Caring for Self & Others

The following links will suggest positive ways that you can care for yourself and contribute to the well-being of your community.

Celebrate a Summer of Stewardship

By: Sarah Blount

With Memorial Day in the rearview mirror, summer is officially upon us—and this year, we’re celebrating the Summer of Stewardship!

From now through National Public Lands Day in September, there are many opportunities to get involved with stewardship on our nation’s public lands, both large and small. Whether you’re clearing debris from the creek in your neighborhood or taking part in this year’s Yosemite Facelift, you can help take care of our natural resources, protecting them for your benefit today and making sure that they’re still thriving for tomorrow’s generations. Here are some upcoming events to mark on your summer calendar!

National Fishing and Boating Week

Ease into the summer during National Fishing and Boating Week, celebrated from June 1 to June 9 across the country. This event focuses on the importance of recreational boating and fishing in our nation’s lakes, rivers, estuaries, and coasts. To encourage people to get outdoors and onto the waters, many states offer free fishing days, a time you don’t need a license to fish on a public body of water. Look for your state on this list, and then if you need ideas for places to go, Take Me Fishing has a nationwide map of waterbodies, boat ramps, marinas, and more. Need a refresher on how to bait a line, or the best techniques to nab a salmon? Tips and guides on fishing can be found here.

Be a good steward: You might be thinking, “that all sounds great—but where does the stewardship come in?” This week is a great time to employ practices that will discourage the spread of invasive aquatic species—non-native plants and animals that can take over your favorite watering hole, making fishing and boating more difficult, expensive, or even impossible. Check out our infographic on how to make sure you don’t have any stowaways on your boat or gear.

Outdoor Stewardship Week

Coming up next is Outdoor Stewardship Week, an initiative of The Corps Network. Celebrated from June 10 to June 14, this week is dedicated to reminding everyone that we can all help to maintain our shared outdoor spaces, thus giving back to the places that mean so much to us, whatever those may be! Public land agencies can’t perform all of the maintenance themselves—at the federal level, there are billions of dollars of backlogged maintenance, which can not only put a damper on outdoor pastimes in these areas, but can also pose a threat to local economies that depend on the outdoor recreation economy. Many of our favorite activities—hiking, biking, camping, and more—wouldn’t be possible without proper stewardship.

Be a good steward: Tell a friend about the importance of outdoor stewardship, and join the movement by taking that friend with you to a volunteer activity! You can find volunteer opportunities at the federal, state, and local levels across the country at Once you’re there, snap a picture of yourself volunteering and enter the Outdoor Stewardship Week photo contest by sharing it on social media according to the contest rules, and you could be eligible to win a cool prize from The Corps Network!

Park and Recreation Month

The whole month of July is Park and Recreation Month, a celebration led by the National Recreation and Park Association. Since 1985, Park and Recreation Month has highlighted the role that parks and recreation play in conservation, health and wellness, and social equity efforts. Take part in the celebration online by using the hashtag #GameOnJuly to share with your friends why you think parks and rec are important. Looking for ideas? Chances are, you live near a local park or other recreational facility—three out of every four Americans are within a 10 minute walk of one of these facilities, and on average, visit them twice a month. A park with just one acre of trees—that’s less than the size of a football field!—can absorb the same amount of carbon dioxide (a greenhouse gas) as a car driving around 10,000 miles. Parks don’t just improve the air—when large storms arrive, the plants and permeable surfaces available in parks can act as a sponge, absorbing some of the incoming water and reducing the impact of flooding in the community. They’re also moneymakers—in 2015, America’s local park agencies supported more than 1 million jobs and generated more than $154 billion in economic activity. Maybe money does grow on trees!

Be a good steward: You can help take care of these vital resources by participating in stewardship activities near you! Contact your city or county park agency to learn more about opportunities to volunteer in a nearby park or waterway. There may be a local friends group or environmental club that you can join for an afternoon of service, giving you a chance to meet fellow stewards!

The National Park Service’s Birthday

August brings us to the 103rd birthday of the National Park Service, which is also a fee-free day, meaning entrance fees are waived at all NPS sites. This celebration commemorates the day in 1916 when President Woodrow Wilson signed the act that created the National Park Service, which was charged with overseeing the 35 already established national parks and monuments. Since then, more than 380 units have been added across the country, and NPS now oversees more than 85 million acres of national parks, national historical parks, national monuments, national recreation areas, national battlefields, and national seashores. There’s at least one NPS unit in each of the United States! Want to find one near you? Visit Find Your Park to locate a site you’re keen on, and then click the link to visit that unit’s page.

Be a good steward: Once you’re on the webpage of the park that caught your eye, click “Get Involved” in the navigation strip at the top of the page, and then go to “Volunteer” to learn more about how to help in stewardship activities at that site. You can also find opportunities at, which can be filtered to just show National Park Service opportunities.

National Public Lands Day

Finally, wrap up the summer of stewardship with the nation’s largest single day of service—National Public Lands Day! Join hundreds of thousands of volunteers across America’s public lands, from federal, to state, regional, and local sites in volunteering, recreational, educational, and health and wellness focused activities. National Public Lands Day (NPLD) is another fee-free day at many federal land sites, so kick back and enjoy these natural gems after you’ve finished your project for the day. Check out the NPLD event map to find a site near you, or contact your favorite park (we’re sure you’ll have at least one after this summer!) to find out if they’re planning to participate if you don’t see them on the map.

Be a good steward: Come out to NPLD!

With that, we hope you enjoy a fun Summer of Stewardship—giving back to the shared spaces and places that mean so much to all of us!

What Is Community Supported Agriculture?

Thinking about signing up for a CSA but want to learn more about the idea before you commit? Read on.

For over 25 years, Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) has become a popular way for consumers to buy local, seasonal food directly from a farmer.

Here are the basics: a farmer offers a certain number of "shares" to the public. Typically the share consists of a box of vegetables, but other farm products may be included. Interested consumers purchase a share (aka a "membership" or a "subscription") and in return receive a box (bag, basket) of seasonal produce each week throughout the farming season.

This arrangement creates several rewards for both the farmer and the consumer. In brief:

Advantages for farmers:

Advantages for consumers:

It's a simple enough idea, but its impact has been profound. Tens of thousands of families have joined CSAs, and in some areas of the country there is more demand than there are CSA farms to fill it. The government does not track CSAs, so there is no official count of how many CSAs there are in the U.S.. LocalHarvest has the most comprehensive directory of CSA farms, with over 4,000 listed in our grassroots database.

Read more here.

Find a Supportive Community

"Community, at its core, is a group of interconnected people that communicate with and relate to one another. When many of us think about our communities, we think of neighbors meeting at a local business, friends gathered for a shared meal and coworkers working side by side on common challenges. Community may look different online, but its essence is the same. People can connect within large groups (message boards), connect individually with other community members (through direct messages) and even work together to learn a new skill or discuss a common challenge (in an online course or community of practice). "

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Adopt a Spiritual Practice

"[T]here are opportunities here. One of them is increased reliance upon spiritual practices. A popular meme circulating on social media quotes the recommendation of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) that to avoid spreading the coronavirus, you avoid physical contact and don't go into large crowds. To which the 'introvert' replies: 'I've been training for this moment my whole life.'

"So have contemplatives and meditators, who are accustomed to solitude and being quiet in their minds and bodies."

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Join a Study Group or Learn Something New

"Even if you’re still up to your eyeballs in things to do and little ones to care for, after . . .  weeks of staying inside, it’s easy to just go through the motions day after day. But one great way to get out of that rut is to make it a priority for yourself and your family to learn something new!

"There are so many companies and organizations that are teaming up right now to provide some great, free classes and tutorials for anyone and everyone to try! And what better time to learn something new than when you can’t go anywhere?"

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Find a Way to Donate or Serve

"Local and national nonprofits are struggling to meet clients’ needs as the coronavirus sickens thousands of people and forces layoffs and school closures. The organizations face increased demand while being compelled to cancel crucial fundraising events, according to Rick Cohen, chief communications officer of the National Council of Nonprofits. Here are some nonprofits that would welcome donations. He also suggests you check in with smaller nonprofits you may have supported in the past, as nearly every charity is likely experiencing challenges."

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Support Minority-Owned Businesses

If you want to make a tangible contribution to environmental justice in your local community, look for minority-owned businesses you can support. Many cities, such as Austin, Texas, will have directories listing such businesses.

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Location of black-owned restaurants in Austin

Shop at Farmers' Markets

"Public markets are not just places of commerce. Successful markets help grow and connect urban and rural economies. They encourage development, enhance real estate values and the tax base, and keep money in the local neighborhood. Public markets also offer low-risk business opportunities for vendors and feed money back into the rural economy where many vendors grow, raise and produce their products.

"The spin-off benefits of markets are numerous. From increasing access to fresh, healthy food to providing important revenue streams, markets positively impact local businesses, governments and residents. But, perhaps most important is the way markets serve as public gathering places for people from different ethnic, cultural, and socioeconomic communities. As one of the few places where people comfortably gather and meet, markets are our neighborhoods’ original civic centers."

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Develop a Creative Outlet and Share What You Do

"As many of us remain at home and isolated during the COVID-19 pandemic, it has become more important than ever to have a creative outlet and a little inspiration. There are few better ways to stay engaged (and distracted from the news) than working on a project, learning something new, or just being inspired creatively."

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Grow Something

From planting a flower seed in a clay pot in our window to converting our entire yard to a self-sustaining farm, we gain many things from helping things grow. We get to watch the awesomeness of a sprouting seed becoming a plant, which can produce oxygen and food from sunlight and carbon dioxide. We get exercise that actually produces something. We get to learn about all kinds of things, some of which eat our plants! And we get really good things to eat with the satisfaction that we helped them grow!

Here is one way to do it:

The Square Foot Gardening method saves gardeners time, effort, tools, space and water. Schools across the nation and international humanitarian groups around the world are using the Square Foot Gardening method making inroads against poverty and hunger. The Square Foot Gardening method is estimated to cost 50% less, uses 20% less space, 10% of the water, and only 2% of the work compared to single row gardening. Additional benefits are: virtually no weeds, no digging or rototilling, and no heavy tools are necessary.

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Find Wholeness and Joy Outside

Something as simple as spending time outside can provide a powerful reset for your mental health — and research is proving it. When it comes to understanding the healing effects of nature, trust the outdoors-loving Scandinavians to have the edge. Friluftsliv, a word coined in 1859 by writer Henrik Ibsen, according to Mother Nature Network (MNN), loosely means “free air life,” and it signifies a fundamental understanding of the healing effects of nature. The Norwegian concept of friluftsliv, today used across Norway, Sweden, and Denmark, can make a big difference in your mental health, according to research.

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Read the Words of Joseph White Eagle

This Cree spiritual leader and teacher of traditional Native Wisdom offered valuable advice about this pandemic time.  He wrote:

"This moment humanity is going through can now be seen as a portal and as a hole.

"The decision to fall into the hole or go through the portal is up to you. If you focus on the problems and consume the news 24 hours a day, with little energy, nervous all the time, with pessimism, you will fall into the hole.

"But if you take this opportunity to look at yourself, rethink life and death, take care of yourself and others, you will cross the portal."

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Practice a Simple Craft

A simple craft such as woodworking can help us develop a closer connection with creation. The process is contemplative and the things we make can provide contemplative experiences as we and others use them. 

This video proposes that something as simple as a butter spreader carved from a stick can help us turn the ordinary into the extraordinary.