.

» Continue reading Edible Geography: Perspectives and Practice in Foodshed Education