Welcome to the Half Hour Happy Hour, otherwise known as the Small Scale Life Podcast!  I am usually selling Good Vibes to the audience, and I hope this episode inspires you to make a difference in your neighborhood and community.  After all, our time on this earth is limited, and it’s your life; do something positive with it!

Believe it or not, this is our 154th episode of the Small Scale Life Podcast, and we have been talking and blogging at smallscalelife.com since 2015!  This Small Scale Life project is four years old, and I have to admit that I am more excited about what I am working on and talking about today than ever before.  By the end of this podcast episode, I hope you will catch some of that excitement and start your own journey.  As I titled this podcast episode: It’s Your Life: Do Something Positive with It! 

Thank You, Lifers!

Split Rock Lighthouse, Lake Superior, Northshore, vacation

“Be the Lighthouse in someone’s life” – Greg Burns and Michael Jordan

Before we begin the show, I wanted to thank some folks for their activity in the Small Scale Life Facebook Group and on the Small Scale Life Facebook Page.  I have been meaning to do this, and I just get too excited about jumping into content and the fun stuff, but this is incredibly important.  Sometimes as a podcaster and blogger, you wonder if your message is resonating or if you are like a wild-eyed, mangy prophet screaming into the air.  I am so thankful of the interactions in the Small Scale Life Facebook Group from our members there.  I wanted to personally thank Ann LeClercq, Joshua Butz, John Mathison, Adam Rick, Linda Jackson Wills, Christopher Paul Kowelzack, Daniel Bokros, Jason Gray, Janie Moore Hynson, Eric Rosendaul, Amy Dingmann, Terrance Leyhew, Alyssa Olsen and of course Captain Lumbersquatch Greg Burns for their comments and contributions.  Thank you all, my friends!

Special Announcement: Member of the Month

As a special announcement, I would like to announce Terri Otto as the Member of the Month for her participation in our Small Scale Life Group.  Terri has been so supportive and shared so much over the past year!  I know that life can be rough and tough, but she is always positive.  Here is an example of one of her comments on the End of My Garden Season post from last week:

 “That was a good story. Maybe in your mind it was a failure… But for me… It was a lift for me. It’s weird I know. But you didn’t fail.. maybe a small uh oh.. but you did awesome… And we learn from our mistakes. I learn something every year… I’ve been gardening for years too. It all worked out…”

Wow.  This is outstanding, and I just love how positive she is.  I appreciate her posts, and wish her the best.  I will be reaching out to her and send a token of my appreciation to her.  Thank you, Terri!  You are awesome!  Congratulations on being an outstanding member of our community!

Thank you one, and all, for being part of our Homegrown Small Scale Life Family!


If you want to be part of our Small Scale Life Community, please check out our private group on Facebook and answer the questions.  We’ll get you on board and do a little celebration when you join!

With that, let’s get into today’s show: It’s Your Life: Do Something Positive with It!

It’s Your Life: Do Something Positive with It


In my travels and with the Small Scale Life Podcast, I have been inspired by folks I have interacted with over the past four years.  There are people in this world that are quietly making a difference right where they live in their own communities.  You might never hear about them or pay attention to them, unless someone like me asks them to be on a humble podcast!

Examples of People Doing Good Things 

The world can be a very dark place, even in this land of plenty.  Yet, those shining points of light are there, doing what they do best: serving the community, helping others in need or making their surroundings a little better.  They are building something, and they are using service to others as a solid foundation.

What do I mean?

Here are some examples that I have seen and witnessed over the past four years of Small Scale Life:

Menasha, WI – I was in Menasha, WI, for my job this summer.  As I pulled up to a railroad crossing, I watched as a father and his young son walked up and started picking up trash in their neighborhood together. It was a hot, sunny day in July, and everyone in the neighborhood was at work.  There were no cameras, no social media blast, no news crew. Just a dad and his son doing stuff.  I talked with them a bit, and they had a big smiles and a great attitude! I left them with my card, website address and some activity books.  I don’t know if you are listening, but your example stuck in my mind for months. How awesome, and I didn’t get their names!

Bloomington, MN – A small company just got together with some other small businesses in their complex and held a blood drive together.  About 26 people gave blood, including a client or two.  Good on you, Julie, Lori and the BBFG crew!

Hamburg, PA – A homesteader and his family have a simple neighborhood pantry in their front yard.  Their philosophy for the neighborhood panty is this:

 “Shayla’s Small Pantry was started to help out our local community by bring everyone together and help our neighbors “shop” locally. And we obviously had to name it after our youngest Shayla who was diagnosed with down syndrome at birth…she is the sweetest girl in the whole wide world and just gives love to everyone she meets. So we had to try and do the same! Everything in Shayla’s Small Pantry is by donation…if you don’t have any money, but you need some “supervised free range” eggs, just take them. If you don’t get paid until Friday but you need some fruits or vegetables for dinner, take them today and drop off the money when you have it. If you are rich and want to donate to our cause and take something with you, feel free! We just want to return the love that Shayla shares with us, each and every day!”

Thank you JKS Homestead (Joshua Butz and family) for doing this.  This is such an inspiration, and I have been thinking about doing this as well for my neighborhood.  I couldn’t believe it when I saw it on the JKS Homestead Facebook Page: it was exactly what I was thinking for my neighborhood next year!


Buffalo Valley, TNA coffee roaster/podcaster and a couple motivated veterans raised money for the Dark Horse Lodge in Tennessee, which is a place that our combat veterans can come together and heal. Solid work, Nicole Sauce, Tactical Redneck and Kurt Dugger!  As a dad of a combat veteran, I know the importance of this effort, and my words cannot express the gratitude for your efforts.  If you want to know more about the Dark Horse Lodge Project, you can get the link at Small Scale Life in the show notes.

Dallas, TX – My new friend Drew Demler and the good folks at Big Tex Urban Farm are working hard to grow 1 million meals for their community.  The Big Text Urban Farm is in a literal food desert, and the team is pushing the envelope with hydroponic systems, nourishing the people in their community and teaching people how to grow their own food.  They are growing food and making solid connections with their community to distribute the food to the hungry community.  It blows me away every time I see Drew post.  Good on you, Drew and Big Tex Crew!  If you want to learn more about Drew Demler and Big Text Urban Farm, checkout the article and podcast episode at Small Scale Life!

Cheyenne, WY – My friend Michael Jordan works with youth at a local school and teaches them about bees, honey, business and life.  MJ also feeds kids in his neighborhood. He is an amazing guy that quietly does great things in his community, and I wish you all had a chance to meet such a great person.  You can check out MJ at A Bee Friendly Company on Facebook and the Underground Meadery on Facebook and YouTube.

Dallas, TX and Spooner, WI – Two special people are working with their local schools to teach students the joy of gardening.  There is a lot to learn, and it really builds a student’s confidence and skill to grow his or her own food.  Nikki Halverson and Michael Bell are doing some solid work with the students in their schools, showing them how to grow food.

The list goes on and on.  I am just scratching the surface.  The bottom line is that these people are doing some great things for their community in their own special ways.  They are using their resources: skills, expertise, money and, most importantly, time to make a difference.  I bet if you asked them, they would tell you that they realized somewhere along the line that they have one life to live, and they want to do something positive with it to make their community a little better.

These people are an inspiration!

Now you are probably saying: thanks for lecturing and preaching about this.  What are you doing?  Good question!

Small Scale Gardening Platform

Small Scale Gardening

In 2014, I started blogging at smallscalegardening.com.  It was a humble blog focused on my experiments with my garden, canning, food preservation and wine making.  I started Small Scale Life in 2015, and I really stopped publishing on Small Scale Gardening in 2016.

As things at Small Scale Life changed and shifted in 2018 and 2019, I wrote a few articles and published a few videos on the Small Scale Gardening Platform.  I wanted to serve my gardening audience better, especially as we rolled from the Health and Fitness Renew You Campaign to the Financial Freedom Campaign.  There was always a lot to do and a lot to talk about, and I was trying to get back to gardening.  As things changed again in the late summer, I found myself with two platforms and searching for direction for both.

Small Scale Gardening: Growing Skills, Growing People

Earth Day Tip Teach Gardening, Earth Day Tip, Earth Day, Teach Gardening, Square Foot Gardening, Garden, Urban Gardening, Seeds, Seedlings, Wicking Beds, Raised Beds, Trellis, Vertical Gardening, Rain Gutter Grow Systems, Soils, Compost, Grow What You Eat, Homestead, Urban Homestead, Starting Seeds, Lessons Learned from Starting Seeds

The seeds are planted! April 20, 2018

If you have been around Small Scale Life for a while, you know that I have gone to schools and presented about Gardening.  I talk about the three elements needed to grow healthy plants: light, nutrients and water.  After the brief presentation, I let the students touch and smell different soil types (garden soil, compost, vermiculite, peat moss and sand).  I mix a potting soil using a block of coir and water, and then I let students plant their own seeds.  Over the next few weeks, the teacher works with the students to water the plants.  When it is time, the students take the plants home, and parents take the next steps.  There was something missing with my process, however.

My brain has been working on what was missing lately.  I have been thinking about presenting to students in the spring, especially after talking with a teacher in the Twin Cities who is very interested to have me present about plants. I have to say that both Nikki Halverson and Michael Bell have inspired me as well. Their work with their respective schools resonated with me.

As I was driving last week, it hit me out of the blue: I am missing the opportunity to continue the lesson and teach about gardening.  The presentation and planting exercise are just the first steps!  There are a lot more lessons to be learned!  I mean, do teachers and students know what to do or talk about as these green pole bean plants grow?  Then I thought about the next level: do parents know what to do with two foot tall green pole bean plants when the student brings them home?

Last week, I decided that Small Scale Gardening is going from a sporadic garden blog to focus solely on school outreach.  It is a way I can use my skills to teach students and inspire them to put down their cell phones and get their hands dirty!  What parent or teacher doesn’t want that?

I am focusing on low cost methods to teach about gardening while helping students practice practical writing, math, and science skills.  Not all schools can build and maintain permanent garden areas like Nikki Halverson and Michael Bell are doing in their schools, so I thought it would be best to put together materials so individual classes can learn and experiment with gardening in their classrooms.

Over the next few months, I am going to be working on materials for this effort.  I have assembled some good people to help review materials and provide feedback.  I am planning to test materials and lessons in some elementary schools this spring, so I have a lot to do!

I made a rough outline of the lesson plans and materials, and it was rather ironic that the lessons fall into Small Scale Life’s “learn, do and grow” motto perfectly. Nothing in this world is a coincidence; perhaps I am on to something!


Next Steps

Earth Day Tip Teach Gardening, Earth Day Tip, Earth Day, Teach Gardening, Square Foot Gardening, Garden, Urban Gardening, Seeds, Seedlings, Wicking Beds, Raised Beds, Trellis, Vertical Gardening, Rain Gutter Grow Systems, Soils, Compost, Grow What You Eat, Homestead, Urban Homestead, Starting Seeds, Lessons Learned from Starting Seeds

I am going to be busy creating materials for this effort. I am thinking a teacher’s workbook, student workbooks, YouTube videos and other materials for a series of successful lessons.  I want to use my talents (writing, presenting, and teaching) to help our youth learn skills they can use later in life (and really for their whole lives).  Gardening has brought me a lot of joy and peace in a wickedly chaotic and stressful world, and perhaps these students can feel some of that peace, joy and accomplishment with their own plants!

Maybe I can help inspire them to learn, do and grow in their own lives!  It is pretty exciting to think about, really, and it makes me smile when the kids put their hands in soil and plant those first seeds.  My smile gets even bigger when they can’t wait to show me how big the plants have grown in a few weeks!

Your Turn: Challenge Yourself

How about you?  What are can you do to change or help someone in your community?  It doesn’t have to be grand or massive effort; it can be something really simple like raking someone’s yard for them.  It should be something that draws on your own skills and strengths.  Keep it simple; lend a hand to someone in need and make your neighborhood a little brighter and better. Remember the KISS Method: keep it simple, stupid.  Really, that is a memo to me, not you, my friends!

I would love to know what you are doing!  Post comments below, send a note through the contact us page or send me an e-mail at realsmallscalelife@gmail.com.  I would love to do a second part to this episode and talk about your efforts and what you are doing.

Who knows?  You might inspire someone to learn, do, grow and be a little better in your own community!


Let’s go, Lifers!

Listen to the Podcast

It's Your Life; Do Something Positive; Building Community; Mindset

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Special Thanks

For Small Scale Life Podcasts, I would like to thank Sean at Osi and the Jupiter for the intro song "Harvest."  Sean wrote this specifically for us, and I really enjoy all of his work.  You can find more Osi and the Jupiter at their Bandcamp site: https://osifolk.bandcamp.com/

I would also like to thank Austin Quinn at Vlog Vibes for the intro and outro music. For more information abut Austin and Vlog Vibes, please see the Vlog Vibes YouTube Channel: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCY80LeqtJf-YBzJy2TWKpDw