Humans Need the Natural Day and Night Cycle

Our Biological Clocks Help Keep Us Healthy

In fewer than 100 years, humans have radically altered our nighttime environment, putting our health at risk. Due to the rapid growth of artificial light at night, most of us spend our nights bathed in light. But basking in all this light at night is not natural and it may be taking a serious toll on our health. We are only just beginning to understand the negative consequences of this swift change in our environment. A growing body of scientific research suggests that artificial light at night can have lasting adverse effects on human health.  The American Medical Association tells us:

“The power to artificially override the natural cycle of light and dark is a recent event and represents a manmade self-experiment.”

Humans evolved with the rhythms of the natural light-dark cycle of bright days and dark nights. Before the advent of artificial lighting, we spent our evenings in relative darkness. Like most life on Earth, humans adhere to a circadian rhythm — our master clock, which is crucial for our overall health. It interacts with our body systems, changes our hormone levels and even modifies our genetic code. Natural light helps keep our clock in tune with Earth’s 24-hour cycle.

When our master clock is out of sync with the day-night cycle, it’s called circadian disruption. Altering or interrupting our normal circadian rhythm can put us at risk for physiological and behavioral impacts. Shift work almost always causes circadian disruption because it puts the internal body clock at odds with the shift schedule.

Circadian disruption may increase our risk of obesity, diabetes, mood disorders, reproductive problems and cancers. Numerous studies have linked working the night shift and exposure to light at night to increased risks for breast and prostate cancers and other health problems. Circadian disruption can affect our natural sleep patterns, too. A good night’s sleep helps reduce weight gain, stress, depression and the onset of diabetes.

We don’t know why light at night appears to be so bad for us. But we do know that exposure to light at night – even if it’s dim – can suppress the body’s natural production of melatonin, a hormone that is important for our health including regulating our sleep-wake cycle, metabolism and immune system.

Learn more about artificial light and its affect on your health

The DUCC Creation Justice Team invites you to read and discuss the gorgeously written and critically acclaimed The End of Night by Paul Bogard. The book is available in print and electronic form from The Saugatuck-Douglas District Library.  If all copies are checked-out, request a copy through the library’s inter-loan network. The book is also available as an audiobook, narrated by the author. It is also available from your favorite booksellers in stores or online.

On November 2, at 6:30 pm, we will gather at the DUCC Friendship Hall, 56 Wall Street, to discuss the book and explore local and national efforts to reduce excessive, damaging and dangerous lighting in our community. This event is free and open to the public, but seating is limited, so please sign up to help us with our planning.

You can register for this event here.

Following CDC recommendations, facemasks are requested for all participants while indoors, regardless of vaccination status.

Life on Earth Needs both Light and Dark to Survive

For billions of years, life has evolved with Earth’s predictable rhythm of light and dark controlled by the length of the day. In fact, it’s encoded in the DNA of all plants, animals and humans. But our growth and technology have radically disrupted this cycle by lighting up the nighttime sky. It used to be that when the sun went down, celestial sources like the moon, stars, planets and the Milky Way lit the sky at night. Life learned to operate under the glow of these objects.

It is estimated that half of all species on Earth start their “daily” activities at sundown. Plants and animals depend on Earth’s daily cycle of light and dark to govern life-sustaining behaviors such as reproduction, nourishment, sleep and protection from predators. Scientific evidence suggests that artificial light at night has negative and deadly effects on many creatures, including amphibians, birds, mammals, invertebrates, and plants.

Christopher Kyba, a light pollution research scientist tells us: “Near cities, cloudy skies are now hundreds, or even thousands of times brighter than they were 200 years ago. We are only beginning to learn what a drastic effect this has had on earth’s nocturnal ecology.”

The need to protect and restore the natural nighttime environment is more urgent than ever. Light pollution, defined as light where it is not wanted or needed, affects our health, wastes money, damages the environment, destroys wildlife, and limits our ability to find awe and wonder in the natural night.

Research indicates that light pollution is increasing at a global average rate of two percent per year.

What if we could fix this?

What if our towns were known not only for our coastline and nature trails and shops and restaurants, but also for our beautiful night-time skies?

The DUCC Creation Justice Team invites you to read and discuss the gorgeously written and critically acclaimed The End of Night by Paul Bogard. The book is available in print and electronic form from The Saugatuck-Douglas District Library.  If all copies are checked-out, request a copy through the library’s inter-loan network. The book is also available as an audiobook, narrated by the author. It is also available from your favorite booksellers in stores or online.

On November 2, at 6:30 pm, we will gather at the DUCC Friendship Hall, 56 Wall Street, to discuss the book and explore local and national efforts to reduce excessive, damaging and dangerous lighting in our community. This event is free and open to the public, but seating is limited, so please sign up to help us with our planning.

Following CDC recommendations, facemasks are requested for all participants while indoors, regardless of vaccination status.

For more information on the need for responsible outdoor light, visit the International Dark-Sky Association at www.darksky.org.

To register for this free event, click here: https://bit.ly/TheEndOfNight.


Community Book Read: The End of Night, by Paul Bogard

Did you know that outdoor lighting that emits too much light or shines when and where it’s not needed wastes energy, cost billions of dollars and increases carbon emissions?

Did you know that artificial light at night has been cited as a factor in health concerns ranging from poor sleep to some cancers?

Did you know that excessive outdoor lighting at night has negative and deadly effects on our natural environment, affecting many creatures including your family pets, amphibians, birds, mammals, beneficial insects, and plants?

Did you know that bright or unshielded lights actually decrease your safety by producing darker dark areas where dangers can hide in plain sight?

Did you know that bright outdoor lighting makes driving at night difficult and much more dangerous – especially for the elderly?

Did you know that generations are growing up without ever seeing the night skies many of us remember seeing in our childhood?

What if we could fix this?

What if our towns were known not only for our coastline and nature trails and shops and restaurants, but also for our beautiful night-time skies?

The DUCC Creation Justice Team invites you to read and discuss the gorgeously written and critically acclaimed The End of Night by Paul Bogard. The book is available in print and electronic form from The Saugatuck-Douglas District Library.  If all copies are checked-out, request a copy through the library’s inter-loan network. The book is also available as an audiobook, narrated by the author. It is also available from your favorite booksellers in stores or online.

On November 2, at 6:30 pm, we will gather at the DUCC Friendship Hall, 56 Wall Street, to discuss the book and explore local and national efforts to reduce excessive, damaging and dangerous lighting in our community. This event is free and open to the public, but seating is limited, so please sign up to help us with our planning.

Following CDC recommendations, facemasks are requested for all participants while indoors, regardless of vaccination status.

For more information on the need for responsible outdoor light, visit the International Dark-Sky Association at www.darksky.org.

To register for this free event, click here: https://bit.ly/TheEndOfNight.

Please Join Us for our Beach Cleanup, Sept 18, 9am to 12pm, Oval Beach

Please join the Creation Justice Team, working in partnership with the Alliance of the Great Lakes, on Saturday, September 18, for the Beach Clean-Up of Oval Beach to Douglas Beach. Spread the word! Bring family and friends! We’ll gather at Oval Beach’s parking lot, working from 9am to 12pm. If you can help, please sign up via our Facebook Event, or email event coordinator Eric LeJeune, including your phone number, so we can reach out in case of rescheduling. We recommend wearing gloves. Consider bringing a large plastic bucket, and a kitty litter scoop to help pick up small plastic pieces. 

Three Sisters Recipes

Last fall, the Creation Justice Team sponsored a community reading of Robin Wall Kimmerer’s Braiding Sweetgrass. Readers enjoyed the book’s description of “The Three Sisters,” an indigenous practice where corn, beans and squash are grown in the same space. The corn stalks create a structure for the beans to climb, the beans provide the soil with nitrogen for the other plants, and the spreading of the squash keeps weeds down. (This article explains in more detail.)

This fall, we encouraged people to create meals with corn, beans, and squash. Below are four recipes that people shared with us:

  1. Baked Squash with Cranberries (photo 1)
  2. Kale, Carrot, Corn, and Bean Salad (photo 2)
  3. Spaghetti Squash Lasagna (photo 3)
  4. Three Sisters Chili

For more, see this Pinterest page shared by Pam Chappell, who recommends the Three Sisters Salad.


Baked Squash with Cranberries and Pineapple 

Provided by Debra Carr [click here to download a PDF of this recipe]

Ingredients

  • 2 acorn squash
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1 can (8.5 oz.) crushed pineapple — drained
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 6 tablespoons salted butter –  and more for greasing
  • 1 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 1/2 tsp chili powder
  • 1/2 tsp pepper
  • Cranberries – or arils from 1 pomegranate
    (pomegranate is in the photo)

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. 
  2. Lightly grease a 9 x 13-inch baking dish with softened butter.  
  3. Halve the acorn squash. Remove the seeds and save them for roasting. 
  4. Cut the squash into wedges and line up the wedges on the prepared pan. 
  5. Evenly sprinkle brown sugar over the squash, then season it with salt and pepper. 
  6. Spoon crushed pineapple over the squash wedges,
    allowing the pineapple to fill the cavity of the squash wedges,
    as the remaining pineapple gathers around the squash.
  7. Melt butter in a small saucepan over medium heat until just browned. Butter will melt, foam and froth, then begin to brown along the bottom. Remove from heat.  
  8. Whisk the browned bits of butter off the bottom of the pan. 
  9. Whisk in the cinnamon, chili powder + pepper. 
  10. Pour the butter over the squash, using hands to rub all over the squash. 
  11. Cover, place in the oven, and roast for 30 minutes.
  12. Remove cover and roast for another 20-30 minutes,
    until the squash is tender and caramelized.
  13. Rinse the acorn squash seeds and pat them dry.
  14. Toss them with 1 tbsp. olive oil, then add salt and pepper. 
  15. Roast them in the oven at 400° for 10 minutes until golden brown and toasted.
  16. Sprinkle the squash with Cranberries or pomegranate arils and toasted acorn squash seeds (recipe below). Serve warm.

Debra notes, “Using one acorn squash, I halved the ‘sauce’ recipe & added extra cinnamon and chili powder.  All turned out very, very good!”

Debra also recommends this Easy Three Bean Salad recipe.


Kale, Carrot, Corn, and Bean Salad

Provided by Sue Scott and Larry Fuerst [click here to download a PDF of this recipe]

Ingredients:

  • 1  egg yolk
  • 1 T Dijon mustard
  • 1/2 C olive oil
  • 2 T capers chopped
  • 1 T caper liquid
  • 1-2 smashed & minced garlic cloves 
  • 1 T lemon juice
  • 1 C corn
  • 1 can of beans of your choice
  • 1-2 carrots thinly sliced or grated
  • Sliced red pepper
  • 1 tomato diced
  • 1 bunch kale
  • 1 onion chopped
  • 2 T chopped herbs-your choice

Instructions

  1. In bowl whisk yoke with mustard. While whisking, drizzle olive oil in slowly. Whisk until oil is incorporated and the mixture is thick.
  2. Whisk in capers, caper liquid, garlic & lemon juice. Season w/ salt for flavor.
  3. In another larger bowl, combine all vegetables & herbs.
  4. Add dressing & toss. Allow to sit for 10 min. or so & serve! 
  5. If wanted, a few tablespoons of balsamic vinegar is nice mixed in. 

Spaghetti Squash Lasagna

Provided by Denny Babel [click here to download a PDF of this recipe]

Ingredients

  • 1 large (3-4 lbs.) spaghetti squash
  • 2 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tsp. each sea salt
  • 1 tsp. black pepper (salt & pepper taste, plus more for squash)
  • 12 oz. cottage cheese  (or fresh ricotta)
  • ½  cup grated pecorino cheese (or romano or parmesan)
  • ½  cup fresh basil, packed then chopped (or baby spinach)
  • 1 Tbsp. dried oregano
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • ¼ cup shredded mozzarella cheese
  • 1 23-oz. jar of marinara sauce

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 400º and line a large baking sheet with foil.
  2. Halve your spaghetti squash lengthwise using a sharp knife and scrape out the seeds
  3. Brush the interior with oil and sprinkle with a little salt and pepper.
  4. Place cut-side up on baking sheet & roast for 45 min. or until a knife easily pierces the skin and flesh.
  5. Remove from oven and set aside to cool slightly.
  6. Reduce oven heat to 375º
  7. Add all remaining ingredients (except mozzarella) to a bowl then mix well.
  8. Taste and adjust seasonings as needed, adding more herbs, salt, and pepper for flavor
  9. Once fully baked, use a fork to scoop out spaghetti squash in fine strings. Set aside.
  10. Layer 1/3 of the squash strands, then cheese mixture, then marinara sauce into the two empty squash shells
  11. Repeat layers until all squash strings, filling and marinara are used up —about 3 layers— making sure that the top layer is sauce. 
  12. Sprinkle on shredded mozzarella as a final topping.
  13. Return the filled squash shells to the baking sheet and loosely cover with foil.
  14. Bake for about 20 min at 375º.
  15. Remove foil and bake for an additional 10 min, until the sauce is bubbly and the top is golden brown.
    (Note: Cover with foil again if you see that the squash is browning too quickly.)
  16. Let cool briefly, then serve.

Best when fresh. Store leftovers covered in the refrigerator for 2-3 days. Reheat in a 350º oven for 20-25 min. or until completely warmed through.

Denny notes, “It’s a healthy and flavorful meal that’s perfect for fall & winter!”


Three Sisters Chili

Provided by Ruth Vanden Bosch [click here to download a PDF of this recipe]

Ingredients

  • 2 # boneless pork shoulder roast
  • 2 tbsp canola oil
  • 1 can Chicken broth
  • !/3 C of sour cream as garnish
  • 1 butternut squash cut into 4-inch cubes to make 1 1/2 cups of squash
  • 2 tbsp Cilantro
  • 1 cup of corn, frozen kernels
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 cup of green beans, frozen and cut
  • 2 Jalapeno peppers (medium) chopped
  • 1 1/2 cups onions
  • 1 1/2 tsp Oregano
  • 1  large can of stewed tomatoes
  • 2 tbsp all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 3 tbsp water

Instructions

  1. Brown the pork shoulder in the canola oil.
  2. Remove from the pan.
  3. Add the minced garlic and onions. 
  4. Saute until onions are translucent.
  5. Place pork shoulder, garlic, and onions in a slow cooker
  6. Add the rest of the ingredients and spice – except flour, water, and sour cream.
  7. Cook for 8 hours or until the pork is fork-tender.
  8. Mix the flour and water together as a paste, then use it to thicken the chili.

Garnish with sour cream, tortilla chips, chopped green onions, and cheddar cheese.

Ruth notes, “It’s delicious and serves 8 people.”

Trail plan for Saugatuck-Douglas

The Tri-Community Master Trail Plan for Saugatuck and Douglas is an effort spearheaded by local resident Jon Vanderbeek of Sweet Spot Studio. The plan proposes to conserve large tracts of greenspace in the Saugatuck-Douglas area and connect the tracts with a network of trails.

The video below and the two maps that follow provide an excellent overview of the project. You learn about this effort on their Facebook page or donate to the cause on their GoFundMe page.

A couple of related documents:

Energy Plan open house November 10

Consumers Energy, the electric utility that serves our area, has recently been touting its Clean Energy Plan. The graphic below provides a quick overview of the main ideas.

Our Clean Energy Plan [is] a road map for protecting the environment and embracing innovative, affordable energy solutions. By 2040, we plan to achieve net zero carbon emissions and meet 90 percent of Michigan’s energy needs with clean resources.

Consumers Energy website

The company has been holding a series of Zoom-based “open houses.” The next one will be November 10 from 1:30 to 2:15 pm. Customers are invited to learn more, provide input, and ask questions about the technologies, opportunities, and challenges involved in the plan.

Rain Garden Revival

Well a pandemic can throw a wrench into your environmental education plans! So we have revived our goal of learning together about Rain Gardens and how they can benefit our community — and how to build them — by taking the whole movement online. 

But wait! Why build rain gardens at all? 

A rain garden is designed and planted to collect and absorb stormwater runoff from a roof, driveway or other hard surfaces. By doing this, the garden can slow down water movement while filtering pollutants the rain gathers in its cycle, before the water can enter our rivers, lakes and groundwater. 

That’s pretty great, but they also reduce flooding, refresh the groundwater, and look nice too! 

Amazing fact: one inch of rain can capture and clean 600 gallons of water in a typical rain garden. They are so useful, cities and towns all over the world are encouraging rain gardening, especially in places where water resources are fragile. 

Our friends in Washtenaw County, where a wonderful and successful rain gardening movement has taken root (!), have made their amazing, self-paced, online Master Rain Gardener class free to anyone who registers before June 1, 2020. 

We are hoping to gather — working online, and of course in our gardens — a local group of folks interested in developing rain gardens at their homes and businesses. The idea is that we learn, do, and help each other with information, resources, advice, and encouragement. 

The online course includes five hour-long classes and time to do outdoor homework. It’s homework that involves planning a garden, so you know it’s not really homework at all, just fun for the inner gardener!

The online, free Washtenaw County class also has a wonderful Facebook group, where people from all over are sharing their homework, and where their Rain Gardener Masters and course alumni are present to help answer our questions. 

Here is the link to the online course, free as long as you register before June 1, 2020:
https://www.washtenaw.org/2456/Online-Certification

And here is a link to the Washtenaw County Facebook group:
https://www.facebook.com/groups/MasterRainGardener/

And if you want to join the Saugatuck-Douglas local group of rain gardeners, learning and working together on the class and on homework, sign up here:
https://forms.gle/x4h5pmLfcWP4pQ219

Movie Night, Paris to Pittsburgh, Nov 19, 6:30pm

Paris to Pittsburgh

Movie Night: Paris to Pittsburgh, November 19, 6:30pm, DUCC Friendship Hall, 56 Wall Street, Douglas, MI

On November 19, Douglas UCC Creation Justice team will host another Movie Night at the DUCC Friendship Hall, 56 Wall Street, Douglas.

This time we will be screening the Bloomberg Philanthropies documentary, “Paris to Pittsburgh.” Doors will open at 6:30 for popcorn. Bring your own Beverage. Movie starts promptly at 7pm.

Named Inc. Magazine’s best business documentary of 2018, PARIS TO PITTSBURGH focuses on the incredible action individuals, communities, businesses and local governments in the U.S. have undertaken to combat the threat of climate change in their own backyards in the wake of the US withdrawal from the Paris Climate Agreement.

The film explores the very real social and economic effects of climate change-fueled disasters – from America’s heartland to the nation’s coastlines and the island of Puerto Rico. The premise of the documentary is based on a Twitter response from Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto to President Trump the moment he pulled out of the Paris Agreement.

With devastating fires and hurricanes occurring with more frequency as the planet warms; the new federal report in which 300 scientists warn of the financial devastation and innumerable lives at risk as a result of climate change if more isn’t done soon; and a national debate raging over the United States’ energy future, the film poignantly captures what’s at stake for communities around the country and their commitment to effecting real change in reducing carbon emissions.

DUCC welcomes Douglas and Saugatuck residents to screen the film and then talk about it and what awareness-building and actions we can accomplish in our own communities. This talk is part of the education series conducted by Douglas UCC’s Creation Justice Team. 

 

Help us Clean the Beaches this Weekend?

oval beach

Oval Beach! Douglas Beach! The pride of our towns! And they need your help. DUCC has taken on the Adopt-a-Beach cleanup for our beautiful beaches. We’ll be working this coming Saturday, September 21, from 9am to 12 pm.

Please come with gloves and good shoes, dressed for the weather. We will put you to work. If you think you can make it, please email us, letting us know how many in your party at ducccjt@gmail.com.

Oh! And include your phone number so we can reach out in case of rescheduling: ducccjt@gmail.com